Energy and Global Warming News for June 17: ConocoPhillips chief warns of impending oil crisis, says we must keep destroying a livable climate

What a shock, what a major “news” story:  One of the world’s leading drug dealers says every customer must stay addicted to his product even as the price — and global warming pollution — goes up and up.

ConocoPhillips chief warns of impending oil crisis

Government efforts to curb climate change could soon spur an oil crisis more severe than those already experienced, the head of oil and gas giant ConocoPhillips has said.

“We’re very concerned that if we don’t keep the supply up we’re going to see another crisis,” said chief executive officer Jim Mulva.

Government intervention in the energy market “has an impact” on the willingness of companies to pour billions into the development of new projects, Mulva told an economic summit in Detroit, Michigan.

“If we’re not investing in replacing our resources in fossil fuels then we’re going to create a bigger challenge soon: higher price spikes and volatility in the cost of our energy than what we’ve experienced even in the past,” he said.

“That’s not going to be helpful to the recovery of our economy.”

“We’re not against alternatives and renewables. But to say we want to get off fossil fuels to (replace them with) an alternative is unrealistic.”

Yes, for the oil giants, there simply is no alternative to to humanity’s self-destruction — or to peak oil, for that matter.  At least the reporter felt some obligation to present the view of somebody who doesn’t profit from destroying the climate — Van Jones, “the green-jobs handyman.”

A top White House advisor told the summit that Obama does not believe the country has to chose between protecting the environment and protecting the economy.

“You have a president who has a different kind of environmentalism,” said Van Jones, the White House special advisor for green jobs, enterprise and innovation.

President Obama‘s environmental vision is about saving people money (and) helping people earn money,” he said.

“Everything that is good for the environment, everything that is good in the fight against global warming, it’s a job, it’s a contract, it’s an entrepreneurial opportunity.”

Stimulus Packages a Boon for Efficiency

Energy efficiency and energy management companies and projects have benefited the most from the global effort to stimulate economies over the past eight months, according to the banking giant HSBC.

Of the $350 billion earmarked by governments for climate-related projects, 53 percent, or $184 billion, went to projects and to companies that improve the efficiency of buildings, transportation and industry, or to projects and companies developing and producing fuel cells and energy storage systems, according to Joaquim de Lima and Vijay Sumon, analysts at HSBC.

Before funds started flowing in October 2008, investments in the efficiency sector had been in decline, the authors wrote. Since then, “at a minimum, the global stimulus packages have acted as a support for the sector and at best the packages have already begun to have a material and positive impact on stock price performance.”

Obesity and hunger: The problem with food

Every minute, 17 people die of hunger, 10 of them children. For years that number had been going down. Then, two years ago, it started rising again. We live in a world of record harvests, a world in which obesity is the main food-related health problem for many. Yet hunger is again on the march.

Compared to swine flu or the credit crunch, famine seems an old-fashioned, even Biblical worry – or worse, something from the 1980s. Surely those who predicted worldwide famine in the recent past were wrong. So won’t today’s warnings of catastrophic food shortages prove equally unfounded?

Unfortunately not. We produce our record harvests by harnessing fossil-fuel energy for farming. Thermodynamics rules: you can’t get something for nothing. Oil prices have begun to climb, and will keep climbing as oil sources diminish. Meanwhile, demand for food grows. So food prices are on the rise, boosted further by climate change, demand for biofuel, and limits on soil and water. Higher food prices mean that the impoverished eat less nutritiously – or simply less.

Australia’s carbon farmers in quiet revolution

On the rolling hills of Winona, a fine merino sheep stud, a quiet revolution is taking place which Australian farmers hope will eventually see them selling soil carbon credits in the fight against climate change.

Winona’s Colin Seis is one of the country’s leading “carbon farmers” and has for the past 10 years been encouraging the extraction of greenhouse gas CO2 from the atmosphere and increasing the carbon content of his soil to improve pastures.

Seis estimates he has sequestered a total of 73,786 tons of CO2 equivalent, or 7,386 tons each year. As he only emits 2,200 tons farming, he has a credit of 5,186 tons of carbon.

Under Australia’s planned carbon emissions trading scheme, if Seis continues sequesting carbon and maintains his credit, he could sell 5,186 tons for A$51,860-A$129,650 ($40,706 -$102,086), depending if the price is A$10 a ton or A$25 a ton.

First Climate-based Model To Predict Dengue Fever Outbreaks

Dengue Fever (DF) and Dengue Hemorrhagic Fever (DHF) are the most important vector-borne viral diseases in the World. Around 50-100 million cases appear each year putting 2.5 billion people at risk of suffering this debilitating and sometimes fatal disease. Dengue Fever is prevalent in the Tropics. For that reason, an interdisciplinary team of researchers from the University of Miami (UM) and the University of Costa Rica have used global climatological data and vegetation indices from Costa Rica, to predict Dengue outbreaks in the region.

The new model can predict Dengue Fever epidemics with 83% accuracy, up to 40 weeks in advance of an outbreak and provide information on the magnitude of future epidemics. The model can be expanded to include the broader region of Latin America and the Caribbean, where incidence and spread of the disease has increased dramatically over the past 25 years.

An early warning system to prevent and mitigate the spread of the disease can potentially be developed using this model, explained Douglas O. Fuller, associate professor and chair of the department of Geography and Regional Studies in the UM College of Arts and Sciences and principal investigator of this project.

Hybrid Chestnut Trees Hold Promise as Carbon Sponges

Reducing carbon levels in the atmosphere may be as simple as planting a new breed of hybridised chestnut trees, according to a new study by Purdue University Associate Professor Douglass Jacobs.

The hybrid American chestnut tree, which is mixed with a similar and more disease-resistant Chinese chestnut tree, has been found to grow faster than other chestnut trees and retain carbon for a longer period of time, including after its death.

The American chestnut has been facing extinction since the chestnut blight was introduced in the early 1900s, according to Jacobs. But scientists previously had little incentive to bring it back because of its susceptibility to disease.

The decline of the tree has coincided with the rapid rise in the use of electricity and fuel-based transport that made the U.S. carbon output skyrocket in the twentieth century, contributing to the U.S.’s longtime top slot among carbon emitters.

Individuals Who Apply Pesticides Are Found To Have Double The Risk Of Blood Disorder

A study involving 678 individuals who apply pesticides, culled from a U.S. Agricultural Health Study of over 50,000 farmers, recently found that exposure to certain pesticides doubles one’s risk of developing an abnormal blood condition called MGUS (monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance) compared with individuals in the general population. The disorder, characterized by an abnormal level of a plasma protein, requires lifelong monitoring as it is a pre-cancerous condition that can lead to multiple myeloma, a painful cancer of the plasma cells in the bone marrow.

Radioactive Revival in New Mexico

Mitchell Capitan points to a flock of sheep grazing in the shadow of a sandstone mesa. The sheep belong to Capitan’s family, along with a few head of cattle and twelve quarter horses standing in a corral near his mother-in-law’s house in Crownpoint, New Mexico.

“All of this area,” Capitan says, gesturing to the valley of sage and shrub brush below, “there’s a lot of uranium underneath there. That’s what they’re after.”

Capitan and his Navajo neighbors are battling a license granted by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to Hydro Resources Inc. (HRI)–a subsidiary of a Texas company, Uranium Resources–one of several firms that have laid claim to the minerals beneath thousands of acres on and around the lands of the Navajo Nation and three American Indian pueblos in northwestern New Mexico. A group called the Eastern Navajo Din© Against Uranium Mining is suing the NRC to block mining in Crownpoint and another Navajo community. A panel of federal judges in Denver heard the case in May 2008 but has yet to issue a ruling.

6 Responses to Energy and Global Warming News for June 17: ConocoPhillips chief warns of impending oil crisis, says we must keep destroying a livable climate

  1. Jim Beacon says:

    This is more of what we got from Exxon a few weeks ago — Major Pronouncements from top Big Oil executives that reserves of oil which can be profitably exploited are not running out (they are) and that consumption of oil will not be declining in the foreseeable future (unless you can see past the next 20 years, they mean).

    This is the purest form of bare-faced Public Relations bombast. The stock price of the oil companies is in the toilet and they are trying to talk investors into buying their stock. It didn’t work when Exxon tried this same stunt recently and it won’t work now. Demand for oil is still hovering near the lows of the past year and since the speculators on Wall Street (which include major players working for the oil companies) have driven up the price of a barrel of crude by 100% in the last 8 weeks, demand will remain very weak for now. In fact the price of crude being above $60 a barrel will almost certainly kill whatever tiny start we might have been making on a global economic recovery. A smooth move on their part.

    The funny thing is that methinks Big Oil doth protest too much — no one is predicting we will be able to reduce oil and gas consumption by much more than 10% to 20% by 2025 even if we put on the biggest possible push for alternative power vehicles and hybrids. Since the oil companies will be running out of oil by then and will have upped the price to $150 a barrel anyway, no matter what alternatives are pursued their profits are in absolutely no danger for the “foreseeable future”.

    So, Big Oil is simply opposing alternatives out of habit, like a school yard bully who has already extorted the lunch money from all the other kids but still keeps pushing them around anyway.

  2. Leland Palmer says:

    About the food story – there is no thermodynamic reason we have to apply massive amounts of fossil fuels to food production. There have been economic reasons to do this in the past, but a little bit of knowledge and creativity might be able to displace a lot of fossil fuels. We can also substitute renewable energy sources for fossil fuel sources, to lessen the impact of agriculture on global warming. With massive use of bioenergy combined with carbon sequestration, agriculture could even have a net carbon negative impact on climate change, IMO.

    A little biochar, applied once, can apparently take the place of chemical fertilizers applied every year, at a considerable energy cost. Biochar plus small amounts of chemical fertilizers often seem to work together synergistically, and biochar can also decrease the runoff of chemical fertilizers.

  3. It’s very easy to view the top executives of the Oil Industry as no different from the Vichy French. They are the carbon collaborators of our age who have always been willing to sell out you, me, and their own children and grandchildren for another dime in their pockets.

    They will never make up for the harm, damage and death they have wrought. Never.

  4. Gary says:

    I think the oil companies are seeing the writing on the wall and are having trouble dealing with it. Just look at First Solar, FSLR, probably one of the only blue chip companies in the soalr market and they’re trading well above $160.

    At the same time, this is why it’s important to pass Waxman-Markey to really spur the innovation we need. Steven Chu said we need 3-4 nobel level innovations in order to get ahead of climate change and substantially lower our emissions. Those innovations won’t come if we’re concerned with peak oil.

    for more on climate change and it’s impacts internationally check out

  5. paulm says:

    This would be such a laugh if it weren’t so serious….nuclear is a dead end.

    Nuclear Plant Operators Too Low On Cash To Shut Down

  6. Mark Shapiro says:

    ConocoPhillip’s CEO Mulva is doing what these guys love to do: blaming economic problems on the greenies.

    In coming years, look for them to blame global warming woes on climate scientists and environmentalists. How? “Why didn’t you tell us?” Or “You’re the experts, so you should have stopped this!”

    Don’t think they’d have the gall to blame the people who were right all along? Perhaps you missed Dick Cheney a couple weeks ago, blaming Richard Clarke for not stopping the 9/11 attacks! (You can see the video on Jon Stewart’s Daily Show.)

    Don’t worry. They will figure out a way to blame it on us. It will be incorrect, illogical, and unfair. But they will do it anyway.