Saturday, October 24, 2009

Obama & renewables

President Obama visited MIT yesterday and spoke about renewable energy. It looks to me like now that some sort of health plan seems to be in the bag, he's moving on to climate change.

Solving the nation's problems, one by one.... We'll see what happens on this one!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Chesapeake Energy of Oklahoma?

Interesting article in today's NYT about natural gas, and it mentions "Chesapeake Energy of Oklahoma City." Huh?!

New techniques for extracting natural gas have increased estimated world reserves by a MINIMUM of 50%, and some claim that over 600 years' worth of US consumption could be out there. This is nice for many reasons, including freeing the EU from dependence on Russia, who in the past have frozen out parts of Europe by cutting off supplies of natural gas during the winter, but also because natural gas emits less carbon dioxide than most fossil fuels. The combustion of natural gas emits almost 30 percent less carbon dioxide than oil, and just under 45 percent less carbon dioxide than coal. Also, the US has considerable shale reserves, as shown on the map about halfway down this page. It's tough to predict where our future energy will come from, but this seems a pretty promising candidate!

Going to jail to protect resources

When the Bush administration in its last days opened up large areas of land for drilling, this 27-year old economics student stepped in to mess up the process. By disrupting the leases, he sought to protect the land, and he succeeded, but now he's going to court for what he's done. Read the story! It's short and interesting and right here.

It raises lots of interesting questions, including who decides how to value different resources (oil vs. beautiful lands) and how they make that decision. Since few people travel to rural Utah to see some of these spectacular areas (though the Park Service conspicuously chooses to have people in a number of these shots) does that mean they are less valuable and don't merit government protection? That's exactly what Bush administration officials thought. They've since been overruled by Obama administration officials- at least for the next few years! More to come, obviously....

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Fishing failing in Alaska

I knew that salmon fisheries in Oregon, Washington, and California had fallen upon hard times, but I didn't realize that Alaskan king salmon too were failing. I'm sure there are always ebbs and flows in the population, so maybe this isn't a big deal, but people sound pretty worried about it. That would be a huge loss to all of us- that fishery has been tremendously productive. Read the full article here.