Saturday, March 28, 2009

No mad max, but maybe Bogota on the Bayou

Over at the Next Big Future blog they have an interesting
post laying out the reasons that society won't collapse, we're
not heading for mad max territory. The first two reasons
make the point; that assuming a reasonably competent government,
things won't collapse to the point where I have run the flame thrower
on top of the family defensive wall:

1. Efficiency, conservation and an energy plans can be enhanced beyond current levels with minimal strain. There has been partially voluntary reductions in energy demand during the credit crisis. 10% reductions with minimal effort and 20% reductions with more austerity.

2. Rationing of food, fuel and clothes was successfully maintained in many countries during World War 2. Any resource decline or environmental situation can have governments use rationing to buy time for a transition.

The UK had stricter rationing than the USA during and after the war.

Thus it shows that oil and food supplies can be greatly reduced while maintaining a war-level mobilization.

On the other hand, things don't have to collapse too far for them to really suck.
This account of someone living in argentina during the recent crash makes the point all too clearly. When we lived in Colombia in '99-'00, rolling kidnappings were frequent enough
that 2 coworkers were kidnapped. It's better now, but calling a taxi is still a requirement,
taking a taxi on the street is asking to do the tour de atm's.

In the USA even the poorest gang banger has a car, if things get bad, kidnappings
will be more common than the pizza guy showing up. I think in the long term,
things will be much better as we move away from an oil economy, but in a crash
the short-term could be fairly uncomfortable, especially if you make the assumption
that everything will be fine and the government will take care of all problems we
could end up with a nation-wide Katrina.

I think the advice from Argentina is something to consider, if we move back home
this year the house we buy will have a big back yard for a garden and we'll keep up
the practice of keeping extra food and water on hand. If we do build a compound
then when I put up the walls I'll install the tubing for the wall mounted flame thrower.
But meanwhile, we'll keep spending like normal, now is the time to see europe while
we don't have to make that long flight to get here.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

reading tea leaves

I can't decide what is going to happen, a spiral into deflation
and joblessness or inflation. There's what's good for me personally
and there's what's good for the country, low oil prices could mean
that i'll be unemployed, and if the economy stays low at the same
time I could be unemployed for a long time, such as the oil crash
in 1986 dumped most oilfield workers out of a job for 5 years leading
to uhaul rental as louisiana's biggest economic activity until 1991.

If prices are high then no matter what else is happening to the economy,
somebody somewhere will be drilling for oil, unless the banking industry
really is destroyed. Then we'd see a real disaster, no fuel available,
gas rationing, brownouts and blackouts, and I'd probably be unemployed.

Maybe I'm just a pessimist, but I don't see a good scenario happening.


From the Oil Drum, the acronym LEARN:

Localize food and energy production
Educate yourself and others
Adapt to a limited solar electric future
Ration all fossil fuels
Negative population growth

It's not certain that things will get bad as this acronym would indicate,
but if china does change the reserve currency to a non-dollar currency while
production declines not necessarily due to peak oil but because the only people
with money for exploration are the chinese, the saudis and exxon, the dollar
price of oil could skyrocket. Most of the oil produced in the usa will be exported
to earn yuan, or euros or whatever, while the average Joe's in the usa will have
to make do with the leavings.

A plan B instead of oil would be a good idea. Putting pv panels on everything possible and
building plug in hybrid cars with pv panels will be one way to continue a near
american lifestyle. The big bailouts and tax credits should be focused on getting
people to make things and stop buying chinese crap. One good thing to make would
be pv panels, batteries, racks, charge controllers and inverters.

Since that won't happen, if you live in an area that gets an average of at least 4 hours
of sunlight
per day, then start cutting back, insulating and then installing solar

[in italy they don't have enough electricity so they ration power, if we turn on the
washer and dryer and tv at the same time, the breaker on the meter trips. It
would be pretty cool if I had some pv panels to keep that from happening at noon.]

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Cheaper gas, more problems for exploration and production industry

The New York Times has an article about the price of natural gas
collapsing due to oversupply caused by the economic crash, but also
by the globalization of natural gas supplies.

The decline in crude oil prices gets all the headlines, but the first globalized natural gas glut in history is driving an even more drastic collapse in the cost of gas that cooks food, heats homes and runs factories in the United States and many other countries.

Six giant plants capable of cooling and liquefying gas for export are due to come on line this year just as the economies of the Asian and European countries that import the most gas to run their industries are slowing.

Energy experts and company executives say that means loads of gas from Qatar, Egypt, Nigeria and Algeria that otherwise would be going to Japan, Korea, Taiwan and Spain are beginning to arrive in supertankers in the United States, even though there is a gas glut here, too.
For E&P in the USA, this will be bad, keeping prices below $4 until we reach peak gas
sometime in the next few decades. It will even out the normal swings in gas prices that is
normally seen in the USA, but it will cut the legs out from under yet another american industry.

For total oil recovery this will be bad as well as poorer countries monetize the gas in reservoirs instead of reinjecting it to maintain oil production. For production that has no
gas pipeline or method of selling the gas the only two options are reinjection or flaring or using
the gas locally. As more oil exporting countries have an opportunity to earn more hard cash
instead of maintaining reservoir pressure or selling cheap gas to the locals, I predict that
is what will happen.

The only good thing to come out of worldwide supplies and a worldwide glut will be the countries that depend on Russia for their gas supplies will have an alternative source of gas and won't have to depend on Putin to keep warm.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Hail to the Chief

from Mike Moody linked from Ace of spades.

With Toasts to Ron Region

It's depressing to watch how incompetent the obamacons are.
From the big things to the small things. They gave the british
pm a boxed set of 25 movies (estimated value $250, could be way
more if they bought it at barnes and nobles), but the movies are
for the usa region. I'm no supergenius educated at harvard, but
I know enough that if I'm buying a cartload of dvd's to stop off and
buy a $40 dvd player that will play them.

Mark Steyn snarks what the results will be when Obama has dinner
with the Queen at the G20:

When the President and his Teleprompter visit London for the G20 summit in a couple of weeks, it would be a tragedy were Barack Oprompta to rise for his big speech to find nothing but the words "Wrong Region" flashing on his screen (although I'm sure the Queen would be very polite and string along and make all the swells stand up and join the toast to "Ron Region", whoever he is).

Friday, March 13, 2009

religion and science

The onscreen scientist has an interesting
post comparing the Trinity and god as seen
by dante in the divine comedy to the nature of
quarks. It's an interesting insight that reminds
me of an old joke: all the scientists finally finish
climbing the mountain of truth to find all the
priests and philosophers waiting for them at
the top.

here's a photo from here in Ravenna
of a sculpture of a bench robe and book
that are supposed to represent a favorite
reading spot of Dante, just inside the old
walls by the porte of via cavour.

Dante is one of the people that permeates
northern italy. he's buried here in Ravenna,
he wrote the divine comedy in Firenze and
he was one of the motivations for the Scovegni
chapel in Padova as he placed chapel builder's father in hell for usary.

We just spent the week traveling around italy, from ravenna to padova to
venice to florence to assisi and back to Ravenna. Dante gets a mention everywhere,
rivaled only by St Francis. It would be pretty cool if he hit on a good description
of the nature of matter without any high energy experiments.