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Since the Dilly, Dally, Delay & Stall Law Firms are adding their billable hours, the Toyota U.S.A. and Route 44 Toyota posts have been separated here:

Route 44 Toyota Sold Me A Lemon

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Looming Oil Crunch

Barclays and Bank of America see looming oil crunch

For oil markets, it as if the Great Recession never happened. Surging demand in China, India and the Middle East is making up for decline in the debt-crippled West, ensuring another global crunch within three or four years.

Bank of America and Barclays Capital, two leading oil traders, have told clients to brace for crude above $100 (£64) a barrel by next year, before it pushes relentlessly higher over the decade. This is a stark contrast from recessions in the 1980s and 1990s, when it took years to work off excess drilling capacity built in the boom.

"Oil has the potential to flirt with $100 this year. We forecast an average price of $137 by 2015," said Amrita Sen, an oil expert at BarCap. The price has doubled to $78 in the last year.

Why would climate change chief defect to business? "The groundwork for the next sustained step up in oil prices is now almost complete. Global spare capacity is likely to be reduced to low levels within a relatively short time. The global economic crisis has postponed, but not cancelled, a crunch which would otherwise be starting to bite now," said Barclays.

Francisco Blanch, from Bank of America Merrill Lynch, said crude may touch $105 next year, with $150 in sight by 2014. "Approximately 1.7bn consumers in emerging markets with a per capita income of $5,000 to $20,000 are eagerly waiting to buy cars, air-conditioning units, or white goods," he said.

China has overtaken the US as the world's top car market. Mr Blanch expects oil demand to rise by a further 2.8m barrels per day (bpd) in China and 2.5m bpd in India by 2015, when two giants will be absorbing the lion's share of Gulf output. Consumption in the West has already peaked and will fall each year as populations shrink and we waste less, but the West no longer sets the price. Global use will increase by 8.8m bpd to 95m bpd.

Supply is scarce. Sir Richard Branson warned this month that the world faces 'peak oil' within five years. "Don't let the oil crunch catch us out in the way that the credit crunch did," he said.

Mr Blanch said output from non-OPEC states is falling by 4.9pc each year, despite Russia's reserves. Saudi Arabia and the Emirates can plug a quarter of the gap, but global spare capacity must soon drop to wafer-thin levels – leaving us vulnerable to the sort of "super-spike" seen in 2008. The wildcard is whether Iraq can quadruple output to Saudi levels this decade, a target dismissed by most analysts as pie-in-the-sky.

Painfully high prices are needed to unlock fresh supplies as reserves are depleted in the North Sea and the Gulf of Mexico. Deep-water rigs off Brazil are costly and require drilling far below the seabed. Canadian oil sands and US biofuels have break-even costs near $70. While the US, UK, and the Far East are turning to nuclear power, it takes a decade to build reactors. "peak uranium" lurks in any case.

The oil spike brought the global economy to a shuddering halt in 2008. This time the crunch may hit before the West has fully recovered. Whatever happens, the US, Europe and Japan will soon transfer a chunk of their wealth to the petro-powers. It is a new world order.

Global Warming Deniers

Much like the predatory gambling debate consists of well funded lobbyists who obscure the truth about the degradation caused, the Cape Wind opposition and Global Warming Deniers represent more of the same.

The article below provides some interesting insight, but leaves one with lingering questions of how much money is enough? With the perils posed by global warming, have the extraordinarily wealthy convinced themselves they are immune?

Polluters Charles and David Koch don’t deny it: they fund front groups to deny climate science

On Friday, I had the pleasure of receiving a surprising e-mail from the head of communications for Koch Industries, a massive oil and chemical corporation and the second-largest privately held company in America.

The e-mail was from the chief spokesperson for Koch Industries, a woman named Melissa. To my shock, Melissa didn’t deny that the corporation does in fact pay an industry front group millions of dollars to perpetuate the dirty energy economy and obfuscate the truth about climate science.

What’s an industry front group, you may ask? Well, big corporations like Koch Industries know that the public doesn’t trust them. So they funnel millions of dollars to front groups with vague names evocative of white picket fences like “Americans for Prosperity” to do their dirty work.

What a refreshing blast of honesty from a corporation that specializes in shadows and misinformation! Surprised? Me too! Let me explain how this e-mail came to be:

As Greenpeace’s field organizer in Boston, I wrote an
opinion piece for the Cape Cod Today newspaper last week illuminating the fact that oil, coal and gas billionaire William I. Koch is the main funder of the front group that has been fighting Cape Wind for the better part of the last decade.

William Koch
no longer has a hand in Koch Industries, which his brothers David and Charles run, but he didn’t stray too far from the family business. Instead, Bill is the founder and president of the Oxbow Group, another energy company that mines and sells coal, gas, petroleum and petroleum coke products. Way to keep the family legacy of ravaging the planet alive, Bill! Bill is also on the board of the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound, the front group that has fought Cape Wind, America’s first offshore wind farm project off the coast of Cape Cod. He has spent at least $ 1.5 million of his personal fortune to finance the Alliance’s efforts to obfuscate the truth about Cape Wind.

As I wrote in the Cape Cod Today piece, paying front groups to mislead Americans about global warming is a family tradition for the Kochs:

[Bill’s] estranged brothers, Charles and David Koch, who now control Koch Industries, provide millions of dollars for industry front groups such as FreedomWorks and Americans for Prosperity designed to perpetuate the dirty energy economy and obfuscate the science of global warming.

A few hours later, I got an e-mail from Melissa, who identified herself as the director of communication for Koch Companies Public Sector, LLC. Melissa had seen my op-ed and wanted to clarify a point. She quoted the paragraph I wrote about Charles and David Koch (see above), and wrote:

Koch Industries, the Koch foundations, Charles Koch and David Koch have no tes [sic] to and have never given money to FreedomWorks. Can you correct this in the online version of your Op-Ed? Thanks.”

Well, I’m so glad that’s cleared up! So, for those of you keeping score at home, the Kochs, by their own spokesperson’s admission, do not fund the front group FreedomWorks, but do pay the front group Americans for Prosperity to spread misinformation about established climate science.

For the record, it’s semantics whether the Kochs funded FreedomWorks or not. In 1984, Charles and David Koch conceived of and funded Citizens for a Sound Economy, one of the original front groups to deny global warming.
Citizens for a Sound Economy split in 2003 into Americans for Prosperity (the Kochs’ front group du jour) and another group that ultimately became FreedomWorks, another right-wing climate-science denying group. So technically, Melissa may be right that the Kochs don’t fund FreedomWorks, but they did fund its predecessor.

The larger point is that while Melissa took great pains to dissociate her bosses from Freedomworks, she took no issue with my description of the Kochs’ “providing millions of dollars designed to perpetuate the dirty energy economy and obfuscate the science of global warming.”

Well, I’m glad that’s settled! The first step is always admitting you have a problem, so it’s good that Koch Industries has officially acknowledged that they fund front groups to deny climate science. In their newfound spirit of honesty, the Kochs should next admit the gravity of the climate threat, give up their fossil fuel holdings, and put their billions of dirty oil dollars to good use by investing in renewable energy! Melissa, shoot me another e-mail as soon as you guys check that one off.

Saturday, February 13, 2010


The article below explains in clear and understandable terms why global warming matters to each of us.

Ocean Acidification: A Hidden Risk of Global Warming

I love swimming in the ocean, but I also know plenty of people who wouldn’t dream of it. There are too many unseen perils: the ominous tug of a current, razor-sharp oyster shells, sting rays buried in the sand and shadowy, slimy things brushing past. Even my fishermen friends, who depend on the ocean for their livelihoods, keep a respectful distance from the waves.

The ocean is awe-inspiring. We were born of it, and it gives us life by producing much of the oxygen we breathe and the water we drink. It is mysterious and vast. No wonder we speak of emptying oceans with teaspoons to describe impossible tasks.

Yet, unfathomably, we have accomplished the impossible. We have changed the basic chemistry of the oceans — drop by drop — in such a profound way that we may be destroying a web of life that we depend upon for our very existence. Those ocean creatures should be wary of us — not the other way around.

"Scientists are concerned that we are changing the ocean's chemistry so rapidly that we are outstripping the evolutionary pace of many organisms to adapt."

The change we've introduced is called ocean acidification.

The basic science is pretty straightforward: Since the industrial revolution, humans have been pumping ever increasing amounts of carbon dioxide into the air. Some of that CO2 is absorbed by the ocean, where it dissolves to form carbonic acid.

The ocean today absorbs nearly a third of the carbon dioxide we produce, probably mitigating the impact of climate change. But the ocean has absorbed so much CO2 that overall acidity levels are rising, and at a much faster rate than previously thought.

More acidic water makes it harder — and ultimately impossible — for creatures like mussels, clams, lobsters and crabs to form shells, which are made largely from the calcium carbonate, plain old chalk, that occurs naturally in seawater. Acidic water simply eats away the calcium carbonate. That’s why acidification is sometimes referred to as "osteoporosis of the sea."

These tiny, lentil-sized pteropods are essential to the survival of creatures like the humpback whale.

This process affects creatures up and down the food chain — from the tiny organisms that build the planet's coral reefs and the plankton drifting with the ocean currents, all the way to the whales that feed on the plankton.

Also affected are the lentil bean-sized pteropods, delicate, balletic creatures that nourish many of the fish we then consume. In other words, the ability of all ocean life to sustain itself is being compromised.

Scientists have been surprised at how sensitive plants and animals are to even small changes in CO2 levels. Some creatures have shown an ability to adapt to more acidic waters; lobsters, for instance, harden their shells in an initial response to acidity. But for many creatures, acid is deadly: Their shells disintegrate. And many scientists are concerned that we are changing the ocean's chemistry so rapidly that we are outstripping the capacity of many organisms to adapt.

Because the science is fairly new, we still do not fully understand the long-term effect of increasingly acidic oceans. The ocean is a complex, integrated, self-regulating system; how it will change is hard to predict.

As we conduct this uncontrolled experiment on two-thirds of the planet, scientists are racing to find ways to make the ocean more resilient. Doug Rader, EDF's chief ocean scientist, says: "Along with our partners from around the world — from Cuba to the EU, and beyond — EDF scientists are scrambling to understand why some reefs are more robust than others, why some fish populations bounce back, when others languish, and exactly what mix of strategies will suffice to maximize the resilience of the world's oceans.

Healing the Ocean
Here are a few suggestions if you wish to learn more about the oceans in general, and acidification in particular.

Start by watching NOAA's Jane Lubchenco give Senators a demo of ocean acidification.

Read more…
"One thing is already clear," he adds. "Rebuilding ecosystem complexity, including restoring populations of large predators such as sharks, is central to the long-term survival of the seas."

The Obama administration signaled its commitment to acidification research when it appointed Jane Lubchenco to head the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Lubchenco, a widely respected marine ecologist and former EDF Board member, has made clear, in Congressional testimony and elsewhere, the seriousness of this threat to the seas.

There is no controversy surrounding the science underlying the acidification of the ocean. There is no question about where the CO2 is coming from. There is no question about how the chemistry works. And there is only one known way to stop acidification: to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide. The more we reduce now, the less severe, and costly, the future consequences.

What can you do? Become an advocate for the oceans. Take care to minimize your carbon footprint—but keep in mind one of my favorite phrases: living sustainably is necessary, but not sufficient. It's equally important to demand comprehensive legislation that cuts carbon emissions.

And go ahead, take a swim. Bathe in those natal waters, and give thanks for the life they support. The ocean has the capacity to heal itself much faster than one teaspoon at a time. We need to give it that chance. We would be doing ourselves a big favor — giving our grandchildren a chance to inhabit a livable planet.