Reposting: Mars Attacks!

December 28, 2019

From 2009.

Investors hate uncertainty, but the number of moving parts in the energy picture make fossil fuel’s future cloudier than ever.

Sydney Morning Herald:

The sale of the century has ended in farce. The modest sums raised from the “privatisation” of Saudi Aramco will barely cover the kingdom’s fiscal deficit for six months. The $US25 billion ($37 billion) haul will not make any impact on Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s Vision 2030, his theatrical plan to break oil addiction and diversify into everything from car plants to weapons production. Nor will it go far to launch NEOM, his robotic half-trillion dollar white elephant on the Red Sea.

At least there was doubt before about the predicament facing the House of Saud. Now there can be none. The regime resorted to tricks just to sell just 1.5 per cent of the shares on the local Tadawul exchange: a “Ritz Carlton” shake-down of princes; doubling the bank leverage limit for Saudi retail customers so that they can buy the stock; and calling in diplomatic chips from the Gulf alliance.

Other foreigners will not touch Aramco, even after the prestige valuation of $US2 trillion was trimmed to $US1.6 trillion – $US1.7 trillion. Theoretical oil reserves are not worth much these days as the climate backlash gathers force, and Aramco carries a special discount as the opaque political instrument of a headstrong master.

Riyadh needs every dollar of current revenue to pay for its cradle-to-grave welfare system, to cover the world’s fourth biggest military budget and the war in Yemen, as well as bankrolling Egypt. This is an extraordinary cost edifice for a middle-income country like Saudi Arabia, with a per capita income similar to Greece.

The regime requires a crude price of $US85 a barrel to balance the books (IMF data) even without losing the dividend stream from Aramco. It has not been that high for five years. Brent is at $US62.

Standard and Poor’s says the fiscal deficit will be 8.1 per cent of GDP this year and stay near these levels into the early 2020s. While the Saudis are no longer running down reserves to cover the shortfall, they are racking up debt instead at a brisk pace. “It’s a fact that Saudi Arabia is gradually running out of money,” said former CIA chief General David Petraeus last week.

To buy shares in a state monopoly that also serves as the regime’s fiscal lifeline is to court fate. If push came to shove, would Prince Mohammed resist siphoning off Aramco revenues through taxes and leave nothing for dividends?

Aramco’s flop is a sobering moment for Opec. The historical window may be closing on the cartel even sooner than they feared. These countries built a spending structure on assumptions of $US100 oil and an eternal Chinese boom. But five years after the 2014 crash, there is no sustained recovery in sight.

Whenever crude prices top $US50 US shale companies lock in forward sales and drill. They nip every cyclical rally in the bud. It is an Opec mantra that frackers are exhausting their sweet spots, but the shale downturn keeps refusing to arrive. The US Energy Department says output from US tight oil will reach a record 9.1 million barrels a day (b/d) in December. Opec and Russia face a “low for longer” price landscape that could last deep into the next decade. By then electric vehicles (EV) will have reached purchase cost parity with petrol and diesel engines.

It is going to be a grim winter for the Opec-Russia alliance. They again face the risk of a price slide unless ministers agree to yet further output cuts at their Vienna meeting in December. The International Energy Agency says they are being squeezed by rivals: global oil demand is expected to grow by 1.2 million b/d next year; but supply from Brazil, Norway, Guyana, and above all the US Permian Basin will rise by 2.3 million b/d.

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Glaciologist Jason Box is founder of Dark Snow Project, and has been my guide and mentor, now, in a half dozen crowd-funded expeditions on and around the Greenland ice sheet.

Bill Maher interviewed Dr. Box in summer 2014, and discussed some of the first uses of (still somewhat primitive by today’s standards) drones to observe the ice sheet.

From 2010.

Can’t be emphasized enough how long climate science has been established consensus. That’s why media clips like these have to be shared and reshared.
Deniers understand Goebbel’s dictum about repeating a lie. Too often good people forget it is even more important to repeat the truth.

Reposting: Brain vs Blowhard

December 26, 2019

House GOP leader McCarthy – “There’s two people Putin pays, Trump and Rohrabacher”.

Coincidentally both climate deniers. See how Richard Alley handled one of them at a hearing. From 2010.

Good story from Jim White, told at the American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting in 2014.

New York Times:

When I moved to the Amazon “Wild West” town of Paragominas in northern Brazil in 1984 as a young scientist studying forest recovery on abandoned pastures, I expected a town filled with bandits and land grabbers. Instead, what I mostly found were courageous, hard-working families from across Brazil who had come to this rugged town of sawmills, cattle ranches and smallholder settlements to improve their lot in life.

But as the global outcry over recent Amazon fires and the rise in deforestation has demonstrated yet again, the stigma surrounding Amazon farmers as accomplices in this destruction remains, making enemies of would-be allies.

Indeed, outrage over the fires and President Jair Bolsonaro’s rhetoric and actions obscures a central question: Can responsible, law-abiding landholders and businesspeople in the Amazon — like those I met in Paragominas — compete with people who break the law, grab land and forest resources and drive much of the deforestation? 

The simple answer is no. And until that changes, it will be difficult to stop the cutting and burning of these forests, which worldwide account for about a tenth of the carbon dioxide emissions that are warming the planet. But two recent developments suggested things may be changing for the better.

One turn of events was the decision by the California Air Resources Board in September to endorse — after 10 years of design and debate — a Tropical Forest Standard that could protect the forests of the Amazon and beyond. The standard sets rules for state, provincial and national governments in the Amazon to limit deforestation so that they can qualify to sell credits to companies seeking to offset some of their greenhouse gas emissions.

This standard is designed to make sure that the carbon offsets that companies are buying are actually going to real, verifiable deforestation efforts. What’s significant about the standard is its size — it focuses on recognizing and rewarding successful forest conservation across entire states, provinces or even nations in the Amazon. Moreover, and this is critical, it includes principles for guaranteeing that indigenous groups and other local communities have a voice in the policies and programs that are developed. 

California’s endorsement of the standard also sends an important signal to the governors of these Amazonian states and provinces and leaders in other tropical regions that their efforts to protect their forests have been recognized and soon could be rewarded.

The second sign was the recent announcement by Jeff Bezos that Amazon, the online retailing giant, would achieve “climate neutrality” by 2040. That means the company — and many others that have made or plan similar announcements — in all probability will soon be looking to buy carbon credits to offset their emissions. 

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Reposting: This video went viral when Rain Wilson (Dwight of The Office)
retweeted it.
Sad story of how hypocritical, bible thumping tobacco apologists smoothly
segued to climate denial.

You may remember Joe Barton (Smoky Joe) – here seen pulling out his
Bible to prove his sincerity – he was disgraced a few years ago when
a girlfriend published his gag-inducing genitalia selfies.