Wednesday, May 31, 2006

This New World

Today at lunch, I found myself getting animated as I described to my two luncheoneers an energy scenario that is totally plausible and possible. We were looking out the window while we were eating some tacos and I pointed at the stop light.

The conversation started as I was describing how ultra caps work. And how, with just a little luck, some of the same technology that has given us the computer chip, might in a very reasonable time, give us a super ultra capacitor that is capable of storing 50 KWhs in an area roughly the size of your gas tank.

Imagine a car, I said, with a 40 horsepower motor in each wheel, with a chassis with embedded ultra capacitors in it. Given the torque of an electric motor and the spunk of a capacitor, this so- called "car "would perform like none other you have seen before.

As an all-electric car, it would go from 0 to 60 in nothing flat. It would leave the fastest car you have ever driven in the proverbial dirt. There would be no drive train, no engine, and the special nano fiber carbon body would be super light and super strong.

There would be a plug about the size of the plug on your monitor that would plug in another body style onto the same chassis. You could have a pickup, a sports car, or a sedan depending on your mood or need.

Since its energy and power came from a capacitor, it would recharge in moments, not hours.

Getting more out there, I even mused that as each car came to a stop at the red light, it could be recharged by a magnetic plate in the road itself. These plates could be installed in parking spots at restaurants, theatres, and all over the place. But the neat thing is to imagine that you could get a fresh tank of electric fuel right there at the red light. Then, instead of running the light, you stop instead and get some more juice.

When you got your electric bill at the end of the month, there would be a section for your transportation fuel.

There, itemized on your bill would be the 3 Kwhs that you received while waiting at the light at the corner of San Gabriel and 24th street. That would be enough to get you another 12 miles.

Electric fuel doesn't weigh anything, (odd isn't it) so it doesn't really matter if you always have a full tank of electricity on board.

The billing, tracking, and selling of the electric fuel would be handled automatically through the use of the grid itself as a carrier for the information. Of course, this super fast, super cool, super efficient, all electric car has all of the onboard computer and communication capabilities of a space ship.

In this world, there would be no gas stations, no fuel at all.

In this world, there would be no pollution and no loud engine noise.

In this world, you would just drive around all day and not even think about fuel. You don't think about fuel for your entertainment center do you?

In this world, your car might be running on electric energy that came from a wind turbine two hundred miles away. You might be running on the solar electricity created from the power paints on your own roof or wall. You might be running on the energy that was stored in the capacitor on the pole in your alley from the off peak energy that was purchased from another utility.

In this new world, the juice for your ride is sustainable, it's renewable, it's local, and it just might be less than what we are paying right now.

In this new world, OPEC, Coal Mines, Nuclear Energy, and Oil Wars

are all history.

They get the shaft.

We get the juice.

Better them,

than us.


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Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Graven Images

I am dealing with and thinking about attachments today.

With all of the news on Climate Change, Peak Oil, and the

statement that gay marriage and flag burning

are the big two issues for the leader of the American Senate,

it makes one think.

Here is Krishnamurti on the subjects of attachments and images:

It is important to understand, not intellectually but actually in your daily life, how you have built images about your wife, your husband, your neighbor, your child, your country, your leaders, your politicians, your gods--you have nothing but images.

The images create the space between you and what you observe and in that space there is conflict, so what we are going to find out now together is whether it is possible to be free of the space we create, not only outside ourselves but in ourselves, the space which divides people in all their relationships.

Now the very attention you give to a problem is the energy that solves that problem. When you give your complete attention--I mean with everything in you--there is no observer at all. There is only the state of attention which is total energy, and that total energy is the highest form of intelligence.

Naturally that state of mind must be completely silent and that silence, that stillness, comes when there is total attention, not disciplined stillness. That total silence in which there is neither the observer nor the thing observed is the highest form of a religious mind. But what takes place in that state cannot be put into words because what is said in words is not the fact. To find out for yourself you have to go through it.

-- J. Krishnamurti, Freedom from the Known, pp. 92-93

"I ask myself: "What am I to do to be free of attachment?" What is my motive in wanting to be free of attachment? Is it not that I want to achieve a state where there is no attachment, no fear and so on? And I suddenly realize that motive gives direction and that direction will dictate my freedom. Why have a motive? What is motive? A motive is a hope, or a desire, to achieve something. I see that I am attached to a motive. "

"So I am asking myself: has thought realized its own limitations? Or is it pretending to be something extraordinary, noble, divine?-- which is nonsense because thought is based on memory. I see that there must be clarity about this point: that there is no outside influence imposing on thought saying it is limited. Then, because there is no imposition there is no conflict; it simply realizes it is limited; it realizes that whatever it does--its worship of god and so on--is limited, shoddy, petty--even though it has created marvellous cathedrals throughout Europe in which to worship. "

"In love there is no attachment; if there is attachment there is no love. There has been the removal of the major factor through negation of what it is not, through the negation of attachment. I know what it means in my daily life: no remembrance of anything my wife, my girl friend, or my neighbour did to hurt me; no attachment to any image thought has created about her; how she has bullied me, how she has given me comfort, how I have had pleasure sexually, all the different things of which the movement of thought has created images; attachments to those images has gone.

And there are other factors: must I go through all those step by step, one by one? Or is it all over? Must I go through, must I investigate--as I have investigated attachment--fear, pleasure and the desire for comfort? I see that I do not have to go through all the investigation of all these various factors; I see it at one glance, I have captured it.

So, through negation of what is not love, love is.

I do not have to ask what love is?

I do not have to run after it.

If I run after it, it is not love, it is a reward.

So I have negated, I have ended, in that enquiry, slowly, carefully, without distortion, without illusion, everything that it is not--the other is."

--Brockwood Part Gathering, August 30, 1977

And here is the "big guy" on the subject of graven images.

"Thou shalt not make unto thee a graven image, nor any manner of likeness, of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth;" Exodus 20. 3

We may have messed up on that one.


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art courtesy of Rufino De Mingo

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Prometheus Unbound

Here is an oldie from last June.

Post Prometheanism

The Myth

One night, when Zeus was away, Prometheus crept to Olympus along a secret path and stole the God's precious fire, hiding it in a hollow reed, which he concealed in his cloak. This he then gave to man, teaching him how to use fire to warm, to cook, to make bricks, tools and earthenware, everything needed to give people a more comfortable life.

But when Zeus returned to Olympus, so great was his rage that he ordered Prometheus to be chained forever to a lonely rock in the Caucasian Mountains. There he bravely endured for thousands of years until Zeus, in admiration and pity, freed Prometheus to help and champion humanity once more through his forethought and love.

In another version of the myth. Hercules (humankind) frees Prometheus while on his 11th labor:

Then, in the search for the Golden Apples of the Hesperides (spiritual knowledge), the Hero frees our benefactor and our trickster. Prometheus, the Titan, the giver of Fire, the bringer of woes, is freed from his rock. He is liberated not by gods or Titans, but by the mortal Hero who is strong in stature and beautiful in spirit. Prometheus, the Titan, who would trick Zeus, the God of men and gods, is released where he too can join the gods on Olympus.

Post Promethean technologies therefore are not based on fire.

Coal plants, automobiles, highly efficient combined cycle gas plants, are all fire based.

Nuclear technology is fire based too. Only here, the fire does not come from oxydized carbon. The fire in matter itself is released as the atoms are split, liberating energy as some of the mass of the single nucleus is lost as it divides into two nuclei.

Solar technology which uses the photovoltaic effect predicted by Einstein is decidely not fire based. The same can be said for Wind Energy.

Humankind has the potential to move beyond the gift of Prometheus.

We can begin to use the very energy of the creation itself

to power our tools, and our shelters,

if we choose to do so.

We simply must put down our old sticks of fire.

We have been using fire for perhaps 500,000 years,

So you can understand why we would have a tough time changing.

A Post Promethean world would be very different from this world.

Energy would not be something

that some multinational corporation finds.

Energy would be everywhere,

not at the bottom of some great hole in the sea.

Energy would be infinite,

Not some finite pool of dead fish oil in some capitalist colony,

or some scraped up pile of carbon laying under the soft skin of the earth.

With advanced power paints,

Every house, every building will become energy transducers.

Every time a photon strikes a human made structure,

some of that energy will be turned into electronic energy,

where it will be used on site or exported to the grid.

With advanced power plant designs,

and electromagnetic solar energy refractors,

Energy that falls in one area will be redirected to another.

We will be able to cool our cities by intercepting that energy,

and redirecting it to post promethean power plants and food crops.

Our personal devices will run on the energy of our warm bodies.

Our homes will move energy around from room to room,

from light to heat, heat to light, light to light.

Our cars will not be cars anymore,

And our 5000 year old love affair with our ancient chariot of fire

will finally be laid into a much deserved and welcome grave.

We will fly on the electromagnetic spectrum instead of the air.

We will often fly at the speed of light as we project our holographic image,

instead of stressing our corporal form.

We will join forces with our friends, our family, and our cybercommunity.

And we will look back at these days of plunder and ignorance,

Like a father remembers his mispent youth.

Like the mother remembers the difficult child.

And we will be an earthfamily.

With Vision,

And Hope.


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drawing courtesy of

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Weekend Wrap


Inquiry points to atrocity by marines

NYTimes.WASHINGTON A military investigation into the deaths of two dozen Iraqis last November is expected to find that a small number of marines in western Iraq carried out extensive, unprovoked killing of civilians, according to congressional, military and Pentagon officials.

Two lawyers involved in discussions about individual marines' defenses said they thought the investigation could result in charges of murder, a capital offense. That possibility and the emerging details of the killings have raised fears that the incident could be the gravest case involving misconduct by American ground forces in Iraq.



WATER is the final film in Mehta's trilogy on the elements, following FIRE (1996) and EARTH (1998), which both premiered at the Festival.In pre-independent India, set against the backdrop of Mahatma Gandhi's rise to power, eight-year old child-bride Chuyia hears of her husband's death. Her father, following custom, exiles her to a widow's ashram where she is meant to live out her days. Chuyia's feisty presence starts to affect the lives of the other residents, in particular 20-year-old Kalyani.

See it here.


Bahgdad ER

BAGHDAD ER is an emotional, devastating and honest account of modern-day war. 12-time Emmy® Award winner producer/director Jon Alpert and Matthew O'Neill capture the humanity, hardships and heroism of the US Military and medical personnel of the 86th Combat Support Hospital, the Army's premier medical facility in Iraq. Sometimes graphic in its depiction of combat-related wounds, BAGHDAD ER offers an unflinching and honest account of the realities of war.


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Friday, May 26, 2006

Ugly is as Ugly does

By way of the Energy Bulletin, I came across this article. The graphs are particularly telling, so open up your browser an extra time to keep them handy as you read.

"As many people now know, 50 years ago this March, M. King Hubbert predicted that US Lower 48 and Texas oil production would peak, and enter a terminal decline, somewhere between 1966 and 1971.

Dr. Hubbert also predicted that world oil production would peak, and enter a terminal decline within 50 years, i.e., by 2006.

To be clear, despite what is either a profound misunderstanding of or a misrepresentation of Dr. Hubber'ts work in some quarters, Dr. Hubbert was not predicting the end of world oil production by 2006; he was predicting that production peaks when producing regions have consumed about half of their recoverable conventional oil reserves.

In our previous article, "M. King Hubbert's Lower 48 Prediction Revisited," we outlined a simplified way of predicting what Kenneth Deffeyes designated as Qt, or total recoverable conventional oil production for a region.

The method has been designated Hubbert Linearization, or HL, by Stuart Staniford, with The Oil Drum blog.Using the HL technique, the purpose of this paper is to use historical Texas and Lower 48 oil production as a model for future oil production in Saudi Arabia and the world.


Note that prior to its peak, Texas was the "swing producer," i.e., its production was regulated by the Texas Railroad Commission in order to keep oil prices within a certain range.


Saudi Arabia succeeded Texas as the swing producer, at least until recently. The emerging "swing producer" is the release of petroleum from emergency reserves. The problem of course will be replenishing the emergency reserves.


In summary, based on the HL method and based on our historical models, we believe that Saudi Arabia and the world are now on the verge of irreversible declines in conventional oil production. While there will be massive efforts directed toward unconventional sources of oil, we predict that unconventional sources of oil will only serve to slow and not reverse the decline in total world oil production.

As we stated in our previous article, in order to speed the adjustment to the realities of declining world oil production, we recommend that the United States abolish the Payroll Tax and replace it with either a liquid transportation fuel tax or an overall (nonrenewable) energy tax.

In effect we would tax energy consumption to fund Social Security and Medicare.

The primary reason for implementing the proposal is that it would cause an immediate and massive across the board push for greater energy efficiency and it would unleash enormous free market forces against profligate energy use. This proposal would also find favor with those concerned about Global Warming. "

A leading figure in the fight to recognize the peril of Global Warming

likes to talk about the Bad news and the Good news.

The Bad news is..Global Warming is real.

TheGood news is...We're running out of oil.

The good, the bad, and the ugly news is...

Some people think that burning coal is the answer.

Others think that nuclear is the answer.

Still, some people think we should go on

and just get the rest of the oil with our guns.

Ugly is,

as Ugly does.


What it is About

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art courtesy of the Richter Gallery

Thursday, May 25, 2006

That Burning Thing

Now that everyone, except the morally challenged and mentally cheated, understands that humankind can no longer continue to put enormous amounts of carbon into an atmosphere that is virtually free of it, the brainiacs who gave us our climate crises to begin with now want to try to fix it by sequestering the carbon as CO2, perhaps deep in the ground somewhere.

Some even suggest that this CO2 will help bring more oil from the tired and depleted fields of Texas and the rest of the depleted fields of the World.

The process of burning carbon and then placing the oxydized carbon as CO2 into some dark grave is called sequestration.

Of course, you can sequester carbon in trees, and you can sequester it in the ocean as algae, or in other parts of the biosphere, but that is not what they are talking about. They are talking about sequestering CO2 in the ground, or in chemicals, or in building materials.

And, you will probably hear a lot about it as we seriously begin to grapple with limiting our species threatening carbon emissions.

Scientifically, the concept is a 9 on the moron scale. (Nuclear is a 10)

Like I told a friend yesterday, it's bad enough that they screwed with our climate, but now they are going to steal our oxygen too. You see, when you sequester Carbon Dioxide, you are taking 2 oxygen molecules out of our air for every carbon molecule you put back in the ground.


Leave the Carbon in the ground.

It is sequestered.

Nevertheless, we will find that the same cool people who have failed with their lies to convince us that climate change is a "hoax", will now try to convince us that burning coal and sequestering the CO2 that comes from it is the"next best" plan.

It is not.

If we want to keep our civilization from being one of those curious collapses that future "ologists" of some kind or another study and scratch their heads over, we must stop burning things.

We must understand that we are truly in a war against ourselves.

And we must not just stop burning fuel, we must stop burning our enemies, and burning our brains with silly notions about borders, nations, and "who is" and" who is not" going to go to some heaven where there are either a lot of virgins to have sex with, or where we are so rich, the streets are made of gold.

The technological path is really not that confusing or hard to see.

We immediately start installing wind turbines like the way we built bombers in 1942.

Wind energy is a proven mature form of renewable energy that provides very high value. We use as much of it as we can as we back down on our fossil plants. We store what we can't use in real time by converting some of it to hydrogen where it can be used as a clean boiler fuel in many existing plants and many other industrial processes.

We make fertilizers with the wind created hydrogen.

We store the wind power in a fleet of plug-ins and other electric transportation appliances. We store it as chilled water and sell it back the next day in the chilled water market. We store the energy in a new advanced fleet of ultra capacitors that will ultimately redefine the nature of an advanced electric utility.

In the meantime, we put all of our resources and brains into developing affordable solar energy.

That energy can come from well designed solar homes, third generation photon to electron roof surfaces and walls, thermal plants that employ trough collectors, parabolic systems that drive heat engines, multisun PV power plants, or whatever.

In my view, we simply no longer have the luxury of installing solar systems that do not maximize and make full use of our dwindling resources. We must begin now to repair our deteriorating ecosphere in the remaining time we have to act.

We forget about nuclear, clean coal, oil from tar sands, gas from ocean hydrates, diesel from french fries, alcohol from corn, and manna from heaven.

We use the wind, and the light that surrounds us,

and we move beyond our long history of burning things.

And we move way off the Moron Scale,

and we behold the light of day.

"Until philosophers are kings, or the kings and princes of this world have the spirit and power of philosophy, and political greatness and wisdom meet in one, and those commoner natures who pursue either to the exclusion of the other are compelled to stand aside, cities will never have rest from their evils-no, nor the human race, as I believe- and then only will this our State have a possibility of and behold the light of day." Plato


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"burning bush" courtesy of Anne Malatesta

By the way,

Lay and Skillings are Toast

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Case Closed

Today might well be remembered as the "day before tomorrow". Climate Change is finally making its debut into the consciousness of Americans (watch this) and the world. And it's not a minute too late. (it might be a decade late though). You can do something about it here.

An Inconvenient Truth is receiving rave reviews while setting off a torrent of carbon industry response. Carbon flacks (watch this) are falling on their swords in droves.

Here is one of many positive reviews:

Warning of Calamities and Hoping for a Change
in 'An Inconvenient Truth'

NY Times
Published: May 24, 2006

CANNES, France, May 23 — "An Inconvenient Truth," Davis Guggenheim's new documentary about the dangers of climate change, is a film that should never have been made. It is, after all, the job of political leaders and policymakers to protect against possible future calamities, to respond to the findings of science and to persuade the public that action must be taken to protect the common interest.

But when this does not happen — and it is hardly a partisan statement to observe that, in the case of global warming, it hasn't — others must take up the responsibility: filmmakers, activists, scientists, even retired politicians. That "An Inconvenient Truth" should not have to exist is a reason to be grateful that it does.

Appearances to the contrary, Mr. Guggenheim's movie is not really about Al Gore. It consists mainly of a multimedia presentation on climate change that Mr. Gore has given many times over the last few years, interspersed with interviews and Mr. Gore's voice-over reflections on his life in and out of politics.

His presence is, in some ways, a distraction, since it guarantees that "An Inconvenient Truth" will become fodder for the cynical, ideologically facile sniping that often passes for political discourse these days.

But really, the idea that worrying about the effect of carbon-dioxide emissions on the world's climate makes you some kind of liberal kook is as tired as the image of Mr. Gore as a stiff, humorless speaker, someone to make fun of rather than take seriously.


I can't think of another movie in which the display of a graph elicited gasps of horror, but when the red lines showing the increasing rates of carbon-dioxide emissions and the corresponding rise in temperatures come on screen, the effect is jolting and chilling.

Photographs of receding ice fields and glaciers — consequences of climate change that have already taken place — are as disturbing as speculative maps of submerged coastlines. The news of increased hurricane activity and warming oceans is all the more alarming for being delivered in Mr. Gore's matter-of-fact, scholarly tone.

He speaks of the need to reduce carbon-dioxide emissions as a "moral imperative," and most people who see this movie will do so out of a sense of duty, which seems to me entirely appropriate.


This is not everything you need to know about global warming: that's the point. But it is a good place to start, and to continue, a process of education that could hardly be more urgent. "An Inconvenient Truth" is a necessary film. "

And here is another Mea Culpa in the NYT

Finally Feeling the Heat
Published: May 24, 2006

TODAY "An Inconvenient Truth," Al Gore's movie about the greenhouse effect, opens in New York and California. Many who already believe global warming is a menace will flock to the film; many who scoff at the notion will opt for Tom Cruise or Tom Hanks.

But has anything happened in recent years that should cause a reasonable person to switch sides in the global-warming debate?

Yes: the science has changed from ambiguous to near-unanimous. As an environmental commentator, I have a long record of opposing alarmism. But based on the data I'm now switching sides regarding global warming, from skeptic to convert.

Once global-warming science was too uncertain to form the basis of policy decisions — and this was hardly just the contention of oil executives. "There is no evidence yet" of dangerous climate change, a National Academy of Sciences report said in 1991.

A 1992 survey of the American Geophysical Union and the American Meteorological Society found that only 17 percent of members believed there was sufficient grounds to declare an artificial greenhouse effect in progress.

In 1993 Thomas Karl, director of the National Climatic Data Center, said there existed "a great range of uncertainty" regarding whether the world is warming. Clearly, the question called for more research.

That research is now in, and it shows a strong scientific consensus that an artificially warming world is a real phenomenon posing real danger:

The American Geophysical Union and American Meteorological Society in 2003 both declared that signs of global warming had become compelling.

In 2004 the American Association for the Advancement of Science said that there was no longer any "substantive disagreement in the scientific community" that artificial global warming is happening.

In 2005, the National Academy of Sciences joined the science academies of Britain, China, Germany, Japan and other nations in a joint statement saying, "There is now strong evidence that significant global warming is occurring."

This year Mr. Karl of the climatic data center said research now supports "a substantial human impact on global temperature increases."

And this month the Climate Change Science Program, the Bush administration's coordinating agency for global-warming research, declared it had found "clear evidence of human influences on the climate system."

Case closed.

Earth's surface, atmosphere and seas are warming; ocean currents are slowing; ice shelves are melting faster than projected; spring is coming ever sooner; rainfall patterns are changing; North American migratory birds are ranging father north; the ability of the earth to self-regulate to resist warming appears to be waning.

While natural variation may play roles in climatic trends, overwhelming evidence points to the accumulation of greenhouse gases, mainly from the burning of fossil fuels, as the key.


The greatest worry is that climate change will harm the agricultural system on which civilization is based. Suppose climate change shifted precipitation away from breadbasket regions, sending rain clouds instead to the world's deserts.

Over generations, society would adjust — but years of global food shortages might occur during the adjustment, likely causing chaos in poor countries and armies of desperate refugees at the borders of wealthy nations. "


At lunch just a while ago, I mentioned to my environmental activist friend that one of the biggest problems we have had over the years in communicating the seriousnous of this issue is US.

How can we expect those who think that this Inconvenient Truth is a liberal hoax to believe our climate change tale when we all go about our days as if this is just some other issue that we are right on.

When we start acting like our lives are at stake.

They will too.

Case Closed


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Tuesday, May 23, 2006

The Tooth Fairy

For personal and professional reasons, I am always trying to get a handle on the future of the dollar. Given that the dollar, or the petrodollar as it is called, is the singular currency for the most widely traded commodity on earth, it has significant strengths and arguably, some unique weaknesses.

Several years ago, I was visiting with friends in Paris when a new acquaintance characterized his employer as the Country Club United Nations. He was of course referring to the OECD. The OECD is the organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

"The forerunner of the OECD was the Organisation for European Economic Co-operation (OEEC), which was formed to administer American and Canadian aid under the Marshall Plan for reconstruction of Europe after World War II. Since it took over from the OEEC in 1961, the OECD vocation has been to build strong economies in its member countries, improve efficiency, hone market systems, expand free trade and contribute to development in industrialised as well as developing countries.

After more than four decades, the OECD is moving beyond a focus on its own countries and is setting its analytical sights on those countries - today nearly the whole world - that embrace the market economy.

The Organisation is, for example, putting the benefit of its accumulated experience to the service of emerging market economies, particularly in the countries that are making their transition from centrally-planned to capitalist systems. "

The OECD is not a radical organization given to hyperbole. (radical right maybe)

With that in mind, I noticed this story in Forbes.

OECD warns rebalancing of US deficit
may drive dollar down sharply

LONDON (AFX) - The OECD has warned that the eventual rebalancing of the US current account gap 'looks increasingly unavoidable' and will send shock waves across the globe, starting with a slump in the dollar's exchange rate.

The OECD said in its world economic outlook that the depreciation faced by the dollar could be 'of the order of one-third to one-half.' The adjustment in the deficit would 'need to induce a sharp slowdown in US domestic demand and that this would have adverse spill-over effects on other economies both through the trade and asset revaluation channels,' it said.

The rebalancing may be accompanied by an increase in risk premiums and a reversal of private capital flows, it added. Countries with current account surpluses have been accumulating dollar reserves and 'their willingness to hold dollar assets on their balance sheets may diminish,' the OECD warned.

It also cautioned that a protectionist response from the US may accelerate the dollar's falls. 'The US deficit is becoming a pretext for protectionist pressures. If this were to prompt surplus countries to reduce their official US dollar reserves or raise expectations thereof, support for the US dollar could wane.'

Already, the widening of current account imbalances has been sustained far longer and with much smaller exchange rate responses than would have been judged plausible even a decade ago, it said.

So far the United States has attracted the capital needed to finance its current account deficit with relative ease. But it has also moved from being a major international creditor to a net external liability position amounting to slightly over 20 pct of GDP, and the current US external deficit is approximately twice the level that would be consistent with a stable net foreign liability position. "


If you look at the price of Oil,

it might be said that the depreciation (inflation) has already occurred.

Or, if you look at Real Estate and land prices in many places,

the depreciation has already taken some affect.

When folks tell you to pay off your debts,

they are not thinking straight, if the dollar is about to be halved.

I'll pay my debts off with cheap dollars, thank you very much.

A fifty percent devaluation would make the stock market look good,

but it would make bonds look horrible.

That's assuming that Wall Street doesn't read,

and they know nothing about climate change or peak oil.

Oddly, the last Bloomberg hot shot that I went out with,

didn't even know what a Blog was.

Or that the War is about Oil.

For my friend and her other Wall Street chums,

St Nick still comes down the chimney without a speck of soot,

And "the market " is the salvation of humankind.

Personally, I'm more fond of the Tooth Fairy Theory.

At least then when you lose something of value,

a mysterious force makes you feel better about it.


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art courtesy of Shannon Playford

Monday, May 22, 2006

The Flipping Point

Humankind is very close to the technology we need to make a flip in the way that we power our transportation appliances.

In addition to the developments in Ultra-capacitors that are occuring, there are important improvements in lithium ion batteries. Both can make hybrid and plug in hybrid vehicles more practical,

and more economic.

Here is the story from Technology Review:

More Powerful Hybrid Batteries
A123 Systems has built a powerful, lightweight lithium-ion battery pack that could lower the price of hybrid vehicles.
By Kevin Bullis
Technology Review
Friday, May 19, 2006

Last fall, Watertown, MA-based startup A123 Systems announced that its advanced lithium-ion batteries would make rechargeable circular saws and drills more powerful than plug-in tools (see "More Powerful Batteries").

The company, having delivered on its promise (the tools will be available at The Home Depot this weekend), has now built a battery pack that Ric Fulop, one of the company's founders and its vice president of marketing and business development, says could make hybrid vehicles cheaper and more convenient, while maintaining or improving performance.

The new hybrid battery pack was unveiled this week at the Advanced Automotive Battery and Ultracapacitor Conference in Baltimore. It could be appearing in vehicles within three years, Fulop says.

The pack weighs about as much as a small laptop computer, yet fits into a case smaller than a carton of cigarettes. Ten of them would replace the 45-kilogram battery in the Prius, Fulop says; and if one failed, the consumer could continue to drive the car using the remaining batteries, then replace the faulty one as easily as changing the battery on a rechargeable tool.

Such convenience could start to look more and more attractive as today's hybrid cars age and drivers face the need to replace worn-out batteries -- especially second owners who won't have warranty coverage.

So far, however, battery replacement isn't a big issue in the industry. In Japan, where the Prius has been on the market much longer than in the United States, for instance, Toyota just got up to a few hundred batteries last year in its recycling program.

Probably more important than ease of replacement, though, is the potential for cost savings and increased safety. Because the advanced lithium-ion batteries put a lot of power into a small, light package, a much smaller battery is needed to power the car, which could reduce hybrid prices.

As a result, a variety of cars in a fleet could come with a hybrid option that costs about as much as the option for an automatic transmission, Fulop says.


A123's batteries use a nanostructured lithium-ion phosphate material, an advanced version of the type of battery used in laptops.


On another note, we better hope we make progress learning how to get around without emitting CO2, because the Flipping Point has arrived.

Here is the story from Scientific American.

The Flipping Point

How the evidence for anthropogenic global warming has converged to cause this environmental skeptic to make a cognitive flip
By Michael Shermer


Four books eventually brought me to the flipping point. Archaeologist Brian Fagan's The Long Summer (Basic, 2004) explicates how civilization is the gift of a temporary period of mild climate. Geographer Jared Diamond's Collapse (Penguin Group, 2005) demonstrates how natural and human-caused environmental catastrophes led to the collapse of civilizations. Journalist Elizabeth Kolbert's Field Notes from a Catastrophe (Bloomsbury Publishing, 2006) is a page-turning account of her journeys around the world with environmental scientists who are documenting species extinction and climate change unmistakably linked to human action.

And biologist Tim Flannery's The Weather Makers (Atlantic Monthly Press, 2006) reveals how he went from being a skeptical environmentalist to a believing activist as incontrovertible data linking the increase of carbon dioxide to global warming accumulated in the past decade.

It is a matter of the Goldilocks phenomenon.

In the last ice age, CO2 levels were 180 parts per million (ppm)--too cold.

Between the agricultural revolution and the industrial revolution, levels rose to 280 ppm--just right.

Today levels are at 380 ppm and are projected to reach 450 to 550 by the end of the century--too warm. Like a kettle of water that transforms from liquid to steam when it changes from 99 to 100 degrees Celsius, the environment itself is about to make a CO2-driven flip.

According to Flannery, even if we reduce our carbon dioxide emissions by 70 percent by 2050, average global temperatures will increase between two and nine degrees by 2100. This rise could lead to the melting of the Greenland Ice Sheet, which the March 24 issue of Science reports is already shrinking at a rate of 224 ±41 cubic kilometers a year, double the rate measured in 1996 (Los Angeles uses one cubic kilometer of water a year).

If it and the West Antarctic Ice Sheet melt, sea levels will rise five to 10 meters, displacing half a billion inhabitants.

Because of the complexity of the problem, environmental skepticism was once tenable.

No longer.

It is time to flip from skepticism to activism. "

Just this weekend, President Clinton once again warned of the dangers of Climate Change. This time, the warning went to the Graduates of the LBJ School of Public Affairs at their commencement.

This Wednesday, the Inconvenient Truth opens.

Perhaps next Tuesday,

We'll all reach the flipping point.



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picture courtesy of Morning Earth

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Tale of Two Truths

It is very very rare indeed when I use a television anymore.

Almost all of my information and entertainment at home and office,

is delivered by a computer.

However this weekend, there are two programs

which have or will soon cause a stir.

One is the climate change liathon from Fox.

Here is the story from Media Matters


On May 21, Fox News will air a one-hour special, Global Warming: The Debate Continues, in which host David Asman will "speak with scientists who are skeptical of what they view as alarmist fears about climate change." Among the roster of contributors are several global warming skeptics with ties to the energy industry and records of misinformation on the issue.

Among the roster of contributors are several global warming skeptics with ties to the energy industry and records of misinformation on the issue.

In each case, their statements or studies questioning global warming theory have been debunked or proven misleading by the scientific community.

Patrick J. Michaels

According to an October 11, 2005, Seattle Times article, "Michaels has received more than $165,000 in fuel-industry funding, including money from the coal industry to publish his own climate journal."

Michaels also has ties to the George C. Marshall Institute (GMI), described by Congressional Quarterly as "a Washington-based think tank supported by industry and conservative foundations that focuses primarily on trying to debunk global warming as a threat." Formerly a visiting scientist at GMI, Michaels recently participated in a February 24 roundtable discussion there.

He is also the editor of Shattered Consensus: The True State of Global Warming (Rowman & Littlefield, 2005), a collection of essays advertised on the Institute's website as raising "serious doubts about whether policies to 'fight' climate change are warranted at all." The Exxon Mobil Foundation donated $80,000 to GMI's Climate Change program in 2002.

Moreover, Michaels's employer, the Cato Institute, has received substantial financial support from energy companies such as Chevron Companies, Exxon Corp., Royal Dutch/Shell, and Tenneco Gas, as well as the American Petroleum Institute, Amoco Foundation, and the Atlantic Richfield Foundation.

Bjørn Lomborg

In his book, The Skeptical Environmentalist (Cambridge University Press, 2001), Lomborg purported to conduct a "non-partisan analysis" of environmental data in the hope of offering the public and policymakers a guide for "clear-headed prioritization of resources to tackle real, not imagined, problems."

His conclusion was that the concerns of scientists regarding the world's environmental problems -- including global warming -- were universally overblown.

But in January 2002, Scientific American ran a series of articles from four well-known environmental specialists that lambasted Lomborg's book for "egregious distortions," "elementary blunders of quantitative manipulation and presentation that no self-respecting statistician ought to commit," and sections "poorly researched and ... rife with careless mistakes."

John Christy

John Christy is the director of the Earth System Science Center at the University of Alabama-Huntsville. Christy and fellow University of Alabama professor Roy Spencer co-authored a 2003 global warming study based on extensive data from weather satellites. Their report, which concluded that the troposphere had not warmed in recent decades, was ultimately found to have significant errors.

As The New York Times reported, when their miscalculations were taken into account, the data used in their study actually showed warming in the troposphere.

The Good news about this kind of reporting is this.

Some percent of the Fox viewing public will see this for what it is,

Propaganda from those who are recklessly endangering our climate.

And, they will see through this mendacious malicious misuse of the

public trust.

And Fox, will have their tight asses sued to their ankles some day.

In the meantime, Fox is losing viewers almost as fast

as the administration is losing its support.

Moreover, this kind of panic from the polluters,

shows that their molding of public opinion on climate change,

is losing ground in the minds and views of a growing concerned public.

The only honest debate about climate change these days is,

How bad and how fast?

On another network, HBO is showing Baghdad ER.

Here is the blurb:

12-time Emmy® Award winner producer/director Jon Alpert and Matthew O'Neill capture the humanity, hardships and heroism of the US Military and medical personnel of the 86th Combat Support Hospital, the Army's premier medical facility in Iraq.

Sometimes graphic in its depiction of combat-related wounds, BAGHDAD ER offers an unflinching and honest account of the realities of war. "

There is a lot of real estate between these two network shows.

One is full of lies, the other is full of real life.

One represents the views of those who would continue to wage

war on the earth.

The other shows what war on earth looks like

in the Emergency Room

in Baghdad.

One network should be sued for reckless endangerment.

The other should get a medal for showing the truth.


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art unknown

Friday, May 19, 2006

A House Divided

Led by Jerome a Paris (Jérôme Guillet), a wind financier, the Kossacks at Daily Kos have developed an Energy Policy for America. I haven't read it all, and I probably won't. But the Executive Summary looks pretty decent.

Here are some excerpts.

Energize America is a grassroots effort created and refined by informed citizen activists, and not by lobbyists or politicians. As such, it takes an unvarnished and objective look at U.S. energy policy with the single goal of achieving U.S. energy security by 2020, defined as the ability to withstand a prolonged supply interruption, and U.S. energy independence by 2040, defined as energy self-sufficiency.

Energize America will undoubtedly be attacked by special interests -- namely the fossil fuel lobbies that will resist its aggressive migration to renewable energy sources. In addition, those who do not agree that global warming poses a growing threat may challenge its GHG emissions goals.

Energize America will not please everyone, but it is designed with all Americans, and all future generations, in mind. Following is a summary of Energize America's position relative to existing energy sources.


Energize America is driven by the reality of 'Peak Oil', the fact our planet is reaching or has reached an irreversible period of shrinking oil production- which is compounded by rapidly growing demand worldwide.

Tar sands and other oil sources can provide some stop-gap relief from Peak Oil but cannot fully replace increasingly expensive and rare oil. Energize America aims to make the U.S. functionally free from imported oil by 2040 for national security, economic, and environmental reasons.


America enjoys the largest coal reserves in the world, which is both a blessing and a curse. Coal can meet our long-term needs for electricity and can also be liquefied into oil for transportation.
However, the mining of coal can be devastating to the environment if not done carefully, and the burning of coal can release significant amounts of GHGs into the atmosphere if not done responsibly. Energize America aims to minimize the environmental and GHG impact of coal use.


Nuclear power is experiencing a political resurgence of sorts, and several new plants are in various stages of planning. However, the nuclear industry enjoys huge subsidies that shield the industry from nuclear disaster liability.

The nuclear industry and our government have also failed for decades to solve the nuclear waste problem. These issues must be addressed before nuclear power is more widely used.


Energize America will require an investment of approximately $250 billion through 2020, or roughly $20 billion per year - a strategic investment that will provide substantial returns immediately and for generations to come. Included in Act XX is a balanced funding strategy to achieve U.S. energy security.

Energize America Acts

The following Acts are detailed in the full version of the plan (to be posted tomorrow):

I.......The Passenger Vehicle Fuel Efficiency Act ("500mpg cars")
II......The Transportation Industry Efficiency Act ("Long Haul")
III.....The Fleets Conversion Act ("Mass Transit")
IV.....The Community-Based Energy Investment Act ("Neighborood Power")
V......The Passenger Rail Restoration Act ("Bullet Trains")
VI.....The Clean Coal Generation Act ("Clean Coal")
VII....The Wind Energy Production Tax Credit Act ("Reap the Wind")
VIII...The 20 Million Solar Roof Act ("Harness the Sun")
IX.....The Renewable Portfolio Standards Act ("Fair Everywhere")
X......The Federal Net Metering Act ("Get on the Grid")
XI.....The State-Based Renewable Energy Investment Act ("Green States")
XII....The New Energy Technology Demonstration Act ("Liquid Coal and Golden Glow")
XIII...The Sustainable Energy Economic Prosperity Act ("Focused for Lasting Success")
XIV...The Carbon Reduction Act ("Atmosphere Stability")
XV....The Federal Energy Policy Enforcement Act ("People's Energy Watchdog")
XVI...The National Energy Efficiency & Conservation Act ("EnergySMART")
XVII..The Home Efficiency Act ("C the Light")
XVIII.The Demand Side Management Act ("Real Time Energy Pricing")
XIX...The Telecommuter Assistance Act ("Work Smart")
XX....The Energy Security Funding Act ("Paying the Piper")

Really, not so bad.

Most of these programs are part of other plans

that many of us have developed over the years.

But these left leaning nationalists are still living in some kind of

Nationalist Twilight Zone.

The language here is rife with Nationalism

and American Independence.

We need to develop an energy policy for the Earth.

If we continue to indulge ourselves with these divisive mind forms,

We will reap the truth of these words,

A house divided against itself cannot stand.”

And great will be the fall thereof.


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*art courtesy of Library of Congress

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Coming Together

With the announcement of Bill Ford that Ford is working on a plug in car, the momentum for a true multifuel transportation device is coming together.

Here is an AP story from yesterday's testimony in DC.

Scientists Back Plug-In Hybrids
May 18, 2006
Ken Thomas,

WASHINGTON — A group of scientists urged Congress on Wednesday to fund research for plug-in hybrid vehicles, touting the technology as another way to reduce the nation's dependence on oil through the help of a simple electrical socket.

With high gas prices straining some Americans' budgets, advocates of the alternative vehicles told a House committee that plug-in hybrids could reduce gasoline consumption and reduce air emissions. And while ethanol-fueled vehicles will require a better network of fueling pumps, a plug-in hybrid car could recharge at home.

"To think that you could pull into your garage at the end of the day and 'fill 'er up' just by plugging your car into a regular, 110-volt socket in the garage is very appealing," said Rep. Judy Biggert, R-Ill., chairwoman of the House Science subcommittee on energy.

Plug-in hybrids combine hybrid technology which uses both gasoline and electric power with large batteries that can be plugged into a standard wall socket.


Dr. Andrew Frank, a mechanical and aeronautical engineering professor at the University of California, Davis, said researchers have developed preproduction vehicles but need funding to create a fleet of about 100 plug-ins that could be tested around the nation.


John German of American Honda Motor Co. told lawmakers the technology offered potential, but the larger battery pack "adds thousands of dollars to the initial price of the vehicle and detracts from the performance and interior space."

Others have worried that thousands of plug-in hybrids could overwhelm the electric grid. Paul Williamsen, a product education manager with Toyota, told reporters Tuesday that the automaker found from experience with electric vehicles that consumers often plugged in their vehicles during the day, leading to "increased total consumption on the electrical grid during those peak daylight hours."

But Roger Duncan, deputy general manager of Austin Energy in Texas, said the obstacles involving the batteries could be addressed. The main obstacle, he said, is "automotive industry inertia based on a perception that there is not a commercially viable market."

The Plug In Partner Campaign from Austin Energy has accomplished a lot since its inception last January.

It's an example of how communities and local governments can help shape policy at the national and international level.

Earthfamilies could do the same.

They could boycott Exxon for its funding of lies on Climate Change.

They could boycott big box stores.

They could buy local.

They could buy from the communications provider

that protects your rights,

and follows the law.

They could band together to buy clean energy,

They could band together to buy health insurance,

They could band together for shared housing and car pools.

They could band together and create new inventions of

social contract.

We have the power,

When we come together.


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*Coming Together art courtesy of Carla Farsi