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News from August 2011

Brazil Builds $127 Billion “Offshore City” to Harvest Oil in the Deep Sea

Brazil Builds $127 Billion “Offshore City” to Harvest Oil in the Deep Sea thumbnail

Want to get a feel for how crazy the post-peak oil fossil fuels industry is getting? Here’s as good an example as any: Brazil’s state-owned oil company Petrobras is about to embark on an unprecedented oil-gathering mission. It’s about to attempt to extract 30 billion barrels of oil from reserves that are locked in deepwater […]


Mega Cities Could Trigger Water Shortages and Social Unrest

Mega Cities Could Trigger Water Shortages and Social Unrest thumbnail

The rapid growth of urban population – described as one of the world’s major demographic trends – has triggered an explosion of “mega cities” in Asia, Latin America and Africa, causing a breakdown in basic services, including water supplies and sanitation facilities. And by 2050, about 70 percent of the world’s population will live in […]


Collapse scenarios – satire or vision of the future? Part 4

Collapse scenarios – satire or vision of the future? Part 4 thumbnail

n Part Three of this blog series I looked at John Michael Greer’s argument in The Wealth of Nature: Economics as if Survival Mattered that natural processes provide three quarters of the input into virtually all industrial outputs. Greer bases his thinking on Ernest Schumacher’s argument that energy has to be considered as foremost among […]


The roads to our alternative energy future

The roads to our alternative energy future thumbnail

A while back I tried to figure out whether we can keep running things the way we’re running them: do we need to transition off of fossil fuels, how fast, and would we be able to provide today’s level of energy supply using alternatives? I didn’t include many of the details in that post, so […]


DC Nuclear Plant Near Epicenter Shuts Down

DC Nuclear Plant Near Epicenter Shuts Down thumbnail

A nuclear power plant located in Louisa County, the epicenter of the earthquake in Virginia, has shut down. The North Anna Power Station, operated by Dominion Power, has two reactors.  Both reactors tripped automatically at the time of the quake and shut down. The plant declared an “unusual event” in the wake of the 5.8 […]


Can We Fix the Economy?

Can We Fix the Economy? thumbnail

I don’t really have anywhere to go with this post, but I’ve been musing for the past few days over all the theories floating around that imply — or are used by others to imply — that we really can’t do much of anything to help the economy recover, so there’s not much point in […]


One billion vehicles hit the road. Are we ready for two billion?

One billion vehicles hit the road. Are we ready for two billion? thumbnail

Last year, for the first time in history, a billion cars and trucks hit the road. Sadly, we’ll never know who registered the world’s one-billionth vehicle, but, according to the industry trade journal Ward’s, which reported the numbers, it’s increasingly likely that the lucky prize-winner could have hailed from China, India, or Brazil: The market […]


Sneak Peak: Oil Age Presentation Script

Sneak Peak: Oil Age Presentation Script thumbnail

Below is the script written by Senior Fellow Richard Heinberg for the presentation Post Carbon Institute would like to create for all the hundreds of concerned citizens out there who have asked us over the years for help in educating their neighbors, family, and friends about the end of the oil age. I’ve adapted the script […]


Life Without Oil: Why We Must Shift to a New Energy Future

Life Without Oil: Why We Must Shift to a New Energy Future thumbnail

We are living through the strangest anomaly in human history, according to Steve Hallett’s Life Without Oil, written with journalist John Wright. The first half of the petroleum “interval”—at 200 years, it’s not long enough to merit such designations as “era” or “age”—involved massive expansion, technological explosion, and unprecedented prosperity. The second half, as Earth […]


A no-growth boom will follow 2012 global crash

A no-growth boom will follow 2012 global crash thumbnail

There is a global economic boom coming, but unfortunately, that boom comes only after a systemic collapse of the global economy, markets and capitalism — a collapse that may well eliminate billions of people from the planet. Shocking? Cruel? Brutal? Yes. But folks, that is the coded message in many recent warnings from environmental economists […]


Fracking and the road to energy independence

Fracking and the road to energy independence thumbnail

Spectacularly vast stores of natural gas — by some estimates a staggering 837 trillion cubic feet — trapped in shale formations thousands of feet below our nation’s surface could endow America with decades of energy independence. But the method of exacting the natural gas, a process nicknamed fracking, could be the next environmental superdebate. Maybe […]


Are we all wrong about end of America?

Are we all wrong about end of America? thumbnail

The economy that was the tipping point of global economic vitality not so long ago has almost been written off over the past few months. In fact the degradation of the US economy was in the making since half a decade. However, the process was given a whole new momentum after the downgrade of US’ […]


Chinese oil demand: up about 7% from a year ago

Chinese oil demand: up about 7% from a year ago thumbnail

Platts’ monthly estimate of Chinese apparent oil demand shows a rebound in July compared to June, not surprising given that many refineries came out of maintenance. But the broader number to keep your eye on is the month-to-month comparison over a 12-month period. That’s the figure that consistently ran double digits for many years, but has […]


Malthus, Famine, Disease and World Population

Malthus, Famine, Disease and World Population thumbnail

Thomas Robert Malthus (1766-1834) was an English Scholar influential in political economy and demography. He wrote six editions of An Essay on the Principle of Population from 1798-1826. In 18th century Europe society popularly believed society as improving and perfectible. Malthus, however, believed the dangers of population growth would preclude endless progress toward a utopian […]


Stuart Staniford: Libyan Oil Production

Stuart Staniford: Libyan Oil Production thumbnail

It looks like the Libyan revolutionaries have taken Tripoli: Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi’s grip on power dissolved with astonishing speed on Monday as rebels marched into the capital and arrested two of his sons, while residents raucously celebrated the prospective end of his four-decade-old rule. Colonel Qaddafi’s precise whereabouts remained unknown and news reports said loyalist […]


Kunstler: History is Not Your Therapist

Kunstler: History is Not Your Therapist thumbnail

I suppose we’ll know in a few hours whether Colonel Muammer Gaddafi gets hung out to dry, Mussolini-style, from a lamp-post, or is mercifully handed a one way ticket to Palookaville, a.k.a. The Hague, where old despots go to eat French fries with mayonnaise and be judged. The rebels celebrating in Tripoli’s main square looked […]


Sen Says Libyan Oil Flow May Never Return to Capacity

Sen Says Libyan Oil Flow May Never Return to Capacity thumbnail

Amrita Sen, a commodities analyst at Barclays Capital, talks about the outlook for Libyan oil production if rebels take control of the country from Muammar Qaddafi. She speaks with Maryam Nemazee on Bloomberg Television’s “The Pulse.


The problems with alternative energy

The problems with alternative energy thumbnail

The table below illustrates a very important principle – there is no free lunch in energy supply. Whereas each of us has our own preferences about different energy sources, each energy source has its peculiar set of problems. Some may cause less environmental harm or harm to humans, but even these ‘softer’ technologies can cause […]


Global Super Shifts

Global Super Shifts thumbnail

Yesterday I wrote about the world’s booming population, a big undertow changing the way the world works. Here are five more super shifts redefining planet humanity, from globaltrends.com. Another five tomorrow. 1. Mobility in resources, people, products and services, capital, knowledge, beliefs, opinions The ongoing revolution in global communications technologies offers organizations the ability to […]


India’s $10bn coal export plan

India’s $10bn coal export plan thumbnail

INDIAN energy giant Adani Enterprises has moved foreign investment in Australia to a new level, with a $10 billion scheme to control every stage of its booming coal export business from mine to port. In his first major interview, the chief executive of Adani’s Australian operations, Jignesh Derasari, declared the company wanted to control “whatever […]


Kurt Cobb – Rating Your Energy Thinking

Kurt Cobb – Rating Your Energy Thinking thumbnail

Kurt Cobb discusses four rates of change and their implications for our energy future in this keynote address at the tenth annual Illinois Renewable Energy Fair in Oregon, Illinois on August 13th, 2011. Kurt Cobb is the author of the peak oil-themed novel Prelude, and has contributed to the blogs Energy Bulletin, The Oil Drum, […]


Gaddafi’s rule crumbling as rebels enter heart of Tripoli

Gaddafi’s rule crumbling as rebels enter heart of Tripoli thumbnail

Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi’s four-decade-long rule over Libya was crumbling at breakneck speed Sunday as hundreds of rebel fighters swept toward the heart of Tripoli and dissidents said they had secured control of many parts of the capital. With rebel leaders saying that Gaddafi’s compound was surrounded, that his son Saif al-Islam had been captured […]


Three paths to near-term human extinction

Three paths to near-term human extinction thumbnail

About a decade ago I realized we were putting the finishing touches on our own extinction party, with the party probably over by 2030. During the intervening period I’ve seen nothing to sway this belief, and much evidence to reinforce it. Yet the protests, ridicule, and hate mail reach a fervent pitch when I speak […]


China: ConocoPhillips finds 9 oil spill sources

China: ConocoPhillips finds 9 oil spill sources thumbnail

A Chinese authority says the local unit of ConocoPhillips has found nine oil spill sources amid intensifying pressure on the company to clean up oil spills in the Bohai Bay. The North China Sea branch of the State Oceanic Administration says ConocoPhillips “admitted” Saturday that there were nine oil spill sources found on the northwest […]


Central Planning and The Fall of the US Empire

Central Planning and The Fall of the US Empire thumbnail

One of the most interesting underlying reasons for the decline of the Soviet Union, and soon the US, is misallocation of resources due to a reliance on central planning. Misallocation in this context means that year after year, decade after decade, the wealth of a nation is spent on the wrong things.  The wrong projects […]


Kurt Cobb: Who are the real radicals?

Kurt Cobb: Who are the real radicals? thumbnail

It is becoming standard procedure these days to decry those who oppose you politically as radicals as in “radical agenda,” “radical views,” “radical friends,” and “radical past.” Often this refers to suggested changes in policies that are no more than a few decades old. But I’d like to do something that will seem truly radical […]


Getting ready for a wave of coal-plant shutdowns

Getting ready for a wave of coal-plant shutdowns thumbnail

Over the next 18 months, the Environmental Protection Agency will finalize a flurry of new rules to curb pollution from coal-fired power plants. Mercury, smog, ozone, greenhouse gases, water intake, coal ash—it’s all getting regulated. And, not surprisingly, some lawmakers are grumbling. Industry groups such the Edison Electric Institute, which represents investor-owned utilities, and the […]


Japan Quake Is Causing Costly Shift to Fossil Fuels

Japan Quake Is Causing Costly Shift to Fossil Fuels thumbnail

The half-century-old, oil-fueled power generators here had been idle for more than a year when, a day after the nuclear accident in March, orders came from Tokyo Electric Power headquarters to fire them up. “They asked me how long it would take,” said Masatake Koseki, head of the Yokosuka plant, which is 40 miles south […]


Living Off the Grid: No Longer Just for the Amish

Living Off the Grid: No Longer Just for the Amish thumbnail

Whether you’re reading this on your computer or mobile device, you needed electricity from the grid at some point in the process. Those electrons come from far-flung power plants, across miles of transmission lines, and out of a plug in your wall. This routine may seem like just another part of life, but it’s not […]


Saudi Arabia’s policy of stability at all costs may backfire

Saudi Arabia’s policy of stability at all costs may backfire thumbnail

Saudi Arabia is widely perceived as leading the counter-revolution against the Arab Spring uprisings. In reality, the kingdom’s response is centered, as its foreign and domestic policy has long been, on “stability.” The Saudis don’t want anti-Saudi forces, including such enemies as Iran and Al-Qaeda, to increase their influence in the Middle East. Some of […]


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