What’s This Got to Do With the Price of Oil in China?

I am one of many who are guilty of promoting energy panic, the fear that the world’s diminishing supply of renewable energy sources poses a threat, not only to continued economic growth, but to civilization itself. But some pause must be taken when supporting such extreme platforms.

Slate points out that only 40% of Western energy usage depends upon oil. The rest comes from gas, uranium and coal. Now, clearly there are environmental and health consequences to having such great dependence on such sources, but at least things like uranium have the potential to sustain civilization for centuries to come, assuming care can be taken to safely dispose of nuclear waste. Hydroelectric power also continues to grow as a source of societal energy. The role of oil, then, is mostly in keeping our cars running.

This is not a small thing, as the running of vehicles, primarily trucks and ships, is what makes our modern industrial economy possible. If North America’s truck fleet were grounded for two days, cities would begin to starve. I suppose it’s possible to gradually shift transportation demands to less convenient but more oil efficient methods, such as via train. But that would be costly over the short-term; one of the reasons we presently enjoy comparatively cheap prices for our goods is that the cost of transporting them from areas of cheap production has declined over the past few decades –though threaten to rise again with the rise in oil prices.

And why are oil prices rising? Because there is a limited supply of the stuff and an accelerating demand, due in large part to the voracious expanding economies of China and India.

But wait… Respected astronomer and geologist Thomas Gold (1920-2004) expounded a revolutionary theory for years: that oil and other so-called “fossil fuels” (which include natural gas and coal) are not made by dead organic matter, like vegetation and dinosaurs, but rather are continuously produced by the planet. If true, this means that there is no long-term oil shortage crisis, though it’s possible that human demand may still outstrip the Earth’s ability to produce the stuff.

Does this mean I will abandon my crusade to get the world to become less dependent on oil? Not at all. Until more evidence is obtained and a scientific concensus is achieved, we must proceed on the assumption that the old “fossil fuel” model holds; best to err on the side of conservatism in this case, much like erring on the side of preventing global warming. There is also the political dimension to consider, that there is leverage and advantage to be gained in diversifying one’s energy portfolio.

But while we stay the conservation course, we should remain open to the possibility that current scientific belief is wrong. As Michael Crichton said, we must be led by the data.

Elections in a US-occupied Country

Thanks to Mischa for drawing my attention to the following. From the New York Times archives:

U.S. Encouraged by Vietnam Vote:

Officials Cite 83% Turnout Despite Vietcong Terror

by Peter Grose, Special to the New York Times — Sept. 4, 1967

WASHINGTON, Sept. 3– United States officials were surprised and heartened today at the size of turnout in South Vietnam’s presidential election despite a Vietcong terrorist campaign to disrupt the voting.

According to reports from Saigon, 83 per cent of the 5.85 million registered voters cast their ballots yesterday. Many of them risked reprisals threatened by the Vietcong.

The size of the popular vote and the inability of the Vietcong to destroy the election machinery were the two salient facts in a preliminary assessment of the nation election based on the incomplete returns reaching here.

A successful election has long been seen as the keystone in President Johnson’s policy of encouraging the growth of constitutional processes in South Vietnam.

The purpose of the voting was to give legitimacy to the Saigon Government.

Ma Wet, Wet Peeps

Our team left for Sri Lanka this evening. Stay tuned for reports of their progress. Today was also my first practical sitar class, followed immediately by a nasty 2 hour ashtanga yoga class which was held in benefit of our tsunami relief efforts –a long day of Indian stuff.

But while my fundraising efforts have been focused on Sri Lanka, my own homeland is experiencing a slightly less famous deluge. Here’s a pic, skimmed from the ‘Net, of a flooded city street in Guyana. Note the clever sign, “tsunami ride.” Dems ma peeps:

A friend sent me my 2005 horoscope from Mysticstars.com:

“The first 3 months of the year 2005 will be emotionally demanding and mildly confusing. Before February 15th expect loved ones or long predictable romantic partners to express a deep need for social change or new home plans. Much of this is purely emotional: don’t expect lovers or close friends to take action. Before March 22nd others may vent their feelings or daily frustrations, but will make little efforts to change their immediate circumstances. Remain open to the thoughts and criticism of loved ones, but don’t expect significant change early this year. Shortly after the end of March a powerful wave of creativity and rekindled passion will arrive in key relationships. To some degree past feelings of career disappointment or low confidence may have recently affected the available levels of intimacy with loved ones. Distant emotions, lost workplace ambitions or key financial changes over the last 14 to 16 months may well have caused loved ones to be listless or only vaguely committed to present day relationships. Now, however, and through April, May and June, watch for lovers or close friends to steadily improve their self-image, business potential and ability to explore key relationships. Although positive these 3 months will bring a decision phase into your romantic life. Before late June expect several new relationships or romantic proposals to arrive. Some Leos may this year experience a powerful split between ongoing romantic duties and exciting new relationships. Trust your instincts: unless current romantic partners begin expanding their lives or improving their outlook, new relationships will captivate your attention. A difficult but highly productive year: expect to make key decisions in your emotional life before the end of August. Leave emotional and romantic compromising in the past: this is a year of decided action, shared goals and vivid passions.”

Why am I sharing this with you? No reason; I just need to save it somewhere.

In other news, you may note that there is now a small ad to the right of this blog. Click on it a couple of times and let’s see if Google actually pays me!

You Know, Stuff

Got some random stuff for you:

  • Where to start? Well for you fans of hiphop and big boobs, visit the Lindsay Lohan Freestyle site.
  • It seems Rabble.ca has once again published one of my articles without informing me. This one appeared on Jan 19th.
  • For you fans of mindbending images, check out this recursive video.
  • Here’s a position I support: instead of giving Presidential medals to the likes of George Tenet and Paul Bremer, give it to Scott Ritter, the weapons inspector who was ridiculed before the invasion when he insisted that Iraq had no WMDs.
  • I wish I’d thought of this: sell advertising space on your forehead. Goodbye student loans! (Thanks to Nojjy Boy for the link.)
  • For those who keep asking me what language they speak in Guyana, the answer is English. But it’s not quite so simple. This site lists all the dialects spoken in the land of my birth.
  • It’s still the beginning of the year, so here are some predictions. Seymour Hersh and Eric Margolis predict all sorts of shenanigans during the Bush/Cheney sequel.
  • Just ’cause I love you all, turn up your speakers and click here.

And of course the mandatory tsunami relief updates:

  • Our relief agency is sending our first team mission to Sri Lanka this weekend. My beloved ex is among them, so let’s all hope they remain safe and healthy.
  • If you live in Ottawa, come out to our tsunami relief yoga class! Sunday Jan 30th at the Santosha Yoga Centre (205 Catherine St), 2-4pm, $15 minimum donation. You might have heard me on CHUO radio yesterday plugging the event.
  • If you live in Toronto, the excellent photographer Richard von Erlac is holding a benefit photo show, Before The Deluge, at dB Audio (181 Carlaw Ave, Suite 225) on Friday Jan 28th, 4-9pm, $10.
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