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Posted by Big Gav

Carbon Sink points to an article on Al Gore in this weekends local paper.

Some essential reading and viewing this weekend. First up is "The Resurrection of Al Gore" in the Good Weekend magazine. The article by John Heilemann (which is not online) talks up the prospect of Gore running for President in 2008 which is hugely encouraging. There is no politician on the planet more committed to the issue of climate change than Al Gore, and IMO it is critical for the future of the planet that he runs and wins in 2008.

It was a tragedy of epic proportions that Gore did not become President in 2000. Gore says of that infamous 'victory'...
"The principal source of disappointment was not the dashed expectations for me or my family," he explains, "but the consequences for the country" of Bush's victory. "What the country has subsequently gone through was much worse than I ever thought, but I expected it to be bad."

Indeed. Few of us could have imagined just how bad George W. Bush would be. Iraq, Katrina ... need I say more. On the prospects of Gore running in 2008 Heilemann writes:
What's clear is that Gore would love to be president, but the thought of the whole awful business of getting there makes him nearly nauseous.

Please run Al. One man's nausea is a small price to pay to give the planet some hope. I'm nauseous every time I see Bush on TV, and there millions (billions?) who feel the same.

Past Peak reports on what may be the first hurrican to hit the Gulf of Mexico this season - Ernesto (The Oil Drum can rest easy at last - they also have a post on the location and vulnerability of offshore rigs in the gulf - BHP are probably relieved they have bailed out of the gulf region).
For a couple days now we have been talking up Ernesto and warning that there was a significant chance that this could be the new big story. After looking at the situation today, I am convinced that things could be very bad indeed. I always try not incite undue worry, but Ernesto could get ugly. Those of you in the Gulf Coast need to re-examine your hurricane plans, especially is you live in the north Gulf from Houston to Tallahassee. A very deep layer of warm water in the northern Gulf could allow for Ernesto to become a very powerful hurricane if it reaches the area.


The Energy Blog notes that Venezuela has increased their oil reserves number to include heavy oil reserves in the Orinoco belt, and are planning to increase production by just over 500,000 barrels per day.
It appears that Venezuela is following Canada's lead by including part of its enormous heavy oil reserves in its official 'proven oil reserves'. The problem with heavy oil is that it is more expensive to process than conventional oil. The proportion of oil reserves classified as unconventional oil, which includes heavy oil, keeps increasing as production of conventional declines (past peak). As far as the US is concerned, we have to wonder how much of this oil we will receive, considering Chavez's attitude toward the US, but in the end all of the oil that is produced is probably going to be consumed somewhere and if possible we would like to get our hands on as much conventional oil as possible, no matter where it comes from. US refineries continue to be upgraded to handle heavy, sour oil so we can probably handle oil no matter where it comes from. An extra 520,000b/d is not too significant considering our crude oil distillation capacity is almost 18 million barrels per calendar day (including Puerto Rica and the Virgin Islands) per EIA, but supplies are getting more scarce as the demands of China and India keep increasing.

I found the following while looking up the data on our refinery capacity, which is more encouraging than you would expect from listening to and reading the popular press.

Total crude distillation capacity increased by 214,000 BPCD (+1.25%) in 2005. U.S. refiners are responding to the growing demand for gasoline and diesel by making significant investments to increase refining capacity. Refining companies have announced plans to add between 1.4 and two million barrels per day of new U.S. refining capacity, much of which could be on-line by the end of 2010. (source: National Petrochemical & Refiners Association)

TreeHugger has a post on neo-luddite Michael Crichton nad his paranoid theories about a global warming conspiracy. The fossil fuel is so impressed with this convenient paranoia that they've given him a word for "notable journalistic achievement". Bravo Mr Chrichton - Frank Luntz would be proud of you.
OnEarth, the NRDC's magazine, has an interesting little sidebar about a book prize created by the American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG) for "notable journalistic achievement, in any medium, which contributes to public understanding of geology, energy resources or the technology of oil and gas exploration." That's a worthy goal, no? The public doesn't know much about the subject and would certainly benefit from more knowledge. So who won the prize this year? Michael Crichton. Yes, the author of Jurassic Park. He won for his novel State of Fear, but the judges also cited the dinosaur book (for some reason).

The NRDC writes:
Oddly, though, there's almost nothing in the book about any of those subjects. OK, perhaps it was Crichton's deathless prose that wooed the judges. ("'Did I hear you say you wanted a latte?' She smiled again. She crossed her legs, exposing brown knees.") Nah. So that leaves the novel's well-publicized thesis that global warming is a hoax, perpetrated by a secretive, well-funded group called the National Environmental Resource Fund (NERF).

The science fiction writer certainly is useful to the oil & gas companies and global warming denialists these days. Last September, he appeared before a Senate committee to argue his position, and last February he was invited to the white house to talk to George W. Bush about global warming.

Explorer, the AAPG magazine, writes without irony about Crichton's book:
The lesson for us all is that science should be left to the scientists and protected from misuse by the unscrupulous. Advocates have perverted science through ignorance or outright misrepresentations. This mistaken or maligned advocacy diverts available resources to nonexistent problems. The result, in Crichton’s words: statistical murder. [...]

The point to be taken is not whether global warming is in fact occurring, or even whether or not man’s activities are having an effect. The point is that at present we simply don’t know if the earth’s climate is changing. It is even less clear whether any action we can take, no matter how drastic, will make one whit’s worth of difference. The earth has been both much cooler and much warmer many times before in its over six billion year history. Humanity has not even been witness to the vast majority of those events.

Obviously, they are still at stage 1 of the 4 Stages of Global Warming Denial. Still a long way to go for the AAPG, but as Upton Sinclair said: "It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it."

WorldChanging (which seems to be engaging in a merger of sorts with the WorldWatch Institute - new green meets old green) has a post on a new biofuel - "Vernonia Oil and African Green Chemicals" - which can also be used to produce bio-based plastics and other chemical products .
In July, the government of Ethiopia signed an agreement allowing a British biotechnology firm to commercialize the oilseed plant vernonia as a renewable source of industrial chemicals. Long dismissed by Ethiopian farmers as a nuisance shrub, vernonia, also known as ironweed, is considered a potential replacement for petroleum in a variety of industrial uses. The plant’s shiny black seeds produce an oil rich in epoxies, which can be used to manufacture innovative bio-based paints, adhesives, and plastic products.

Though it has been grown successfully in a variety of locations, vernonia thrives naturally within 20 degrees of the Equator, and has been particularly prolific in Ethiopia. The new commercialization deal, which took place under the auspices of the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity's Access and Benefit Sharing Agreement, gives the British company Vernique Biotech access to the plant for the next 10 years. In exchange, the Ethiopian government will receive royalty payments and profit shares, while hundreds of local farmers will have an opportunity to boost their earnings by growing the oilseed on land too poor for food crops.

Studies show that use of vernonia-derived oils has the potential to significantly offset petroleum use and related fossil-fuel emissions. In 1992, the United States consumed roughly 227 kilograms of petroleum per person to produce plastics and industrial petrochemicals; according to scientists, replacing those feedstock with vernonia oil could have reduced emissions by up to 73 million kilograms annually. In 2004, the U.S. industrial sector consumed about 5.1 million barrels of oil per day, or 23 percent of the nation’s total. The naturally epoxidized vernonia oil is also being considered for pharmaceutical uses, such as alleviating psoriasis.

Billmon reports that the Unabomber has been released from prison to investigate the London underground bombings.

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