Feb 28, 2011
Read full from EERE News
As the press release puts it, this fund will "leverage technology and business model innovation to improve energy efficiency, reduce waste and emissions, harness renewable energy, and more efficiently use natural resources, among other applications." As Soros puts it in the same release: "Developing alternative sources of energy and achieving greater energy efficiency is both a significant global investment opportunity and an environmental imperative." Cadie Thompson at CNBC's NetNet flagged this.
So, yeah. The big-government policies advanced by the liberal outfits he funds — like Center for American Progress — will enrich the companies in which Soros is investing.
But this story gets better.
The press release casually mentions whom Soros is hiring to run this new fund: Cathy Zoi. As Cadie Thompson at CNBC's NetNet (edited by my brother John Carney), puts it, Zoi was Barack Obama's "Acting Under Secretary for Energy and Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy."
An Al Gore acolyte, Zoi was Obama's point-woman on subsidizing green tech. Now she's going to work for George Soros to profit off of subsidized green tech. Rest here at WashingtonExaminer
Zoi, who joined the Obama Administration in 2009, became controversial during early 2010, after it was realized she had a financial interest in two companies that were poised to profit from government spending that promoted energy efficiency.
Cathy Zoi, the assistant secretary of energy for energy efficiency and renewable energy, owns between $250,000 and $500,000 worth of stock in Landis+Gyr, a Swiss-based manufacturer of special electric meters that are used to create an efficient "smart" grid of electricity use.
Her husband, Robin Roy, owns options on at least 120,000 shares of Serious Materials, a leading manufacturer of energy-efficient windows that's been singled out for praise by President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden. As an officer of the company, Roy receives options on an additional 2,500 shares every month and will continue to do so until October 2012.
During the Cold War a nuclear exchange between superpowers—such as the one feared for years between the United States and the former Soviet Union—was predicted to cause a "nuclear winter.".... Today, with the United States the only standing superpower, nuclear winter is little more than a nightmare. But nuclear war remains a very real threat—for instance, between developing-world nuclear powers, such as India and Pakistan.
The researchers predicted the resulting fires would kick up roughly five million metric tons of black carbon into the upper part of the troposphere, the lowest layer of the Earth's atmosphere.
In NASA climate models, this carbon then absorbed solar heat and, like a hot-air balloon, quickly lofted even higher, where the soot would take much longer to clear from the sky.
Reversing Global Warming?
The global cooling caused by these high carbon clouds ...After ten years, average global temperatures would still be 0.9 degree F (0.5 degree C) lower than before the nuclear war, the models predict. Read full at NationalGeographic
File under OMG are you kidding me????
Feb 27, 2011
In an interview with the AFP, an official at the Beijing Environmental Bureau who refused to release her identity stated, "Obviously elderly people and children should not go outside." Yikes.
The Beijing weather bureau reported that particulate pollution, rising temperatures and a lack of wind caused the thick smog to settle in, cutting visibility down to 200 meters. Air quality in Beijing is expected to remain poor until winds pick up today and blow the dense smog north of the city. Beijing's 4.8 million registered vehicles bear the brunt of the blame for the city's rising air pollution.
[Source: Yahoo News | Image: mckaysavage - C.C. License 2.0]
Now that the modern-day Porsche brain-trust is once again showing interest in hybrid technology, the German company has decided to bring back the 1900 Semper Vivus, which literally means always alive. Although the technology behind hybrids has come a long way - Porsche's first hybrid used about 4,000 pounds of lead acid batteries and could barely climb any kind of grade - the basic principles are actually much the same.
The husband of the Secretary of State – who is currently dealing with the American response to unrest in North Aftica and the Middle East – told the attendees that biofuels can affect the political arena by causing food prices to climb. Specifically, he said, "We have to become energy independent but we don't want to do it at the expense of food riots." He also said that the U.S. needs to "make intelligent decisions with three- to five-year time horizons based on the best evidence we have to maximize the availability of good food at affordable prices."
The direct connection between large-scale biofuel production and political turmoil didn't sit well with some in the audience. The Renewable Fuels Association's Matt Hartwig responded by saing, "The driver behind rising food prices has been and remains oil. President Clinton is right that ethanol is a key to American energy security and we would welcome his support in advocating for the continued advancement and evolution of this industry to include a wide variety of feedstocks and technologies."
[Source: Des Moines Register, Domestic Fuel, Growth Energy |AutoblogGreen]
Clinton and the history of the ethanol empire he helped subsidize
The Gazette - Jul 17, 1994
Democratic presidential nominee Bill Clinton criticized Bush for making "the wrong choice" on ethanol. Clinton said he would "find a way" to meet environmentalists' concerns about increased use of the fuel.
St. Louis Post-Dispatch, July 1, 1994
When farmers gaze across their next crop of corn, instead of feed for cattle they'll be seeing fuel - and dollar signs.
On Thursday, President Bill Clinton delivered an enormous boost to Midwestern farmers with an order that will increase markets around the country for corn-based ethanol fuel.
In a decision likely to be challenged in court, the Environmental Protection Agency prescribed formulas for blending fuel that will give ethanol a 15 percent share of the market
Some traders say $4 a gallon will be a reality in the not-too-distant future, and prices could shoot even higher....
"I don't think we're about to embark on a launch pad for another 2008. We went up to $4.11 by the summer. We went to nearly $5 for diesel," he said. He said the level where consumers start to feel real pain at the pump is about $3.80 to $4 per gallon.
"I'm definitely not in the group that's looking for the apocalypse right now. Let's watch California. California is the first state that will see prices go up to the point that will really impact consumers," he said. Read more at CNBC
Also on CNBC IEA Chief: $100 Oil 'Very, Very Bad' for Economy
This paper identifies opportunities possible in transportation reauthorization legislation and using existing legislative authority that will save oil and reduce GHG emissions. The strategy focuses on five key elements: vehicles; fuels; vehicle miles traveled (VMT); system efficiency; and construction, maintenance, and other activities of transportation agency operations.
Read Study Here
The report argues that our growing understanding of how we learn should play a much greater role in education policy and should also feature in teacher training. The reportalso discusses the challenges and limitations of applying neuroscience in the classroom and in learning environments throughout life. Read Full Report with Appendices
Cannabis is the most widely used addictive substance after tobacco and alcohol. The 2009 National Survey on Drug Use and Health reported that more than 16 million Americans use cannabis on a regular basis, most of whom started using cannabis and other drugs during their teenage years.
There is little doubt about the existence of an association between substance use and psychotic illness.
National mental health surveys have repeatedly found more substance use, especially cannabis use, among people with a diagnosis of a psychotic disorder.
There is a high prevalence of substance use among individuals treated in mental health settings, and patients with schizophrenia are more likely to use substances than members of the wider community. Prospective birth cohort and population studies suggest that the association between cannabis use and later psychosis might be causal, a conclusion supported by studies showing that cannabis use is associated with an earlier age at onset of psychotic disorders, particularly schizophrenia.
Fatih Birol, the IEA's chief economist, said high prices could put pressure on central banks to raise interest rates, especially in more developed countries such as the UK. "Oil prices are a serious risk for the global economic recovery," he said. "The global economic recovery is very fragile – especially in OECD countries." He said oil prices had entered a "danger zone" for the recovery at over $90 a barrel.
Brent crude prices fell back slightly from Monday's two-and-a-half-year high of $108.70 a barrel, but US oil prices at one stage rose by more than $8 a barrel to hit $94.49, the highest level since October 2008. That increase was partly a catch-up after the US markets were closed on Monday, but prices are also being driven by fears that unrest could spread to Saudi Arabia, the world's biggest crude exporter.
Read more at the The Guardian
Feb 26, 2011
Read full from TPM
The budget outline released by President Obama this week, just like last year’s proposal, includes about $3.5 trillion in tax cuts over ten years. Most of that cost comes from his $3.1 trillion proposal to make permanent most of the Bush tax cuts, which would cost 81 percent as much as extending all the Bush tax cuts.
Read full from Business Insider Chart of the Day
Since the world is using Wisconsin as a model.... so will I:
Wisconsin is fairly typical regarding the percentage of its citizens who work for the State or local government.
According to the US Dept of Commerce, Wisconsin had 214,506 "full time equivalent" state and local government employees in 2009. In July 2009, the estimated population of Wisconsin was 5,654,774. This is 3.79% of the population.
That means Wisconsin private workers pay for one out of every 30, and closer to one out of 20.
My numbers here do not include Wisconsin residents who work for the Federal Government or who work as contractors for any government. (Certainly there must be a few) It also does not include retired State workers who are now being supported by taxpayers.
And it is 1% or 55,371 of Wisconsin's federal employees and retirees that are the "pain in payrole"...
How Does Federal Compensation Compare?
- The average federal employee earns 57 percent greater cash pay and 85 percent greater total compensation than the average private-sector worker.
- "But ... there are, in fact, some federal employees who are getting underpaid because the federal pay system doesn't reward experience or hard work as Federal workers receive automatic seniority-based raises irrespective of performance.
- Number of Federal Workers Earning Over $150,000 Doubles Under in last few years
- The Presidents 2-year pay freeze for federal workers and suspension of the annual cost-of-living adjustment does not affect these raises.
Haase - These are discussions no one wants to have, I describe this as "the war within" during great recessions. Where we create conflict with the people we love and respect that are fundamental to serving and protecting our families and communities. But we are all in this together. The discussion has to be open and clearly defined in relaying message that little sacrifices have to be made for the few to avoid biblical hardship for us all.
And lets not kid ourselves... It is The Unfunded Liabilities Problem (Or Lack Thereof In Wisconsin) that is the concerning me and my colleagues in gov roles the most.
Three years of property, job and corporate tax revenue drops are killing state and federal programs. The fiscal Tsunami is coming...
Wanna watch more of Wisconsin's budget?
The Journal Sentinel has made public employee salary information available.
There is also the WI Statistical Information Center - School Staff and Salary Data.
16.896 Sale or contractual operation of state−owned heating, cooling, and power plants. (1) Notwithstanding ss. 13.48 (14) (am) and 16.705 (1), the department may sell any state−owned heating, cooling, and power plant or may contract with a private entity for the operation of any such plant, with or without solicitation of bids, for any amount that the department determines to be in the best interest of the state. Notwithstanding ss. 196.49 and 196.80, no approval or certification of the public service commission is necessary for a public utility to purchase, or contract for the operation of, such a plant, and any such purchase is considered to be in the public interest and to comply with the criteria for certification of a project under s. 196.49 (3) (b).
The bill would allow for the selling of state-owned heating/cooling/power plants without bids and without concern for the legally-defined public interest. Read full at PeakEnergy
"The potential is for a 21st-century version of the Johnstown Flood, a calamitous dam failure that killed more than 2,200 people in western Pennsylvania in 1889," Fountain writes. "But corps and local government officials say that the odds of such a disaster are extremely small, and that they have taken interim steps to reduce the risk, like preparing evacuation plans and limiting how much water can be stored behind the dam to less than two-thirds of the maximum."
"It's not just the loss of life, potentially," said David C. Serafini, lead technical expert for the corps on the project. "It's the economic damages and the environmental damage, too." (Read more from NY Times)
Also see ERDC Dam Decommissioning Information Site
- FEMA estimates 58,000 large dams will exceed their design life span by 2020.
- ASCE reported 61 dam failures and 520 incidents, 2100 structures classified as unsafe.
- There is a desire to restore threatened and endangered or economically and ecologically significant species affected by dams.
Feb 24, 2011
Well, we have it right here in Wisconsin.
Show your support by joining in at the grand opening of this cutting edge solar manufacturing plant in down town Milwaukee on Monday February 28th. Hope to see you there!
Helios Ribbon-Cutting Ceremony
Helios USA is open for business and building solar panels right here in Milwaukee Wisconsin and you're invited to their Ribbon-Cutting Ceremony on Monday, February 28th, 2011 at 3:30 PM.
Please send us an email to email@example.com and tell us your name and how many people you are planning to bring so we can make sure to save you a seat and gather enough refreshments.
LePage then added: "The only thing that I've heard is if you take a plastic bottle and put it in the microwave and you heat it up, it gives off a chemical similar to estrogen. So the worst case is some women may have little beards." - Gov. Paul LePage's
LePage said he has yet to see enough science to support a ban on BPA, a common additive to plastics that some research suggests may interfere with hormone levels and could cause long-term problems. LePage said until scientists can prove BPA is harmful, the state should not rush to restrict its use.
"BPA is one of the most well-studied chemicals, and it is just ludicrous to ignore the science," said Susan Shaw, a toxicologist at the Maine Environmental Research Institute who has been studying the effects of toxics on humans and animals for more than three decades. "There is a large body of evidence about the hazards of BPA that is irrefutable."
Feb 23, 2011
Here's another reason the recent approval of GMO alfalfa and sugar beets was a bad idea: researchers claim that Roundup Ready GE crops contain an organism, completely unknown until now, that has been shown to cause miscarriages in farm animals.
The new organism was detected only after researchers observed it using a 36,000X microscope. It is about the size of a virus.
The scary part: it can reproduce, and possesses the rare ability to cause disease in both plants and animals.
The research was performed by Professor Don M. Huber of Purdue University. Huber is also a coordinator for the USDA National Plant Disease Recovery System. He penned an open letter to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack outlining the dangers of this organism, how it was discovered, and his recommendation that a moratorium on the sale and planting of Roundup Ready crops be put in place immediately.
He states: "In summary, because of the high titer of this new animal pathogen in Roundup Ready crops, and its association with plant and animal diseases that are reaching epidemic proportions, we request USDA's participation in a multi-agency investigation, and an immediate moratorium on the deregulation of RR crops until the causal/predisposing relationship with glyphosate and/or RR plants can be ruled out as a threat to crop and animal production and human health.
It is urgent to examine whether the side-effects of glyphosate use may have facilitated the growth of this pathogen, or allowed it to cause greater harm to weakened plant and animal hosts. It is well-documented that glyphosate promotes soil pathogens and is already implicated with the increase of more than 40 plant diseases..."
A new organism, able to reproduce and cause disease in both plants and animals. If it's able to cause infertility and miscarriage in the farm animals that are in contact with it, one can only wonder: what is it doing to us?Filed under yikes... from a hugger
Feb 22, 2011
Every troop deployed in Afghanistan costs the U.S. $1 million per year, so simply bringing home 151 troops would save more money than his plan. And, with fiscal 2011 Afghanistan War spending alone to top $1.7 billion for Wisconsin taxpayers, an end to the war would free up more than ten times his plan's cash, which the president could use for state fiscal aid.
We are sweating the small stuff in Wisconsin...
State politicians in Wisconsin and beyond are going to have to face a moment of truth when federal stimulus aid runs out at the end of this year... and things get much worse for state.
Even Defense Secretary admits Afghan war is stupid
NY Times - Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates bluntly told an audience of West Point cadets on Friday that it would be unwise for the United States to ever fight another war like Iraq or Afghanistan, and that the chances of carrying out a change of government in that fashion again were slim.
“In my opinion, any future defense secretary who advises the president to again send a big American land army into Asia or into the Middle East or Africa should ‘have his head examined,’ as General MacArthur so delicately put it,” Mr. Gates told an assembly of Army cadets here.
Feb 21, 2011
"Scientists in Iceland have been studying and utilizing the power of geothermal wells for years. In 2009 one such study hit a standstill when a group ran into magma halfway into their dig. The roadblock has become a blessing in disguise, as recent research has shown that the magma can act as a potent new source of geothermal energy powerful enough to heat 25,000 to 30,000 homes." - Inhabitat
Earth to Island Dwellers, You live on a "geothermal gold mine" folks!
Source - "science 101"
So short in fact, that last year when the looming crisis, which reporters had been covering for years, became official, the price of helium-3 went from $150 per liter to $5,000 per liter. "We think the correct price should be $1500," Bentz said.
- Finally Congress to Address Helium Shortage Hurting Scientific Research and Nuclear Security (popSci) Failure to recognize an impending supply squeeze for helium-3--a nonradioactive gas produced in the agency's nuclear weapons complex--has created a national crisis requiring White House intervention and threatening... This Helium Shortage could hit the Nuke , Oil And Gas Industry - HARD
- Selling Off Nation's Helium Reserve is no Laughing Matter
- Within nine years Helium Reserve will be depleted - Sad clowns to follow
"It's reasonable to expect there will be more [solar storm] events," said Jane Lubchenco, administrator of the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. "The watchwords are predict and prepare."
The sun's activity goes up and down on a roughly 11-year cycle, and the next period of maximum activity is expected in 2013.
Feb 20, 2011
Feb 19, 2011
After two years of sending millions from homes to shelters, unemployed to streets and hungry to poverty.
Finally, tens of thousands line the streets of Wisconsin and across the nation to protest... wages and benefits? - WTF
Sure I "get it" being upset about increased health costs, salary caps and dwindling benefits but nearly everyone in the private, non-union sector already sacrificed these areas of their job, if their lucky to have one the last few years.
But where were these protesters 10 years and a trillion dollars ago?
Or does it only matter when they see their pay checks.
Instead of Americans starting a "war within" fighting over the last few good jobs and wages why do we not understand and stop the source of our economic problems?
Really? Are we choosing to:
- Cut cops & firefighters?
- Cut food programs?
- Cut home heating aid?
- Increase unemployed?
- Water protection?
- Health services
- Close schools?
- End unions?
Yep, and for what? Ohh yeah, war...
- The 10 year War in Afghanistan is the longest war in our history.
- Cost of Wars Since 2001...$1,154,263,213,866
- Over 1,400 American service members lost their lives in Afghanistan;over 8,800 have been wounded in action.
- Tens of thousands have suffered - Veterans with disability over 700,000
- The total cost to our economy could be over 4 Trillion, in health, oil, resource and disabilities
Vice President Biden said in Afghanistan last month that
"we are not leaving if you don't want us to leave." (AKA - Dan Quayle?)
Combined with the war in Iraq, they account for 23% of our deficits since 2003.
Washington Post - Where is the outcry from the Tea Partyers and the deficit hawks?
Fiscal conservatives should be howling that this war is being financed with borrowed money.
Those who support the war should be willing to pay for it.
And where is the liberal outrage? Those of us who are tired of being told that we can't afford green jobs, unemployment or health care should be screaming over our Treasury being used as an ATM when it comes to supporting the Karzai government.
To be fair, there are a handful of prominent critics on the left, center and right.
But most Americans are silent about the enormous sacrifice our country has made in blood and treasure.
They should be calling, writing or otherwise speaking out.
What are we giving up to maintain the status quo?
Columbia University professor Joseph Stiglitz told the House Veterans Affairs Committee in September that the costs of Iraq and Afghanistan, including interest payments on the money borrowed for these wars and care for our wounded soldiers and veterans, is likely to total $4 trillion to $6 trillion.
Simply put, we believe the human and financial costs of the war are unacceptable and unsustainable.
It is bankrupting us.
The United States should devise an exit plan to extricate ourselves from Afghanistan, not a plan to stay there four more years and "then we'll see." This doesn't mean that we abandon the Afghan people - rather, we should abandon this war strategy. It is a failure that has not brought stability to Afghanistan and has not enhanced our own security. As the retired career Army officer Andrew J. Bacevich has written, to die for a mystique is the wrong policy.
It is easier for politicians to "go along" rather than make waves. But we were elected to do the right thing, not what is politically expedient. The discussion of Afghanistan shouldn't be about politics, which we acknowledge are difficult, but what is right for our country. And the right thing is to end this war.
Read more from By James P. McGovern and Walter B. Jones at the Washington Post
While total Fed Credit shot up by an incredible $31 billion dollars last week, which (in the history of new Fed Credit) and that the Fed created the money to buy $28.3 billion in US government securities!
All of this in One Freaking Week (OFW)!
"I assume that Doug Noland was commenting about this whole nasty Federal Reserve thing, too, when he writes, "First, it was the Federal Reserve. After working studiously to create one, the Fed tossed its vaunted 'exit strategy' right into the scrapheap. They were to have moved to reduce holdings and liquidity operations that had ballooned during the 2008 financial crisis. Our central bank abruptly reversed course and instead chose to significantly expand stimulus – even in a non-crisis environment," so that now "Fed Credit has inflated $189bn in the past 14 weeks, with market perceptions of 'too big to fail' and moral hazard being further emboldened."Quote of the week by The Mogambo Guru
And the reason is simplicity itself: if you borrow $1 and promise to pay back $1.05, it is one thing, but if everyone borrows $1 and promises to pay back $1.05, then it is quite another!
Obviously, a lot of people are going to have to borrow $1.10 to pay back the $1.05, and then they have to borrow $1.16, then $1.22, then $1.28, all the time getting worse and worse and worse.
And now that government (local, state and federal) spending comprises HALF of all spending in the USA, the system has hideously mutated into a giant corrupt cesspool that is totally dependent on borrowing to support government spending.
From the paper:
From 24 distinct populations (12 subdivided into separate male and female populations), representing eight species, over 20000 animals were studied. Time trends for mean per cent weight change and the odds of obesity were tested for the samples from each population at an age period that corresponded roughly to early-middle adulthood (35 years) in human development.
As the authors point out in their discussion, these animal populations have all gained significant amounts of body weight in recent decades, despite little change to their diet or physical activity levels (for those in lab-controlled conditions, at least). There are some arguments that feral animals may be under selective pressure to increase in size, and that both feral and domestic animals may have more food available due increasing amounts of food waste in our cities. But when the authors looked at weight gain in non-lab (feral or domestic) vs lab animals, the non-lab animals actually gained less weight, not more. In other words, animals populations living in the most strictly controlled conditions were the same ones who saw the greatest increase in body weight in recent years. The authors also note that there may have been improvements in the housing conditions of lab animals in recent decades, but again it is interesting that the body weight of every single animal population in this study increased over time, despite wildly different living conditions, with no one factor able to explain the increases in these disparate groups.
Assuming that the issues discussed above are unlikely to account for all of the increase in body weight in these animal populations, what options are we left with? All sorts of things! Everything from the AD36 virus, to endocrine distrupting chemicals, to light pollution and climate change. Seriously. There is an excellent paper on all of these putative "non-traditional" causes of the obesity epidemic which I hope to discuss on the blog soon, and which is available to all here.
Now I'm not yet ready to believe that diet and physical activity play no role in the development of obesity, as there is plenty of evidence that they do. This paper also used some pretty intense statistical procedures that are above my pay-scale (not surprisingly, this paper was written by the same group as the Obesity Paradox paper that I discussed last week). But there is enough evidence to suggest that these environmental factors play a role of some kind, and are definitely worth further study. One other interesting point noted by the authors of the present study is that, assuming all of our lab animals are growing heavier over time, there might be unintended consequences for studies using animal models.
Read full at Animal obesity: canary in the coal mine? | Obesity Panacea
History repeats itself: food riots are breaking out across the poorer nations, the Middle East is in turmoil and Brent crude has passed the $100 mark – 2011 is opening just like 2008 did.
Now, it may be just coincidence, but it looks suspiciously like the issues that shaped the first half of 2008 are back: oil demand is surging, its price is rising, and people in the poorer nations are consequently finding the cost of staple foods out of reach. There is a direct link between the cost of oil and food – which I'll return to in a subsequent post – and so the first to suffer from a rise in oil prices are people in developing countries living on a couple of dollars a day who cannot absorb rising costs.
If the cost of oil goes on rising – and all indicators suggest it will – then we will see a growing humanitarian disaster around the globe. Neither are our industrial economies immune: based on the assumption that $150-per-barrel oil breaks the machine, how much space do we have before we see oil prices triggering another global recession?
First, a flashback to 2008 is in order. The year opened with food riots which gathered momentum in the first half of the year. There were riots in India, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Senegal, Mauritania, Cote d'Ivoire, Egypt, Yemen, Morocco, Haiti, Senegal and Somalia. Varying levels of unrest were also reported in Mexico, Bolivia, Uzbekistan, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and South Africa.
The International Energy Agency (IEA) website archives monthly oil market reports, so we can see that oil began the year on a high, crossing the psychological $100 barrier, and projected global demand for oil rising:
NYMEX light sweet crude futures breached $100/bbl in early January and remain near record highs, lifted by falling stocks, cold weather and tight fundamentals. Tensions in Nigeria and the Middle East and fund positioning remain important supportive factors.
2007 world oil demand is revised up by 150 kb/d to 85.8 mb/d on stronger-than-expected deliveries in Asia and the Middle East and cold OECD weather.
You can follow the surging prices through the first half of 2008, each month setting a new record: $105 per barrel by early March, $110 in April, $126 in May, around $140 in June ("following comments by an Israeli official that an attack on Iranian nuclear facilities was 'inevitable' and. . . against a tight supply background with no clear sign of the usual second-quarter crude oil stockbuild") to an early July peak just above $145 per barrel. Then came the recessionary fall from $147 a barrel in July to $32 in December. (It was back up to $85 within five months, despite the global economic collapse.)
Now, jump forward to 2011. The year opened with the UN announcing that food prices"surged to a new historic peak in January, for the seventh consecutive month," and further price increases could trigger upheaval and riots in developing countries. We have already seen protests over food prices in Niger, Guinea, Burkina Faso, Mexico, Tunisia and Yemen this year. Protests linked to prices of staple foods are currently sweeping across the Middle East: Bahrain, Libya, Yemen, Iran, Iraq and Egypt are aflame.
Now, oil: the IEA's Oil Market Report for January 2011, published February 10, shows Brent crude reaching the psychological $100 barrier and demand increasing:
Crude prices were propelled higher at end-January by political unrest in Egypt, with Brent crude reaching $100/bbl on fears that the turmoil might disrupt Suez canal and SUMED pipeline flows or spread in the region. Although prices have since eased, Brent futures remain around $100.50/bbl and WTI [West Texas Intermediate] at $87.20/bbl at writing.
Global oil product demand for 2010 and 2011 is revised up by 120 kb/d on average on higher-than-expected submissions in non OECD Asia and improved economic prospects for OECD North America. At 87.8 mb/d in 2010, global oil demand rose by 2.8 mb/d year-on-year, and should reach 89.3 mb/d in 2011 (+1.5 mb/d year on-year).
World oil supply rose 0.5 mb/d in January, to 88.5 mb/d, on higher OPEC crude and NGL output.
(Canadian oilsands output is already flooding parts of the US market, driving down West Texas Intermediate crude oil prices, while Brent is now more of a bellwether for international price trends.)
So, according to the IEA, global demand for oil is set to reach 89.3 million barrels per day in 2011; supply is stated at 88.5 million barrels per day, with Opec effective spare capacity – its ability to open the spigots and produce more at a moment's notice – offering an additional 4.7 million barrels per day.