Oil Production Statistics  

Posted by Big Gav

Robert Rapier has a post on US oil production statistics that illustrates my recent complaint about bad data quality and peak oil. While certainty is impossible to attain, my feel is that RR is probably right regarding the peak being unlikely to occur in the next couple of years - but you might as well put the numbers for the next 20 years around a dart board and throw a dart if you want to pick the exact date for an all liquids peak.

I have been working on my response to the recent post on oil exports by geologist Jeffrey Brown. I have also had some pretty vigorous exchanges over the past few days with some who have dogmatically asserted that oil production have peaked. While I am seriously concerned that world is not preparing for Peak Oil, I don't believe it is upon us yet. Furthermore, I believe that sensationalistic claims like "Saudi oil is crashing!" marginalize the voices of people who are trying to sound a sober warning to policy-makers that we have to get the country prepared for a future in which energy supplies are expensive and scarce.

While working on some of my responses, I came across an amazing statistic. At first I was sure I had made an error. In 1982, Saudi Arabia stopped allowing their oil and gas data to be scrutinized. Prior to that, outsiders could audit their reserves. When accessibility was shut down, Saudi proven oil reserves were estimated to be 164.60 billion barrels. Since the entire world is at the mercy of Saudi reserves, it is important that we understand how big they are. The official number is 262 billion barrels remaining. If this was in fact true, then Peak Oil is very distant. However, many are skeptical of this number. This case was argued by Matthew R. Simmons in Twilight in the Desert: The Coming Saudi Oil Shock and the World Economy. Jeffrey Brown has argued that Saudi reserves may be as low as 70 billion barrels. If true, this would be quite alarming.

So, I have tried to estimate Saudi reserves. I started with the assumption that the 1982 estimate of 164.60 billion barrels was correct, and then I just subtracted Saudi production since then. I ended up with a little over 100 billion barrels left.

But, I wanted to check this approach. So, I compared to U.S. reserves and production. The following data are all pulled from:

U.S. Crude Oil Proved Reserves, Reserves Changes, and Production

In 1982, U.S. reserves were 27.858 billion barrels. In 2005, U.S. reserves were 21.757 billion barrels. Oil production from these reserves since 1982 totals 56.9 billion barrels. So, in the past 24 years we have produced 57 billion barrels of oil and pulled our reserves down by only 6 billion barrels. That seems incredible, but it appears that this is what has happened. So, the conclusion is that production from discovery and development of new fields can greatly distort estimated recoverable oil, and the method I tried to apply to Saudi reserves failed the test when I applied it to U.S. reserves.

So we still don't have a clue as to how much oil Saudi Arabia actually has.

Red Herring has an article on dirty solar (not to be confused in any way with dirty coal) - converting low grade silicon into PV quality feedstock.
SolarWorld on Thursday said it established a joint venture with Scheuten Solarholding to turn dirty metallurgical-grade silicon into high-purity solar-grade silicon. The company claims the announcement marks the first time in Germany that purification of metallurgical silicon for solar power is being implemented on an industrial scale.

But while a number of companies are pursing the purification of metallurgical-grade silicon for solar, at least one analyst says it doesn’t make sense in light on the large amounts of new polysilicon expected to hit the market in the next few years. “There’s no reason to go to metallurgical silicon,” said Jesse Pichel, a vice president and senior research analyst of technology at Piper Jaffray.

SolarWorld obviously thinks otherwise, as do Dow Corning, Elkem, JFE Steel, and smaller companies Solarvalue, CaliSolar, and Citizenre.

According to SolarWorld, the joint venture will develop and build a manufacturing plant to produce, initially, 1,000 tons of solar-grade silicon from metallurgical-grade silicon. The Bonn-based company didn’t say when it expects the plant to come online, but did say the joint venture is “future-oriented.”

SolarWorld bought a 20,000-square-meter plot of land, including an administrative building and a lab, near its Freiberg technology facilities.

Yet another report on the Exxon's lysenkoist campaign against global warming science at The Independent - they are now focussing on the EU as that is where the most concerted efforts to address the problem are being undertaken.
The world's largest energy company is still spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to fund European organisations that seek to cast doubt on the scientific consensus on global warming and undermine support for legislation to curb emission of greenhouse gases.

Data collated by a Brussels-based watchdog reveals that ExxonMobil has put money into projects that criticise the Kyoto treaty and question the findings of scientific groups. Environmental campaigners say Texas-based Exxon is trying to influence opinion-makers in Brussels because Europe - rather than the US - is the driving force for action on climate change.

"ExxonMobil invests significant amounts in letting think-tanks, seemingly respectable sources, sow doubts about the need for EU governments to take action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions," said Olivier Hoedeman, of the Corporate Europe Observatory. "Covert funding for climate sceptics is deeply hypocritical because ExxonMobil spends major sums on advertising to present itself as an environmentally responsible company."

It has long been known that the oil giant, which in 2005 recorded an all-time record for quarterly income, has spent millions of dollars to fund climate sceptics. Exactly how much is unknown but some estimates suggest $19m (£9.7m) since 1998.

In its 2005 report, Mr Hoedeman's group details payments by ExxonMobil to two organisations the International Policy Network, which received $130,000 and the Centre for the New Europe (CNE), which received $50,000.

The Observatory suspects Exxon has also funded other groups engaged in undermining legislation. Its report said: "There is mounting evidence that many EU-focused think-tanks are heavily funded by corporations and this raises serious concerns about their agenda and their independence." The two groups cited in the report have long been accused of denying climate change. Greenpeace's ExxonSecret website notes that in 2004 the network issued a press release criticising the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, saying it had "intentionally exaggerated its estimates of temperature increases by using highly implausible scenarios of future growth in emissions of greenhouse gases".

Greenpeace also lists a 2004 posting on CNE's website which claimed: "The Kyoto Protocol is failing because it is ineffective, costly, and unfair. It is also 'scientifically flawed'."

Last year The Independent revealed how a US-based lobbying group which received substantial funding from Exxon was seeking to develop a Europe-wide network of think-tanks, journalists and major businesses to act against legislation to counter climate change. The organisation claimed its approaches had been flatly rejected.

Kert Davies of Greenpeace said: "Europe is leading the world right now in terms of climate policy. Exxon know that if they can [enlist] lobbyists they may be able to slow things down. That is the tactic right now."

Such is the concern about ExxonMobil that earlier this year the Royal Society, considered Britain's leading scientific academy, wrote to it asking that it stop funding groups that have "misrepresented the science of climate change by outright denial of the evidence".

Bruce's latest Viridian Note looks at Exxon's attempts to intimidate the IPCC and purge it of actual scientists. Bruce suggests the time is coming for a counterpurge. As usual, the formatting is atrocious - Bruce's interjections are often (when in quoted text), marked by ((())) - but not always. I've tried to make who said what a little clearer.

Bruce has always been a good futurist so it will be interesting to see if his prediction of a future de-Stalinisation of the US energy complex occurs (the dirty old one of course - not the shiny green new one emerging from the west coast)...
Viridian Note 00481: The Counterpurge by Bruce Sterling

Key concepts:
Lysenkoism, political purges of scientists, New Scientist, lustration, truth and reconciliation, future public show trials for crimes against climate stability, Exxon-Mobil, allies

Attention Conservation Notice:
It's a notion that may seem a little improbable at first glance, but it's much less improbable than tornadoes in London and a lost war for oil.

Links:

The eco-chic Yves Behar "Leaf Light." Wow, that would make an ideal desk lamp for vengeful lawyers dismantling Exxon-Mobil and their fellow conspirators.
http://www.dwr.com/productdetail.cfm?id=10859&CMP=EMC-WR0179981131

(((The Purge at work:)))

http://environment.newscientist.com/article/mg19225765.000-climate-change-special-state-of-denial.html
Climate change special: State of denial
04 November 2006
NewScientist.com news service
Fred Pearce

KEVIN TRENBERTH reckons he is a marked man. He has argued that last year's devastating Atlantic hurricane season, which spawned hurricane Katrina, was linked to global warming.

For the many politicians and minority of scientists who insist there is no evidence for any such link, Trenberth's views are unacceptable and some have called for him step down from an international panel studying climate change.

"The attacks on me are clearly designed to get me fired or to resign," says Trenberth.

The attacks fit a familiar pattern. Sceptics have also set their sights on scientists who have spoken out about the accelerating meltdown of the ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica and the thawing of the planet's permafrost. These concerns will be addressed in the next report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the global organisation created by the UN in 1988 to assess the risks of human-induced climate change.

Every time one of these assessments is released, about once every five years, some of the American scientists who have played a part in producing it become the targets of concerted attacks apparently designed to bring down their reputations and careers.

At stake is the credibility of scientists who fear our planet is hurtling towards disaster and want to warn the public in the US and beyond. (((Not to mention that the planet itself is at stake, but the science press is always far more interested in scientists than they are in the low-IQ hoi-polloi with which scientists share the planet.)))

So when the next IPCC report is released in February 2007, who will be the targets and why? (((Sounds like a great premise for an Internet betting-site.)))

When New Scientist spoke to researchers on both sides of the climate divide it became clear that they are ready for a showdown. (...)

One of those who knows only too well what it is like to come under attack from climate change sceptics is Ben Santer of the Lawrence Livermore Laboratory in California. The lead author of a chapter in the 1995 IPCC report that talked for the first time about the "discernible human influence on global climate", he was savaged by sceptics and accused of introducing this wording without consulting colleagues who had helped write the chapter.

One sceptic called it the "most disturbing corruption of the peer-review process in 60 years". Another accused him of "scientific cleansing" – at a time when the phrase "ethnic cleansing" was synonymous with genocide in Bosnia.

Another scientist to suffer the ire of the sceptics was Michael Mann of Pennsylvania State University in University Park. He was attacked after the IPCC assessment in 2001 (...) The sceptics accused Mann of cherry-picking his data and criticised him for refusing to disclose his statistical methods (...).

Last year, Texas Republican Congressman Joe Barton, chair of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, ordered Mann to provide the committee with voluminous details of his working procedures, computer programs and past funding. Barton's demands were widely condemned by fellow scientists and on Capitol Hill.

"There are people who believe that if they bring down Mike Mann, they can bring down the IPCC," said Santer at the time. Mann's findings, which will be endorsed in the new IPCC report, have since been replicated by other studies.

Santer says, however, that he expects attacks to continue on other fronts.

"There is a strategy to single out individuals, tarnish them and try to bring the whole of the science into disrepute," he says. "And Kevin [Trenberth] is a likely target." Mann agrees that the scientists behind the upcoming IPCC report are in for a rough ride.

"There is already an orchestrated campaign against the IPCC by climate change contrarians," he says.

The "contrarians" include scientists and politicians who are sceptical of the scientific evidence for climate change. Some of those who spoke to New Scientist insist that they are not planning character assassinations (...) (((They're not "skeptics", either. They're Lysenkoist political operatives in the pay of polluters.)))

Many of the IPCC's authors, some of whom asked not to be named, say this is a smokescreen. They claim there is an extensive network of lobby groups and scientists involved in making the case against the IPCC and its reports.

Automobile, coal and oil companies have coordinated and funded past attacks on them, the scientists say. Sometimes this has been done through Washington lobby groups such as the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), whose officers include Myron Ebell, a former climate negotiator for George W. Bush's administration. Recently, the CEI made television advertisements arguing against climate change, one of which ended with the words: "Carbon dioxide, they call it pollution, we call it life." (...)

The money trail

Some sceptical scientists are funded directly by industry. In July, The Washington Post published a leaked letter from the Intermountain Rural Electric Association (IREA), an energy company based in Colorado, that exhorted power companies to support the work of the prominent sceptic Pat Michaels of the University of Virginia, Charlottesville.

(…)
So what is this money buying? For one, an ability to coordinate responses to the IPCC reports. (...)

(…)

In the aftermath of hurricane Katrina, and with a US administration that has a record of hostility to concerns about climate change, Trenberth's statements are political dynamite. (...)

Trenberth himself fears the worst. "I would not be surprised if the hurricane aspect of the report is targeted, along with my own role," he says. "But I am proud of what we have achieved."

(...) Another sensitive area is the concern that existing models of ice sheets on Greenland and Antarctica massively underestimate future melting and consequent sea-level rise. "Our understanding of the dynamics of ice-sheet destruction has completely changed in the last five years," says Richard Alley of Penn State University, a lead author of the chapter on ice sheets who expects to find himself in the firing line over this issue.

"We used to think it would take 10,000 years for melting to penetrate to the bottom of the ice sheet. But now we know it can take just 10 seconds," he says.

Michaels dismisses the idea of more rapid loss as "hysteria"(...)

Some insiders suggest that the IPCC may be more cautious in its upcoming report than it has been in the past, but this is unlikely to placate climate- change sceptics. (...) Here too Trenberth may find himself caught in the headlights. The US Senate's Environment and Public Works Committee under its chairman James Inhofe has begun investigating NCAR, Trenberth's employer.

Inhofe has repeatedly written to NCAR and other agencies demanding details about financial and contractual arrangements with their employees and with federal funding agencies such as the National Science Foundation (NSF).

Inhofe has a record of hostility to the idea of climate change, having asked on the Senate floor in July 2003: "Could it be that man-made global warming is the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people? It sure sounds like it."

NCAR is not commenting on Inhofe's investigation, but many climate scientists contacted by New Scientist regard it as a tactic designed to intimidate those working on the IPCC report. (...)

Out of 168 scientists listed as lead authors or reviewers involved in assessing the science of climate change, 38 are from the US – more than twice as many as the second-largest national grouping, the British.

IPCC scientists who spoke to New Scientist insist they are not trying to turn science into politics or to shut down genuine debate. They do, however, worry that their conclusions might be drowned out by some politically motivated and industry-funded sceptics.

"I'd hate to see hundreds of people putting years of their lives into producing a report that is then trashed by these people for political ends," says Santer. "That is what happened in my case, and I felt very bad about it."

(Looks pretty bad, eh? Yeah. But not for the purgees. They may have been cherry-picked for neocon assault by denialists, but at least they didn't risk jail.)))

(((Consider the fate of Viridian contestee, Enron. Most everybody at Enron was cheerily drinking their own champagne bathwater and making merry on the carcass of the public interest. Jeff Skilling was not the worst of them, but Jeff was the one who didn’t ritually repent and come clean. They dropped an anvil on this guy. Jeff ought to be an object lesson to energy executives. Him, and Ken, who's dead.)))
http://www.statesman.com/business/content/business/stories/other/12/06/6skilling.html

Lee Raymond took his Exxon pile and split, but the top guys at Exxon still dearly love those smoke-and- mirrors. Look at 'em shimmy and backpedal and sidestep here.
"While our scientific understanding of climate change continues to improve, (((No thanks to us))) it nonetheless remains today an extraordinarily complex area of scientific study. (((No it doesn't.))) Having said that, the potential risks to society could prove to be significant, (((the potential risks to us; "society", as St Margaret said, doesn't exist))) so despite the areas of uncertainties that do exist, ((no they don't))) it is prudent to develop and implement strategies that address the potential risks. ((("Develop strategies," don’t carry them out. Waffle and equivocate. Name a single thing Exxon's done in the past 20 years that is "prudent." Nothing. They bet the Texan farm, just like Bush II, just like Enron. They didn't really do that much: purge scientists, sabotage IPCC, logjam the US Senate – but the consequences are calamitous, and they have no one to blame but themselves.)))

"In my view, this means we should continue to fund ongoing scientific research without conditions or preconceived outcomes (((we mean fund denialists more than any actual scientists))) to increase our understanding of all of the forcings which are part of this very elegant, but very complex climate systems in which we live (((Nature is pretty, but only oil folks are fit to deal with it))) – includingongoing study of not only the possible forcing effects resulting from mankind’s socioeconomic activity, (((nice "socio" there, Mr Free Market))) but equally if not more important understanding of the natural forcing elements that are and have been apart of the climate system since the dawn of time.

(((The takeaway? "Blame anybody or anything for the climate mayhem we've been creating and obscuring for years, but don't blame us. At least, not now. Blame nature. Blame lesbians. Blame the Chinese, blame anybody, but not us, not during our lifetime. We never thought, we never dreamed that the bill would come due this fast. That was never supposed to happen in a time-frame where we could be held to account." They haven't learned a damned thing. They're too stupid to live. Exxon threw a climate-war for oil, and not only are they losing the oil, they're going to lose the climate.)))

http://www.exxonmobil.com/Corporate/Newsroom/SpchsIntvws/Corp_NR_SpchIntrvw_RWT_301106.asp

Exxon's actual, years-long, entirely consistent policy of funding logjammers, reputation assassins and Beltway bandits. Basically this composes a list of likely future indictees for crimes against humanity. Everybody in the world is going to want a piece of these people. Except for a few blinkered Australians, whose stricken nation is in spectacular flames as we speak, these American malefactors are the biggest global-climate patsies around. Everyone's responsible for climate change, but the one thing every player can surely agree on without demur is that these guys are the worst and must culpable. Everyone else can pretend to be all caught unawares and shocked, shocked by a climate crisis: these people are without any question its deliberate aiders and abettors.

There aren't, in fact, many of them. Their budgets have always been quite small. Their chances of defending themselves from a worldwide outcry are slim. If Jeff and Ken couldn't save themselves after buying a President, these guys are in ten times deeper.

I don't doubt that Exxon-Mobil's hasty new clean-air PR campaign, meant to ingratiate themselves with the new Democratic Congress, costs five times as much as they've ever spent on these minor organizations. But: they did fund them, and in some cases simply invented them. And when their empty pretense that the climate is fine and dandy is proved as utterly hollow as the bold pretense that Enron makes money and Iraq loves freedom, someone is going to have to take the fall. And it's a huge, huge fall. And it's all theirs. Who else is there? They're finished. Wait and see.
http://www.exxonsecrets.org/html/listorganizations.php

Who would actually go and get them? Rich people. ANGRY, PANICKY, VENGEFUL, RUTHLESS rich people. "Alpine communities have coped with warm winter weather before, but this year there is a sense that it could be the beginning of the end of the European skiing experience." That must be a lot of fun for well-to-do Esso investors.
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,13509-2482390,00.html

ASEAN summit politicians flee an Asian typhoon. Makes you wonder what the Davos Forum will look like when there's no Swiss snow. Hey, 'world leaders,' you will be brought to the climate or the climate will be brought to you. You can run, but you can't hide. Who do you plan to blame for this -- for the way climate change makes you flee like rabbits? How do you sleep with that kind of humiliation? It's going to happen time and time again. http://edition.cnn.com/2006/WORLD/asiapcf/12/08/asean.summit.ap/

Tornado in London. Not actually in 10 Downing Street, but, well, not too far. Wait till next time. http://www.guardian.co.uk/weather/Story/0,,1966688,00.html?gusrc=rss&feed=1

"Exxon: facing the toughest energy challenges." The toughest of all? Avoiding the melancholy southern-Gothic fates of Ken Lay and Jeff Skilling.

I know my premise here seems a tad farfetched, but here on Viridian List, we're getting used to things we discussed ten years ago emerging into broad daylight like a horde of Morlocks. So Exxon, let me level with you a little. You're always bragging about how many "thousands of scientists" you employ, and how you have a cast-iron Texan hammerlock on geopolitical realism – but did you ever imagine it would get this bad, this fast? Do you know what melancholy Texan figure you Houstonians most resemble at this point? No, not Skilling. Not even Bush. Not Tom DeLay, either. You look like General Santa Anna.

You know: slaughter a few stubborn scientists in the Alamo, then march on to inevitable victory. You've still got the flags up and the trumpet sound of the deguello in your ears, but that strategy stank. You are reaping the whirlwind. You could blow off the occasional corrupt meeting with Cheney, but the climate problem? That can only get worse and worse. And worse. And fast. For years. And who, in the world, is there, in the world, available to blame for that? At a bottom line, politically, realistically, who else but you? You bet your all, everything, on keeping the oil flowing and sustaining the Texo-American Dream – but when rich people, not poor ignorant people but rich ones, see their prospects and their fortunes wrecked because of your malfeasance, you will collapse. You will have brought utter shame and discredit on everything you ever held dear. Where will you hide from the sky? Where's your safe haven?

http://www.miami.com/mld/miamiherald/news/opinion/16091653.htm
"The vast U.S. energy industry might be the ripest target for a corruption investigation. When Vice President Dick Cheney's energy task force was meeting in early 2001 – meetings whose secrecy Cheney has managed to protect against legal challenge – the goal of U.S. energy independence was barely an afterthought. Now, with the United States mired in the affairs of petro-dictatorships in the Middle East, even the president has emphasized the need to cure our addiction to oil.

"Studied inaction on this front stems from the coziness between the administration and big oil. Investigations into that relationship are a sure win for the Democrats. Just lining up oil company executives under the hot lights – much like the seven tobacco company chief executives were lined up in 1994, looking like gray-suited deer – creates the image, if not necessarily the fact, of activist government. (Suggested witnesses: Lee Raymond, chief executive of Exxon Mobil until this year; Spencer Abraham, former energy secretary; Cheney; and David Addington, Cheney's deputy on many energy matters.)"

(((Of course you can duck that one, buy yourself a new Senate, but your problems are BIGGER than that. Your troubles are just starting. What's the true extent of your bad judgment?)))

(((Well, just for fun, let's frankly confront the absolute worst-case scenario. That would be climate crisis as the Queen of Spades, the Big Sister of Nuclear Armageddon, instead of its dirty little sister... Suppose that plankton, as these scientists now publicly speculate, really does die off because the oceans got too suddenly warm and too acidic.

(((What gives, in that case? You would die. You, your bankers, your lawyers, your pet Senators, everybody on the Board of Directors, all the employees, the public-relations firms... The entire Bush Clan... the scientists who made the grim assessment.... every jackrabbit on the plains of Texas... Actually, if the plankton dies, pretty much every living thing above the level of a slime mold would die. Die like poisoned rats in a cellar.

(((Not that anybody worldwide would seek to blame you much for this... Why bother? Instead of merely wrecking civilization in your febrile quest for subterranean goo, you'd have accomplished something unbelievable and grand, unleashing an awesome smoke-genie Fossil Gotterdammerung that exterminated all known intelligent life in the Universe. Quite a feat for an oil company and a handful of hired right-wing cranks. There'd be a sense-of-wonder sci-fi grandeur to that, if there were any sci-fi writers left to type that up.)))
http://www.planetark.com/dailynewsstory.cfm/newsid/39356/story.htm

So that's the worst-case scenario. I don't expect it. I think a likelier one is Hague-style show-trials. I mean, not THE Hague, not the "International Court of Justice" – that one had a Bush regime spoke thrust through its wheels early on. That was a street-smart, deeply cynical move, but at the scale of the mayhem you're wreaking, the Hague Court wasn't near big enough for you anyway. The Hague didn't matter. Nobody who counts really cares all that much about "war crimes." As long as crimes occur in Sudan, or Afghanistan, Congo, "Non-Integrating Gap" locales that fail to affect the flow of commerce, these misdeeds don't compel attention. Yours do. Civil-rights NGOs are basically hobbyists; they're persistent but they're feeble. Whereas YOU, the mayhem YOU have publicly chained to your own wrists and ankles, the scale of the misdeeds YOU have cheerily brought to pass while lining your pockets at the cost of every power-player, the extent of the public penance that YOU require...

Wow. It boggles the mind! Think that over! It'll have to be some kind of long, ritualized, endless counterpurge, something like the Germans coming clean for 60 long years, with lots of ritual apology and self-abasement... Something like the Czech lustration process and the South African Truth and Reconciliation hearings, only bigger. Bigger, and in the full and horrible light of a smoggy planetary dawn. And with no end. Because the seas keep rising and the storms keep getting darker. For decades. There's no exit strategy for a firm that's the bride of climate change.

Imagine yourselves 'fessing up in the dock. "Fast Andy" Fastow had to do it; you, too, eh? "Yeah, we did dark, and secret, and terrible things to science and politics, and those seemed like a sensible, hardheaded, businesslike things to do at the time... if I'd known that it meant that I had to spend the next 20 years of my life looking into the hollow, drowned, dead eyes of little Jimmy there and his family of nine..."

I mean, there's that prospect, the de-Stalinization process; the "Transition" – I've seen that done. It's doable. People get over it. It's just, you know, the faster you move and the quicker you point the finger at the past's 'regrettable excesses' -- well, the less that hurts, and the more chance you have of oozing back into power later, but with a different lapel button and an utterly transformed infrastructure. You know, the BP way. The Shell way. You didn't do that. Because you were aggressive, cocksure morons. Just like Bush and Enron.

Then there's the Skilling option, which is to deny the existence of the giant black tornado even after it demolishes the employee retirement funds. I know you're aching to do this. It's very Alamo. You'll be going to jail if you choose that option, and given that climate change harms everybody on the planet including lunatics packing suicide bombs and weird KGB-ites with polonium in test tubes, you'll be lucky if you even manage to reach the safety of jail, rather than perishing in some particularly gruesome and exemplary fashion.

I know, this all sounds a little far out. So what's a sensible first step? Something you might do tomorrow. Something that wouldn't cost much.

Well, the first and most sensible step for you would be the public rehabilitation of the many purge victims you've already piled up. Kind of a Krushchev Thaw gambit. If you want to get anything like a fair legal shake from the hurt you've piled up for yourself, you'd better look to the fate of these scientists. See how you pestered the, sidelined them, made them non-persons? That effort cost you maybe 15 million and, also, your good-will, credibility and brand-name.

For a lot less than 15 million dollars, you could probably re-fund them, re-hire them, and put them all back in the schools and labs. And instead of carrying out a guerilla war against the IPCC, you could underwrite big, fancy, Houston penthouse parties for the IPCC. Shell and BP would do that. In a second.

You chose a Lysenkoist campaign, based in your Houston HQ but carried on on a global scale. That was basically a minor act of petrocratic tyranny. Not too entirely divorced from the mainstream of the Texan political tradition. But: the scale's gotten much bigger now, you were utterly and totally wrong in your assessment of what was happening and how that would enrich you, and, frankly, you are much bigger than your victims ever were. So your end will be much messier. Your fate will be theirs, only big-time. The victims of a counterpurge commonly catch just what the original purgees did, only louder and in technicolor.

Instead of a little geek-fight in the science world, you're going to see these sinister tactics adapted worldwide and brought against your own org. Your "politics of personal destruction" don't have all that much traction in the world of science -- geeks lose some funding and prestige, they get fired, they get shut up -- but in the corporate world? The political world? Where there's actual harm done -- real money? Oh my gosh.

So have a look at what you wrote on the wall. Does it take a prophet to interpret what's waiting there for you and yours? No, I didn’t think so, either.

O=c=O O=c=O O=c=O
NICE HOT SUNNY
WINTER DAY TODAY
O=c=O O=c=O O=c=O

Derix at "Sightline" has a post on the social acceptabaility of riding a bike for transport - "I Want to Ride My Bicycle".
Bicycling is my primary way to get around town, and that’s how I like it. It liberates me from the stress of traffic congestion, saves me a ton of money, and feels great... about 90 percent of the time.

I’m not saying I haven’t had my share of flat tires or moments of misery and exhaustion. But if I’m healthy and I don’t have a major mechanical problem, I’ll probably get there on my bike.

As the days grow darker and wetter people seem to have difficulty understanding why I’m on two wheels. And lately, I’ve been getting more offers for rides.They come from well-intentioned friends, who make sincere but seductive suggestions to get me off my pedals and into their smooth leather-seated, climate-controlled automobiles.

Sometimes, I’ll bike across the city to meet a friend. But when we say adieu and they find out that I’m on a bicycle, there's a moment of awe, followed by a wave of concern spreading across their face.

“Wow, you biked here?” they'll ask, as if I'd just swum the Straight of Juan de Fuca.

Yeah.

Then they make the proposition: “So, do you want a ride?”

No, I’m fine thanks

“Are you sure?”

I'm sure. And honestly, it’s really not a big deal. Roughly 2 percent of all trips in this city are made on bikes and they're made by people just like you and me. While I appreciate my friends' offers, I genuinely prefer to ride my bike.

I've been talking about riding my bike to work for a month or so without actually managing to do it yet (I usually walk instead or catch the bus if I'm feeling lazy). As the temperature gets hotter I may eventually get out on two wheels and see what life is like for a bike commuter in Sydney.

I had a somewhat similar experience to Deric's recently when I was mowing my front lawn last weekend - my next door neighbour witnessed me pushing the petrol free mower around and fairly bounded over to offer me the use of his stink machine (I'm not sure what he was thinking - maybe that I'm too poor to afford a "real" mower). I declined politely and resisted the urge to start on a doomer rant about the end of oil (though it was a little tempting - if only I was a believer). I might add that the petrol mower wouldn't save any time and probably would do a worse job cutting if my teenage memories of savaged grass on non-flat parts of the lawn are correct.

The local opposition reshuffle of the shadow cabinet sees Peter Garrett taking over as environment spokesman and Anthony Albanese moving to an infrastructure role.
Former Midnight Oil frontman Peter Garrett will join Labor's new frontbench as the spokesman for climate change and the environment.

Opposition Leader Kevin Rudd has announced the portfolio responsibilites of his new frontbench in Brisbane today, on the first day of his 10-day national tour. Labor deputy leader Julia Gillard takes on industrial relations and Wayne Swan will continue as treasury spokesman, despite his support for former Labor leader Kim Beazley.

Mr Garrett says he is eager to join the frontbench and hold the Federal Government to account on climate change. "Climate change represents one of the most significant and important issues that Australians must confront now and into the future," he said. "I want to work for leader Rudd to make sure that we roll up our sleeves and do the very best that we can, and I want to put the Howard Government on notice that it's fiddling while Australia burns."

The Australian Greens have applauded Mr Garrett's appointment. But they are sceptical the former rock star and head of the Australian Conservation Foundation will be able to reshape the Opposition's environment platform.

Greens leader Bob Brown says Labor has been weak on ending old-growth logging, introducing a carbon tax and curbing uranium exports. "Our question to Peter is going to be, 'Will you stand for what you sang for and is the Labor Party going to be able to accommodate the extraordinary changes in policy that are required if this planet is to get out of the current dive in its environmental fortune?'" he said.

Mongabay has an excellent article on Amazon natives using GPS and Google Earth to track incursions into protected areas of the Amazon.
Deep in the most remote jungles of South America, Amazon Indians (Amerindians) are using Google Earth, Global Positioning System (GPS) mapping, and other technologies to protect their fast-dwindling home. Tribes in Suriname, Brazil, and Colombia are combining their traditional knowledge of the rainforest with Western technology to conserve forests and maintain ties to their history and cultural traditions, which include profound knowledge of the forest ecosystem and medicinal plants. Helping them is the Amazon Conservation Team (ACT), a nonprofit organization working with indigenous people to conserve biodiversity, health, and culture in South American rainforests.

ACT was founded by Mark Plotkin, an accomplished author and renowned ethnobotanist, who has spent much of the past 20 years with some of the most isolated indigenous groups in the world. ACT is active in the Amazon, one of the few places where indigenous populations still live in mostly traditional ways. However, like the Amazon rainforest itself, this is rapidly changing. As forests fall to loggers, miners, and farmers, and the allure of western culture attracts younger generations to cities, extensive knowledge of the forest ecosystem and the secrets of life-saving medicinal plants are forgotten. The combined loss of this knowledge and these forests irreplaceably impoverishes the world of cultural and biological diversity.

ACT has pioneered a novel approach to address these problems by enabling Indians to monitor and protect their forest home while passing on their cultural wealth to future generations. ACT is working in partnership with local governments to train Indians in the use of GPS and the Internet to map and catalog their forest home, helping to better manage and protect ancestral rainforests by monitoring deforestation and preventing illegal incursions on their land. At the same time the efforts are strengthening cultural ties between indigenous youths and their parents and grandparents. ...

"Westerners maps in three dimensions: longitude, latitude, and altitude," explained Plotkin. "Indians think in six: longitude, latitude, altitude, historical context, sacred sites, and spiritual or mythological sites, where invisible creatures mark watersheds and areas of high biodiversity as off-limits to exploitation."

Their maps are also meticulously detailed, including virtually everything associated with a place.

"Indians mark where they get materials for houses, bamboo, specific vines, places where they find honey and wood for canoes, anything they eat in terms of palm nuts, brazil nuts, Açaí -- rich palm fruit. For example we're working with the Wayana, a warrior tribe. They have marked two specific parts of the forest where they can find wood hard enough for arrow points. They've marked another point on the other side of the reserve where they get hollow wood to craft the arrow shaft," added van Roosmalen.

The Indians also chart the distribution of medicinal plants -- they use hundreds -- but for security reasons, some highly coveted medicinal plants are not published. In the past there have been problems with biopiracy where outsiders trespass on lands to illegally collect these plants for export. The Indians saw nothing in return.

In addition to plants, the Indians mark all the places they see animals, including game animals and mythological animals that have deep spiritual meaning.

"On one of the maps the Kamayura had drawn a two-headed animal, so I asked the shaman what it was," recalls Plotkin. "'A two-headed invisible jaguar' he told me. So I asked if he'd ever seen one. 'No they are invisible and dangerous so we don't go there,' he said. Later I learned that the area marked with the invisible jaguar was a strict no-hunting zone, which was preserved to ensure a breeding refuge for forest wildlife. This was his way of saying that it was a protected area where hunting was not allowed."

There are good reasons that Indians say certain sites are sacred. Watersheds, which ensure clean drinking water, are off-limits to disturbance as are areas of high biodiversity and places with sacred plants. Indians don't want these places over-exploited.

Besides indicating the location of resources, villages, and geographical features like rivers and creeks, the mapping process has helped reestablish bonds between generations in a society where culture is at risk of extinction.

Philip Adams has an article in The Australian on the dangerous disconnect in politics.
t was only after giving it pride of place in the book that we discovered the joke was American in origin, originally involving Route 66 and a skunk. Indeed, it works better with a skunk, a critter less fondly regarded than our kanga. The joke serves to remind us that pollies aren’t too popular in any Western democracy. Nor is democracy. Voters are at best detached or indifferent, at worst entirely alienated. In Britain, voter turnout has never been lower. In the US, even the President is elected by an ever smaller crowd who bother to exercise their sacred right. Here? Well, we’ve got compulsory voting. Front up or get fined.

The polls show “voting intentions” but not the degree of enthusiasm. Talk to people who wouldn’t brake if they saw Howard on the Hume – they’d accelerate – and you’ll hear no wild excitement at the thought of a Beazley government.

You’d expect things to be livelier in Russia or eastern Europe, where the ballot box remains a novelty. Yet the turnouts there are pathetic, too. Around the world, irrespective of political system, one sees the same dangerous disconnect. Healthy scepticism is now carcinogenic cynicism, with the young particularly vulnerable.

As a result, political parties are suffering ageing, vanishing memberships. Whatever political stirrings we’ve seen among kids has occurred via email, MTV and Comedy Central’s The Daily Show. The youth vote. What youth vote? But perhaps the climate change crisis could change things.

In Australia the public is well aware their PM can’t be trusted on issues such as kids overboard, the GST, WMDs, interest rates and climate change – but so what? Lying is what pollies do for a living, particularly PMs and presidents. Those low, low, lowest of expectations make for an apathetic public – easier to rule and to rob of hard-won civil and legal rights.

But as former US vice-president Adlai Stevenson observed: “Someone must fill the gap between platitudes and bayonets.” Just as you need singers for opera, dancers for ballet and slaughtermen for abattoirs, you need politicians for politics. And these difficult times demand the latest models – new, angrier, hungrier. Take climate change: the current crop is useless on this issue. In the US, the Bush administration, from the President down, comes from the oil industry – while an obscene amount of election donations comes from Big Coal.

Here? The PM still fiddles while the world burns – hardly surprising with mining firms topping up the Libs’ war chest. In NSW, not only does half the state’s economy come from the Hunter Valley, but the mining unions still have great clout with the Iemma Government.

So it’s hard to see fundamental change – either here or in the US – unless the voters re-engage and start electing cleanskins.

Thats it for tonight - I seem to be bogged down in another post at the moment, so posts might be a bit light on (for links if not length) this week.

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