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Saturday, January 31, 2009

The following comes from the EPILOGUE of SIMPLE SOLUTIONS for Humanity:
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The simple solution is for each person to try to make a positive difference. It is as simple as that. Can one individual, for example, do anything about poverty?

In 2005, The Lancet reported on a study showing that $5.1 billion could save 6 million kids.163 That sum is 6% of the expenditures for tobacco products. The average smoker does a pack a day. If these individuals can smoke only one less cigarette a day, and a way is found to effectively apply that savings, poof, we solve that poverty problem, and, maybe start the process of saving your life (if you smoke or are in poverty), too. How simple can it get?

There is, of course, the other side of the coin, for most of these children live in sub-Saharan Africa, where living is torture. What is the rationale for keeping a child alive for another week when the rest of his life could well be agony? If you make the decision that any life saved for however short is justified, then, read on. If you think that curing poverty will only cause more anguish for the rescued, you miss the point, for you need to attain step one to reach the ultimate.

Jeffrey D. Sachs wrote, The End of Poverty: Economic Possibilities for our Time. It’s a New York Times bestseller. Says Business Week, “Sensible, often brilliant analysis of poverty’s root causes and potential solutions…leaves you with hope that this crisis is more curable than it seems.” Is Jeffrey Sachs that individual that should be crediting to ending poverty? Nope, although it takes a village, and he is an important part of the ultimate solution.

Well, consider Live 8, which occurred on July 2, 2005, as one of the most momentous concerts ever and one of the greatest political lobby ever formed, all for the cause of poverty in Africa. It was timed a week before the G8 summit in Scotland to resolve the African matter. The message was received, as these world leaders agreed on double the aid to Africa, although some quibble that this would have happened anyway.

But Live 8 was preceded by Live Aid on July 13, 1985—60 artists in London and Philadelphia, 1.5 billion television viewers in 120 countries to raise $140 million for famine relief in Africa--which derived from the Band Aid Trust organized by Bob Geldorf to record “Do They Know It’s Christmas,” which inspired USA for Africa’s “We are the World.” Is Geldorf that spark? Known for starring on screen in The Wall, Sir Bob raised three children after his wife, Paula Yates, ran off with INXS singer Michael Hutchence, but become the guardian of their (Paula/Michael’s) daughter after their accidental deaths. Real hero, right? Most definitely!

However, Sir Geldorf did not really start all this. It might have been an aid worker in Ethiopia, Claire Bertschinger. Claire, a nurse for the Red Cross, making life and death decisions on who to feed, was filmed by Michael Buerk and his BBC crew. Her clearest memory of that momentous recording day was taking an anemic baby to the hospital for a blood transfusion. “They had no blood, so I gave him one unit of mine and my diary entry was that ‘today I have done something.’.” This clip was seen by Geldorf, who was moved to also do something. Bertschinger’s story can be read in Moving Mountains.

For most, just donating blood is beyond duty to humanity. But to have done both without any thought to inspiring Live 8 or later receiving the Florence Nightingale Medal, is what each individual can do. A key point here is that, if you care, don’t stop at one good deed. Do what you can, but some element of perseverance is also necessary. Over time, someone will notice. If no one ever notices, well…anything is connected to everything else, and something you do can affect the future, what is called the butterfly effect. Every step you take, every move you make, if done with good will, will only benefit humanity over time.

This can happened in the negative too, as in Ray Bradbury’s Sound of Thunder. In this short story and movie, a tour guide some time in the future takes a couple of hunters in a time machine to shoot a dinosaur just at the moment it was supposed to die anyway. Unfortunately, one of them steps on a butterfly, and when they return home, they find a world significantly changed for the worse, different kind of butterfly effect.

Has Claire Bertschinger cured poverty? Hardly, but what she started sparked the beginning of the solution, even if she originally had no clue as to what she was doing, except with good conscience helping humanity. You do have a clue, so you should be able to be more effective.

So, if Claire and the heavy footed hunter so monumentally can change the future without even knowing what they had done, why bother? Think about that. If you do something terrible, the future will be probably be negatively influenced. But, if you do anything purposeful and good, and keep at it, the odds are that you can, and will, change the future for the better. Claire Bertschinger’s act of sacrifice brought early initial dividends. Yours might take a millennium or more, but Planet Earth is good for another 5 billion years, and probably longer.


Live Earth and Global Warming


In 2007, Al Gore borrowed Bob Geldorf’s concept to stimulate the remediation of Global Climate Warming with Live Earth, which some reported as the biggest benefit concert ever, as the kick-off point for a three year campaign for Planet Earth. TV (in Hawaii on wide-screen high definition HDUNI) and the internet carried over a 22-hour period 150 acts from twelve locations, including, after beating off the Republicans, Washington, D.C., and from all seven continents (six, if you’re from Europe, for they combine North and South into one America), even Antarctica. This was an incredible carbon light rock spectacle, interspersed with Green messages from 60 short films. Geldorf, himself, labeled this as a “hollow spectacle,” Roger Daltrey of The Who said, “the last thing the planet needs is a rock concert,” and the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals demanded that hot dogs and hamburgers not be served. Oh well, you can’t please everyone all the time. But this act helped gain Gore a Nobel Prize, but more importantly, provided a well needed galvanizing spark.

While Tipper has long served to censor music, Al, since the days of Bob Dylan’s Blowin’ in the Wind, has felt that music was an agent of change. But it was Kevin Wall, an American concert promoter, who really invented Live Earth. He was involved with Live 8 in 2005, the effort by Geldorf and Bono to pressure the G8 about African poverty. Wall saw that millions viewed Inconvenient Truth, so why not billions? But, maybe it was Wall’s secretary, or her son, who planted the idea. In any case, this is all good for Planet Earth. Listen to the critics, but move on from here. In the long term, the repercussions will be significantly positive.


Do You Believe in Miracles: The End of the Cold War

But the war on poverty has just begun and interest in the environment is but a budding concept. Many have called the end of the Cold War as the one most significant attainment to preserve civilization. Who was responsible for affecting this magnificent accomplishment?

The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists (founded by a group of Manhattan Project scientists in 1945) created the Doomsday Clock in 1947 to draw attention to the potential for nuclear Armageddon. In the 60 years, the time has only been reset on 17 occasions. In 1947 it was initially placed at 7 minutes to midnight, clearly meaning that in the span of 24 hours, or 1440 minutes, we were then close to the end of civilization. Today it is actually at 5 minutes to midnight, the situation is supposedly worse. However, I might mention that the clock advanced to 3 minutes after the Soviet Union exploded its first atomic bomb in 1949, then to 2 minutes in 1953 when both the U.S. and S.U. tested hydrogen bombs. The time jumped to 12 minutes in 1972 when the first Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty (SALT I) was signed and to 17 minutes in 1991 when the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty was signed. The time did not change when the Berlin Wall fell in 1989. One would think, anyhow, that the world is now a far, far safer place, for Pakistan, India, the Middle East and North Korea do not evoke terminal fear or threat of MAD, mutually assured destruction. Yes, there are still sufficient nuclear weapons potentially ready to be reactivated to end civilization, but the politics of the times are such that I think the clock should be reversed, to at least 15 minutes.

The clock was at 9 minutes in the Fall of 1979, which was not a good time for the American Nation. I arrived in the U.S. Senate. Well, that was the best part. Earlier in the year, China had invaded Vietnam, the Three Mile Island nuclear disaster occurred not that far from the national capitol, the YMCA sued the Village People over their song of the same name and the second oil crisis with those interminable gasoline lines made life tedious. Just around the time the USA hockey team was being selected by their coach, Herb Brooks, the Iranian crisis happened, with 66 Americans held hostage in Teheran, followed the next month by the Soviets occupying Afghanistan. National pride was at an all time low and we felt powerless, when a miracle came to pass.

Early in 1980, the USA ice hockey Olympic victory accomplished by a bunch of college students over the supremely dominant Soviet team, triggered a return of will to the American people, embarrassed by the Vietnam War and weakened by the Iranian hostage crisis. This indelible moment in all of U.S. sports history, it is said, inspired President Ronald Reagan to, two years later, confront the Evil Empire (Ronald Reagan, to the British House of Commons, June 8, 1982). Actually the real Evil Empire Speech was given on March 8, 1983, to the Annual Convention of the National Association of Evangelicals (yikes!) near Disney World in Florida. Anyway, Coach Herb Brooks, who was the last cut on the 1960 American ice hockey team (which went on to win the gold medal in Squaw Valley that year), had this vision, delivered, and, perhaps, aided in ending the Cold War. In my estimation, this was the most crucial triumph for humanity ever, yet.

Maybe one other person set the stage for the end of the Cold War: Charlie Wilson. Charles Nesbitt Wilson went to Annapolis and graduated 8th from the bottom, going on to an assignment in the Pentagon analyzing the Soviet Union. A state legislator at the age of 27, he later served in the U.S. House of Representatives for 12 terms, and was known as “Good Time Charlie” for being an alcoholic womanizer. However, as a member of the subcommittee overseeing the Central Intelligence Agency, he single-handedly influenced the diversion of largely black (covert, secret) military funds to help the local patriots fight the Russians in Afghanistan, resulting in their ignominious retreat in 1981, the year Ronald Reagan first became president. You might have seen the movie: Charlie Wilson’s War, starring Tom Hanks and directed by Mike Nichols. Houston socialite Joanne Herring played by Julia Roberts, and Gust Avrakotos, the rogue CIA agent, by Philip Seymour Hoffman, might share some of the credit.

American actor Ronald Reagan played the most important role of his life as the 40th president of the USA, and is sometimes credited for ending the Cold War, as his purposeful confrontational defense budget beginning in 1981, particularly Star Wars, fundamentally terrified the Soviet Union into overspending on defense, leading to ultimate bankruptcy. But, should Edward Teller, who convinced Reagan about this strategy, be the hero? Or one of his staff members I earlier talked about at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory? It had to start somewhere, and inevitably this would be at some primary, if not lower, staff level. Remember, presidents, governors and legislators almost never have the time to think out simple solutions. You have to do it for them. Charlie, though, might have been that necessary spark for this difference.

When Mikhail Gorbachev rose to power in 1985, his response to Reagan was glasnost (openness to public debate) and perestroika (restructuring) policies, followed by summit offers to reduce their nuclear arms stockpile. This initiative set the mechanism in motion for arms reduction, and also to the disestablishment of the Soviet Union. Cowed, inspired, whatever, Gorbachev in 1990 won the Nobel Peace Prize. Who in Russia had the ear and mind of Gorbachev?

It is an exceptionally rare situation when the individual who gets credit actually came up with the idea. It is the leader’s position and prevailing circumstances that were essential, but someone else out there started it all. I credit Ronald and Mikhail for making the critical decisions regarding the Cold War, but nominate Herb, Charlie, the guys at LLNL, Claire and Kevin as my heroes for finding and delivering on these simple solutions for peace, poverty and Planet Earth.

There are, of course, innumerable ways to undertake your personal mission. Former president Bill Clinton wrote Giving in 2007. The book goes into vivid detail about how each of us can change the world. He wrote that six year old McKenzie Steiner organized a beach cleanup club in San Diego. Yes, 6 years old. Who knows who she will be affecting or what she will do when she turns 7.

Now, go to the various web pages. Learn a little more about the ultimate matter of your greatest interest and begin to make a difference by coming up with just one simple solution. How best to get started? Reread this appendix. Or e-mail me at PTakahas@Hotmail.com. Together, with some dedicated others, we can save Planet Earth and Humanity! Aloha, and have a great rest of your life.
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Friday, January 30, 2009

I changed the title and slightly adjusted my blog of yesterday, so will repeat it today. This version was published by The Huffington Post, which can be clicked on to view comments.

First, a quick tutorial (details can be found in Chapter 1 of Simple Solutions for Planet Earth):

1. In reference to producing electricity, there is really dirty coal (remember acid rain and the Clean Air Act?), dirty coal (what is largely the practice today) and clean coal (nothing has really worked yet, but give them time). Further, along two tracks, there is the "clean" system that mines for coal but attempts to remove the carbon dioxide from the stack gas and store it underground, and the longer term option, which I worked on more than three decades ago at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, called in-situ coal gasification (and oil shale retorting), where everything happens in-situ or in place. This technology was appearing to make a comeback when oil shot pass $100/barrel, but has been understandably quiet as of recent. You think we have a lot coal? Yes, we do, but we are also the Saudi Arabia of oil shale.

2. There are two types of nuclear power: fission (think Atomic Bomb), the currently utilized process, and fusion (Hydrogen Bomb and our Sun), the so-called cleaner and safer form, which in all pathways, seems to be a decade away from breakeven, as it has been since I worked on this concept in the 1970's. Thus, the engineering and economics are at least a generation away from commercialization, unless something like heavy ion fusion can suddenly gain credibility.

What will new nuclear and clean coal-fired electricity cost? If you go to traditional fossil and nuclear sources, you will see prices between 2 cents and 3 cents per kilowatt hour. So, as the average selling price of electricity today is 10 cents/kWh, why don't we just build more of these facilities? Well, for one, that's only from old facilities. Today, there are concerns about global warming and nuclear waste/terrorism. A whole new set of requirements needs to be met. Thus, it turns out that there will almost surely be a much bigger problem: Economics.

Consulting recent studies, projected electricity costs from new nuclear and coal plants seem to have jumped by a factor of at least three and as much as ten:

1. Joseph Romm earlier this month reported the cost of electricity from new nuclear facilities at from 25 cents to 30 cents / kWh, about triple the current price of electricity in the country, citing the study of Craig Severance.

2. Romm also said last summer that the California Public Utilities Commission placed the cost of power from new nuclear plants at 15.2 cents per kWh. They also put the cost of coal gasification with carbon capture and storage at 16.9 cents per kWh.

3. In mid-2007, a Keystone Center nuclear report, funded in part by the industry, estimated capital costs between $3600 to $4000/kW, including interest. The report noted that the production cost would be 8.3 to 11.1 cents/kWh. In December 2007. Retail electricity prices then averaged 8.9 cents/kWh, so there would be no profit.

4. In October 2007, Florida Power and Light, a leading nuclear utility, presented its detailed cost estimate for new power plants to the Florida Public Service Commission, concluding that two units totaling 2,200 megawatts would cost up to $8,000 per kilowatt, more than double that reported in the Keystone Report.

Why have these nuke costs escalated so much? Time (takes ten years from announcement to operation, and therefore, uncertainties about funding), fickle fuel fees for uranium, environmentalists and negative public sentiment, higher cost of materials and labor, waste storage nightmares, fear of terrorism, and more.

So from "too cheap to meter" to something anywhere from 9 cents/kWh to 30 cents/kWh, potential new nuclear power electricity rates now rest somewhere between solar photovoltaic and solar thermal electricity. Wind power is at half those costs, or even lower, and is sufficiently below the average cost of electricity to be on the cusp of being competitive with conventional coal.

Now, if global warming is real and coal-fired electricity with carbon capture/storage and new nuclear facilities are both in the conservative range of 15 cents/kWh, the solution becomes obvious: abandon building any new uranium/plutonium and coal power plants, and install as many wind farms and residential and utility-scale solar thermal systems as fast as possible. Also toss in geothermal energy into this mix. Assist in the promised coming of solar photovoltaics, and certainly, accelerate research into ocean thermal energy conversion, for this is the only baseload marine option of major promise. Offshore wind energy conversion systems are also beginning to show potential. I worry about wavepower, but there is hope for tidal and current power at a few choice sites.
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If global warming is a true concern, economics alone can justify this renewable electricity pathway. If you disagree, let me hear of your better solution. In any case, the more difficult problems are associated with developing sustainable fuels/systems for ground and air transportation. Several of my earlier HuffPos have addressed this challenge.
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I never got around to this section yesterday, but to summarize, the Dow Jones Industrials fell 148 today to 8001, making this the DJI's worst January ever. Oil slipped 56 cents/barrel from Wednesday to $41.68. Gold leaped $41/toz to $928.40.
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Thursday, January 29, 2009

ECONOMICALLY, RENEWABLE ENERGY IS OUR ONLY OPTION

First a quick tutorial (details can be found in Chapter 1 of SIMPLE SOLUTIONS for Planet Earth):
  1. In reference to producing electricity, there is really dirty coal (remember acid rain and the Clean Air Act?), dirty coal (what is largely the practice today) and clean coal (nothing has really worked yet, but give them time). Further, along two tracks, there is the "clean" system that mines for coal but attempts to remove the carbon dioxide from the stack gas, and the longer term option, which I worked on more than three decades ago at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, called in-situ coal gasification (and oil shale retorting), where everything happens underground. This technology was appearing to make a comeback when oil shot pass $100/barrel, but has been curiously quiet as of recent. You think we have a lot coal? Yes, we do, but we are also the Saudi Arabia of oil shale.
  2. There are two types of nuclear energy: fission (think Atomic Bomb), the currently utilized process, and fusion (Hydrogen Bomb and our Sun), the so-called cleaner and safer form, which in all pathways, seems to be a decade away from breakeven. Thus, the engineering and economics are at least a generation away from commercialization.
What does nuclear and coal-fired electricity cost? If you go to traditional fossil and nuclear sources, you will see prices between 2 cents and 3 cents per kilowatt hour. So, as the average selling price today is 10 cents/kWh, why don't we just build more of these facilities? Well, there are concerns about global warming and nuclear waste/terrorism. However, it turns out that there might be a bigger problem: economics.

Consulting recent studies, both nuclear and coal plants seem to have jumped by a factor of at least three and as much as ten:
  1. Joseph Romm earlier this month reported the cost of electricity from new nuclear facilities at from 25 cents to 30 cents / kWh, about triple the current price of electricity in the country, citing the study of Craig Severance
  2. Romm also said last summer indicated that the California Public Utilities Commission placed the cost of power from new nuclear plants at 15.2 cents per kWh. They also put the cost of coal gasification with carbon capture and storage at 16.9 cents per kWh.
  3. In mid-2007, a Keystone Center nuclear report, funded in part by the nuclear industry, estimated capital costs for nuclear of $3600 to $4000/kW, including interest. The report noted that the production cost would be 8.3 to 11.1 cents/kWh. In December 2007, retail electricity prices in this country averaged 8.9 cents/kWh. So there would be no profit.
  4. In October 2007, Florida Power and Light, a leading nuclear utility, presented its detailed cost estimate for new power plants to the Florida Public Service Commission, concluding that two units totaling 2,200 megawatts would cost up to $8,000 per kilowatt, more than double that reported in the Keystone Report.
Why have these nuke costs escalated so much? Time (takes ten years from announcement to operation, and therefore, uncertainties about funding), fickle fuel fees for uranium, environmentalists and negative public sentiment, higher cost of materials and labor, waste storage nightmares, fear of terrorism, and more.

So from “too cheap to meter” to something on the order of 15 cents/kWh, potential new nuclear power electricity rates now rest somewhere between solar photovoltaics and solar thermal electricity. Wind power is safely half those costs, or even lower, and is sufficiently below the average cost of electricity to be on the cusp of being competitive with conventional coal.

Now, if global warming is real and coal-fired electricity with carbon capture and new nuclear facilities are both in the range of 15 cents/kWh, or more, the solution becomes obvious:  abandon building any new uranium/plutonium and coal power plants, and install as many wind farms and residential and utility-scale solar thermal systems as fast as possible. Also toss in geothermal energy into this mix. Assist in the promised coming of solar photovoltaics, and certainly, accelerate research into ocean thermal energy conversion, for this is the only major baseload marine option of major promise.  Offshore wind energy conversion systems are also beginning to show potential.  I worry above wavepower, but there is hope for tidal and current power at a few locations.

If global warming is a true concern, economics alone can justify this renewable electricity pathway. If you disagree, let me hear of your better solution.  In any case, the more difficult problems are associated with ground and air transportation.  Several of my earlier HuffPos have addressed this challenge.
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There will be a follow-up addition of the Dow Jones Industrials, prices for oil and gold.
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Wednesday, January 28, 2009

CHEAPER OIL WILL IMPROVE THE ECONOMY, BUT...

...deleteriously influence investments in next generation renewable energy systems. The U.S. uses about 20 million barrels/day of oil. In 2008, the average price of this oil was close to $100/barrel, or $730 billion/year.

However, the average price of oil is predicted to be about $43/barrel this year. Thus, if true, we will be paying only $328 billion, saving $402 billion, which then, effectively, will enter the U.S. economy. How this multiplies into lower gasoline, airline tickets, food, fertilizer, and so on is beyond my analytical capability, but there must be a multiplier effect that increases the true windfall. Thus, in addition to the upcoming Obama stimulus package seemingly headed towards $1 trillion, just on lower oil prices alone, there will be another $402 billion sum provided to individuals, companies and governments. There should probably be a meaningful multiplier, maybe sufficient to bring this unexpected benevolence to a second trillion dollars, which will again be largely repeated in 2010 because the U.S. Department of Energy predicts that oil prices will then average $54.50/barrel.

Thus, the effective stimulus of more than $3 trillion (and up to $4 billion when you add on the Bush rescue package) over the next two years will probably boost the U.S. economy well beyond expectations. Similar advances will occur world-wide. The only ones to suffer will be those oil-exporting nations. It will be interesting to see what imaginative solutions OPEC will foist on the world to again embarrass the U.S. Department of Energy, which, granted, has been woeful in predicting the future price of petroleum.

Further, about two-thirds of the oil we use is imported. Thus, there is also the matter of $220 billion that we will not be paying to foreign oil suppliers in 2009. Somehow, there is then another nice multiplied sum you can add to the above each year until the anticipated next oil shock happens. Finally, any reduced Middle East war costs will further provide enhancement. Maybe we might even now be up to $5 trillion over the next couple of years to pump up the national economy.

Yet, as the Sun will rise again tomorrow, you can expect skyrocketing crude prices sometime within the next decade, and maybe even as early as next year. After all, our Energy Informational Agency has been regularly imperfect. In the meantime, as energetic as President Obama has been in his support for renewable energy--surprising because with oil below $50/barrel, you would think that his foci would be limited to the economy and the Middle East--with generally reinforcing comments from the Congress, I can only fear that the anticipated withdrawal of major industrial investments in sustainable resource projects will result in only admirable, but insufficient, action from our Congress.

To repeat, from my HuffPo on Do It Now, Congress needs to take advantage of the moment and immediately add a $1/gallon gasoline investment surcharge. We moaned at $4/gallon gasoline when Europeans were paying more than $10/gallon. The national price for premium today is less than $2/gallon. A whole dollar only kicks the price up to $3/gallon. This fund would accrue about $125 billion/year. Work out the rebates and subsidies, but spend most of the revenues on renewable energy research, demonstration and commercialization.

Secondly, on a global scale, the G8 nations need to agree at their 2009 Italian Summit on a 1 cent/pound carbon dioxide remediation duty linked to crude oil at $30/barrel, to proportionately increase such that the levy would be 5 cents/pound carbon dioxide at $150/bbl crude. The sum collected could amount to about $200 billion/year just in the U.S. Funds should be used by each country to install smart grids and accelerate renewable energy investments. At 2 cents/pound (when oil reaches $60/barrel), coal-fired electricity would almost double, making unnecessary any renewable energy tax credits, bringing into competitiveness wind power and utility scale solar thermal power.

What are the prospects of a $1/gallon gasoline investment surcharge and a one cent/pound carbon dioxide remediation duty (both, incidentally, also known as taxes) becoming real over the next year? One or more of you reading this posting could well be that galvanizing spirit to make this happen. Just read my Epilogue in SIMPLE SOLUTIONS for Humanity and be inspired.
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The Dow Jones Industrials jumped 201 to 8375. Except for Hong Kong, world markets were all up. Oil stayed largely unchanged at $42.24/barrel. Gold fell $14/toz to $887.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

COMPARING OIL AND FUSION

One of the discussion pathways for Peak Oil and Global Warming has focused on the Hydrogen Economy. More specifically, recently, was the contention that the ultimate Hydrogen Economy will be powered by controlled fusion (there is, of course, a respectable hard core convinced that renewable energy has sufficient energy return on energy input to compete over the next few decades using conventional hydrogen gas). For those not totally aware of this, the sun fuses hydrogen, while our scientists are close (well, maybe in a decade) to attaining net positive from two isotopes of hydrogen, deuterium and tritium. Chuck Helsely has a heavy ion fusion concept different from the ITER magnetic confinement project in France and you can contact him for details. I thought it would be interesting to analyze the volumetric fuel difference of oil and fusion.

The world has thus far used a trillion barrels of oil and will probably extract, at higher cost, another trillion barrels. The Sun runs on fusion energy (you can find where the hydrogen came from by reading my Chapter 4 of SIMPLE SOLUTIONS for Humanity). Our Sun is around 5 billion years old and has about 5 billion more years of life.

A trillion barrels would fill a cube 3.4 miles on each side (38 cubic miles). According to fusion scientists, ocean water about the volume of a 200 meter cube (0.002 cubic miles) could supply the deuterium to run our society for a year. One part in 6400 of the hydrogen atoms in water is deuterium. At current consumption, the volume of oil used so far would be able to supply deuterium for 20,000 years of fusion.

Lake Geneva, it is said, can provide sufficient deuterium for about a million years of fusion. An interesting paper by J. Ongena and G. Van Oost on “Energy for the Future Centuries,” reported that there is sufficient deuterium in the oceans (a volume equal to a cube about 690 miles on each side) to supply all the energy (at some point in the future we will have 10 billion people and an annual energy consumption of 30 TWyear—this is 3 times the current usage) for 150 billion years. As our Sun is only good for 5 billion more years, there should not be a problem with Peak Deuterium.

I noticed there was a factor of ten discrepancy comparing the upscaled 200 meter cubed tally with the Ongena/Ooost number, but even if O/O were too high by a factor of ten, that would still leave 15 billion years of deuterium at three times the current energy consumption.
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The Dow Jones Industrials climbed 59 to 8175, still about a 7% drop for the year. World markets were mixed. Crude dropped about $3.50/barrel to $42.24. Gold slipped a buck to $902/toz.
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This was not a hurricane, but gusts up to 95 miles per hour killed 15 in Spain and France over the weekend. Otherwise, the world oceans are relatively calm.
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Monday, January 26, 2009

PEAK OIL DEBUNKED

Over the weekend, there was a flurry of e-mails on the reality of Peak Oil. I guess there is almost overwhelming consensus that this maximum will be attained soon, but the issue is how soon. The following is a response to one of the inputs:
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Dear XXXX:
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I've long been in the top quartile of those who have been concerned about the harm Peak Oil will bring. So, to answer your question, I believe this issue is real and imminent. However, I think it is useful to gain other points of view, as, for example, to quote from Peak Oil Debunked:
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Mills' book's greatest strength is its ability to deconstruct the most frightening of the peak prophecies and show how they are either incorrect, or at the very least, misguided. He is thorough in demonstrating, through both data, and clear, well-sourced arguments, how the extreme pessimists of the energy commentary community are generally incorrect in their arguments and assumptions.
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I've found that, over time, my thinking has changed on a number of matters because of maturity or compelling countervailing evidence. My recollection of all our e-mails is that Peak Oil has already occurred or soon will. Mills is saying, maybe not. He has a lot more experience with this topic than any of us, and, who knows, he might be right.
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While this sort of thinking only further delays the need to make monumental changes now, for some of you who won't have any influence on the big decisions, anyway, perhaps partial acceptance of his stance might serve a useful psychological purpose by minimizing high anxiety about the coming crash. I'm not convinced, but if true, this extra time is just another Gift for Planet Earth and Humanity.
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Aloha.
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Pat
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P.S. My Huffington Post article, just published an hour ago, is on Where is Wind Energy Today?
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The Dow Jones Industrials edged up 38 to 8116. Asia declined a bit but Europe rose. The upward movement was surprising in that Monday morning brought announcements of 71,400 job cuts. Maybe the rise in December home sales by 6.5% from the previous month was the neutralizer, or perhaps it was the Pfizer-Wyeth merger, showing that deal-making is still alive. Oil largely remained unchanged at $45.70/barrel. Gold cracked the $900/toz line, up $4 to $903.
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Saturday, January 24, 2009

ENERGY 2100

Thirty-six years ago, Jim Dator and I co-hosted a NASA-sponsored summer faculty workshop and public lecture series on EARTH 2020. One of our students, Phil Bossert, was then a young philosophy professor, who went on to become a university president and high tech specialist. Society in the 70’s was challenged by Limits to Growth, the Population Bomb, the Vietnam War, Acid Rain, and energy crises. Actually, that first energy crisis occurred just after we concluded the course.

A few of you, however, tell me that it is different this time. The matter of actually reaching a limit to cost-effective oil will forever change, in fact, significantly lower, our lifestyle. But for the more hopeful, until, of course, controlled fusion is attained.

Well, over the past few months we have exchanged at least a hundred e-mails, and most of you have seen, at most, half, for, in addition to Peak Oil and Global Warming, there were tangential pathways on transitional living as a survival option, the direct methanol fuel cell, the Hawaiian Hydrogen Clipper, “is there a flaw in the hydrogen economy?”, variations on biofuels from algae, the Blue Revolution and more. All those views inspired me to synthesize some of your contributions into ENERGY 2100:

The global economy will recover from the collapse. Hawaii’s tourism rate will begin to improve by the end of the year, so nothing dramatic will occur to diversify our economy. The healing process could take three years to reach a semblance of normalcy.

In the Year 2012 (the world could come to an end that year in THE VENUS SYNDROME: The Novel, but there is no reason to believe we will be right) oil prices will reach $150/barrel, for it will now be Peaked Oil. Global warming will be proven to be real, so a carbon tax of 1 cent per pound carbon dioxide will be agreed to by the G8 nations when they meet in the U.S. that year, bringing solar photovoltaics and solar thermal electricity into the mix with wind energy. The U.S. Congress will pass a $1/gallon gasoline investment surcharge, still keeping our prices a couple of dollars/gallon lower than Europe. The tourism rate to Hawaii will drop by 50% and the State will go into depression. A serious nuclear powerplant accident or terroristic act will occur, killing tens of thousands, thus eliminating fission power as a replacement option.

By 2020, non-hydro renewables will only be supplying 10% of the electricity in the world. Hybrid (battery/fuel cell) and plug-in electric vehicles will now begin to replace the internal combustion engine. The direct methanol fuel cell will be developed and the Hawaiian Hydrogen Clipper will fly. However, renewable aircraft fuels will remain non-competitive because of high production costs. While nothing will have seemingly changed in the energy balance, the reality is that renewables will be producing 20 times more electricity than today. It just takes time to get there.

The frightening thing about the above is that this is an optimistic projection. It is appearing that there is nothing Hawaii can do to avoid this scenario. A couple of hundred megawatts of wind power could be in place, and, even, a 100 MW OTEC plantship. Geothermal could reach 100 MW, so it is possible that we will be producing more renewable electricity, percentage-wise, than the world. Likewise, there should also be more hybrids and plug-ins in Hawaii than elsewhere, but the key factor is that our local economy will still be dependent on tourism.

ENERGY 2100, however, should be Hawaii as Paradise. We will be totally energy self-sufficient, and, perhaps, even exporting hydrogen. Some form of hydrogen jetliner or dirigible will be the mode of air travel. The Blue Revolution will mean that half of our visitors will be housed on floating casinos and marine-eco-tourist facilities, all powered by OTEC. We could be exporting seafood through next generation fisheries and producing biofuels from marine biomass plantations, where the production facilities will be located beyond view from land. One of the larger platforms will be communicating with the United Nations about becoming a new nation. These floating plantships will begin to gain carbon credits and environmental revenues for remediating global warming and minimizing the formation of hurricanes. Fusion will just have been commercialized, so the world will also begin a new recovery process.

It is clear, then, what we should begin to do now to accelerate the process so that Hawaii ENERGY 2100 could be Hawaii ENERGY 2050, or sooner. SIMPLE SOLUTIONS for Planet Earth provides the guidelines for this preferred future.
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Friday, January 23, 2009

THE END OF WARS (Part 22)

The following is largely excerpted from Chapter 1 of SIMPLE SOLUTIONS for Humanity:

Then there is Iran

The Islamic Republic of Iran, meaning “Land of the Aryans (Indo-European),” known as Persia until 1935, has a population in the range of 65 million to 70 million, and is a bit smaller than Alaska in area. Iran is a puzzlement. Various scenarios have cast this country as being THE Middle East by 2050, first, because it has that intention, and two, because of its central location. Its neighbors are Armenia, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Turkey and Iraq. Across the Persian Gulf you will find Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Oman, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. From the 9th to 11th century, Persia was the heart and mind of the Islamic Golden Age. The current goal is to seek nothing less.

In 1921, Reza Shah Pahlavi gained control of the country, but was forced to abdicate by the British and USSR in 1941 in favor of his son, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, who was more malleable...to the Western World. After WW II, in 1953, Mohammed Mossadegh won a democratic election and forced Pahlavi to leave the country. However, Operation Ajax, a British Intelligence Service led, CIA cooperated, venture, overthrew Mossadegh (who had his own ideas on how to proceed), and the Shah returned later that year.
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Twenty-six years henceforth, in 1979, Ayatollah Khomeini led the Iranian Revolution, and the Shah again fled the country. This is when the American hostage incident took place, and lingered for 444 days. In 1980, with favorable signals from Uncle Sam, Iraq invaded Iran, initiating a war which lasted eight years and killed up to a million Iranians. It is reported that the Americans provided chemicals for weapons of mass destruction, providing a historical footnote on why there was so much certainty about Saddam still having them.
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Is there any wonder about why the U.S. is mistrusted in the Middle East? Overthrowing a democracy and supplying materials for weapons of mass destruction? Us, the freedom fighters? I guess so.

The Supreme Religious Leader is Ali Khamenei and the President, the secular leader, is Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Who is in charge? Well, there are a lot more portraits of Khamenei throughout the nation, plus, he has definite seniority.

In comparison with the U.S.:

......................Iran..........................United States

Age.............9000 years..................About 200 years

Size.............1.648 million sq km..9.826 million sq km

Population..69 million....................302 million

GDP...........$562 billion.................$13,000 billion

GDP/Cap...$8,300........................$44,000

Military
Exp...........$4.3 billion....................$528 billion

Mil. Exp.
%GDP......3.3%.............................4.1%

We spend 100 times more than Iran on our military, so why is that country a concern? From all reports, there is now a new developing axis of evil: Iran, Pakistan, and Russia. Russia is in it for oil and has the technology to share. There are some disturbing rumors about Cuba and Venezuela being courted. Hizbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Palestine are being funded by Iran. Then there is that nuclear issue that comes, goes, returns and continues to irritate the free world, even if we have ours and they don’t. Thus, from a "Free" World perspective, Iran is today the most prominent catalyst for evil.

What nurtures the influence of Iran are oil (second largest OPEC producer) and natural gas (second to Russia in terms of reserves). But there is a limit of how long these fossil fuels will produce, making a nuclear future understandable. One would hope, of course, that solar energy could, instead, dominate. This almost never comes up for discussion in our talks with Iran.

The notion of the entire Middle East becoming the Iranian Empire is not far-fetched. The lightening rod for unity is Israel. Everyone else in the region is an enemy of this “American satellite.” Ironically, the U.S. eliminated the Iranians two worst enemies, the Taliban and Saddam Hussein. President Ahmadinejad has unwisely and royally ticked off Israel with statements like calling the Nazi Holocaust a myth and boasting of the need to wipe Israel off the map. One more provocation and a surgically precise bombing of potential nuclear or rocket launching sites by the Israeli Air Force could serve as a useful warning shot, except the latest intelligence is that they don’t really exist, yet.

On the peace front, though, on May 8, 2006, President Ahmadinejad sent an 18-page letter to President George W. Bush, the first such communication between Iranian and American heads since 1980. While the letter was generally courteous, it criticized Bush for attacking Afghanistan and Iraq, supporting Israel and other nit-picking subjects, and wondered how Jesus and his prophets would have judged these acts. Ahmadinejad simply asked Bush to justify his Middle East policies and those of his predecessors.

This would have been a golden opportunity to first question Iran’s sense of equity and freedom, but, then, state the obvious validations and propose a sincere dialogue on various important issues. As far as I know, Bush’s only response was at a press conference with Tony Blair later that month, indicating that he had read the letter but expressed distaste that the nuclear matter was not addressed. Unfortunately, but not unsurprisingly, there came no official response, further reinforcing the common belief that the U.S. blatantly ignores the concerns of the Middle East. A telling comment came from think tank Chatham House: “While the U.S. has been playing poker in the region, Iran has been playing chess.” Barack Obama has indicated an intent to communicate.

Finally, further embarrassing our intelligence experts, late in 2007 it was determined that Iran had stopped its nuclear weapons program four years earlier. I guess the pressure is now off, for now. Well, then, again, maybe not.
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After dropping 200 points, the Dow Jones Industrials recovered to only a minus 45 at 8078. World markets mostly dropped, although Belgium, again, was one of the very few exceptions. Crude oil rose almost 3 bucks, and is now at $45.88/barrel. Gold jumped $43/toz to $898.
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NAMING OF OCEAN STORMS IS ALMOST PERPLEXING. Most of the systems are alphabetical, but some are not.
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On Sunday, Tropical Storm / Cyclone (maximum velocity of about 70 miles per hour) Eric hit the east coast of Madagascar, causing one death, and on Wednesday, Cyclone Fanale (which means this is the 6th storm of the year) at 130 miles per hour struck the west coast of Madagascar, killing 9. Seventy percent of the population live on less than a dollar a day, and for a variety of reasons, I have been told not to go there. Here are two more. La Reunion Island is located about 500 miles east of Madagascar and Mauritius is another 120 miles northeast of La Reunion. These countries are covered in Chapter 6 of SIMPLE SOLUTIONS for Humanity. The Indian Ocean is particularly warmer this season, so many more of these disturbances are expected. Australia has gone through Anika, Billy and Charlotte this season.
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The hurricane season for the U.S. begins on June 1. The first tropical storm in the Atlantic will be named Ana, then Bill, followed by Claudette. In the Eastern Pacific it will be Andres, Blanca and Carlos. Names of typhoons in the West Pacific originate out of the Japan Meteorological Agency, and depend on where they form, for 13 countries participate in the naming. There seems to be some consensus, though, that the first one will be named Kujira. The Philippines, though, has it's own system, and uses an alphabetical order, with the first for 2009 to be called Auring. Thus, you'll note that many typhoons might have two names. Conversely, there is no system for the south Atlantic. The most recent, in 2004, was named Catarina because it made landfall in Santa Catarina, Brazil.
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Thursday, January 22, 2009

THE STOCK MARKET (Part 2)

In Part 1 a whole bunch of large numbers were mentioned. Before we analyze what they mean, maybe we need some definitions:

Derivatives: a generic term for a variety of financial mechanisms involving a promise to convey ownership of an asset, rather than the asset itself. Futures and options are two common derivatives. Warren Buffet called derivatives financial weapons of mass destruction. The Brookings Institution reported on
“The Dangers of Derivatives.”

Hedge Funds: a private investment fund, while regulated, allows a wider range of activities, providing the investment manager a performance fee. Think Bernard Madoff.

TARP: troubled assets relief program, the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008, providing $700 billion to the Department of Treasury. Now that the second $350 billion has been approved by Congress, we are on to the 2009 version, whatever it will be called, said to be worth $825 billion, $550 billion for emergency spending and $275 billion in temporary tax benefits over the next two years.

During this time of fickle oil prices and a volatile stock market, it seems appropriate to talk about major crashes, which in the past were triggered by bank failures and gold standard adjustments, and more recently further influenced by the price of oil. In October 29, there was Black Thursday (24), Black Monday (28) and Black Tuesday (29). On 8July1932 the Dow plunged to 41.22, erasing 36 years of gains, and would take 22 years to surpass its previous high.

The DJI reached 1000 in 1972 but in the 694 days between 11January73 and 6December74, the DJI fell 45%, slightly more than the world average, with the London stock exchange dropping 73% of value. In 1987 the DJI passed 2000 and for no discernable reason (thus, it was called the Black Swan event), another Black Monday occurred on 19October87 when the DJI fell 22.6%.

The DJI reached 3000 in 1991, 6000 in 1996, 8000 in 1997 (thus we are back to where we were a dozen years ago), 10,000 in 1999, 12,000 in 2006 and hit 14,165 on October 9, 2007. Thus, over the past 16 months, the DJI has dropped about 44%.

Some have predicted that we are only in the beginning of the ultimate depression, which in minimal fashion occurred as recently as the 1990’s with the breakup of the Soviet Union, where their Gross Domestic Product declined by 45% and poverty in the region increased ten-fold. These so-called doomsdayers are preparing for much more severe lifestyle adjustments with the end of cheap oil, influencing some to begin the process of converting to transitional living based on group sustainability with protective defense capabilities. But, certainly, this group represents a minority viewpoint. But could they be right?
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The Dow Jones Industrials dropped almost 300 points, but recovered to only minus 105 to 8123. World markets mostly dropped. Crude oil slipped about a buck to $43.04/barrel. Gold rose $3.20/toz to $856.40.
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Wednesday, January 21, 2009

THE STOCK MARKET (Part 1)

Let’s start with a small number: $11 trillion. This is what the U.S. debt is soon to hit, meaning that each of us owes somebody $35,000. But who holds those debts? Well, to begin with, the U.S. government owes a little more than half, their investment from our Social Security, Medicare and other accounts. Thus, you can say that we owe most of the debt to ourselves. About 25% is owned by foreign governments, with Japan as #1, China #2, United Kingdom #3 and oil exporting countries #4 (this last chunk only amounts to a bit more than a tenth of a trillion). The rest of our debt holders include state and local governments, individual investors, pension funds, banks and credit unions (this small change of $120 billion is slightly more than that held by those oil exporters), and so on. So should we fear China posturing for favorable policies in exchange for leaving their money in this pot? Probably not.

On to bigger stuff, the world stock market capitalization (share price times number of shares) stood as follows:
  • End of 1997.....$22 trillion
  • End of 2007....$63 trillion
  • 22Jan2008......$50 trillion (?)
Wikipedia, though, reports that the world stock market had a value of $36.6 trillion at the beginning of October 2008, so there is some discrepancy here. Supposedly, stocks lost $1.2 trillion in value on September 29, 2008 when the Dow Jones Industrials skidded 778 points, translating the Dow Jones Wilshire 5000 to a worth of around $12 trillion today when the DJI rested just above 8000. But this is just the USA.

In any case, the derivatives market is said to be close to $500 trillion. Well, maybe even that’s limiting, for the Bank for
International Settlements reports a number exceeding a quadrillion dollars, or $1,144 trillion, when you include over the counter derivatives. This is $170,000 for each living person on this planet. The current global Gross Domestic Product, in comparison, is $57 trillion, or $8,700 per person. What do all these numbers mean? (To be continued tomorrow.)
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The Dow Jones Industrials experienced a big rally today, up 279 (3.5%) to 8228. World markets were mixed, but mostly down. Crude oil almost jumped $4/barrel to $44.28 (NYMEX). The Dated Brent Spot was at $44.40/bbl. Why this increase when traders are expecting a swelling of crude inventories in the soon to be released government report? Most probably, the rebound in the stock market provided sufficient impetus for the day.
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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

THE END OF WARS (Part 21)

The following is excerpted from Chapter 1 of SIMPLE SOLUTIONS for Humanity:
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About Iraq

Where was the Garden of Eden? The Tower of Babel? Mesopotamia? The Cradle of Civilization? Daniel’s lion den? Babylon? Where did Noah build his Ark? From where did come the Three Wise Men? Why, of course, Iraq, home to the first civilizations!

However, it was not until 1919 that Iraq became an official Middle East country. After the first world war, the League of Nations made Iraq a British mandate, but independence was granted in 1932. After WW II, there was a monarchy, then a coup d’etat, a couple of overthrows and, finally, the ascendance of Saddam Hussein in 1979. The Iran-Iraq war of the 1980’s had, officially, half a million deaths, but other estimates at least double that total. The first Gulf War (Iraq-Kuwait)of 1990 had a reported kill total of close to 150,000, including civilians, with only 148 American battle casualties. The America-Iraq war of the 21st century will have up to 1.5 million violent deaths, with a bit more than 4,000 being American casualties.

Comparing the two countries (all these tables come from the CIA World Factbook):

........................Iraq...................... United States

Age...............7000 years...............About 200 years

Size.........0.437 million sq km......9.826 million sq km

Population.....27.5 million................302 million

GDP...............$88 billion...............$13,000 billion

GDP/Capita...$2,900.....................$44,000

Military Exp..$7.6 billion...............$528 billion

As %GDP........8.6%..........................4.1%

Is Iraq to become our next Vietnam? Yes and no. 2007 turned out to be the year with our highest deaths in Iraq. Amazingly enough, 2007 was also the year we also experienced our highest casualties in Afghanistan after that 2001 invasion year. Yet, by the time we leave Iraq in what could still be in ignominy, our military deaths will only be around 5% that of the Southeast Asian conflict known as Vietnam, which resulted in around 80,000 American deaths. Mind you, an estimated 5 million died in that war, including enemy and civilians. The guerillas of VN attacked at their advantage, not unlike the terrorist bombers of Iraq.

The enemy in the 70’s had open access to China and, even, Russia. Today, it is Iran and every other Arabic country. Not quite as intimidating this time. But oil, I guess, suffices.

The purpose of VN was to check the spread of communism, while in Iraq we are there to spread democracy. You might say, this is almost the same thing. We lost the VN war because of television. We just didn’t have the heart to continue the embarrassment and tragedy unfolding while we had dinner. The exact same thing is happening this time, although the American public seems satisfied with Republican-Democratic politics taking the place of anguished public protests. So, yes, it’s the same, but no because this new one is an almost trivial affair with no world power points at stake.

But you’ve heard too much already about weapons of mass destruction, or the lack of them; the high cost of this war; and the quagmire it has become. Read about this war in another book.

In any case, at least we have a stooge in place to represent sane democratic policy and righteousness in the Middle East. Well, maybe no. On May 27, 2006, not very long after establishing their government, Iraq Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari, and his Iranian counterpart, Manouchehr Mottaki, all smiles, faced the public in Baghdad, and reiterated friendship with each other. Zebari went on to say that Iraq supports Iran’s right to develop nuclear energy, a position at complete odds with the U.S. view. Now, surely, there were the appropriate diplomatic checks and there was some sort of blessing ceremony in White House ranks for Iraq to appear to be one of the Muslim gang. If nothing else, this reverse negative psychology should serve a useful purpose of confusing the enemy. On the other hand, one has to wonder.

In 2007, Baghdad awarded more than a billion dollars in contracts to Iranian and Chinese companies to build electrical powerplants. Part of the deal was that Iran would also provide cheaper electricity to the grid. There was no backlash from the U.S., for, the thinking might have been that we need to have a greater part of the world participate in the restoration of Iraq. Maybe we have learned a lesson. Then again, maybe we are losing influence already.

One final issue about these minor wars. Yes, there is the matter of cost and casualties. The 4,000+ deaths and 30,000 injuries are two things. However, there is more. It is reported that in the 12 month period from 2006 to 2007, 70% of Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans sought treatment for post-traumatic stress. LET ME REPEAT: 70%!!! Scarily, there should have been even more, as this percentage does not include those treated at storefront Vet Centers operated by department stores, nor, of course, those who value their future career (either in the military or later in life) and choose not seek aid. Compound this matter with the affect on families and communities and you get a closer appreciation about the wickedness of even a minor war.

Then we attempted a last gasp surge, which was somewhat puny, but, apparently, worked. In August of 2007, the UN Security Council voted unanimously to expand presence in Iraq, that is, serve as the transition government after the U.S. and U.K. move out. Call it peace keeping if you wish, at least there is an international organization capable of providing a solution.
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Oh, my gosh....the Dow Jones Industrial crashed 332 to under 8000, ending at 7949 today on the inaugural of our great gray hope, Barack Obama. Normally, on this day of a new president, stocks only drop 1%. Our stock market sunk 4% today. Well, the all world markets also declined. It could be a long winter, spring, summer, fall, winter....
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Well, crude jumped today towards the direction of the Dated Brent Spot. The NYMEX Crude Futures ended at $40.33/barrel, narrowing the gap of the Dated Brent Spot at $41.89. Remember, the diffential was more than$8/barrel yesterday. Mind you, this is a NYMEX leap of $6.33/barrel, an increase of almost 20%, so what in the world is happening to the price of oil? Stay tuned. The Fall metastability of the stock market is now hitting the oil market. This can only be very dangerous to the world economy.
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Monday, January 19, 2009

END OF WARS (Part 20)

The following is excerpted from Chapter 1 of SIMPLE SOLUTIONS for Humanity:
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For completeness, the following terrorist organization can also be mentioned:

○ Japanese Red Army: formed in 1970, they were known to operate in Israel and the U.S., and are dedicated to fomenting world revolution. There are only six hard-core members. Their leader, Fusako Shigenobu, co-founder, was captured in 2000.

○ Earth Liberation Front: is the collective name for individuals and small groups in the U.S. and U.K. dedicated to ecotage: damaging property to save the environment. Originally founded in 1992 in the U.K., by 2001, the FBI classified ELF as the top domestic terror threat in the U.S. An earlier ELF, the Environmental Life Force, had similar strategies. However, today, the current ELF web site merely states that this underground movement has no leadership, membership nor official spokesperson. Participation is anonymous. There is no known leader, because, if known, would be arrested, convicted and placed in jail.

○ United States and Australia: labeled by some, if not many, as eco-terrorists for not signing the Kyoto Protocol (global climate warming). Kevin Rudd replaced John Howard as Prime Minister of Australia, and was reported to be more supportive of the agreement, but the day following the Bali talks at the end of 2007, appeared to be unhappy with such deep cuts in greenhouse gas emissions.
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The Dow Jones Industrials enjoyed a holiday today, but world markets all dropped.
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There has been a significant difference between the New York Mercantile (NYMEX) Future and Dated Brent Spot (DBS) price of oil recently. Today, for example, the NYMEX was reported to be $34.00/barrel, while the DBS indicated $42.91/bbl. You can click on the Energy Information Agency definition to gain a sense what they are. In short, the NYMEX is a future price while the Brent is closer to being the curent price. There are 161 different crude oil prices generally reported. The NYMEX is the version usually mentioned in newspapers.
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Friday, January 16, 2009

DO IT NOW

I thought my posting of this past Wednesday was too gloomy, so I made a few adjustments and re-titled it for The Huffington Post, as follows:
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The signs are dismal. Yes, the economy, but worse regarding the dual hammer of Peak Oil and Global Warming. First, oil will apparently remain under $60/barrel for several years. Peaking at $147/barrel just this past July, Goldman Sachs expects oil to drop to $30/bbl this quarter. I must warn you that they did predict crude would rise to $149 by the end of last year, missing by about $100/bbl. But our U.S. Department of Energy predicted that oil prices would average $43.25/barrel this year (it was $99.55/bbl last year), and further, projected that the price will be $54.50/bbl next year. That agency has historically missed the mark with uncommon regularity. What if, though, GS and the USDOE are right this time? On top of all this, Secretary Designate Steven Chu, at his confirmation hearing, was picked up supporting coal and nuclear power. Yes, he had to balance his views for the Republicans, but the media emphasized that pro coal-nuclear point.

Second, millions probably won't perish from a terribly hot summer anytime soon. Well, that's good, but the problem compounding all this is a lot of misinformation being reported, including reports that the planet has cooled since George Bush has been President. The media likes to play with these stories, confusing the masses on something that still results in really cold winters and sea level rise that cannot be appreciated, especially if you happen to live in Kansas or D.C.

What are so bad about relief from climate change and low gasoline prices? Decision-making! The lack of crises will only further delay the need to take vital steps regarding energy and the environment. And time is of the essence.

Over the past few years, the United States has annually used about 100 quadrillion Btus of energy. Let's toss away that dimension (but analyze in terms of a hundred), so of that sum, 40 was oil, 23 coal and natural gas each, 8 nuclear and 7 (a bit high, but it was 6 in 2003 and looms to hit 7 soon) renewable energy. Biomass was 3.6, hydropower 2.5 and everything else was noise, although wind power is up to 0.32 and rising. Note that our energy consumption has not gone up much (98 in 2003), but, surprisingly, renewables have barely increased a grand total of one (1) in that period, partly because hydropower has declined. Yes, only a one percent improvement since 2003. Part of the reason for this lackluster advancement is the lack of enthusiasm for needed change.

But, unless we take decisive action now, we will have missed another opportunity. For the sake of Planet Earth and Humanity, we must immediately enact two meaningful measures, a national one and the other international.

1. First, Congress must add a $1/gallon gasoline investment surcharge now. We moaned at $4/gallon gasoline when Europeans were paying more than $10/gallon. The national price for premium today is less than $2/gallon. A whole dollar only kicks the price up to $3/gallon. This fund would accrue about $125 billion/year. Work out the rebates and subsidies, but spend most of the revenues on renewable energy research, demonstration and commercialization.

2. On a global scale, the G8 nations need to agree at their 2009 Italian Summit on a 1 cent/pound carbon dioxide remediation duty linked to crude oil at $30/barrel, to proportionately increase such that the levy would be 5 cents/pound carbon dioxide at $150/bbl crude. The sum collected could amount to about $200 billion/year just in the U.S. Funds should be used by each country to install smart grids and accelerate renewable energy investments. At 1 cent/pound, electricity costs would increase for coal-fired electricity by 7 cents/kWh, making unnecessary any renewable energy tax credits and various nuclear perquisites, bringing into competitiveness wind power and utility scale solar thermal power.

But, as explained in my HuffPo of January 5, nothing will happen because there is no crisis. A potential fatal flaw of our society is the inability to make tough decisions absent any man-made or natural calamity. No doubt a tepid cap and trade attempt will be made and there will be sincere bluster about a workable replacement for the Kyoto Protocol. But those border on paralysis by analysis.

This $325 billion judgment palls in comparison to the Wall Street rescue package ($700 billion), the upcoming Obama stimulus program ($1 trillion) and the Middle East Wars ($3 trillion). Yes, this is comparing apples and oranges, for one, people hate taxes and can almost accept loans or fight terrorism, especially when you don't feel the daily bite. Nevertheless, this Peak Oil/Global Warming fund will insure for stable energy prices while providing development insurance to avoid an impending cataclysm far worse than our current relative hangnail.

The American public believes, more than 90%, for example, in an ethereal concept such as a God. Is it possible for the Obama Administration to believe in the overwhelming evidence provided by scientists and specialists about the impending doom being forecast from the crush of Peak Oil and Global Warming, and, thereby, take immediate and appropriate action? Yes they can, so do it now!
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The Dow Jones Industrials rose 69 today to 8281, and so did the rest of the world markets. Crude oil dropped $2.39/barrel to $36.42. Gold jumped $25.70/toz to $842.40.
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Thursday, January 15, 2009

END OF WARS (Part 19)

The following continues the serialization from Chapter 1 of SIMPLE SOLUTIONS for Humanity:

But how many active terrorists are out there? The State Department supposedly had a list of 65,000 names, but that was before 9/11. Certainly, there are more now, but not anything close to a million, and, actively, probably, around 100,000. The world population is approaching 7 billion. Don’t place all one billion or so Muslim’s in the terrorist pot. Only a very few extremists are the problem. It is a bit disconcerting, though, that our government is not really sure if there are 1 million or 7 million Muslims in the U.S. Then again, we shouldn’t categorize people by religion, so, so much for that. The U.S. Census has it right in the middle, or 4 million. What is truly troublesome is that former Department of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld was asked, how is the U.S. faring against terrorists’ extremist ideology in the global “battle of ideas,” and he gave our country a D or D+ grade.

To recap about Middle East religion:

o Egypt Sunni Muslim
o Turkey Sunni Muslim
o Saudi Arabia Sunni Muslim
o Syria Sunni Muslim
o Jordan Sunni Muslim
o Pakistan Sunni (77%) Muslim
o Iraq Shi’a (63%) Muslim – Sunni (35%)
o Iran Shi’a (89%) Muslim
o Israel Jewish (77%) – Muslim (16%)
o Lebanon Christian (41%)–Sunni (27%) –Shi’a (26%)
o India Hindu (81%) – Muslim (13%)
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The Dow Jones Industrials dropped 200, but began a spectacular recovery of 289, then settling to +12 at 8196. World markets mostly fell. Crude oil rose two bucks to $38.81/barrel. Gold increased $6.60/toz to $816.70.
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Wednesday, January 14, 2009

BLACK HOLES AND SUSTAINABLE RESOURCES

This posting has nothing to do with astrophysics, as such, although I once worked for NASA on the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence. After a full lifetime spent on virtually every sustainable energy option imaginable—working under (way under) Edward Teller in laser fusion to drafting the original hydrogen legislation for the U.S. Senate which became the Matsunaga Act to directing the Hawaii Natural Energy Institute at the University of Hawaii (details can be found in SIMPLE SOLUTIONS for Planet Earth), I have come to certain conclusions seeking a lifetime of validation. Over the past seven months I have published 40 articles in the Huffington Post, all on some aspect of energy and the environment, so if you want details or exact references to the following, go to my books or those HuffPo articles.

Change has happened, It is downright shocking how time has changed the energy landscape so swiftly, for peaking at $147/barrel just this past July, Goldman Sachs expects oil to drop to $30/bbl this quarter. I must warn you that they did predict oil would rise to $149 by the end of last year, missing by about $100/bbl. But our U.S. Department of Energy predicted that oil prices would average $43.25/barrel this year (it was $99.55/bbl last year), and further, projected that the price will be $54.50/bbl next year. That agency has historically missed the mark with uncommon regularity. What if, though, GS and the USDOE are right this time?

So absent any better prognostications, the following logic should prevail:

1...Over the past few years, the United States has annually used about 100 quadrillion Btus of energy. Let’s toss away that dimension (but analyze in terms of a hundred), so of that sum, 40 was oil, 23 coal and natural gas each, 8 nuclear and 7 (a bit high, but it was 6 in 2003 and looms to hit 7 soon) renewable energy. Biomass was 3.6, hydropower 2.5 and everything else was noise, although wind power is up to 0.32 and rising. Note that our energy consumption has not gone up much (98 in 2003 and should have been about 100 last year), but, worse, renewables have barely increased a grand total of one (1) in that period, partly because hydropower has declined. Yes, a one percent improvement since 2003. If oil remains under $60/bbl for the next two years, or longer, investments in major sustainable resource projects will be delayed and the White House / Congress will not pass any energy program of noteworthiness.

2...If, however, our leaders fail to take decisive action, we will have missed an opportunity, for now is the exact right time to act on two items. First, add a $1/gallon gasoline investment surcharge. We moaned at $4/gallon gasoline when Europeans were paying more than $10/gallon. The national price for premium today is less than $2/gallon. A whole dollar only kicks the price up to $3/gallon. This fund would accrue about $125 billion/year. Work out the rebates and subsidies, but spend most of the revenues on renewable energy research, demonstration and commercialization. Any chance for this measure to be adopted by our Congress? Let me pass on this for now.

3...The second must, now, is for the G8 nations to agree at their 2009 Italian Summit on a 1 cent/pound carbon dioxide remediation duty linked to crude oil at $30/barrel, to proportionately increase such that the levy would be 5 cents/pound carbon dioxide at $150/bbl crude. Funds should be used by each country to install smart grids and accelerate renewable energy investments. At 1 cent/pound, electricity costs would increase for coal-fired electricity by 7 cents/kWh, making unnecessary any renewable energy tax credits and various nuclear perquisites, bringing into competitiveness wind power and utility scale solar thermal power. The sum collected could amount to about $200 billion/year just in the U.S. What are the odds for such swift action?

It all depends on the right crisis, as explained in my HuffPo of January 5. Absent any man-made or natural calamity, what can we then expect of the incoming Obama Administration? First, oil will apparently remain under $60/barrel for a couple of years. Second, millions probably won’t perish from a terribly hot summer. Worse, there is a lot of misinformation being reported, including reports that the planet has cooled since George Bush has been President. The media likes to pick up these stories, confusing the masses on something that still results in really cold winters and sea level rise that cannot be appreciated, especially if you live in Kansas or D.C.

Thus, let me boldly state that, as much as the incoming Obama Administration has promised change, and they really meant well, all signs point to nothing significant happening for the next few years to combat the coming dual hammer of Peak Oil and Global Warming. Please prove me wrong! All focus, however, will need to be placed on our economic crisis. There might be a tepid cap and trade initiative and important bluster to re-do the Kyoto Protocol with American leadership, but that will be it.

Oh, yes, about the title. I could say that crazy ideas have been tossed around about capturing black holes to produce energy. This is nonsense. We can, though, toss conventional wisdom into a proverbial black hole and act with purpose. Yes, you can. Every one of you out there can help make that crucial difference by doing something progressive, for a change. Guidelines are provided in the Epilogue of SIMPLE SOLUTIONS for Humanity.
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The Dow Jones Industrial plummeted 248 to 8200. Most world markets fell the same or worse. Crude dropped almost $2 to $36.81/bbl. Gold decreased $9/toz to $813.
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Tuesday, January 13, 2009

THE BIOMETHANOL ECONOMY: AN UPDATE

I was recently sent some information updating the potential of methanol from biomass. For information on this subject, go to Chapter 2 of SIMPLE SOLUTIONS for Planet Earth, or my Huffington Post articles on "What is the Best Biofuel?" and "Is there an Option More Promising than the Plug-In Electric Vehicle?"
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One city in Denmark, for example, has chosen biomass to methanol to hydrogen into a fuel cell as their transport choice, but with a reformer to convert methanol into hydrogen. While hardly sensible (the reformer part), industry is getting close to removing that step.
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In August of this year Horizon Fuel Cell Technologies announced an educational direct ethanol fuel cell powered by vodka, so if anyone can actually make a DEFC work, a direct methanol fuel cell (DMFC) should be a virtual slam dunk. The simple matter of MeOh having only one carbon atom and EtOH two should give MeOH an overwhelming advantage. It's also much cheaper to produce methanol by gasification/catalysis than ethanol from hydrolysis/fermentation.
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The Department of Commerce did award $4.6 million to MTI Micro, a company partly owned by Dupont, to develop a micro DMFC. But that was nearly a decade ago. They continue to exist and supposedly have a proprietary DMFC rechargeable power pack, while hinting about hand held electronic applications.
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Motorola, apparently, has given up, although they keep appearing at specialty conferences on the subject. While another American company, DTI Energy Inc., regularly announces that the DMFC will be widely commercialized by 2010, I noticed that Japanese companies have kept awfully quiet recently.
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E-mail exchanges with some world class specialists, though, give me confidence that the concept of the DMFC is real, and should someday be available to run a fuel cell powered automobile five times further than the lithium battery. However, we are nowhere close to developing such a widget, and this could well be a decade or longer away. The USDOE, for example, still prohibits funding for this pathway, so this is one hurdle that needs to be removed, plus, of course, that other one of only supporting ethanol and biodiesel research and commercialization.
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Interesting that many of those NOVA, Discovery and Science programs on determing the future of remewable transport keep only mentioning hydrogen as the fuel for fuel cells. One would think that the ease with which methanol can replace the gasoline infrastructure and that counterintuitive fact about one gallon of methanol having 1.40 times more accessible hydrogen than liquid hydrogen would be logically convincing. However, I guess I'm the only one I know who has any interest in this option, for I last week asked a swarm of colleagues if anyone was interested in this system, and I got no response. Well, on to the Blue Revolution or the Hawaiian Hydrogen Clipper.
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The Dow Jones Industrials dropped about a hundred points today, but slowly recovered to minus 25 at 8449. World markets all generally fell. Crude oil rose $1.83 to $38.97/barrel. The U.S. Department of Energy predicted that oil prices will average $43.25/barrel this year, compared to $99.55/bbl last year, and, further, projected that the price will be $54.50/bbl next year. Also, in the U.S., we will use 19.12 million barrel/day this year, having averaged 19.51 MMBD last year. Gold slipped a dollar/toz to $822.
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Monday, January 12, 2009

THE END OF WARS (Part 18)

The following is largely excerpted from Chapter 1 of SIMPLE SOLUTIONS for Humanity:

When you read books and articles about this topic, it is helpful to understand the terms:

o Jihad: Islamic holy war
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o Mujahidin: person who wages a jihad
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o Intifada: rebellion
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o Diaspora: migration away from ancestral homeland
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o Shiite: a Muslim of the Shia branch of Islam who believes in Ali and the Imams as the only rightful successors of Muhammad
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o Sunni: a Muslim of the branch of Islam that adheres to the orthodox tradition (yes, they don’t seem to be too different)
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o Fatwa: a decree handed down by an Islamic leader, as for example Ayatollah Khomeini, calling for the execution of Salman Rushdie in 1989, and bin Laden and Zawahiri and others in 1997 issuing the ruling to kill Americans and their allies, including civilians.

There are variations and sectarian differences, such as that represented by Wahhabism and Takfiri concepts, as for example, Al Queda may be considered the generic name for all those movements that have in common what is called the Takfiri ideology, but the above should suffice for this discussion.

Thus, the terror scorecard in the Middle East:

Terrorist Org..........Headquarters...Sect.......Living Notables

Al Queda..............Afghanistan...........Sunni.......Osama bin Laden
..............................and Pakistan...........................Ayman Al-Zawahiri

Taliban.................Afghanistan...........Sunni.......Mohammad Omar

Hamas..................Palestine..............Sunni.......Khaled Mashal
............................................................................Ismail Haniyeh

Palestinian
Islamic Jihad..........Syria...................Sunni.......Ramadan Shallah
.............................................................................(Ayman Al-Zawahiri)

Palestine
Liberation
Organization.........Palestine................Sunni......Mahmoud Abbas

Hezbollah.............Lebanon.................Shiite......Hassan Nasrallah
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The Dow Jones Industrials dropped 125 to 8474. Except for Hong Kong, world markets all declined. Crude crashed 8.5% from Friday, sinking $3.48/barrel to $37.14. Goldman Sachs expects oil to drop to $30/bbl this quarter. However, they did predict that oil would rise to $149 by the end of last year, missing by about $100/bbl. Gold sunk $33.70/toz to $819.90.
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Saturday, January 10, 2009

SAVING PLANET EARTH AND HUMANITY

My blog of December 31 on "Simple Solutions for 2009," also published in The Huffington Post that day, initiated a series of virtual discussions on Saving Planet Earth and Humanity. The focus was initially on what Hawaii can do about Peak Oil and Global Warming.
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It seems that renewable electricity should in time develop. We're currently heading down the wrong path on ground transport with ethanol and biodiesel. We're in deep %#@&# regarding aviation, as in five to ten years jet fuel prices will make travel to Hawaii only for the rich. So, there have been discussions heading in twenty directions on subjects like, "does hydrogen have a fatal flaw," "will the direct methanol fuel cell replace the plug-in electric vehicle?," "how to survive the coming doom," "we blew it after the second energy crisis in 1979," "what about biomethanol?," "will jet fuel from algae ever become competitive?," "the Hawaiian Hydrogen Clipper," "vital decisions will not be made because there is no present crisis" and more.
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Continuing this discussion, some of you, but only a few, I think, feel that it is already too late, so why even try to find solutions. There are those who wish to minimize general and personal pain during the coming doom. Others philosophize and pontificate that we can't give up. Mostly for the latter group, I wonder if we can begin to catalogue a list of activities worthy of pursuit? Let me start by repeating my frequent call to re-direct defense expenditures toward combating Peak Oil and Global Warming.

Did you watch the festivities today celebrating the commissioning of the USS George H. W. Bush? What pomp with 21,000 dignitaries and observers. On this note, I summarize my previous posting:
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1. The average U.S. Department of Energy annual budget for renewable energy research over the past decade was under $1 billion. By the way, that floating golf ball which returned to Pearl Harbor, having protected us from North Korean missiles, alone, cost about a billion dollars.
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2. The USS Bush, a brand new nuclear-powered aircraft carrier,* will cost taxpayers $4.5 billion (nope, the price is now listed at $6.2 billion). This will be our tenth Nimitz-class carrier, and the last.
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3. However, on the horizon are the Gerald R. Ford class nuclear carriers, the first to cost $8 billion, not including the $5 billion R&D being expended to insure for producing the finest. It's a toss-up if the initial version will be called the Gerald R. Ford or America. The second has already been reserved as the USS Arizona. We're now up to $21 billion to scare the Russians and Chinese into they, likewise, investing in their future.
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4. Also, 30 new Virginia-class submarines will be built at $2.5 billion apiece, or $75 billion.
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5. The program cost of the F-22 Raptor stealth fighters is $65 billion.
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With Senator Inouye heading both the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee and full Committee, certainly some of the above will end up in Hawaii. As a beginning, our Hawaii Air National Guard is scheduled to receive 18 F-22s worth $2.6 billion. Certainly, it would be sacrilegious to even hint that these expenditures might not today be necessary, especially when the people of Hawaii, and Nation, mostly support all the above. For the same, but different, reasons, there is also strong support for all those ridiculous airport security precautions. But there is no cold war anymore and we annually outspend China on defense by a factor of six (28 to 1 on a per capita basis).
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Just think, if that sum of money mentioned above (and, there is a lot more, for Joseph Stiglitz in his book of this sum, remarked that the cost of the current Middle East wars will cost $3 trillion, recently updated to $5 trillion) can, instead, be applied to sustainable resource development? Where would Hawaii and our Nation be in 2025 if that were possible? Is there any hope for a shift in priorities? The reality is, of course, no, but I refer you, again, to my very first Huffington Post article published on May 29 entitled, Well, Barack, We have a Problem. Just about everything of any importance I've accomplished in my life started as a one-in-a-million adventure, so why break with tradition.
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Friday, January 9, 2009

END OF WARS (Part 17)

The following is primarily from Chapter 1 of SIMPLE SOLUTIONS for Humanity:
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The primary terrorist organizations in the Middle East are (mostly from Wikipedia):

o Al Qaeda (AQ), also spelled Al-Quaeda or Al-Qa’ida or Al Qaida or Al-Qaidah, among many variations is a Sunni paramilitary organization which was named, of all things, by the U.S. Justice Department. The literary translation is “the foundation or base.” While it’s really more than this, the popular story is that Osama bin Laden, a Saudi Arabian, met in 1979 with Ayman Al-Zawahiri, an Egyptian medical doctor, to form the group. Interestingly enough, the U.S. provided funds to this outfit in the 1980’s. After they “beat” the Soviets out of Afghanistan in 1989, the first Gulf War of 1990 provided another opportunity to rid the region of infidels, especially the U.S. By some accounts, this is when AQ really organized. The 1998 U.S. Embassy bombings in Nairobi, Kenya and Dar es Salaam, killing more than 200 and wounding 5,000, and the 2000 attack on the U.S.S. Cole, killing 17 sailors, were by AQ. Their September 11, 2001 strike of the World Trade Center and Pentagon, slaughtering nearly 3,000, set the table for the second Gulf War in 2002. The 2005 London, Jordan and Egypt bombings resulting in more than 200 deaths, were reportedly AQ operated. Supposedly, 100,000 have received AQ training, but “only” 20,000 seem active world-wide.
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o The Taliban is an Afghanistanian, indigenous, Sunni movement that formed in the midst of the Soviet-backed Democratic Republic government being overthrown in 1992, leading to a civil war among American bankrolled warlords. There, however, also is an important connection to the Inter-Services Intelligence of Pakistan, which received some funding from the American CIA. Yes, the U.S., thus, had a hand in establishing both AQ and the Taliban, and to boot, the Taliban were initially the good guys, bringing some military and economic stability to the country, including eliminating the payments businesses had to make to the warlords, and banning the growing of opium. In 1996, the Taliban established the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, winning recognition from Pakistan and Saudi Arabia in 1997. In what have become almost standard reverse operations, the U.S. succeeded in an international effort called Operation Enduring Freedom to depose the Taliban in 2001. While in 2001 opium had been reduced by 98%, after their fall, by 2004, Afghanistan was supplying 87% of the world opium supply. One practice objected to by the liberated world is that the movement believed women should stay at home and take care of the children. Hmmm, that’s not all, bad, actually. The Taliban is aligned with bin Laden through family marriage, and is an enemy of Shiite Iran, and also, now, the U.S. There supposedly are more Taliban fighters than AQ terrorists.
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o Hamas is an acronym corresponding to an Arabic word for zeal or fanaticism, has a meaning of courage, and is a Sunni organization that was democratically elected to govern Palestine in the 2006 elections. This legislative takeover was an embarrassment to the Bush Administration. Created in 1987, it is known for suicide bombings and acts against Israel. Their charter calls for destruction of the State of Israel. They have thousand of supporters, but only a small number of active soldiers. The lobbing of rockets from the Gaza Strip (at last count, more than 3000 this past year). Western logic does not work in understanding why the Hamas doesn't just stop sending bombs into Israel to end the turmoil.
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o The Sunni Palestinian Islamic Jihad Movement (PIJM), also called Al-Jihad, has dual goals to liberate Palestine and destroy Israel. It was founded in the 1970’s as a branch of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad, which today is led by Ayman al-Zawahri, the second in command of AQ. While far smaller than Hamas, the PIJM specializes in suicide bombers, using even women and teens. It is most famous for assassinating Egyptian President Anwar Sadat, is headquartered in Damascus, the capital of Syria, and receives financial aid from that country and Iran. It has several hundred hard core members.
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o The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) was created in 1964 by the Arab League to form an independent Palestinian state. It is recognized for their 1972 Black September splinter group’s attack on the Israeli Olympic squad in Munich. Known to be extremely wealthy, the PLO has $50 billion in secret investments in Zimbabwe and Somalia. Mohammed Abdel-Raouf “Yasir” Arafat, a Sunni, the man with the checkered kaffiyeh, became chairman in 1969. In 1988 Arafat renounced terrorism and gained metastable peace through the Oslo Accords of 1993. He, along with Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres, were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1994. While President Bill Clinton got personally involved in the peace process, President George Bush the Younger refused to meet with Arafat. After surviving numerous assassination attempts and illnesses, he finally succumbed to a blood ailment in 2004. But the PLO lives on as a quasi-terrorist organization still dedicated to the dissolution of Israel. The current leader is Mahmoud Abbas.
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o Hezbollah or Hizbullah or Hizballah or—this is a bit more complicated, as the spelling varies with grammatical usage—but let us use the most common, Hezbollah, a Shiite political party and military organization. Ayatollah Khomeini was the founder in the early 1980’s. Most Iranians are Muslim and 90% of them belong to the Shia community, which also is Lebanon’s largest religious group, about 40% of 3 million citizens. Financial aid unofficially comes from Iran and Syria. Hezbollah is credited with the 1983 suicide bombings of the U.S. Embassy, killing 63, and the U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut, with 299 slain, plus the 1994 bombing of the Israeli Embassy in London. Hezbollah is to Lebanon as Hamas is to Palestine, and Hezbollah supports the Hamas’ death to Israel policy, noting that the former is Shiite and latter Sunni. Israel overrides religious differences here. However, the Sunni-Shiite split is why Al-Queda and Hezbollah had strained relations…until the war between Israel and Hezbollah in Lebanon erupted in 2006. Then, Ayman al-Zawahri weighed in with a call for all Muslims to rise up in a holy war against Israel. There are several thousand supporters, but only a few hundred Hezbollah warriors.
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You could just as well also add Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to the above list. In many countries, George W. Bush is cosidered to be the world's leading terrorist.
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The Dow Jones Industrials slipped an additional 143 to 8599, with minor exceptions, following world markets. 2008 was the worst year for jobs since 1945, with 2.6 million losses, most of them over the past four months.
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Crude oil dropped another buck to $40.62/barrel, but at the start of the day was below $40/bbl. Gold fell $2/toz to $853.
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