American Elephants

Obamacare Preview: 1 Million Brits Receive ‘Cruel and Neglectful Care’ by American Elephant
August 27, 2009, 1:54 pm
Filed under: Health Care, Politics | Tags: ,

In the last six years, the Patients Association claims hundreds of thousands have suffered from poor standards of nursing, often with ‘neglectful, demeaning, painful and sometimes downright cruel’ treatment.

The charity has disclosed a horrifying catalogue of elderly people left in pain, in soiled bed clothes, denied adequate food and drink, and suffering from repeatedly cancelled operations, missed diagnoses and dismissive staff. [read more]

Oil is Not as Scarce as Some Believe, and We’re Nowhere Near “Peak Oil.” by The Elephant's Child
August 27, 2009, 1:19 am
Filed under: Economy, Energy, Environment, National Security, Politics | Tags: , ,

An article in Monday’s New York Times once again demolishes the theory of “peak oil.” It is the theory that at some point, probably soon, global geological scarcity will make global petroleum production begin to fall, indicating the end of the age of oil.  This will bring economic catastrophe, unless we prepare for it now.

Fatih Birol, the top economist at the International Energy Agency, insists that the moment will arrive in ten years, sooner than most earlier predictions.  Some believe that the tipping point has already been passed and we are in inevitable decline.  The news media, always ready for a crisis of some sort, has been happy to take peak oil seriously with the help of oilman T. Boone Pickens and  James Schlesinger, a former secretary of energy.

Michael Lynch, the former director for Asian energy and security at the Center for International Studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and an energy consultant, says that oil remains abundant, and the price will probably come down closer to the historical level of $30 a barrel as new supplies come in from the deep waters off West Africa and Latin America, in East Africa, and in the Bakken oil shale fields of Montana and North Dakota.

A careful look at the facts, says Mr. Lynch, shows that most of the arguments are based on anecdotal information and ignorance of how the oil industry goes about finding fields and extracting petroleum.

When a new oil field is discovered, it is given a size estimate that represents how much petroleum is thought to be recoverable at that point in time.  Over the years, the estimate is usually revised upwards, either because more oil is found in the field or because new technology makes more oil recoverable.  This doesn’t get reported as a new find, so peak oil advocates are apt to ignore it, and numbers become less dependable.

It’s important to avoid allowing the false threat of vanishing oil to lead the government to expend vast sums on foolish renewable energy schemes or yo impose unnecessary conservation rules on a public that is struggling with recession and unemployment.

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