Tuesday, August 17, 2010
Monday, August 16, 2010
The International Energy Agency (IEA) is forecasting world oil demand will set a new record next year when is smashes through 2008's pre-recession high --- and warning that the "era of cheap oil is over."
According to the IEA's latest Oil Market Report, published August 11, global demand will reach 86.6 million barrels per day in 2010, and then 87.9 million barrels per day in 2011, assuming a continuing global economic recovery. This means demand is set to pass the all-time high of 86.9 million barrels per day established in 2008 before the global economic downturn.
The figure has been given significance by those that say oil peaked midway through 2008. Peak oil refers to the time of maximum production --- the high point of the oil output bell chart, after which, as geologist M King Hubbert showed, output will diminish even though much oil remains to be extracted. If oil did peak at 86.9 million barrels per day, then demand would be expected to overtake supply early in 2011. (Personally, I don't believe oil has peaked --- but this will soon be put to the test.)
Another significant figure bandied around relates to oil's mid-2008 price spike: it traded at $147 a barrel in July of that year. People that believe oil peaked will tell you this was a simple matter of supply and demand, while Opec has all along blamed speculators for pushing the prices up. Another factor, as reported at the time by Reuters, was the then tension between Israel, the US and Iran, including Iranian missile tests and rumoured Israeli air force drills in Iranian airspace that "left the oil markets worried about a potential supply disruption."
There were clearly many market forces pushing oil prices up at the time --- so, unlike more accomplished peak oil writers, I don't see oil's passage through the 86.9 million-barrels-per-day threshold as guaranteeing triple digit figures. Anything is possible, of course, but to my mind the key figure to watch is Opec's spare capacity. This is the amount of mothballed production that can quickly come online to cushion against oil supply and demand shocks. Periods of tight capacity are associated with high oil prices; zero capacity indicates peak oil, or at least supply failing to keep up with demand.
As long as the Oil Conspiracy continues, these arch criminals will have a stranglehold on the world.
Thursday, August 5, 2010
John Holdren, chief science adviser to US President Barack Obama, lamented the recent failure of Democrats in the US Senate to push forward legislation on global warming, in a speech to the Ecological Society of America conference in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, yesterday:
He told the audience that the Senate’s failure to act was particularly disappointing during a summer in which the planet has experienced record heat, drought and wildfires.
“Societies are not taking the actions that the science indicates are needed and the technology indicates are possible. It’s important to understand why not,” he says.
He says he believes the hold up is “rooted in human behaviour” and there is an urgent need to involve social science and humanities researchers in questions on climate change to understand how to make progress.
Holdren dismissed concerns that last November’s “climategate” controversy had damaged the scientific evidence supporting climate change. Rather, he said, the incident showed that “climate scientists were human too”, and that they “resist sharing data with those they believe have no interest in truth-seeking”. He added that Obama understood this.
Holdren also warned that the world was failing to meet the Millennium Development Goals which aim to end the poverty of people living the developing world by 2015. In particular, he said “we are not remotely on track to end hunger” and that the world was “doing even worse” on meeting its targets to conserve biodiversity and stop animals and plants from going extinct.
He called for socio-political and environmental factors, such as competition for land and water, to carry greater weight in development efforts, saying they still play second fiddle to economic considerations.
“In the past, development has mainly referred to strengthening the economic pillar. But development must mean improving all three,” he said.
Let's get one thing straight: We have the technology to solve the climate problem. We just don't have the money to implement it. And, we don't have the money because the big vested interests who pay your salary are stopping it. There's no mystery here. Get real, guy.
We applied four times for an Energy Dept grant to solve the climate problem under the ARRA. We asked for $5 million over 18 months. Surely, a pittance to a government that spent a trillion dollars creating such wonderful public monuments as a tunnel to nowhere or a sidewalk to a ditch. But, each time, your bureacrats, who are probably on the payroll of BP, found some rationalization why we didn't qualify. They never argued that the science was wrong. No, they gave us answers like, "Not transformational." What? How do you answer that?
It's clear that you aren't in the loop, Holdren. Why don't you try asking your boss Obama why? The answer will probably be that we didn't offer the highest bribe.
Tuesday, August 3, 2010
Tuesday, July 20, 2010
The European Union is betting the ranch on a fusion reaction that most likely will not work. And, in doing so, they are cutting important research in other fields. Thus, the Europeans have shown themselves to be even more feckless than their American cousins.
According to EU research funds to prop up costly fusion reactor:
European research is set to lose a total of �460 million from its 2012 and 2013 budgets to prop up the ITER fusion reactor being built in the South of France.
The raid on EU research funds was proposed today by the European Commission, the EU's executive body, as a compromise solution to help plug a �1.4 billion gap in ITER's budget. The shortfall in the reactor's funding is a result of expected constructions costs spiralling to �15 billion from initial estimates in 2006 of �5 billion.
Nature first reported on plans to plug ITER's funding shortfall earlier this month, when European nations proposed to divert more than one billions euros earmarked for research grants to prop up the project.
The Commission has now suggested that �100 million is siphoned off the research budget in 2012 and �360 million the following year. It says the remainder should come from unused funds from other areas of the EU budget.
Announcing the plan, the research commissioner, Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, said, "ITER can provide a safe, clean and inexhaustible source of energy for the future. The EU needs to show the vision and the resolve beyond the immediate financing difficulties and meet its international commitment to this project." "What we are proposing today is a balanced solution" she added.
The Commission's announcement follows a meeting of member states on July 12, where they asked the Commission to accept a new estimate of �6.6 billion for the EU's financial contribution to ITER over the period 2007 --- 2020. The Commission says it will likely agree to the increase at a meeting of the ITER council on 27-28 July in Cadarache, France.
Other nations contributing to the project are: Japan; South Korea; Russia; India; China and the United States.
The Commission's plan must now be agreed by the European Parliament and member states.
Tuesday, July 13, 2010
Big Oil takes billions of dollars from the government every year in subsidies, spending some to prevent alternative energy from overthrowing their lock on the energy market. dugan describes Big Oil's Boondoggle Machine. It's a sordid story paid for by you, the taxpayer.
Wednesday, July 7, 2010
Was it only 17,465 days ago when President John F. Kennedy delivered a seminal speech at Rice University?
William Bradford, speaking in 1630 of the founding of the Plymouth Bay Colony, said that all great and honorable actions are accompanied with great difficulties, and both must be enterprised and overcome with answerable courage.
If this capsule history of our progress teaches us anything, it is that man, in his quest for knowledge and progress, is determined and cannot be deterred. The exploration of space will go ahead, whether we join in it or not, and it is one of the great adventures of all time, and no nation which expects to be the leader of other nations can expect to stay behind in this race for space.
Those who came before us made certain that this country rode the first waves of the industrial revolution, the first waves of modern invention, and the first wave of nuclear power, and this generation does not intend to founder in the backwash of the coming age of space. We mean to be a part of it--we mean to lead it. For the eyes of the world now look into space, to the moon and to the planets beyond, and we have vowed that we shall not see it governed by a hostile flag of conquest, but by a banner of freedom and peace. We have vowed that we shall not see space filled with weapons of mass destruction, but with instruments of knowledge and understanding.
Yet the vows of this Nation can only be fulfilled if we in this Nation are first, and, therefore, we intend to be first. In short, our leadership in science and industry, our hopes for peace and security, our obligations to ourselves as well as others, all require us to make this effort, to solve these mysteries, to solve them for the good of all men, and to become the world's leading space-faring nation.
We set sail on this new sea because there is new knowledge to be gained, and new rights to be won, and they must be won and used for the progress of all people. For space science, like nuclear science and all technology, has no conscience of its own. Whether it will become a force for good or ill depends on man, and only if the United States occupies a position of pre-eminence can we help decide whether this new ocean will be a sea of peace or a new terrifying theater of war. I do not say that we should or will go unprotected against the hostile misuse of space any more than we go unprotected against the hostile use of land or sea, but I do say that space can be explored and mastered without feeding the fires of war, without repeating the mistakes that man has made in extending his writ around this globe of ours.
There is no strife, no prejudice, no national conflict in outer space as yet. Its hazards are hostile to us all. Its conquest deserves the best of all mankind, and its opportunity for peaceful cooperation may never come again. But why, some say, the moon? Why choose this as our goal? And they may well ask why climb the highest mountain? Why, 35 years ago, fly the Atlantic? Why does Rice play Texas?
We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon... (interrupted by applause) we choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too.
Saturday, June 26, 2010
While the Gulf continues to leak black goo as the greatest environmental catastophe of all time continues unabated (and promises to grow much larger as a tropical storm threatens to rain the oily goo hundreds of kilometers inland at some time this hurricane season), it's interesting to realize that the US Government is the responsible agent for subsizing fossil fuels over environmentally-friendly alternatives.
Fossil fuel incentives totaled $72 billion during the 2002-2008 fiscal years, while ethanol received $16.8 billion and all other alternatives only $12.2 billion.
This is why, after the Arab Oil Embargo of the Seventies, America chose to continue on the course of self-destruction in the use of fossil fuels. It's one reason the American Empire is turning to dust. By the middle of the century, America will be a burned-out wreck of an empire with the best and brightest gone to other lands and other opportunities.
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
While politicians continue to press for solutions to global warming which involve sticking their hands into your pocket and extracting cash, scientists now report that the ocean may simply "fix" the problem.
Richard Stone writes in a Science magazine article entitled The Invisible Hand Behind A Vast Carbon Reservoir that the oceans were able to store 500 times as much carbon in years past than they do now. Moreover, rising temperatures from global warming will allow the oceans to sequester carbon via this microbial mechanism, eliminating the possibility of a runaway greenhouse effect, the nightmare scenario so many climate scientists have been agonizing over for decades.
Ironically, what human science couldn't figure out how to solve may simply be solved by the smallest organisms on Planet Earth: bacteria.
Thursday, June 17, 2010
Jeff Masters reports on his Wunderblog that things are heating up:
The globe recorded its warmest May since record keeping began in 1880, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA's) National Climatic Data Center (NCDC). The May temperature anomaly of 0.69°C (1.24°F) beat the previous record set in 1998 by 0.06°C. We've now had three consecutive warmest months on record, the first time that has happened since 1998. NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies also rated May 2010 as the warmest May on record, tied with May 1998. Both NOAA and NASA rated the year-to-date period, January - May, as the warmest such period on record, and the last 12-month period (June 2009 - May 2010) as the warmest 12-month period on record. May 2010 global ocean temperatures were the second warmest on record, while land temperatures were the warmest on record. Global satellite-measured temperatures for the lowest 8 km of the atmosphere were the 2nd warmest on record in May, according to both the University of Alabama Huntsville (UAH) and Remote Sensing Systems (RSS) groups.
Thermopower will eventually turn the tide, but it will take funding to get it off the shelf and into action.
Monday, June 14, 2010
It's been a long time developing, but it's very clear that the United States of America now qualifies as the ultimate Idiocracy. The reason is that we could wean ourselves off oil simply by investing a miniscule amount of money in research and development of alternative energy---but we continue to refuse to do the obvious.
Now, even Bill Gates recognizes just how stupid America has become:
Microsoft founder Bill Gates urged the United States Sunday to invest billions of dollars a year to bring about a clean energy revolution that would free it from dependence on oil.
In an interview with ABC "This Week," Gates said the disastrous oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico raises the question "how did we get an energy infrastructure that is this fragile?"
Gates and his American Energy Innovation Council last week called for an 11-billion-dollar increase in annual investment in research and development into clean energy technology to 16 billion dollars a year.
"You know, we've got a supply chain where we send a billion dollars a year overseas and you can imagine that there will be disruptions," he said.
"But, in fact, the only real solution is to take American ingenuity and fund R&D to get energy in different forms (so) that we're not sending this much money away and that it's stable and reliable," he said.
The AEIC report released June 9 called for a public commitment to funding innovation in clean energy sources, arguing that individual companies are unlikely to make huge investments needed to make new energy sources commercially viable.
But Gates acknowledged that the US budget was tight.
"The question is can the energy sector finance its own revolution and create these great R&D jobs here in America?" he said.
"The only way you get those things is through the breakthroughs. And I'm optimistic they're there, but we're not making the investment," Gates said. "Today we spend only about four billion dollars on energy R&D compared to 30 billion dollars on health, 80 billion dollars on defense."
The bottom line is that an investment of a handful of millions of dollars is needed to develop Thermopower, a source of energy which will destroy the need to drill for oil to provide energy. But, America suffers from that national equivalent of senility and must now be classed as the ultimate Idiocracy.
Wednesday, June 9, 2010
Thursday, May 27, 2010
Wednesday, May 26, 2010
David Lindorff writes:
Even as BP's blown well a mile beneath the surface in the Gulf of Mexico continues to gush forth an estimated 70,000 barrels of oil a day into the sea, and the fragile wetlands along the Gulf begin to get coated with crude, which is also headed into the Gulf Stream for a trip past the Everglades and on up the East Coast, the company is demanding that Canada lift its tight rules for drilling in the icy Beaufort Sea portion of the Arctic Ocean.
In an incredible display of corporate arrogance, BP is claiming that a current safety requirement that undersea wells drilled during the newly ice-free summer must also include a side relief well, so as to have a preventive measure in place that could shut down a blown well, is "too expensive" and should be eliminated.
Yet clearly, if the US had had such a provision in place, the Deepwater Horizon blowout could have been shut down right almost immediately after it blew out, just by turning of a valve or two, and then sealing off the blown wellhead.
A relief well is "too expensive"?
Monday, May 17, 2010
Satellite imagery today from NASA's MODIS instrument confirms that a substantial tongue of oil has moved southeast from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill and entered the Gulf of Mexico's Loop Current. The Loop Current is an ocean current that transports warm Caribbean water through the Yucatan Channel between Cuba and Mexico. The current flows northward into the Gulf of Mexico, then loops southeastward just south of the Florida Keys (where it is called the Florida Current), and then along the west side of the western Bahamas. Here, the waters of the Loop Current flow northward along the U.S. coast and become the Gulf Stream. Once oil gets into the Loop Current, the 1 - 2 mph speed of the current should allow the oil to travel the 500 miles to the Florida Keys in 10 - 20 days. Portions of the Loop Current flow at speed up to 4 mph, so the transport could be just 4 - 5 days. It now appears likely that the first Florida beaches to see oil from the spill will be in the Lower Florida Keys, not in the Panhandle.
Tuesday, May 11, 2010
We now have academic confirmation of Thermopower. The Department of Chemical Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Department of Mechanical Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the Advanced Institute of Nanotechnology, Department of Energy Science and School of Mechanical Engineering, Sungkyunkwan University, Gyeonggi, Korea have published an article in Nature on May 7th entitled, Chemically driven carbon-nanotube-guided thermopower waves which verifies that Thermopower is a new and powerful way to transform heat to electricity.
Thermopower is the first new method of converting heat to electricity discovered in the last two centuries. Once it is developed into a commercial product, it will obsolete all need to burn any form of fossil fuels (even biofuels). Development has been delayed due to the lack of investment capital, a result of the current Depression. But, when it comes, Thermopower promises to destroy most fossil-fuel based energy companies and revolutionize our society.
Friday, May 7, 2010
John Michael Greer in The Twilight of Money explains why civilizations fail:
The further you get from the concrete realities, the larger the chance becomes that the concrete realities may not actually be there when needed. History is littered with the corpses of regimes that let their power become so abstract that they could no longer counter a challenge on the fundamental level of raw violence; it's been said of Chinese history, and could be said of any other civilization, that its basic rhythm is the tramp of hobnailed boots going up stairs, followed by the whisper of silk slippers going back down. In the same way, economic abstractions keep functioning only so long as actual goods and services exist to be bought and sold, and it's only in the pipe dreams of economists that the abstractions guarantee the presence of the goods and services. Vico argued that this trap is a central driving force behind the decline and fall of civilizations; the movement toward abstraction goes so far that the concrete realities are neglected. In the end the realities trickle away unnoticed, until a shock of some kind strikes the tower of abstractions built atop the void the realities once filled, and the whole structure tumbles to the ground.
We are uncomfortably close to such a possibility just now, especially in our economic affairs. Over the last century, with the assistance of the economic hypercomplexity made possible by fossil fuels, the world's industrial nations have taken the process of economic abstraction further than any previous civilization. On top of the usual levels of abstraction -- a commodity used to measure value (gold), receipts that could be exchanged for that commodity (paper money), and promises to pay the receipts (checks and other financial paper) -- contemporary societies have built an extraordinary pyramid of additional abstractions. Unlike the pyramids of Egypt, furthermore, this one has its narrow end on the ground, in the realm of actual goods and services, and widens as it goes up.
The consequence of all this pyramid building is that there are not enough goods and services on Earth to equal, at current prices, more than a small percentage of the face value of stocks, bonds, derivatives, and other fiscal exotica now in circulation. The vast majority of economic activity in today's world consists purely of exchanges among these representations of representations of representations of wealth. This is why the real economy of goods and services can go into a freefall like the one now under way, without having more than a modest impact so far on an increasingly hallucinatory economy of fiscal abstractions.
Yet an impact it will have, if the freefall proceeds far enough. This is Vico's point, and it's a possibility that has been taken far too lightly both by the political classes of today's industrial societies and by their critics on either end of the political spectrum. An economy of hallucinated wealth depends utterly on the willingness of all participants to pretend that the hallucinations have real value. When that willingness slackens, the pretense can evaporate in record time. This is how financial bubbles turn into financial panics: the collective fantasy of value that surrounds tulip bulbs, or stocks, or suburban tract housing, or any other speculative vehicle, dissolves into a mad rush for the exits. That rush has been peaceful to date; but it need not always be.
Tuesday, May 4, 2010
Friday, April 30, 2010
Thursday, April 29, 2010
Sometimes, Global Warming can be a solution to a problem:
For nearly 30 years, India and Bangladesh have argued over control of a tiny rock island in the Bay of Bengal. Now rising sea levels have resolved the dispute for them: the island has gone.
New Moore island in the Sunderbans has been completely submerged, said oceanographer Sugata Hazra, a professor at Jadavpur University in Kolkata. Its disappearance has been confirmed by satellite imagery and sea patrols, he said.
"What these two countries could not achieve from years of talking has been resolved by global warming," said Hazra.
Scientists at the school of oceanographic studies at the university have noted an alarming increase in the rate at which sea levels have risen over the past decade in the Bay of Bengal.
Until 2000, the sea levels rose about 3mm (0.12 inches) a year, but over the last decade they have been rising about 5mm annually, he said. Another nearby island, Lohachara, was submerged in 1996, forcing its inhabitants to move to the mainland, while almost half the land of Ghoramara island was underwater, he said. At least 10 other islands in the area were at risk as well, Hazra added.
India and Bangladesh both claimed the empty New Moore Island, which is about two miles long and 1.5 miles wide. Bangladesh referred to the island as South Talpatti.
There were no permanent structures on New Moore, but India sent some paramilitary soldiers to its rocky shores in 1981 to hoist its national flag.
The demarcation of the maritime boundary – and who controls the remaining islands – remains an open issue between the two south Asian neighbours, and the disappearance of the island does nothing to resolve it, said an official in India's foreign ministry, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to speak on international disputes.
British Petroleum is responsible for what could be the largest environmental disaster in history, the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico off the Louisiana coastline.
This is a reminder that we need to eliminate the burning of fossil fuels to generate our energy. This could have been acomplished by now had the investment community supported development of Thermopower. But, the vested interests in the oil industry have prevented us from developing this technology.
The Department of Energy under Barack Obama has been one of those implicated in this conspiracy.
More information on the current state of the disaster: Deepwater Horizon oil slick to hit US coast within hours.
Wednesday, April 28, 2010
Diamandis is on a mission to open space for all humanity, and he embraces the risk inherent to such an undertaking. "A true breakthrough requires tremendous levels of risk," says Diamandis. "It's really in the entrepreneurial sector that people are willing to risk their lives, risk their fortunes, their reputations, to do something they fundamentally believe they can do."
Tuesday, April 27, 2010
Thursday, April 15, 2010
President Barack Obama kicked off his plans to move America's space program to third-world status in an appearance in Florida today. Demonstrating questionable logic and a complete misunderstanding of the role of space in the American economy, he blundered through a speech he thought would be inspiring. Instead, he demonstrated a fact we've come to recognize: he's simply a blatherskite who tailors his speeches to those he wishes to impress, while hiding his real motivation.
As far as the space program is concerned, his plan remains unchanged: to eliminate NASA.
Wednesday, April 14, 2010
This is from Obama to reboot NASA budget; Shelby fires warning shot:
Amid increasing political pressure, the White House is now prepared to scale back its plans to cut NASA's manned space-flight program next year.
President Barack Obama will announce his slightly revised NASA spending plan during his speech at Kennedy Space Center on Thursday afternoon, according to reports.
But the spending plan will also relax many of the other cuts to NASA's shuttle program that have so far only earned Obama the scorn of congressional lawmakers, who feel the 2011 budget would leave NASA with an inadequate mission.
However, even the revised budget has already incensed one lawmaker: Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), whose state is home to a major NASA base in Huntsville. Shelby quickly blasted the president's new proposal in a release Wednesday, stressing it was just as "visionless" as the plan that preceded it.
"This new plan does not represent an advancement in policy or an improvement upon the Constellation program, but a continued abdication of America's leadership in space," said Shebly, the ranking member on the Senate Appropriations Committee that handles NASA dollars.
"The President has replaced one visionless plan with another," he continued. "It is clear that the Administration does not believe that American leadership in human space flight is a priority worth fighting for."
Among other things, the president's revised NASA plan would permit the continued construction of the Orion space capsule. However, the capsule will function only as an emergency vehicle for astronauts at the International Space Station, the White House announced in a fact sheet.
Obama's revised budget will also propose speeding up the development of a rocket that can actually reach the Moon and farther, officials told reporters in a preview of the president's Thursday speech.
Monday, March 29, 2010
The Russian Space Agency is hiring. Not just anybody, they're after NASA personnel who have been working on returning to the Moon to use its resources.
Clearly, history is repeating. After World War II, America grabbed the cream of the crop of German rocket scientists who had developed the V2 rocket which killed thousands of Britons during the war. They were brought to America and succeeded in getting Americans on the Moon within 25 years.
Now that Obama is ending American manned spaceflight, it's clear that Russia knows what is at stake on the Moon. "We will bury you," Krushchev said. It's a race between the Russians and the Chinese to bury America now.
Thursday, March 25, 2010
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
Congress is standing firm on the primary importance of the Vision for Space Exploration and its first step, returning to the Moon to utilize its vast resources in moving into the rest of the solar system.
The Huntsville Times reports that:
The Obama administration's plan to cancel the Constellation space program received heavy criticism Tuesday after a congressional subcommittee hearing.
Rep. Robert Aderholt, R-Haleyville, came away dissatisfied with answers provided by NASA Administrator Charles Bolden, who took questions posed by the Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies.
"The president's decision to end the Constellation program is reckless and could cripple U.S. human spaceflight for an unknown number of years," Aderholt said in a post-hearing statement.
"(Bolden's) testimony and answers did not calm my fears that our nation's space program will not remain a leading science program."
Subcommittee members questioned Bolden about the future of human spaceflight and various costs surrounding the Constellation program.
Under examination from Rep. Frank Wolf, R-Calif., Bolden apologized for a statement he made earlier in the hearing and paused several seconds to compose himself.
"When I responded to your question on China and the moon, it does make a difference to me who's first," Bolden said. "I think in my exuberance, I said something I didn't mean.
"It's important that we be first all the time. I am extremely competitive. So I apologize for making to you what was a flip statement."
Tuesday, March 23, 2010
The recent discovery of what could possibly turn out to be trillions of metric tonnes of water on the Moon may be creating the next big "rush" to grab that valuable resource.
On Earth, we take for granted the abundance of water. But, in space, water is the most valuable resource of all and, so far, all of the water we've used in space has had to be transported from the Earth at an enormous expense. That's why all water is recycled on the Space Station---it's more valuable than Gold by far.
If you didn't know, water can be broken down into its constituent elements, hydrogen and oxygen, and used to fuel rockets. Having an accessible source of rocket fuel in space means that access to all the other resources in the solar system is made considerably easier.
For instance, whomever builds a facility on the Moon which can transform the water resources there into rocket fuel will mean that a lunar lander can refuel on the surface of the Moon. Rockets which need to go to Mars or other destinations in the solar system will be able to be refueled at this lunar "filling station", making it much cheaper than hauling all that rocket fuel up from Earth's gravity well.
Of more immediate importance, we have a very valuable set of satellites in orbit around the Earth. Currently, servicing those satellites is far too expensive because of the energy it takes to lift equipment and personnel out of Earth's powerful gravity "well". Our economy, however, has become dependent upon these satellite resources and would be severely damaged were those resources to be threatened. Moreover, there is evidence that the Chinese have developed a network of space-based anti-satellite weapons which threaten our satellite resources. With our military forces heavily-dependent upon its network of military satellites, that becomes our Achilles Heel. A Moon-based "service center" could both service our current inventory of satellites as well as to provide our military with the ability to quickly launch replacements to restore service should a space war break out which damages our existing network. Thus, a Moon base provides the ability to recover quickly from a hostile strike against our military and economy.
And, in the long run, having a manned position on the high ground of the Moon means that any nation wishing to attack us from the Moon will have a very hard time establishing that position and defending it should they launch an attack. If we abandon the idea of having a manned presence on the Moon, we are leaving ourselves open to that kind of attack, which would be impossible to defend ourselves from. It would be very difficult to launch a defensive strike against an enemy base located on the lunar surface from the surface of the Earth, while a manned lunar base would have a much better location from which to launch such a counterattack.
This discovery of massive water resources on the Moon, which has been made only in the last year, means that the cancellation of the return to the Moon mission by NASA was a very big mistake on the part of President Obama. If the US doesn't go back to the Moon to establish a permanent base, it's certain that other nations will recognize the strategic advantage of the Moon and will proceed to be the first to "take" the Moon. China, India, Russia and Japan are not likely to sit idly by and will take control of what is likely to be the most valuable franchise of the 21st century---the Waters of the Moon.
The next time you're outside, look up at the Moon. How would you feel knowing that we have a manned base on the Moon, strengthening our security right here on Earth? And, then, imagine how you would feel if it were China who had established that permanent manned base on the Moon instead?
Monday, March 22, 2010
This "recovery" is being felt in stock prices, but little else. Just why is that?
The truth is that the government is keeping interest rates at zero and forcing investors to chase dividends and yield instead of new technology which would create new jobs and a solid recovery. Yet, the government officials seem to believe that low interest rates will cure what ails the economy! Are they truly that stupid? The answer has to be "yes" because the alternatives are unthinkable.
In the Great Depression, they built Hoover Dam ("Boulder Dam", originally). That not only put a lot of workers to work, it created a massive amount of electricity which sparked new industry. What are we building today? Software companies who promise endless hours of twittering? Where is the sense (or jobs) in that?
Thursday, March 11, 2010
Gerard Jackson, Brookesnews' economics editor, raises an interesting point in Why 'saving' energy raises the demand for more energy. Jackson points out:
For years greens have been wailing that the public is wasting energy and by doing so endangering the planet and squandering resources. Their solution, as always, consists of governments, meaning ignorant politicians, mandating so-called conservation measures. This view overlooks two basic facts. First it ignores the little detail that energy can be neither created nor destroyed. All that we can do is convert energy from one form into another that will do useful work for us, whether it be running a factory or keeping us cool in summer.
We can therefore have all the energy we need at any time for as long as we want so long as we have sufficient means to turn it into useful work*. Those means are called capital goods and it is capital and not energy that is scarce and needs to be maintained. It follows that it is the availability of capital that puts a fundamental limit on energy consumption
The second fact is that economic efficiency means getting more for less. In other words, reducing the unit costs of production. One does not need to be a trained economist to see that any improvements that greatly reduced the use of a vital input are reducing the cost of that input per unit of output. This is the equivalent of reducing its price. As we all know, reducing the price of a good raises the demand for its services.
Let us assume, for example, that it requires x dollars of energy to produce one unit of P. Someone now develops a new technique that reduces energy costs to one-third of x then this will raise the demand for P which in turn will raise the demand for more energy. (The market does indeed work in mysterious ways its wonder to perform.)
The steam engine is an excellent example of this process. Before Watt's innovations the steam engine was horrendously wasteful. The introduction of his separate condenser reduced coal consumption per unit of output by about 66 per cent. This not only increased the demand for coal but also for more steam engines which in turn led to more innovations which in turn.... This very early example of 'energy conservation' was brought about by market forces, not meddling politicians or ignorant 'journalists', and its reverberations were quickly felt throughout the British economy — and beyond — by stimulating economic growth and raising the demand for labour.
Jackson concludes with:
We have seemingly reached the absurd situation that someone who has spent four years at university studying economics can leave with a first class honours without having acquired the ability to apply sound economic reasoning when called for, despite having learnt a whole array of fancy statistical techniques. Making it worse are a bunch of politicians, activists and so-called journalists who in turn cannot tell the difference between a hot cross bun and set of supply and demand curves. No wonder the public is becoming increasingly suspicious of economics.
Friday, February 12, 2010
Today's guest article is by Sean Broderick:
Saudi Arabia is the world’s richest oil producer — the desert kingdom pumps out nearly 10 million barrels a day of crude. So when Saudi Arabia turns to the sun to solve its energy problems, you should sit up and take notice.
In fact, I think it’s another signpost indicating that we are entering the “Golden Age of Green Energy.” And there are plenty of profits to be made, even for Mom-and-Pop investors.
So what are the Saudis up to? The “Central Bank of Oil” is turning to solar power to run its desalination plants. The Saudis produce more than 18% of the world’s desalinated water.
And the kingdom recently started construction of a desalination plant able to produce enough water for 100,000 people, along with a solar farm with a capacity of 10 megawatts to power it. With costs coming down, the Saudis think electricity from the plant will cost just 8.7 cents per kilowatt hour.
This is just the beginning. There are more than 28 desalination plants scattered around the kingdom. About 1.5 million barrels a day of fuel oil are required to power the equipment used to extract salt and other minerals from sea water.
But why would the Saudis do this? They’re supposed to be swimming in oil, right? Actually, Saudi DOMESTIC oil demand has been zig-zagging its way higher for years. It’s to be expected in a country where government subsidies recently pegged the price of gasoline at 61 cents a gallon.
In fact, the Saudis are so keen on going green that they recently joined the International Renewable Energy Agency. Saudi Arabia has invested $12.5 billion in the sustainability-oriented King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, and is pouring money into manufacturing materials for solar power.
The Saudi oil minister says the kingdom’s goal is to become the largest exporter of clean energy and the most important center for solar energy research within 30 to 50 years.
That seems to clash with other statements by the Saudis that the desert kingdom is swimming in oil, and that it will be able to meet global oil demand for decades to come.
In fact, I think that Saudi Arabia’s oil production may have already peaked, and its crude reserves are not inexhaustible. On the other hand, the sun will still be shining on Saudi Arabia when the last oil rig has long turned to dust.
The Next Oil Crisis Is Already Here
What’s more, there’s plenty of evidence that oil production has peaked in at least 33 of 48 countries, including Kuwait, Russia and Mexico.
And speaking of Mexico, do you want to see a scary chart? Take a look at this chart of Mexico crude oil supply. Mind you, this is America’s #2 supplier of crude oil (Saudi Arabia is America’s #4 supplier of imported oil).
Mexico’s crude oil production is plunging as its giant oil field Cantarell nears the end of its productive life. If current rates of decline continue, Mexico could stop exporting oil in about seven years.
America’s #3 supplier of crude oil is Venezuela. Do you know what’s happening in Venezuela right now? Drivers in Venezuela can fill up for 25 cents a gallon. Venezuela’s domestic oil use is soaring. As a result, Venezuela’s oil exports are falling.
At the same time, Venezuela is experiencing a drought that has severely cut hydropower, and President Hugo Chavez has declared an “Electricity Emergency” as this oil-rich nation suffers rolling blackouts. Venezuela is planning to divert power from its refineries to keep the lights on in the cities, meaning even less product for export.
We haven’t seen these problems and others around the world reflected in oil prices yet because A) OPEC still has some surplus capacity and B) the global economy in still mired in recession. But the ingredients for the next oil spike are in place … waiting to ignite.
Going Green Takes on a Sense of Urgency
Governments from Europe to the United States to China are lining up to throw money at alternative energy. Sure, worries about global warming are a part of it.
But there’s also a deep desire for real energy independence. The nations of the world would love to be able to thumb their noses at the increasingly voracious greed of OPEC members.
And, as the Saudi example shows, even OPEC members can see the writing on the wall. We’re in the twilight of the Age of Oil. The Golden Age of Green is about to dawn.
And here’s some good news …
#1) Wind Power. Despite a battered economy and financial woes, America added to its wind power at a furious pace in 2009 — capacity grew by 39%! The United States now receives nearly 2% of its electricity from wind turbines, up from virtually nothing a few years ago.
What’s more, wind power is providing one thing in very short supply in the United States — jobs. The U.S. wind-manufacturing industry now employs 85,000 people, according to the New York Times. And half the components for wind farms are made in America, up from 25% in 2004.
#2) Solar Power. Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders just proposed the “10 Million Solar Roofs and 10 Million Gallons of Solar Hot Water Act.” Sanders’ bill would authorize rebates to cover up to half the cost of the 10 million solar power systems and 200,000 water heating systems. If this bill becomes law, about 100 gigawatts of solar photovoltaic systems will be installed.
By way of introducing his plan, Sanders said: “At a time when we spend $350 billion importing oil from Saudi Arabia and other countries every year, the United States must move away from foreign oil to energy independence.”
#3) Geothermal. On February 1, the Department of Energy unveiled a $28.4 billion budget request for the 2011 fiscal year (which starts in October this year). Part of the package is a 25% increase for the government’s geothermal program.
According to a 2006 report from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the amount of enhanced geothermal system resources in the United States could provide 140,000 times the total annual energy use in the country. You can see why the government is interested in geothermal.
#4) Nuclear. The Obama administration’s 2011 budget proposes tripling the loan guarantee program for nuclear power plants — from the $18.5 billion that Congress has already approved to $54.5 billion. Energy Secretary Steven Chu said this could launch 7 to 10 new nuclear power plants in the United States alone.
These are just four examples and just the good news in the United States. The world is going for green energy big-time. For example, let’s look at China …
- China is already leapfrogging the United States in the manufacture of wind and solar power. But it has to — its domestic electricity demand is rising by a whopping 15% a year. To keep up, China has to add electricity generation at a pace nine times faster!
- Chinese power companies have to buy new equipment anyway, and alternative energy, particularly wind and nuclear, is increasingly priced competitively.
- China also has the advantage of low labor costs and a renewable fee slapped on ALL electricity users. This fee is just one way Beijing has of showing it is serious about going green.
I could give you plenty more examples from around the world. Globally, governments invested $25 billion in renewable power and energy efficiency projects in 2009. This is going to mushroom to $60 billion in 2010 and another $60 billion in 2011. Energy companies and big banks are lining up to invest, too!
Get Going or Get Out of the Way
Despite the big push into renewable/alternative energy, this industry is still in the very early stages. Our civilization is based on petroleum, as this chart of U.S. Primary Energy Consumption from the Energy Information Administration shows …
I think the fact that the alternative energy industry is so young shows it has enormous potential … the potential for fortunes to be made as America and the world go green.
It’s Time to Power up with Profit Potential
Green is the color of alternative energy, and it’s also the color of money. I think there’s plenty of money to be made in this trend.
That’s why I’m issuing a hot-off-the-presses new report — “The Golden Age of Green Energy.” It includes in-depth analysis of the forces driving the alternative energy stocks, highlighting many red-hot companies and rock-solid funds — as well as stocks and funds you should avoid.
In this special report, I’m also naming my eight superstar picks in alternative energy. For example …
Pick #1 — Biomass
Turning waste into energy is a process that has been going on for hundreds of years, and it’s getting much more sophisticated. What’s more, it’s an alternative energy system that works. That’s why my first pick is a small-cap company that provides waste disposal services and sells the electricity and steam generated by the waste.
Pick #2 — Solar
There are many good choices in solar (and some bad ones, too). But as they say in the gold fields, why buy one prospector when you can buy the guy selling picks and shovels to many miners? That’s what my second pick does — it’s a provider of solar power manufacturing equipment. It has a lot of exposure to the booming solar market in China, too!
Pick #3 — Natural Gas-Powered Vehicles
Electric cars may be part of our future, but one alternative fuel that can power cars on the highways now is natural gas. And there is a company that is on the cutting edge of this bright future in transportation. This company is inking contracts all over the map with airports, waste-haul truckers, bus companies and more.
Pick #4 — Oil Sands
Canada’s oil sands production could rise to over 6 million barrels a day in a few decades, becoming a big piece of our future energy picture. That’s why I’ve got my sights on a company that is digging deep into the oil sands and coming up with buckets of profits. You can buy its reserves for about 20 cents on the dollar, its costs are going lower, and its profits are likely to go much higher!
Pick #5 — Wind
I’ve got a second “picks and shovels” play for you. Just like with solar, the best part of wind power is owning the company that makes the equipment that wind farms use. In fact, this company is becoming the go-to company for utilities to adapt wind systems to their power grids.
Pick #6 — Smart Energy Grid
My pick in this sector is a company on the cutting edge of implementing software and hardware that help control energy load, read meters remotely, manage billing, and detect theft and outages. Even better, it has pricing power, which should lead to fatter profit margins. Finally, its earnings are rising and it pays a hefty dividend. This stock should ramp up, and soon!
Alternative Energy Picks #7 and #8: My Two Best Funds
I have my two best alternative energy funds for you. They’re very different, and they’re both holding baskets of stocks that are poised to make a killing on the bright and shining future in alternative energy.
These are already red-hot stocks and funds. But let me tell you about three forces that could send these stocks much higher.
Three Profit Triggers for You
There are three developments in alternative energy that can pile up more and more profits in your pocket.
Profit trigger #1 is the flood of government money — at least $120 billion over the next two years, and potentially much more than that.
Profit trigger #2 is all the private money flowing into alternative energy from conventional energy companies and banks. This is some of the biggest money in the world — and it’s all going into alternative energy. It takes a lot of time to shift that money around — and that means you have plenty of time to get in front of it.
Profit trigger #3 is the market correction going on right now. Some great clean energy stocks with dynamite earnings potential are being dragged down with the rest of the market, and a reduction of solar subsidies in Europe also added to the short-term pain. The correction won’t last forever. In fact, we could see a cyclical bottom soon. And when stocks head higher again — floating on a sea of government cash — you know that alternative energy stocks will be riding the crest of that wave.
8 of My Best Picks — Crown Jewels of the Golden Age of Green Energy
Some of my picks are large companies — some are so small, you’ve probably never heard of them. One thing they all have in common: They’re in the vanguard of this boom. They’re the ones in the forefront of new technology and development. They’re the companies that the big behemoths are hunting down for potential buy-outs.
And they’re all yours at a huge discount if you sign up now.
This report will sell for $149 when it is published on Tuesday, February 16. But if you buy it now, you can get it for $99 — fully one-third off the cover price.
Even better, this price includes the report and three follow-ups.
If you feel you can’t afford it, please don’t buy it. But consider this: The biggest money in the world — government money — is poised to flood into this sector. You can’t afford not to take advantage of this gold rush in green energy.
The toll-free number to call is 800-291-8545.
Just say you want “The Golden Age of Green Energy” plus all my follow-up reports on all my picks. Or, order online at my secure website.
P.S. Remember: By signing up before February 16, you get a double benefit: You will be among the first to get this information, giving you a jump on other investors. Plus, you will save 33% off the cover price. So I suggest you call 1-800-291-8545 right away.
This investment news is brought to you by Uncommon Wisdom. Uncommon Wisdom is a free daily investment newsletter from Weiss Research analysts offering the latest investing news and financial insights for the stock market, precious metals, natural resources, Asian and South American markets. From time to time, the authors of Uncommon Wisdom also cover other topics they feel can contribute to making you healthy, wealthy and wise. To view archives or subscribe, visit http://www.uncommonwisdomdaily.com.
Friday, February 5, 2010
We've been very frustrated with the Dept of Energy. After spending many weeks preparing grant proposals last year, then waiting months only to be told that our projects were "not transformative", we have the right to be a bit ticked off at the government bureaucrats.
It turns out we're not alone in our situation. According to BNET Energy,
It’s been nearly a year since the Department of Energy received $37 billion as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act — aka stimulus money — and they have managed to spend $2.1 billion. That’s it. Eleven bureaucratic months later and the DOE has doled out 5.7 percent of the funds authorized in the stimulus bill. Now, to be clear, the DOE is moving faster than it has in the past and it has awarded about $25.2 billion in funds, according to information on its Web site.
It’s been awhile since BNET Energy checked in the DOE’s stimulus spending. Back in August, I wrote about DOE’s progress and at the time the government agency had awarded $9.5 billion and spent $451 million. But with DOE Secretary Steven Chu’s testimony Thursday before the Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Energy, I thought it was a perfect time to check in and write about the agency’s stimulus spending.
Chu, who was asked about the figure during his testimony on the department’s proposed fiscal 2011 budget, said he was frustrated with the slow down.
Sen. Bryon Dorgan, D-N.D., hinted at the lack of stimulus spending early on in the testimony when he asked Chu — after noting the large amount of money given to the agency – if he was having fun with it? Dorgan did note the DOE had been delayed in part by slow Senate confirmations.
Later Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, honed in on the molasses-like distribution of the stimulus funds. Her biggest concern was with $32 billion unspent, how do you deal with the backlog funds, recognizing that it’s likely the DOE will get a second infusion of cash as a jobs bill comes forward?
Chu expressed disappointment with the slow disbursement of funds and laid some of the blame on the states. “The states widely vary with how they’re getting the money out,” Chu told the committee. He said some states have spent upwards of 20 percent of the stimulus funds given to them by the DOE, while others have spent zero.
Can we expect anything more out of an Administration whose speciality is blatherskitism? Or, should we attribute the delay to an attempt by the oil companies to suppress alternatives? Take your pick, it's probably a little of both.
Tuesday, January 12, 2010
The hype is that investing in lithium battery companies will make you rich. We received this ad in our inbox today. It's pretty impressive---until you look under the covers.
Yes, it's true that the current generation of electric cars use lithium batteries. And, it's also true that most laptops run on lithium batteries. But, lithium batteries are going to soon be obsolete. Here's what the US Dept of Energy says about the subject:
The widespread deployment of electric vehicles has been prevented to date by their limited range and high upfront capital costs due to the limitations of currently available battery technologies. Currently available high performance Lithium-ion battery technologies are limited to system level energy densities of ~100-120 Wh/kg, costs of $800-$1200/kWh, and short cycle life, resulting in unacceptably short driving range for the vast majority of consumers and un-economically high lifetime costs for electric vehicles.
The U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Vehicle Technologies (OVT) and the United States Advanced Battery Consortium (USABC) have provided critical support for the development of advanced Lithium-ion batteries to enable widespread cost-effective deployment of hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs), with a 2010 goal to enable high performance Lithium-ion HEV power batteries at $20/kW. With this impressive goal nearly accomplished, these U.S. battery R&D funding organizations are now turning their focus toward their 2014 goal of increasing the energy density and decreasing the cost of Lithium-ion batteries for PHEVs to enable battery systems with energy densities of 140 Wh/kg to provide 40 miles of all electric range (PHEV-40) at a total battery cost of $3,400 or less (<$300/kWh). With this ambitious 6 year PHEV-40 program, the DOE OVT and USABC are pushing up against the fundamental energy density limits of traditional Lithium-ion based batteries.
There are strong doubts in the battery community as to whether the energy density of Lithium-ion batteries will be able to be pushed to the 200+ Wh/kg system level energy densities required for widespread deployment of all-electric vehicles. Furthermore, with current HEV battery production and Lithium-ion battery production dominated by Japan, South Korea, and to a growing extent China, there are doubts as to whether traditional Lithium-ion based battery production for electrified vehicles offers an opportunity for the U.S. to assert domestic technology and manufacturing leadership within the context of the existing Lithium-ion based battery technology platform. For these reasons, and given the strong existing focus of the DOE Office of Vehicle Technologies and the USABC on Lithium-ion battery technologies, ARPA-E has strong interest in supporting the development of new high energy, low cost battery technology approaches beyond traditional Lithium-ion batteries.
Consequently, investors are being asked to put their hard-earned investment dollars into a dead-end technology (once again). If you read the fine print, you'll see where the real money is being made---by the promoter:
[The promoter] has received and managed a total production budget of $475,000 for this online advertising effort and will retain any amounts over and above the cost of production, copywriting services, mailing and other distribution expenses, as a fee for its services. Untapped Wealth is paid $3,000 as an editorial fee from CFM and also expects to receive new subscriber revenue as a result of this advertising effort.
Monday, January 4, 2010
One of the biggest problems people have when it comes to thinking about energy is the idea that energy requires fuel to burn. Only when we start thinking "outside the box" about energy can we implement strategies which bypass the burning process.
Thermopower bypasses the fuel/burn problem simply by converting existing energy into a usable form. It thereby eliminates the whole question of "what fuel do we use to generate energy".