Weird Bird Friday – Thank God the Democrat Convention is over

Yes it’s true it’s TGI(WB)F again. Barack gave a great speech and then it was over. Now to the Labor Day weekend ahead. God bless the food now hand me a turkey sandwich.


Go on a picnic! Have a Good One

The Peak Oil People Sometimes Scare Themselves – Especially when they get together for a little soire

I know this is dated but the conference was held at the middle of this speculative oil price spike that has gone on for at least 6 months. I wonder if the Peak Oil folks know how to tell a speculative spike, a real spike through scarcity of production facilities and true Peak Oil. All of them would shadow a simlar spike?

What happens when oil runs out?


Sunday, June 01, 2008By Garret M. Ellison

The Grand Rapids Press

GRAND RAPIDS — The collapse of cities, a return to rail transportation, famine and a worldwide depression are but a few outcomes predicted by energy industry insiders and believers in the peak oil theory who gathered this weekend at Calvin College.

“We will have a different civilization, to be sure,” said David Goodstein, a vice provost and professor of physics at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech).

Goldstein wrote the book, “Out of Gas: The End of the Age of Oil.” He joined dozens of speakers at the International Conference on Peak Oil and Climate Change.

He was the kickoff speaker at the three-day event, which explored the double-pronged crises of peak oil and climate change by examining their effects on society, and offering sustainable solutions.

Peak oil is the point at which half of the world’s supply has been extracted and production levels off. This is expected to cause massive societal upheaval because the worldwide demand for oil is increasing rapidly.

It’s a controversial subject, and not all are convinced. Skeptics and some oil producers say a peak is years away and that new technologies will allow our energy appetite to be satisfied by tar sands and oil shale while renewable sources come online.

But those who believe in the peak oil scenario say we have reached that point already or will in a few years. New oil discoveries are slim. The last major discovery was in the 1960s.

They say that alternative energies cannot match the capacity of fossil fuels, and nuclear fusion — the one known silver bullet — is perpetually 25 years in the future.

Supply will be further constrained by aging infrastructure, they say. These arguments are fueled by the rising cost of food and oil, which recently topped $130 a barrel.

One point that everyone agrees on is that oil is a finite resource, and that nobody quite knows for sure how much is left.

 “We will see the effects of the peak very soon. How soon — I don’t know,” Goldstein said.

“It’s possible that it’ll be off another five, 10, or even 20 years.

“But 20 years is nothing on the scale of human history,” he said. “Our children, or our grandchildren are in for some very difficult times.”

That could mean civil unrest and famine, as petrol-based fertilizers become prohibitively expensive, driving up the cost of food — and everything else.

“The haves and the have-nots are going to be fighting for diminishing reserves,” said Steven F. Crower, an energy investment banker based in Denver.

“I think the price of oil will cause the collapse of the dollar,” he said. “The new gold standard is going to be energy.”

That’s somewhat less dire than the reality painted by Richard Heinberg, an author of eight books on peaking resources and a senior fellow at the Post Carbon Institute.

All complex systems inevitably collapse, said Heinberg, and ours is no different. A local-based agrarian economy is his vision of the future. Rail will be the primary transportation mode.

For some conference attendees, the concept of peaking oil production seemed like a very stark reality.

“I think it was Hunter S. Thompson who said that sometimes the massive crime that takes place in front of everyone is the one that goes unnoticed,” said Jackson Carreras, 24, of Plymouth.

The conference was organized by Aaron Wissner, of Middleville, who heads-up the local nonprofit, Local Future. It runs through 5 p.m. today.

Send e-mail to the author:


Here are the people that brought you the above conference. They seem like nice enough young people


Local Future
Paths to Sustainability

Michigan Conference – Nov. 2008

NEW!!!  Announcing “The Conference of Michigan’s Future: Energy, Economy & Environment” for Friday, Nov. 14 through Sunday, Nov. 16 at Crystal Mountain Resort in Thompsonville, Michigan.  Click the link above for speakers, ticket, and other specifics.

International Conference – Online

Local Future hosts the International Conference on Peak Oil and Climate Change: Paths to Sustainability.  The inaugural conference features 50 presenters including Richard Heinberg, Julian Darley, Dr. David Goodstein, Megan Quinn Bachman, Stephanie Mills, and Pat Murphy.

NEW! Watch conference presentations & download podcasts for free.



Unemployment, inflation, war, peak oil, climate change, biodiversity loss, overpopulation — global problems that need local solutions.

Local Future helps communities develop compassionate, sustainable, local, systems to provide jobs, food, energy, transportation, and essential services.

Local Future Network members develop these systems by helping their community to transition from dependent units of the failed global economy; to independent cultures of compassionate, sustainable, local economy.

Global Problems

The global economic system creates problems which threaten humanity and the planet:

  • peak oil
  • climate change
  • over population
  • resource depletion
  • widespread pollution
  • misallocation of power
  • institutional cruelty
  • economic instability
  • environmental destruction
  • geopolitical conflict & war

This unsustainable global economic system fails to protect humans, the environment, and the natural systems on which all life depends.  It does not meet the long term goals of civilization. 

When a system fails to such a catastrophic degree, it is time for change.

Local Solutions

New local systems must be developed that are grounded in a value system of truth, compassion, understanding, sustainability, renewal and community.  Developing new systems takes dedicated individuals who share the common value system, walk a common path, and move towards a common vision of the future.  Local systems are needed to provide:

  • jobs – that are challenging, safe and community oriented
  • money – community currency that creates jobs, motivates progress and reinforces values
  • food – that is nutritious, compassionate, sustainable, organic and available year-round
  • energy – heat, electricity and fuels from renewable sun, wind, water and biomass sources
  • transportation – utilizing ride sharing, mass transit, community vehicles and human power
  • homes – safe, comfortable and welcoming, zero energy new homes and retrofits
  • water – fresh, clean, free water that is owned and managed locally
  • waste management  – emphasizing reduce, reuse and recycling
  • health care – high quality, low cost, community based services and prevention
  • education – local teachers dedicated to providing continuing service
  • security – utilizing open communication, problem solving, education and dialogue
  • entertainment – opportunities for all to participate and enjoy
  • culture – celebrating diversity and history
  • spiritualityinviting all people to explore the deeper questions of life

Members of Local Future Network communicate and meet to learn, support, plan, and act.  They take the initiative to increase independence for themselves and their communities.  Their shared value system of truth, compassion, understanding, sustainability, renewal and community guides their actions toward a vision of a prosperous local future.


Solar Aid Is Such A Cool Site – I just had to do a post on them

I have also added them on our blogroll:

I know I have been bouncing around here from the Democrat Convention to Oil Speculators and now Africa but I ran across these folks awhile ago. I tucked them into a folder and forgot about them. So while I have the folder accidentally open…


About SolarAid

Power to the people
Two of the biggest threats facing humanity today are climate change and global poverty. SolarAid helps to combat both, simply by bringing clean, renewable power to the poorest people in the world.

Fighting poverty
Right now, two billion people have no access to electricity. They rely on burning fuels such as kerosene and wood for light and heat, which is highly toxic and expensive. Having solar power improves people’s health, income and education. That’s because solar power can enable poor people to cook food, pump clean water, run fridges, light homes, schools and hospitals, farm more effectively, and much more.

Fighting climate change
Climate change is mainly due to the massive and continuing use of burning fossil fuels for energy. This has pumped vast amounts of greenhouse gases, primarily carbon dioxide, into the atmosphere. At the same time, we have destroyed vast tracts of forest, which has released billions of tonnes of carbon.

By replacing carbon-emitting products with solar power, and reducing our dependency on fossil fuels, particularly wood, we can alleviate global warming.

The average kerosene lamp, used widely across the developing world, creates around a tonne of carbon over seven years. Replacing these lamps with solar lanterns will lead to significant reductions in carbon emissions.

Our history

Our vision
Our vision is to make solar energy as widely available as possible to the poorest people in developing countries, helping them bypass the need for dirty, fossil-fueled power and giving them access to all the educational, health and social services that we take for granted in the West. With two billion people in the world not having access to electricity, that’s quite a vision.

Yet we believe in being ambitious and visionary and we hope you do too. That’s because the two most important threats facing our world today are global poverty and climate change. Both are linked as the poorest countries will be hit the hardest by the effects of climate change. While we do not claim that solar energy is the magic bullet that can solve these problems single-handedly, we do believe it can play a major role, with your help.

Our origins

Although SolarAid was officially started in 2006, the thinking behind it goes back much further, to the founding of Solarcentury eight years ago by Dr Jeremy Leggett, who had worked in the oil industry in the 1980s and then became Chief Scientist at Greenpeace in the late 1980s when he became aware of the threat of climate change.

Solarcentury was set up with the vision that business could help find a solution to climate change through solar energy, so its founders wrote into its constitution that it would donate 5% of its net profit with no commercial strings attached in order to set up a charity to help the poorest communities in developing countries access solar power. Solarcentury made profit in 2006, which is why we then set up SolarAid as an independent charity in August 2006 and gathered support from a wide-range of companies, foundations and individuals, as you can read below.

SolarAid is different to your usual international charity. We join the fights against global poverty and climate change in a way not done before. And from the start, we have aimed to bring together the professionalism of the commercial sector with the values of the charity sector in order to create an organization that will bridge the gap between both. That’s why entrepreneurialism and innovation are at the heart of what we do.

Microsolar, a ground-breaking model
Our microsolar approach is pioneering. We identify entrepreneurs in developing countries, who we then train in business planning, market research and solar skills. We help them set up their solar microbusinesses so that they can build and sell solar lanterns and solar chargers for radios and mobile phones. This came out of research that we carried out that showed that the average household in a developing country spends between 10-20% of its income on kerosene for lighting, single use batteries for their radios, and charging their mobile phones. That’s a lot of money, plus kerosene smoke is toxic, single use batteries are polluting, and mobile phone chargers need access to the electric grid, which most rural areas in developing countries do not have and probably will never have.

Our microsolar model is a perfect solution to this. Our solar entrepreneurs convert kerosene lamps into solar lanterns using light emitting diodes (LEDs, which are cheaper, robust and use little energy) and build solar chargers from local materials and imported solar glass. These solar products can then fulfill much of the average household’s energy needs, leading to a substantial increase in their income because they no longer need to buy kerosene or batteries. The solar entrepreneurs make money too – a win-win situation.

Macrosolar, power for communities
Our macrosolar work involves installing larger solar systems on schools, community centres and health clinics. Barely 2% of rural populations in most African countries have access to the grid, forcing them to rely on kerosene, candles, car batteries and firewood for fuel. Schools cannot teach in the evenings; community centres cannot offer services such as educational videos or vocational training; and health clinics cannot power basic medical equipment such as vaccine fridges.

Yet a standard 300 watt system installed on the roof of a school, community centre or clinic can solve all these issues. In Uganda, for instance, we are installing a solar system on the community office of the Katine Project, a programme run by development charity AMREF and the Guardian newspaper and funded by Barclays bank (read about it on: In Malawi, we installed a 300 watt system on a community centre, the only place now with electricity for miles around. In South Africa, we installed a solar system on an orphanage. And we are starting to install systems on hundreds of schools, community centres and health clinics in Tanzania and Zambia over the next four years.

Support for SolarAid
We have been fortunate to gather far-reaching support for our SolarAid dream. Following Solarcentury’s example, a number of other companies have come on board: Scottish and Southern Energy provides funding and staff volunteers for our projects in Tanzania; Vodafone and Global Cool provide funding for our Zambia programme; Lloyds of London, through its charities trust, is helping us develop our carbon offsetting scheme; White & Case and Covington & Burling, two leading legal firms, give us pro bono advice; and the City of London, through the City Bridge Trust, supports our communications activities. Foundations have also provided vitally help, from the Big Lottery Fund’s grant for us to research setting up programmes in Tanzania and Zambia, to assistance with UK management costs from Avina Stiftung, the Sylvia Adams Trust, the Polden Puckham Foundation and others.

And crucially, we have a world-class board of trustees and advisory panel. All of them are heavily involved in our work, providing vital advice and contacts as we grow. You can read more about them here.

We launched SolarAid officially in December 2007, with a big event at City Hall in London presented by the Major of London Ken Livingstone. More than 180 people from the energy industry, NGOs, government, African embassies, foundations and others joined us for this celebration.

The future
We want to reach millions of people with solar power over the next few years. But we don’t claim that will be easy. That’s why we need your help. We need hundreds, thousands, even millions of people like you to support us regularly, each month, with whatever donation you can afford: £15 ($30) can pay for a solar lantern; £5,000 ($10,000) can pay for a solar system on a school; and if you’re a high net worth individual, £1m ($2m) can pay for a full-scale four year programme reaching tens of thousands of people in a country such as Tanzania. The need is huge, which is why we urgently need your support to make this happen.

Nor do we claim that implementing our projects will be plain sailing. As anyone who works in international development will tell you, working in a developing world environment is challenging. Basic infrastructure – roads, water, electricity – is often lacking due to few resources; the financial and legal framework – banks, the law courts, state legislation – is weak and laws can be difficult to enforce; corruption is frequent, from the grassroots level to the top of the state, making it difficult at times to operate with confidence; and industry is struggling, making it hard to source many of the materials and products needed to implement a project.

But these are also the very reasons why our work is so important and why we need your support. We want people to understand the challenges and successes of development and how solar power is a part of this. That’s why we’ve designed this website in this way, with blogs to give you the latest news straight from our projects and with the option for you to post your comments too. We want to hear what you think of our work. We want you to be part of this dream. We want you to share in our joys and our hardships.

So please, visit our project pages, click on the blogs, make a donation, and join us on this exciting adventure to bring power to the people.



Oil Speculators Are the Modern Robber Barons – State Journal Register letter to the editor hits the tap on the barrel head

I swore on my mother’s grave (sorry mom) that I would not put up a post about oil prices until they fell below 100$$ per barrel because I was tired of people pointing fingers at each other because the whole system is rigged. The Chinese were hoarding diesel for the Olympics (now over), the speculator’s contracts were lapsing (August 31 and September 15), the Senate is going to have hearings in the middle of September (hint: it will all be back to normal by then), and when the oil prices fall the gasoline refiners will lose their cover and half to ramp up aritificially low production levels to drop the price of gasoline. BUT not before 300 billion $$$ are vacuumed out of poor people’s pockets. Boy that took a long time to say! Then I saw this letter and was re-energized to put the facts out there one more time, so maybe people would wake up and just stop using those nasty stinky oil products.

Things could be done

to reduce price of gasoline

The recent letters regarding the why and wherefores of the price of oil and

 gasoline prompted me to join in the debate.

First, a few observations:

Since 2003, investments in commodity index funds have increased

 from $13 bil­lion to $$260 billion, a 20-fold increase.

The Commodity Exchange Commission has already set

limits on the holdings any one investor can have in a commodity

to prevent speculation. But the larger institu­tional investors

(known as “swap dealers”) such as Goldman Sachs have exploited an

exemption that allows them to bypass those limits if they make trades through

brokers or dealers.

The majority of these trades in the USA are made by a British company

 with head­quarters in Atlanta while all the trading takes place in

Chicago! They do have a rep in London, Robert Reid, who answers to Atlanta.

The intercontinental exchanges do not have to abide by the rules set up by

the New York Mercantile Exchange be­cause they are listed as a foreign company!

Last month Michael Masters, a portfolio manager, told Congress that index

speculators had bought the equivalent of 1.1 billion bar­rels of oil — eight times

 as much as the United States has added to the Strategic Petroleum Reserve

over the last five years!

Because of all this speculation the price of oil has reached $140 a barrel.

The speculators in oil futures obviously say it is sup­ply and demand that

is causing the rise in prices. Granted, there is a certain amount of this i

nvolved, but not in the USA. The demand or use of oil in the U.S. has

been stead for at least a decade.

The ex-president of NYMEX, appearing before a congressional committee

a few weeks ago stated that if margins, which are now 50 percent, were

increased, the price of oil would drop to approximately the marginal cost

of oil, which is between $60 and $70 per barrel. It was also stated that

these margins could be increased, accord­ing to NYMEX rules, during an

 emergency. I think this is an emergency! By the way, it was stated that this

could be done within a 30-day period.

P.S. Just recently, a bill that would put new limits on speculative trading

 in ener­gy commodities failed to get the two-thirds majority required.

Most Republi­cans objected to the bill — the vote was 276 to 151.

Eric Gregg Springfield


Think Eric is crazy? Want to hear more names of the AMERICANS picking your pocket? Well okie dokie then.


Tuesday, May 27. 2008

Stop the Oil Speculators

What factors are causing the zooming price of crude oil, gasoline and heating products? What is going to be done about it?

Don’t rely on the White House—with Bush and Cheney marinated in oil—or the Congress—which has hearings that grill oil executives who know that nothing is going to happen on Capitol Hill either.

Last week the price of crude oil reached about $130 a barrel after spiking to $140 briefly. The immediate cause? Guesses by oil man T. Boone Pickens and Goldman Sachs that the price could go to $150 and $200 a barrel respectivly in the near future. They were referring to what can be called the hoopla pricing party on the New York Mercantile Exchange. (NYMEX)

Meanwhile, consumers, workers and small businesses are suffering with the price of gasoline at $4 a gallon and diesel at $4.50 a gallon. Suffering but not protesting, except for a few demonstrations by independent truckers.

A consumer and small business revolt could be politically powerful. But what would they revolt to achieve? Their government is paralyzed and is unable to indicate any action if oil goes up to $200 or $400 a barrel. Washington, D.C. is leaving people defenseless and drawing no marker for when it will take action.

Oil was at $50 a barrel in January 2007, then $75 a barrel in August 2007. Now at $130 or so a barrel, it is clear that oil pricing is speculative activity, having very little to do with physical supply and demand. An essential product—petroleum—is set by speculators operating on rumor, greed, and fear of wild predictions.

Over the time since early 2007, U.S. demand for petroleum has fallen by 1 percent and world demand has risen by 1.3 percent. Supplies of crude are so plentiful, according to the Wall Street Journal, “traders of physical crude oil say their market is suffering from too much supply, not too little.”

Iran, for instance, is storing 25 million barrels of heavy, sour crude oil because, in the words of Hossein Kazempour Ardebili, Iran’s oil governor, “there are simply no buyers because the market has more than enough oil.”

Mike Wittner, head of oil research at Societe Generale in London agrees. “There’s various signals out there saying for right now, the markets are well supplied with crude.”

Historically, oil has been afflicted with the control of monopolists. From the late nineteenth century days of John D. Rockefeller, and his Standard Oil monopoly, to the emergence of the “Seven Sisters” oligopoly, made up of Standard Oil, Shell, BP, Texaco, Mobil, Gulf and Socal, to the rise of OPEC representing the major producing countries, the “free market” price of oil has been a mirage. Despite the breakup of the Standard Oil company by the government’s trustbusters about 100 years ago, selling cartels and buying oligopolies kept reasserting themselves.

In an ironic twist, the major price determinant has moved from OPEC (having only 40% of the world production) and the oil companies to the speculators in the commodities markets. What goes on in the essentially unregulated New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX)—without Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) enforced margin requirements, and, unlike your personal purchases, untaxed—is now the place that leads to your skyrocketing gasoline bills. OPEC and the Big Oil companies reap the benefits and say that it’s not their doing, but that of the speculators. Gives new meaning to “passing the buck.”

Deborah Fineman, president of Mitchell Supreme Fuel Co. in Orange, New Jersey, summed up the scene: “Energy markets have been dictated for too long by hedge funds and speculators, who artificially manipulate the numbers for their own benefit. The current market isn’t based on the sound principles of supply and demand but it is being rigged by companies and speculators who are jacking up prices for their own greed.”

Harry C. Johnson, former banker who worked for many years inside Big Oil and ran his own small oil company in Oklahoma, blames the CFTC, the Department of Energy, the Administration, and Congress, as “asleep at the switch on an issue that is probably costing U.S. consumers $1 billion per day.”

He cites “some industry experts, who profit greatly from the high price of crude, and have stated openly that the worldwide economic price of crude, absent speculators, would be around $50 to $60 per barrel.

Imagine, our government is letting your price for gasoline and home heating oil be determined by a gambling casino on Wall Street called NYMEX. The people need regulatory protection from speculators and an excess profits tax on Big Oil.

In addition, a sane government would see the present price crises as an opportunity to expand our passenger and freight railroad capacity and technology.

A sane government would drop all subsidies and tax loopholes for Big Oil’s huge profits and other fossil fuels and promote a national mission to solarize our economy to achieve major savings from energy conservation technology, retrofitting buildings, and upgrading efficiency standards for motor vehicles, home appliances, industrial engines and electric generating plants.

Those are the permanent ways to achieve energy independence, reduce our trade deficit, create good jobs that can’t be exported and protect the environmental health of people and nature.

Those are the reforms and advances that a muscular consumer, worker and small business revolt can focus on in the coming weeks.

What say you, America?

Democrat’s Convention Goes Green – First political convention to try its hand at good Environmental Practices

Ok so I am a media slut for trying to grab google hits with the title of this post. Still this is a historic convention in oh so many ways.

This story cited below is actually a double steal because it is an AP story from Yahoo:;_ylt=Ah9QOJ.F0LqqXrNw0QROAa1nhVID

 Matthews, Crow kick off Democratic convention

Matthews, playing with Tim Reynolds, was less pointed with his commentary, while Nettles played up the night’s theme of environmentalism. Denver’s mayor has worked with hotels, restaurants and organizers to make the convention a green event.

“This is the first time that a political convention of any sort has been surrounded with the awareness of environmental issues,” Nettles told The AP before playing. “So that feels like it’s on the cutting edge.”

Her bandmate Kristian Bush added: “Yeah, and regardless of what political affiliation you want to align yourself with, this is an issue. It’s real, no matter which side you decide to attack it from.”

Aside from the Dixie Chicks, it’s rare for a country group to play a high-profile Democratic Party-sponsored event. So are Nettles and Bush Democrats?

“We don’t say. We stay away,” replied Nettles, laughing. “It’s like honey, what do you want to be, a pariah? What do you want to be, crucified? It’s a good thing in this country. We don’t have to tell anybody. It’s no one’s business who we vote for.”

Among those who showed up at the event organized by well-connected environmental activist Laurie David: Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter, Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine and Robert Kennedy Jr


 Some people think this will be a tall order


The Greenest Show


on Earth:


Democrats Gear


Up for Denver

From Organic Fanny Packs to ‘Pure’ Trash,
Party Planners Face Logistical Nightmare

June 25, 2008; Page A1

DENVER — As the Mile High City gears up to host a Democratic bash for 50,000, organizers are discovering the perils of trying to stage a political spectacle that’s also politically correct.

Consider the fanny packs.

The host committee for the Democratic National Convention wanted 15,000 fanny packs for volunteers. But they had to be made of organic cotton. By unionized labor. In the USA.

Official merchandiser Bob DeMasse scoured the country. His weary conclusion: “That just doesn’t exist.”

Ditto for the baseball caps. “We have a union cap or an organic cap,” Mr. DeMasse says. “But we don’t have a union-organic offering.”

Much of the hand-wringing can be blamed on Denver’s Democratic mayor, John Hickenlooper, who challenged his party and his city to “make this the greenest convention in the history of the planet.”

Convention organizers hired the first-ever Director of Greening, longtime environmental activist Andrea Robinson. Her response to the mayor’s challenge: “That terrifies me!”

After all, the last time Democrats met in Denver — to nominate William Jennings Bryan in 1908 — they dispatched horse-drawn wagons to bring snow from the Rocky Mountains to cool the meeting hall. Ms. Robinson suspected modern-day delegates would prefer air conditioning. So she quickly modified the mayor’s goal: She’d supervise “the most sustainable political convention in modern American history.”

  Campaign dispatches in Washington Wire

 Campaign 2008: Full coverage

Now, she must pull it off.

To test whether celebratory balloons advertised as biodegradable actually will decompose, Ms. Robinson buried samples in a steaming compost heap. She hired an Official Carbon Adviser, who will measure the greenhouse-gas emissions of every placard, every plane trip, every appetizer prepared and every coffee cup tossed. The Democrats hope to pay penance for those emissions by investing in renewable energy projects.

Perhaps Ms. Robinson’s most audacious goal is to reuse, recycle or compost at least 85% of all waste generated during the convention.


Others think it can’t be done. We shall see:

Bucking Convention

Democratic convention planners struggling to meet big green goals

Posted at 10:13 AM on 07 Jul 2008


Planners of August’s Democratic Convention in Denver are finding that it’s just not that easy to pull off Green Director Andrea Robinson’s goal of “the most sustainable political convention in modern American history.” Only three states’ delegations have agreed to purchase carbon offsets through the convention’s “Green Delegate Challenge” program. Merchandisers despair of finding fanny packs and baseball caps that are organic and made in the U.S. by union labor. Robinson has been unsuccessful in banning bottled water at the convention center. Hotel space in Denver is in short supply, meaning many attendees will likely have to transport themselves by fuel instead of foot. And caterers are balking at what is arguably the convention committee’s most ambitious goal: meals for 40,000 people in which each plate contains 70 percent local and organic ingredients, 50 percent fruits and vegetables, nothing fried, and at “least three of the following five colors: red, green, yellow, blue/purple and white.”


Then there is my friend John Martin who thinks it’s all a JOKE. For a picture of John please see the JOKER in the last Bat Man movie. They say it was Heath Ledger’s last performance but John was his body double and he was in most of the scenes. It’s that smile mon.

Click on the August Archives and scrollllllllllll way down.  

Monday, August 11, 2008

Wealthy MD: DNC carbon program “endearing”

Doctor and delegate to the Democratic National Convention Mark Thrun on the wisdom of the DNC’s carbon credit program:

$12 bucks is all. $12 bucks and I can erase the carbon footprint I lay down during the course of the Democratic Convention. It seems so cheap.

Now if I wanted to erase my carbon footprint for a year, its gonna cost me a bit more. $324 to be exact. Given the amount I have to drive back and forth in the city, this seems an easy way to assuage my environmental guilt. . . .

Well bully for you, doc. Many people would not find it easy at all. Then this strange, question-begging, cluck-like paragraph:

I love the concept. The fact that we have repeatedly violated air standards for the city this summer makes the project even more endearing. And I am certain to participate [so you haven’t, yet?]. But I have to wonder, if buying carbon offsets is so easy, does it really do anything? I understand where the money is going. And I get the benefits of investments in lower impact energy sources.

Like broken windmills. But underneath his lib vagueness Thrun knows the truth:

Maybe just making a payment will encourage more people to ponder their own impact on the environment. After all, reading recently about real-time home electricity monitors certainly made me envious for a meter. I can easily see me turning off all the lights in the house, obsessively trying to bring the reading down. Maybe the secondary effect of just getting people to think about their own footprint makes web payoffs efficacious.


Here, by the way, is the latest Green Challenge map from the DNC website:

Compare it to the map from July 28, only three days before the alleged deadline to participate in the offset program:

Truly heroic nagging, is my guess.

Update: So if the good doctor hasn’t bought his offset yet, why is Colorado’s delegation shown in the “100% participation” category? Hmmm?

Update II: The good doctor. Take me now, Jesus.

Update III: The Rocky ends it endless series on Civic Center Park by unleashing student photographers from the Art Institue of Colorado on the place. Man they’re good. Check out the slide show.

Update IV: Oops, the Rocky’s Civic Center series continues, and this is a good one, on the park’s statuary. The first pic is worth the trip.


Weird Bird Friday – Short post today

TGI(WB)F – I have so much happening in the next 3 days that this is going to be short and really weird. Got a 50th birthday celibaration for Board member Cathy, the BBQ and Blues Festival and Barack Obama ALL on Saturday. A fundraiser on Sunday and a Club meeting on Monday. Geez!

I have no idea what this bird is or where I got it. I think it is a semi-drowned owl. Whatever it is it’s really weird.


It is being held by a weird old bird too. Good Luck to Susan and John in Denver. They get to host the Democrat National Convention. See more at:

Wind Turbine For 40$$ – Who says the kids of today can’t save the world?

I did not double check to see what the exact exchange rate is. I just guessed. It’s 20 English Pounds so I just doubled it to be safe:

Student inventor creates £20 wind turbine out of scrap for developing world

A student has built a wind turbine from scrap to help people in the developing world.

Max Robson, 22, constructed a prototype using rubbish collected from skips, tips and bins including an old bike frame and wheel bearings, the magneto from a Vespa, a battery from a Ford Fiesta and bits of wood.

It is so simple, he says, it can be built by unskilled workers in less than a day anywhere in the world.  

Max Robson designed a wind turbine made from 100 percent recycled materials

His turbine works by converting the energy in wind into electrical energy stored in a battery. It produces an output of 11.3 watts, which is enough electricity to run lighting for 63 hours or a radio for 30 hours.

The product design student from Greenwich has just received a first class honours degree from the University of Portsmouth. He said he had always been interested in gadgets and machines and was inspired by his father Ashley’s enthusiasm

The wind turbine can be built by unskilled workers in less than a day anywhere in the world

‘My dad wanted to do something like this but I beat him to it,’ said Mr Robson.

‘He had the idea of designing a scrap wind turbine but it was my idea to use it in the developing world. I wanted to build something worthwhile and I am interested in design being environmentally friendly.’

‘This isn’t going to change lives in the developing world dramatically but a device like this could make their lives a lot easier,’ he said.

‘It cost me £20 to build the prototype and in the developing world it would be a lot less. The nearest alternative wind turbine on the market costs £2,000.’

Ashley Robson, 51, who studied mechanical engineering at the University of Portsmouth, said he was delighted his son was following in his footsteps.





Clean Energy Summit – This thing has been so widely publicized that no one knows it’s going on

I have to admit that if not for Peak Oil and Rueters, I would not have known that this was even going on.

Business leaders: Make renewable energy cheaper



LAS VEGAS: Representatives from Google Inc. and General Electric Co. said Tuesday that widespread use of renewable energy in United States would be possible — if it were cheaper.

Renewable energy options will remain “boutique” industries unless their costs are cut to make them competitive with coal and other widely used power sources, said Dan Reicher, director for climate change and energy initiatives at, the company’s philanthropic arm.

Reicher spoke to a group of politicians and energy experts at the National Clean Energy Summit in Las Vegas. The meeting’s attendees said they hope to develop a national energy agenda to take to the Democratic and Republican parties at their upcoming conventions.

“There’s a whole set of factors that go into the ultimate cost of energy,” Reicher said after announcing a plan for Google to invest more than $10 million to develop “enhanced geothermal systems” technology to generate energy from rocks deep below the earth’s surface.

Google’s project replicates traditional geothermal systems deep below the Earth’s surface by circulating water through hot rock and running the steam through a turbine that generates electricity.

“These are all high-capital-costs projects,” Reicher said.

One by one, speakers at the meeting touted the benefits of various energy-related initiatives, including how large-scale solar power could generate thousands of jobs and why wind power could lessen America’s dependence on foreign oil. Extending tax credits, establishing caps on carbon emissions and modernizing the nation’s electricity grid were also ideas that speakers said would be crucial to building a “green” economy.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the energy discussion was timely, and he criticized presidential candidates Barack Obama and John McCain for not having a real debate about energy.

Texas oil baron T. Boone Pickens also presented his plan to develop wind energy to generate 20 percent of the nation’s electricity, then use natural gas to power cars until hydrogen or plug-in electric cars become widely available.

“I don’t see many people from my party,” said Pickens, a Republican. “I’m making new friends, and that’s good.”


Here is what they have to say for theirselves. It’s a whole day!


National Clean Energy Summit

WHEN: August 18-19, 2008
8/18/08 -Doors open at 4:00 p.m. for general registration and 3:30 for press.
8/19/08- Doors open at 7:45.

WHERE: University of Nevada Las Vegas, Las Vegas, NV

Thank you for your interest in the Clean Energy Summit. Web registration for the summit is now closed. We will be able to accommodate walk-up registration at Cox Pavilion as capacity allows.

Industry leaders, scientists, policy experts, citizens, and the media will gather in Nevada at the national summit hosted by the Center for American Progress Action Fund, U.S. Senator Harry Reid (D-NV), and University of Nevada, Las Vegas, to chart a course for our nation’s clean energy future. This is a pivotal opportunity to focus on defining a policy agenda that accelerates the development of renewable energy, energy-efficiency technologies, and robust clean energy markets in Nevada, the nation, and the world.
Developing a Clean Energy Future for Nevada, the Nation, and the World

Nevada is at the epicenter in the debate of how America should generate and use energy in the future. Nevada has abundant clean energy sources such as solar, wind, geothermal, and efficiency technologies that could be developed to meet its future energy needs. The question is whether Nevadans—and all Americans—will shift to a clean energy economy that creates less expensive and more efficient energy, cleaner air, clean energy markets, and the creation of good new jobs that strengthen and grow our economy in Nevada, the nation, and the world.

We owe it to our children and grandchildren to protect the air they breathe and our nation’s great outdoors. Nevada has the opportunity to do that and lead the nation in a clean energy revolution by developing clean, renewable energy and efficiency technologies that will meet the state’s current and future energy demands.
Once again, America can lead the way. Developing new technologies will result in a robust clean energy economy our country can be proud of while creating good-paying jobs and diversifying our economy while not polluting our air.
This is our vision for America’s future. And the National Clean Energy Summit is a pivotal opportunity to help get us there.

The University of Nevada, Las Vegas is committed to increasing energy efficiency and to significantly reducing energy consumption through its energy management systems, recycling programs, and turf reduction efforts.  Our goal is to make the National Clean Energy Summit carbon neutral.


People New To Environmentalism And The Energy Field Must State The Obvious

Environmentalism really IS about saving the Earth. Not the rocks, the water and the oxygen some of its primary components, but the lifeforms that inhabit it. When we try to preserve the humpback whale it’s because it they are beautiful and important to us. It is also because to some extent they are sentient. We are in the midst of one of the largest die offs in terms of the number of species that were here a 1000 years ago. When we preserve a section of the planet as in a park we preserve those species but we also preserve their habitat for future generations to see.

Obviously we are one of those species. So saving the Earth means saving us too. But we are a special case because we have over populated the planet and we are one of the leading causes of the die off, so saving ourselves and the planet requires a population reduction and a change in behavior. Two huge issues that I do not see our species solving. No other top of the food chain species has solved it. I have written before about Science Fiction’s contribution to the myth of a disposable planet so it’s not a wonder that these guys come off as slightly clueless.

Still they have pretty pictures:


The grand myth of environmentalism is that it’s all about saving the Earth.

It’s not. The Earth will be just fine. Environmentalism is all about saving ourselves.

That may seem a bit counter-intuitive; after all, the Earth is certainly central to the rhetoric, the memetic of environmentalism. Most environmental discussions focus on ecological dynamics, with references to human beings typically limited to enumerations of the various insults we’ve visited upon the planet. Given the degree of culpability we bear for the current state of the planet, this is entirely appropriate.

But the rhetorical focus of environmentalism on the planet obscures the fact that what human beings have done to the Earth pales in comparison to past disasters hitting our world, from massive asteroid strikes to super-volcano eruptions killing off 90+% of the Earth’s species. And in every case, the Earth has recovered, and life has once again flourished.

We sometimes make the conceptual mistake of thinking that the way the Earth’s ecosystem is today is the way it will forever be, that we’ve somehow reached an ecological end-state. But even in an eco-conscious world, or one devoid of humans entirely, natural processes from evolution to geophysical and solar cycles would continue. The Earth’s been at this for a long time, literally billions of years; from a planetary perspective, a quadrupling of atmospheric carbon lasting 10,000 years (for example) is little more than a passing blip.

The fact of the matter is that, no matter how much greenhouse gas we pump into the atmosphere or how many toxins we dump into the soil and oceans, given enough time the Earth — and its ecological systems — will recover.

But human civilization is far more fragile.

Human civilization could not withstand and recover from the same kinds of assaults the planet itself has shrugged off in eons past. We remain entirely dependent upon myriad Earth services and systems, from topsoil and clean water to carbon cycles and biodiversity. Activities that undermine those critical services and systems quite literally threaten the survival of human civilization. The fundamental resilience of the Earth’s geophysical systems simply means that, when we ignore our effects on the planet, we’re simply making ourselves disposable, just another passing blip in the planet’s long history.

In trying to minimize the harmful impacts of human activities upon the global ecosystem, environmentalism supports the continued healthy existence of humankind.

To me, this too is entirely appropriate. Despite its many flaws, I’m a big fan of human civilization. I marvel at our capacity to organize matter and information, at our ability to learn from mistakes and pass that learning down to subsequent generations. Civilization — writing, cities, trade, the whole lot of it — makes us unique on this planet and, as far as we can tell so far, in our part of the universe. Destroying that through malice or negligence is the worst form of crime, and the height of tragedy.

Part of a focus upon civilization, however, is the recognition that we do not exist in isolation, that we are dependent upon an enormous variety of complex systems. As a result, our continued existence requires the continued success of those systems. In order to save ourselves, we have to minimize actions which damage and disrupt the environment.


They spent their whole history telling us we could leave this planet so nothing here matters. Now they want to turn around and Say WOW everything here matters. We ain’t going anywhere anytime soon. HMMMM 


The Ultimate Peak Oil Site – While I know that speculators caused this price spike

The Peak Oil People are so focused on the inevitable that you have to admire them:

Post Carbon Institute

Reduce Consumption : Produce Locally



Airline industry backpedaling on expansion?

After my presentation to the Anchorage (Alaska) Municipal Assembly last week, I chatted with a…

Daniel Lerch · August 15, 2008 ·


Losing Control


Humankind has control issues, and they’re about to get a lot worse. As a species, we’ve…

Richard Heinberg · August 15, 2008 ·


How students get around


The USA Today headline was “Schools move to eject cars from campuses.” The article gave…

laurel · August 14, 2008 ·


The Disappearing Lake


As the subtitle of Richard Heinberg’s book Peak Everything says, the world is waking up…

asher · August 13, 2008 ·

Media Appearances


Al Jazeera

Post Carbon Institute Senior Fellow Richard Heinberg was interviewed by Al Jazeera English TV. Richard…

Aug 4 2008 ·

Press Democrat

Kiss Your Gas Goodbye! was covered in this in-depth article in the Sunday Edition of…

Aug 3 2008 ·


Featured Articles


A Call to Action


A call to action for each of us to respond to the joint challenge of peak oil and climate change.

August 02, 2008 ·

Peak VMT – Are Americans Kissing Their Gas Goodbye?

Here’s an interesting question: if you gaze for a moment at this fine piece of art…

July 31, 2008 ·


IEA Still Misleading On Future Oil Supply

The IEA is still saying there is no real problem with oil…

July 31, 2008 ·


100 Percent Renewable Power


Post Carbon Institute’s Plan to reach Al Gore’s ambitious goal of 100% Renewable Electricity in ten years.

July 22, 2008 ·