Blog Archive

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

On Energy

The (current) Energy Policy Debate

I've been aware of Peak Oil since Bush II , incredibly, invaded Iraq.
I had heard of this before...but placed it in the "Interesting Tinfoil" file...along with UFO's, etc
When Lil' George conflated Iraq with Al Quaeda, with tortured "reasoning", I went to my big map of the world...armed with colored thumb-tacks...
I placed a red one wherever the US military was, a white one wherever there were drugs, or drug transits...and blue where the oil and Natural Gas (methane) was located..and pipelines/refineries.
Yellow went wherever there was a brushfire conflict, "terrorism" or other unrest.
It was amazing to see how those little pins coagulated.
That set me on a research frenzy...and Peak Oil was where it led.
I'm not gonna lay out the case....the info is abundant....and you're either honest to yourself, or you're not.
You do the work.
What I'm on about is the current Energy Bill...and all the rhetoric surrounding it.
Taking as given that PO is real..and that oil shale, tar sands, and other "unconventional" oil do not possess a positive EROI...(energy return on energy invested)....we, as a planet, have a huge problem.
We simply cannot continue Business as Usual.
That's reality.
The Perpetual Growth way of doing things is OVER!
But we have never done anything, except in that way.
For 10,000 years, since we took the first tentative steps toward 'civilisation', Humanity has been all about Perpetual Growth.
We don't know how to do Negative Growth or Steady State....we have never needed to.
Very soon, however, we will be forced to learn how...or suffer the fate of the deer on Plum Island.
It's not simply a matter of fueling our cars with alcohol (negative EROI)'s much more fundamental than that.
What is required is a wholesale reordering of how we do everything.
There are many things standing in the way of even realising that there's a problem.
Not least among these is Big Business.
Especially Oil Companies.
For a long time, these monsters have driven our foreign and domestic policy.
And to add shit to their record, they have been fully aware of PO since at least the 70's.
This is more of that TINA I'm on about so often.
(There is No Alternative)
A new, Post Oil world means much less power and $$$ for them.
So they obfuscate...purposely muddy the waters.
Po was relegated to Tin Foil.
Republicans are the worst when it comes to being bought by big Oil...but Dems are just as guilty, having lay down for fear of being called...well...being called a lot of things.
Now I hear R's bemoaning the current Energy Bill...that it will kill the economy, hurt oil companies, that it sets up a Nanny State...forcing us Plebes to buy fancy lightbulbs...that it will tax energy.
All these are true, to an extent.
To wit:
1 Economy: News flash! Without cheap, abundant oil...the economy will never "recover" to the place it was at in the late 90's.
We've run up against the edge of the petrie more 'perpetual' growth...remaining resources must be allocated to preparing for a Post Oil matter what that does to the Giant Corporations.
2 Oil Companies:.....will suffer will almost every other Corporation.Long run, this is a Good Thing....these Artificial Immortal Monsters have a weakness, after all.(Yay).Short run, it'll be painful for everyone.Everything we do relies on cheap, abundant hydrocarbons...and the last 30 years can be viewed as a desparate attempt to deny the reality of the Oil Age's books on a Global scale.Ponzi Schemes as National and International "Monetary Policy"....Hidden Inflation...Petrodollar Recycling.....
All this to delay the inevitable.
And it Failed.

3.Nanny state...I'll only mention, briefly, the hypocracy of this statement: Drug War...Anti Queer Crusade...the inherant Racism of the Right (even though the 'opposition' politely looks away)...
Republicans must get off that horse before it throws them.
&4...A Nanny State is exactly what we need.
Energy tax! Europe did this 20 years ago....and they are as ready as they can be (despite our constant meddling)...railroads everywhere...public transportation that actually works.Overall a much more sane energy policy.

We must be forced to get up off our collective asses (literally) and get out and dig up our yards for gardening.The 3000 mile tomato is an insult to farmers everywhere.
We must be forced to put in efficient appliances, light bulbs,etc.We waste more energy, unnecessarily, than many countries use in the first place.
Corporations must be forced to build more efficient, fridges, etc (same way they were forced to put seat belts in cars)
They ain't gonna do it on their own.If they can't compete in the new world of less energy, so be it...I thought that was one of the tenents of Free Market-ism, anyway.
We must be forced to drive that we may clamour for much more public transportation....and, hopefully get past NIMBY (not in my back yard) regarding rail, wind turbines, etc.

I don't like the idea of forcing (even nonviolently, with tax policy) anyone...I am a Jeffersonian Liberal, after all...
But reality intrudes.
We are not Good Thomas' informed public.
We have become a mob of fat, lazy, whiny idiots.
Prove that statement wrong, if it offends you!
If Republicans (and Democrats) really, truly give a good God damn about the fate of this country, it's inhabitants, the environment, and even the long term survival of Humanity...they must leave off the fear mongering that amounts to defending the paradigm and get right with reality.
The clock is ticking.

If anything, this Energy Bill does'nt go far enough.
We should end the de facto prohibition on home and neighborhood-scale energy production.
Look up Hydraulic Despotism....that's what we have now, with, fuel, toilet paper.
Every time you take a crap, and the product finds itself in a bacterial soup, in a processing plant or a septic tank, it ends up giving off copious amounts of Methane....that's Natural gas.
The vast majority of this is simply allowed to escape to the atmosphere...thus contributing to Climate Change and doing no work.
I found a company in Georgia, 10 years ago, that made "home/villiage scale" a septic tank that captures the Methane for use in cooking/heating/electrical generation.
This company was selling these things, in Tanzania, for around $800...but I couldn't buy one.Never got a good reason why I was not allowed to purchase this device, thus saving $700-1000/year in Propane costs...but I reasoned that that last bit was the reason.
The "Regulations" had been tampered with at the behest and for the benefit of the Propane/ NatGas "Industry"..
When you set about trying to do these things for yourself, you find all manner of such roadblocks in your' way.

Consider all those wires...high-voltage transmission, stepped down to regional, stepped down again to neighborhood level...
Fully 40% of what's generated is lost from these miles of wires, to the atmosphere.
Add in the fact that the American Engineer Society (or something, don't remember...look it up) said a few years ago that the "Grid" would require several years of GDP (ie: Trillions of $$$'s) to just maintain at current levels.
Perhaps, instead of spending all that Jack to fix a system that wastes almost half of what it generates (When Working As Designed!!!)...perhaps we should go the other direction...and encourage (and help pay for) home/villiage/neighborhood-level power generation.
No more tree-branch-across-a wire= several states w/out power.
Cheaper, and more efficient, in the long run.
Once again, we are not gonna do this on our own initiative...Look at the folks around you...sorry. Not Jefferson's Informed American.
Too, the power companies are not, out of the goodness of their hearts (Corporations don't have hearts...) remove their "hands" from our collective throats...willingly.

If you think you see a developing "theme", here...good on ya'.
Democratisation of Everything.


Centralisation is an artifact of Cheap, Abundant Energy...and Perpetual Growth.
It is OVER...and the sooner we, and our "Leaders", get our heads around that, the better.
We need Decentralisation...of everything from food production, to shoe making, to energy, to Government.
Need to "Create" jobs?
There lies the means...

If anyone ever reads these missives,(Hello??) I expect to hear why none of this can be done...
I welcome such comments.
I am merely stating what is painfully obvious, to me...after much research, and after trying mightily to prove all this wrong, myself.
This is NOT about some Hippy-dippy Utopian Paradise...well, it is, kinda...but is an answer to a very real collection of problems that are looming over all of us right matter how assiduously the Machine tries to convince us otherwise.

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