Drones, civil rights, energy and climate.

That is quite an expansive set of topics to include in the title of a single blog entry I realize, but I’ll do my best to tie them all together.

It cannot have escaped many of us who are not distracted by the Punch and Judy show featuring  Romney and Obama that during the last few years we have slipped into a reality where serious threats to the future of our democracy have arisen. These come not from terrorists or dangerous nuclear armed dictatorships, but from our own government.

There has always been a bit of background noise in any discussion by Republicans about Obama’s presidency that he’s shredding the constitution. Usually this is in reference to his “guns and religion” comment on the campaign trail and fear that he would eviscerate the 2nd amendment (laughably adhering to “Agenda 21”) which is utterly unfounded.

Rarely will you hear actual discussion about his administration’s Department of Justice’s actual attacks on constitutional rights from the left or right. This is sad as they are very real and very threatening.

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Reality on TV … ?

Two years ago I wrote about something I thought would be a very important vehicle for education about peak oil and the energy crisis, a TV Drama.

I’m about to watch the second season of The Walking Dead on Netflix, but before I do I’ll be watching something very interesting I came across: A discovery channel show called “The Colony” filmed in 2009.

Regrettably its “Reality TV” but for what it is, its not too bad. It is exactly the kind of “vehicle for education” that I should have written about. Reality TV is not your typical scripted drama for obvious reasons, but it does contain plenty of drama. (eep :/ )

The Colony puts 10 people into a post apocalyptic world, the premise of which is some sort of virus or biological accident has rendered downtown LA and the rest of the world a dystopian nightmare. The Colonists must make do and survive and build back some semblance of civilization. Hey, that sounds an awful like a future reality we might actually face. The show employs some expert narrators also, one, a former homeland security advisor makes no bones about how “the world can change in an instant” … “natural disasters, human conflict, nuclear war, biological war etc…”

The reason I think the show is worth a watch is because it is structured to actually show the viewers exactly what problems you can face in such a situation, and exactly what kinds of solutions you can come up with. Hopefully some of this knowledge sticks. So far they’ve built a wood gassifier hooked to a small engine running an alternator for power and harvested rainwater … early days yet.

Check it out.

I know at some point they get some PV panels (which they manage to self shade quite well … fail) so I know its going to get better … and easier for them to stop squabbling over power usage.

Letter to Explorer .. this is just getting old now…

Alright, so a confluence of factors made me write this. Jesse Kelly is the local teabagger rube running for office in my congressional district. I heard him spout a fox news report about dear old Obama holding back massive oil resources right here at home ! THE HUMANITY !

Of course its a crock of shit, if there’s one thing I try to stay on top of it energy realities. Bingo. Do all the digging you want on the Green River Formation; its not economically viable, if you want it go get it, Obama’s not going to stop you. Shell and Exxon have held development leases in the GRF for 30 years. 30! Years!

*sigh*

So when some dumbass writes into the local paper espousing the great Jesse Kelly’s plans for America including his “energy policy” I just about took a shit. I was quite proud of myself for the title and opening paragraph, suck those idiots in !!

Here ya go.

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Agree with Kelly on Energy Independence

I agree with Jesse Kelly on this nation’s ability and necessity to use domestic energy to bring about energy independence. I doubt though that Mr. Kelly or the voters he’s attempting to woo know what this means. Discussing this goal many continually cite the Govt. Accountability Office report on the Green River Formation.

The GRF does indeed contain 1.5 trillion barrels of technically recoverable ”oil” this is where most reporters stop. We have more oil than the Saudis they trumpet. The reality is starkly different.

The GRF is filled with a substance called Kerogen, a substance which needs extensive energy intensive processing, and not an insignificant amount of water, to produce any refinable hydrocarbons, more than typical tight oil shale deposits such as the Bakken. A USGS survey of the GRF points to yields of 6 – 15 gallons of oil per ton mined.

Shell and Exxon have been testing technologies in situ for the best part of 30 years. Heating the resource 2 years before extraction, attempting to take the place of geologic processes which haven’t occurred yet to be able to extract useful components of Kerogen before processing or refining, mean this is not even near $100 a barrel oil. It will not bring low gasoline prices.

When we reach energy independence, perhaps as some nations continue to hit export peaks, we won’t be awash with easy oil and low energy prices regardless of who represents CD8, or the nation.

Gas Price Realities

Here’s a letter (which I really wanted to be its original 900+word opinion piece but hey…) that the Explorer, my local paper, published today … you can see its printed form at the link here – (don’t bother :/ I wouldn’t give much praise to the editing skillz)

We’ll see what kind of hubub it generates, not only from the topic or facts represented, but perhaps I’ll get caught in a tight spot over how it was edited 😦 pff.

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Gasoline Price Realities

Energy is the most important topic this nation can currently discuss as there is great confusion about it; illustrated by the assumption that voting for a particular candidate in an election will have any noticeable effect at all on gasoline prices in the long term.

Domestic conventional oil production in the US peaked in 1970. We import around 50% of our oil, which is down from recent years not only because of demand but because of an unconventional oil and natural gas boom. The US is currently experiencing a boom in domestic oil production, yet gas prices remain high.

Oil and refined products are traded on a global market. The United States as of February 2012 was a net exporter of refined petroleum products, including gasoline. Abundant supplies of natural gas domestically mean we can refine oil cheaper than anyone in the world currently.

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Second Warning

In October of 2010 I wrote a letter to my local paper, the Explorer, entitled “It’s The Energy That Matters” although I can’t remember what it was eventually titled as when published a few months and quite a few revisions later.

I have a copy somewhere and should dig it out. Anyway, the paper has since changed editors, for the worse in my opinion, but hey, why not have a second go.

Why write to a local paper ?!

Newspapers are a dead medium, read in retirement homes and used as paper machĕ by kindergarteners. BUT some people still do read them, people who might not have access to other forms of media, or aren’t curious enough about the world … for whatever reason I want this message (again) to appear in print, locally.

This letter, and I guess the one before it is aimed at the people who I hear on NPR (a news organization rapidly losing my respect for some of the things it calls news) talking about the questions they want to ask Mitt Romney or Rick Santorum, which invariably focus on jobs/economy/gas prices. HELLO, MCFLY ?! anybody in there ? A politician is the last guy that can do anything about the price of gas. Strategic petroleum reserve ? please. (even though I ended my last letter like this: “Coming elections present opportunity for us to question our various candidates about their views on our energy future and how best to cushion the energy descent that an oil shock will bring.”)

Anyway. I know there are people like that in my immediate area who need to be woken up. Oh how compassionate of me to attempt to do so ! Yes. But then there are the everyday folks who are curious, occasionally flip the paper open and have, of late, been wondering WTF is going on. For those people, maybe this letter would be something helpful.

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Second Energy Warning

There is a very high probability that 2012 will look very much like 2008. In late 2010 I wrote a letter detailing a couple of reports on oil and energy crises in general and urged people to read them and discuss. One from the Llyods Risk Assesment Division and the other was the energy section from the US Joint Forces Command JOE 2010.

This is a second warning. We have entered a period of time which will be accented with wilder than normal oil shocks. By summer gas will most likely hit $5 again. Take notice, as this is the new normal, it is an embedded warning that something needs to change, and has needed to change for a long time.

Don’t listen to anyone that will just brush off this situation and believe that we’ll be saved by natural gas, offshore drilling, kerrogen, domestic shale, or the keystone. The reason the KXL 2 may have to exist, at very little benefit to the US I might add, is that easy oil is gone. Currently the US imports roughly 50% of its oil, which is down from recent years, we are currently experiencing an oil and natural gas boom, yet gasoline prices persist to peak because oil markets are global. We’re also currently a net gasoline exporter as we have all the cheap natural gas we want for refining, this situation will not persist. Saudi Arabian excess capacity is in decline, their ability to smooth the market is waning by the year.

Shocks are going to become more frequent and more extreme, demand will keep prices in check, but at increasing pain levels. If you have the ability, sell the vehicle that gets 20mpg, because in 5 years it will be worth scrap only; get ahead of the curve. It is a simple logical challenge; deal with repeated pain at the pump more frequently or change your habits.

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Edited down as submitted –

There is a high probability that 2012 will look much like 2008. Late 2010 I wrote a letter detailing a couple of reports on oil and energy crises in general and urged people to read and discuss. One from the Lloyds Risk Assesment Division and the other was the energy section from the US Joint Forces Command JOE 2010.
This is a second warning. By summer gas will likely hit $5 again. Take notice, this is the new normal, it is an embedded warning.

Don’t listen to anyone that will just brush off this situation and believe that we’ll be saved by natural gas, offshore drilling, kerrogen, domestic shale, or the keystone. The reason the KXL 2 may have to exist, at very little benefit to the US I might add, is easy oil is gone. We import 50% of our oil, down from recent years, we’re experiencing an oil and natural gas boom, yet gasoline prices persist to peak because oil markets are global. The ability of the Saudis to smooth the market declines by the year.
We’re also currently a gasoline net exporter as we have all the cheap natural gas we want for refining, this situation will not persist.

Shocks will become more frequent, extreme, demand will keep prices in check, but at increasing pain levels. If you have the ability, sell the vehicle that gets 20mpg, because in 5 years it may well be worth scrap only; get ahead of the curve.

The Challenge

Welcome to part 2.

In the last post I detailed a situation which made me mad and depressed about the response of the government, energy industry and military industrial complex to peak oil; invasion for oil. (free up all the untapped oil reserves the world has, for the world market to maintain a suitable stable price, by force if necessary)

Obviously this is a response of only part of the population of the country, and a fraction of the population of the world. Other responses are much more positive and nuanced. And whole swathes of people haven’t got a clue what’s going on.

In this post I want to focus more on the positive aspects of what the future will bring, how I’m approaching it and detail some resources for research. ( Post Carbon Institute, and Association for the Study of Peak Oil and Gas 2,)

My Reaction

After I learned about peak oil and how it’s impending presence shaped the opinions and plans of those in power, in industry and government, I developed a set of coping mechanisms. I read all I could, researched the Transition movement, fell even more in love with Electric Vehicles and Solar Energy and looked at how life would change with crazy energy prices and possibly restricted mobility, food and other commodities.

I was being challenged, as we all are, with the very near future. It is a challenge to discover how to live much more sustainably, using less energy. It is also a challenge to widen that mindset and not only discover how to survive day to day, but also to enjoy it; the continued pursuit of happiness, if you will.

The importance of staying positive cannot be overstated, there is a lot to get very angry and worried about. Been there, done that, it’s time to give two fingers to naysayers and bystanders and do what’s got to be done. I’m writing my own story as I see it, and perhaps that will help others understand my perspective on the gravity of the situation.

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How it is.

I don’t know how to start this post so I’ll just start writing it. Recently I had a pretty brutal bout of depression, manifesting as stomach pains, insomnia and at some points some pretty nasty thoughts along the lines of one’s own personal well being.

Gosh why? I hear you exclaim. It’s a complex issue, but it most likely has its roots in a form of information overload, a specific kind of information; bad news. News about just how screwed up the world is and news about that news, reinforcing and reaffirming it, intensly and repeatedly.

It is just like a traffic accident, rubbernecking, mouth agape, at just how horrifically screwed up things are. But as with all things, too much of it will drive you nucking futs. And it did.

I went to therapy, it helped a little but I ran into a very interesting problem (aside for paying out the ass for it) I began to disbelieve and almost right off the opinions of the therapist because I felt they where absolutely clueless about how bad things actually are; expressing that the Keystone XL isn’t really that much of a problem, and that we “have to get it from somewhere” and that Obama’s not really doing a bad job. Not realizing at all it’s almost indistinguishable from the job that Bush II was doing.

Am I just a pessimist ? should I simply avoid all news to do with peak oil and war ? energy and environment ? should I stop watching Democracy Now ?

No.

Keeping this information inside and not letting it out is what hurts. Knowledge itself is a searing blade that can cleave your mind and by extension almost your very soul, in two. Uncomfortable and inconvenient truths really, really hurt, but they hurt even more when they’re ignored; inside and in reality.

The big one for me, has been for a while if previous blog posts are anything to consider; Iraqi oil.
I was only about 8 or 9 during the first Gulf War, and in 2003 when Operation Iraqi Liberation was later renamed to Operation Iraqi Freedom I was just about to finish up college. I wrote a note to myself and dated it. Long since lost
it read “Is it really “time to go in” to Iraq ?”

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