An Energy Three-fer

Gil Friend‘s been the busy blogger this weekend, publishing three posts titled “Energy Juxtapositions.” The first takes note of a Financial Times article (subscription required) on recent simulations of terrorist attacks on oil facilities. The findings of the simulation:

For the scenario, which included the evacuation of foreign workers from Saudi Arabia and unrest in Nigeria, analysts at Sanford Bernstein calculated that a 4 per cent reduction in world oil supply would increase prices by more than 170 per cent….

Oil facilities were too large to guard, the mock cabinet found, and diplomatic solutions were marred by unreasonable (in the eyes of the US) demands by countries such as Saudi Arabia, which among other things had demanded that the US stop putting it under pressure over democratisation.

Gil also links us to John Robb’s Global Guerillas blog and Joel Makower’s recent post on why Americans aren’t buying clean power.

Energy Juxtapositions 2 discusses the disappearance of the Hirsch report online. This report, released by the Department of Energy in February, paints a grim picture of peak oil in the United States, and provides the foundation for Richard Heinberg’s article on the Oil Depletion Protocol.

Finally, Gil jumps into the debate we’ve been having here at sustainablog on nuclear energy, pointing to a recent San Franscisco Chronicle op-ed by Mark Hertsgaard that argues nuclear power doesn’t meet the economic smell tests. Hertsgaard quotes Amory Lovins’ critique of nuclear energy economics (which several of our guests have questioned), and makes a point that way too many critics seem unwilling to address:

On a more fundamental level, any defeat of nuclear power is likely to be short-lived if America does not confront what Diamond calls its core value of consumerism. After all, there is only so much waste to wring out of any given economy. Eventually, if human population and appetites keep growing — and some growth is inevitable, given the ambitions of China and other newly industrializing nations — new sources of energy must be exploited. At that point, nuclear power and other undesirable alternatives such as shale oil will be waiting…

Environmentalists have been afraid to talk honestly about consumerism ever since a cardigan-clad Jimmy Carter was ridiculed for urging people to turn down their thermostats in the 1979 oil crisis. But now that our species, through our carbon-fueled pursuit of the good life, has turned up the planet’s thermostat to ominous levels, it’s time to break the silence. We don’t have to freeze in the dark, but neither can we keep consuming as if there’s no tomorrow.

Obviously, much to discuss here. I’ll drop Gil a note asking him to join our conversation; in the mean time, let’s hear what you have to say…

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