Peak Oil holds that, due to fundamental limitations of geology, the easy and cheap oil is mostly gone, and "we" must now drill for expensive, hard-to-reach oil.
"Lemon socialism" is a shorthand for "privatizing profits and socializing losses." In the case of oil drilling, it means that the drilling companies will keep the profits from the high price of oil, while shifting the cost of drilling to others.
The damage to the Gulf is a classic (and tragic) example. Drilling in mile-deep waters is necessary (if we are to continue to maintain supply in the face of Peak Oil) and it is expensive. Most of the expense is due to mitigating risk. So BP and friends keep profit for themselves, while ignoring risk-- i.e., shifting it to society. In this case, the costs were paid by all of us, especially shrimp fishermen, folks dependent on Gulf tourism, etc.
In a minute, I'll tell you the bad news.
This will be a quick diary, which I don't really have time to write-- but the story is just too juicy.
One of the many ways we measure temperature is with thermometers. Many of these thermometers are attached to a large network of 1000+ weather stations located throughout the US. Some of these show lower temps than those in the vicinity (someone located them just west of a tree, which blocks the sun) while others show higher temps (built nearby a parking lot, which absorbs sun).
Now, a new "study" has shown that the overall, these differences cancel out. That is, the best-located stations show precisely the same temperature trends as the set of all stations.
Amazingly, this "study" was carried out by a team of dozens (hundreds?) of Global Warming Deniers.
I can't find the original, years-old cartoon. (Update: hereit is. Thanks sc008) But here's a summary (paraphrased from here):
Wally and Dilbert are in a conference room with another guy we don't know. Dilbert says to this guy "What's your secret? You come and go as you please, take long lunches, and walk around like you own the place. What gives?"
The guy replies, "Fifteen years ago I wrote 15,000 lines of spaghetti [indecipherable programming code] Cobol that runs the entire payroll system."
Wally and Dilbert genuflect: "The Holy Grail! We're not worthy!"
The guy winks at them and says "You boys will see a little extra in your checks this month."
Dilbert and Wally are impressed because the spaghetti code guy has written code that is indispensable to running the company. And he wrote it so poorly that only he can keep it running. So he can name his price.
Sound familiar? It should. The same scam is now being replicated on a national scale. And the price is in the trillions.
On Friday, I was really scared to read in the LA Times
Iran has enough fuel for a nuclear bomb, report says
Iran has enough nuclear fuel to build a bomb... about 2,227 pounds of low-enriched, or reactor-grade, nuclear fuel by late January. Physicists estimate that producing the 55 pounds or so of highly enriched, or weapons-grade, uranium needed for an atomic warhead requires 2,205 to 3,748 pounds of low-enriched uranium.
Actually, it requires a heckuva lot more than that. Going from 2205 pounds of 4% enriched uranium to the high enrichment that's needed is by far the hardest thing about making an atomic bomb. Everything else is fairly straightforward.
An undergraduate can design a working Bomb.
And uranium is common. In fact, I once sold some people 25% of the U-235 fuel they'd need to build a Nuclear Bomb. They were strangers-- but they payed me very well.
Its been months or years since I was last as hopeful about Global Warming as I was yesterday and today.
Yesterday, a new invention (that no one I know personally had anything to with) was announced. I'm going to go out on a limb and predict that by the end of next year, it will reduce American CO2 emissions more than every single wind turbine and solar panel installed until then.
This diary is not snark and I am not drunk.
Update:Um, Rec list?? Thanks for the pleasant surprise! But please see note near end of diary for my shameless exploitation.
Floods: The massive storm hit the Netherland's dikes when the tides were already high-- the worst possible time. By 3 AM, the dikes began to fail. People woke to the thunderous noise of the sea swamping 5 - 8% of the country; many made it to their rooftops, but nearly 2000 drowned. 70,000 people were ultimately evacuated.
Fires: The Australian Heat wave of January/February 2009 broke numerous records, including the hottest temperature ever recorded so far south. The hot dry weather set the stage for massive wildfires with flames higher than a ten story building that destroyed many towns and killed around 200 people(so far). "Hell in all its fury has visited the good people of Victoria" said the Australian Prime Minister.
So what do these two natural disasters have in common?
If you answered "Global Warming", you are wrong. The Netherlands floods happened in 1953.
If you answered "nothing" or "only that both involved people living in harm's way" you might well be right. But I hope not.
"Hell in all its fury has visited the good people of Victoria. It's an appalling tragedy for the nation." -Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, 2/7/2009
Scientists warned us this was going to happen
IT IS only a couple of years since scientists first told us we could expect a new order of fires in south-eastern Australia, fires of such ferocity they would engulf the towns in their path.
And here they are. The fires of Saturday were not "once in 1000 years" or even "once in 100 years" events, as our political leaders keep repeating. They were the face of climate change.
--Sydney Morning Herald
Our turn may come, too, probably starting in California or the mountain West. It may not be long now.
163 years ago, Henry David Thoreau moved in to a small cabin in Concord, MA in the woods next to Walden Pond. He lived deliberately, and took very detailed notes about the animals and plants that shared his woods.
After his death, his woods were well protected. Concord is prosperous and liberal even by Massachusetts standards, and takes its historical and natural heritage quite seriously. Over 60% of the areas that were wild during Thoreau's time are still protected.
Nevertheless, most of the flowering plants Thoreau observed are locally extinct or soon will be.
Even worse, there is strong evidence that the local extinction is just one small piece of the ongoing global extinction caused by Global Warming, and provides still more evidence that Global Warming may kill most of the world's species of plants and animals.
Yes, we're all excited about an Obama Presidency. But I think we sometimes underestimate just how enlightened his policies will be. By "enlightened", I mean, of course, similar to those we believe in.
As diariedby Watthead, Obama recently gave a full-length interview about his priorities as President.
And that brings us to this exercise. I have printed below two excerpts from that interview, and one each from Jerome A Paris and the great climate scientist James Hansen (actually, the Hansen quote consists of notes taken from a talk he gave).
Your job is to guess which is which.
The banking bailout, called the end of GOP ideology, is better understood as the largest application of the shock doctrine so far.
As Naomi Klein wrote the Shock Doctrine
"free market" policies have come to dominate the world-- through the exploitation of disaster-shocked people and countries.
Today, Wall Street stalwarts are disappearing in the worst financial crisis since the Depression, the housing market is in freefall, unemployment is skyrocketing. Americans are losing years of savings, much of the equity in our houses, or our jobs.
A lot of us are shocked.
This is when the "free-marketers" usually strike.
This time, the "free market" won't let them take out enough money by January 20th. So they propose we let them write checks of any size to anyone (as long as its "mortgage related"), without any review, nor even any need to disclose for months.
Never mind health-care or renewable energy; that money and more may now go to "mortgage-related assets" in swing states-- or straight to Bush cronies.
The crisis is temporary, but the plan is not.
Classic shock doctrine.
In 2006, the great climate scientist James Hansen famously said
I think we have a very brief window of opportunity to deal with climate change ... no longer than a decade, at the most.
Since then, things have gotten much, much worse. The Arctic ice is melting faster than expected. CO2 emissions are accelerating. Global warming is accelerating.
Hansen no longer stands by his estimate that we have one decade to turn things around. He now thinks that was too optimistic.
Today, James Hansen told congress that we have one year.
Free market dogma is easily summarized: the market is always more efficient than government, so government can never do anything (health care, weather forecasts, renewable energy subsidies) as well as the private sector.
As Greenspan famously testified (my emphasis):
I believe, as I have noted in the past, that the federal government should eschew private asset accumulation because it would be exceptionally difficult to insulate the government's investment decisions from political pressures. Thus, over time, having the federal government hold significant amounts of private assets would risk sub-optimal performance by our capital markets, diminished economic efficiency, and lower overall standards of living than would be achieved otherwise.
Now that Greenspan's successor may transfer hundreds of billions of dollars of assets from the country's most sophisticated private-sector investors to the government, Greenspan and the free-market fundamentalists must be really, really concerned about the risk of suboptimal performance.