Sunday, August 28, 2005

Surfing the net...and getting depressed.

The S.O. and I debated whether to play golf today. I finally threw her a bone and offered to take her up to Tohoku ( northern Japan when I go up there next week on business). So with that resolved, we went to play golf. I'm glad I did. I brought my "A" game today hitting 5 pars out of the first 7 holes, crumpled in the middle, then rallied to finish with a 90. Not so good you say, well its all relative. For me, ITS GREAT!

Does Iraq have a constitution or does it not? According to CNN:

The draft, which was signed by the committee, will now go to the National Assembly. The amendments were made in hopes of appeasing the Sunni Arab minority, although government spokesman Leith Kubba said not all Sunnis agreed.

President Talabani will announce the final draft of the constitution at a 2:30 p.m. (6:30 a.m. EDT) press conference, his office announced.

It was hoped that Sunday would usher in the end of Iraq's prolonged constitution-drafting drama, as Shiite Arab negotiators now say they plan to go to voters in October with a new compromised draft even if they cannot reach agreement with their Sunni counterparts.

Sunni Arabs on Saturday pored over and debated a compromise Shiite-Kurdish proposal for the draft constitution, the latest development in the highly-charged political fight over the fine print and major legal thrusts in the country's future basic law.

What that tells me is that there are still a fair amount of disgruntled Sunnis out there.

Of course that should surprise no one. The Sunnis are going through a hard time right now, because a Shiite dominated Iraq points out one thing: the Kurds and they have access to all the oil; the Sunnis do not. Reduced to its purest form, that is and has been the root problem in Iraq. This restructuring is about wealth transference. If you are a Kurd or a Shiite, then its great ( although in my opinion, if the Kurds get out of line, Turkish troops will be across the border before you can sneeze), if yu are a Sunni, well its the end of the world. To date, I have yet to see anyone throwing them a bone. Also if Christopher Allbritton is to be believed, the Shiites are fighting among themselves. Yep, lots of good news there.

Speaking of wealth transference, Battlepanda points out something that many folks already knew, America uses too much oil; like a junkie with money to spend its not slowing down any time soon. Lets imagine the world oil demand in 20 years:

A post about peak oil is coming up, but I'd like to explain why I wrote about the reserve/consumption figures so much. As is rightly pointed out by QuietStorm in comments, actual consumption is obviously going to be quite different from those numbers. So why bother? Only to show exactly how unsustainable the status quo is.

This is important, because a number of oil optimists (Michael Lynch and Daniel Yergin, to name two) have recently written very optimistic columns about the future of the oil economy. Yergin is perhaps more famous, but Lynch is more delusional - he refuses to even acknowledge the reality of peak production.

I'd like, if I may, to throw just a few more numbers at you to show how unsustainable the oil age is. Let's look at annual per person oil consumption for some of the larger economies out there.

United States: 7.1 Billion barrels per year/295 million people = 24.3 barrels per person per year.
EU: 5.3 Billion barrels per year/457 million people = 11.6 barrels per person per year.
Japan: 1.93 Billion barrels per year/127 million people = 15.2 barrels per person per year.

Now, Japan's per capita GDP is $29,500, whereas the EU's is $26,900, so we can actually say that on average the EU's oil-per-GDP is actually slightly better than Japan's, but I would say this is one of those areas where it's premature to start talking about the EU as a single entity - the variance from
the mean in individual economies is likely to be too large to be useful. So here we have Japan which uses a bit more than 60% of the oil the US does per person, while getting about 75% of the GDP. (GDP could be the wrong measure to use - most of Japan's quality of life indicators are substantially better than the US.) Japan may very well be the most oil-efficient economy in the developed world.

But what if we have to allow for growth? What if China wants a standard of living equal to Japan's - which they manifestly do? Well, we'd need to find an extra 20 billion barrels of oil per year. If India wants in, we need another 20. If we could bring every person on the planet to the level of Japan -
including bringing the EU slightly up, and the US way down - we'd need almost 100 billion barrels of oil per year, or a production of 270 million barrels per day. This is more than triple what we currently consume.

There is simply no way - no physical way whatsoever - that the human race will ever make even
half that much oil per year. If we could, it would deplete global reserves in 10 years, or 20 if we take the absurdly optimistic projection of 2 trillion recoverable barrels.

Oil is not, and cannot be, the basis for a growing global economy in the 21st century. Now, it gets even worse when we start talking about Peak Oil. And I swear that's actually coming next.

She has a whole series on the subject of oil production. For all the right wing wackos out there, I would remind you that while she may be a liberal, she is a liberal who brings facts to the table which is one reason I enjoy reading her blog. I should point out that Battlepanda did not actually write the series, John did, but it could have been written by her. For more detail, read here, here and here. Not sure of all the implications here, but it does point out something I known for a long time; because America has incredibly shitty public transportation in its cities and a less than optimum air transport system, as well as an undying love of cars, the nation uses too much oil and is overly dependent on oil provided by useless Arabs. Points out a great fact I have wondered about for a while: Zimbabwe has a useless dictator, how come we have not invaded there yet?( You don't have to answer that. If you want to however, please, please, please, post a comment.)

Now I know there is more than one side to this story but there is a lot to think about and I am hoping that by throwing such obvious gas on the fire, I can generate some discussion.

Speaking of pissing off conservatives, during my surfing I also stumbled across the following article. Before you dismiss the content because of the source ( Washington Post), ask yourself this, how come many of America's staunchest allies do exactly the same thing. ( Singapore for one..) Namely, take care of providing equality of opportunity. BTW, the Post also points out the downside of the Finnish way and I think the article is pretty "fair and balanced". Of course its from the MSM, so the wackos could never believe that.

Gotta run, but before I do, just thought I would run out and get some industrial strength kerosene to throw on the blogging fire. From my study of history and having read a lot about the period, could there be a grain of truth here? Somehow I doubt the neo-cons would agree. Frankly Scarlett.......

Read for yourself:
Iraq is America's Boer war. Remember that after the British had declared the end of major combat operations in the summer of 1900, the Boers launched a campaign of guerrilla warfare that kept British troops on the run for another two years. The British won only by a ruthlessness of which, I'm glad to say, the democratic, squeamish and still basically anti-colonialist United States appears incapable. In the end, the British had 450,000 British and colonial troops there (compared with some 150,000 US troops in Iraq), and herded roughly a quarter of the Boer population into concentration
camps, where many died.

Now before all of you lay into me, REMEMBER , I'm not endorsing it, just trying to say it struck a chord....

People are still allowed to think these things aren't they? Too bad Cindy Sheehan never studied history. This type of argument would make more sense than the ones she spouts.........


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