Archive for the ‘Oil’ Category

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Climatic gates come tumblin’ down

27-Jan-2010

For years, I accepted the supposed scientific consensus that the earth was warming, that warming above a certain point would be catastrophic, and that mankind’s “greenhouse” gas emissions were the primary cause. I believed that Aspen ski resorts were at  danger of closing due to lack of snow, the arctic would be ice free, and that the science is settled regarding human induced climate change.

However, the claims of a climatic tipping point led me to investigate further. I am an electrical engineer. I know that if positive feedback systems are not designed properly, they can fail catastrophically. Such systems are unstable. I found it difficult to believe that our atmospheric system was so unstable that there would be a “tipping point” of no return.

So, I investigated. I learned how the greenhouse gas theory worked; that CO2 would pass through the sun’s short wave radiation, but it would be opaque to the earth’s own long wave radiation – thus trapping energy. I discovered that even doubling or tripling the concentrations of CO2 in the atmosphere alone could not raise the theoretical temperature of the earth to the heights being warned by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC); that required positive feedback of water vapor which would provide most of the temperature increases. I learned the names of the major scientists warning of anthropogenic global warming (AGW): Dr. James Hansen, Dr. Gavin Schmidt, Dr. Phil Jones. I found out that there exists three primary surface temperature data sets: CRU, GISS and NCDC, and that here exist two satellite data sets: UAH and RSS – that are used to calculate global average temperature.

I also learned that the science is not settled, and there exist prestigious researchers who believe AGW theory is either over blown, or is fatally flawed: Dr. Roy Spencer, Dr. Richard Lindzen, Dr. Roger Pielke Sr. I discovered that the positive feedback of water vapor is but a theory; different studies have inferred both positive and negative feedback and there is no conclusive proof this theory holds up. I found out that the three surface temperature data bases have 90% to 95% overlap of raw data, so the data between them is not truly independent, and that this data gets “adjusted” by the various entities who report the data. I learned that most of the expected dramatic temperature increases and consequences of those increases are derived from computer models – not from empirical evidence. As a firmware engineer, I am well aware that computer models are only as good as the assumptions they are programmed with.

Most of all, I learned that the absolute certainty and scientific unanimity of belief in AGW was a myth – AGW is a theory and observational data can and does contradict that theory.

Besides the scientific uncertainties came the behavioral ones. While skeptical AGW web sites, such as Watt’s Up With That, allows the free discourse of opinion, pro AGW web sites, such as realclimate do not. The opinions and scientific papers of the researchers who have skeptical leanings seemed to be marginalized. Then came the confirmation: climategate. The subject of climategate merits its own post. However, the leaked emails from climategate showed conclusively that the top pro-AGW climate scientists were colluding to assure that dissenting voices were not heard – either in the media or in scientific peer-reviewed journals.

My faith in the scientists who are pushing the pro-AGW agenda is seriously eroded. At this point, I believe that the available evidence shows that climate change IS happening – but it is not to the extent that we have been led to believe, and the cause of that change is natural variation. Climate change will ALWAYS happen: the very nature of the earth assures that. But the emissions of CO2 by man made causes are very unlikely to be the primary cause of future climate variations.

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Cheap Gas! – Redux

3-Jul-2008

What price are we willing to pay to willfully waste oil?

Two blogs have caught my attention lately, that highlight a common theme – wasting energy purely for the sake of the waste. The first is a blog commentary about Rush Limbaugh’s intentional use of a gas-inefficient vehicle over long distances. He did this to “stick it to the environmentalists”. The second is in a similar vein – a blog entry in response to a commentator urging public buildings to reduce air conditioning. In order to flaunt his ability to waste energy, the blogger turned his thermostat down to 65 degrees Fahrenheit – even though he is not there to enjoy it.

Nominally, Rush and the blogger are the one bearing the “cost” of their actions. If they have the money, why shouldn’t they be allowed to do this – even if it is wasteful? Even though gas is $4.00 per gallon, these guys decided to use this expensive commodity, and pay for it themselves; right? But, what are the *real* costs?

How many marines are you willing to let die in the middle east, so Rush can drive his 12 mile-per-gallon behemoth? How many soldiers should lose their legs, arms, eyesight or portions of their brains, so bloggers can turn thermostats to 65 degrees – just to prove a point? Because these are the *real* costs.

We import more than a third of the energy we use (includes all raw energy we consume, like that used to generate electricity). More than one-fifth of the imports come from the Persian Gulf.  Significant imports also come from Nigeria and Venezuela. Do you think we would be fighting in Iraq if not for oil? If we are on a humanitarian mission there, then why do we not also fight in Rawanda? How about Zimbabwe? Cuba?

We, the people, have already funded terrorists via Iran, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and the Emirates. We have built the nuclear facilities in Iran. We ponied up the money for bin Ladin and his 9/11 band. All paid for by America’s oil obsession.

Why have we seen success disarming a nuclear North Korea (who’s leader is as much a whack job as anyone), but have no luck with Iran?

It is only a matter of time before we are involved in other wars on other continents. Nigeria is a corruption mess, that is becoming more and more important as an oil exporter to the United States. We are funding Hugo Chavez’s anti-American stance (and raising his role from petty-wacko dictator to regional trouble maker), by purchasing Venezuela’s oil. How long before troops are in Africa and South America, losing life and limb, so we can rest assured Rush can waste freely, and bloggers can freeze their abodes to prove their point?

At what price?

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Cheap Gas!

27-Apr-2008

Gas prices have hit record highs. Even adjusted for inflation, the price-per-gallon of gasoline is higher than it was in the 1970s. These increases have affected everything from costs of travel to Wal-Mart discounts to agriculture prices. Our economy is deeply affected by the price of a barrel of oil, and peoples’ jobs are at stake. And the high cost of oil is the best thing that could happen to America.

We, as a nation, knew 30 years ago that we were vulnerable because of our dependence on imported oil. When we were embargoed in the 1970s by the Arabic oil-producing nations, gas prices soared, our economy soured, and people waited in line for hours just to get gas. When the crisis passed, what actions did the United States take to assure our future energy supply? We bought SUVs and Ram trucks with 8-cylinder engines, that bypassed laws on MPG ratings – just to take our kids to school or go to the shopping center. We shunned alternative energy sources, because the initial costs were more expensive than continuing to use oil. We built suburbs in Phoenix, Atlanta and Las Vegas, useful only with intensive vehicular travel. We demanded the cheapest electric sources NOW, regardless of other impacts. We let ourselves believe the North Sea and Mexican oil discoveries had saved us.

We have not demanded government investment in renewable domestic energy. We have not demanded that our country stop doing business with countries who fund terrorists. We have not availed ourselves of public transport systems. And today, we bitch about gas prices.

Because of cheap oil, we continued pouring money into nations who were, and are, funding our enemies. Osama Bin Laden would not have been a household name, if not for cheap oil. Hugo Chavez would be a name like Castro – disliked but easy to ignore, if not for cheap oil. We would not have a war in Iraq, if not for cheap oil. Iran’s nuclear ambitions would be moot, if not for cheap oil.

We brought it on ourselves. WE are to blame. WE bear some responsibility for September 11th, because of our love affair with SUVs. WE are the reason our economy is in trouble today. WE will have to bear the pain in order to save ourselves.

Had we worked on this issue 30 years ago, the pain would have been less, the transition easier. Now, however, we’ve proved that the only way we will act, is for oil to be expensive. We *still* think we can get our cheap oil back without pain. Groups, such as this blog one , delude themselves into thinking we can go on forever; just like the stock market of 1999, and the real estate market of 2005. We need to be familiar with terms such as “peak oil” and “the Hubbert curve”, if we think the party will just go on forever.

Expensive gas will make our country more secure, keep less of our dedicated armed forces from dying overseas, and maybe, just maybe, bring us to our senses.