Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Winter Cold Brings Financial Misery To North


By Elaine Meinel Supkis

Winter has only just begun and already many in the middle class are struggling with record high fuel bills. Congress cut fuel aid even as they cut taxes paid by the energy giants. I see a political blizzard in the future here.

From the NYT:
The cost of natural gas heat, already high, has risen 50 percent since last year. Home heating oil prices are up 30 percent. What that means for the larger economy will be divined by economists.

A hint of what it portends for the average person, though, is apparent in early indications from offices like Suffolk's.

"We have more people applying for help, and more of them are in a higher income group than we've seen before," said Mark Wolfe, executive director of the National Energy Assistance Directors Association, a group of 50 state directors in charge of administering a federal home energy assistance program that offers one-time-per-winter cash benefits of $100 to $500.
Those paltry benefits were set ten years ago under Clinton and record cheap energy. Few people needed it and it covered 100% of energy costs for the very poor.

It hasn't been raised since and of course now $500 pays less than a quarter of the costs. The buying frenzy, fueled nearly entirely by cheap loans running for less than the rate of inflation, is dying because credit card companies are nearly all across the board raising rates to 20-30%. This is not cheap money, it is usurous. I suspect last weekend's shopping frenzy was the last gasp, people counting pennies to buy ridiculously cheap luxury items. Now we will all hunker downa and desperately figure out how to survive this winter.
All were applying for help through the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, or Liheap, though no one was exactly low income. All, as it happened, would be turned away for having incomes that exceeded the strict federal limits - $41,616 for a family of four, or $28,296 for a family of two.
These Federal standards are silly since living in high-cost communities means someone on these incomes is really very poor, for example, if rents or taxes on properties are high like in the Northeast.
Elected officials from cold weather states have pushed hard for substantial increases in financing for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, which provided about five million people with benefits last winter.

Those efforts, however, have so far failed to bring an increase from last year's allocation, which was about $2.2 billion. Governors and lawmakers say about $5 billion would be necessary to meet the needs of the six million eligible people expected to apply for aid this year.

A parallel drive to impose a windfall-profits tax on energy companies, which have reported record profits, has also stalled.
Lieberman, a man whose first country of choice is Israel, recently toured Iraq and said our hideously expensive mess there is going just fine. All the Democrats are of divided loyalty, wanting money from various religious or business special interests like the military/industrial complex clowns, and so they support this ruinous war while pretending they are agast we can't muster the money to spend a measly additional $3 billion to keep Americans alive!

The GOP is totally toxic. They make no bones about who they really serve: the Pope in Italy, the Japanese government, and big big business. So they love this ruinous war. I would suggest we levy a 100% profit tax on money above the profit levels of two years ago on the big oil companies! Then we can easily afford to heat Americans this winter.

Like Chavez in Venezuala is offering us. From NPR:
So, record profits for oil companies, on record high oil prices. The Senate defeated a proposed windfall tax on those profits -- a bill that President Bush had threatened to veto such a bill. Time for Mr. Bush's nemesis -- Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez -- to get into the act. Chavez has renewed his offer to send discounted heating oil to America's poor. Venezuela's CITGO Petroleum says it will distribute the cheap oil next week, through community groups in Boston and the Bronx.
Can we switch Presidents? We get Chavez and they get Bush? Well, that would be terribly cruel.

How about we ship Bush to Iraq? He can run that place. I remember the right wingers here in America celebrating the attack on oil rich Iraq. "Oil will be cheap," they crowed.

"Never ever, when there is a war, is oil cheap," I cautioned. Well!

America tried to overthrow populist Chavez and replace him with oil toadies owned by our oil companies. This failed spectacularily and we are still reaping the crop from that mess. This is why Bush was viewed as a comedy character in South America. His trade initiatives were thrown back into his face.

Well, we need to rethink our energy systems and our way of living. I live in a solid house with an elegant passive solar energy system that requires little heat thanks to pushing air around from warm parts of the house to the colder parts. Most homes have been built with no regard to the sun, the rain or any elements. We build huge towers that need to gobble up tons of energy to maintain habitability. We ignore nature and think we can burn our way to happiness.

Our gas guzzling has brought this crisis upon our own heads. Now our auto industry is dying, our weather system is raging, note the high winds and violent storms, this month, a record number of tornadoes, heck, just this most recent storm which is about to hit me, the winds are howling already, has killed people with tornadoes and raging fires that run ahead of it, very violent, the isobars at 988 yet again like the previous three tornado laced storms! This is hurricane levels! There is no ocean push so the damage isn't as great as hurricanes, but only barely. Many travelers are trapped by blizzards in the Midwest and it is still only November. I fear this will be a violent winter just like we had a violent summer.

The sun was very active this summer and fall and we are still dealing with the energy it spat at us back then. This is what greenhousing does: it contains solar energy and winds it down via violent storms!

To return to homepage click here
To read more energy news click here
Washington Pest

Friday, November 04, 2005

Abiotic Oil Is Idiotic as Intelligent Design

f

By Elaine Meinel Supkis

Like the Easter Bunny or Santy Claus, bizarre wishful thinking keeps on trucking. The most recent example of this is the whole "Abiotic Oil" idiocy.

From the WorldNetDaily:
In a dynamic debate regarding the origins of oil, best-selling author of "Black Gold Stranglehold: The Myth of Scarcity and the Politics of Oil," Craig Smith, told CNBC's "Squawk Box" yesterday: "We can get all the oil we need for dozens, if not hundreds of years to come."

Debating peak oil vs. deep oil perspectives, Smith went head-to-head with Matthew Simmons, author of "Twilight in the Desert" on the cable news outlet's program. Smith, CEO of Swiss America Trading Company, contends that oil is not a fossil fuel. Rather, he believes it is being producing deep within the earth and is brought to attainable depths by centrifugal forces of the earth's rotation. In contrast, Simmons argues that oil is a finite resource and that Saudi Arabian oil supplies are dwindling, putting the world in a possible economic and political crisis.
One can pretend fossil fuels are really magical ooze that just happens to appear and unlike any other form of wet stuff, it burns! Magma burns when volcanoes erupt so the wishful thinking of these people is, why not have oil come the same way? Just bubbling out of the earth, just ignore the carbon chains that is what makes oil burn. These same clowns are the people who ignore 99% of all scientific data about how all us living things are interrelated and evolved over immense time frames. Nope, according to these chidlish minds, we magically appeared suddenly 6,000 years ago and all living things were capriciously created out of nothingness by a busybody god that had fits of irritation.

One can see why people fall for such schemes. Being a responsible resident on planet earth means interacting with nature in a sensible way, not devouring all planetary resources like some giant out of control squid! These fantasies are dangerous for they signal to these people that it is OK to behave irresponsibly. And we are seeing already the beginnings of the Great Die Off, namely, many species including our remaining nearest relatives, the Great Apes, are on the ropes and many just might not make it and become extinct.
"Black Gold Stranglehold" advances the argument that technology and education are needed to increase production and exploration efforts.

"The problem is," according to Smith, "if you believe that we are getting oil from decaying dinosaurs and debris from the forests then obviously there's only a finite supply. We don't embrace that. We believe that the earth is creating oil as we speak and that with technological advances and the ability to put human resources together with natural resources, and the wonderful capital markets we have here in America, we can get all the oil we need for dozens, if not hundreds of years to come."
The real oil that really exists will last for dozens of years if we don't keep abusing it by wasting it, a very unlikely prospect. If we keep sucking it up in greater and greater amounts, no, this won't go on for hundreds of years. Nor dozens, for that matter.

Earth no longer creates the vast amount of undigested organic matter which it made millions of years ago. There are several reasons for this. One is, a younger earth was a much warmer earth and the atmosphere was quite different from today's. There was no grass, for example. Grass evolved after the dinosaurs died off, for the most part. The mammalian era is all about eating or exploiting grass and the biggest feature of this era is the great plains and savannahs which are long stretches of grass that gets eaten! It doesn't form vast mats of organic matter to be crushed by rocks and turned into oil. It is eaten very efficiently by horses and cows and other grazers. Goats and sheep graze to the roots, the larger mammals eat the longer shoots, humans kill forests like mad in order to extend this grass culture for the basis of many diets we eat is from the grass family: sugar, corn, wheat, barely, rice and oats, for example. Even in the jungles,the multilayered community of living things strips all fallen organic matter down to near zero as swiftly as possible. There are areas of peat which are artifacts of glacial melt, namely, when permafrost melts, the locked layers of organic matter heat up and even catch fire. But the peat areas are small in relation to desertifcation, for example. Certainly, it can produce only tiny amounts of oil over millions of years. Certainly nothing to crow about.
Smith and co-author Jerome Corsi's interview last week on "Coast to Coast AM with George Noory," sent "Black Gold Stranglehold" racing up the charts to land at the No. 10 position on Amazon's non-fiction best-seller list. With enormous oil conglomerate profits making headlines, "Black Gold Stranglehold" has opened the dialogue regarding the United States and its need for independence from foreign oil producers.
There seems to be a lot of people who want to believe the world is a ball of oil and we don't have to change a thing, all we need to do is wait for all that abiotic oil to erupt to the surface and surprize us. Or perhaps they imagine that all you have to do is poke holes everywhere and gushers will just shoot into the air.

From the Independent:

Britain could be left paralysed by energy shortages, a health crisis and gridlock on the roads if the predicted Arctic winter strikes with severity.

Prolonged sub-zero temperatures after nearly a decade of mild winters could result in the death of tens of thousands of people, with fears that the National Health Service faces the prospect of a full-blown winter bed shortage for the first time since Labour came to power in 1997.
The gist of this article is that the North Atlantic Oscillation which is a form of La Nina, is going to happen this winter and thus, it will be cold...which, by the way, hits home here in NY, too. Grrr. The North Sea Oil rigs are running out of oil very rapidly because the Britsh government and the oil companies decided to pump like crazy this year because of high oil prices. Now that patrimony is gone and there is no abiotic oil coming up these holes, is there? So now they are discussing how to deal with the inevitable deaths that will now occur.

An extra 8,000 deaths per degree Celsius below normal is the prediction. Quadruple this for US people. Congress, far from passing bills extending heat aid, are cutting everything as much as possible. They are in a fury of cutting programs to the poor for they didn't kill enough of them during the hurricane season, I am guessing. Funny, that.

I still wonder why, when we drilled our well for water, no oil showed up. Not that it would have been good. I need the water. But heck, according to these abiotic people, there is black gold in them thar holes.

To return to homepage click here

To read more energy news click here