I was surprised to hear (for the first time today) that there was an oil drilling platform in the Gulf of Mexico that, um, exploded last week (a couple days before Earth Day), and is currently pumping 42,000 barrels of oil a day into the water, and attempts to shut down the leak (1 mile down) have failed repeatedly since the leak was discovered on Saturday — I happened to be in my car and heard a report on NPR.
After dinner, I went to the New York Times to read more.
But I didn’t find anything without a search. Granted, lots of news today:
Goldman Sachs CEO questioned on possible fraud
Republicans blocking attempt to reform our financial regulations
Stock market down 2% because Greek credit rating cut to “junk”
Strict abortion measures enacted in Oklahoma
Impacts from Arizona’s immigration laws
So I started trolling around the sections. World: nada. Business: nope, all front page stuff, plus Ford makes a big profit. Technology: Apple iPad related story. Science? Nope. Green? Nope. (Really!) Health? Nope. US: fifth story, something about Robots (turns out to be about the oil disaster).
Good thing for British Petroleum, apparently a lot of other big news pushed their little disaster to the back of the book. (more…)
Fossil fuel use has created a quickly accelerating problem in the US and world. It has already and will continue to affect our water and food supplies, our safety and health, our security. It’s impacts also compound each other, are unpredictable, not fully understood, are not reversible, and which we need to act now to mitigate or adapt to; every day we delay makes the problem less solvable.
On Sunday an article by Roger Lowenstein, a former reporter for the Wall Street Journal, appeared in the New York Times titled “What’s Really Wrong with the Price of Oil?” It’s pretty long, and thorough. He dispassionately describes the various forces affecting the price of oil, especially its price over the last year or so, in economic terms.
He’s pretty economically conservative, in my estimation, which is why I was surprised to see the following:
The way to avoid a repeat is to dust off an idea that Gerald Ford once proposed: a tax on oil. Ideally, it would kick in only if the price fell back to, say, $70 a barrel. The beauty of this tax is that, very likely, no one would have to pay it. The tax would merely serve as a floor — a new lower bound.
What? A tax on oil? Wouldn’t that make it even more expensive?
Then today, the Times has an article reporting on OPEC’s response to the slumping price of oil (which is nearly the same price as it was last year at this time). And then, an article on how alternative energy is going to have a hard time competing against these low energy prices.
This Spring and Summer, oil prices spiked. They got our attention. Boy did they get our attention!
But prices are falling again, and are now down. This is good.
So why are lower prices good? The recent oil price spike has done what it can to wake us up. We need a respite; a chance to calm down, and a chance to see that the oil market is doing what markets do. They go up, they go down. When things are clear and investors are confident, markets respond calmly. When there’s a surprise, markets over-react, then settle. When there’s general nervousness, they become volatile and hard to predict. (more…)
Nothing important, just the EPA’s response to the Supreme Court ruling stating that is wasn’t ok to ignore the Clean Air Act. As a result CO2 needed to be treated as a pollutant just like other effluents.
So it seems the EPA wrote up rather extensive study in 2007 after the ruling showing how the country could actually benefit from acting upon this ruling, such as how having strict rules on vehicle emissions could save (not cost) billions of dollars.
But the administration doesn’t think the Clean Air Act is a good thing, it seems, so they refused to accept these findings. “La-la-la-la-la” (more…)
Reuters is reporting a water powered car by a company called Genepax. Almost every source I could find left it at that: you pour in some water (any kind will do) and its generator will separate hydrogen from water, then use the hydrogen to power the vehicle. Just pour in more water to make the car go further. Just like the press release says. Nothing more.
Janetos is one of the lead scientists commissioned by the US Government to study effects of fossil fuel on agriculture. Significant measured impacts from this cause (that have already happened) include:
More frequent forest fires
Reduced snow pack
This is not a prediction for what may happen in the next fifty years. These already happened enough to measure. They are still happening (more…)