Newt Gingrich can’t Count (oil) he’s dangerous.

Today the House Energy Committee got a visit from Al Gore… and he ruffled some feathers… especially those of Mr. Gingrich.

Here’s his response

He says that Al Gore presented “misleading ascertions”.

Newt says…

[Al Gore] said for example, the rate of new discoveries, is falling for energy. That’s factually not true.

Actually, Newt, it is true. And it has been true for over 60 years… and here’s the proof Newt:

Discoveries

In 1965, 60 Billion barrels of conventional oil were discovered.

But Newt goes on:

In the last 3 years we have found (who is we?) have found 100 years of Natural Gas in the United States

That’s nice Newt. If I took only one sip out of a coke bottle every day then it might last 100 years as well. The question Newt, is not the amount, it is the rate. How much of the 20 million barrels of oil that the US consumes in a day can that “new natural gas” displace.

The answer, according to the US Energy Information Administration (PDF), is very little.

From 2004 – 2007, 46 Trillion Cubic Feet of “Proved Reserves” were added. Yet Estimated Production only grew by 0.2 Trillion cubic feet a year… the US consumed 23 Trillion Cubic Feet of Natural Gas in 2007

The picture for oil and oil substitutes like Natural Gas Liquids is even more grim:

From 2004 – 2007, 1.6 Billion Barrels of Crude Oil Equivalent were discovered of Natural Gas Liquids reserves. Yet estimated Production grew by 4 million barrels a year. That equates to 11,000 barrels of oil a day… roughly 0.06% of the daily 18 million barrel consumption in the US.

And finally, for crude oil…

From 2004 – 2007, -547 million barrels. Repeat. Negative 547 Million Barrels of crude oil were “discovered”….. in other words, we used it up faster than we discovered new stuff. Which brings us back to the graph above, the graph that matters.

Production of crude oil in the United States was 1.8 Billion barrels in 2004, and 1.7 in 2007. That’s a drop of 100 Million Barrels of oil a year or 0.5%.

……….

I hope that clarifies things for you Newt. The party is over. I know you’ll never accept it… probably not even when either your country collapses under its own debt to oil producing countries, or riots erupt from gas shortages and skyrocketing prices… but at least there are some who get it.

And by the way, from 1997 to 2007 total estimated production of Crude Oil plus Natural Gas Liquids went from 3 Billion Barrels of oil a year, to 2.5 Billion Barrels. A drop of 16%.

Brazil can’t save you Newt. Even without the current global recession, production from the new Brazilian finds wasn’t going to reach its full potential of 1.1 Million barrels a day (400 Million a year) until, wait for it, 2017.

Lets see.. in another 10 years we will likely drop another 16%… another 500 Million a year… much more than Brazil could provide, if even it all went to the US, which it won’t.

You’re dangerous Newt. You’re Dangerous!

Here we go again… Oil Price Speculation or Real?

CNBC.com this morning has an article that I wasn’t expecting until at least August this year. But here it is all the same. The topic? Oil Prices Resist the World’s Recession Trend

Their main point:

The resilience shown by the oil markets is not because of any improvement in the global economy or rise in oil consumption. Global demand remains on course for its steepest drop since the early 1980s, and oil inventories are at their highest levels in 19 years.

Instead, analysts said, oil is once again being sought by investors as a refuge against a slumping dollar and rising inflation.

Lets stop right there. Slumping Dollar? The US Dollar has gained over 20% over the Canadian dollar since July and the same can be said for the Euro and Yen. INFLATION? Last month, the US officially experienced DEFLATION (negative inflation)… so I’m really not sure what planet CNBC is on!

But then, the very next sentence, they take a different tone:

Stabilization of the oil price is also a victory for the OPEC cartel, which has succeeded in cutting output sharply to match lower demand.

and so, once again, it’s all evil OPECs fault. Because, you know, it has nothing to do with plummeting oil production in Mexico (World #3 Super Giant field Cantarell is now producing less than other Mexican fields).

Oh.. but wait…

The perception remains well ingrained in the market that oil supplies, while plentiful today, may prove insufficient once demand picks up again.

Huh. So you mean investors don’t buy the “drill drill drill” mantra? You mean investors have looked abroad and seen conventional production in Mexico, Canada, the UK, Russia and Norway declining even while prices skyrocketed over the past 5 years? You mean investors have seen Saudi Arabia hit a wall, unable to pump more oil without damaging it’s fields.

Investors know this.

The OECD knows this.

So why the “speculation” talk? We have been given a great opportunity during this recession… depression, the first shrinking of the world economy since WWII (OECD), demand is knocked down. The pressure is off… people are LOOKING for work. We need to put them to work creating a new economy… low energy, high efficiency, low carbon.

If we wait until “recovery” happens, then we are doomed to be right back here within 2 years.

The BC NDP Platform

The election campaign is officially here. The barbs have been flying for some time now, but I thought it worth it to go through each party platform, even though I will likely vote NDP, I still think it’s important to go through everything and pick out what I like, or really don’t, as much as i can, in each platform.

I will be going through the NDP, Liberal, and Green Party platforms. Obviously these are huge, fluffy documents full of accusations and counter-accusations and plenty of promises. I will only be addressing points that I think are actually noteable improvements and or differences in policy. There is a lot of overlap….

So. Today I’m going to analyze the platform of the BC NDP party (NDP site here).

“Ratings” in (bold).

A. TAX BREAKS TO SUPPORT BUSINESS AND CONSUMERS

Scrapping the gas tax. The NDP will scrap the tax, putting $1.8 billion back into the economy over the next three years. (NO!)

Ending privatization at BC Hydro to control rising rates. BC businesses and households face increased costs of hundreds of millions of dollars because of Gordon Campbell’s drive to privatize BC Hydro and new electric power sources. (YES!)

Holding the line on ferry rate hikes… a moratorium on the BC Liberals’ scheduled 2010 and 2011 fare increases pending a full review of the privatized corporation…the future direction for BC Ferries will be based on its importance as BC’s ‘marine highway’. (YES)

Scrapping the gas tax is ludicrous. It will rob the government of much needed revenue at a time of severe recession and if anyone actually counts up the pennies they would save at the pump will realise that it will do nothing to help people pay their bills. It also speaks to the NDPs counterproductive position on Climate Change and on putting a price on Carbon. Which must be done if we are ever to limit our consumption of fossil fuels and emissions of Greenhouse Gases from transportation. I have a feeling if they did repeal the tax, it would be back with 1-3 years anyway.

The promise to reinvigorate BC Hydro is, I think, on of the top 3 reasons to vote for the NDP. What has happened to BC Hydro over the past 8 years has been nothing short of tragic in terms of the effect on electricity rates in this province in the future… as well as the “in-house” knowledge and research on advanced technologies (like wave and tidal power) that was happening at BC Hydro and has since been completely abandoned.

Much the same can be said for BC Ferries. Rising prices due to rising gas prices are inevitable, what this speaks to though is that British Columbians will have to make a choice… either we have BC Ferries for large routes that attempt to pay for a portion of the small routes… or we have big bridges and small ferries. Either one will require subsidies and massive amounts of taxpayer money to be effective and affordable and keep Vancouver Island, the Gulf Islands, and Queen Charlottes on the map economically.

B. NEW TRANSPORTATION AND TRANSIT INVESTMENTS

Expand passenger train service between Seattle and Vancouver. (Interesting?)

Make necessary capital investments in needed bus and transit options in Metro Vancouver to cut congestion and pollution. (YES)

Tune-up TransLink. The Campbell Liberals’ approach to TransLink has resulted in expensive privatization schemes, decisions made in secret and dictated by the Campbell government. The NDP will repeal Bill 43 to restore democratic control and public accountability to local government and taxpayers. (YES)

On the rail service… I’m not sure where this is coming from… but I will also support new investment in rail. What I do *not* see is any mention by the NDP of any improvements in transit OUTSIDE the lower mainland. Victoria, Central Vancouver Island, the Southern Interior… could all use more mass transit and real research into new ways of linking populations in BC. That’s not happening.

The 2nd point is vague… but I like it because it again emphasizes bus and transit over Single Occupancy Vehicles, and that is a must.

Translink has gone from a board of squabbling… but elected… mayors… to a bunch of unelected officials doing everything in private… that process must be reversed.

C. INVESTING IN JOBS, COMMUNITIES, LOCAL ECONOMIES AND FAMILIES

Establish a new retrofit program to ensure public facilities like hospitals and schools are energy
efficient. (YES)

Establish new low-interest loan programs to help businesses and homeowners retrofit their homes and workplaces to improve energy efficiency and reduce costs. (YES)

Accelerate hospital construction and fund new community diagnostic and surgery clinics. (YES)

The first and 2nd are long overdue. Buildings are huge contributors to CO2 emissions due to heating and cooling requirements. We can’t tear everything down and start over… we must upgrade where it is too expensive to replace, and we need to start now. A new low-interest loan program for business and homeowners would be much appreciated and I would hope would be done in tandem with new incentives from people like BC Hydro, Terasen Gas, and others to encourage even more retrofitting, especially in these tough times when people need work.

The 3rd point, Hospital and diagnostic/surgery clinic, is imperative. We are still an aging population. I don’t believe this policy is much different from the Liberals in terms of platform, but I must point it out because the Liberals actual record, at least in my region, has been of closing more wards than are opened, and moving from public to private seniors care facilities. These are trends that must be reversed if our health care system is to have any hope of serving BC’ers.

D. INVEST IN PROGRAMS THAT CREATE WEALTH

Establish new local preference buying policies – Buy BC – to ensure BC small businesses, farmers and food processors, and local communities enjoy the economic benefits that flow from expenditure of provincial and local tax dollars. (YES)

This intrigues me. Not the predictable leftist protectionist talk… but rather, the mention of “farmers and food processors”. If you have been following my blog, you will know that I am quite convinced that rebuilding our local food production and distribution networks is essential to avoid the worst effects of global energy price shocks and ultimately energy decline… I hope this turns out to be a small step in that direction.

A FAIR SHARE FOR RURAL COMMUNITIES

Restoration of local autonomy. Carole James and the NDP will repeal the Significant Projects Streamlining Act, end Gordon Campbell’s requirement that all projects over $50 million be public- private partnerships, and restore local oversight of power generation. (YES)

Really… I have nothing to say about the above. It is reversing the terrible decisions and policies of the BC Liberal government.

A Green Plan for BC’s forests.

Expanded reforestation to address the massive “die-back” resulting from the pine beetle outbreak and the reforestation backlog created by the neglect of the Campbell government.

A strengthened Private Managed Forest Land Act to improve protection and management of watersheds, wildlife and public resources.

Restricting Raw Log Exports.

We have heard the promise of “expanded reforestation” before. From the BC Liberals. It never happened. Will the NDP deliver?

We must have better regulation of what happens on Private Forest Lands. This is crucial to forestry on Vancouver Island, where the former E&N land grants (fully 1/3 of the area of Vancouver Island) in the 19th Century are now biting us in the ass as giant companies remove their land from TFLs and revert back to private status, where forest practices regulations are far less stringent, export of logs is streamlined, and development is more profitable than maintaining the renewable resource or natural environment.

These policies are another top reason to vote NDP. Forestry is not a “sunset” industry, it’s simply an industry that has been heavily “offshored” and “free traded” out of BC. The resource is still being used, more than ever, and used badly. We must reverse that trend and refocus on our greatest natural resource in this province, one that could employ thousands if we made it so… and oh ya, it’s renewable.

C. INCREASING OPPORTUNITY IN BC’S AGRICULTURE INDUSTRY


This is the top reason, IMHO, to vote NDP.

Establishing a strong Buy BC and food security program building on the growing trend to buy food products that are locally produced, healthy, and linked to BC’s long-term food security needs.

Strengthening the ALR by making preservation of arable land the priority of the Agricultural Land Commission and by returning the Commission to full provincial status.

Renewing support and investment programs for food producers and processors. For years, the Campbell Liberals have cut supports and downgraded the services of the Ministry of Agriculture, hurting those industries and costing BC needed jobs.

Revitalizing and supporting food production:

• Expand school and consumer education programs to ensure British Columbians learn more about food production and food security issues.

• Restore services to help farmers get their products to markets.

• Support community agriculture, co-ops and farm organizations, including small scale farmers; expand community gardens and local farmers markets.
• Review the BC Liberals’ new Meat Inspection Regulation to support increased farm-gate sales, and ensure all producers and processors are treated fairly.
• Eliminate the BC Liberal gas tax that, in its first year alone, cost the agri-food sector $13 million.
• Review agriculture tax policy to foster investment and maintenance of productive agricultural lands.

Except for the last two (removing the gas/carbon tax)… this promised policy direction is ABSOLUTELY CRITICAL. and must be a foundation of all parties platforms in the future. We will see if the Liberals or Greens will be able to match it. I don’t think the Liberals will, the Greens perhaps.

I am impressed at the emphasis on long term food-security, this at least suggests that someon in the NDP knows the challenges facing the world in the next decade. This is good.

Carole James and the NDP will create more affordable and accessible child care spaces for
families by:
• Capping fees.
• Improving recruitment and retention, and enhancing training of teachers and early
childhood education professionals.
• As finances permit, introducing all-day kindergarten for 5-year-olds and the accompanying
after school care. This will free up 10,000 spaces within existing group child care centres
and family child care providers.
• Creating targets and timelines to build an affordable, accessible, quality child care system.

I notice the caveat “as finances permit”. This tells me not to hold my breath that this would actually happen. And honestly, I believe the Liberals have promised the same thing in the past… this is not an issue that will make people decide, I don’t think, even though I am certainly one that would benefit from increased access and affordability of childcare.

Economic turmoil a manifestation of hard-wired, human Darwinism?

I had a great little discussion with a colleague yesterday about the economic troubles in the United States and around the world right now.

He mentioned that if you go to the Wiki for The Great Depression, many of reasons cited there correlate strongly with what is going on right now…. but more than that, apparently, and I don’t have confirmation of this yet, apparently in 2000, one of the last regulations on the stock market that was brought in by FDR and the New Deal, expired. 8 years later, here we are.

So that got me to thinking. Is this just a manifestation of human instinct? Left completely boundless, is our natural impulse simply to expand and grow and consume as much and as quickly as possible… moreover, is this Natures way of ensuring there is still some measure of Darwins theory of survival of the fittest embedded inside us? When food is bountiful, deer and caribou populations can explode, until finally when there is a lean year, a great percentage die, or are eaten by increased numbers of predators and in the end the deer or caribou diminish from their original number… humans do not have the benefit of that cycle to control population, so is this our built in cycle?

Humans are unique on the planet in being the only species capable of overcoming their instincts a great majority of the time through thought, desire, and most importantly, logic. When you really think about it, is it logical to have a stock market that is completely free of regulation?

Probably not right? Or at least not in certain ways.

So when we ignore that logic at some sort of level we remove one last barrier, and it sets off events in human interaction and behaviour that ultimately leads to our [economys’] demise.

Let us hope that the coming Recession, or Depression, does not take Darwinism any farther than our corporate beings.

Are the US Financial Networks propping up the US Economy

And are they finally losing their grip?

CNN, CNBC, Bloomberg, FoxNews… one wonders… if this was 1929 would the psychology of the crash have happened?

Go read this link from Financial Sense.com:
http://www.financialsense.com/fsu/editorials/willie/2008/0702.html

Now the Intl Monetary Fund has decided to conduct an investigation into the financial management of the US banking system! This is totally unprecedented. The German journal Der Spiegel wrote that the IMF had informed US Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke of its plans for a general examination of the US financial system. The IMF board of directors has ruled that a so-called Financial Sector Assessment Program is to be carried out in the United States. This, according to the German journal, “is nothing less than an X-ray of the entire US financial system… No Fed chief in US history has been forced to submit to the kind of humiliation that Ben Bernanke is facing.” For some reason, the entire story escaped the intrepid lapdog US press network system.