Saturday, November 19, 2011

Climate, Capitalism and Human Greed

In "The Nation," Naomi Klein's article, "Capitalism versus the Climate," portrays corporations and white males as the villains in climate change, and outlines a utopian socialist vision of the future.  It's not hard to agree with part of her assessment.  Climate change mitigation will require a lot less consumption and a lot less human reproduction.   But human greed, human desire for comfort, stimulation and stuff, is innate, and not a product of corporations.

For Klein's socialist vision, here are a few inconvenient truths:

1. Nearly all greenhouse emissions are caused directly or indirectly by consumers. Those emitted by corporations are caused by the production of stuff consumers want. You can't change people's behavior by going after corporations.

2. A carbon tax, the one most essential element of a climate policy, would be regressive, not redistributional. It will be hugely unpopular, even if you put the Koch brothers and their ilk before a firing squad. But the most effective way to get people to consume less of a substance is to make it more expensive.

3. You can't put Humpty Dumpty back together in the Horn of Africa. The population is over carrying capacity, and people will continue dying. Do you really want to import millions of radical muslim refugees and potential terrorists who practice clitoral mutilation?

4. Immigration restriction would reduce both the consumption and the reproduction of the potential immigrants, as well as reducing the social costs of assimilation. Allowing the US population to increase to 500 million through immigration would effectively negate any carbon savings we could otherwise accomplish in this country.

5. NIMBYism is a sacred cow of the green left, and a serious barrier to green investment. Whether the project is solar, wind, nuclear, high speed rail, smart grid transmission corridors or smart meters that the lunatic fringe is sure will give them cancer, we can't afford to delay with years of litigation. We must accept that a few low income neighborhoods will be displaced, a few tortoises killed, and some scenic vistas altered.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Speculation or Shortage?

The Redding Record-Searchlight carried a column by Bob Williams titled "Who will stop the oil speculators?"  He claims that some analysts say up to 60% of the price of gasoline is due to speculation.  Unfortunately, this figure is way off.  It costs close to $80 per barrel to produce oil in the new fields being developed now.  Sure, there are a lot of older fields that can produce oil for $20 to $40 per barrel.  But production from these fields is declining by 8% per year, according to the International Energy Association.  If the price of oil went down to $40 per barrel for an extended time, no new fields would be developed and we would soon have a real oil shortage, driving the price right back up. 
As I write, the price of oil on the WTI index is $105.70, and $122.86 on the Brent index.  The price has gone down about $7 per barrel since the weekend.  The difference between that and a reasonable $80 price can be attributed about 30% to actual supply reductions due to the Libyan war, and 70% to fears (or speculation) that the situation in the middle east will get worse, not better. A speculator is someone making a bet on the future price of oil.  He can bet that the price will go up, or bet that it will go down.  When he bets that the price will go up, there is usually a good reason.   However, speculators do not control the price of delivered oil.  Williams mentions the peak futures price of $146 in 2008.  However, the actual delivered price never got much over $110 per barrel.  The speculators who bet on $146 per barrel lost a lot of money. 

That said, the SEC or CFTA could reduce the volatility of the oil market by substantially increasing the margin, or down payment, that speculators have to put up to buy futures, according to energy analyst  Robert Rapier

My big concern is that the media, by featuring columns like that of Williams, is ignoring the reality of peak oil.  Oil discoveries have lagged behind consumption for the past 20 years.  Production from mature oil fields such as Saudi Arabia's Ghawar, Mexico's Cantarrel, and Alaska's Prudhoe Bay, is declining by 8 percent per year.  The ANWR field, if developed, contains only enough oil to supply the world for 4 months.  Production from Canadian tar sands may eventually increase from the current level of 1.5 million barrels per day to 3-4 million barrels per day over the next 10 years.  But this would only offset one year's decline in production from current oil fields.  The Bakken shale field in North Dakota is a very limited resource consisting of small pockets, although it currently produces about 2.5% of US consumption.  The green river shale, which technically is not oil but kerogen, will never be produced commercially because the energy requirements to produce it exceed the energy  gained once it is transformed into useful liquids.  There was an experimental program called "Market Basket" to conduct small underground nuclear explosions to produce shale oil.  Unfortunately, the resulting products were far too radioactive. 

I need to edit this post with more links, but gardening season is beginning, and it will have to wait.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Maine Prosecutor is a Female Mike Nifong

From The Spearhead:

There are often times that we shake our heads at injustices in the world. Sometimes it seems to be all we can do. And with so many problems in modern life, and their often systemic, intractable nature, it can be difficult to choose what battles to fight and when. Because of this we have increasingly become a nation of head shakers, concerned about an array of injustices but often not knowing where to turn or what to do to solve them.

With that in mind we have an opportunity, right here and now, to face down and fight against a terrible injustice, an absolute evil, going on in the state of Maine.

Vladek Filler is about to face trial for a second time on the charge of raping his wife, Ligia. He was brought to trial the first time by Bar Harbor prosecutor Mary N. Kellett, who has sought to imprison Mr. Filler despite the fact that she knows that there is no physical evidence that he ever committed a crime, and despite the fact that his accuser Ligia Filler, has proven to be a violent criminal, a liar who has been caught in false allegations against her husband, and a physical and emotional abuser of her husband and children with a history of severe psychiatric problems.

Ligia Filler has been referred to as “certifiable” by sheriff’s department personnel who she repeatedly threatened to kill.
Mary Kellett’s professional conduct in this case breeches virtually all canons of legal ethics where it concerns prosecutors, from intentionally misleading jurors to avoiding pretrial discovery to actually asking a law enforcement officer to refuse to comply with a valid subpoena in order to help her conceal exculpatory evidence.

All of this, and many other similar cases, have been conducted under the supervision of Bar Harbor, Maine, District Attorney Carletta Bassano, leading to the almost unavoidable conclusion that the problem is not just one rogue prosecutor, but one in which District Attorney Bassano is an enabling accomplice.
Additionally, all of these events have transpired without so much as raising an eyebrow in local news media.

Given the complicity of her supervisor and the lack of attention by local media, Kellet appears emboldened to continue this reign of terror on the life of Vladek Filler, his children, and other innocents who reside in the community Kellett is supposed to protect.

After having Filler’s first conviction overturned due to prosecutorial misconduct by the Maine Supreme Court, she is coming after him again, putting him through another trial on the same slipshod evidence.

Kellett is not pursuing justice; she is making a mockery of it in ways that border on criminality. She is out of control and no one with authority over her is doing anything about it.
And given the hubris demonstrated by her actions, it is clear she feels free to proceed with impunity.

We cannot, must not, allow this to happen.

This is a battle worth choosing to fight, and A Voice for Men is not the only place that is happening. Glenn Sacks at Father’s and Families, the nation’s leader in father’s rights advocacy is speaking out about this story. You can also read about it at The False Rape Society. This article will also be running at, with thanks to our good friend Mr. W.F. Price.

The organization Stop Abusive and Violent Environments(S.A.V.E.) has taken the even more significant action, sending a Complaint for the Disbarment of Prosecutor Mary Kellett to the Maine Board of Overseers for the Bar.

They have also authored a letter to Paul LePage, the Governor of Maine, referencing the disbarment complaint and making an appeal for an intervention on Mary Kellett on behalf of Vladek Filler and the people of Maine.

And you can do your part.

Write Governor LePage here and respectfully insist on an investigation to the practices of Mary N. Kellett. The message can be as simple as. “For the sake of justice, please assure that Mary Kellett is relieved of her prosecutorial duties and disbarred from the practice of law.”

Write the Board of overseers for the Bar here, and insist that they respond to the allegations against Kellett with an investigation.
Lastly, try to get the media involved. Bill Trotter does crime reporting for the Bangor Daily News. You can write email him at or phone him at 207-460-6318 and ask him to consider investigating this story.

What is happening in Maine is only a microcosm of what is happening across the western world. So regardless of where you live, your insistent message to one or all of these people can help force them to consider looking in to Kellett’s activities. And make no mistake about it, Kellett’s actions, if unchecked, are a forecast of own future. We know this is a witch hunt, but because most are ignoring it, it will spread. If we take this silently, we have lost in the most tragic and disgraceful of ways.

This is a fight worth fighting, people. If you are reading this, you could be another Vladek Filler, or someone who cares about him. Your children could be hurt the same way his children have And your freedom, even if seemingly secure today, cannot be assured for tomorrow. As long as the likes of Mary Kellett are allowed to practice predatory prosecutions against innocent human beings no one is safe.
And If she is allowed to build a career on doing this, there will be nothing to stop the same from happening where you live.

It is your future, and your move.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Light bulbs again

I got the carriage post light with the electric eye and motion sensor installed today.  I looked finally at the adjustment of the garage sensor light (a long ladder climb) and discovered that it was set at maximum sensitivity.  Maybe dialing it down will reduce the time it comes on during snow.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Antiwar Bumper Stickers

If you share my opposition to this war, you can put a politically incorrect bumper sticker or two on your car by going to this site.

‎24 Hour Shipping on most orders. . Order this design as is, or customize it to your liking...

Update--Impeach the War Bitch is unavailable because it has a copyrighted image.  Impeach the Warmonger is available. 

Thursday, March 17, 2011

More on Light bulbs

The porch light currently has a 60-watt incandescent.  The 7-watt LED didn't work well because all the light was directed downward.  A CFL would probably fail because of the cold temperaturers outside.  However, the main problem is that this light often gets left on when we don't need it.  My next project will be to get a similar looking fixture, but with a light and motion sensor to turn it off automatically, for about $30.  A halogen bulb with a little lower wattage would probably last forever.  I could get a fixture for about $120 designed to use an LED bulb, but I think I will take the simpler option.   We have to go down a stairwell to get to the front door, and the LED fixture might not aim the light where we need it. 

The floodlights over the garage have a 50 watt halogen bulb on the left, and a 9 watt LED on the right.  The LED provides a lot of light when you are in the 20 degree beam.  The main problem with this light is that the motion sensor senses motion during a snowstorm and stays on all night. I may look for a better quality sensor, and keep the halogen bulb at least until it needs replacement. 

The wall lights over the kitchen sink are another opportunity to switch to LED.  Two four-watt candle bulb from Earth LED would probably work well in place of the 25-watt incandescents. 

This hall light is one of the few places I have been able to use a CFL.  The glass canopy is attached with three set screws that leave a little air space for ventilation, and it is probably an 11-watt. 

A community's energy use is a product of population times affluence times life style.  Maybe I can make a few life-style changes while I am still relatively affluent.  However, the person with the lowest carbon footprint that I know of is an acerbic, childless spinster who doesn't believe in peak oil or global warming.  However, she lives in a very small apartment and walks almost everywhere because she is allergic to her car.

Light Bulbs and My Carbon Footprint

In the last few weeks, and Especially since the Fukushima disaster, I have thought a little more about how to reduce my energy use.  Light bulbs are one area that I could improve, but it is not simple or easy.  Both of us are getting older, and my wife has very poor low-light vision.   She once brought home a note from her eye doctor saying that I shouldn't make her try to see with CFL bulbs.  In addition, most of our house has enclosed ceiling light fixtures, like these in the kitchen.  I tried using one CFL and one incandescent in each fixture, and didn't get any complaints about the light quality, but the CFL bulbs burned out more quickly than the incandescents, because of the heat buildup.  As it stands, we have four 60 watt bulbs in these fixtures, plus two 25 watt bulbs over the sink for a total of 300 watts to light one 9x12 room.  Eventually, I may want to get rid of these fixtures and put in something with about six LED bulbs, but it will be a hard sell.

I did order four LED bulbs from Earth LED, and got good results in a couple of places.  A 7 watt LED bulb (standard base) works fine in this reading lamp over the computer, and two 6 watt bulbs work fine in the wall sconces over the stairway. 

The 7 watt bulb is acceptable in a hanging lamp in the den, but it is not quite bright enough for me, and I wouldn't think of putting it on my wife's side of the couch.  Here is a comparison.  Just below is the 7 watt LED; below left, a 100 watt incandescent, and below right, a 24 watt CFL globe.  Earth LED makes a dimmable 10 watt bulb which I may try, although one reviewer said it has a cooling fan which makes an audible noise.  It's getting hard to format  the pictures, so I will close this post and continue later.