What we really need to avoid Armageddon (Iran)


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rick_reno
January 23, 2006, 11:55 PM
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/10991253/site/newsweek/

Countdown to a Showdown

Jan. 23, 2006 - If Armageddon happens, those who survive will look back and see the warnings—so many of them—that were somehow lost from view in the numbing rush of 24/7 news. They will remember that Iran pushed ahead with a nuclear program it claimed was peaceful, although no one (not even some of those who defended its right to do so) really believed that was the case. People will recall the growing sense of urgency as threats were leveled against the mullahs, sometimes from unexpected quarters. Who had thought the French would be the first to say publicly they’d use limited nuclear strikes to retaliate against terror attacks and protect access to vital natural resources? Who could have mistaken Israel’s seriousness when Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz told a conference in Herzliya that his country "must have the capability to defend itself, with all that that implies, and this we are preparing”?

The Iranian leadership, certainly, will be seen as having misread the signs. Great hostage-takers that they were, the mullahs figured the whole world was shackled by its dependence on relatively cheap oil. Any sanctions brought against Iran would mean skyrocketing prices, the ayatollahs’ minions smugly declared. SUVs would go the way of the dinosaur; the global economy would enter its ice age. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad dared the West to take that risk. And then …

If all this sounds alarmist, well, it should. The risk of fatal errors grows every day. Add the influence of messianic fanaticism in Tehran, Jerusalem and, yes, Washington—an apparent desire for apocalypse in some quarters—and it’s hard to have confidence in common-sense solutions defusing this nuclear crisis. (Might the Vanished Imam figure in negotiations? Or the Second Coming? One shudders to think.) It seems we can’t even trust the self-consciously secular rationalists of France. When President Jacques Chirac, 73, said last week that the alternatives of “inaction or annihilation” were unsatisfactory, and a third way could be limited nuclear strikes, he may have been playing to a domestic audience. Or he may have been dreaming about his legacy. He might have been just an old man trying to prove he’s still got some juice. But Chirac is a commander-in-chief with the authority to launch some 300 warheads, and you shouldn’t wave those kinds of things around unless you’re ready to use them.

So where do things go from here? As the historian Barbara Tuchman pointed out half a century ago, “Men will not believe what does not fit in with their plans or suit their prearrangements.” They will march off to wars as if the conflicts were divinely preordained instead of badly misjudged; they will blame fate—or bad intelligence—instead of their own stubborn ignorance. History is full of examples, the Iraq invasion of 2003 being only the most recent. The question before us now is how to keep Iran from being the next.

For starters, let’s unravel the diplomatic game. Next week there’s going to be an emergency session of the International Atomic Energy Agency’s board of governors, which may or may not refer the Iranians to the United Nations Security Council. This sounds like a waste of time, and it is. Notwithstanding hundreds of thousands of frequent flyer miles racked up in the last few days by European and American diplomats scouring the globe for support at the meeting, it’s unlikely anything decisive will come of it. Far more important is the regularly scheduled IAEA session about six weeks from now on March 6. IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei says he could issue a report there that will “reverberate … around the world.” And well he might. ElBaradei is a little like the black-and-white Detective Joe Friday on “Dragnet” in the old TV series: he wants “Just the facts, ma’am,” and his checklist is clear.

The agency would like to know a whole lot more about Iranian deals with the clandestine nuclear network of Pakistani scientist A.Q. Khan and his cronies during the 18 years when the mullahs were building their nuclear program in secret. Since 2003, agency inspectors have talked to members of those networks and questioned A.Q. Khan himself through intermediaries. The inspectors now have a pretty good idea what sort of nuclear enrichment technology and hardware was passed on, and they know that in at least one other case, Libya, the package included bomb designs. But the Iranians have supplied very little credible documentation about what they got in 1987 and 1994, what they did with it afterward, and when and where and how.

Then there’s the problem with the papers Iran did cough up. Last fall, after more than two years keeping the IAEA waiting, the Iranians finally produced two cardboard boxes full of papers which they allowed inspectors to examine only in an Iranian government office in Tehran. As the IAEA’s people read through the documents, they came across about 10 pages that looked suspicious, to say the least: general specifications for casting uranium metal in a spherical form that could well make up the core of an atomic bomb. In a curious arrangement, the Iranians videotaped the inspectors while they were looking at the papers, but wouldn’t allow the IAEA to make any photographs or copies. The IAEA wants to get those documents in its hands, and it wants to know what the hell they were doing in the files of Iran’s “peaceful” program to begin with.

Another item on the list: An Iranian nuclear research facility known as Lavizan was bulldozed after it was identified as a suspect site. The IAEA wants to take swabs known as “environmental samples” from the machinery that was there and talk to the technicians and scientists to determine just how far the research went. Thus far, Tehran has kept both the machines and the staff out of agency hands.

Finally, there’s the question of missile design. Starting in 2004, the CIA conducted a road show presenting what it said were the contents of a laptop computer stolen from Iran. Hundreds of pages were presented to the top officials at the IAEA, focusing on what appeared to be designs for missiles specifically meant to carry nuclear warheads. The IAEA is looking for explanations and elucidations from Iran about that laptop and its contents, and it’s not satisfied with what it’s heard so far.

We keep hearing that the Iranians are ready to negotiate. As far as I can tell from my conversation with ElBaradei, there’s nothing much left to talk about. The IAEA either gets credible answers to all of its questions in the next few weeks, or it submits a damning report on March 6. For world opinion, including the many non-aligned countries that have a voice on the IAEA board and in the Security Council, this is the judgment that counts, not the proclamations of U.S. President George W. Bush, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice or British Prime Minister Tony Blair. In the aftermath of Iraq, they don’t have much credibility. If Nobel Peace Prize laureate ElBaradei concludes that Iran just won’t give him the information needed to determine its nuclear program is peaceful, then the road to the Security Council, and to possible sanctions or to stronger action, is much clearer.

We are coming to the litmus test in the next few weeks,” ElBaradei told me when I saw him I Vienna. “Diplomacy is not just talking. Diplomacy has to be backed by pressure and, in extreme cases, by force. We have rules. We have to do everything possible to uphold the rules. … If not, then you impose them. Of course, this has to be the last resort, but sometimes you have to do it.”

Unfortunately, it seems Washington, the Europeans and the Russians are confusing these issues almost as much as the Iranians. Next week’s rushed meeting of the IAEA board of governors is more likely to be a forum for U.S. grandstanding than for ElBaradei to present his firm conclusions. This morning he sent a response to the French, British, Australians and Americans, all of whom requested a written report from him about the five points on his checklist. He’s almost ready to do that, but not quite, and IAEA credibility could be damaged needlessly by a lot of blunt questions that he’d have to meet with equivocal answers. Any “prejudgments” will just sound like prejudice to many listeners. ElBaradei said a new “verification” mission was on its way to Iran next week—in effect the last chance for Iran to come clean. “Due process,” he said in his response, “must take its course before the Secretariat [i.e. ElBaradei] is able to submit a detailed report.”

A meeting set for mid-February between the Iranians and the Russians is likely to be another distraction. The Russians are offering a deal allowing Iran to enrich nuclear fuel on Russian territory. Iran has already turned them down once, and that’s hardly surprising. For centuries the Persians have seen themselves at risk of Russian domination. Putting the future of their nuclear energy program in Moscow’s hands would be a dubious proposition for any government in Tehran. Given the Russian bear’s petulant performance turning the natural gas tap on and off in Ukraine, and now the suspicious sabotage of pipelines to Georgia and Armenia, any Iranian regime would balk at a vital energy partnership.

So let’s not let ourselves be rushed toward an apocalypse with too-fast, too-furious diplomacy. Let’s keep our eyes on the IAEA, and keep the message to Iran as clear as Joe Friday’s: “Just the facts, Mahmoud.” If Iran doesn’t deliver, and it almost certainly will not, then the world should move ahead toward tough, targeted, effective sanctions. But more about those in my next column.

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Kodiaz
January 24, 2006, 12:47 AM
Well I just posted this to all the people I care about that might listen to me. I've probably gotten myself a lifetime chair at the family function crazy relative table.


I've been trying to tell my family to get ready for a while now. I hope they get ready now.


Now I know what John (The prophet from the bible) felt like well in reverse anyway he had good news and I have horrible news. Get ready because here it comes.

Koobuh
January 24, 2006, 03:14 AM
Iran will do what it wants, just as North Korea will, and China.
Their leaders are Crazy, not Stupid. They are going to try and out-wait our strategies and planning, not attack us head-on.
What they are banking on is the US electoral cycle, and the fact that the next US president will likely be weak and worthless on foreign policy, even compared to Mr. Bush. The heads of the various defensive and diplomatic agencies will be changed out, and we will stop meddling vainly in their affairs; because the now-worsening issues back home will become 'more important'.

All the fancy quotes that can be bandied by a wordsmith can't erase the fact that no huge war will erupt. There is too much at stake economically. The magnitude of smashing Iran or North Korea, let alone China, is too much for the world markets to bear, and the major world leaders are beholden to the almighty dollar, not the security of the western world. The new power structure will be interesting to see, however. Make no mistake, the Pax Americana is coming to a close- not with a bang, but with a cash register's ka-ching.

Michigander
January 24, 2006, 08:26 AM
Here we go again.

Iran is in violation of __________, ____________, __________, and countless other _________. In addition to their failure to allow international inspectors to see __________, ___________, __________, and countless other ____________.

We must rid Iran of Weapons of Mass Destruction!

If Nobel Peace Prize laureate ElBaradei concludes that Iran just won’t give him the information needed to determine its nuclear program is peaceful, then the road to the Security Council, and to possible sanctions or to stronger action, is much clearer.

Well forget Bush, Blair and all the usual suspects, this ElBaradei must be legit, I mean heck, he's a Nobel Peace Prize lureate, and we all know only the most upstanding world citizens can acheive that! He only wants the facts! Not like Bush when he spoke to the American people mentioning a lot of innuendo, assumptions and misinformation. No, this ElBaradei we can trust!

boom, boom, boom

Hear that?

boom, boom, boom

There, that!?

Boom, Boom, Boom

There it is again...

BOOM, BOOM, BOOM

Know what that is?

BOOM, BOOM, BOOM

That is the sound of the drums of war beating...

Helps get everyone in lock-step...

redneck2
January 24, 2006, 08:48 AM
Their leaders are Crazy, not Stupid. They are going to try and out-wait our strategies and planning, not attack us head-on.

Hitler was crazy, not stupid also. He took Britain, Russia, and the US head on. At least he ws trying to preserve a way of life not destroy it.

The mistake most of the people replying to this post is that they look at things from our perspective. If we just sit and and talk nice, we can all go back to Mr Roger's neighborhood.

We are looking at people that don't care about money, the economy, politics, and have zero morals or scruples as we define them. These are people that would gladly strap bombs to themselves or their families if it means killing someone else

If they had a bomb that would destroy the entire world with the push of a button, they'd do it in a heartbeat. Their entire existance has one single purpose: to kill as many others as you can. Period

Enjoy what you have now. In a few years, the world as we know it probably will not exist. If (big if) we are not involved in a nuclear war, the economy will have collapsed due to massive debt and $100+ per barrel oil price. Think $100 is impossible?? Go back a few years and tell eveyone oil would be $70

Sink two tankers in the Straights of Hormutz (sp?), cut off 60% of the world's oil, and see what happens to prices

El Tejon
January 24, 2006, 09:06 AM
redneck, the Jews and many others may disagree that Hitler was attempting to "preserve" a way of life.:uhoh:

Nutjobejab is talking smack for the benefit of in own inner circle. In Iran, time is our greatest ally. The people of Iran no longer wish to live in isolation.

As P.J. O'Rourke said, the Soviet Empire fell apart because people refused to stand in line for Bulgarian shoes. The same will happen in Iran.:)

Herself
January 24, 2006, 09:12 AM
Hitler was crazy, not stupid also. He took Britain, Russia, and the US head on. At least he ws trying to preserve a way of life not destroy it.
Say what?
...Funny how Mrs. Goldstein saw that just a little differently to you; and unlike you, she was there at the time.
Her gyspy neighbors, the confirmed bachelor down the way and a passel of political outsiders from the neighborhood didn't survive to report. Not a lot of way-of-life preservation going on for them, either.
The image of "The Fatherland" that was being promoted at the time had little to do with the actual way of life there. It was nothing but a fantasy.

We are looking at people that don't care about money, the economy, politics, and have zero morals or scruples as we define them. Most of them have zero anything, or are convinced that they do. It's difficult to reason with a man who believes he has nothing to lose, especially if he's convinced things will be much better in the next life. And it sure is odd how the fellows on the top in the Islamic nations never seem to feel the pinch -- why, it's almost as if they encouage this sort of thing as a safety valve to keep their own selves from being overthrown.
That's the problem. And there's no easy fix.

--H

Lobotomy Boy
January 24, 2006, 09:19 AM
This is an interesting and probably fairly accurate study of the surface politics taking place, but it doesn't even hint at what's really happening. To understand that, follow the money, which in this case takes the currency of the petrodollar.

Why would the Bush administration be in such a hell-fire hurry to attack Iran that it would rush the process, avoid going through proper channels, and thus lose the support of the rest of the world much as it did in Iraq? Could it be because the Iranian Oil Bourse is slated to go on line in just a few weeks and begin trading oil from the most productive oil fields left on earth in Euros instead of dollars, thereby hastening the collapse of the dollar?

If not, ask yourself why Iran and why now? North Korea now has nuclear weapons, and we didn't attack North Korea. One argument is that Iran is run by a crazy person. Korea is run by a paragon of sanity? Another argument is that Iran has threatened to attack Israel. North Korea is still technically at war with South Korea. What makes Israel any more important that South Korea? So what else remains? Oil.

Another even weaker argument is that Iran is a terrorist sponsoring state (although the Persian Shiaa aren't prone to acts of terrorism themselves, as are the Arab Sunni). This is news? Iran provided Hezbollah with the explosives used to blow up the American Embassy in Beruit over twenty years ago. Ronald Reagan didn't even mention attacking Iran because of this. This was in part because his boy Ollie North sold the Iranians the explosives in the first place to fund the Contra insurgency in Nicarauga, but mostly he didn't do it because so many states sponsor terrorism in one form or another that it would be impossible to make a dent in terrorism sponsorship through making war.

So what is different about the threats eminating from Tehran now and the actual attacks supported twenty years ago? Again, this time the Iranians are doing something very different. This time the Iranians are threatening not just Israel or U.S. military personnel; they are threatening the hegemony of the U.S. petrodollar.

I don't see how it's possible to take a historical look at what's happening and come to any other conclusion.

Lobotomy Boy
January 24, 2006, 09:22 AM
Most of them have zero anything, or are convinced that they do. It's difficult to reason with a man who believes he has nothing to lose, especially if he's convinced things will be much better in the next life. And it sure is odd how the fellows on the top in the Islamic nations never seem to feel the pinch -- why, it's almost as if they encouage this sort of thing as a safety valve to keep their own selves from being overthrown.


This is a much more accurate description of the Arab Sunnis than of the Persian Shiaa. Iran has a large and thriving middle class, which is why Iran has to sponsor terrorists from the neighboring impoverished Arab states--the Iranian people themselves have far too much to lose to make good suicice-bomb fodder.

shermacman
January 24, 2006, 09:35 AM
they are threatening the hegemony of the U.S. petrodollar
:rolleyes:
Yup, vast amounts of freely traded oil on the international market is going to ruin America. The Bush Derangement Syndrome of economic destruction.

Camp David
January 24, 2006, 09:43 AM
The Bush Derangement Syndrome of economic destruction.

How is it you go from Iran rejecting United Nations demands to stop Iran's nuclear ambitions and somehow manage to jump a gulf and blame our president?????:what:

goosegunner
January 24, 2006, 10:05 AM
How is it you go from Iran rejecting United Nations demands to stop Iran's nuclear ambitions and somehow manage to jump a gulf and blame our president?????

Haven't you noticed, we europeans have known it for a long time: Everything is Bush's fault. :neener:

bogie
January 24, 2006, 10:30 AM
Iran, etc., will not pop a bomb on the US.

They will give one to an organization who will.

That's why it is called state-sponsored terrorism.

"You can't do anything to me, because I didn't do it, and you can't prove that I provided the thing either - maybe it was the french!"

BigG
January 24, 2006, 10:36 AM
That's right, Goose, MA belongs to Europe now. ;)

carlrodd
January 24, 2006, 10:46 AM
This is an interesting and probably fairly accurate study of the surface politics taking place, but it doesn't even hint at what's really happening. To understand that, follow the money, which in this case takes the currency of the petrodollar.

Why would the Bush administration be in such a hell-fire hurry to attack Iran that it would rush the process, avoid going through proper channels, and thus lose the support of the rest of the world much as it did in Iraq? Could it be because the Iranian Oil Bourse is slated to go on line in just a few weeks and begin trading oil from the most productive oil fields left on earth in Euros instead of dollars, thereby hastening the collapse of the dollar?

If not, ask yourself why Iran and why now? North Korea now has nuclear weapons, and we didn't attack North Korea. One argument is that Iran is run by a crazy person. Korea is run by a paragon of sanity? Another argument is that Iran has threatened to attack Israel. North Korea is still technically at war with South Korea. What makes Israel any more important that South Korea? So what else remains? Oil.

Another even weaker argument is that Iran is a terrorist sponsoring state (although the Persian Shiaa aren't prone to acts of terrorism themselves, as are the Arab Sunni). This is news? Iran provided Hezbollah with the explosives used to blow up the American Embassy in Beruit over twenty years ago. Ronald Reagan didn't even mention attacking Iran because of this. This was in part because his boy Ollie North sold the Iranians the explosives in the first place to fund the Contra insurgency in Nicarauga, but mostly he didn't do it because so many states sponsor terrorism in one form or another that it would be impossible to make a dent in terrorism sponsorship through making war.

So what is different about the threats eminating from Tehran now and the actual attacks supported twenty years ago? Again, this time the Iranians are doing something very different. This time the Iranians are threatening not just Israel or U.S. military personnel; they are threatening the hegemony of the U.S. petrodollar.


I don't see how it's possible to take a historical look at what's happening and come to any other conclusion.

great synopsis.

Biker
January 24, 2006, 10:49 AM
As usual, LB nails it.

Biker

Manedwolf
January 24, 2006, 10:56 AM
Here we go again.

Iran is in violation of __________, ____________, __________, and countless other _________. In addition to their failure to allow international inspectors to see __________, ___________, __________, and countless other ____________.

We must rid Iran of Weapons of Mass Destruction!



Well forget Bush, Blair and all the usual suspects, this ElBaradei must be legit, I mean heck, he's a Nobel Peace Prize lureate, and we all know only the most upstanding world citizens can acheive that! He only wants the facts! Not like Bush when he spoke to the American people mentioning a lot of innuendo, assumptions and misinformation. No, this ElBaradei we can trust!

boom, boom, boom

Hear that?

boom, boom, boom

There, that!?

Boom, Boom, Boom

There it is again...

BOOM, BOOM, BOOM

Know what that is?

BOOM, BOOM, BOOM

That is the sound of the drums of war beating...

Helps get everyone in lock-step...


Of course, crazy old Kim Jong Il over there is waving working nukes that could possibly hit the US west coast, and if you saw the video smuggled out of North Korea.... Villagers in a really nearly post-civilization area being rounded up for a public execution, their charges shouted to the assembled crowd, and then the accused being shot by firing squad. Their crime? Speaking to outsiders.

As we ignore that.

Lobotomy Boy
January 24, 2006, 12:00 PM
They will give one to an organization who will.

That's why it is called state-sponsored terrorism.


And this makes Iran different than North Korea how? Oh yeah, North Korea already has nuclear weapons. And they aren't sitting on one of the largest oil fields on earth.

If this was really about what our leaders both Democratic and Republican alike are telling us its about, we should be going after North Korea and not Iran, or we should have taken out Iran two decades ago when they actually did give bombs to terrorists who then used them to kill 300+ U.S. marines in Beruit. But we're not, and we didn't. You sort of have to wonder why?

Oh yeah, that oil thing.

middy
January 24, 2006, 12:38 PM
It's all about the ooooooiiiiiillllllll!!!!

Oh yeah, and it's all America's fault. And George Bush, of course.

Derby FALs
January 24, 2006, 12:45 PM
Don't dread the gathering of armies on the plains of Armageddon, yet look forward to it.

carlrodd
January 24, 2006, 12:56 PM
Don't dread the gathering of armies on the plains of Armageddon, yet look forward to it.

amen.


Revelation Chapter 16 - King James Version

1And I heard a great voice out of the temple saying to the seven angels, Go your ways, and pour out the vials of the wrath of God upon the earth.

2And the first went, and poured out his vial upon the earth; and there fell a noisome and grievous sore upon the men which had the mark of the beast, and upon them which worshipped his image.

3And the second angel poured out his vial upon the sea; and it became as the blood of a dead man: and every living soul died in the sea.

4And the third angel poured out his vial upon the rivers and fountains of waters; and they became blood.

5And I heard the angel of the waters say, Thou art righteous, O Lord, which art, and wast, and shalt be, because thou hast judged thus.

6For they have shed the blood of saints and prophets, and thou hast given them blood to drink; for they are worthy.

7And I heard another out of the altar say, Even so, Lord God Almighty, true and righteous are thy judgments.

8And the fourth angel poured out his vial upon the sun; and power was given unto him to scorch men with fire.

9And men were scorched with great heat, and blasphemed the name of God, which hath power over these plagues: and they repented not to give him glory.

10And the fifth angel poured out his vial upon the seat of the beast; and his kingdom was full of darkness; and they gnawed their tongues for pain,

11And blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, and repented not of their deeds.

12And the sixth angel poured out his vial upon the great river Euphrates; and the water thereof was dried up, that the way of the kings of the east might be prepared.

13And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs come out of the mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet.

14For they are the spirits of devils, working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty.

15Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame.

16And he gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon.

17And the seventh angel poured out his vial into the air; and there came a great voice out of the temple of heaven, from the throne, saying, It is done.

18And there were voices, and thunders, and lightnings; and there was a great earthquake, such as was not since men were upon the earth, so mighty an earthquake, and so great.

19And the great city was divided into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell: and great Babylon came in remembrance before God, to give unto her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of his wrath.

20And every island fled away, and the mountains were not found.

21And there fell upon men a great hail out of heaven, every stone about the weight of a talent: and men blasphemed God because of the plague of the hail; for the plague thereof was exceeding great.

Art Eatman
January 24, 2006, 01:00 PM
I don't know of any animal which can survive without blood.

I don't know of any industrialized nation which can survive without its own version of blood: Oil.

Our lives and lifestyles are controlled by oil. If you like being alive, and having any say in how you live, you need a stable supply of oil. You have no choice. It's just not negotiable.

So why is anybody surprised that "It's all about oil!"? Why be scornful: Our own demands for petroleum products have brought about this political problem--or group of problems--we now face.

Exxon didn't do it. Bush didn't do it. The whole setup has been building for over fifty years.

Looks to me like the issue is control of oil: We control or the Chinese control, or the whole deal is free-market from the standpoint of cost vs. supply. What the middle east wants is irrelevant in the Great Game of International Chess--you should pardon my amoral, cold-blooded assessment of the reality of the situation as I see it.

carlrodd
January 24, 2006, 01:03 PM
I don't know of any animal which can survive without blood.

I don't know of any industrialized nation which can survive without its own version of blood: Oil.

Our lives and lifestyles are controlled by oil. If you like being alive, and having any say in how you live, you need a stable supply of oil. You have no choice. It's just not negotiable.

So why is anybody surprised that "It's all about oil!"? Why be scornful: Our own demands for petroleum products have brought about this political problem--or group of problems--we now face.

Exxon didn't do it. Bush didn't do it. The whole setup has been building for over fifty years.

Looks to me like the issue is control of oil: We control or the Chinese control, or the whole deal is free-market from the standpoint of cost vs. supply. What the middle east wants is irrelevant in the Great Game of International Chess--you should pardon my amoral, cold-blooded assessment of the reality of the situation as I see it.


great take on things art. this is why i chuckle at all the uninformed peace-dicks that hold up signs saying "no blood for oil" etc., as if they have nothing to do with it..being oil consumers themselves.

Lobotomy Boy
January 24, 2006, 01:13 PM
So why is anybody surprised that "It's all about oil!"? Why be scornful: Our own demands for petroleum products have brought about this political problem--or group of problems--we now face.

Exactly. This is why I see no way out of this situation, nor have any ideas on alternative policies. Still, I refuse to allow those who would deny this is about oil to spoon feed us propoganda to the contrary, like this, for example:

It's all about the ooooooiiiiiillllllll!!!!

Oh yeah, and it's all America's fault. And George Bush, of course.

Does the poster offer any reasonable counter arguments to the ones I put forth? Of course not. Why? Because no reasonable person could conclude that this is about anything other than oil.

If our leaders truly believe that this is the fulfillment of some sort of apacolyptic prophesy, then I will do everything I can to prevent this war, even though I fully understand the need to maintain our oil supply to maintain our way of life. There is no way I'm going to be led around by the nose by people who are making policy based on what I believe to be the superstitions of primative Semetic tribesmen.

ArmedBear
January 24, 2006, 01:16 PM
Back in 1979, during the dark, dark days of the worst presidency in American history, there was a song on the radio. It was sung to the tune of the Beach Boys' Barbara Ann. It's been resurrected recently with some newer lyrics,

Bomb bomb bomb, bomb bomb Iran.
Bomb bomb bomb, bomb.
Oh, bomb Iran, that's the plan.
Bomb Iran.
We're gonna rock your Ayatollahs,
Sock your Ayatollahs,
Bomb Iran.
Bomb bomb, bomb bomb Iran.

Went to tehran,
Lookin' for the man,
Saw the Ayatollahs,
And I knew it was a scam.
So, Bomb Iran.
Bomb bomb, bomb bomb Iran.
We're gonna rock your ayatollahs,
Sock your ayatollahs.
Bomb Iran.
Bomb bomb, bomb bomb Iran.

Heard Ahmanijad,
Claim that he's so bad,
Says he'll destroy jews,
It was all over the news.
So, bomb iran.
Bomb, bomb, bomb bomb Iran.
We gotta bop your ayatollahs,
Stop your ayatollahs.
Bomb Iran.
Bomb bomb, bomb bomb Iran.

middy
January 24, 2006, 01:28 PM
Does the poster offer any reasonable counter arguments to the ones I put forth? Of course not. Why? Because no reasonable person could conclude that this is about anything other than oil.
Yet you make it seem like that's a bad thing. You have no alternative plan, no ideas about how to replace oil or get it peacefully, but you constantly use this fact to paint our culture in a negative light.

Why is that LB?

ArmedBear
January 24, 2006, 01:29 PM
Yet you make it seem like that's a bad thing. You have no alternative plan, no ideas about how to replace oil or get it peacefully, but you constantly use this fact to paint our culture in a negative light.

Why is that LB?

Probably because he doesn't use any petroleum products or anything requiring energy to operate.

Maybe he's Amish. Oh wait...:p

one-shot-one
January 24, 2006, 01:35 PM
DONOT WORRY IRAN WILL BE BOMBED, THE ISRAILIES (SP) ARE JUST WAITING FOR THE RIGHT TIME! THEY DID IT BEFORE THEY'LL DO IT AGAIN!

Lobotomy Boy
January 24, 2006, 01:45 PM
Yet you make it seem like that's a bad thing. You have no alternative plan, no ideas about how to replace oil or get it peacefully, but you constantly use this fact to paint our culture in a negative light.

Why is that LB?

Do you have any bright ideas, Middy? I admit I don't see any way out of this one. I only insist that we don't delude ourselves over what this is all about. As for painting our culture in a negative light, I think buffoonish comments like this:

Probably because he doesn't use any petroleum products or anything requiring energy to operate.

Maybe he's Amish. Oh wait...

paint our culture in a far more negative light than pointing out the facts of a situation.

ArmedBear
January 24, 2006, 01:54 PM
Do you have any bright ideas, Middy? I admit I don't see any way out of this one. I only insist that we don't delude ourselves over what this is all about. As for painting our culture in a negative light, I think buffoonish comments like this:



paint our culture in a far more negative light than pointing out the facts of a situation.

Dude, even the Amish are allowed to have a sense of humor.

middy
January 24, 2006, 01:55 PM
LB, sorry. I was confusing you with other members whom I disagree with. I've looked at your posting history and I can respect your POV. You disparage the Bush administration, but I have no problem with that. You aren't anti-American, IMO, unlike some (IMO) who will remain unnamed by me.

Michigander
January 24, 2006, 02:03 PM
So what gives us the right to dictate to the countries that do have oil, how and when they use/sell their oil?

Malone LaVeigh
January 24, 2006, 02:05 PM
I don't know of any animal which can survive without blood.

I don't know of any industrialized nation which can survive without its own version of blood: Oil.

Our lives and lifestyles are controlled by oil. If you like being alive, and having any say in how you live, you need a stable supply of oil. You have no choice. It's just not negotiable.

So why is anybody surprised that "It's all about oil!"? Why be scornful: Our own demands for petroleum products have brought about this political problem--or group of problems--we now face.

Exxon didn't do it. Bush didn't do it. The whole setup has been building for over fifty years.

Looks to me like the issue is control of oil: We control or the Chinese control, or the whole deal is free-market from the standpoint of cost vs. supply. What the middle east wants is irrelevant in the Great Game of International Chess--you should pardon my amoral, cold-blooded assessment of the reality of the situation as I see it.
And you'll have to excuse my moral, warm-blooded response if I refuse to go along with it.

Sooner or later, we as a society are going to have to bite the bullet and get off the oil needle. It would have been a lot easier if the country had done this 30 years ago when I and others were advocating it, but that's done and no use beating a dead horse.

We can keep getting bogged down in these quagmires, spending American blood and wealth to eke out a few more years on our "non-negotiable" jones, all the while our rights and environment are more degraded every day. That just might work for you and me, who don't have that many more years in us. But I would rather we go ahead and make the changes we need now, while I am around, so I can help make things better for my kids. I'm willing to suffer some so they don't have to so much after I'm gone.

Lobotomy Boy
January 24, 2006, 02:26 PM
The antics of the current administration have made some strange bedfellows on this board. It used to be party politics and ideological dogma defined who was on what side of any given issue, but no more. In the past I could look at who was posting and predict whether or not I agreed with them. Again, no more. In this terrifying slide towards a totalitarian police state, I find I'm often on the same side as people I'd written off in the past as tunnel-visioned extreme-right-wing ideologues, as well as people I'd written off as dogmatic leftists. Moderate with whom I used to agree now are on the opposite side of this issue. These days I'm trying hard to address the post and not the poster.

I think the reason for this is something I've written numerous times: we are not in a war between the left and right, conservative and liberal, but between liberty and tyranny. In the past tyranny has tended to come from the left, at least in the United States, in the form of a socialist agenda, but as we've seen all too well in recent months, it can also come from the right in the form of homeland security. I honestly never expected to see things deteriorate to this point in my lifetime. It would not be a stretch to see the confiscation of privately owned weapons, if we keep sliding down this slippery slope.

ArmedBear, sorry if I come across as humorless. Normally I have a pretty good sense of humor. It's just that right now I see us heading towards a devestating world war, one I'm not convinced we, or anyone else, will win. It has been well-argued that we need to fight this war to preserve our oil-based way of life, and that may well be true, but my greatest fear is that we will see that way of life end whether we fight this war or not. If we fight it, there is no way to clearly win (though we could clearly lose). We might defeat the Iranian government, but the Muslim world will remain intact, and more motivated to destroy the Great Satan than ever. We may win the battle but still lose the war. If we do this uniltaterally we will certainly lose the war, regardless of who wins the battle against Iran. After the Iraq fiasco, the rest of the world may not be willing to cut us much slack. If the hegemony of the dollar in the oil market collapses and the EU can suddenly buy oil much cheaper in euros than dollars, we will lose the biggest stick we hold over the rest of the western world. Should that happen, we would find the rest of the world much less cooperative in keeping the value of the dollar at a certain level. For an example of what happens when there is rapid and drastic devaluation of a currency, look at Mexico and Brazil, or even post-WWI Germany.

Like I said, I generally have a pretty good sense of humor, but if this all-or-nothing move fails, the results are too frightening to laugh about.

Malone LaVeigh
January 24, 2006, 02:29 PM
In the past tyranny has tended to come from the left, at least in the United States, in the form of a socialist agenda, but as we've seen all too well in recent months, it can also come from the right in the form of homeland security.
You must be too young to remember Nixon.

middy
January 24, 2006, 02:54 PM
Malone, I'd like to hear your solutions for replacing oil.

Old Dog
January 24, 2006, 03:00 PM
Some of you need to read the book, Nuclear Terrorism: The Ultimate Preventable Catastrophe, by Graham Allison. He makes a great case for strategy to deny terrorists (and nations such as Iran) nuclear weapons and nuclear materials.

If you read the book, you may come to realize it's not simply about the oil.

And for those of you who pose the questions about North Korea ... just because it's not in the news as much, or just because you're not hearing our government talk about North Korea as much ... doesn't mean that the threat from that quarter is not considered at least as significant by the government.

After the Iraq fiasco, the rest of the world may not be willing to cut us much slack. If the hegemony of the dollar in the oil market collapses and the EU can suddenly buy oil much cheaper in euros than dollars, we will lose the biggest stick we hold over the rest of the western world. Should that happen, we would find the rest of the world much less cooperative in keeping the value of the dollar at a certain level. Really? I'm interested in hearing how you can support these statements.

ArmedBear
January 24, 2006, 03:26 PM
Malone, I'd like to hear your solutions for replacing oil.

Here's the thing...

Let's say we replace oil with some energy source X. Let's call it Phlogston.

Someone will control a bunch of the Phlogston, and someone will use this against anyone whose economy depends on energy. And you don't want to live in an economy that doesn't depend on energy, believe me.

So then we'll be fighting a "war for Phlogston." Same difference.

Yes, we should develop alternative energy sources. We already are. And we should use pebble reactors and build nukes like the French. That's about the only smart thing they do, economically.

But whenever there is something scarce that adds to quality of life, people will end up fighting about it. It's been true for thousands of years. What will change that?

carlrodd
January 24, 2006, 03:33 PM
Here's the thing...

Let's say we replace oil with some energy source X. Let's call it Phlogston.

Someone will control a bunch of the Phlogston, and someone will use this against anyone whose economy depends on energy. And you don't want to live in an economy that doesn't depend on energy, believe me.

So then we'll be fighting a "war for Phlogston." Same difference.

Yes, we should develop alternative energy sources. We already are. And we should use pebble reactors and build nukes like the French. That's about the only smart thing they do, economically.

But whenever there is something scarce that adds to quality of life, people will end up fighting about it. It's been true for thousands of years. What will change that?

nothing will change it, so dump the oil, move over to the phlogston, and immediately start developing the infrastructure for whatever energy source we will use to replace phlogstron....always be one step ahead.

bogie
January 24, 2006, 03:39 PM
And this makes Iran different than North Korea how? Oh yeah, North Korea already has nuclear weapons. And they aren't sitting on one of the largest oil fields on earth.

The head gargoyle in North Korea is a little weird, but he's not a religious fanatic - He _knows_ that if he does more than mouth off, he's gonna get lit up. Possibly even by his "allies." The Chinese do not want a shooting war - bad for business.

Conversely, the Islamist nutjobs WANT a shooting war - they WANT martyrs... Heck, they wouldn't mind being one themselves, sort of...

Manedwolf
January 24, 2006, 03:46 PM
Malone, I'd like to hear your solutions for replacing oil.

Go electric. Start with nuclear plants, just make sure they have enough funding to operate safely. High-torque electric motors are WAY beyond where they were in 1970's. Add methanol and ethanol. There's methanol fuel cells coming out to power portable devices. Pay farmers to grow corn instead of paying them to not grow corn. Use other biomass conversion processes, work the natural-gas infrastructure towards methane from the billions of tons of organic waste we throw out annually. The Butterball turkey plant is already using a conversion plant that makes the tons of turkey offal into fuel oil!

After nuclear, go space. Develop low-cost, high-yield solar panels...we're doing that already. Build big solar-array stations via PRIVATE INDUSTRY in space, collect and send the power as a microwave beam down to a rectenna farm on the surface. Let the energy companies compete, stop with all the red tape needed to put something in orbit. Deserts are a great place to put recievers, and the amount of power you can send down is quite surprising. Less clouds to cause loss of throughput, too, and less worry of air traffic no-fly zones through the beam. You can use some of that power to help with the conversion of garbage to useable methane gas and corn to ethanol.

Then, happily on nuclear and inexhaustible solar-satellite, you're now free of the need to kiss the sandals of the Saudi royal family and other nuts. Of course, you have to get past the people in power here who LIKE doing that, and profit from it...

There would be a bit of rockiness with the end of the petrodollar, of course, but the end result would be a USA unbeholden to foreign interests. And perhaps a return to the days of "we built it because we CAN" public works...except these would be built on the dollars of energy companies who want to sell power competitively, not on the taxpayer dollar. Where we had great dams and highways, now we'd have constellations of solar-electric satellites visible in the night sky. Call them "Freedom Stars" or something, whatever. But it'd mean the end of the oil knife-to-throat we now have.

middy
January 24, 2006, 03:58 PM
LB, it's strange how two different people have such different perceptions of reality. To you, the war in Iraq is a "fiasco" and a failure, and our country is becoming a "totalitarian police state", yet to me the war is going rather well, and totalitarianism isn't proceeding any faster than usual (it is an ongoing process that began at the first convention of Congress).

I'm not going to call you or anyone else ignorant for disagreeing with me, that doesn't seem to work, and I'd like to see similar courtesy from your side. The anti-war crowd seems to call everyone that disagrees with them a sub-human moron, even more often than the pro-war side calls their opponents anti-American "useful fools". So I'll just ask a few questions and type a few opinions, and if you feel the need to point out my stupidity, do it civilly and I shall return the favor.

You have in the past defended Hussein as a "legitimate" president, yet you claim you are on the side of Liberty? So wiretaps on suspected terrorists is Tyranny, but feeding dissidents and/or their children into plastic shredders is OK? Is any type of behavior acceptable as long as it's not the work of an American?

We are depending on China to keep a leash on its little pet Nork, but Iran has no such patron. We can afford to let NK bark and show its fangs a little bit for now. Commies may be evil, power-hungry betrayers of humanity (in my most humble opinion, my apologies to any Communists who are offended :rolleyes: ) but we can at least expect some rationality and a modicum of interest in self-preservation from them. A nuclear Iran, on the other hand, is an entirely different animal. Will the MAD principle work on them as well as it worked on the USSR? I'm not willing to bet the future of civilization on it. Just because most Persians are more easygoing than your average Arab fanatic doesn't mean that their leadership doesn't have apocalyptic fantasies.

And then there is the oil. Unless you want our economy to come to a grinding halt, and the famine and civil unrest that would go along with that, you have to admit that we need that oil available on the market. We have always paid and gladly for it, we don't need to steal it, but we can't let it get dammed up arbitrarily by some medievalist maniacs. (An aside to those complaining about our dependency on oil who also protested nuclear power, make up your mind already).

The trading of oil in Euros is not that big a deal. We have a powerhouse economy, an acceptable birthrate, and astounding rates of immigration and innovation. "American Hegemony" doesn't depend on oil, it's attractive and inevitable because it touches the human spirit's longing for Liberty. Rock 'n' roll, blue jeans, cowboys, the rebel and the underdog coming out on top, Spider Man movies, individualism, questioning authority... these things are exported to the rest of the world and admired. Who better to have hegemony? The world is a small place today and there is a power vacuum. Do we want the Chinese to have cultural hegemony? Hell no! The Japanese? No, thank you. The Europeans and Russians have spilled too much blood already, and Africa can't even keep its own people from chopping each other up en masse.

Even if we do have some ulterior motives that aren't fully elucidated, and have engaged in alliances with dictators who were sometimes even worse scum than the Soviets we were allied against, we are still a force for enlightenment and justice in the world. We aren't perfect, but neither are we evil nor effete.

That's my opinion. Call me an idiot if you will. <Flame suit on>

romma
January 24, 2006, 04:03 PM
So what gives us the right to dictate to the countries that do have oil, how and when they use/sell their oil?
Might Makes Right.:)

ArmedBear
January 24, 2006, 04:06 PM
Good ideas all, Manedwolf. All of them will happen as soon as oil gets expensive enough.

But it won't do away with the need to protect at least some of these energy sources with military force, including pre-emptive strikes.

In fact, spaced-based energy production will make pre-emptive strikes even MORE likely. Some country builds a rocket that might be used to knock our solar panels out of geostationary orbit, for example. Gotta blast them before they can launch it, because otherwise they have us by the balls.

BTW the present human population is not sustainable without technology, either. Return to subsistence farming would mean billions starving. That would mean a Road Warrior scenario as a few billion people with nothing to lose fight for scarce food.

I'm not trying to be an arsehole here, just pointing out that a lot of what people say is "all we need to have peace" is a load of hooey. And even in a world flush with energy, the Hitlers, Stalins, Pol Pots, Idi Amin Dadas and Ayatollah Khoemeinis will continue to be born.

LJWebster1
January 24, 2006, 04:22 PM
Middy, well said!! I agree with you 100%.

Lobotomy Boy
January 24, 2006, 04:30 PM
Really? I'm interested in hearing how you can support these statements.

I'm just extrapolating results using basic human nature for my guideposts. Think about it in terms of game theory, an economic theory in which all alliances are temporary and exist only as long as they are mutually beneficial. Right now, we are the strongest, richest kids in the playground, and the other kids will tolerate our nose picking and finger sniffing to benefit from our protection and to enjoy the benefits of our wealth. But if we squander our strength by spreading our military forces too thin and if our wealth was suddenly and drastically decreased, we'd go from being the darlings of the world playground to just some overgrown, booger-eating, finger-sniffing moron on the world stage.

How do we squander our strength? By getting bogged down in military occupations that have no good chance of positive outcomes. By picking fights with strong kids instead of the filthy half-wit third world children (like Iran instead of Iraq). How do we lose our wealth? The fact is that for years we have simply printed more money, knowing that other countries will buy and hold our currency in order to purchase oil. Right now to purchase oil you need to have U.S. dollars and do the purchasing in London or New York. In a matter of weeks you will be able to purchase oil with the stronger euros in Tehran, provided we don't get into a shooting war before then. What are the odds that BP Amoco and friends are going to let that happen?

Malone LaVeigh
January 24, 2006, 04:58 PM
Malone, I'd like to hear your solutions for replacing oil.
I wish I had time to do this justice, but I'm trying to get some work done today.

The main problem is, phlogston aside, there isn't a viable alternative energy source. None. Oil has unique properties that just can't be duplicated. It is the most concentrated source of energy we have that is directly usable and transportable. So does this mean we just forget anything else and just keep pumping the oil? No, for the simple reason that oil is going to enter a very limiting phase over the nest generation whether we like it or not. It's just physical reality.

So, while there is a lot we can do to mitigate the effects of oil depletion such as conservation, developing bio fuels, conservation, renewable electrical sources, etc, (oh, yeah, did I mention conservation?) there is no avoiding a severe powerdown, probably in our lifetimes. There will be major economic disruptions. My point was that we can bite the bullet now and deal with it while there is still some of the stuff around or we can continue down the same road, using our waning military might to batter as much of the stuff from people that hate us.

Thirty some years ago, we had an opportunity to start down the path toward a more sustainable energy system with a lot less pain, but we chose not to do that. Reagan demonstrated that Americans will vote their comforts over duty every time. I'm not optimistic. I just know I won't go along with another war.

middy
January 24, 2006, 05:21 PM
o, for the simple reason that oil is going to enter a very limiting phase over the nest generation whether we like it or not. It's just physical reality.
They said that 40 years ago. They said that by the end of the 1980s we would be out of oil and overpopulation would lead to mass starvation.

In fact, "they" were predicting overpopulation and mass starvation more than 100 years ago, coming soon to a civilization near you.

Not to say that we aren't running out of oil. I just require some actual proof before I believe in doomsday.

Malone LaVeigh
January 24, 2006, 05:31 PM
They said that 40 years ago. They said that by the end of the 1980s we would be out of oil and overpopulation would lead to mass starvation.

In fact, "they" were predicting overpopulation and mass starvation more than 100 years ago, coming soon to a civilization near you.

Not to say that we aren't running out of oil. I just require some actual proof before I believe in doomsday.
What "they" said in the 70s was that if trends continued as they were, we would begin to enter a phase of oil depletion around the turn of the century. See Club of Rome report. This, it now appears, turns out to be a pretty accurate.

No one can offer proof, one way or the other, though there is a lot of evidence that it would be stupid to ignore. Given the consequences, I would like to see proof that there isn't a problem before we continue the way we're going.

Mizzle187
January 24, 2006, 05:39 PM
What "they" said in the 70s was that if trends continued as they were, we would begin to enter a phase of oil depletion around the turn of the century. See Club of Rome report. This, it now appears, turns out to be a pretty accurate.

No one can offer proof, one way or the other, though there is a lot of evidence that it would be stupid to ignore. Given the consequences, I would like to see proof that there isn't a problem before we continue the way we're going.


Great post! There are definetly other worthwhile solutions out there but Im afraid that our leaders are to tied in to the petro industries to credit them. One way or another its a scary situation.

AZ Jeff
January 24, 2006, 06:18 PM
[QUOTE=Malone LaVeigh]What "they" said in the 70s was that if trends continued as they were, we would begin to enter a phase of oil depletion around the turn of the century. QUOTE]
Actually, there were predictions in 1974 that, with the known supply of crude at that time, and the trend in consumption, we would be out of oil by 1994 (20 years).

I rememeber my Econ professor saying that this claim was total BS becuase it:
1. assumed that the cost oil would never justify more expensive recovery processes, and hence create a larger supply base
2. the cost of recovery would never go down.

Both of those have been proven to be incorrect assumptions, just as my Econ professor postulated.

Lobotomy Boy
January 24, 2006, 06:18 PM
In fact, "they" were predicting overpopulation and mass starvation more than 100 years ago, coming soon to a civilization near you.

You could use that argument to try to make a lot of points. Take the Christian idea of the Apocalypse, for example--when Jesus lived there were many people who believed they were living in the end times. Ever since then there have been prophets proclaiming the end to be near. Today our world is filled with them. Some of them are even making international policy, both here and in Iran, based on such delusions. I say delusions because the one thing apocalyptic thinkers have had in common over all these millennia is that they've all been wrong. I can't see anything to indicate that the apocalyptic prophets of today are any less wrong than the millions of others who came before them.

But in the case of oil, we are approaching the end of easily recovered petroleum reserves. That end may come in decades or centuries; either way, it is just a moment in geographic time. We do know that we have achieved peak recovery in the U.S. decades ago, and that we may well be reaching the peak recovery in Saudi Arabia. That leaves Iran as the most productive oil fields going into the future.

We may not run out of oil anytime soon, but as it becomes more difficult to recover, it will also become more expensive. And the countries with the most easily recoverable reserves will become richer and more powerful.

White Horseradish
January 24, 2006, 06:27 PM
Electric transport will not happen - storage tech is not there and won't be barring a major breakthrough. You cannot have an electric car with range anywhere near that of an IC car that doesn't weigh like a loaded semi because of batteries. A rail network, maybe, but in US it's just not practical.

Ethanol and methanol are energy-intensive to manufacture and the plants stink something fierce. It's a maybe.

Energy satellites in space ain't gonna happen. Or, it will happen right up until one transmission beam gets knocked off target and microwaves a town like leftover chicken. Solar panels are kinda pricey, too.

Our best shot right now is turkey guts. Thermal depolymerization.
(http://www.thermaldepolymerization.org/) This will kill two birds with one stone - rid us of garbage and give us fuel. I really don't see a war for garbage, although we probably will start mining landfills if this takes off.

Sindawe
January 24, 2006, 06:35 PM
Iran has threatened to cut off a good chunk of the Western world's favorite drug!Iranian official: UN sanctions may lead us to seal off Persian Gulf

By Yossi Melman, Haaretz Correspondent

A senior Iranian official threatened that Tehran may forcibly prevent oil export via the Straits of Hormuz if the UN imposed economic sanctions due to Iran's nuclear program, an Iranian news Web site said on Monday.

This is the first time an Iranian official makes military threats in a public statement on Tehran's recent disagreements with the West.

The news site, affiliated with the radical student movement in which President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was once a member, quoted Mohammed-Nabi Rudaki, deputy chairman of the Iranian parliament's National Security and Foreign Policy Commission.

According to the report, Rudaki said that "if Europe does not act wisely with the Iranian nuclear portfolio and it is referred to the UN Security Council and economic or air travel restrictions are imposed unjustly, we have the power to halt oil supply to the last drop from the shores of the Persian Gulf via the Straits of Hormuz."

25% of the world's oil production passes through the Straits of Hormuz, which connect the Persian Gulf with the Indian Ocean. The meaning of Rudaki's threat is that not only will Tehran stop its oil production from reaching the West, it may also use force to prevent the other oil prodoucers in the region (the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait) from exporting to the West.

Raduki also warned that his country might quit from its membership in the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and withdraw from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT)

Source: http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/674159.html

ArmedBear
January 24, 2006, 06:44 PM
We may not run out of oil anytime soon, but as it becomes more difficult to recover, it will also become more expensive. And the countries with the most easily recoverable reserves will become richer and more powerful.

Gotta watch those straight-line models with only one variable.

The more expensive oil gets, the more alternatives there will be. The reason we use oil is not because Unocal holds a gun to our head. It's because it's cheaper to use oil for some important purposes than it is to use something else.

Also, the more expensive oil gets, the more oil we can recover from shale. We've got a lot of it, but it's not worth extracting until oil goes up more. Of course the hippies could stop this extraction, too, but I think their time is getting short.

redneck2
January 24, 2006, 09:35 PM
redneck, the Jews and many others may disagree that Hitler was attempting to "preserve" a way of life.

Say what?
...Funny how Mrs. Goldstein saw that just a little differently to you; and unlike you, she was there at the time.
Her gyspy neighbors, the confirmed bachelor down the way and a passel of political outsiders from the neighborhood didn't survive to report. Not a lot of way-of-life preservation going on for them, either.
The image of "The Fatherland" that was being promoted at the time had little to do with the actual way of life there. It was nothing but a fantasy.

You're missing my point. In Hitler's mind, he was "improving" Germany, at whatever cost. To the radical Muslims, you kill your enemies at whatever cost, even if it means killing yourself and your family. Therefore, you have nothing to lose as long as you kill enough of the enemy even if it means self destruction.

I say delusions because the one thing apocalyptic thinkers have had in common over all these millennia is that they've all been wrong. I can't see anything to indicate that the apocalyptic prophets of today are any less wrong than the millions of others who came before them.

You might consider a little Bible study. Then you'll start to understand. For the longest time I could never figure out why China would attack Israel. Makes sense now

Herself
January 25, 2006, 12:10 AM
Energy satellites in space ain't gonna happen. Or, it will happen right up until one transmission beam gets knocked off target and microwaves a town like leftover chicken. Solar panels are kinda pricey, too.

Bzzzt! Wrong!
I do this junk for a living. At work, we zap tight microwave beams across town all day long, packing several KW on a tight beam using one-meter dishes just to make with purty pictures -- and it won't even heat up your lunch! (Bummer. I carry an immersion heater).
The field strength -- energy density -- of a power-sat beam is too low to hurt anyone. The beam disperses like, I believe the technical term is, "like a mofo."
And it's got to, or it will boil rain clouds. At that point, you won't be gettin' any power at the collecting end.
The recovery antennas would take up quite a lot of room -- but manufacturing or low-income housing could be put underneath it. It could be a mesh (less that one-wavelength spacing!) like some old backyard satellite dishes, and would let enough sunlight through for some kinds of grazing, as well. The power-collecting would be distributed across the antenna; the usual term is "rectenna," a bunch of microwave crystal sets all hooked together.
It'd work. It cannot cook East Nowhere if the beam wanders; it's just not that beamy a beam!
Ain't no zap guns. Sorry, Buck. Sorry, James T.

Our best shot right now is turkey guts. Thermal depolymerization.
(http://www.thermaldepolymerization.org/) This will kill two birds with one stone - rid us of garbage and give us fuel. I really don't see a war for garbage, although we probably will start mining landfills if this takes off.
Yep -- though it may be even cheaper to boil down Canadian tar sands for awhile first.

--Herself

Lobotomy Boy
January 25, 2006, 12:20 AM
I tend to be skeptical about alternative energies, but bio-diesel looks like it might be promising.

Michigander
January 25, 2006, 07:32 AM
Oil: What's Russia Really Sitting On?

NOVEMBER 22, 2004

As more oil becomes recoverable, reserve estimates are skyrocketing

With oil still hovering near $50 a barrel, the last thing people want to hear is that there's even less of the stuff out there than previously thought. This year investors in the oil industry have been shaken by the revelation that Royal Dutch/Shell Group (RD ) overstated its proven reserves by at least 23%, some 4.5 billion barrels, with more possible downgrades to come. There's growing disquiet that other major oil companies may also have inflated reserves.

But there's one place -- Russia -- where reserve estimates just seem to go up and up. In its annual statistical survey of world energy, BP PLC (BP ) has recently revised its estimates of Russia's total proven oil reserves to 69.1 billion barrels, 6% of the world's total, up from 45 billion bbl. in 2001. But according to auditors with a worm's-eye view of what's actually going on in the depths of Siberia, such estimates may just scratch the surface of Russia's real potential. According to a recent study by Dallas-based energy reserve auditors DeGolyer & MacNaughton, whose clients include leading Russian energy companies such as Gazprom and Yukos, Russia's true recoverable reserves are between 150 billion bbl. and 200 billion bbl. That's up from industry estimates of 100 billion bbl. a few years ago.

Why such a big gap in the estimates? Because it's one thing to be sitting on oil reserves, another to be able to exploit them commercially. In Russia's main oil-producing region in western Siberia, proven reserves represent just 18% to 24% of all oil in the ground, in contrast to about 45% in Western oil-producing regions such as Alaska and the North Sea. But as Russian oil companies adopt technologies, such as horizontal wells and computerized reservoir management systems, the estimated recovery rates are being revised. Thanks to new techniques, which make it possible to obtain oil even from apparently depleted fields, Russian oil companies already have managed to boost their output by 50% since 1998. "The biggest thing is the [new] technology being deployed in western Siberia. The results are beginning to show," says Martin Wiewiorowski, senior vice-president of DeGolyer & MacNaughton in Moscow.

This increasing recoverability, and not dramatic new discoveries of oil, explains why Russia's proven reserves keep shooting up. The leading Russian oil companies have all announced big increases this year, following independent international audits. Lukoil (LUKOY ), Russia's largest oil outfit, saw a boost of 4.7% in proven reserves both this year and last, according to Society of Petroleum Engineers SPE standards. No. 2 producer Yukos, meanwhile, jumped 13.2% this year, according to stringent standards set by the U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission.

The growth in Russia's proven reserves is mainly happening at existing fields in western Siberia, a supposedly "mature" region where production had been declining until recently. DeGolyer & MacNaughton predicts that western Siberia could boost its output to 10 million bbl. a day by 2012, up from less than 6 million at present, and keep production at that level for at least 10 years. The use of even newer technologies available by then means that western Siberian oil production may not decline for decades to come. Russia's reserve potential is vaster still when undeveloped regions, such as the Arctic, the Caspian, and in particular eastern Siberia, are factored in. And then there's Russia's plentiful supply of natural gas. It is already acknowledged as having the world's largest gas reserves, with 47 trillion cubic meters, or 26.7% of global reserves.

But tapping Russia's vast oil pool will require billions in investment, especially in export pipelines. Although on course for 8% growth this year, production gains could slow as export bottlenecks appear. But infrastructure investment is likely to go up in tandem with reserve estimates. If Russia finds a way to get all that lovely oil to needy international consumers, its days as a global energy powerhouse could be just beginning.

source: http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/04_47/b3909079_mz054.htm

Here's some interesting reading on the subject: http://www.vialls.com/wecontrolamerica/peakoil.html

redneck2
January 25, 2006, 07:37 AM
For those that "think logically", click this link and read about the rogue submarine

http://www.whiskeyandgunpowder.com/

not everyone likes to play nice in the sandbox

Lobotomy Boy
January 25, 2006, 08:39 AM
It's too bad Russia is so unstable. Shutting off the natural gas tap to Europe a few weeks back shook things up a bit.

Improvements in recovery technology are some of the most important advances we can make when it comes to keeping the oil tap flowing, and at $67 a barrel, which is what oil closed at yesterday, these advances become more affordable.

But the upcoming war in Iran isn't just about oil. It's about protecting the hegomony of the petrodollar.

Optical Serenity
January 25, 2006, 10:12 AM
Iran, etc., will not pop a bomb on the US.

They will give one to an organization who will.

That's why it is called state-sponsored terrorism.

"You can't do anything to me, because I didn't do it, and you can't prove that I provided the thing either - maybe it was the french!"

+1

:D :neener:

Very well said...Iran is clever, very clever...which also makes them very dangerous.

carlrodd
January 25, 2006, 10:35 AM
Our best shot right now is turkey guts. Thermal depolymerization.
(http://www.thermaldepolymerization.org/) This will kill two birds with one stone - rid us of garbage and give us fuel. I really don't see a war for garbage, although we probably will start mining landfills if this takes off.

isn't that how doc brown powered the enhanced DeLorian after his first trip to the future?

BenW
January 25, 2006, 10:47 AM
Go electric. Start with nuclear plants, just make sure they have enough funding to operate safely.
Which, had the same "Get Oil Out" protestors not also been protesting nuclear power since the 1970s (to the delight of oil producers), we could already be doing. We need more nuclear power and hydrogen production. Understanding nuclear power requires lots of logic and little emotion though, so we have a problem implementing it.

Just like we have a problem regarding oil drilling at Coal Oil Point off the California Coast, where the second largest oil seep in the world exists, over 300,000,000 cubic meters of gas are naturally leaked every year, and oil laps up on the beach every day. Thousands of gallons of oil naturally seep up here every day, while 6 miles away, in Federal waters, the oil rigs (grandfathered in before the "no drilling" moratorium) are fined $50K for spilling a gallon of oil. Lots of emotion, little logic. There is a stronger case for drilling here than in ANWR.

We have lots of safe domestic areas where we can drill for oil while we wean ourselves of the foreign stuff and build up infrastructure for more efficient fuels, like hydrogen.

Sindawe
January 25, 2006, 11:43 AM
isn't that how doc brown powered the enhanced DeLorian after his first trip to the future?IIRC, that was stale beer and banana skins. But in the end its all the same thing, just carbon arranged in different ways. :D

There are a host of small things we could be doing as a nation to help wean ourselves off the oil as fuel addiction. Solar shingles on houses and buildings; smaller energy draining appliances for those who don't need the big jobs becoming the norm; regular use of compact fluorescent and LED lighting instead of incandescent; HEAVY tax breaks for consumers purchasing a vehicle powered by H2 instead of gasoline, as well as the freaking things not costing an arm more then the standard fuel types.

middy
January 25, 2006, 12:25 PM
How is hydrogen a source of energy? It's not like it's laying around in pure form like oil. It's more of an energy storage medium, you have to invest more energy into producing hydrogen than you get by burning it. It's really no more than a very efficient battery.

If we come up with a way to produce a whole lot of electricity (terawatts), like with lots of efficient and safe fission reactors, then I guess hydrogen would be a great way to store that energy for powering your vehicle. As it is now, you're just using hydrogen that was produced with electricity generated by burning lots of oil (and coal).

BenW
January 25, 2006, 12:34 PM
consumers purchasing a vehicle powered by H2 instead of gasoline, as well as the freaking things not costing an arm more then the standard fuel types.
I just read a couple of days ago (sorry, can't remember where) that hydrogen currently costs about three times more than gasoline, but will get you about three times as far on an "equivalent" amount. If true, this is really the "plateau" where vehicvle manufacturers and oil companies need to look to their futures and begin to retool and adapt.



I've also been really impressed with the progress solar cells and power storage have made. I plan on incorporating them into the "energy structure" of the house I build after I retire. Hopefully by then domestic use fuel cells will have advanced as well. A combination of the two would provide a powerful, reliable "off grid" power structure for a home.

goosegunner
January 25, 2006, 12:47 PM
Answer would be different depending on who you ask, even if they have the same numbers and calculations:

Oil producing nations (like Norway :D ) will find that there will be oil for 100 more years, as higher prices means more accesible oil, and we do not really care what the oil costs as long as we get profits. And as long as there is enough oil delivered that it is a main energy source prices will be nice (for us).

Oil consuming nations (like the U.S.A :neener: ) will find it to be verry limited time left with oil, not because oil is not avilable, but because the price gets so high it changes your way of life.

Ofcourse things may be comletely different, like if the U.N gets crazy(er) and listen to the tree-huggers we may have tons of cheap oil, but no one are allowed to use it (except U.N officials of course), some revolutionary new tecnology is discovered or we are to busy to die in an atomic-winter.

IndianaDean
January 26, 2006, 05:31 AM
Read the book "Black Gold, Stranglehold" by Jerome R. Corsi and Craig R. Smith. They report in detail, with links to the sources to back them up, how oil is NOT a fossil fuel, we are not running out. Our world reserves are at an all-time high, and still going up. Russia has known since the 1950s it is not a fossil fuel when Stalin had his scientists do research on oil at the end of WWII. Thousands of scientific papers were written about it during that time and ignored by the west. The book proves in detail that oil is not a fossil fuel and is a renewable energy source.
I asked a friend who worked on oil barges in the Middle East in the 70s about it and he said Iraq and Saudi Arabia have known this since that time.
Oh, and oil is and still will be by far the cheapest energy source. Alternate energies like hydrogen, at least for now, would cost us 3 to 4 times as much to use, i.e. car prices, etc.

Cosmoline
January 26, 2006, 05:45 AM
A senior Iranian official threatened that Tehran may forcibly prevent oil export via the Straits of Hormuz if the UN imposed economic sanctions due to Iran's nuclear program, an Iranian news Web site said on Monday.

ROTFLOL

I'm trying to picture how long the mighty Iranian Navy would last against the combined naval powers of the western world. Ten minutes? Maybe less.

They stand absolutely zero chance of pulling something off like that. Less than zero.

redneck2
January 26, 2006, 07:31 AM
IIRC, the straits are 300 yards wide at the narrowest point.

Two tankers passing each other hit with one rocket would block the passage and equal 25% reduction in oil worldwide

Crude price doubled when there was a 4% shortage

Biker
January 26, 2006, 07:46 AM
Bingo. I suspect that even one tanker might do the job.
Biker

Lobotomy Boy
January 26, 2006, 10:28 AM
I'm trying to picture how long the mighty Iranian Navy would last against the combined naval powers of the western world. Ten minutes? Maybe less.

They stand absolutely zero chance of pulling something off like that. Less than zero.

Cosmoline, I appreciate your posts and often learn something from them, but the above is a perfect example of the kind of short-sighted thinking that would cause us to lose a war against Iran. As pointed out, it would be fairly simple for Iran to shut down shipping in the Straights, and IIRC, they have the firepower there to do it. Their goal would be to shut the tap on oil. If we attacked them in return, we would certainly help achieve that goal. For all the blustery talk on all sides of this issue, I suspect that behind the scenes everyone involved is working mightily to prevent that sort of oil shock.

Misunderstanding and underestimating the forces you are up against is an example of the kind of hubris that caused Donald Rumsfeld to bugger the pooch in the occupation of Iraq. All politics aside, had Rumsfeld followed the advice of his best generals (the ones he fired because he disagreed with them) and the most credible experts in Iraq (rather than the self-serving con men who told him what he wanted to hear), many, many American lives would have been spared, and we'd possibly be looking at exiting a stable, democratic Iraq soon. There's nothing we can do to fix Rumsfeld's hubris in Iraq at this point, but we can make damn sure that we don't deal with the Iranian situation in the same manner.

AZ Jeff
January 26, 2006, 10:52 AM
Bingo. I suspect that even one tanker might do the job.
Biker
And how long would that sunken tanker sit in that location? Given the importance of flow of ships thru the Straights of Hormuz, I figure the US Navy would assume control of the straights (and the land adjacent) within 48 hours, and begin salvage operations immediately thereafter.

I am no expert on marine salvage but the straights would probably reopen within 2 months of such a sinking.

Biker
January 26, 2006, 10:56 AM
Could be you're right, I don't know. This is all speculation of course, but what would happen to oil prices in those two months and would Iran allow the operation to continue unchallenged?
Biker

EmGeeGeorge
January 26, 2006, 11:01 AM
I've been through the straits more times that I care to remember... On one occasion we were surrounded by the Islamic People's Revolutionary Guard or something to that effect... It was nighttime during most of our transits but if I rmember correctly, it wasn't "that" narrow... I mean, if you are in the middle you can see land and islands on both sides, but the horizon line is a good ways off, so...

EmGeeGeorge
January 26, 2006, 11:04 AM
map attached

AZ Jeff
January 26, 2006, 11:13 AM
Could be you're right, I don't know. This is all speculation of course, but what would happen to oil prices in those two months and would Iran allow the operation to continue unchallenged?
Biker
Oil prices WOULD spike, no doubt about it, but it would be temporary, until the straights are clear. I never suggested Iran would not resist us taking control of the straights, but I don't expect they could KEEP US from taking control. We would just have to pay the price.

Lobotomy Boy
January 26, 2006, 11:18 AM
At some point an extended and dramatic spike in oil prices along with a tightened oil supply could provide the oil shock needed to send the world economy over the tipping point into a world-wide depression that could last for years. This is what everyone involved is trying to avoid, except perhaps for a few nutjob mullahs in Iran.

As for the Straights, how wide are the actual shipping lanes? Those tankers need some fairly deep water in which to operate. The shipping lanes themselves could just be a small area of the water body.

xjmox14x
January 26, 2006, 11:28 AM
This would most likely never happen for two reasons. One, back when Eisenhower was president, he came up with the idea to stockpile many products in case all outside trading was cut off due to war. The United States has enough crude oil stockpiled to last for at least 4 years and if ties and imports with Iran were to ever break off temporarily, this stockpiled oil would be put to use to make sure there is no economic pandemonium. Two, Iran is the 4th largest exporter of oil, with the United States being one of their largest importers. If they were to cut off oil exports with the US it would be an economic disaster for THEM, not us. This is why if it happens, it won't last for very long and in order to avoid economic breakdown, they will have to start exporting again.

EmGeeGeorge
January 26, 2006, 11:52 AM
It was wide enough for several merchant ships to run convoy, not in a line but in side by side positions(several miles apart); I was doing security for merchant ships, and no one seemed too concerned about the Iranians... It is an international channel, so anyone has a right to pass through it. The Iranians aren't going to violate international maritime law over the whole thing, plus if you look at it, the stated that they had a right to nuclear power, not to nuclear weps. It was media that mistranslated and misquoted the president over there; Iran is suprisingly secular in many ways. They are far more liberal that Saudi, our "staunch" ally in the region; The Paki's have nukes concerns me far more... If Musharrif(sp) goes down, who'll control those? I think part of the problem is this; Many of our allies over there are headed by backwards feudal dicatator-types, again the Sauds, Kuwaitis, Bahraini's, and so on... When a country has a gov't that has been established through civil participation, they are a threat because the become harder to buy off in some ways. I'm not saying Iran is a great place, but in the grand scheme of things, they may be closer to us in their political and social direction than many think or want to think... Look at some of the political events in our nation inthe past 2 decades, as well as the influence the religious right has in this country...

Optical Serenity
January 26, 2006, 12:31 PM
The Paki's have nukes concerns me far more... If Musharrif(sp) goes down, who'll control those?

+1

I'm not saying Iran is a great place, but in the grand scheme of things, they may be closer to us in their political and social direction than many think or want to think....

I think Iran wouldn't be such a bad place if the people actually got their way with what they want the social and political ways to be like. Of course, the vast majority of the iranian population loves the U.S., so that explains that...

And I think the Iranian government is crazy, always has been since the revolution...

ingram
January 26, 2006, 01:20 PM
www.lifeaftertheoilcrash.net

Hey don't look at me I drive a Hybrid car I'm doing my part!!

Have u seen the above site by chance? Fun read and a pat on the back to all the doomsayers.

Lobotomy Boy
January 26, 2006, 02:23 PM
Krikee! Read some of the links on that site, from such "liberal" sources as "U.S. News and World Report." This is a nightmare situation no matter how you look at it.

Old Dog
January 26, 2006, 04:04 PM
And how long would that sunken tanker sit in that location? Given the importance of flow of ships thru the Straights of Hormuz, I figure the US Navy would assume control of the straights (and the land adjacent) within 48 hours, and begin salvage operations immediately thereafter.

I am no expert on marine salvage but the straights would probably reopen within 2 months of such a sinking.The Navy does have a plan for such an event. Two months ... hmm. Took us three days to get a grounded Exxon tanker (the Exxon HOUSTON) off the reef near Oahu in 1988. It'd take three weeks at least just to get the salvage ships over to the Straits (there are salvage ships forward-deployed in Japan); getting a tanker off the bottom (especially if it turned into a combat salvage op) could be interesting ...

The Iranians aren't going to violate international maritime law over the whole thing, plus if you look at it, the stated that they had a right to nuclear power, not to nuclear weps. Sure they will.

I think I'm gonna see how much I can get for the SUV and the truck, maybe start lookin' at a Prius ...

EmGeeGeorge
January 26, 2006, 04:12 PM
Ummm.

We produce and dispose of enough surplus corn in this country to produce more than enough ethynol alcohol fuel... The problem is oil companies and gov't block investments in these and other alternative fuel sources in order to maintiain the current status quo; that is lotsa money in the pockets of business, execs, and politicos... Is another war what we need, so we can establish a hold on another 20 years of cheap gas? maybe we need to worry less about those areas outside of our borders and figure out how to use what we have... You can say it is a nightmare, but it is one of our creation... Alaska isn't the solution, pandering to the Arab states certainly won't help; We need to start restructuring our national fuel and energy infrastructure. We need safe nuke energy on a mass scale. We need to utilize hydro more efficiently... We have too many people making too much $$$ by keeping us hobbled and blindfolded and dependent on their inefficient, artificially expensive product.
We have to be somewhat empathetic with other countries, popular or not. What if a foreign power (hostile to our interests) occupied mexico? And we didn't have a strong military, in modern terms...? We would try to get an upper hand over that occupying power (nukes, economic...?) We would do this not for the purpose of dominating them but rather in an attempt to ensure our own survival!

Just some food for thought.

MGG

ingram
January 26, 2006, 06:33 PM
We produce and dispose of enough surplus corn in this country to produce more than enough ethynol alcohol fuel.

Are you a corn expert? How do you know this?

Lobotomy Boy
January 26, 2006, 06:35 PM
And how do we generate the energy required to produce the corn and turn it into alcohol?

ArmedBear
January 26, 2006, 06:38 PM
And how do we generate the energy required to produce the corn and turn it into alcohol?

I don't know.

And how do we generate the energy required to keep people from crossing the border from Mexico and working in the cornfields for cheap?:evil:

Cosmoline
January 26, 2006, 07:56 PM
As pointed out, it would be fairly simple for Iran to shut down shipping in the Straights, and IIRC, they have the firepower there to do it. Their goal would be to shut the tap on oil.

Do I view Iran as a terrorist threat? Yes. But let's take a step back into what I like to call the real world.

First of all, Iran is itself a major oil producer and would face severe economic impact from shutting off its own oil production. The Iranian government's major concern right now is not the US or Israel but its own young and dynamic population, most of whom have no memory of the Shah or revolution. Several abortive revolts have been put down with brutal force by the mullahs, but the know full well they can't use force to kill everyone. If they shut off their own oil pumps the ensuing depression would throw millions of Iranians out of work and in that part of the world that means starvation. The Mullahs would risk getting the boot from their own people.

http://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/geos/ir.html

Secondly, an attack by the Republic of Iran against the straits would unify the US and western europe, not to mention the Gulf States, against them. It would be the single biggest gift they could give US foreign policy and the Bush administration. It would be sending the President a gift wrapped aliance the likes of which hasn't been seen since the first Gulf War. The Iranian theocracy would be history, and our problems in Iraq would be solved.

You are making the grave mistake of confusing Iranian RHETORIC with REALITY. Their clerics and politicos thwap swords on the table and yap about the Great Satan and Israel. They've been doing this since 1979. It does not mean they're mounting a military assault against us. It's an old tool they've used with great success to keep their own people distracted from the horrific conditions around them.

If Iran actually followed through on threats against oil shipping or Israel, that would be the end of the theocracy. It would run against their interests, which is why they won't do it.

EmGeeGeorge
January 26, 2006, 08:08 PM
"Journal of Engineering and Public Policy
(Vol. 9, August 2002)

Corn Ethanol as an Alternative Fuel: Technical, Economic and Policy Issues
By Sarah R. Walter

Executive Summary

As the world’s supply of petroleum decreases, the search for renewable alternative fuels has become very active. Corn ethanol has been utilized as an alternative automotive fuel throughout the United States and has infiltrated the agricultural industry; creating thousands of jobs and stimulating the economy. As new technology emerges and the need for independence from foreign sources of petroleum becomes more evident an analysis must be made to determine whether existing alternatives to petroleum are temporary solutions or long term solutions. There are many technical, economic and policy issues that line the current debate behind the longevity of the use of corn ethanol as an alternative fuel. Ethanol is one of many alternatives to petroleum that must be utilized in the United States' transition to a renewable energy-based economy, yet corn ethanol alone is not a viable replacement for the future of our current petroleum driven industry. The United States must diversify the sources in which it fuels its growing economy to insure energy security."


IT IS NOT A SOLE ALTERNATIVE; IT COULD BE A PORTION OF A MORE VIABLE ENERGY PLAN... I AM NOT A CORN EXPERT... I DO QUESTION THE ECONOMIC VALIDITY OF LOADING HUGE SHIPS WITH OIL AND SHIPPING IT HALFWAY AROUND THE WORLD TO BE PROCESSED, AT HUGE COST, IN SHIPS THAT BURN UNGODLY AMOUNTS OF FUEL EVERY MINUTE... I WAS ON MV'S AND A USNS AND IN SPEAKING WITH THE ENGINEERS, THEY WERE BURNING A CUBIC TON OF FUEL AN HOUR AT NORMAL OPS TEMPOS... I CANT EVEN BEGIN TO THINK WHAT SOME OF THE TANKERS BURN; EVER HEAR OF BIO-DIESEL?

POINT IS WE ARE DRIVING ALONG THE HIGHWAY ON EMPTY SAYING "WE'LL STOP AT THE NEXT STOP... WE'LL STOP AFTER THIS ONE, AND ETC..."

EmGeeGeorge
January 26, 2006, 08:17 PM
http://www.wise-intern.org/journal01/index.html

MOVING TOWARDS BIOMASS:
CURRENT SUPPORT FOR BIOMASS
USAGE IN THE UNITED STATES
BY
JENNIFER WALDEN
PREPARED FOR THE
AMERICAN INSTITUTE OF CHEMICAL ENGINEERS
WASHINGTON INTERNSHIPS FOR STUDENTS OF ENGINEERING
SUMMER 2001
1
TABLE OF CONTENTS
TABLE OF CONTENTS..............................................................................................................1
ABOUT THE AUTHOR ..............................................................................................................2
THE WISE PROGRAM..............................................................................................................2
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS............................................................................................................2
EXECUTIVE SUMMERY............................................................................................................3
ISSUE DEFINITION...................................................................................................................4
Overview ............................................................................................................................4
Relevance to the General Public ............................................................................................4
Relevance to AIChE.............................................................................................................6
BACKGROUND.......................................................................................................................7
Definition of Biomass ..........................................................................................................7
Uses for Biomass.................................................................................................................7
Legislative History of Biomass Research and Development ....................................................9
BIOMASS RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT ACT OF 2000 ..........................................................11
The Legislation Itself .........................................................................................................11
Organization of the Biomass Research and Development Initiative .......................................11
Current Appropriation Status ..............................................................................................13
Department of Energy Involvement.....................................................................................14
United States Department of Agriculture Involvement..........................................................14
KEY CONFLICTS, CONCERNS, AND CHALLENGES....................................................................14
Research Challenges ..........................................................................................................14
Market Challenges .............................................................................................................16
Policy Challenges ..............................................................................................................19
Possible Opposition to Biomass Usage ................................................................................21
RECENT POLICY ISSUES UNDER CONSIDERATION ...................................................................24
Current Legislation in the 107th Congress ............................................................................24
Commodity Credit Corporation Funds .................................................................................24
Conservation Reserve Program Lands .................................................................................25
Supporting Private Sector Consortia ....................................................................................25
CONCLUSIONS.....................................................................................................................26
ENDNOTES ...........................................................................................................................27
2
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jennifer Walden is entering her fourth year of undergraduate studies in Chemical
Engineering at Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT). This paper was researched and
written through her participation in the Washington Internships for Students of
Engineering (WISE) program in the summer of 2000. The American Institute of
Chemical Engineers (AIChE) sponsored her participation in this program.
THE WISE PROGRAM
The Washington Internships for Students of Engineering program is a ten-week
program for outstanding engineering students who have completed their third year of
study. Applicants have an interest in public policy, especially the role that engineers play
in the policy process. Participants attend frequent meetings with government officials,
policy makers, academics, lobbyists and other non-government individuals to learn how
the government makes decisions on complex technological issues and how engineers can
contribute to legislative and regulatory public policy decisions. Each student also
researches, writes and presents a policy paper on a topic of interest to his or her
sponsoring society. For more information visit www.wise-intern.org on the World Wide
Web.
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
The author would like to thank everyone involved in the WISE program for
making the experience educational and enriching. Special thanks go to the American
Institute of Chemical Engineers for the opportunity to participate in the 2001 WISE
program. The advice and guidance of Ron Hira, Darlene Schuster and Carla Sullivan
were invaluable throughout the process of developing this paper. Finally, the author
thanks her fellow WISE interns for making the experience so fun.
3
EXECUTIVE SUMMERY
Biomass is defined as any organic matter that is available on a renewable or
recurring basis. It can be used for chemicals, power and fuels. The market, once geared
towards biological sources, shifted to petroleum because of the availability and low cost
of fossil products in the early 20th century. However, there are many reasons to look at
augmenting the use of oil with biomass. The use of biomass could benefit the United
States’ economy, environment, energy security and market opportunities.
Currently, there is a great deal of support for biomass in both government and
industry in the United States. The Biomass Research and Development Act of 2000
detailed an integrated research effort between the DOE and the USDA. Although
funding for the initiative remains relatively static, the federal agencies are actively
participating in research as well as deployment efforts. These agencies are working
towards tripling the use of biomass by 2010, which is a national goal established by
former President Clinton.
There are many research, market and policy challenges that need to be overcome,
as well as some opposition to address in the drive toward increased biomass usage. Some
of these challenges are currently being explored. Detailed research is being performed,
biorefineries are being built and policy matter is under consideration. Work in these
areas still remains.
There is governmental activity underway to try to integrate an increased use of
biomass into the market. This includes the introduction of multiple bills in Congress as
well as the use of Commodity Credit Corporation funds and Conservation Reserve
Program lands. These all work to provide incentives for biomass usage. Another
possibility for helping to jumpstart the biobased industry could be the creation of a
private sector consortium. In this way technical challenges could be cooperatively
explored by industry leaders and perhaps advancement could occur more quickly.
Looking at all this, it is apparent that there is interest in the use of biomass. It
should be noted that biomass will best be used as a complement to existing products and
not as a total replacement. There is quite a bit of research to perform and hurdles to
overcome, although an excellent start has occurred and forward progress will continue.
Biomass will, without a doubt, be a part of the future industrial market.
4
ISSUE DEFINITION
OVERVIEW
Since ancient times, renewable resources from agriculture and forestry have been
used as raw materials for countless products. However, the United States experienced a
shift to fossil sources in the early 19th century with increased coal usage. At this time,
fossil fuels were cheap and abundant and the market welcomed the transition. During the
1920s, most chemical producers replaced biological raw materials with petroleum. By
the 1970s, petroleum accounted for 70 percent of America’s fuels, and fossil fuel
resources decidedly dominated the market.1 Fossil fuels, however, are a nonrenewable
resource and the International Energy Agency says that world production of oil will peak
sometime between 2010 and 2020.2 This being the case, the concept of augmenting
industrial production and energy needs with the use of biobased resources is one to be
strongly considered. Starting in 1999, various national activities have shown increased
interest and support for biomass usage, including the presidential establishment of a
national goal to triple biobased product and bioenergy usage in the U.S. by 20103. The
National Research Council also issued a report on Biobased Industrial Products in 2000.
Another significant activity was the signing into law of the Biomass Research and
Development Act of 2000. This act is designed to provide integration and direction for
the research and development activities with regard to biomass and provided an
authorization of $49 million for research programs.4 All of the activity in the area of
biomass is helping to open new opportunities for the United States’ future in energy, fuel,
and chemical production.
RELEVANCE TO THE GENERAL PUBLIC
The recently issued NRC report on biobased industrial products states,
“Biological sciences are likely to make the same impact on the formation of new
industries in the next century as the physical and chemical sciences have had on industrial
development throughout the century now coming to a close.”5 This impact would affect
the economy, environment, energy security, and competitive position of the United
States.6
5
Economy
The increased usage of biomass would stimulate economic growth, notably in
rural and farm communities. Meeting the national goal set forth would provide a market
for what is normally considered agricultural waste. Additionally, biorefineries set in
farming communities would provide jobs and benefit industry as well. A recent Oak
Ridge National Laboratories study states that bioenergy crop production programs would
increase U.S. agricultural income by $6 billion per year.7 An Economic Research Service
study adds to this, stating a figure of about $250,000 in sales per job.8 The multiplier
effect goes on to say that for every primary job in manufacturing, four more jobs in
service and supply are created. The NRC committee responsible for the report foresees
approximately 1 million jobs in biochemicals alone.9 These values do not take into
consideration potential jobs lost in the petroleum industries and further research is
necessary to evaluate possible effects.
Environment
The issue of climate change has worldwide attention right now, especially with
the debate over the Kyoto Protocol. Biomass could prove to be one way to help alleviate
environmental problems such climate change. Although debate persists, research has
shown that the use of biomass has the potent ial to reduce carbon dioxide and other
pollutant emissions, reduce soil erosion, protect water supplies and quality and diversify
crops.
The burning of biofuels does release CO2 into the atmosphere. However, this
release is what was and will in the future be fixed by photosynthesis.10 Thus, there is
essentially no net addition of CO2 to the atmosphere with the use of biofuels. Another
environmental issue along the same lines is the attempted phase out of the use of the fuel
additive methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE), which is now believed to threaten ground
water quality. More research needs to be performed to determine what effect ethanol has
on drinking water supplies.
6
Energy Security
The United States is becoming increasingly dependent on foreign oil imports,
importing 56% of its total petroleum11 and borrowing $1 billion per day from other
nations to finance its high consumption. 12 Additionally, over two-thirds of the worlds
remaining oil reserves are in the potentially volatile Middle East.13 This dependence
keeps military forces of the United States in the Persian Gulf, affects foreign policy, and
gives the region a great deal of leverage. In fact, a renewed interest in ethanol was
apparent in the 1970s, when oil supply disruptions in the Middle East became a national
security issue.14 The Persian Gulf crisis in the early 1990s continued to support
investigation into other sources of fuels as well. Ethanol advocates Senator Richard
Lugar (R-IN) and R. James Woolsey believe that increased usage of bioproducts and
biofuels could greatly benefit the U.S. by reducing our dependence on foreign oil.
Competitive Position
Products from biomass could open up new technologies, industries and export
opportunities for the United States. The 1994 Uruguay Round and the World Trade
Organization are helping to increase access to international markets and establish new
rules for freer trade.15 If the U.S. works to become a technological leader in the biomass
market, it could capture an important market share and lead in some important
intellectual property areas. Other countries involved in significant biomass research
include Austria, Canada, Germany, Japan, the Netherlands, South Africa and the United
Kingdom.16
RELEVANCE TO AICHE
As a professional association of more than 50,000 members, the American
Institute of Chemical Engineers works to provide leadership in advancing the profession
of chemical engineering. The membership of AIChE spans academia as well as many
areas of the private sector. Thus, an increase in biomass activity is sure to affect AIChE,
as the organization fosters and disseminates relevant knowledge, supports the
professional and personal growth of its members, and applies the expertise of its
members to address societal needs throughout the world.17 As an organization AIChE
7
advocates public policy that represents the interests of chemical engineers. Biomass is
one such area that AIChE should find relevant and timely.
BACKGROUND
DEFINITION OF BIOMASS
The definition of biomass as used in the wording of the Biomass Research and
Development Act of 2000 is as follows:
Biomass is any organic matter available on a renewable or recurring basis,
including agricultural crops and trees, wood and wood waste and residues, plants
(including aquatic plants), grasses, residues, fibers, and animal wastes, municipal
wastes, and other waste materials.18
To demonstrate the availability of biomass, the United States disposes of
approximately 350 million tons of agricultural wastes each year.19 Much of this waste
could potentially be converted to ethanol or any number of other products.
USES FOR BIOMASS
In the early 20th century plant matter was providing the basis for most industrial
products, including dyes, chemicals, clothing, and plastics. However, fossil products
became plentiful and production methods using oil were cheaper. Fuels and products
from oil became available in large quantities at low cost, and, by the 1970s, petroleum
had taken over the market20 phasing out plant matter usage. Wit h the current push to
supplement the use of petrochemicals, however, there are many potential uses for
biomass in today’s market. The three categories most commonly used for grouping are
biofuels, biochemicals, and bioenergy.
Biofuels
Ethanol is a clear, colorless, flammable fuel, predominantly coming from the
fermentation of corn starch. Ethanol can be blended with gasoline for vehicular use and
is also being looked at to power fuel cells. Approximately 56 fuel ethanol plants exist in
8
20 states, wit h production capabilities ranging from 0.5 million gallons to 310 million
gallons per year.21 The cost of ethanol production has decreased from $3.60 per gallon in
1980 to $1.27 per gallon in 1991 and should continue to decrease with improved
technology. 22 The use of cellulosic biomass (virtually any plant or plant products) as a
source for ethanol production could reduce costs even further and perhaps provide a
major market niche.
Biodiesel is made using plant oils and methanol to produce fatty acid methyl
esters. Oils that can be used include soybean, canola, industrial rapeseed, and even used
vegetable oil. In 1998, Congress passed legislation classifying biodiesel as an alternative
fuel under the Energy Policy Act of 1992. EPACT mandates that federal, state, and some
private fleet acquire alternatively fueled vehicles.23 Now, soy-based biodiesel is
currently being used by more than 80 fleets nationwide,24 and in May of 2001, the first
pure biodiesel public fueling station opened in San Francisco.25 Biodiesel can be used in
diesel engines without negative impact, an important quality, 26 although blended fuel is
reportedly better for use.
Biochemicals – Intermediate and Specialty
Intermediate chemicals are utilized to produce paints, plastics, solvents, synthetic
fibers and the like. Ethylene, the most versatile petrochemical, can now be produced
using lignocellulose conversion technology. However, the biobased ethylene that results
from this process is not cost competitive at the present time. Stable production cost may
allow it to compete with the rising petrochemical ethylene cost within the next five years,
however, assuming the continued rise of oil and gas prices.27 Acetic acid is another
intermediate chemical that could be targeted by bioindustry for a multitude of uses.
Fermenting corn starch or cheese whey waste produces acetic acid. Used for soaps and
lubricants, fatty acids such as esters, ethoxylates and amides can readily be produced
from plant oils. In 1991, forty percent of the 2.5 million tons of fatty acids produced in
the United States were derived from vegetable and natural oils.28 This market share
could hopefully be expanded.
Specialty chemicals are a high value market, generally selling for more than $2.00
a pound. Annual sales exceeded $3 billion in 1994 and the market for specialty
9
chemicals is expected to continue to grow at a 10 to 20 percent per year rate.29 This
market has been tapped, with examples of biobased chemicals including bioherbicides,
thickening agents, flavors, fragrances, chiral chemicals and enzymes. The growing.... (SEE WEB LINK FOR REST OF ARTICLE)

EmGeeGeorge
January 29, 2006, 04:05 AM
No more posts?

By the way, it'd be easier to foul things up by blowing up an LNG on the Suez... (Liquid Natural Gas)...

Malone LaVeigh
January 29, 2006, 04:20 PM
Do I view Iran as a terrorist threat? Yes. But let's take a step back into what I like to call the real world.

First of all, Iran is itself a major oil producer and would face severe economic impact from shutting off its own oil production. The Iranian government's major concern right now is not the US or Israel but its own young and dynamic population, most of whom have no memory of the Shah or revolution. Several abortive revolts have been put down with brutal force by the mullahs, but the know full well they can't use force to kill everyone. If they shut off their own oil pumps the ensuing depression would throw millions of Iranians out of work and in that part of the world that means starvation. The Mullahs would risk getting the boot from their own people.

http://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/geos/ir.html

Secondly, an attack by the Republic of Iran against the straits would unify the US and western europe, not to mention the Gulf States, against them. It would be the single biggest gift they could give US foreign policy and the Bush administration. It would be sending the President a gift wrapped aliance the likes of which hasn't been seen since the first Gulf War. The Iranian theocracy would be history, and our problems in Iraq would be solved.

You are making the grave mistake of confusing Iranian RHETORIC with REALITY. Their clerics and politicos thwap swords on the table and yap about the Great Satan and Israel. They've been doing this since 1979. It does not mean they're mounting a military assault against us. It's an old tool they've used with great success to keep their own people distracted from the horrific conditions around them.

If Iran actually followed through on threats against oil shipping or Israel, that would be the end of the theocracy. It would run against their interests, which is why they won't do it.
I agree up to a point, and that point is the minute the US or Israel starts dropping bombs.

MinScout
January 29, 2006, 05:18 PM
What I can't figure out is, why Iran is so blatantly defiant toward the rest of the world in regard to it's nuclear ambitions? Are they foolish, thinking the threat of sky-rocketing fuel prices is going to prevent action against them? Or do they have a trump card we don't know about. Has Russia secretly agreed to intervene if Iran is attacked? What then, Armageddon? Just wondering.

Lobotomy Boy
January 29, 2006, 08:31 PM
I'm starting to think that the leaders of Iran don't mean what they are saying. They might just be playing the same game as everyone else, and that is just the part they play in this particular melodrama.

antarti
January 30, 2006, 11:21 AM
What I can't figure out is, why Iran is so blatantly defiant toward the rest of the world in regard to it's nuclear ambitions? Are they foolish, thinking the threat of sky-rocketing fuel prices is going to prevent action against them? Or do they have a trump card we don't know about. Has Russia secretly agreed to intervene if Iran is attacked? What then, Armageddon? Just wondering.

Iran sees the disparity in how the USA is treating the other 2 "Axis of Evil" countries. The one with nukes gets paid off (North Korea), while the one without gets invaded and it's leaders deposed (Iraq). They would much rather be paid off after some saber rattling, thus the mad race to get nuke facilities up and running.

goosegunner
January 30, 2006, 11:48 AM
By the way, it'd be easier to foul things up by blowing up an LNG on the Suez... (Liquid Natural Gas)...

Don't worry to much, :) you will find it extremely difficoult to blow up an LNG-tanker. The key-word is 'Liquid', tha gas has to boil off to be flameable, and even if this will happen pretty fast if the LNG is spilled you would not have an explotion but only a gigantic and fast fire. So it would be bad for the boat, and probably the terminal (if the tanker is loading/unloading). Only way to blow up a LNG-tanker would be when it has nearly empty tanks, and the crew have failed to fill the tanks with inert-gasses.

Cosmoline
January 30, 2006, 01:59 PM
I agree up to a point, and that point is the minute the US or Israel starts dropping bombs.

Things would get more intense at that point, but keep in mind that Iran will still try to drive a wedge between the US and Israel and the rest of the world. Iran would love to continue selling oil to fuel its own counter measures against the US in Iraq or possibly Israel. Any move against the straits would immediately put Iran at odds with Europe, China and the rest of the Gulf states.

Gifted
January 30, 2006, 11:32 PM
Thermal depolymerization. You might need some biostock to help augment this. It would at the least help insulate the nation from global price fluctuations. I've heard they can use it to process oil shale and tar sands for cheaper than current methods. Most likely you'd be mixing garbage, shale/sand, and biostock to get a feedstock for your plants, as the recipes for the various products are different.

Nuclear power with solar, wind, etc. augmenting it. natural gas lines could conceivably be used for hydrogen, helping the crux with not having infrastructure. I'm seeing natural gas straight though, no hydrogen(not yet anyway. It doesn't have enough density last I heard). Transmission technologies would help get more power out of each generator.

Biggest problem is, money. With the world buying oil in dollars, this helps float the debt that the U.S. has. Any move away from global oil would also have to do something to help keep the money afloat. You can't just stop printing, you have to tie it to something, and start paying off debts. that's really the threat of Iran's exchange. People stop buying dollars to buy oil, and inflation goes crazy.

We also have to do something about cost of living. Big reason that companies move overseas is that they can pay a person $500 a year, rather than $500 a week. Thing is, the cost of living is low enough that they can live on that, comfortably even. If we go to a self-sustaining economy, you need to make sure that everyone's making enough to maintain thier standard of living(are you going to give up the internet?:neener: ) Once you get this sorted out, we can produce in the states, and it'll be competitive with overseas. Tarriffs might help, but probably be bad in the long run.

Oh, and for fun(warning for language):
The end of the World as we know It. (http://www.albinoblacksheep.com/flash/end.php) Not really the right scenario, but still funny.

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