The $100 barrier was broken due to the same factors that lead to $97-a-barrel price levels this past Thanksgiving week. First, world demand continues to escalate. The International Energy Agency projects that oil demand will increase by 2.5 percent in 2008, with growth driven by China, India, and other lesser developed nations.
Second, the latest bout of political instability in Nigeria–the source of 1.1 million barrels per day of U.S. imports–contributes to uncertainty about the security of supplies. And third, speculators hoping to profit from future instability bid up the price on future deliveries of oil.
All of these factors are likely to continue throughout in 2008. Yet in the wake of these near record prices, oil industry allies are likely to haul out the lobbying equivalent of a Christmas fruit cake. They will once again push for more oil drilling off U.S. coastal areas and in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. These tired proposals have been rejected time and again because they would do little to reduce the price of oil in the short run or offset higher demand in the long run….
The Boston Globe has two climate-related books on their list of the year’s most-expected books:
Turning to nonfiction, the year will bring a couple of books on the worrisome topic of global warming – The Great Warming: Climate Change and the Rise and Fall of Civilizations (March), by Brian Fagan, and Eric Roston‘s The Carbon Age: How Life’s Core Element Has Become Civilization’s Greatest Threat (June).
The second book is by a former Time magazine reporter who is also a once (and hopefully future) ClimateProgress blogger. I provided comments on a couple of chapters — and I think it is safe to say this book comes at the climate issue from an original angle and is very informative.
I am not the biggest fan of corn ethanol. But I am the biggest fan of cogeneration, also known as combined heat and power, CHP (well, maybe the second biggest fan). It is probably the single most overlooked strategy for sharply cutting greenhouse gas emissions while reducing overall energy costs.
Important caveat: Impact of Combined Heat and Power on Energy Use and Carbon Emissions in the Dry Mill Ethanol Process does NOT examine the energy consumed (or emissions generated) from growing and harvesting the corn or from transporting the corn or ethanol. Still, with CHP, corn ethanol can actually generate significant CO2 reductions compared to gasoline.
If Congress is serious about promoting ethanol in a manner that actually reduces GHGs, they should require all new ethanol plants to cogenerate.
[UPDATE: Link to EPA study is fixed!]