Friday, 30 July 2010

EDF sells its UK electricity networks to Hong Kong

According to this article in the FT, EDF is selling it's UK electricity distribution networks to Cheung Kong Infrastructure, which is based in Hong Kong. Apparently the company is trying to reduce its debts.

So now some of the electricity infrastructure in the UK is not even owned within Europe, it's owned by the Far East. I expect to see more of this kind of thing. The West is generally on the way down, while China and India are on the way up.


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Monday, 26 July 2010

The Death of Paper Money

Interesting story in the Telegraph today, with some quotes from "When Money Dies: the Nightmare of The Weimar Hyper-Inflation", such as:

Near civil war between town and country was a pervasive feature of this break-down in social order. Large mobs of half-starved and vindictive townsmen descended on villages to seize food from farmers accused of hoarding. The diary of one young woman described the scene at her cousin’s farm.

"In the cart I saw three slaughtered pigs. The cowshed was drenched in blood. One cow had been slaughtered where it stood and the meat torn from its bones. The monsters had slit the udder of the finest milch cow, so that she had to be put out of her misery immediately. In the granary, a rag soaked with petrol was still smouldering to show what these beasts had intended," she wrote.


Corruption became rampant. People were stripped of their coat and shoes at knife-point on the street. The winners were those who -- by luck or design -- had borrowed heavily from banks to buy hard assets, or industrial conglomerates that had issued debentures. There was a great transfer of wealth from saver to debtor, though the Reichstag later passed a law linking old contracts to the gold price. Creditors clawed back something.

Read the full story here.

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Saturday, 17 July 2010

Best Peak Oil books

I've read a number of Peak Oil books over the years, but I think my favourite is still the first one I read, "The Party's Over: Oil, War and the Fate of Industrial Societies", by Richard Heinberg. A thorough and well-written book, it will give you a complete understanding of Peak Oil and the implications, while not being too dry.

Of course, The Party's Over is not as up to date these days, so another good one, this time written by a Brit rather than an American is "The Last Oil Shock", by David Strahan, who has worked for the BBC for many years on science and business programmes. I found this an excellent book, with a completely different tone, as you might expect being written by an investigative journalist type rather than an academic.

On the other hand, if you want some fiction, there's a couple of great Peak Oil novels by Alex Scarrow: "Last Light" and the sequel "Afterlight". These are admittedly at the doomer end of the spectrum of possible futures, but well worth the read if only to persuade you to make sure the world doesn't turn out this way!


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What is Peak Oil?

The first thing to understand is that Peak Oil is not about oil supplies running out. Instead, it's about when the rate at which oil is supplied reaches an all-time high, and starts to decline. This is influenced by a range of factors including geology, the technology used to extract the oil, and above-ground factors such as natural disasters, politics and war.

At a basic level, when an oil reservoir is discovered the oil production from it increases over time at first, as more wells are drilled and more advanced technology is used to extract the oil. Eventually a peak is reached, sometimes followed by a plateau for a few years. After this an irreversible decline sets in, as the reservoir depletes, although a small amount of production may continue for many years. Within a country, oil reservoirs are discovered over time, so the production peaks are spread out, but the cumulative production will still reach a peak and then decline. The same is true for the world as a whole.

I'm not going to go any further into the background here, as I'd just be re-hashing what has been written many times before. There's some links at the end if you want to read more about the science behind it all. The important thing is that the peak is probably pretty soon, if it hasn't happened already, and that the implications are serious and demand immediate action to tackle them. These include effects on transportation, food supply, heating, electricity generation, and are compounded by the fact that all minerals reach a peak in supply at some point, including gas, coal and uranium as well.

This aim of blog is to bring the latest relevant news on Peak Oil to you, along with comment and analysis where appropriate. Hopefully this will be useful, and encourage you to find out more and take whatever action you can.


For more information:
The Oil Drum
Energy Bulletin
Oil Depletion Analysis Centre

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