Thursday, July 31, 2008


I used to move all the time. This lent itself to a strange, disengaged feeling of nothing being connected in the world.

The internet proves that reality completely ridiculous.
This project, too.

I looked up oil and ubiquitous today.

Due to its low price and ubiquitous supply, mineral oil has been pressed into service in a wide variety of capacities. Most of these exploit its properties as a low-toxicity, non-reactive general purpose lubricant and coolant.


Mineral paraffinic oil is sometimes taken orally as a laxative. It lubricates feces and intestinal mucous membranes, and limits the amount of water removed from feces. Typically, mineral oil is effective within as little as six hours. While it has been reported that mineral oil may be absorbed when emulsified, most information shows that it passes harmlessly through the gastrointestinal system.

If used at all, mineral oil should never be given internally to young children, pets, or anyone with a cough, hiatus hernia, or nocturnal reflux, and should be swallowed with care. Due to its low density, it is easily aspirated into the lungs, where it cannot be removed by the body and can cause serious complications such as lipoid pneumonia.[3] While popular as a folk remedy, there are many safer alternatives available. In children, if aspirated, the oil can work to prevent normal breathing, resulting in death of brain cells and permanent paralysis.

Mineral oil with added fragrance is marketed as baby oil in the US, UK and Canada. While baby oil is primarily marketed as a generic skin ointment, other applications exist in common use. It is best to use this oil on infant "diaper rashes" to ease the inflammation, and allow absorption into the epiditimitousary level of the skin. Mineral or baby oil is often used in small quantities (2–3 drops daily) to clean ears. Over a couple of weeks, the mineral oil softens dried or hardened earwax so that a gentle flush of water can remove it. In the case of a damaged or perforated eardrum, however, mineral oil should not be used, as oil in the middle ear can lead to ear infections. It is also a recommended way of removing an insect from the ear of a human. A few drops drowns the bug, which can then be easily removed.

Mineral oil is used as suspending and levigating agent in sulphur-based ointments.[citation needed]

Veterinary medicine

Certain mineral oils are used in livestock vaccines, as an adjuvant to stimulate a cell-mediated immune response to the vaccinating agent. In the poultry industry, plain mineral oil can also be swabbed onto the feet of chickens infected with scaly mites on the shank, toes, and webs. Mineral oil suffocates these tiny parasites. In beekeeping, food grade mineral oil saturated paper napkins placed in hives are used as a treatment for tracheal and other mites.


Mineral oil is a commonly-found ingredient in baby lotions, cold creams, ointments and low-grade cosmetics as an alternative to more expensive oils. According to some sources, use of mineral oil cosmetics commonly leads to acne[citation needed]. It can be used on eyelashes to prevent brittleness and breaking and, in cold cream, is also used to remove creme makeup and temporary tattoos.

Mechanical and industrial

Mineral oil is used in a variety of industrial/mechanical capacities as a non-conductive lubricant. Refined mineral oil is used as transformer oil. Electric space heaters sometimes use it as a heat-transfer oil, and it can be used generically as a coolant in electric components as it does not conduct electricity.

Because it does not absorb water from the air, mineral oil can be used as an automotive, aviation, and bicycle brake fluid.

Light mineral oil is also used in textile industries and used as a jute batching oil.

See also lubricant

[edit] Preservative

Since it does not absorb atmospheric moisture, mineral oil is useful as a protective coating or bath for water-sensitive materials. Alkali metals like Lithium are often submerged in mineral oil for storage or transportation.

Mineral oil is also often used as a coating on metal tools and weapons, knives in particular, as a way to inhibit oxidation. Nihonto, for example, are traditionally coated in Choji oil which consists of 99% mineral oil and 1% oil of cloves. The use of oil of cloves is sometimes explained as a means of differentiating sword oil from cooking oil to prevent accidental ingestion, but may also be purely aesthetic.

Mineral oil can be used as a leather conditioner as well, though most shoe polishes use naphtha, lanolin, turpentine and Carnauba wax instead.

Food preparation

Mineral oil's ability to prevent water absorption, combined with its lack of flavor and odor, make it a popular preservative for wooden cutting boards and utensils. Rubbing a small amount of mineral oil into a wooden cutting board periodically will prevent absorption of food odors and ease cleaning, as well as maintaining the integrity of the wood, which is otherwise subjected to repeated wetting and drying in the course of use.

It is occasionally used in the food industry (particularly for candy). In this application, it is typically used for the glossy effect it produces, and to prevent the candy pieces from adhering to each other. Some studies suggest that prolonged use might be unhealthy because of low accumulation levels in organs.[citation needed] It has been discouraged for use in children's foods, though it is still occasionally found in candies in China and Canada.[citation needed]

It can be used as a release agent for baking pans and trays, but food oils like vegetable oil are a more popular choice.

[edit] Cleaning

Mineral oil can be used to clean heavier oil stains by diluting and liquefying the other oils, rendering the oils more accessible to detergents. Likewise, it can be employed to "de-gum", to remove adhesive residue left by price tags or adhesive tape. It can be used as a cleaner and solvent for inks in fine art printmaking as well as in oil painting, though turpentine is more often used.

Mineral oil is also used in some guitar string cleaners, since it can help mobilize dirt and oil without contributing to the oxidization of the metal strings.

Mineral oil can leave a residue, which is undesirable in some applications.

[edit] Firespinning

Mineral oil is the main fuel used by professional firespinners and firebreathers. It is chosen for its high flashpoint and low burning temperature. As a firebreathing fuel it is ideal because it will not tend to burn as a liquid, due to the high flashpoint, thus preventing blowback.

[edit] Miscellaneous

Mineral oil's ubiquity has led to its use in some niche applications as well.

* Mineral oil is used to darken soapstone countertops for aesthetic purposes.
* It is commonly used to create a "wear" effect on new clay poker chips, which can otherwise only be accomplished through prolonged use. The chips are either placed in mineral oil (and left there for a short amount of time), or the oil is applied to each chip individually, then rubbed clean. This removes any chalky residue leftover from manufacture, and also improves the look and "feel" of the chips.[citation needed]
* It has a high refractive index, so it is sometimes used in oil immersion microscopes.
* It is the main ingredient in some types of gel-type scented candles.[citation needed]
* It is an effective pesticide, particularly for edible plants. It's effective against a wide range of insects and all stages of insect development.[citation needed]
* Mineral Oil has been used to immerse computers in order to absorb heat and cool the system in some custom-built projects.
* Mineral oil is used in some household cleaners but has been proven to have no real cleaning benefits.[citation needed]
* It is sometimes used as a personal lubricant (although it is not safe for use with latex condoms), and as an alternative to plant or herbal oils for massage.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Ethics in Oil and Other Things

Okay -- so it shouldn't be surprising that the Senator from Alaska -- the longest serving republican Senator in Congress -- would be indicted for taking kickbacks from the oil industry. Still, it's rather disheartening.

This from the NYTimes:

"A federal grand jury in the District of Columbia charged Mr. Stevens, who is 84 and the longest-serving Republican in the Senate, with failing to report more than $250,000 in gifts, including extensive renovations to his house in Alaska, a Land Rover and home furnishings on financial disclosure forms that he filed from 1999 to 2006."

This from Senator Stevens' website:

"I have proudly served this nation and Alaska for over 50 years. My public service began when I served in World War II. It saddens me to learn that these charges have been brought against me. I have never knowingly submitted a false disclosure form required by law as a U.S. Senator.
In accordance with Senate Republican Conference rules, I have temporarily relinquished my vice-chairmanship and ranking positions until I am absolved of these charges.
The impact of these charges on my family disturbs me greatly.
I am innocent of these charges and intend to prove that."

The impact of these charges on Alaska, the US and the globe disturbs me greatly.
I can't seem to find them as web pages, but if you go HERE you will find PDFs of Senate ethics committee guidelines.

It was one of those days when I just felt like accumulating... I came across this on a site called Huliq news -- which I am not going to link.

"Loathsome Republican Ted Stevens of Alaska has been indicted on charges of corruption stemming from a year long investigation into Alaskan politics."

This looks like a kind of newsy site, with an obviously unnewsy lead... so I thought I'd see what they were "about:"

What is Citizen Journalism?
Citizen Journalism is an evolving form of journalism through user generated content. Its when any person in their capacity as a citizen takes up the challenge to report things or express their views.
Citizen Journalists are not bound by the conventional term of a journalist. Citizen journalists take up an initiative to express ideas irrespective of their educational or professional background. In a way this emerging form of journalism is promising a scenario of breaking free from media bias as well as taking local news to a global platform.

Citizens' journalism needs to be renamed immediately -- maybe something like -- grafiti? A Blog, perhaps...

I found myself so disheartened today it took me 8 hours to post.

Here is The Pew Center statement on journalism ethics --

"Pew Research Center Code of Ethics

Independence, impartiality, open-mindedness and professional integrity are indispensable to the mission and success of the Pew Research Center. To promote and preserve these values, the Center's Code of Ethics includes the following policies:

Conflicts of Interest
Employees of the Center must avoid conflicts of interest or the appearance of conflicts of interest. They should never engage in any activity that might compromise or appear to compromise the Center's credibility or its reputation for independence or impartiality. All employees are required to seek prior approval from a supervisor before engaging in any activity that may be deemed a potential conflict of interest, including membership in groups, boards and associations that may call into question the Center's credibility or its reputation for impartiality.

Prohibitions on Electioneering
The Center and all of its employees, when acting in their professional capacity, are prohibited from participating, directly or indirectly, in any political campaign activities on behalf of, or in opposition to, any candidate for public office. The Center's federal tax status as a 501(c)(3) organization makes all such activity illegal. In addition, the Center has a strict prohibition against partisan political activity by senior staff, even when they are acting in their individual capacity and on their personal time. Center employees are permitted to provide information to political parties or partisan figures only if they do so on a non-exclusive basis and make the same information available to the general public.

Integrity of Research
To ensure that the information we generate is of the greatest value to citizens and policymakers, the Center is committed to conducting research in a manner that is impartial, open-minded and meets the highest standards of methodological integrity. We employ only those tools and methods of analysis that, in our professional judgment, are well suited to the research question at hand. We describe our findings and methods accurately and in sufficient detail to permit outsiders to evaluate the credibility of our results. We encourage inquiries about our research methods and practices, and attempt to answer requests for information promptly. When we conduct survey research, we are committed to dealing in an honest, open and transparent way with our respondents, and to protecting their privacy.

Whenever there are any substantial complaints, either from outsiders or from Center employees, alleging that any of these standards have been abused or that any misconduct has taken place in the Center's research processes, these complaints will be referred to the president of the Center and to the director of the project that produced the work in question. If the president decides after an initial review that an investigation is warranted, the matter will be referred to the Center's Research Practices Committee (consisting of the president, executive vice president, director of survey research and two of the project directors), augmented by as many outside experts as the president sees fit to appoint. If the president is the subject of the complaint, the president will notify the Center board, which shall conduct the initial review, determine whether to initiate an investigation and whether the president's recusal from the process is warranted."

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The Slack in the System

It's really rather an amazing lesson in the way the world works -- you know, when we learn history we learn about the cause and effects of different pressures on the world... but somehow, following these stories day by day, it's really amazing to see the fluctuations -- the control that real people have over the whole world, if not their own lives...

Less Driving Forces Gas Prices Down

David R. Baker, SF Chronicle

Tuesday, July 29, 2008
This year's record-shredding spike in gasoline prices has finally ended, with prices throughout the country falling by more than a penny per day.

And American drivers can thank themselves for the drop.

Shocked by prices that reached $4.11 per gallon nationwide and $4.61 in California, drivers stopped buying as much fuel. That cut the demand for gasoline's raw material, crude oil. Crude prices dropped as a result, taking gasoline prices with them.

Now the nationwide average for a gallon of regular gas is $3.96, 11 cents less than a week ago, according to the AAA auto club. California's average remains substantially higher, at $4.32, but it fell 12 cents in the last week.

"Consumers have definitely sent a message," said AAA spokeswoman Cynthia Harris.

MEANWHILE, back at the ranch...

Oil Rises a Second Day on Concern Nigeria Violence Will Worsen

By Grant Smith

July 29 (Bloomberg) -- Crude oil rose for a second day on concern that attack on a Royal Dutch Shell Plc pipeline in Nigeria signaled a renewed campaign by militants.

Nigeria's main militant group, the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, warned last week it would suspend a ceasefire to refute allegations it received government payouts. The group's attack on Shell's Nembe Creek trunk line yesterday may limit exports to U.S., where crude stockpiles may have fallen a second week, according to a Bloomberg survey.

``A slight shock like that sends prices fundamentally to the upside,'' Serene Gardiner, oil product analyst for Standard Chartered Plc in Dubai, said in a Bloomberg Television interview. ``The slack in the system at the moment between supply and demand is very thin.''

That's a great quote!

I'm having lunch in a few weeks with my high school history teacher -- one of the hands down most brilliant minds I've ever studied from -- to talk about this project -- I wonder if there is a way to breach the gap between history and journalism -- perspective, distance and what is happening now -- in this time -- as journalism moves (often regrettably) closer and closer to immediacy...

Monday, July 28, 2008

What Have These Efforts Produced...

On The Attack:

A Thought in 5 Parts


Published: July 27, 2008
To the Editor:

Re “9/11 and 4/11,” by Thomas L. Friedman (column, July 20):

I agree with Mr. Friedman’s assertion that we must break “our addiction to oil.” But it is ridiculous and unfounded to claim that the president’s response to this challenge consists only of an effort to expand offshore drilling.

The president has put forward a series of policies to expand access to our domestic resources, improve energy efficiency and harness the power of alternative energy.

On the demand side, the president signed into law increases in fuel efficiency standards and financed critical research into gas-saving technologies like advanced batteries and hydrogen fuel cells.

On the supply side, we’ve spent more than $12 billion to advance alternative energy sources including solar, wind, biofuels and nuclear power. To more rapidly deploy these technologies, we recently announced the availability of more than $30 billion in clean-energy project loan guarantees.

What have these efforts produced so far?

The United States has the fastest growing wind power capacity in the world, and installed photovoltaic capacity has grown 30 percent a year, and we lead the world in overall biofuels production. And the list goes on.

Americans recognize that our energy challenges are complex and serious. We must continue to pursue real solutions, not demagogy and clever rhetoric.

Samuel W. Bodman
Secretary of Energy
Washington, July 24, 2008


12 killed in Cameroon attack over oil

YAOUNDE, Cameroon (AP) — Ten insurgents and two Cameroonian soldiers were killed in a rebel attack in the oil-rich Bakassi peninsula, Cameroon's Defense Minister said on state-run TV on Friday.

Eight of the assailants were captured in the attack Thursday in the town of Kombo Ajanai, Remy Ze Meka said. He said a military battalion was attacked by an armed group on three power boats.

A spokesman for the armed rebel group, who identified himself as Commander Ebi Dari, told The Associated Press by telephone that more attacks will follow if Cameroon does not renegotiate its claim to the territory.


TEHRAN, July 26 (Reuters) - Iran's OPEC governor said world oil prices could reach as high as $500 per barrel in a few years' time if the U.S. dollar falls further and political tension worsens, an Iranian weekly said.

"If the dollar's value continues to decrease and if the political crisis becomes worse, the oil price would reach up to $500," Mohammad Ali Khatibi told Shahrvand-e Emrooz in an interview published on Saturday.


BRITISH TAKE UP SENATE OIL ATTACK; London Times Correspondent Links It With Irish and Other Anti-British Propaganda. NO EMBARGO IS EXPECTED Labor Paper Charges "Standard Oil Rule" in Poland Through East Galician Concessions.

Special Cable to THE NEW YORK TIMES.
January 9, 1921, Sunday
Page 6, 693 words

LONDON, Jan. 8.--The London Times Washington correspondent in reporting the speeches of Senators McKellar and Phelan in the Senate on the oil policy of Great Britain Says :


LAGOS, Nigeria (CNN) -- A rebel group in Nigeria said it sabotaged two oil pipelines in southern Nigeria on Monday.

The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta said "detonation engineers backed by heavily armed fighters" sabotaged two pipelines about 1:15 a.m. Monday.

The rebels said they believe that both pipelines belong to the Shell Petroleum Development Company -- one in the the city of Kula, Nigeria and the other in Rumuekpe, Nigeria.

Shell said it had been informed of an incident, in Kula, Nigeria, and was "conducting an overfly to determine what actually happened." It did not address reports of something out of the ordinary in Rumuekpe, Nigeria and declined to comment further.

Nigeria is the fourth-largest supplier of oil to the United States, and attacks by rebels have helped fuel the year-long spike in crude oil prices. It's one of many factors pushing up the price of gas in the United States, where one in every 10 barrels of oil comes from Nigeria.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

My Inbox Today

> Hi Laura,
> A couple days ago, ninety-eight miles of the Mississippi River were closed down because of a 400,000 gallon oil spill that occurred when an oil barge collided with a chemical transport ship.
> Residents of New Orleans are encouraged to drink bottled water, but this does not help the wildlife that get their sustenance from the Mississippi, or the people who live on fish caught from the mighty river?
> The reality is that this spill is yet another sad reminder that we need to be done with oil.
> Recently, Vice President Al Gore issued a climate challenge - that the U.S. work to be fossil fuel-free within ten years. We think it's great, and right now, I'd like you to take a minute and ask your members of Congress to accept his challenge:
> This spill is just another in a long line of environmental disasters resulting from our addiction to fossil fuels. From the destruction of hundreds of square miles of mountains in Appalachia as a result of mountaintop removal mining, to the threat of polar bear extinction as a result of global warming, to the millions of gallons of oil spilled after hurricane Katrina, fossil fuels are destroying our environment.
> Thankfully, Vice President Gore stood up and called for Americans to declare that enough is enough. His proposal - fossil fuel free in ten years - is the kind of national goal we can all get behind and make a reality. But, we'll need our current Congressional leaders to get on board to to make it happen. And during an election, our members of Congress will listen to us more closely and clearly than at any other time.
> So please, take a minute right now and send your members of Congress a message that we need to be fossil fuel-free.
> And then please, pass this message along to your friends and family, and ask them to help out too.
> Sincerely,
> Dan Stafford
> Environmental Action Organizer

There was an interesting article in the New York Times today called
"Finding and Fixing a Home's Energy Hogs"

Here is a quote from the article that illustrates -- once again --
that we are on the cutting edge of a societal and environmental
movement to conserve energy.

'What smarter grids can do is help grease the rails of innovation for
regulators and investors by showing just how much energy we waste,
says Diana Farrell, director of the McKinsey Global Institute. The
degree of waste, Ms. Farrell says, is so big that it makes investing
in energy management look far more viable for fighting global warming
than any alternative energy source. “The demand side is the answer,
right now, with commercially available technologies that are
scalable,” she says.'

I hope you are all enjoying your summer.


Saturday, July 26, 2008

Its Muddy Bosom

There's been an oil spill on the Mississippi River this week. A big one -- it stopped all traffic for two days.

Photo: Sunset over the Mississippi
© 1998. Chalae Cox.

“We’ve had a number of large spills in the New Orleans area, but this is a heavy, nasty product, problematic in the cleanup,” said Lt. Cmdr. Cheri Ben-Iesau of the Coast Guard, adding that it is of the sort normally used to fire up boilers at power plants."

The NYTimes reports.

“It’s a significant spill, if for nothing else because of its impact on the water supply,” Commander Ben-Iesau said. “We’ve got a lot of commerce dependent on this water supply, so we’re scrambling to get it cleaned up.”

On Thursday afternoon, the picturesque walk along the Mississippi at the French Quarter, normally full of tourists and pedestrians, was nearly deserted as a pungent chemical stench wafted up from the oil-covered water. A few skimmer boats, deployed to suck up the oil, constituted the only traffic on the nearly half-mile-wide river; a plastic boom to contain the fuel hugged the rocky shoreline, and the seagulls had disappeared.

“It’s going to take a good couple of weeks to get it all off,” said Petty Officer Jesse Kavanaugh of the Coast Guard, surveying the oily muck. Officials were unable to predict how long the river might remain closed, however. “We’re hoping days, not weeks,” Commander Ben-Iesau said."

I know that feeling -- one voice says weeks one says days -- years later the stuff is still washing up on the shore. This is what I'm thinking about today -- clean up. Oil was still leaking as the article was being written... How hard how long how hard to do right...
also the nature of river...

“Here, you’re talking about an enormous amount of oil, but it’s in a river that averages about 450,000 thousand cubic feet per second of flow,” he said.
“It’s going to flush this stuff out,” Mr. Thomas said.

Flush it out to... where exactly? Out of this tiny bit of land which is all we can afford to think about at this moment, I suppose...

A poem:

The Negro Speaks of Rivers
by Langston Hughes

I’ve known rivers:
I’ve known rivers ancient as the world and older than the flow of human blood in human veins.

My soul has grown deep like the rivers.

I bathed in the Euphrates when dawns were young.
I built my hut near the Congo and it lulled me to sleep.
I looked upon the Nile and raised the pyramids above it.
I heard the singing of the Mississippi when Abe Lincoln went down to New Orleans, and I’ve seen its muddy bosom turn all golden in the sunset.

I’ve known rivers:
Ancient, dusky rivers.

My soul has grown deep like the rivers.

Langston Hughes, “The Negro Speaks of Rivers” from Collected Poems. Copyright © 1994 by The Estate of Langston Hughes. Reprinted with the permission of Harold Ober Associates Incorporated.

Source: Selected Poems (1987).

Friday, July 25, 2008

The Cure Is Not Cheaper Crack

Sometimes I try to use news stories as stanzas in a way, I think -- let them contrast and sit next to each other to point out irony or something... I'm going to use four stories today -- and I say use in the very worst sense f the word... the funny thing is, they each came to me after the thoughts came -- as if to illustrated rather than generate today entirely...

I want to make something really really clear -- though I do hate my own posts like this -- I do not think peak oil is the problem!!!

If it were, we would simply be in a financial puzzle, and the stakes, while high and painful, would somehow be simpler.

There was an interesting article about Dubai in the NY Times today -- this is from Deal Book, which is, I believe, one of the financial blogs of the Times, edited by Andrew Ross Sorkin.

"In one sense, Dubai ran dry years ago. The tiny kingdom, one of seven that make up the United Arab Emirates, once used the cash it generated from pumping oil and gas to fuel its ambitions. But now that the wells are nearly depleted, it has focused on banking, finance and deal making to keep the boom times flowing."

So there you have it -- they had it -- they used it up. It happens and here's a case in point.

I do not think peak oil is our problem.
I think peak oil will be our salvation.

Among other things...
here in the North West we are being pummeled by rain. Days and days of very strange whether -- and I for one think it is related -- the changes in the weather and the climate -- they are tangible and real and they are altering our lives far more than our wallets.

Yesterday I wrote a little bit about Arctic drilling -- that post is what prompted this mornings thoughts -- look at this scary little tid bit -- I found it on -- an environmental watchdog group in Russia, it appears (the rain is making my head hurt and I just haven't been up for all the reading this month...) --

"A Russian Academy of Sciences study indicates decades worth of nuclear reactor and radioactive waste dumping in the Kara Sea by the Russian Navy - as well as fallout from Soviet-era nuclear bomb test - could cause heightened levels of radioactive contamination when major Arctic oil drilling projects ramp up. Charles Digges, 14/04-2008"

So if it's not peak oil...

There was an article on the front page of the Times this morning about a boy -- smart, good family, given all chances -- totally fell into drugs and can't stay out of jail. Can't stop dealing. Can't stop doing.

Thomas Friedman says we are "addicted to oil" -- I would bet he coined the phrase. It's a good one -- so while I had already read the article about our drug dealer who used to get all A's, I thought I'd see what Friedman had to say this morning. Right on cue, last week he wrote an amazing column exactly on this point --

"We are addicted to dirty fossil fuels, and this addiction is driving a whole set of toxic trends that are harming our nation and world in many different ways. It is intensifying global warming, creating runaway global demand for oil and gas, weakening our currency by shifting huge amounts of dollars abroad to pay for oil imports, widening “energy poverty” across Africa, destroying plants and animals at record rates and fostering ever-stronger petro-dictatorships in Iran, Russia and Venezuela.

When a person is addicted to crack cocaine, his problem is not that the price of crack is going up. His problem is what that crack addiction is doing to his whole body. The cure is not cheaper crack, which would only perpetuate the addiction and all the problems it is creating. The cure is to break the addiction.

Ditto for us. Our cure is not cheaper gasoline, but a clean energy system. And the key to building that is to keep the price of gasoline and coal — our crack — higher, not lower, so consumers are moved to break their addiction to these dirty fuels and inventors are moved to create clean alternatives.

I understand why consumers think we have a gasoline price problem — because they are immediately hurt by higher gas prices and the pump is where most people touch our energy system. They tend not to see the bigger picture. But that is why you have a president: to explain that and lay out a response."

"Where Oil Flows, Deals Follow" NYTimes July 24
"Arctic Drilling Threatens International Radioactive Contamination Site"
A 'Good' Kid Gets His Day in Court, Again and Again
"9/11 and 4/11" Thomas Friedman

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Under Territorial Claims

Oil Survey Says Arctic Has Riches
Published: July 24, 2008

The Arctic may contain as much as a fifth of the world’s yet to-be-discovered oil and natural gas reserves, the United States Geological Survey said Wednesday as it unveiled the largest-ever survey of petroleum resources north of the Arctic Circle.

Oil companies have long suspected that the Arctic contained substantial energy resources, and have been spending billions recently to get their hands on tracts for exploration. As melting ice caps have opened up prospects that were once considered too harsh to explore, a race has begun among Arctic nations, including the United States, Russia, and Canada, for control of these resources.

The Coast of Greenland rises from the Norwegian Sea.
From Time Magazine and
The Book 'Nordmeer by Gueorgui Pinkhassov

Arctic Circle and North Pole Pictures: Polar Bear and Cub
From National Geographic On-line
—Photograph by Rear Adm. Harley D. Nygren, NOAA Corps (ret.), courtesy NOAA Corps Collection

“For a variety of reasons, the possibility of oil and gas exploration in the Arctic has become much less hypothetical than it once was,” Donald L. Gautier, the chief geologist for the survey, said during a news conference Wednesday. “Most of the resources are on the continental shelf in areas already under territorial claims.”

The assessment, which took four years, found that the Arctic may hold as much as 90 billion barrels of undiscovered oil reserves, and 1,670 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. This would amount to 13 percent of the world’s total undiscovered oil and about 30 percent of the undiscovered natural gas.

At today’s consumption rate of 86 million barrels a day, the potential oil in the Arctic could meet global demand for almost three years.

Three years seems like a really short amount of time...

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

OIl Flow

Putin Orders Restored Oil Flow to Czechs
Published: July 22, 2008

MOSCOW — Russia’s prime minister and former president, Vladimir V. Putin, instructed his government on Monday to restore the Czech Republic’s flow of oil, reduced after the Czechs signed an agreement with the United States to base a missile defense radar on their territory.

As the Russians oppose that system, the slowdown in oil supplies had stirred speculation Russia was retaliating by curtailing energy exports to that country, something the Russian government denied.

Oil supplies dropped about 40 percent on July 9, the day after the Czech government signed the missile defense deal with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in Prague, and have remained at that level since.

I'm fascinated by this story on a very elemental basis -- what we do what we say what we want and why...

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

A General Time Horizon

So today I decided to do a little NYTimes search. Search engines are fascinating to me -- we have so much information and history available to us now... years and years of articles/moments/true at the time...

My search was first "troops, oil"

Europe's Oil, Our Troops

Published: December 30, 1995

Concern over who controls the vast Middle Eastern oil reserves makes the large American military presence in the Persian Gulf seem reasonable. But do the threats to oil justify the high price of our unilateral military expenditures?

I tried to find some numbers on troop deployment to the Gulf -- but the only numbers I found were from Wikipedia, and really -- it's not to be trusted -- especially for things like that.
If anyone knows of a government site where those numbers are kept, please leave a comment!

I switched my search to: "Soldiers, oil"

I found a story from 1914 -- an uprising in Mexico -- "Oil Fields Disturbed"
Story after story after story... country after country --
Entirely randomly, with no coordination at all, I thought I'd post a few...

REVOLUTION AND FIRE ARE DEVASTATING BAKU; It Is Feared the Whole Oil Industry Will Be Wiped Out. THE TROOPS ARE HELPLESS Tarters Massacring Villagers -- Rioters Robbing and Murdering Jews at Kishineff.
September 7, 1905, Thursday
Page 4, 1049 words

Special Dispatch to the New-York Times.
August 2, 1877, Wednesday
Page 1, 1506 words

Iraqi Troops Recapture Big Oil Field; A Major Victory Seen
Published: June 26, 1988
LEAD: Senior Administration officials said today that the Iraqi recapture of the Majnoon Islands was a major victory.

MORE TROOPS FOR TUXPAM.; Federals Draw Upon Southern Garrisons to Protect Oil Regions.
Special Cable to THE NEW YORK TIMES.
December 7, 1913, Sunday

Published: July 19, 2008

HOUSTON — President Bush agreed to “a general time horizon” for withdrawing American troops in Iraq, the White House announced Friday, in a concession that reflected both progress in stabilizing Iraq and the depth of political opposition to an open-ended military presence in Iraq and at home.

Ashley Gilbertson for The New York Times

May the soldiers be happy may the soldiers be healthy may the soldiers be safe, may the soldiers live in ease.

Monday, July 21, 2008

The Men and Women who Serve

I have been thinking about our soldiers today.

It’s strange how seldom I do… I remember when NPR was running a daily piece of people who died in 9/11… that piece really made real the human connection – and the vastness of the tragedy involved in this time in this country.

This morning I received, as an editor, some stunning poems from a soldier who served in Afghanistan.

I did a quick search for Afghanistan and oil. On May 8 of 1928 the US acquired Afghanistan oil. In 1960 the Soviets did. I’m seeing a piece of history fall into place… a part of a map – a part of the cold war map. I didn’t know that the US was involved in foreign oil in 1928.

Sometimes I think of little mini-series I’d like to do – I’d like to dedicate this week to the men and women who serve. The boys and girls. The husbands and children. The people.

This morning in the Boston Globe:
By Farah Stockman
Globe Staff / June 21, 2008

WASHINGTON - US soldiers assigned to guard a crucial part of Iraq's oil infrastructure became ill after exposure to a highly toxic chemical at the plant, witnesses testified at a Democratic Policy Committee hearing yesterday on Capitol Hill.

"These soldiers were bleeding from the nose, spitting blood," said Danny Langford, an equipment technician from Texas brought to work at the Qarmat Ali Water treatment plant in 2003. "They were sick."

"Hundreds of American soldiers at this site were contaminated" while guarding the plant, Langford said, including members of the Indiana National Guard.

Langford is one of nine Americans who accuse KBR, the lead contractor on the Qarmat Ali project and one of the largest defense contractors in Iraq, of knowingly exposing them to sodium dichromate, an orange, sandlike chemical that is a potentially lethal carcinogen. Specialists say even short-term exposure to the chemical can cause cancer, depress an individual's immune system, attack the liver, and cause other ailments.

[as a side note -- can people be contaminated? I suppose -- but here's the first definition I found on the web:
means the presence or the reasonably anticipated presence of blood or other potentially infectious materials on an item or surface.]

View from Section 8
Arlington National Cemetery

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Breaking News

Oil spill closes beach
(1 hr 17 mins ago)
St Stephen's Beach in Southern District has been closed to swimmers due to an oil spill.

The red flag has been hoisted at the beach, a spokesman for the Leisure and Cultural Services Department said.

The beach, which is near Stanley, will be closed until further notice, the spokesman said. Beachgoers are advised not to swim there.

Hong Kong

Wearing a Suit for the Occasion

"July 18 (Bloomberg) -- Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez wore a suit for the occasion, and, grinning at about 300 business leaders he usually calls ``oligarchs,'' asked for help relieving a drought in investment.

``Those of you who have money abroad, bring some home,'' he implored company executives gathered June 11 at the former Caracas Hilton, a hotel taken over by the government last year. ``Let's ally ourselves, let's elevate production as much as we can,'' he said to scattered applause.

After squeezing the private sector for almost a decade with nationalizations and foreign exchange controls, Chavez is holding out the lure of lower taxes and $1 billion of loans to spark growth and combat spiraling inflation that only ramped up production can solve."

By Daniel Cancel and Matthew Walter

I've done that. Gone asking for that which I pushed away. Gone asking for that which I pushed away because I believed it was the right thing to do... It must have sucked.

"Foreign direct investment has dropped 90 percent since 1997, the year before Chavez was elected, to $646 million last year from a record $6.2 billion, according to the Central Bank.

That puts Venezuela, a country of about 28 million people and a gross domestic product of $182 billion, on par with Guatemala, a nation without any oil and an economy less than a quarter the size."

Thanks Dave for the article!

Friday, July 18, 2008

Kay Ryan, US Poet Lauriette

Kay Ryan was just named Poet Lauriette of the United States.
I've always loved her work.

Turns out, her father was an oil man.
I didn't know that.

Nothing Ventured

Nothing exists as a block
and cannot be parceled up.
So if nothing's ventured
it's not just talk;
it's the big wager.
Don't you wonder
how people think
the banks of space
and time don't matter?
How they'll drain
the big tanks down to
slime and salamanders
and want thanks?


Thursday, July 17, 2008

A Small Inversion

“To keep a lamp burning we have to keep putting oil in it.”
Mother Teresa

“Love cannot endure indifference. It needs to be wanted. Like a lamp, it needs to be fed out of the oil of another's heart, or its flame burns low.”
Henry Ward Beecher

Oil. Lubrication. Power. Energy. What makes things go.

“Forgiveness is the oil of relationships”
Josh McDowell

What if it could work the other way round, too:

Relationships are the forgiveness of oil.
Will be.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008


$488 MILLION: Company files brief opposing plaintiffs' request.

JUNEAU -- Exxon Mobil Corp. is fighting to avoid paying interest on the $507.5 million judgment the U.S. Supreme Court ordered it to pay for the Exxon Valdez oil spill.

Lawyers for the Texas-based energy giant on Tuesday submitted a nine-page brief to the high court opposing the application of interest, which could bring the total punitive damages Exxon owes for the 1989 spill to nearly $1 billion.

Exxon argues "there is no good reason" for the court to add interest.

Good Grief. I don't know -- it seems like there is some healing in closure -- some healing in putting an end to a thing.

And it's always painful to see how much of a toll putting things off can take.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Fueling Concerns...

This from an AP story in the International Herald Tribune:

"Sao Paulo, Brazil. A strike by workers at Petrobas offshore rigs cut oil production by Brazil's state-run company on Monday, fueling concerns of further oil price increases on international markets.

Production was down by as much as 7 percent during the day, but a contingency plan put in place by Petroleo Brasileiro SA, or Petrobras, helped reduce the drop to about 4 percent by the evening."

I've been having a lot of trouble today -- there are stories -- but I don't seem intrigued by what I'm learning. I'm mostly wishing today I had a PhD in energy... or had a job that paid me to actually do all of this research. My kids are out of school, so I have little time to work these months...

In Brazil, it seems, the workers are striking because they want to see some share of the huge profit increases -- they want another day off at the end of a two day shift.

I'd like to know what they make.
I'd like to know how many days off they get at the end of a two week shift... on an oil rig, the work is 24 hours a day and someone has to be up all night...

More than anything I'd like to know what the contingency plan was...
Is this workers from Mexico? How much would contingency workers get paid? How well trained would they be?
was it AK47s?

"The company said its contingency plan would "guarantee the company's operational continuity and supply to the market.""

In the meantime:

"Company shares rose 0.68 percent to 40.9 Brazilian reals (US$25.5; €16.1) on Sao Paulo's Bovespa stock exchange."

Monday, July 14, 2008

Humanity Suffering

A commentary piece by Johann Hari in The Independent this morning will stay with me...

"Here's just one everyday story about how that feels, unusually well documented because some journalists happened to be there. In October 1998, there was a leak of raw petroleum near one Delta village. Somehow – a stray cigarette, perhaps – a spark hit it, and a huge fireball whooshed up to incinerate over 700 people.

Three years later, the journalist Greg Campbell went back to see some of the victims. They had received no medical treatment. Christiana Akpode, a 24-year-old mother, could barely walk; her legs were forced into a permanent kneel. Campbell explained: "Her legs are hard to look at: from the shin to the knee, her legs are little more than red and purple scabs bleeding white pus. She scratches this section incessantly. Her days are spent warding away flies from the open wounds." As the journalist left, she pleaded: "You should kill me.""


"An old woman from the Delta tries, in the new American documentary Sweet Crude, to talk directly to you. She says: "I'd like people all over the world to realise there's a segment of humanity suffering as a result of oil production – ordinary men, women, children. They should think about them and not think simply of energy. Think of us as people. That's more important than anything.""

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Two Responses

Today I am simply jealous.

"Mr. Halpine, a soft-spoken, softly bearded 42-year-old descendant of penny-pinching farmers, dedicates his down time to a sort of game: outfoxing Big Agriculture and Big Energy.

“Haven’t bought oil in three years,” he said with a subtle New England kind of glee, pointing to the almost-full gauge on the heating-oil tank during a tour of the science lab that is his family’s basement."

Running a Home on Yankee Ingenuity
Published: July 13, 2008

There are some things not to be so jealous of -- they keep their temperature at 55 degrees in the winter -- that's pretty cold. I'm sure one of his kids is going to rebel one day and jack the heat up to 82. They also burn wood -- I love burning wood -- I have a fantasy about making myself a room in my garage with a little wood stove -- but it's dirty -- far dirtier than oil. Still -- they've done it. They supply their own energy -- they use solar power to run their TVs their computers, their washer and dryer...

But that ability -- to simply move outside of the system -- pretty amazing.
I was reading a different story this morning on The Oil Drum: "A gas supply disruption case study..."

"An explosion at Apache's Varanus Island gas plant in Western Australia on June 3 cut off 30 per cent of the state's domestic gas supply. Supplies to mines and industry in the Pilbara region (the heartland of Australian iron ore mining) fell by 45 per cent.
Overall, the reaction to the incident has been less than inspiring, with the response largely being to switch back to the dirty and depleting alternatives of coal and diesel."

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Only 15 Million Gallons

A few months ago I saw a 1964 film, "Woman in the Dunes."

I guess it's sort of a foreign cult classic -- won some awards, lost some -- I read it compared to Sartre somewhere... Guy gets kidnapped to work in the middle of a big sand pit and live with a beautiful young woman. He eventually chooses to stay -- though his life is an endless daily movement of sand... it's unclear if his change of mind is due his having been worn down by slavery or love...


I didn't love the film. Maybe it was different in 1964 -- but for me, in 2008, it felt kind of predictable -- less character driven than ending driven.

Still, I think about it all the time. Here's why:
In the beginning the professor comes to the sand area well rested, fed and hydrated -- he uses the resources his hostess shares with him as though he were home -- as though they were unending. He eats everything and quickly.

He washes his face spilling water everywhere. Drinks spilling out both sides of his mouth.
But water, it turns out, is hard to get. The movie takes place in a deep pit in the middle of a sand dune -- it must be brought in by pulley. Furthermore, it is withheld from the couple as a means of punishment, torture, control.

Later he learns to be careful -- pay attention to every drop -- value and keep and cherish.

This is what I think about.
My own taking for granted of resources.
My own waste.
When I do the dishes. When I drive to the corner.
What we waste before we begin to lose it...

Today there was a disturbing editorial in the Wall Street Journal. I need to look in to the facts of it all more tomorrow, but here's the headline --
"Environmentalist Say Yes to Offshore Drilling."

It was a graph almost at the end of the piece that really caught my eye:

"A joint study by NASA and the Smithsonian Institution, examining several decades' worth of data, found that more oil seeps into the ocean naturally than from accidents involving tankers and offshore drilling. Natural seepage from underwater oil deposits leaks an average of 62 million gallons a year; offshore drilling, on the other hand, accounted for only 15 million gallons, the smallest source of oil leaking into the oceans."

I read this about seepage a while ago --
still, it's that last sentence that has me thinking about Woman in the Dunes this morning.
Even if you believe claims of safety and cleanliness --
"only 15 million gallons"

-- when the oceans are dead --
-- when we are looking back at the progress --

He drank the water greedily and hungrily and she watched him use all her water for the week without saying a word because he had to learn for himself.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

From A Huge Distance

$4 gas helping revitalize small towns
Rural residents choosing local shops over distant malls

"THOMASVILLE, Ala. - Residents in once-sleepy Thomasville have started complaining about traffic jams on Route 43, which runs right through the town.

Much of the new traffic is coming from shoppers, squeezed by $4-per-gallon gas, who are staying closer to home instead of driving 100 miles each way to the nearest malls in Mobile or Montgomery."

In many ways, doing this project has changed my life. More ways to count, really -- but one way I love is opening a real conversation with my children about the choices we make every day. This weekend we are going to get really good bikes and start gearing up to bike our 2.5 mile commute to school in the fall. We won't be able to do it on my heavy teaching days -- but that leaves 3 days a week. I'm excited about all that this means for them -- exercise, air, saving money, not polluting -- more time together. I hope it works.

I love this story about Alabama.

There is an upside to much of what could be to come -- if we can make the changes we need to -- back to local industry -- to community based business we will benefit from the financial and human community connections of a person to person based daily life.

Yesterday we walked to the farmers market. We bought peas and raspberries picked from a local farm.

It was hot -- the kids didn't want to go shopping. We talked about how different the food looks and tastes when it is fresh -- we talked to the farmers about how they had picked it that morning. In the grocery store last week I showed them the peas from Chili -- how they were wilted -- old -- how they tasted bland and offered fewer vitamins.

Community economic models make sense in so many ways. I was an economic reporter -- manufacturing -- (for only a year) in rural North Carolina -- 10 year ago, when globalization was putting local companies out of business left and right. It was devastating to the communities and the towns. I got into a heated discussion a year or so ago with a friend -- about buying books locally -- how it was hard to support local book stores because big box stores sold things for dollars less per book -- this adds up if you buy a lot of books -- quickly.

To be sure some great things have come from the widened markets. Still -- wouldn't it be nice if some of the economic model could shift back now... for it to make financial sense to get more connected to what is around -- close to our senses -- bringing people together face to face.

"The whole retail logic has been to build big mass stores that drew from a huge distance," said Robert Robicheaux, an economic development specialist at the University of Alabama. "Now, we need to reconsider that."

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Let The Games Begin

In order to prepare for the air quality in China, some athletes are working out after inhaling off exhaust pipes.

photo of smog in China

I've never been to China. Apparently it really looks like this in the city on a clear day.

I heard a BBC broadcast yesterday in which reporters were testing air quality in Beijing, and testing pollutants against the standard of the World Health Organization's air quality guidelines. I found the story on line here.

"The conclusion: One day lived up to the WHO's air quality guidelines.
Three days lived up to the WHO's more generous interim targets.
Three days were so polluted that they were outside even the WHO's most generous targets. The most polluted day - 4 July - was seven times worse than the WHO's air quality guidelines."

The world's top marathon runner has asthma and has said he won't run in the marathon there because of the air.

Somewhere this morning I read 1000 new cars a day are hitting the streets in China.

The National Geographic released a story today:

China, the world's fastest growing economy, has earned another startling superlative: the highest annual incidence of premature deaths triggered by air pollution in the world, according to a new study. A World Health Organization (WHO) report estimates that diseases triggered by indoor and outdoor air pollution kill 656,000 Chinese citizens each year, and polluted drinking water kills another 95,600.

China says it's going to clean up the air before the Olympics. It's going to shut down coal fired plants in the city, limit car use, freeze construction.

And then the games will be over.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008


I'm still intrigued by this 20 years ago thing...

Andrew C. Revkin

And, unlike smog or water pollution -- where solid evidence has been plain for all to see -- global warming is a looming, complicated problem that never quite seems to arrive. In other words, a nightmare for a politician.

There will never be a day when newspaper headlines proclaim ''Earth Warms -- Floods, Famine Erupt,'' climate experts say.

This Summer from the Times... Headlines and an editorial.

Flooding in Southern China Claims Scores of Victims
Weather Risks Cloud Promise of Biofuel
In Midwest Floods, a Broad Threat to Crops
Officials predict longer and stronger fire season

Famine Looms as Wars Rend Horn of Africa
Food, oil crises 'grave threats'

Man-Made Hunger

Published: July 6, 2008

Thirty countries have already seen food riots this year. The ever higher cost of food could push tens of millions of people into abject poverty and starvation.

Monday, July 7, 2008

A Call For Responsibility

Twenty Years Later: Tipping Points Near on Global Warming

James Hansen

Tomorrow I will testify to Congress about global warming, 20 years after my 23 June 1988 testimony, which alerted the public that global warming was underway. There are striking similarities between then and now, but one big difference.

Again a wide gap has developed between what is understood about global warming by the relevant scientific community and what is known by policymakers and the public. Now, as then, frank assessment of scientific data yields conclusions that are shocking to the body politic. Now, as then, I can assert that these conclusions have a certainty exceeding 99 percent.

The difference is that now we have used up all slack in the schedule for actions needed to defuse the global warming time bomb. The next President and Congress must define a course next year in which the United States exerts leadership commensurate with our responsibility for the present dangerous situation.


Special interests have blocked transition to our renewable energy future. Instead of moving heavily into renewable energies, fossil companies choose to spread doubt about global warming, as tobacco companies discredited the smoking-cancer link. Methods are sophisticated, including funding to help shape school textbook discussions of global warming.

CEOs of fossil energy companies know what they are doing and are aware of long-term consequences of continued business as usual. In my opinion, these CEOs should be tried for high crimes against humanity and nature.

Who Says...

James E. Hansen (born March 29, 1941 in Denison, Iowa) heads the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York City, a part of the Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, Earth Sciences Division. He is currently an adjunct professor in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences at Columbia University, and also serves as Al Gore's science advisor. Hansen is best known for his research in the field of climatology and his testimony on climate change to congressional committees in the 1980s that helped raise broad awareness of the global warming issue. He is also noted for publishing "an alternative scenario" for global warming which states that in the past few decades the warming effect produced by increased CO2 has been largely offset by the cooling effect of aerosols also produced in burning fossil fuels, and that most of the net warming so far is due to trace greenhouse gases other than CO2. He has been a critic of both the Clinton and current Bush Administration's stances on climate change.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

My Apology 2

This from a local Louisiana news outlet:

"Aging infrastructure and the volume of oil either produced or moved through Louisiana is part of the reason the state saw an average 1,500 reported oil spills a year between 1991 through 2004.

That’s about four reported oil spills a day, most of which go unnoticed by the public.

Between 1991 and 2004, reported oil spills in Louisiana involved between 91,000 gallons and 701,000 gallons a year. In percentages, Louisiana accounted for between 5.8 percent and 53.6 percent of the reported oil spill volume in the United States, according to the U.S. Coast Guard and the Louisiana Oil Spill Coordinator’s Office."

When I first read this, I thought -- well, I wonder if this is a trend in looking around and seeing what a mess things are -- being honest about the state of drilling in this country before it gets more wide spread.

I read another article -- an editorial -- that said something to the effect of Gulf-Coast opinion outcry that the west and east coasts are trying to protect themselves from off-shore drilling.

"We on the Gulf Coast don't like to think about rig or refinery explosions, pipeline leaks or oily beaches, but we understand that even with the best safety measures in place, such things could happen.

What we don't understand is why we are expected to shoulder all the environmental and economic risks of exploration and production, while other coastal states — California, Florida and the entire Eastern Seaboard — get to say "no, thank you" to offshore drilling.

They are supported by a federal moratorium that dates back to 1981, when lawmakers from the East and West Coasts rallied to protect their pristine beaches, delicate wetlands and prized wildlife.

Nobody rallied to halt or lessen the amount of drilling off the Gulf Coast. Are our beaches, wetlands and wildlife somehow less pristine, less delicate, less to be prized?"

I suppose that sometimes that's all we can do. Get pissed for the mess we are in -- get pissed that someone else has the good sense to protect themselves.

Let's face it --
we need to find cleaner ways to live.
We need to live cleaner -- and take care of each other. It doesn't do anyone any good to add to the pollution for the sake of our own lousy lot.

This post is for M. May you be happy. May you be healthy. May you be safe. May you live in ease.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

The Land Beneath

There's an AP article in the Times today -- talking about how the first oil well ever drilled in Nigeria -- though closed -- may reopen.

OIL WELL NO. 1, Nigeria (AP) -- Three decades after pumping its last drop, the first oil well in Nigeria is marked by a decrepit signboard bearing what would seem an uncontroversial statement:

Oloibiri Well No. 1, drilled June 1956, 12,008 feet.

But this well, furred with rust, is at the center of an increasingly vitriolic feud between two villages over who owns the land beneath it. The conflict is fed by hopes that soaring prices will tempt big business to squeeze more oil from the well and give a pittance to the village that owns the land.

The tussle between Oloibiri and Otabagi brings into stark relief how villages that sit on the prodigious oil reserves in Nigeria, Africa's biggest producer of crude, have barely profited from the booming industry. Corrupt officials have hoarded the government's cut of profits, and energy firms have compensated locals with paltry payments worth a fraction of the hundreds of billions generated by drilling.

In both villages, children wander unclothed past heaps of burning trash. Oil spills have sullied the farmlands and spoiled the water. Fields once crammed with ears of corn, and nets full of flapping fish, have become distant memories.

''After destroying the area without anything to give in return, we have stepped maybe 50 times backwards. Pollution, both air and water,'' said Sunday Ikpesu, a sprightly 74-year-old Oloibiri chieftain. ''We didn't know crude oil was such a bad thing.''

Who could know that a time could yield such devastation?

Who could know that people would behave so badly? Or that the earth could break...

And what else is there to do -- once there is nothing left and no hope for change...

Friday, July 4, 2008


Exhaust -- on-line etymology dictionary:
1533, "to draw off or out, to use up completely," from L. exhaustus, pp. exhaurire "draw off, take away, use up," from ex- "off" + haurire "to draw up" (as water), from PIE *aus- "to draw water." Noun sense of "waste gas" (1848) was originally from steam engines. Exhaustion "fatigue," first recorded 1646, from sense of "drawing off" of strength.
"Exhaust gas is flue gas which occurs as a result of the combustion of fuels such as natural gas, gasoline/petrol, diesel, fuel oil or coal. It is discharged into the atmosphere through an exhaust pipe or flue gas stack" Wikipedia

"Today, motor vehicles are responsible for nearly one half of smog-forming volatile organic compounds (VOCs), more than half of the nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions, and about half of the toxic air pollutant emissions in the United States. Motor vehicles, including nonroad vehicles, now account for 75 percent of carbon monoxide emissions nationwide."

Carbon monoxide can cause harmful health effects by reducing oxygen delivery to the body's organs (like the heart and brain) and tissues.

Cardiovascular Effects. The health threat from lower levels of CO is most serious for those who suffer from heart disease, like angina, clogged arteries, or congestive heart failure. For a person with heart disease, a single exposure to CO at low levels may cause chest pain and reduce that person's ability to exercise; repeated exposures may contribute to other cardiovascular effects.

Central Nervous System Effects. Even healthy people can be affected by high levels of CO. People who breathe high levels of CO can develop vision problems, reduced ability to work or learn, reduced manual dexterity, and difficulty performing complex tasks. At extremely high levels, CO is poisonous and can cause death.

Smog. CO contributes to the formation of smog ground-level ozone, which can trigger serious respiratory problems.

EPA Link
photo link

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Permanent Lung Damage

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) -- New Jersey officials have issued a health alert saying six people have been sickened by mistaking lamp oil for apple juice, including one person who died.

Bruce Ruck of the state Poison Information and Education System says the six drank small amounts of the oil, which resembles apple juice in color and is packaged in a similar container. Health officials haven't identified the brand.

Ruck said Wednesday that the victims ranged in age from 18 months to 84 years. The 84-year-old died Monday.

Three of the survivors were hospitalized but have been released.

Ruck said an 8-year-old suffered permanent lung damage from drinking the oil.

A report by the Illinois poison control center identified 70 cases of torch oil poisonings nationwide during a two-year period ending in December.

Seems we are always mistaking the one thing for the other.

Still, our bodies are fragile.

And when what we use to light our lives are poisonous... seems it's only a matter of time.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Healing Time

Found this on

Petroleum jelly or petrolatum is made by refining a by product of oil drilling.Vaseline is a well-known brand of petroleum jelly originally produced by Chesebrough-Ponds, which was purchased by Unilever in 1987.

Vaseline has become a genericized trademark meaning petroleum jelly.The raw material for petroleum jelly was discovered in 1859 in Titusville, Pennsylvania where it was sticking to some of the first oil rigs in the U.S. The riggers hated the paraffin-like material because it caused the rigs to seize up, but they used it on cuts and burns because it hastened healing.

Petrolatum is a semi-solid mixture of hydrocarbons, having a melting-point usually ranging from a little below to a few degrees above 100° F (37° C). It is colorless, or of a pale yellow color, translucent, and devoid of taste and smell. It does not oxidize on exposure to the air, and is not readily acted on by chemical reagents.

It is insoluble in water. It is soluble in chloroform, benzene, carbon disulphide and oil of turpentine. It also dissolves in warm ether and in hot alcohol, but separates from the latter in flakes on cooling.uses.The finest grade of petroleum jelly is also adapted for use as a pomade for the hair. It is also used for treating chapped hands or lips, toenail fungus, and nosebleeds.

Because the oil protects skin from the atmosphere and air-borne bacteria it may shorten healing time.

Also from this morning's reading:

“A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho when he fell into the hands of bandits. They stripped him, beat him, and went away, leaving him half dead. By chance, a priest was traveling along that road. When he saw the man, he went by on the other side. Similarly, a Levite came to that place. When he saw the man, he also went by on the other side. But as he was traveling along, a Samaritan came across the man. When the Samaritan saw him, he was moved with compassion. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring oil and wine on them.

Then he put him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take good care of him. If you spend more than that, I'll repay you when I come back.’

Tuesday, July 1, 2008


I started out reading about a huge oil field in Saudi Arabia.

The Times front page story reads:

Khurais, about 90 miles east of Riyadh, the Saudi capital, is one of the planet’s last giant oil fields. The Saudis say that it holds 27 billion barrels of oil — more oil than all the proven reserves of the United States — and that it will significantly bolster the kingdom’s production capacity once it starts pumping a year from now, easing global need.

It gets tiring -- listing to my own voice sometimes -- and sometimes it gets tiring listening to the collective voice of our society.

Maybe it's the current language of reporters to report everything in relation to the current crisis. We need to find a new language -- a new perspective -- for the change we are undertaking...

Easing global need.

Can you ease need?
Maybe you ease desire...
Maybe you can ease the cost momentarily...
Maybe you comfort yourself for an an instant. Maybe it makes sense that we look to what we know where we come from for some respite -- even if we know it isn't really any help at all.

In the meantime, back in the Virgin Islands, plans for a carbon free resort are in the works. An article in the International Herald Tribune reports:

"'It is actually inexcusable for the Caribbean to need to use dirty fuels anymore when it has all these natural resources on its doorstep,' said Richard Branson, after pointing out Necker Island's thatched-hut villas, cascading infinity pools and a pond occupied by pink flamingos."

And that's the kind of language we need too -- inexcusable -- natural resources --

"Earlier this year, Branson's Virgin Atlantic carried out the world's first flight of a commercial aircraft powered with biofuel in an effort to show it can produce less carbon dioxide than normal jet fuels. The flight was partially fueled with a biofuel mixture of coconut and babassu oil (from a type of palm nut) in one of its four main fuel tanks.

Branson said he believes soaring global oil prices can be the catalyst to spur governments worldwide to develop their own eco-projects."

Catalyst. Spur.