Shocked and Persuaded

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Separating Fact From Fiction

1 Year On the Tango Is As Volatile As Ever

We are officially celebrated an infamous anniversary. In case you stepped out from beneath a large boulder or were trapped in a cave recently you will recall that it was on this day last year that the BP Macondo exploded polluting countless miles of Gulf shoreline, the entirety of the deep and surfical waters, killing countless saltwater organisms from charismatic megafauna to the smallest of critters. However, what is the governor of Louisiana and neighboring Gulf states pushing for? You guessed it more frequent and intense drilling in the same unforgiving waters.

Anyway that is to be expected but what isn’t being discussed is the growing volatility of global oil markets. I am going to go about explaining the decoupling of global and US oil prices using a couple of graphs as is my traditional angle of choice. Read the rest of this entry »

“Cut it or Shut it”

I totally agree Tea Party I totally agree! Government shutdown now!

HOWEVER that means we shut down the TSA, the military, coast guard, national guard, social security, medicaid, medicare, homeland security, agricultural subsidies, pork spending, etc.

SO if your all for that than indeed lets SHUT ER DOWN!!

HOWEVER don’t start carving stuff out and proclaiming your disgust with government!

HOW ABOUT We pullback the security state being built by the CIA, FBI, Homeland Security, and private security firms along with the Military Industrial Complex? That would save a boat load of money! How about we step back from being The World’s RoboCop? NO? Why?

Well I am all for scaling back the depth and breadth of government spending in the areas of bloat and hubris, but to say “Cut it or shut it” remember what that comes with? NO MORE SPINACH………BUT NO MORE CAKE AS WELL!

Note From a Friend

Someone I know pretty well and admire quite a bit sent me the following string of emails regarding Obama’s “John Wayne” moment in Libya. I don’t agree with everything he wrote me but thought much of it was spot on and it came from someone I would call of the Libertarian persuasion. ENJOY!

EMAIL FROM A FRIEND:

One:

Hate to say it dude… but I’m done with Obama after this Libyan Adventure. What a cluster_ _ _ _ of a situation… and Constitutionally dubious to boot.

I freely admit that most Republicans are nuts too. Most of the “leading” 2012 candidate-types would have had us in there (boots on the ground) 3 weeks ago. Utter insanity. Of course- they’re now leading the chorus of criticism- which is beyond nauseating. Anyway- whether democractic or repulican- this country appears to be irretrievably at the mercy of a…”pro-intervention” council of foreign relations type cabal that is hell-bent on bankrupting us in a vain quest to remold the Middle East (recently substituting “international norms” and “human rights” for “WMD’s”). Meanwhile Congress is nothing more than the pathetic dude who walks in on his wife getting banged by Joe the Plumber. The Founding Fathers are turning in their graves. Book it.

Anyway, unless Ron or Rand Paul somehow miraculously secures the GOP nomination… I guess I’m voting Libertarian here on out.

Peace.

Two:

Whatever the case- should be some interesting times on your blog. I didn’t put in my last my e-mail but to me Obama’s speech could best be described as “The Fog of War”. I don’t care if we run Gadaffi out of there in 2 days and Arabs are waiving the American flag (an unlikely result of course). The Middle East is the type of place where things are measured in 50 and 100 year increments. I’m sure we felt cool as hell when we shot up Iran and put the Shah in or ran the Soviets out of Afghanistan or handed victory to the “Northern Alliance” or took down Saddam… or…. How did any of those work out for us? Meanwhile- I certainly wish Gadaffi treated his people better- but the UN should raise its own army of folks (God bless them) who individually feel willing to lay their lives down for “international norms” and “stability” and NOT usurp war-making authority from the US Congress- or any other proposed “combatant’s” governmental body in charge of declaring war. That’s always been my problem with the Security Council set-up- and why I frankly think it’s imperative for American liberty for the US to either withdraw from the UN completely- or alternatively- withdraw from the Security Council at least.

Three:

I know Rand’s a whipping boy for the Left… but all I can say to this is A-FREAKING-MEN!!!

Why is it so hard to have a President who actually gets and understands this stuff!!??! I certainly would have thought a Costitutional Law Professor from the University of Chicago with a law degree from Harvard would have been capable of it. Guess not!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XWOWv2Dr-nk

Four:

Well I am confident they represent the empirical and pragmatic sentiment (if I may be so bold). I’m less confident that they represent the “Republican” sentiment though. Perhaps. As I’ve told you for awhile now- the party is in the midst of a Civil War of sorts pitting the true traditional, “Goldwater”, non-interventionist, Libertarian, conservative (correct usage) wing of the party (I’d estimate it at about 20%) against the ultra-nationalist, imperial, guns and butter, neo-conservative, manifest destiny, Theodore Roosevelt wing (give these guys 50%). I’m not at all certain how that will play out as our wing is clearly more in-step with the main street common sense views of the country (while there’s was thoroughly discredited under Bush II) on the one hand- but they have FAR MORE resources, influence and political savy to bring-to-bear on the other. I think what you’ll see is unapologetic neo-conservative  Republicans like Mitt Romney, Haley Barbour, Mitch Daniels, Newt Gingrich (and his shrill Dick Morris), etc. posing as re-formed “limited government Constituionalists” for a period of time in order to draw in those more pliable elements of the Tea Party and the social conservatives (these two make up the balance) to their banner- only to ultimately give us Bush III (if elected). If I had to wager- right now- I suspect they will succeed. Sadly.

Interesting Shareholder Vote

So I have a couple of shares of GE and now that I know about their unwillingness to pay taxes and actually receive corporate welfare to the tune of $3.2 billion I am worried about the justification for this investment. Conveniently or coincidentally GE turned around in the last couple of days and announced “on Tuesday that it planned to spend $3.2 billion for a 90 percent stake in Converteam, a company based in Massy, France, that specializes in high-efficiency electric power conversion components like motors, generators, drives and automation controls.”

This comes around the same time as President Obama named the CEO of GE Jeffrey Immelt chairman of the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness. Surely an ominous sign for both the word jobs and the word competitiveness when the man in charge of fueling a fire under both doesn’t believe in either when it comes to his own firm’s presence in the US.

Anyway in receiving my voting option I think I found another way that GE manages to skim that little bit of cream off the top of each investment/product margin. Below are questions C4 and C5 of GE’s most recent proxy ballot (Note: The Bold is what the board recommended and the standard is what I voted):

C4 SHAREOWNER PROPOSAL: CLIMATE CHANGE RISK DISCLOSURE
Against
For
C5 SHAREOWNER PROPOSAL: TRANSPARENCY IN ANIMAL RESEARCH
Against
For

Benefit to Cost Ratio

In his last post Dave noted that the real reason for events in Egypt and elsewhere in the Maghreb and eastward was finite resources. That is extremely true AND if you couple that with the increasing influence of derivative speculation by those that don’t give a hoot about social cohesion AND the declining benefit to cost ratio associated with agricultural related biotechnology you have a Terrible Trio that needs to be addressed via long-term stewardship of biomass and the planet’s limited biogeochemically available elements such as phosphorus. Read the rest of this entry »

Federal Budget Fact From Fiction

So President Obama released his much anticipated budget today and I took a couple of minutes to analyze the numbers to find the winners and losers. The results will surprise those on the right and left alike (See Figure Below).

The big winners are:

1. the Natural Resource Conservation Service with respective 2011-2012 and 2010-2012 budget increases of 123% and 167%.

2. the Department of Energy with a 2010-2012 increase of 134%.

3. the Department of Transportation with 2011-2012 and 2010-2012 increases of 113% and 115%

4. a recipient near and dear to natural/environmental scientists hearts the National Science Foundation (NSF) with a 2010-2012 of 118%.

True many of these recipients could be considered liberal or dare I say the word “scientific” causes, but the fact is that there are many progressive recipients on The Big Losers list below.

The Big Losers:

1. Well we have to start with the undisputed biggest loser of them all and one you would think would be in the previous category given how often Obama, Democrats, and Republicans talk about the importance of small-business creation. The Small Business Administration is going to be 20% of what it was in 2010 in the following 2 years if Obama gets his way. This will be an interesting pivot point around which we will see whether conservatives who say Obama is anti-business fight him OR whether the small businesses of America call Obama’s bluff and the Republicans if they jump in bed with him on this one invoking his recent placating speech at Tom Donahue’s Chamber of Commerce. This country is clearly decoupling both at home and in the workplace with Too Big To Fail Military contractors, Banks, and Agribusiness clearly in the driver seat not just with Republicans but with Democrats as well. What a shame.

2. OH and then there is military family housing, which one would assume everyone would want to increase with the patriotic rheotirc booming out of MSNBC and Fox News equally. I thought we valued our warriors and their sacrifice? Guess not because military family housing is set to shrink by 25% 2010-2012.

3. Education and who – like military family housing – could argue with education? Apparently an Obama administration that has found it’s Reaganomics Religion all of a sudden. Education will be slashed by 11% and 24% between 2011-2012 and 2010-2012, respectively.

4. Finally, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management will be slashed by 31% between 2010-2012.

SO WHAT IS THE POINT OF THIS BLOG? The point is that Obama has shown he is hardly a socialist, fascist, liberal/progressive populist and that with respect to the SBA we will see whether all those jokers on Capitol Hill really do care about small businesses because if the Obama administration gets it’s way the SBA will be hacked to a fifth of it’s size today.

NOW if only we could get the Pentagon to incur more than the 2011-2012 4% decline only to rise like a Phoenix the following year giving it a 2010-2012 6% increase.

If we don’t address the retirement age, tort reform, the military industrial complex leviathan, and things like Bureau of Land Management gifts to the coal/natural gas industry via infinitesimal land rents we are not being serious. Hacking away as the Republicans and Democrats are at discretionary spending, which depending on the year ranges from 10-12% of the federal budget means that honesty is in short supply in DC and that faith is winning out over rationality. What a sham I mean shame!

Limousine Liberals Strike Again!

Below I have pasted an amazing quote from this article in The Times about a wind farm receiving resistance from a couple of bad apples in the name of some pretty amazing and disingenuous concerns. I have included it as my comments were #1 among all reader comments and I think capture a couple of angles that pervade the Limousine Liberal community and are eating away at the environmental movement from the inside and from the top down. Why in God’s name or anyone else for that matter would Red States and ultra-conservatives take us seriously or work with us as liberals/environmentalists if we aren’t willing to put our money and sacrifice where our mouth is? Read the rest of this entry »

BOTEs and CO2

So there is a common expression that is getting even more common and more over used called “Back Of The Envelope” which basically is an expression that describes calculations that are very course spatially or vertically OR rough enough that they can be done on the back of an envelope/napkin.

I decided it might be fun to take this concept and apply it to the commonly held belief that man emits 45 Gigatons (1 Gigaton = 1 Billion Tons) per annum. This has been cited in many a popular and scientific paper. Hope you enjoy! I would just note that below there are a bunch of numbers and all assumptions came from some of my Ph.D. work and not out of thin air. It is interesting that my BOTEs while not exactly the same as the IPCC’s independent estimate of 45 Petagrams (1 Pg = 1 Gt) are similar. The issue going forward will be identifying the black-boxes that remain in these equations. (NOTE: All local ecosystem units are in Grams of Carbon per meter squared per year and this is a standard unit of measurement for ecosystem fluxes). Read the rest of this entry »

The Cherry On Top! (aka Master of the Obvious Part Deux)

There really is no need to say any more as the title says it all.

U.S. Identifies Vast Mineral Riches in Afghanistan

I wonder if Big (What a..) Dick Cheney knew about this one! He couldn’t have otherwise he would have insisted on a more concerted and muscular presence in Afghanistan throughout the War On Terror. Oh well chalk one up to good ol’ fashion Mullah Omar misdirection. Something tells me you will be hearing that Freeport-McMoRan (FCX)out of New Orleans will be getting their grubby nefarious hands involved in this operation given their robust play in the global copper market. Okay you heard it hear folks with FCX’s near monopoly on the global copper market and a large presence in gold we will absolutely see a strong push by them into this nascent opportunity. Just for the record FCX shares are currently trading at $65.26 on the NYSE, traded as high as $87 on January 8th, 11, and April 5th of this year, BUT are far below highs of $114 and 122 on October 10, 2007 and May 19, 2008, respectively. These two dates and the general peak in copper prices happened to coincide with a commercial and residential housing construction boom in China and lead some to believe that we had reached Peak Copper, although the latter has yet to be proven, but it stands to reason we will reach some sort of peak given the finite nature of copper availability, the world’s insatiable appetite for it, and the fact that last I checked creating it out of thin air ain’t an option! I will keep a keen eye on this and I suggest anyone reading this do the same as I demonstrated with an earlier posting on Roche and it’s share skyrocket in the weeks leading up to and after The Great H1N1 scare.

untitled7

I would just say to the Pashtuns of Southern Afghanistan caveat emptor with Exhibit A being FCX’s Grasberg copper and gold mine in Indonesia, where the natives are restless and growing more so by the day. FCX is determined to see this mine to it’s complete exploitation given that it accounts for $4 Billion of FCX’s $6.5 Billion operating profit (i.e., Nearly 2/3). Some have even decided that peaceful protest is no longer helpful resorting instead to primitive but effective methods of “Message Delivery”. However, when the Indonesian government equips the mine bosses with a security force of 3,000 troops and police the odds are stacked against the indigenous peoples of Papua and Papua New Guinea (See Map courtesy of The Economist).

papua


Forget Peak Oil….Try Peak N, P, and K

Below I have plotted USDA data for Nitrogen (N), Phosphorus (P), and Potasssium (K) applied to crops in the US from 1960 to the present. You will notice two distinct trends (Ex. Fertilizer labels read – for example – 10-10-10 or something like that, which corresponds to 10 Parts N, P, and K Respectively):

1. Nitrogen is and has always been the predominant fraction of fertilizers. However, more importantly N:P ratios have risen at an alarming clip from 1.06 in 1960 to 2.88 in 2007, which translates to 271% in less than 40 years. This in itself is an unsustainable trend that genetic engineering will not be able to offset. Additionally, the ratio of P to K was 134% higher in 1960 with the pivot-point (i.e., more K than P applied) being 1976-1977 (Note: I wonder if it is in any way correlated with the awesome run the Grateful Dead had during that same time frame?).

2. The percent vs. Tons P & K curves, while largely decoupled prior to to 1978 have now converged, which means that more fertilizer needs to be applied – and energy expended – to get the same Energy Return On Investment. This is quite unfortunate given the apparant lake of Global P-Pools and the recent USGS report that quantified global P at 62 Gigatons (ie 1 Billion Tons) and K at 250 Gigatons.

This data demonstrates our reliance on not just Carbon (i.e., Oil) but also N, P, and K alike. It will come to pass that the import of these 3 elements will approach if not surpass that of Oil in the next 50 years mark my words! However, there are tons of ways to ameliorate this trend and they include the application of Industrial Policy to large-scale composting ventures…Not at the Federal level but rather within counties or municipalities. These would produce two sustainable and non-trivial revenue streams via the sale of compost and anaerobic digestion of methane gas. Additionally, these materials could easily be applied to agricultural operations across the country as a dry (No Soluble P or N responsible for eutrophication), nutrient rich, carbon dense amendment. NO ZERO SUM HERE!

My primary concern going forward is what I will call the CNPS Approach, which just means that instead of having such a strong and disproportionate Carbon-Bias policy needs to focus equally on the other two-thirds of the biogeochemical pie, which are Nitrogen (N) and Phosphorus (P) (and Sulfur (S)). Everyone is familiar with the influence of CO2 and the established as well as nascent efforts aimed at monetizing carbon, but with some very simple modeling we could easily link the former to equally important Upward (i.e., CH4, N2O, and N2) and Downward Flows (i.e., NH4, NO3, PO4, and DOC) via emissions and leaching, respectively.

npk