Daily Digest

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Daily Digest 9/28 - More On Arctic Oil Discovery, When Everything Works Like Your Cell Phone

Sunday, September 28, 2014, 9:23 AM

Economy

Economists: Your Parents Are More Important Than Ever (jdargis)

First, the income of your parents matters—not just as a strong predictor for your own income (given how weak social mobility is), but also as a nudge for your life path. The kids of rich parents are 80 percent more likely to attend college than those of low-income parents. Teenage daughters of the poorest parents are 37 percent more likely to have a child than girls born in the richest decile.

The Magic Number That Could End the Ebola Epidemic (jdargis)

Seventy percent is a number full of hope and dread. Hope, because it’s a goal that feels attainable; a developed country would be able to handle 70 percent isolation on its own soil in short order. Dread, because in Ebola-swept regions like Liberia and Sierra Leone, we are nowhere near achieving it. Right now, only about 18 percent of Ebola patients in Liberia are being isolated.

Each day the epidemic persists makes 70 percent more difficult to reach. More doctors, hospital beds and treatment centers will be needed, and more people must be educated about the disease. For every 30-day delay, the peak number of new daily cases triples, according to a model of the disease created by the CDC.

When Everything Works Like Your Cell Phone (jdargis)

With smartness comes something else: hackability. If you have a computer, and it’s on the network, it can be breached by someone or something else. Build a smart ceiling fan and you have a ceiling fan that can be hacked.

This is the future that Kevin Meagher, the general manager of Lowe's SmartHomes initiative, is paid to think about. Talking to GigaOm this summer, he implied that the smarthome—even the smart air conditioner—will exist in a tremendously messy environment.

Obamacare doctor networks to stay limited in 2015 (jdargis)

Altogether, the 10 insurers in Covered California have contracted with an estimated 75% of California's licensed physicians, or nearly 90% of those considered active in the state. However, many of those doctors are available in just one or two health plans.

All of these insurance networks for individual policies are subject to change and regulatory review before taking effect Jan. 1. The next open enrollment under the Affordable Care Act runs Nov. 15 to Feb. 15.

The Alberta Tar Sands (jdargis)

Buried just beneath a layer of muskeg and forest in northern Alberta, Canada, lies a 50,000 square mile reservoir of heavy crude oil, possibly holding 2 trillion barrels of recoverable oil. These bitumen deposits require a lot of effort to extract, recover, and pre-process before the oil can be sent to conventional refineries. Most of the current extraction process takes place in open-pit mines, with massive machinery scraping up the tarry sandstone and moving it to facilities for processing. As the name "tar sands", or oil sands, implies, the heavy crude is found mixed in with sand, clay, and water, which must be removed, then the heavy crude must be "upgraded" to reduce viscosity and improve quality. Environmental activists have expressed concerns about the mining for years, citing destructive impacts on the land, the heavy carbon footprint of the laborious extraction and upgrade process, massive amounts of toxic byproducts, and studies that show oil sands crude emits more greenhouse gases than conventional crude oil.

Rosneft and Exxon discover Arctic oil (jdargis)

"This is our united victory - it was achieved thanks to our friends and partners from Exxon Mobil, Nord Atlantic Drilling, Schlumberger, Halliburton, Weatherford, Baker, Trendsetter, FMC."

Experts said more testing would need to be carried out before an accurate picture of recoverable reserves in the region could be established.

A Rare Arctic Land Sale Stirs Concerns in Norway (jdargis)

Ola Giaever, the seller of the property near Tromso, said he had “100 percent confidence” that Mr. Huang was a straight-up businessman with no hidden agenda. “This is a business deal. Nothing else is going on,” Mr. Giaever said in a telephone interview.

Plowing Bedrock (bobwise32952)

A statement in JM Greer's blog last month challenged everything I thought I knew about soil management in American cropland. At today's rate of erosion, he wrote, the topsoil would be gone by 2075. Gone! The land might look like Providence Canyon, where poor soil management in the 1820’s triggered runaway erosion that is still going on.

Gold & Silver

Click to read the PM Daily Market Commentary: 9/24/14

Provided daily by the Peak Prosperity Gold & Silver Group

Article suggestions for the Daily Digest can be sent to [email protected]. All suggestions are filtered by the Daily Digest team and preference is given to those that are in alignment with the message of the Crash Course and the "3 Es."

5 Comments

Doug's picture
Doug
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Oct 1 2008
Posts: 3124
tar sands

As the article notes, the tar sands are excavated primarily in "muskeg".  For those not familiar with that term, it is synonymous with bog.  Boglands are saturated year round and consist of organic material, typically sphagnum moss, mixed with remains of other vegetation, in various stages of decomposition.  They occur in locations where there is little flow of water,(some referred to as “kettle hole” bogs for their bowl like shape with no outflow) leaving the bog mat to die and remain in place through its stages of decay while more vegetative matter goes through its life cycle, dies and collects on top of the mat.  The environment is acidic and, beneath the water surface, anaerobic.  Therefore, the vegetation decays very slowly.  There are occasional stories of recovering animals including humans that were buried or died in the bogs and are preserved for thousands of years.  Very few species of plants can survive in this environment and many of those plants are found nowhere else.  Think of pitcher plants and sundew, both of which are carnivorous.  As the bog mats build up, sometimes as deep as ten meters, they are called peat which is a common garden additive and is “mined” in Europe for heating fuel.  Bogs have been widely recognized as valuable not only for the diversity of species, but also as carbon sinks.

The spectacular and very disturbing pictures accompanying the article show what muskeg looks like before excavation and what remains afterward.  The one pic showing a small patch of land that has been “reclaimed” looks little like a bog.  It has some grass growing (very little grass grows in bogs) and some conifers that were no doubt planted.

Of course, I have no idea what that little patch looked like before it was stripped, but it does point out a prevalent misconception about reclamation of lands that have been destroyed by strip mining or other industrial uses.  The reclamation projects rarely replace what was destroyed.  A wetlands biologist friend admits to nearly crying when he toured some reclaimed land in coal country.  It looks pretty to the uninitiated, but for those who know what was there before, it looks sterile and performs few of the ecological functions the original terrain performed.

So, I have to wonder what happens to all that peat that is stripped away to get to the tar sands below.  If it dries, it burns easily as we have seen this year in Canada where lack of rain is resulting in peat fires that can burn for long periods of time spewing all that sequestered carbon into the atmosphere.  Also, what happens to the water that saturated those bogs?  Is it mixed with the chemicals used in tar sands mining and refining, and then pumped into the “tailing ponds” where it will likely remain lifeless for who knows how long?  (The tar in tar sands has to be refined just to flow in pipelines)    

I also wonder if the loss of the biological bog function is figured into eroi of the tar that is excavated and finally refined into a useful substance.  I doubt it.  It is probably one more insult to the “commons” that belong to all of us, but which is never calculated or paid for by the industry that destroys it.

Doug

saxplayer00o1's picture
saxplayer00o1
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Jul 30 2009
Posts: 4060
Arthur Robey's picture
Arthur Robey
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Feb 4 2010
Posts: 3936
Energy conference in Washington.

1st to 3rd Oct. if anyone is interested in the energy problem.

You will get to shake hands with Bill Clinton and Al Gore if that is your thing.

Tall's picture
Tall
Status: Platinum Member (Offline)
Joined: Feb 18 2010
Posts: 564
You are right Doug

Re: "...but it does point out a prevalent misconception about reclamation of lands that have been destroyed by strip mining or other industrial uses. The reclamation projects rarely replace what was destroyed. A wetlands biologist friend admits to nearly crying when he toured some reclaimed land in coal country. It looks pretty to the uninitiated, but for those who know what was there before, it looks sterile and performs few of the ecological functions the original terrain performed."

So called wetland restorations may not function in the historic state at all, or may take many years to do so. In some cases, flora and fauna may eventually resemble the previous environment, but the ecosystem services do not.

See: Structural and Functional Loss in Restored Wetland Ecosystems http://www.plosbiology.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pbio.1...

tom.'s picture
tom.
Status: Gold Member (Offline)
Joined: Aug 18 2008
Posts: 345
Mac-Arthur

cheeky

 

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