Daily Digest

Daily Digest 2/27 - Policy Makers Pledge To Halt Oil Shock Inflation, Autocracies Around The World, The Dangers Of Hydrofracking

Sunday, February 27, 2011, 10:44 AM
  • China's Wen Vows to Contain Food, Home Prices Amid `Jasmine' Protest Calls
  • Policy Makers Pledge to Halt Any Inflation From Oil Price Surge
  • Mideast Unrest Spreads To Oman; 2 Killed In Protests
  • China Lowers Growth Rate Target In Sustainability Drive
  • Obama Urges Budget Consensus To Prevent 'Gridlock'
  • The Lands Autocracy Won't Quit
  • Panel Report on Gulf Spill Is Delayed
  • Regulation Lax as Gas Wells’ Tainted Water Hits Rivers

Our 'What Should I Do?' guide has steps to cook, see & stay warm in times of power outage


China's Wen Vows to Contain Food, Home Prices Amid `Jasmine' Protest Calls (SolidSwede)

The leadership is “determined” to punish abuse of power, which is too concentrated in the government and key officials, Wen said in an online interview with Chinese citizens on the site of the official Xinhua News Agency. Wen promised to boost food supplies to hold down costs, and to tackle surging property prices that have put home ownership beyond the reach of many.

Policy Makers Pledge to Halt Any Inflation From Oil Price Surge (jdargis)

Yellen and Constancio didn’t say whether they’ll act soon to control prices as Muammar Qaddafi struggles to retain power in Libya, Africa’s third-biggest oil producer. The Fed and ECB diverged in their response to a rise in oil prices in 2008, with European policy makers raising their benchmark interest rate and the Americans holding off.

If there is “an oil price shock and that does lead to inflation expectations moving up, what would happen is core inflation would move up to headline inflation,” said Bank of England Deputy Governor Charles Bean, who was also on the panel. The event was hosted by the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business.

Mideast Unrest Spreads To Oman; 2 Killed In Protests (jdargis)

Hundreds of Omanis have assembled in the city of Sohar, demanding political reforms and job creation. The state-controlled media, Oman News Agency, said some public and private property in the city was destroyed.

"The police and anti-riot groups combated this vandal group in a bid to maintain the safety of the citizens and their properties which resulted in some injuries," the agency said. Reuters reports that protests have also taken place in the town of Salalah.

China Lowers Growth Rate Target In Sustainability Drive (jdargis)

Mr Wen said the growth rate change would "raise the quality and efficiency of economic growth" and conceded that one factor was the impact on the environment.

"We absolutely must not any longer sacrifice the environment for the sake of rapid growth and reckless roll-outs," said Mr Wen. "That will lead to production capacity gluts and deepening pressure on the environment and resources so that economic development will be unsustainable."

Obama Urges Budget Consensus To Prevent 'Gridlock' (jdargis)

Although Mr Obama is empowered to propose a budget, it is up to the US Congress to pass it into law and then to distribute the funds.

"Next week, Congress will focus on a short-term budget. For the sake of our people and our economy, we cannot allow gridlock to prevail," Mr Obama said in his weekly radio address.

The Lands Autocracy Won't Quit (jdargis)

Nearly two decades ago, the collapse of Soviet Communism offered the promise that power would soon be wielded differently in this region: The newly independent former Soviet republics, sprung from the shackles of totalitarianism, would embrace free elections, multiple political parties and a vigorously independent media.

But those hopes now seem premature, or perhaps naïve. In the 1990’s, the Soviet breakup sowed chaos — most notably in Russia — and a corps of autocrats arose in response, pledging stability and economic growth. The brand of democracy that is advanced in the West emerged discredited in many of these countries.


Panel Report on Gulf Spill Is Delayed (jdargis)

Delays in testing the blowout preventer that failed to stop the spill forced the panel — a joint effort by the Coast Guard and the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement — to seek another deadline extension.

The final report was due in March. Instead, the investigation team said on Friday that the panel now has until July. It will make a preliminary statement by mid-April.

Regulation Lax as Gas Wells’ Tainted Water Hits Rivers (jdargis)

With hydrofracking, a well can produce over a million gallons of wastewater that is often laced with highly corrosive salts, carcinogens like benzene and radioactive elements like radium, all of which can occur naturally thousands of feet underground. Other carcinogenic materials can be added to the wastewater by the chemicals used in the hydrofracking itself.

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bandvbandv's picture
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Gerald Celente and Max

Gerald Celente and Max Kieser



littleone's picture
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Re: Gerald Celente and Max


Thanks for posting the link.

After listening to the third video, I just tried to light my tap water...to make sure it isn't flammable from contamination due to frac'ing.


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$30 Oil

From the Associated Press:


CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – A Massachusetts biotechnology company says it can produce the fuel that runs Jaguars and jet engines using the same ingredients that make grass grow.

Joule Unlimited has invented a genetically-engineered organism that it says simply secretes diesel fuel or ethanol wherever it finds sunlight, water and carbon dioxide.

The Cambridge, Mass.-based company says it can manipulate the organism to produce the renewable fuels on demand at unprecedented rates, and can do it in facilities large and small at costs comparable to the cheapest fossil fuels.

What can it mean? No less than "energy independence," Joule's web site tells the world, even if the world's not quite convinced.

"We make some lofty claims, all of which we believe, all which we've validated, all of which we've shown to investors," said Joule chief executive Bill Sims.

"If we're half right, this revolutionizes the world's largest industry, which is the oil and gas industry," he said. "And if we're right, there's no reason why this technology can't change the world."

The doing, though, isn't quite done, and there's skepticism Joule can live up to its promises.

National Renewable Energy Laboratory scientist Philip Pienkos said Joule's technology is exciting but unproven, and their claims of efficiency are undercut by difficulties they could have just collecting the fuel their organism is producing.

Timothy Donohue, director of the Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, says Joule must demonstrate its technology on a broad scale.

Perhaps it can work, but "the four letter word that's the biggest stumbling block is whether it `will' work," Donohue said. "There are really good ideas that fail during scale up."

Sims said he knows "there's always skeptics for breakthrough technologies."

"And they can ride home on their horse and use their abacus to calculate their checkbook balance," he said.

Joule was founded in 2007. In the last year, it's roughly doubled its employees to 70, closed a $30 million second round of private funding in April and added John Podesta, former White House chief of staff under President Bill Clinton, to its board of directors.

The company worked in "stealth mode" for a couple years before it recently began revealing more about what it was doing, including with a patent for its cyanobacterium last year. This month, it released a peer-reviewed paper it says backs its claims.

Work to create fuel from solar energy has been done for decades, such as by making ethanol from corn or extracting fuel from algae. But Joule says they've eliminated the middleman that's makes producing biofuels on a large scale so costly.

That middleman is the "biomass," such as the untold tons of corn or algae that must be grown, harvested and destroyed to extract a fuel that still must be treated and refined to be used. Joule says its organisms secrete a completed product, already identical to diesel fuel or ethanol, then live on to keep producing it at remarkable rates.

Joule claims, for instance, that its cyanobacterium can produce 15,000 gallons of diesel full per acre annually, over four times more than the most efficient algal process for making fuel. And they say they can do it at $30 a barrel.

A key for Joule is the cyanobacterium it chose, which is found everywhere and is less complex than algae, so it's easier to genetically manipulate, said biologist Dan Robertson, Joule's top scientist.

The organisms are engineered to take in sunlight and carbon dioxide, then produce and secrete ethanol or hydrocarbons — the basis of various fuels, such as diesel — as a byproduct of photosynthesis.

The company envisions building facilities near power plants and consuming their waste carbon dioxide, so their cyanobacteria can reduce carbon emissions while they're at it.

The flat, solar-panel style "bioreactors" that house the cyanobacterium are modules, meaning they can build arrays at facilities as large or small as land allows, the company says. The thin, grooved panels are designed for maximum light absorption, and also so Joule can efficiently collect the fuel the bacteria secrete.

Recovering the fuel is where Joule could find significant problems, said Pienkos, the NREL scientist, who is also principal investigator on a Department of Energy-funded project with Algenol, a Joule competitor that makes ethanol and is one of the handful of companies that also bypass biomass.

Pienkos said his calculations, based on information in Joule's recent paper, indicate that though they eliminate biomass problems, their technology leaves relatively small amounts of fuel in relatively large amounts of water, producing a sort of "sheen." They may not be dealing with biomass, but the company is facing complicated "engineering issues" in order to recover large amounts of its fuel efficiently, he said.

"I think they're trading one set of problems for another," Pienkos said.

Success or failure for Joule comes soon enough. The company plans to break ground on a 10-acre demonstration facility this year, and Sims says they could be operating commercially in less than two years.

Robertson talks wistfully about the day he'll hop into the Ferrari he doesn't have, fill it with Joule fuel and gun the engine in an undeniable demonstration of the power and reality of Joule's ideas. Later, after leading a visitor on a tour of the labs, Robertson comes upon a poster of a sports car on an office wall, and it reminds him of the success he's convinced is coming. He motions to the picture.

"I wasn't kidding about the Ferrari," he says.

green_achers's picture
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I'll believe this hype when I've seen a reliable account of it's being made to work at the scale of at least one acre.  Extrapoating from lab results to production is easy on paper, not so easy in real life.  I can easily hypothesize a dozen factors that could make scaling up a technology like this pretty close to impossible.

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