Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Global Shock

The Environment Ministers meeting of the G8 summit met over the weekend. To quote from their "Chair Summery:"

* Developed countries should take the lead in achieving a significant reduction.
* It is necessary to change the current socio-economic structures and transition toward low-carbon societies.
* To achieve low-carbon societies all countries need innovations in their lifestyle, production and consumption patterns, and social infrastructure in addition to technological innovations.

There was a second article (or set of stories) yesterday about the Rockefeller's attempt to convince Exxon to change their ways. The times article was interesting in its opening and closing --

First Paragraph:
HOUSTON — The Rockefeller family built one of the great American fortunes by supplying the nation with oil. Now history has come full circle: some family members say it is time to start moving beyond the oil age.
Final two Paragraphs:

The Fraternal Order of Police, which represents public safety officers, whose pensions are invested in Exxon, has publicly opposed the shareholder effort to change company policy.

“The Rockefeller resolution threatens to degrade the value of Exxon Mobil,” the organization wrote in a letter to Mr. Tillerson that criticized the splitting of the top executive jobs.

I think it's a really interesting set of bookmarks -- the Rockefellers and the Police Pension fund. What if the Rockefellers decided to fund every police pension fund in the country -- would that help? I would imagine they could do it -- would that lighten some pressure on Exxon? Of course there are plenty of other Rockefelleresque characters who are not striving for change...

Developed countries should take the lead... What constitutes developed? Iceland seems developed to me... I would imagine it's easier on an island...

Truckers are striking in England and Wales.

LONDON (Reuters) - British Prime Minister Gordon Brown warned on Wednesday that the world was facing an oil "shock" and would find there was no easy answer to price rises without coordinated global action.

Brown, who saw hundreds of protesting British truck drivers cause road chaos in London on Tuesday, said he understood the impact on families across the country, but only an international strategy would work in bringing oil prices down.

A wave of fuel protests, echoing similar demonstrations in 2000, began in France with fishermen blockading ports to demand cheaper fuel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy called on Tuesday for an EU cap on fuel sales tax.

Senior British ministers offered gentle hints on Tuesday that the government may be preparing to back down on plans to increase road tax on higher-polluting cars. There was also speculation Brown might delay planned fuel tax rises.

"A global shock on this scale requires global solutions," Brown wrote in the Guardian newspaper.

Global shock.

Truckers are having a really hard time here in the States, too -- despite the fact that diesel is nearly half what it is in England. The NY Times reported yesterday:

“Most truckers are one major breakdown — a broken axle or a damaged engine — away from bankruptcy,” said Mr. Hendley, who laid off his last driver this month and turned to independent operators to ship his logs.

The squeeze on truckers’ profits from rising fuel costs is compounded by the slowing economy, which is reducing freight traffic. Truckers say they find it hard to impose fuel surcharges, in part because their industry has suffered for years from over-capacity as deregulation drew thousands of small operators into trucking.

That article goes on to say that truckers are selling their trucks and getting out of the business all together - so much so, in fact, that the used truck market is flooded -- and used trucks are being sold abroad -- "particularly to Russia."

If we can't afford gas and we sell our trucks to countries with lots of oil, is that taking the lead? Should the government have a buy back program and melt down all the trucks along with the gun in some big furnace in DC?

I'm all over this morning, but one other thing comes to mind. I'm a photographer -- I used to photograph weddings. Five year later all of my equipment is obsolete because of digital -- which, at the time, seemed like no big deal. My state of the art cameras which are still pretty amazing are worth a tenth of what they were then -- the guy at the camera store said I might be able to sell them to an art student...

Things do change -- drastically and quickly. It' expensive and uncomfortable -- but it happens and we move on.

I think there is an interesting paradox to the idea that fuel and travel hang in the balance while digitally we can go to the G8 summit and back on a Wednesday morning.

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