Posts Tagged ‘oil’

The Role of Oil in 9-11 and World War II

September 11, 2011

The motivation to control oil is one of the biggest reasons  for war in the world, and it’s been that way from the 1940s until now, and it is even a reason that the World Trade Center was destroyed by terrorists in hijacked jet airliners.

I’ll explain the 9-11 connection first.  Osama bin Laden wanted Americans out of Saudi Arabia and Islamic countries for religious reasons.  He mistakenly thought he could do that through acts of  terror. Americans are not there for religious reasons. They are there for oil.

Why are we in Iraq?  Not because weapons of mass destruction were found or that 9-11 had anything to do with it, the  two untrue reasons given by the George W. Bush administration. How about the other reason given, turning Iraq and the rest of the Middle East into American style democracies?  Why not just admit to the real reasons: oil and protection of Israel?  Who knows, SUV and Israel-loving Americans might buy those reasons.

If we are really all that interested in spreading democracy, why don’t we put pressure on Saudi Arabia, reputedly one of the most oppressive regimes in the world. Simple. That’s not why we are there. We are there because of oil.

As I said, it goes back to the 1940’s. The  Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor because of oil.  It needed lots of it to militarily spread the Empire of the Rising Sun.  It was getting a lot of it from the United States, and planned to get a lot more by taking Indochina.  Not being happy about the atrocities the Japanese were committing in China and other places, the U.S. not only cut off its oil spigot to Japan, but moved its headquarters for its Pacific fleet from San Diego to Hawaii.  Seeing both of these moves as an American plan to prevent Japan from taking Indochina, the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor.  Big mistake.  An isolationist United States forgot that idea, immediately united and put together the mightiest war machine in history.

Hitler’s Nazi Germany invaded North Africa and the Soviet Union for oil,  and other natural resources, in order to fuel his plan to create a massive German empire. The first invasion by  American troops in World War II was in North Africa where it joined the British to push Germany and Italy out of that oil-rich part of the world. The Soviet war machine, heavily supplied by America, and the Russian winter, drove Hitler out of the Soviet Union.

Yes, the  desire for control of oil has gotten millions and millions of people killed.  Everyone knows the solution to this: development and use of other sources of energy, especially renewable sources. Work has started on that, but no where near the effort needed to make it a reality in the near future.  Why?  Change  never comes easily, but change the world must, or the wars will never end. Unfortunately, never-ending wars suit some people.  They have to be defeated at the ballot box.

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A Nice Day to Get an Oil Change

September 30, 2010

AND A SPECIAL NEW OIL THAT I DIDN’T KNOW ABOUT

It was such a beautiful day I decided I needed to go out and do something. So I went to a get an oil change.  Now you may think that’s not a good way to enjoy a nice sunshiny day with a refreshing Autumn breeze.  Well, then maybe you don’t realize they have a nice bench to sit on outside. 

I just sat there enjoying the weather, watching the Stars and Stripes with a Gastrol flag underneath flapping in the breeze and writing about it on Facebook.

The oil change itself was eventful.  I was offered a new oil that gets 15,000 miles before another change.  That means you won’t need another change for about a year, depending on how much you drive. It costs $20 more, but, in Columbus, GA,  they throw in a $20 wash job, and $15 off on your next change  if you buy it, so I bought it. 

My 2001 Mercury Grand Marquis is one of the best-riding cars on the road, and that V-8 engine is hard to beat, but it has started using a little oil.  Not to worry.  “Just bring it in and we’ll top it off for free.”  

How about that.  A beautiful day,  flags flying,  sociable oil changers, and a new oil that gets 15,000 miles before you have to get another change.  Life is good.

Fallout from Gulf Oil and Dispersant Fires Affects South Georgia

July 21, 2010

The BP oil spill became even more of a local story today.

Dr. Samantha Joye, Professor of Marine Science, University of Georgia (Photo by Jim Cathorne, Camera1)

Dr. Samantha Joye, Professor of Marine Science at the University of Georgia, told Columbus Rotarians that fallout from the catastrophic oil spill is causing potentially toxic materials to fall on South Georgia.  She has been working in the Gulf of Mexico doing research and personally witnessed the huge fires that have sent massive amounts of smoke into the air and air currents bring that smoke over South Georgia.  The fires are set to burn off oil and dispersants.  

Oil from the Deepwater Horizon spill laps at the mouth of the Mississippi River. NASA photo taken on May 24, 2010. Oil is silver, and vegetation is red. Image credit: Jesse Allen/NASA/GSFC/METI/ERSDAC/JAROS, and U.S./Japan ASTER Science Team

What is amazing is that these arguably toxic dispersants, she says, are as harmful as oil and are not getting rid of oil that is under the surface of the ocean, and most of it is under the surface.  She says BP is using the dispersant to get the oil off the surface of the gulf because being visible keeps the disaster on the publics mind. That, of course is her opinion. An AP story today said that  BP wanted to use dispersants to prevent oil from reaching Gulf coast beaches.  It said EPA put a freeze on using the dispersant until its effects could be tested, and that after the tests results were satisfactory allowed continued use of the dispersant.  However, it has stopped being used since the well has been contained.  Mairne sceintists and biologists are not convinced the chemicals are safe.

The reason the spill happened was, she said, a controversial decision to stop using a mud compound to control pressure while drilling, and use seawater instead, in order to save about $16 million, caused the eruption of natural gas that set the drilling platform on fire, causing it to sink, which caused the rupture of the well which released the oil.  She said there were those on the drilling platform that argued against the switch to seawater, but they were overruled.  “What would have cost them $20 million had they used the mud will now cost them $20 billion and more.”  She explained that using mud would have cost $20 million and using seawater would cost $4 million.

Commenting on the freeze on drilling other deep-sea wells in the Gulf, she said the freeze is in effect until safety contingency plans are formulated. She said those plans would greatly increase the cost of drilling, perhaps so much that drilling would not be cost-effective, and that the energy companies should use the money to develope alternative energy sources, which would be a way of providing a lot of jobs.

The Gas Price Cycle

September 12, 2008

  Just think about the cycle.  You buy gasoline at $3.69 a gallon. Your car pours carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.  This helps fuel global warming. One of the products of global warming is more and stronger hurricanes.  The hurricanes close down coastal oil refineries on the Gulf of Mexico. Gasoline goes up to $5 a gallon. The hurricanes pass through. The refineries reopen. Gas prices drop to $4.50 a gallon…maybe.

NASA)

Hurricane Ike from International Space Station (Photo: NASA)

  Solution: stop pouring carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. How?

  There are lots of answers to that. But, they all take time to come on line. So, we have to ask, what do we do now?

Well, EcoDriving tells us there are a few things you can do right now to cut down on your fuel consumption by fifteen percent.

– Stop driving like a bat out of hell.  A steady 60 mph is, for most vehicles,  the optimum speed on the Interstate

– Properly inflate your tires.

– Get your engine tuned.

– No more jackrabbit starts.

– Keep rolling by not coming to a complete stop unless you just have to. It takes more gas to start from a compete stop.

– Plan your trips. Go to the store once a week instead of every day, for instance.

– Don’t leave heavy things in your vehicle. The heavier the vehicle the more gas it takes. For instance, don’t leave your golf clubs in the trunk of your car.

  This is all stuff that everyone can do right now and if everyone does it,  it will save millions of barrels of oil every year, cut down on air pollution, and bring down the price of gasoline.

Alice Pate and Josh McKoon on McCain’s Choice for VP

August 30, 2008

 Alice Pate, chair of the Muscogee County Democratic Party:

 There were no surprises in Sen. McCain’s pick for VP. Gov. Palin is a radical right wing candidate. She was energy adviser for Sen. McCain and she supports drilling in Alaska — a policy which will not solve our energy crisis.

 She opposes a woman’s right to choose and if she were to become president would nominate extremists who would overturn Roe vs. Wade.

She is a card carrying life long member of the National Rifle Association an organization which opposes limits to automatic weapons which endanger the lives of law enforcement officials and threaten the safety of all citizens.

Her selection is designed to attract the extreme right to support this ticket. With no experience in Washington, if McCain were elected, we would have a woman who is just a heart beat away from the presidency serving as vice president.

 She will not attract independents, moderates and progressives to the party. Gov. Palin is the traditional candidate. We want a ticket which offers a better future not just for our daughters and granddaughters but for our sons and grandsons and for all Americans. As Sen. Barack Obama stated in his historic acceptance speech from Denver, “This election is not about me – it’s about you.” The Promise of America will not be realized by the McCain-Palin ticket. Gov. Palin is the not the right woman. Obama-Biden is the ticket of change.

John McKoon, chair of Muscogee County Republican Party

  What a great day for America!  Gov. Palin is a tough executive who has demonstrated during her time in office that she is ready to be President. She has brought Republicans and Democrats together within her administration and has seen approval ratings of over 80 percent.
 
·         She has challenged the influence of the big oil companies while fighting for the development of new energy resources.
 
·         She leads a state that matters to every one of us. Alaska has significant energy resources and she has been a leader in the fight to make America energy independent.
 
·         She has actually used her veto and cut budgetary spending.  And she put a stop to the bridge to nowhere that would have cost taxpayers $400 million dollars.
 
·         In Alaska, she challenged a corrupt system and passed a landmark ethics reform bill.
 
·         As the head of Alaska’s National Guard and as the mother of a soldier herself, Gov. Palin understands what it takes to lead our nation and she understands the importance of supporting our troops.
 
Her experience in shaking up the status quo is exactly what is needed in Washington.
 
In choosing Gov. Sarah Palin, John McCain put Washington on notice that he is serious about shaking up the status quo.
 
What we’re seeing is a maverick who has shaken up Washington picking as his teammate a maverick governor who has shaken up her own state.
 
What it’s going to take to change Washington is a team of Mavericks who have a record of accomplishment in shaking up the status quo.

In Defense of The Hell Raisers

August 30, 2008

  The Ledger-Enquirer’s Ben Wright writes that Columbus Council may move the public agenda to the end of the meeting again. Naturally, the gadflies who make weekly appearances are raising hell about it, which is fine. It’s the hell raisers who often right wrongs. To name a few: Thomas Paine, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, Voltaire, and Martin Luther King, Jr. for a start. That’s not to say that any of the weekly complainers who come before Columbus City Council are in that league. It’s only natural to get the idea that they are seeking attention.  Whatever their motive, it’s their right to speak in my view.

  Which, brings us, as you knew I would get around to, the First Amendment, which guarantees the right of free speech to all Americans.  But, the big catch to that is that, as a number of thinkers have said, free speech isn’t free. What good does it do to speak freely about an important issue if nobody hears what you say? If you are T. Boone Pickens you can buy millions of dollars of TV commercials to tell the country that drilling is not the answer to freeing our country’s dependency on foreign oil. “Drill, drill, drill, but it’s not going going to stop the flow of American dollars to countries that don’t even like us.” He’s selling wind power and natural gas and he has the right idea, in my view, but that’s not the point.  The point is that he is being heard because he has the money to be heard. Also, I like this definition of freedom of the press: “Freedom of the press only belongs to those who own the presses.”

  One great answer to this inequity is what I am doing right now.  People all over the world can read this – that doesn’t mean they will, because I don’t have the money to promote the website address – however, some people are reading it and the cost is almost nothing. That’s why the Internet is so important to the concept of free speech and we can really be thankful for it.

  Power does need to be spoken to, because the old saw about power corrupting and absolute power corrupting absolutely has a lot of truth to it. So, we have to put up with those who sometimes seem to be gratifying their egos, and who were probably sent to the principals office a lot when they were young kids because they acted out to get attention, but that’s one price we have to pay for free speech.  It’s worth it.

  Council can move the public agenda to the end of the meeting, but it will be considered a move to stifle free speech, to prevent the speaking to power which is very important in keeping a society free, especially when it is speaking truth to power.

Comparing the Cost of Driving to Using Mass Transit

July 19, 2008

 Hey! The price of gasoline has dropped below $4 a gallon. Who can resist such a bargain?

 

 

But diesel is still way up there. What if you had to fill up this baby?

 

There is one good answer to this, public transit. Let’s take a look at the difference in cost.

 

Right after I took the shot of the pickup, the driver and his young son came out of the gas station’s convenience store. After mutual greetings, the conversation with the young daddy, a friendly man, went something like this.

 

  “Do you use this truck for work?”

 

  “Oh, no. It’s my play thing, but I do drive it to work.”

 

  “Any idea what gas mileage it gets?”

 

  “Not enough,” he answered with a smile.

 

  “How much?”

 

  “Oh, on the highway, about 18 miles to the gallon.”

 

 “That’s pretty good for a truck that size.”

 

  “Yeah, not bad. In town it’s about 13.”

 

  “What does it cost you to fill it up?”

 

   “About a hundred dollars.”

 

   “How often?”

 

   “Once a week.”

 

   “That means you are paying $400 a month for gas.”

 

   “Well, actually, 500.”

 

   “Do you plan to switch to a smaller vehicle?”

 

   “No. This one is paid for.”

 

   “What you are paying a month for gas amounts to a good car payment.”

 

    “That’s true, but this one is paid for, and even if I wanted to switch, I couldn’t get much of a trade-in for it now. The capital expense would mean I wouldn’t save by switching.”

 

  Just think, if he were still making payments on it, and paying for maintenance and repairs, it would be close to a thousand dollars a month.  

 

    Well, what if he used public transportation? In Columbus, at $2.50 a day for round trips to work, it would run him something like $55 dollars a month. That’s $55 compared to $500. In Atlanta, it would run him about $77. In New York, $88.

 

  Even if he considered taking a bus, he probably couldn’t because he probably lives in a suburb which has no public transportation.  I didn’t think to ask him, but the chances are high he does live in a suburb because so many people do. And that’s another big problem. It’s called sprawl and it’s all over America.

 

 

  

 

    

  

 

  

 

 

 

 

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Metra vs. Marta – Marta’s Ridership Is Up 14%; Metra’s Up 7%

July 18, 2008

  Atlanta’s Marta transit system offers more convenience than Columbus’ Metra. But, it also costs more to use. Let’s look at the comparison.

 

   Columbus buses run every hour. Marta buses have varying frequencies, some as long as a 30 minutes, depending on demand.  However, Atlanta’s trains run every 5 minutes on trunk lines and 10 minutes on branch lines during the rush hours. Atlanta wins that one hands down.

 

  An adult one-way fare on Marta is $1.75. On Metra, it’s $1.25.  Metra does charge $1.90 to Fort Benning.

 

  Senior citizens and disabled in Columbus pay $0.65 one way. In Atlanta it’s $0.85.

 

  Marta offers K-12 students ten trips for $10.50. Columbus students can get a monthly pass for $20.00.  So, if Metra student riders who use the monthly pass get a much better deal because that comes to about $5.00 a week.  

 

  Marta offers university students a $40 unlimited ridership for a month. Metra doesn’t specify whether the 31 Day Trip Card is for university students as well as K-12.

 

  As far as ridership is concerned, Metra averages almost a million boardings a year, while Marta averages about 140 million.

 

  . Columbus has 40 busses covering 9 routes. Marta has 544 buses covering 120 routes and 238 rail cars. Those 238 rail cars have more boardings than Marta’s 544 busses.

 

Marta serves a population of almost 2 million people. Columbus serves a base of almost 300 thousand.

 

  Marta’s overall ridership is up 14 percent over this time last year. Metra’s is up 7 percent so far over last year.

 

  What good are those comparisons? I don’t know. I guess they just tell us that it’s cheaper to ride Metra, but Marta’s service is more convenient. Some will say, well, it costs more to live, but pay is higher in the Atlanta area.  It appears pay is definitely higher, and maybe the costs are higher for shelter because real estate is higher, and so are property taxes, but I doubt if there is much difference in food and clothing. One thing is for sure, though, life is a lot less hectic in Columbus than in Atlanta.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Metra Ridership Up by 7 Percent

July 16, 2008

 

  When Saundra Hunter went for her regular workout at a spa, she noticed that a fellow exerciser’s husband was waiting for her in his car. Her friend, who has to pay $100 to fill up her SUV, explained that she leaves it at home a lot now.  She said that it just costs too much to fill it up, adding, “We have stopped going everywhere in separate cars very much. He even takes me to work and picks me up when I get off.”

 

Saundra Hunter, Metra Director

Saundra Hunter, Metra Director

 

   There is another even cheaper way to get around town: Metra busses. Some folks have figured that out, and ridership is up. Saundra, who is director of Metra, said it has already increased 7 percent over last year. Metra customers average about 82,000 rides a month.

 

“I expect that trend to continue and we’ve been getting ready for it.”

 

  Who rides the bus?

 

   “The low income, or ‘dedicated,’ group is the majority. However, we are getting more ‘riders of choice’ now.”

 

  “Dedicated” is a nice way of saying they can’t afford cars or taxis. “Riders of choice” means they can, but opt not to, because too much of their income is going to pay for gas.

 

  Not only is this group going to grow, it is a positive thing if it does, we agreed. Mass transit is not just cheaper, it’s much more fuel efficient if enough people use it, and it leaves a smaller carbon footprint.

 

  However, to encourage more riders of choice, some improvements will need to be made. For one thing there is too much time between busses. You miss one and the next one won’t be along for an hour. Metra has plans to start running busses every half hour. That’s not going to be cheap.

 

  “We’ll have to buy 15 new busses, and hire more drivers and support personnel,” Saundra told me.  Metra now owns about 40 busses, with more than 20 in operation at any given time.  

 

       

  

 

Metra Bus

Metra Bus

 

   I told her that when I was a boy, back in the 1930’s and 1940’s, busses were ubiquitous, arriving at bus stops every fifteen minutes and bus stops were within easy walking distance of most places.  My family had a car, but my dad used it in his business so I ended up riding the bus a lot.  I had a lot of company. A lot of families didn’t even have one car back then.

 

 

 

Columbus Buses at Transfer Station, 12th and Broadway, 1944

Columbus Buses at Transfer Station, 12th and Broadway, 1944

 

 

 

  Also, I walked and rode my bike a lot. People tried to live close to relatives, schools and shopping areas then. Instead of supermarkets that were two miles or more away, you had the neighborhood grocery store. Also, you could order groceries on the phone and they would be delivered to your door! Really! I think there was a minimum amount that you could order to get the service, though.

 

 I was a short city block away from 11th Street Elementary School; a block and a half from an aunt, uncle and four cousins; and about four blocks away from three movie theaters and retails stores. But, if I wanted to go all the way out to the Royal Theater, which was about two miles away,  or over to Idle Hour Park in Phenix City to go swimming, play arcade games, bowl or play on the playground (I broke my leg on that playground) , I took the bus.

  

 When I started to go to high school, I took the bus. The stop was across the street from 11th Street Elementary, which was even a little closer to our house than the school.

 

   Also, a big difference then was that the busses were operated by a private company. They could make a profit. That, like Scarlett’s Old South, went with the wind.  Transit systems are municipally owned and they don’t make a profit. “There are no public transit systems that are not subsidized by the government any more,” Saundra told me.

  

So public transit is on the way to making a comeback. It is going to require a different mindset, not only on the part of potential riders, but governmental leaders. Everyone is still thinking in terms of cars and roads.