Thursday, January 10, 2008

Interesting comments on Peak Oil

I stumbled across this pretty much by chance. From GoldSeek - The Casey Files.

It's the transcript of an interview between Doug Casey (of Casey Research) and Matt Simmons, one of the world leading authorities on investing in energy businesses, and founder and chair of the world's largest energy investment banking company.

Simmons reckons that Peak Oil was reached in May 2005, and that overall production can at best stay at current levels, rather than increase at all.

On sour, heavy oil (such as from the tar sands of Alberta, Canada - "With the heavy oil out of Canada, you have to expend energy to make it ooze out of the ground, and once it’s oozed out of the ground, you still have totally unusable oil."

On Liquefied Natural Gas - "the problem with LNG is that if we try to develop a spot market out of LNG, the odds of it ending in bankruptcy are about 90%."

On natural gas as a means of generating electricity - "using natural gas for electricity turned out to be an unbelievably stupid decision. Using electricity for heat was equally stupid. Natural gas should be refined to one use and one use only, and that’s creating instantaneous and high-efficiency heat."

On corn based ethanol - "Corn-based ethanol was just a terrible, tragic mistake..........Even worse, it’s a very low-quality source of energy. Low BTU, highly corrosive, you can’t mix it with anything, it was just a terrible idea."

And he introduces the concept of liquid ammonia as a fuel, something novel to me.

Informative, concise, factually packed and thought provoking; thoroughly recommended and well worth the read.
Oh, and potentially quite useful if you have (unlike Peter and myself) a substantial wallet-full to invest.

Study hard and get a white collar job

That's what my father told me when I was about 10 years old. Coming from a poor family he had himself fought his way up into the academic world from beginnings as a joiner; and he insisted that he did not want his kids getting blue collar jobs.

Well, it now seems there is a third option (OK, Fourth if you include dog collars as worn by many members of the various religious fraternities). We have reached the age of the green collar worker. Full story from Yahoo News.

However, it's a real shame that most of the 'green collar' jobs here in the UK seem to be as members of various quangos, generally doing little more than bean counting, that have little or no direct envROI impact. (As already pointed out by Peter back in August).

And little fleas have littler fleas...

Is it time to replace a five year old PC?

It can be frustrating, and while one can understand and appreciate (but not in a good way) the commercial imperatives, in this more eco-age you really have to question why it all gets driven to upgrade and dispose on such a short window.

For example, my little Mac Mini has hummed away happily for the last few years.

The other day I was told of a useful new software called Bento from FileMaker that would be a nifty assist to what I do.

Unfortunately, it only works with Leopard. So at the very least I have to make that upgrade from my current Tiger system.

Thing is, Leopard pretty much pushes the hardware I have to the edge of its capabilities so to move on I have to get a whole new box.

So much to do, so little time

I just had a small epiphany on media consumption behaviour, at least on a personal basis.

At a time when it seems reading print is going down (see here , though I might ask where the Guardian's readership is and going before getting too excited about The Sun), online and/or a/v seems the way, but then I happened across the Guardian's Environment Weekly.

And you know what? Much as there was much worthy stuff in there, I could not be bothered to click.

Odd, as I'm sure the time commitment would be the same or less. For some reason I like it in print.

Job's worth?

Last night I watched a show on the jobs and salaries in the UK: What Britain Earns (the only link I could find. Amazingly, or typically, the BBC site search didn't show any results, yet Google managed this... on their site)

An engaging, if not very thorough romp by Dad/son team Jon and Dan Snow.

I think I was surprised just how many folk (like our family) were struggling along on not very much). Equally, the number in the super-bracket seemed pretty low, though the amounts were obscene.

Speaking of which, I was simply appalled that in a very healthy upper mid-level was some lady who makes a very tidy living keeping rich plonker's cupboards in order. Tellingly, one of these clients is an MP, which must suggest something is awry.

It was also brought home to me by a couple of other coincidental things. First up I was trying to score a bit of additional income online with a job as a rep for a US music agency. In a charming rejection (getting any feedback at all being a near zero chance in the UK) they also advised that in Portland a salary of £10k was perfectly good to enjoy a life in a flat with car and enough for 'fun'. Meanwhile I just caught a programme on emigration to to Australasia where the salaries are near half here, yet the quality of life (houses, etc) pretty much the other direction.

Plus I just can't get out of my head how things seem to be misrepresented, or skewed, especially by the media, here.

On BBC Breakfast the bouffant and blonde were chatting about ageism with the usual vastly representative cross-section of the UK population, namely a reporter and a paper columnist, and all around the sofa seemed to think popping £5k away for a quick nip and tuck and Botox was the norm.

What planet are these folk on?