Skeptical Science Website … So, What’s Your Point?

There’s a website called “Skeptical Science … examining the science of global warming skepticism”, Skeptical Science: Examining Global Warming Skepticism.

While admitting that scientific skepticism is “a healthy thing”, he seems to take particular pleasure in deriding what he considers “skeptic arguments” while basically failing to put forward any arguments of his own to justify his support for “anthropogenic” global warming other than carefully picking his own sources, a number of which are becoming increasingly controversial.  I suppose that’s a safe approach to take … ridicule those you disagree with while hiding in a closet with like-minded people.

There are articles on his site with numerous graphs and charts pointing out various things and there’s a lot of discourse related to those articles … if you want to delve into them. I did … regarding a few. And, I frankly found it enlightening regarding how much disagreement there was over data, trends, variables, models, and “anthropogenic” effect on global warming. I forgot to mention the cartoons he posts. I suppose they’re there for the “anthropogenic” global warming advocates that can’t read. The author of the site states,

“Skeptics vigorously criticise any evidence that supports anthropogenic
global warming and yet eagerly, even blindly embrace any argument,
op-ed piece, blog or study that refutes global warming.”

It sounds like he’s talking about himself on the other side of the argument. He goes on to say,

“So this website gets skeptical about global warming skepticism. Do
their arguments have any scientific basis? What does the peer reviewed
scientific literature say?”

Yet, what does he offer in rebuttal? Frankly, nothing that I can discern other than referencing the same sources over and over again.

He conveniently lumps together people who don’t believe in global warming at all with people who are aware that global warming has been going on for tens of thousands of years but don’t wholeheartedly and blindly buy into the current fad that any recent changes in global warming are “anthropogenic”.

Mr. “Skeptical Science” states his scientific credentials then smugly and safely hides behind his ridicule of those he disagrees with while apparently doing his own cherry picking of facts, selectively ignoring valid questions by people visiting his site while repeatedly referring to his same ole’ defenses.

Even deceased Michael Crichton has fallen victim to his and his followers’ ridicule. One of the groups referred to for debunking Crichton, RealClimate, couldn’t get it straight whether croplands cooled or heated the climate.Apparently, none of them have left their cozy air-conditioned offices to go stand barefooted in a freshly plowed field on a hot summer afternoon or flown over fields and forests to notice the difference in updrafts or downdrafts, winter and summer.

So, I think back home we would consider him some kind of cowardly piss-ant of sorts and not worth the bother of more than pointing out his deficiencies.

I’m one of those people acutely aware that global warming has been going on for thousands of years but not completely buying into the hysteria of “anthropogenic” acceleration of the process. I’ll leave that to the smug schmucks that follow their high priest, Al Gore.

Meanwhile, I’ll ride my bicycle more and plan on taking trips on it because it’s healthier and fun even if a little dangerous.

I’ll be an advocate for passenger rail because it’s more fuel efficient than air or auto for intermediate and long term travel, albeit slower and for practical purposes … nonexistent in the U.S. except in, and to service the needs or desires of, the Northeast Corridor … and selfish union employees… a 20th century mistake. It is a necessity, although an apparently neglected component of travel for the future,  in the world of the “electric car” … that can’t go more than 60 or 100 miles without an eight or ten hour charging.

I’ll also advocate for nuclear power and more oil exploration and use of coal. Somehow we’re going to have to generate electricity for those electric cars and with the current state of solar and wind power, land based and offshore, it’s going to take a while to get those energy producers up and running as well as time to determine if they actually will produce the energy we need … some more healthy skepticism regarding hypotheticals.

I don’t think the detractors of nuclear, oil and coal have considered the toxic manifestations of the disposal of millions of batteries large enough to power millions of electric cars. If you think coal and nuclear waste are polluting the planet, consider what those batteries are made of and how frequently they will have to be replaced … and at what expense. There’s some toxic waste to consider.

So …

Mr. “Skeptical Science”, what’s your point … other than an oxymoronic attempt to ridicule and suppress those you disagree with?

My Second Argument for Passenger Rail: The Electric Car

Now, with the change in administrations, we’re being told that the electric car is going to be our salvation … as well as the salvation of the Detroit “Big Three” … General Motors, Chrysler and Ford.

Okay. …???

I have a few questions that I’ll preface with some news about a new electric car that was widely publicized last weekend.

This electric car which is being manufactured in southern California, is a three wheeled vehicle which will “go as far as 100 miles on a single charge”. (Then it will have to sit for 8 to 10 hours to be recharged.) It will go from 0 to 90 (mph) in 10 seconds … real zippy. And, it can carry (up to) two passengers, three golf bags and several briefcases (a quote). And that 100 miles per charge is with a full load (all of those items and people listed above).

Okay … well … that’s great.

I live in Charleston, SC and … if I want to go to Folly Beach, Kiawah Island, or Seabrook Island … or even Sullivan’s Island or the Isle of Palms, I can do the round trip. But, what if I want to go to the beach at Edisto Island … about 52 miles away? Oops!!

I guess I’ll have to spend a few hundred dollars to get a room and plan for an overnight stay … or carry the camping gear and stay at the state park there.

If I decide to go to Columbia which is about 115 miles from Charleston, should I carry my camping gear and plan for an overnight trip … and where am I going to “plug in” to recharge? Maybe they’ll install an “outlet strip” at the truck stop on the way there … and I’m not talking about a shopping outlet.

Myrtle Beach is 90 miles away … definitely plan for an overnight … at least. Savannah is 110 miles to the southeast … definitely an overnighter, again, but I can stay at the KOA at Point South to “charge up” and … I hear they have a jacuzzi.

Well …, have I made my first point?

Next …

Has anyone out there bought a replacement battery for your cell phone … or better (worse) yet … for your camcorder? That cell phone battery currently costs about $30 to $40 … and that camcorder battery may set you back over $100. Hey … replace that battery in your laptop and you’re looking at several hundred dollars.

Can you imagine what a battery pack for an automobile will cost? A simple battery (lead acid) to start a conventional automobile will set you back anywhere from $60 to more than $100. What will a nickel cadmium, metal hydride or lithium ion battery that is large enough and powerful enough cost that will power a car? And, they will have to be replaced. And, as the sophistication increases and lack of “memory” decreases, the number of potential recharges decreases and the cost increases.

This electric car that was showcased last weekend will sell for $25,000 to $40,000. How much of that cost is the battery? Something to think about …

And …

Where is all of this electricity going to come from? How is it going to be generated?

Well, disregarding that bolt of lightening that just struck you in the ass, electricity doesn’t just …”poof” … appear.

It has to be generated … from coal, oil, natural gas, nuclear power plants.

Hey … wait. “They” say it’s going to be generated from “renewable” sources. Like what … wind, solar, hydroelectric? The environmentalists want “green” sources of energy … sure. Except, they just don’t want it in their backyard … or yours either … if they can see it … or hear it … or if some blind bird might fly into it … or if the power transmission lines might interfere with the migratory path of a desert turtle … or if it inconveniences the salmon. So, what’s left?

And …

How much “more” electricity are these electric automobiles going to require? Has everyone forgotten about “brownouts”? What’s going to happen one summer day when everyone in LA comes home, cranks down the thermostat on their air conditioning and plug their 50 or 100,000 electric automobiles in?

And …

If there are currently about 100 million gas guzzling automobiles being used now, is everyone, in one fell swoop, going to trade in their gasohol burner and get an electric car? I don’t think so. For one thing, a lot of people simply won’t be able to afford them. Second, for a lot of people, an awful lot of people, they are simply impractical.

Unless …

Yes, unless, we have some alternative, convenient and economical form of intermediate and long distance transportation.

And, I don’t think air travel can, or ever will be able to, handle the increase in volume that would ensue from a change from using automobiles for intermediate and long distance travel. Period.

The only logical extension of converting to electric cars is a massive reimplementation of passenger rail … a logical conclusion which is blaringly and evidently lacking in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The funds which have been “vaguely” dedicated to “mass transportaion” and “rail” amount to little more than 1% of the massive spending bill. Maybe it will be part of the next trillion or two the Obama administration and Democratic Congress will eventually spend.

If I’ve made any errors here, someone … please … enlighten me.

By the way, most of the electric cars that I’ve heard about only get about 60 mile to the charge …

Well, scratch a day trip to the Isle of Palms, Kiawah or Seabrook … just too close to call

And General Motors making an electric car …

I don’t think they could make one cheaply enough or charge enough to get out of the debt hole they’re in … well maybe if they charged $100,000 per car.

Pelosi House Passes Offshore Drilling Bill With 50 Mile Limit. What About Wind?

In response to an overwhelming public outcry for Congress to move on offshore drilling to relieve our nation’s dependence on foreign oil, the Pelosi controlled House of Representatives passed a bill to be sent to the Senate for consideration which limits offshore drilling to a 50 to 100 mile offshore range. – House passes energy bill

NRDC: Press Release – House Energy Bill Falls Short

House “energy bill” is a sham

Opponents to the bill argue that most of the projected offshore oil deposits lie within the 50 mile range and the Democrats under Pelosi’s leadership are simply trying to delude the public into thinking the Democrats support offshore drilling while approving areas for drilling which will provide little stimulus for companies involved in oil exploration to bid on the approved sites.

My question is whether the Democrats and Pelosi, in particular, have inadvertently shot themselves in the foot. While inherently opposing oil exploration or new development of nuclear energy, the mainstay of the Obama Campaign has been to achieve energy independence from foreign energy sources within 10 years. While shunning the use of fossil fuels and nuclear energy, the mainstay of the Obama strategy would be the use of renewable sources. Unless they plan to heavily compete with food supplies and therefore further drive up the price of food in the markets, the mainstay of Obama’s plan will need to be solar and wind energy.

If this were a practical consideration, the wind corridor in the Midwest isn’t sufficient to generate more than probably 20% of the nation’s energy needs at the most. That means, for wind energy to be a viable consideration, offshore wind power will need to be a major component in that project.

As noted in a previous article, Pickens Plan Presentation Before Senate Committee, Dr. Habib Dagher , director of the Advance Structure and Composites Laboratory at the University of Maine, stated that the technology for producing significant offshore wind power in waters beyond 20 miles offshore will take about 5 to 7 years to develop … which doesn’t include mass production of the developed technology or its implementation.

The 20 mile limit is the “over the horizon” number chosen in consideration for people like Senator Edward Kennedy who don’t want to see wind turbines from their beach front properties.

Since 20 miles offshore is considered over the horizon, it brings into question why Pelosi and the Democrats chose to limit offshore drilling to between 50 and 100 miles offshore.

It also brings into question how the Democrats will handle the deployment of wind turbines offshore, whether they will stick to 50 mile minimum on wind turbines as they have set for oil drilling and, if not, why?

Harry Reid and Snake Oil

After listening to the re-run on C-Span of Senator Harry Reid’s speech at the Democratic National Convention presented on Wednesday evening, I was glad that I missed the original presentation since I was preparing and eating my supper. There’s something about Harry Reid that seems to always slightly nauseate me and seeing his speech before supper would have spoiled my appetite.

Listening to Harry Reid mention snake oil convinced me that he was certainly an expert on the subject.

While he was describing the traits of a presidential administration, I could have sworn he was referring to Lyndon Johnson instead of George Bush. His description of the administration was certainly more characteristic of and consistent with Johnson’s.

When Reid chided the Republicans for ridiculing Jimmy Carter alternative energy initiatives, I couldn’t fail to wonder why, if the ideas were considered so great at the time, that a Democratic president couldn’t get a Democratically controlled Congress to go along with his ideas. There must have been more of a problem than the Republicans.

Harry Reid apparently considers oil some sort of demon. He’s quick to point out that any current oil drilling will take 10 years to be productive, a point, by the way which isn’t exactly correct when people who are familiar with oil drilling are asked about the prospects. The fact that he and Boone Pickens keep pointing to regarding the United States having only 3% of the world’s known oil reserves are based on relatively old data, may not take into account discovery of large deposits of oil in deeper parts of the Gulf of Mexico late last summer and completely disregard the fact that Congress has prohibited exploration to seek out new oil deposits in many parts of the Gulf and in nearly all of the areas of the eastern and western continental shelves. In other words, while numerous new deposits of oil have been discovered in many parts of the world in the past 10 years, oil companies have been prohibited from doing the same exploration and development in American controlled waters. New oil deposits have been discovered in Indonesia and Brazil in the past 10 years helping those countries to become energy independent and to develop their economies while the United States has been limited to importing increasing amounts of oil.

While France has been safely using nuclear energy for the past 50 plus years, a Democratically controlled congress has prohibited the United States from building new nuclear reactors for nearly 30 years.

Harry Reid ridicules the prospect of producing more oil because he says it will take 10 years. How long will it take to develop and implement an alternative energy source consisting of wind and solar power? He fails to mention that those prospects are 12 to 22 years in the future. In a recent presentation before a Congressional committee an expert on offshore wind development stated it would take 5 to 7 years for the technology to be perfected. And that estimate didn’t include the time it would take to implement the technology once it had been developed. It’s understandable that the Democratic leadership might be unaware of these facts since no Democrats even attended the hearing.

Pickens Plan Presentation Before Senate Committee

Harry Reid’s speech amounted to a lot of hot air and political posturing based of questionably lofty ideals with no substance. He ridicules any attempt to try to achieve any form of energy independence through developing any oil resources we may have by discounting it stating that any increase in domestic oil supplies would take 10 years. Yet he doesn’t explain what the American people are supposed to do in the intervening 12 to 22 years while solar and wind power are being developed.

Harry Reid talks of energy conservation. Where are the examples from the Democratic leadership … or do they believe in leading by example? And where is the explanation of what the American people are supposed to do while waiting to be delivered from Harry’s Demon? Where are all of those electric cars and the cars that get 40 miles per gallon that the Democrats keep alluding to? Are they going to spontaneously appear once Obama becomes president?

Harry Reid’s simple-minded tunnel vision would be a riotous joke if his unadulterated hypocricy weren’t nauseatingly revolting.

One thing became obvious after listening to Harry Reid. It really doesn’t matter whether Nancy Pelosi has given an indication that offshore drilling might be a possibility … because Harry Reid hasn’t. Pelosi can play all of the politics she wants by letting it leak that she has given permission for Democratic Congressmen up for re-election to tell their constituents that they’re in favor of offshore drilling. Pelosi says, “Tell your constituents anything it takes to get re-elected.”

Because, if Pelosi doesn’t continue to block any bills regarding offshore oil exploration and drilling, Harry Reid will.

Frankly, they don’t care what 70% of the American public wants. After all, they’re Democrats and they know better than the American public what’s good for America.

Why is Crude Oil Priced So High?

That’s the trillion dollar question … literally.

I’ve expressed my opionion several times … and listening to the talking heads on the television … at least some of them agree with what I’ve said in the past. Congress is now trying to construct legislation to regulate the speculation going on in the commodities with oil.

The price of oil has doubled since last year, probably tripled from it’s low of last year around $45 a barrel. Has the demand for oil double d or tripled in the past year? Not just no, but hell no!!

So … what’s changed?

The market was riding high until the end of October. Then it got the jitters and started heading south fast with a few slight rebounds in late November and December. This was related to the sudden realization the the financial markets might be in trouble of the housing markets … which proved to be very true.

From the beginning of November through the middle of January literally trillions of dollars made an exodus out of the stockmarket and was “sitting on the sideline”. Speculators, hedge fund manangers and managers of other funds as well as individual investors had a lot of cash sitting around not making any money.

They looked at oil, gas, gasoline and other commodities … like corn … and decided that was a good place to put their money. Betting that the U. S. government, run by the Democrats and with two Democratic candidates firmly opposed to increasing the U. S. supply of oil, and with the odds favoring a Democratic victory in the fall, they felt they had found a sure thing. The money is being placed on the bet that the Democratic controlled Congress will do nothing to relieve the pressure on the price of crude oil, gasoline or corn. To the contrary, Congress has tried to pass a bill to continue subsidies for corn as well as continue the tariff on importing ethanol from Brazil … both actions contributing to the current $7.50 or so price of a bushel of corn now and the concurrent rise in food prices.

The results of the later “action” of Congress is that the price of corn has nearly doubled since last year. You have to keep in mind that two years ago, ethanol producers were virtually loosing money with ethanol selling around $1.60 a gallon.

We are all feeling the results of Congress’ “inaction” with the price of gasoline hovering around $4 a gallon now. I’ve previously stated that “news” has a profound effect on the price of crude oil and gasoline like the nearly $10 rise in the price of crude the day after Boone Pickens said it would go to $150 a barrel. The inaction on Congress’ part continues to feed the negative news with the resulting inverse rise in the price of crude oil.

While Congress decides how to regulate the speculators, they happiily continue with their profitable feeding frenzy knowing that Congress moves slower that pond water. Billions, if not trillions, can be made while Congress debates the issue … all at our expense.

What is the Democratic line. Drilling is harmful to the environment. It won’t make any difference for ten years or, more optimistically, until 2012. It’s okay to import so much oil from the Middle East. We need to levy windfall profit taxes on the oil companies. We’ll be better off with alternative sources of energy … wind and solar. The high prices are good for us. We will consume less gasoline and oil.

While they’re preaching the evils of oil, America is being stripped of tens of billions of dollars a week. And we are consuming less oil and gasoline … as well as less meat, eggs, cheese and everything else. Their approach is destroying the U. S. economy.

We need to use hybrid cars and electric cars. Well, hybrid cars run on a mixture of ethanol and gasoline. The price of corn has doubled. Guess what? My car runs on premium unleaded gasoline. What is premium unleaded gasoline? Well, it’s the old gasohol of the 1970’s. And guess what? It’s more expensive than regular gasoline.

Well, just buy an electric car. Well, how do they think that electricity is made? It’s made primarily from burning fossil fuels That’s right … natural gas and coal … with a little nuclear power (that they’re opposed to) thrown in on the side. Honda has a hydrogen car. buy one of them. Well, where does that hydrogen come from that those cars run on. Right now, it made from hydrocarbons. You guessed it …  crude oil and coal.

The Democrats don’t want to begin drilling more for oil and they’re opposed to building new nuclear reactors. Well, nuclear reactors don’t last forever. They have a life span of about 50 years and many of them have already eaten up about 30 of those years … so, without new reactors being built, we won’t have nuclear power in another 20 or so years.

Wind and solar power can provide as much as 30% of our energy requirements by 2030 … if there aren’t any obstructions to their development. But you have special interests that Democrats cater to … including their own self interests …ergo Senator Kennedy … that will obstruct their own professed salvation to our energy crisis.

Correct me if I’m wrong … but the last time I checked it’s another 22 years until 2030. What the hell are we going to do in the mean time? Hey … 22 years … that about the time all the current nuclear reactors will have to be deactivated. Oops!!

One day this week, I actually heard a Democratic pundit actually say it wasn’t the goal of the Democratic party to drive us all back to the Stone Age … living in caves. Well, I hope not. There aren’t that many caves for us all.

Another thing … the wind doesn’t always blow and the sun doesn’t always shine. What are we going to do to have continuous uninterrupted power? Nuclear …..????

Regardless … we’re going to need oil and gas. They speak of using “renewable” sources of fuel … ethanol and biodeisel. With these providing less than 3% of our current fuel requirements, look at what their use has done to the price of food. What’s going to happen to the price of food when that percentage increases? Are we going to have to choose between eating versus going to work to try to afford the cost of the food? How is that food going to be produced … with horses and mules? Or maybe we can all start a “victory” garden to celebrate our independence from oil … and so we won’t starve.

This is absolute insanity. I suppose one way to resolve the healthcare crisis is to simply starve people to death. Those with the most expensive health issues will be the first to go. It’s also a way to resolve the purported “obesity” problem in the U. S.

All this week, I’ve heard Democrats like Bill Richardson and others talk about how the oil companies aren’t doing what they need to … simply gouging the public. One said they already had leases on 68 million acres of land … 37 million of those in the west. What they don’t tell you is that in those 37 million acres, much of it doesn’t have projected reserves and what is known to be there amounts to about a 28 day of supply of crude oil at the current consumption rate.

One thing that has been forgotten about in all of the madness is the discovery last year of a massive reserve in deep water in the southwestern gulf. Unfortunately, practically all of the deep water rigs were moved to the Persian gulf and other places prior to Hurricane Katrina. No one is talking about this so the speculators are happy.

Further exploration needs to be done on both the east and west coasts as well as the eastern Gulf of Mexico and in the Florida Straits. Why? We need to be independent from imported oil … period. That doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t conserve and use alternative forms of energy where available and practical. If we can expand our known reserves, we can ensure that the U. S. will have a domestic source of oil for hundreds of years.

Also, if we start building new nuclear reactors now, we will just have some new ones coming on line just before the ones now in operation will have to be shut down.

Last night, I saw Tyson Slocumb on the O’Reilly Factor. For an answer to one of the questions, he smuggly stated he rode the subway to work and it ran on electricity. I wonder how he thinks that electricity is made? He’s one of these “don’t drill, no nuclear” type of people. Unfortunately, probably 280 out of our 300 million people don’t have access to and “electric” subway … or any kind of subway or reasonable form of mass transit at all.  The rest of us that don’t live in Washington, DC, New York, San Francisco, Boston, Los Angeles or Chicago can just walk or ride the bus. Right?

Unfortunately, that horse I bought back in college is probably dead now. Shouldn’t have sold it, though.

Simply put, the Democrats … in some perverse and insane way … and led by Barack Obama now … are savoring the current oil crisis. It is the means for them to achieve their goals of promoting biofuels, energy conservation and development of alternative power sources such as wind and solar. They feel that the American public doesn’t have the discipline or knowledge or intelligence to make coherent decisions about their future so they’re using the current crisis to win the White House and Congress to force their agenda. It’s really that simple. They preach all of these things as available solutions now. But are they? How many electric or hybrid cars are sitting at the car dealers lots? What’s happening to the corn crop with the current weather in the Midwest? Where are all those wind farms and solar farms? How long will it take for all of these promised solutions to become a practical reality?  Well … wind and solar … 2030 … 22 years. Have they priced what it costs to put solar panels on a house? Who can afford a hybrid or electric car? It sounds good until you start asking questions.

The Oil Company Windfall Profit Myth

While Rome burned, Nero fiddled. Sound familiar. A popular story is that Nero actually started the fires in Rome to clear ground to build his new and improved Rome. The citizenry of Rome were outraged and a scapegoat, the Christians, were conveniently on hand to be given the blame.

Today, with oil prices soaring over $133 a barrel, Congress fiddles and the two Democratic presidential candidates as well as many of the party leaders in Washington have found their convenient scapegoats, American oil companies.

Look at the massive profits they made in the first quarter of 2008. Well, I did look. Everyone should look and see exactly what the Democrats are crying out about. Let’s look at Exxon Mobil as an example:

XOM: Income Statement for EXXON MOBIL CP – Yahoo! Finance

Wait a minute. Where’s that tremendous jump in money that congressional leaders and presidential candidates are crying about? In the first quarter of 2008, Exxon’s total gross revenues are only up by $200 million from fourth quarter 2007 while gross profit is actually down by over $500 million. Since last summer, they’re operating income is up by a little over $2 billion, slightly better than 10% … a respectable increase but not necessarily anything to be upset about or even jubilant about if you own their stock. Since the end of the second quarter of last year their cost of revenue has increased by more than 25% from approximately $55 billion to $70 billion while their total revenue has gone up a little less than 16% from $102 billion to $116 billion.

Exxon Mobile is a BIG corporation:

XOM: Balance Sheet for EXXON MOBIL CP – Yahoo! Finance

It’s total assets at the end of first quarter this year were more than $258 billion. That’s a little over a quarter of a trillion dollars of which nearly half is physical, property and equipment.

Their liabilities or debt is $135 billion leaving net assets of stock holder equity at $123 billion.

The cash flow statement is where Congress plays “gotcha”.

XOM: Cash Flow for EXXON MOBIL CP – Yahoo! Finance

Even though net income has marginally improved from $10, 260,000 at the end of the second quarter last year to $10, 890,000 at the end of first quarter this year, through changes in operating, investing and financing activities, their change in cash and cash equivalents has gone from a loss of over $1 billion to a gain of more than $6.9 billion with it nearly tripling since fourth quarter 2007.

Sure, they’ve increased their stock buy back program from $7 billion to more than $9 billion a quarter … but that’s less than 5% of their total assets. Their change in total cash flow from operating activities seems to have doubled in the past quarter but a close look and removing all of the negatives will reveal that it’s only increased by about $1billion or 5% since the end of fourth quarter of 2007.

Looking back at the Income Statement, on a net income in 2007 of about $70 billion, Exxon Mobil paid income taxes of nearly $30 billion, or about 43% of their net income. What does Congress think is a fair rate for them to pay … 100% … or more?

It’s a fact that these are gargantuan numbers. Exxon Mobil is a gargantuan corporation. Their cash flow and assets are enormous. So are their expenses.

American oil companies are becoming smaller and smaller players in on the world oil scene when it’s looked at in its totality. With the United States being the world’s largest oil products consumer, it’s their job to see that the needs of the American public are met. In doing this, they have to cater to the rules and regulations of the foreign governments that they deal with as well as our own. They have to stay competitive.

OPEC controls the supply of oil from it’s member nations. Couldn’t it be construed as just a little ironic and frankly two-faced that our Congress wants to sue these nations to try to force them to increase their oil output while at the same time, denying access to our own reserves?

Construed nothing … it’s insanity!!!

Barack Obama woos his supporters with promises of solar and wind energy. Where are those solar and wind powered cars and trucks? Solar collecting farms have to be put where there is abundant year round sunlight … yet environmentalists in the 1990’s blocked the connection of a large solar farm in the Arizona desert to southern California power grids to protect the migrating habits of a desert tortoise. The Kennedys don’t want a wind farm in the potentially highly productive area of Nantucket sound.

You can’t put cost effective solar farms in areas where there’s frequent heavy cloud cover and you can’t put cost effective wind farms where there aren’t predictable and sustainable winds.

I’ve written previously that crude oil prices react to news. Yesterday, Boone Pickens said oil would go to $150 a barrel and predictably it’s gone from $128 a barrel yesterday to over $133 a barrel today.

The only predictable thing Congress has done is … nothing!!!

I still believe that some CONSTRUCTIVE action on Congress’ part would have a profound effect on oil prices … and that’s not sticking the oil companies with so-called windfall profit taxes or ludicrously threatening to sue OPEC. That’s about as stupid and juvenile as the snitch threatening, “I’m going to tell your mother!!” Get real!

It’s time for Congress and our presidential candidates to do a reality check … take a look in the mirror … and see where the problem really lies.

The Crude Oil Crisis

I just turned to CNBC to see what the market is doing today. Why was I not astounded to see the price of crude oil up $2.21 to over $119 a barrel?

Over the past several years, I have closely followed numerous oil stocks and traded in them on occasion. One thing that I have noticed is that crude oil prices fluctuate wildly based on “news” … whether it be Nigerian rebels in Africa or the threat of hurricanes in the gulf. Weekly U.S. stockpile reports of crude oil and distillates add a predictable weekly gamble to investing in these stocks and any stocks which have been indexed by the investing public to the price of crude oil such as Fluor.

Appreciating the intricacies of how the investing public perceives the effects of how each news item will impact a particular stock in a subsector of the energy sector is essential to successful investing.

The simple fact that emerging and developing nations such as China and India are demanding more oil and competing with our economy for these resources will ensure that crude oil prices will never return to previous lows but it doesn’t mean that oil prices don’t have the potential for being much lower in the short term.

As I said previously, crude oil prices react to news. It’s apparent that recently there has been no news to drive the price of oil down to more realistic levels.

The U.S. Congress could provide the news and incentive to drive the price of oil down dramatically and drastically … if it had the political will. Unfortunately, we are in the midst of an election year and the possibility or probability of Congress doing anything productive and beneficial for the American economy and the American public other than self serving political posturing is simply nil.

First of all, Congress could pass legislation to provide incentives and tax credits for people to use alternative energy sources such as wind and solar power. In addition they need to force the individual states to do likewise. Many states including the one that I live in simply don’t have any incentives for people to invest in these alternate sources. The federal government is good at threatening to withhold funds from states to achieve expressed agendas such as lowering speed limits and legal alcohol levels. It could do the same regarding alternate energy sources which are now available.

Congress could also provide incentives for power companies to build nuclear power plants. It’s ridiculous that think that France can have an accident free nuclear power program for more than 50 years and we can’t.

Congress should also override the roadblocks presented by special interest groups or individuals such as Senator Ted Kennedy to expedite the development of wind and solar farms wherever they may be the most efficient. The needs of the many should outweigh the selfishness of the few. Senator Kennedy should be able to look out from his Cape Cod home at a wind farm in Nantucket Sound and feel proud that he is doing something for his state and nation … but it simply isn’t in his nature.

I saw an episode on television recently where a person was developing and installing wind turbines at airports, using the backwash of jet airplanes taking off to generate electricity. What a simple idea. Embracing innovation is critical.

Drilling for oil in all offshore locations where practical and where oil is available should be approved. Simply approving the drilling of oil would probably have a dramatic and long term effect on crude oil prices. This was temporarily exemplified by the discovery of oil in deep areas of the Gulf last year.

Roadblocks to increasing our oil refining capacity need to be removed. There is no rational reason for this country to import refined products such as gasoline.

Environmentalists and other special interest groups need to make short term concessions to achieve long term goals of energy independence and moving our country away from such a great dependency on fossil fuels.

Using grains as biofuels is not the answer. The pending world food crisis is in part a result of the increased price of grains both as a primary source of human nutrition and as the feedstock for livestock. Using carbon based substrates from the forestry industry makes more sense since our cars will be competing with pine beetles and termites and not other humans or ourselves. I, for one, vote for eating over driving down the road.

This country has, for at least the past 50 years, been dismantling its mass transportation infrastructure while spending billions of dollars to accommodate the luxury of individual transportation. For nearly 100 years, roads, bridges, urban, suburban and commercial development has been geared toward the wasteful and inefficient use of automobiles and costly domestic air travel while rail and more efficient means of urban transportation have, for the most part, been neglected.

Urban and suburban planning needs to be regeared to be more friendly to pedestrian travel and access as well as mass transportation. The “old time concept” of neighborhood access to shopping and services needs to seriously be reconsidered. Mass transportation to jobs needs to go further than “carpools”. Walking or cycling to the nearby grocery store or pharmacy without the fear of being run over needs to be a realistic expectation.

Global warming is a long term reality … a historical fact. I’m not convinced that a human produced greenhouse gas crisis is a reality, though. There’s too much conflicting data and a fat ex-politician demagogue ridiculing people who question him doesn’t make it so. Buying “carbon credits” is a cop out for business as usual.

The crisis being created by the price of oil and food grains is real and palpable. It’s immediate and calls for immediate action.

Creating “news” and eliminating subsidies for producing biofuels could go a long way toward alleviating the immediate crises. Then some immediate steps toward serious and productive long term planning are essential.

If our government wants to decrease or eliminate our dependency on foreign oil and markedly reduce our dependency on fossil fuels specifically, it isn’t a unrealistic goal and doesn’t necessarily have to diminish our quality of life. In fact, it would most likely greatly increase our quality of life as well as our health.

It won’t happen overnight, but positive steps can be taken immediately if the will and courage exists. Unfortunately, we’re in an election year. And, nothing productive is going to happen other than politicians fulfilling self serving agendas with a lot of rhetoric and no action.