February 19, 2012

Our National Debate On Energy

Well, our debate really has nothing to do with energy:

A counterattack being planned by the Obama re-election team in Chicago is expected to point out, among other things, Mitt Romney’s actions to raise gas taxes when he was governor of Massachusetts. And Mr. Obama’s Democratic allies on Capitol Hill are eager to renew a nationwide discussion about tax subsidies to oil companies.

“House Republicans are very good at using every argument they can to shield oil companies from paying their fair share,” said Representative Steve Israel of New York, the chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. “They have been relentless and fearless protectors of oil company profits.”

Republicans on Capitol Hill say they are eager to criticize the president as gas prices rise, in part with a flurry of legislation aimed at increasing domestic production.

They also plan to use Mr. Obama’s decision to block the immediate construction ofKeystone XL, a 1,700-mile pipeline that would stretch from Canada to the Gulf Coast. A Republican bill was passed by the House on Thursday to expand offshore drilling and force a permit to be approved for the pipeline.

In an interview, Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, the House whip, mocked Mr. Obama’s claim to want an “all of the above” energy policy.

“He says it in his State of the Union, and then a week later he kills Keystone,” Mr. McCarthy said. “I think energy is going to be one of the major issues in this election, and it’s going to peak in two months.”

November 16, 2011

Peak Oil is Real, But What Does it Mean?

Five misconceptions about peak oil:

So I think as far as peak oil goes, most of us can agree that just as it did in the U.S. in 1970, global oil production will inevitably decline. The points of contention are the timing, the steepness of the decline, the impact on the global economy, and the ability of other energy sources to fill the supply gap. Some believe it will be a non-event, and some people believe it will be catastrophic.

November 14, 2011

It May Already Be Too Late to Change

It’s pedal-to-the-metal:

There are few signs that the urgently needed change in direction in global energy trends is underway. Although the recovery in the world economy since 2009 has been uneven, and future economic prospects remain uncertain, global primary energy demand rebounded by a remarkable 5% in 2010, pushing CO2 emissions to a new high. Subsidies that encourage wasteful consumption of fossil fuels jumped to over $400 billion. The number of people without access to electricity remained unacceptably high at 1.3 billion, around 20% of the world’s population. Despite the priority in many countries to increase energy efficiency, global energy intensity worsened for the second straight year. Against this unpromising background, events such as those at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant and the turmoil in parts of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) have cast doubts on the reliability of energy supply, while concerns about sovereign financial integrity have shifted the focus of government attention away from energy policy and limited their means of policy intervention, boding ill for agreed global climate change objectives.

November 11, 2011

Oil and Growth and Civilization

Time to think about how we will control the contraction of civilization:

But here’s the scary thing: The Limits model has been pretty reliable so far. In 2009, two systems ecologists, Charles A.S. Hall and John W. Day, Jr., revisited [PDFThe Limits to Growth, comparing its projected values for things like population, available oil and copper, and industrial output per capita, to actual 2008 data. In their paper, Hall and Day acknowledge problems with the Limits model, but in the end conclude that, “its predictions have not been invalidated and in fact seem quite on target.”