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Jim Letourneau's Blog

Investing, Technology, Travel, Geology, Music, Golf. I think that covers it.

Shaw Communications Backup "Plan"

An estimated 20-30,000 Shaw customers are without cable or phone. Stampede revellers are struggling to find working ATMs and emergency services are severely affected. 

A transformer fire on the 13th floor of the Shaw Media's Calgary office created the problem. Of course Shaw had a backup plan in place. The Shaw executive team is amongst the highest paid in Canada (source). These people are paid the big bucks to think of contingencies.

 

I don't think Shaw knows what the word "backup" means. Look for the wall of apologies and excuses tomorrow followed by no changes in senior management. 

Fracking is Totally Misunderstood

If there was ever an appropriate theme song for fracking, it would be “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood.” Listen to that song by the Animals and then listen to Bruce Springsteen’s "Badlands". Close but not identical...creative theft at its finest (see Go Right Ahead, Steal Something). If you're seriously concerned about groundwater see the previous post for some serious culprits.

Mickey Fulp and I talked about this today with Kerry Lutz of the FSN Network.

Click here to listen to the podcast  of Mickey Fulp & Jim Letourneau – Fracking Is Totally Misunderstood

The Flaming Optimist

I'm always open to being wrong but dammit, we live in a pretty amazing world. Our lives are getting better over time in spite of our numerous fears about the future. I was just interview by Kerry Lutz of the Financial Survivor Network along with Mickey Fulp, The Mercenary Geologist. The subject was "the controversial practice"of fracking. During the interview I referred to myself as a "flaming optimist". I can't help it.

If people are worried about groundwater contamination from fracking they should also be investigating feedlots, municipal sewer systems, underground storage tanks, landfills etc. ALL of which have documented impacts on water quality.

North America now has the cheapest natural gas in the world and we didn't need to scrape off the top of a mountain or dig a giant hole in the ground to pull it off. It could be worse!

Oil could be next. We're already seeing lower prices for West Texas Intermediate vs Brent crude. This differential is infrastructure related, in North America we are bringing more oil to market from new sources. Oil sands production is increasing and now North Dakota oil production is ramping up. 

I'm putting aside self interest here (high oil prices are good for geologists and investors in oil stocks) and looking at the big picture. Not running out of hydrocarbons while we wait for a decade or two of Moore's law like acceleration in solar efficiency to take hold looks pretty good to me.

 

Improving In-situ Oil Sands Recovery

For the last decade or so, the hottest thing in deeper oil sands recovery has been Steam Assisted Gravity Drainage or SAGD. Billions have been invested in implementing the process with a few bumps along the way (Nexen's Long Lake debacle for example). Sometimes the patch can suffer from groupthink with predicatable consequences. 

There are other ways to heat up an oil sands reservoir besides using steam. Fuel cells, microwaves, direct current, radio waves, plasma torches etc. Making steam is expensive and requires fresh water. Here's an interesting press release on what might just be a better way...

 

CALGARY, Alberta, Canada-- A technology and energy production consortium has successfully completed initial proof-of-concept testing of a unique oil sands extraction method that has the potential to improve environmental performance and reduce development costs.

 

The consortium of Laricina Energy, Nexen Inc., Suncor Energy and Harris Corporation completed its initial phase testing of the Enhanced Solvent Extraction Incorporating Electromagnetic Heating (ESEIEH – pronounced “easy”) project at Suncor’s Steepbank mine facility north of Fort McMurray. The $33 million program is supported by the Climate Change and Emissions Management Corporation (CCEMC) and the test was approved by the Energy Resources Conservation Board.

The test confirms the ability to successfully generate, propagate and distribute electromagnetic heat in an oil sands formation. It also validates the analytical tools and methods used to predict the performance of the process, thereby increasing the consortium’s confidence as it moves to a field pilot next year. While these preliminary results are encouraging, additional work remains before the commercial viability of the process can be determined.

“ESEIEH is a key project for the CCEMC and Alberta, and offers the potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions during oil sands production. The ESEIEH team is making excellent progress and we look forward to the upcoming pilot project,” said Eric Newell, Chair of the CCEMC.

Approximately 1.6 million barrels per day of crude oil are currently being produced through surface mining and in situ recovery processes in Alberta. In situ processes, including steam assisted gravity drainage (SAGD) and cyclic steam stimulation (CSS) now contribute roughly half of the total daily production from the Canadian oil sands. Mining and in situ processes use hot water or steam to separate bitumen from the sands, requiring both water and energy. These two key factors affect environmental performance and associated capital and operating costs in oil sands development.

ESEIEH replaces the need for water by applying Harris’ patent-pending antenna technology to initially heat the oil sands electrically with radio waves. An oil solvent is then injected to dilute and mobilize the bitumen with minimal energy requirements, so that it can be extracted and transported for further processing. By reducing the energy required and eliminating the need for water, the ESEIEH process is expected to improve environmental performance, while providing greater efficiency and versatility in oil sands recovery operations.

The anticipated benefits of ESEIEH technology in oil sands production include:

  • Reducing greenhouse gas emissions by eliminating fossil fuels to generate steam;
  • Operating cost efficiencies through reducing the amount of energy necessary in the extraction process;
  • Capital and operating cost efficiencies by removing the need for steam generation and water treatment facilities;
  • Improving the quality of the extracted oil as a result of using electromagnetic versus steam heating in the extraction process; and
  • Increasing the amount of oil sands deposits deemed economically viable by reducing the extraction costs – permitting economic access to otherwise stranded oil deposits.

The electromagnetic heating technology was first evaluated and tested in Florida last year and then moved to Fort McMurray for the proof-of-concept field testing. The next phase – an expanded pilot field test -- is scheduled to begin in 2013. Some elements of the technology solution may become commercially available prior to the final testing.

Editors Note: Photo available upon request.

About ESEIEH

ESEIEH was established in 2009 to meet the challenge put forward by the CCEMC to expand climate change knowledge, develop new ‘clean’ technologies and explore practical ways of implementing them. ESEIEH began with the goal of developing a new recovery method that was more efficient and environmentally responsible than current processes. Funding for the $33 million evaluation program is provided 50 percent by the consortium and 50 percent by the CCEMC.

Members include:

  • Harris (NYSE:HRS), an international communications and information technology company serving government and commercial markets in more than 150 countries. www.harris.com
  • Laricina, a privately held, Calgary-based company focused on developing Canada’s oil sands using innovative in situ technologies. www.laricinaenergy.com
  • Nexen Inc., an upstream oil and gas company with significant holdings in the Athabasca oil sands including the integrated SAGD and upgrading facility at Long Lake, a 7.23 percent working interest in Syncrude Canada Ltd and a 25 percent working interest in the Hangingstone SAGD project www.nexeninc.com
  • Suncor Energy, Canada’s premier integrated energy company, with common shares (symbol: SU) listed on the Toronto and New York stock exchanges.www.suncor.com
  • CCEMC, a not-for-profit organization whose mandate is to establish or participate in funding for initiatives that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and support adaptation. The CCEMC invests in discovery, development, and operational deployment of clean technologies. www.ccemc.ca

 

Amazing #WRIC12 Photos

The people at OREFRONT Communications took it upon themselves to thoroughly document the 2012 World Resource Investment Conference through photographs. They took pictures all the booths and some of the speaker sessions as well. 

CLICK HERE to view the photos

#WRIC12 Photos

This methodical photographic documentation is a crude approximation of Google's Street View - except for a conference. All it would take would be to map the photos to the conference floor plan. Mix in some facial recognition software and the possibilities are limitless. 

 

Tough Enough on Crime?

The USA knows a thing or two about prisons and incarceration. For a big picture view of the geography of incarceration check out Prison Map. It shows Google Earth images of US prisons, there's even a heart shaped one! 

The infographic below shows some disturbing trends. I like to think there are solutions but I'm not seeing them championed by any US politicians. Tough on crime is an easy sell. It plays on people's fears. Ultimately many inmates could be doing better things than "time".


Blackberry Celebrities - Justin Timberlake?

Justin Timberlake is caught using a Blackberry to take a photo of his car. After playing Sean Parker in The Social Network I would have thought that some of that hipness might have rubbed off on young Justin. Turns out he was acting!

Justin's Blackberry via the Cantech Letter. Even more celebrity luddites here.

 

Keep in mind that there is a good chance that celebrities don't have to pay for much of the gear that they are seen wearing or carrying and Justin has more than one phone in his wireless aresenal.

Facebook Blood in the Water

More like a papercut but I thought it worthwhile to share what comes out of the woodwork when people lose money in the stockmarket. I hope Facebook's summer law interns are paid by the hour.

 

  • Stamell & Schager, LLP Initiate Class Action Lawsuit Against Facebook 
  • Kaplan Fox Files Securities Class Action on Behalf of Purchasers of Facebook, Inc. Common Stock 
  • The Law Firm of Criden & Love, P.A. Announces Investigation of Facebook and its IPO Underwriters 
  • Pomerantz Law Firm Reminds Shareholders of Facebook, Inc. of Upcoming Deadline -- FB 
  • Hach Rose Schirripa & Cheverie, LLP and the Law Offices of Jay Saltzman, P.C. Initiate Securities Lawsuit Against Facebook, Zuckerberg and Underwriters 
  • Milberg LLP Announces Class Action Lawsuits Filed Against Facebook, Inc. (NASDAQ: FB) 
  • Harwood Feffer LLP Files Class Action on Behalf of Purchasers of Facebook Inc. Common Stock Against Facebook's Lead Underwriters 
  • Berger & Montague, P.C. Filed Class Action Lawsuit Against Facebook 
  • Klafter Olsen & Lesser Files Class Action against Facebook, Inc. 
  • Ryan & Maniskas, LLP Files Class Action Lawsuit Against Facebook, Inc. 
  • Pomerantz Law Firm Has Filed a Class Action Against Facebook, Inc. - FB 
  • Bernstein Liebhard LLP Partner Stanley D. Bernstein Interviewed By Thomson Reuters Concerning Facebook Inc. IPO Lawsuits 
  • Abbey Spanier Sues Facebook And Underwriters Involved In Its Initial Public Offering 
  • Hagens Berman Files Securities Class Action against Facebook, Zuckerberg and Underwriters: Continues Insider Trading Investigation Against Selling Shareholders 
  • The Securities Arbitration Law Firm of Klayman & Toskes Launches Investigation On Behalf of Facebook Investors Who Sustained Losses as a Result of Execution Errors In Their Fidelity Accounts 
  • Shareholder Class Action Filed Against Facebook, Inc. by the Law Firm of Kessler Topaz Meltzer & Check, LLP 
  • Wolf Haldenstein Adler Freeman & Herz LLP Commences Class Action Lawsuit on Behalf of Investors in Facebook, Inc. 
  • Berger & Montague, P.C. Sues Facebook 
  • Girard Gibbs LLP Files Class Action Lawsuit Against Facebook 
  • Investor Alert: Former Louisiana Attorney General and Kahn Swick & Foti, LLC, Remind Investors with Large Financial Interests of Lead Plaintiff Deadline in Class Action Lawsuit Against Facebook, Inc. 
  • Faruqi & Faruqi, LLP Encourages Investors Who Suffered Losses in Excess of $1 Million Investing in Facebook, Inc. to Contact the Firm 
  • Morgan & Morgan Files Class Action Suit Against Facebook, Inc. and the Underwriters of the Company's Initial Public Offering (Nasdaq:FB) 
  • Hagens Berman Investigates Facebook Underwriter Revenue Selective Disclosure Ahead of IPO, Notifies Investors of Class Action 
  • Bernstein Liebhard LLP Announces That A Securities Class Action Has Been Filed Against Facebook, Inc. 
  • Securities Class Action Lawsuit Filed Against Facebook by Law Offices Bernard M. Gross, P.C. - FB 
  • Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd LLP Files Class Action Suit against Facebook, Inc. 
  • Lieff Cabraser Announces Facebook IPO Securities Class Action Lawsuit 
  • Glancy Binkow & Goldberg LLP Files Class Action Lawsuit on Behalf of Investors against Facebook, Inc. and the Underwriters of the Company’s Initial Public Offering 
  • The Law Firm of Levi & Korsinsky, LLP Launches an Investigation into Possible Securities Laws Violations Relating to the Facebook Inc. Initial Public Offering 
  • Law Firm Criden & Love, P.A. Announces Investigation of NASDAQ in Connection with Facebook IPO Trade Executions 
  • Research Highlights Facebook Inc. and LinkedIn Corporation - 2012 Economic Outlook 
  • Stamell & Schager, LLP Initiate Class Action Lawsuit Against Facebook 
  • Kaplan Fox Files Securities Class Action on Behalf of Purchasers of Facebook, Inc. Common Stock 
  • The Law Firm of Criden & Love, P.A. Announces Investigation of Facebook and its IPO Underwriters 
  • Pomerantz Law Firm Reminds Shareholders of Facebook, Inc. of Upcoming Deadline -- FB 
  • Stock Market News for Thursday May 31, 2012: NVMN, T, FB, WFC 
  • Hach Rose Schirripa & Cheverie, LLP and the Law Offices of Jay Saltzman, P.C. Initiate Securities Lawsuit Against Facebook, Zuckerberg and Underwriters 
  • Milberg LLP Announces Class Action Lawsuits Filed Against Facebook, Inc. (NASDAQ: FB) 
  • Harwood Feffer LLP Files Class Action on Behalf of Purchasers of Facebook Inc. Common Stock Against Facebook's Lead Underwriters 
  • Berger & Montague, P.C. Filed Class Action Lawsuit Against Facebook 
  • Klafter Olsen & Lesser Files Class Action against Facebook, Inc. 
  • Ryan & Maniskas, LLP Files Class Action Lawsuit Against Facebook, Inc. 
  • Pomerantz Law Firm Has Filed a Class Action Against Facebook, Inc. - FB 
  • Bernstein Liebhard LLP Partner Stanley D. Bernstein Interviewed By Thomson Reuters Concerning Facebook Inc. IPO Lawsuits 
  • Abbey Spanier Sues Facebook And Underwriters Involved In Its Initial Public Offering 
  • Hagens Berman Files Securities Class Action against Facebook, Zuckerberg and Underwriters: Continues Insider Trading Investigation Against Selling Shareholders 
  • The Securities Arbitration Law Firm of Klayman & Toskes Launches Investigation On Behalf of Facebook Investors Who Sustained Losses as a Result of Execution Errors In Their Fidelity Accounts 
  • Shareholder Class Action Filed Against Facebook, Inc. by the Law Firm of Kessler Topaz Meltzer & Check, LLP 
  • Wolf Haldenstein Adler Freeman & Herz LLP Commences Class Action Lawsuit on Behalf of Investors in Facebook, Inc. 
  • Berger & Montague, P.C. Sues Facebook 
  • Girard Gibbs LLP Files Class Action Lawsuit Against Facebook 
  • Investor Alert: Former Louisiana Attorney General and Kahn Swick & Foti, LLC, Remind Investors with Large Financial Interests of Lead Plaintiff Deadline in Class Action Lawsuit Against Facebook, Inc. 
  • Faruqi & Faruqi, LLP Encourages Investors Who Suffered Losses in Excess of $1 Million Investing in Facebook, Inc. to Contact the Firm 
  • Morgan & Morgan Files Class Action Suit Against Facebook, Inc. and the Underwriters of the Company's Initial Public Offering (Nasdaq:FB) 
  • Hagens Berman Investigates Facebook Underwriter Revenue Selective Disclosure Ahead of IPO, Notifies Investors of Class Action 
  • Bernstein Liebhard LLP Announces That A Securities Class Action Has Been Filed Against Facebook, Inc. 
  • Securities Class Action Lawsuit Filed Against Facebook by Law Offices Bernard M. Gross, P.C. - FB 
  • Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd LLP Files Class Action Suit against Facebook, Inc. 
  • Lieff Cabraser Announces Facebook IPO Securities Class Action Lawsuit 
  • Glancy Binkow & Goldberg LLP Files Class Action Lawsuit on Behalf of Investors against Facebook, Inc. and the Underwriters of the Company’s Initial Public Offering 
  • The Law Firm of Levi & Korsinsky, LLP Launches an Investigation into Possible Securities Laws Violations Relating to the Facebook Inc. Initial Public Offering 
  • Law Firm Criden & Love, P.A. Announces Investigation of NASDAQ in Connection with Facebook IPO Trade Executions
  • Facebook Announces Pricing of Initial Public Offering 

 

Can You Say Entitlement?

One of the casualties of the Baja Mining (BAJ.TO)  battle between management and the activist Mount Kellet Capital Management LP was former Corporate Secretary, Kendra Low. Former President and CEO, John Greenslade, is Kendra Low's father and much was made of her compensation by Mount Kellet and maybe she was a bit young to be pushing the long tail of Corporate Secretary compensation. Now she's having to sue her former employer.

She complains that the company wrongfully dismissed her from her $250,000-per-year job and that it defamed her by saying she was underqualified and overpaid. She seeks $375,000 in severance pay plus damages for defamation. (source)

As John Fogerty says "Some folks are born silver spoon in hand". Interestingly enough, John Greenslade is President and CEO of Catalyst Copper (CCY.V). If you check out their management, you might notice a pattern.

I'm all for nepotism, within reason. Public companies have a higher level of responsibility to their shareholders. Obviously, John Greenslade gave the issue much thought and did exactly what he felt like.

Even the big family run empires ensure that their fortunate sons (and daugthers) get some experience outside of the head office. Executives who work at companies with rules against hiring family members circumvent the rules by arranging quid pro quo deals with other executives at similar companies. You hire my kid, I'll hire yours.

The Baja Mining brouhaha has created a very low share price and perhaps opportunity as the project obviously has considerable merit. The company needs money if it is to finish building their Boleo mine in Mexico. The devil will be in the details of how their quest for cash plays out. 

Everything You Wanted to Know About Powerwave

I've been working with Scribd to organize some of the scientific papers that outline how Powerwave works.

Who Wants to Build a Mine?

Turns out that building a mine isn't a popular use of capital these days. 

Eastern Platinum has halted development of a platinum project in South Africa due to heightened financial risk. The project faced cost pressures, and reduced metal prices. (source)

Closer to home, BHP Billiton is reconsidering plans to build the $12 billion Jansen potash project. CEO Marius Kloppers recently said “You should not expect in the next six months any new major approval of projects.” (source)

Miner's are cooling their heals based on an uncertain economic outlook. On the macro side slowing growth in China and the European debt crisis (btw its not a crisis if it lasts for months on end) are boilerplate reasons to stop investing in the future. They also face ever increasing costs, labor unrest and in places like South Africa, foreign exchange challenges.

My current take on this kind of news is that the commodity supercycle is not over. It takes a long time for new mining projects to come on stream and between the financial meltdown of 2008 and the present gloomy economic outlook, many projects are stalled. Any projection of decreased global demand should be offset by a reduction in new sources of supply. Population growth continues and the improvement of global living standards should keep commodity demand healthy. Normally commodity bull markets and AFTER everyone has built up large stockpiles of raw materials. Maybe this time will be different but I doubt it.

 

Go Right Ahead - Steal Something

My latest email - Go Right Ahead - Steal Something was sent out yesterday. These come out irregularly to a list of ~5000 opt-in subscribers. 

I ran across a new book by Austin Kleon called Steal Like an Artist and I found subject matter timely for several reasons. The recent death of Adam "MCA" Yauch brought attention to the pioneering use of sampling on their album Paul's Boutique. The album features samples from 105 different songs including a couple from The Beatles. It didn't take long for entertainment lawyers to make sampling prohibitively expensive. Ironically, it is now possible to have streaming access 10 million songs for ~$10/month.

Swedish garage rock masters The Hives new single is called Go Right Ahead. They realized that it sounded like ELO's Don't Bring Me Down so they gave Jeff Lynne songwriting credit (The return of ELO! I mean The Hives!)

The catalyst for Austin Kleon's book came from his blog post 25 Quotes to Help You Steal Like an Artist. You can watch him talk about his book at Google (click here).

Theft is more rampant than most people realize but technology is making it easier to expose how connected many ideas are. Apple is the poster child for corporate creativity but Steve Jobs freely admits that he has been "been shameless about stealing great ideas" (source). Malcolm Gladwell's article Creation Myth (Xerox PARC, Apple, and the truth about innovation) digs up some details.

Even the great Steve Jobs had the human characteristic of "loss aversion". We hate seeing someone use our precious ideas but don't see much harm in copying other people's work. Steve Jobs did not like Google's Android and wasn't shy about how he felt.

I will spend my last dying breath if I need to, and I will spend every penny of Apple's $40 billion in the bank, to right this wrong. I'm going to destroy Android, because it's a stolen product. I'm willing to go thermonuclear war on this.

While some of us may have a better handle on our loss aversion, none of us are immune from the circle of life.

Much writing has been done on the concept of creativity and the origin of ideas although I can't vouch for its originality. A couple of great starting points are Everything is a Remix by Canadian film maker Kirby Ferguson and James Burke's documentary series Connections (all 30 episodes are available for viewing online.)

Please like my Facebook Page

Book Contest - autographed copy of Rachel Maddow's Drift

Chance favors the connected mind - Steven Johnson

 

Blog Posts

 

PS The Hives always perform wearing black and white costumes. At Coachella they played wearing top hats and tails. It was 105 degrees F!

Did the Royal Canadian Mint Have Secret Meetings with Corb Lund?

Corb Lund travels the globe and has experienced many different currency types. In this video from May 3, 2011 he described his ideas for global currency reform. It appears that the Royal Canadian Mint was listening. Corb's videoblog currency manifesto outlines the following reforms.

  1. Change to plastic bills (polymer notes)
  2. Make different denominations different colors
  3. Make all bills the same size (with Brail)
  4. Consider elmiinating lowest denominations
  5. Make the bill markings like a playing card (order 2 rotational symmetry).
  6. Get rid of the penny
  7. Develop a detachable Toonie where the center piece and surrounding ring would each be worth $1

On March 29th, 2012, Canadian Finance Minister Jim Flaherty announced that Canada would phase out use of the penny.

On May 2, 2012 (365 days later, 2012 is a Leap Year) , the Governor of the Bank of Canada, Mark Carney, introduced Canada's new $20 polymer bank note. While it doesn't use Braile, the new bill does feature raised dots (more here).  

I can only wonder if Royal Canadian mint engineers are working on bi-metallic detachable Toonie prototypes. Corb Lund is clearly a currency visionary.

Emails

My latest email - Facebook is Forty Bucks - What Does it Mean? was sent out yesterday. These come out irregularly to a list of ~5000 opt-in subscribers. People's inboxes are pretty full so I try to make them interesting. I know that what I find interesting isn't going to be targetting middle Canadiana but so be it.

Facebook is Forty Bucks - What Does it Mean?

Facebook is trading today under the symbol FB for around ~$40 making it worth around $100 Billion. There are lots of opinions about what the company should be worth and the future of social media. Nobody likes uncertainty but the truth is, nobody really knows where this is all headed. 

If someone tells you that they are an expert in social media, they are likely full of crap. They maybe be good at selling you but at the end of the day they are salespeople, not practitioners. Large corporations average 178 different social media accounts. It is easy to get overwhelmed. If you want to be an expert, pick one of the obscure services from the infographic below, go to their webpage and learn what it does. Voilà! Milk that specialized jargon for all its worth in every conversation.

 

  
Social Media Landscape
(source)  

Most of you won't notice that Pinterest isn't on this infographic. I didn't notice either. Twylah  and Buffer are missing too, which is an outrage. For the record, Pinterest's current valuation is $1.5 Billion. Facebook can pick and choose amongst all of these services and make strategic buys to either eliminate competition or to improve Facebook's services.

 

What I love about social media is its ability to rapidly create a movement. One example is the Occupy Wall Street movement. Another is the outing of Vancouver rioters. My favorite is the story of Caine Monroy. If you haven't heard of Caine's Arcade, I invite you to watch the video below. 

Caine's Arcade
Caine's Arcade
A fortuitous visit by documentary filmmaker Nirvan Mullick into Smart Parts Auto in East L.A. led to that amazing that short film. Nirvan was looking for a door handle for his 1996 Corrola. He found a Caine's cardboard arcade. He arranged a flashmob so that Caine could get some foot traffic. Initially he wanted to raise $25,000 towards a scholarship for Caine. So far over $200,000 has been raised. This has led to the formation of Caines Arcade Foundation. Every time I check the site more money has been raised. Soon there'll be $500,000 and a foundation to support imaginative kids like Caine. Very powerful... and good.

 

Book Contest

I'm giving away an autographed copy of Rachel Maddow's new book entitled, Drift.Click here to enter.

 

 

Recent Bog Posts

Oil Sands Perspective - 05-17-2012 18:23:44 PM
Book Contest - 05-16-2012 03:52:38 AM
Mother's Day Salad - 05-13-2012 22:30:48 PM
A Tale of Two Time-Lapse Movies - 05-12-2012 16:32:03 PM
The Inventors Hall of Fame - 05-11-2012 15:47:19 PM
The Van Halens - 05-10-2012 17:54:28 PM
The Four Components of Innovation - 05-08-2012 01:27:56 AM
Summary of Canada's Rare Earth Deposits - 05-08-2012 00:51:15 AM

Oil Sands Perspective

I'm reprinting this article from Stockwatch.com as it provides some sorely lacking balance to the discussion of how we're going to maintian our awesome energy intensive lifestyles. 

Fraser Inst. speaker says activists distort oil sands

by Stockwatch Business Reporter

"Oil sands developers sell much-needed fuel at a profit and leave the land cleaner than when they found it. That's good enough for me." This is hardly the viewpoint one might expect from the co-founder of Greenpeace. Dr. Patrick Moore, who spoke at a Fraser Institute luncheon in Vancouver on Monday, is an unlikely advocate for the expansion and legitimacy of the Alberta oil sands. Yet he firmly believes Greenpeace and other green groups are wrong to demonize the industry, and asserts their environmental campaigns are increasingly based on fear rather than fact.

The "Greenpeace dropout"

Dr. Moore helped found Greenpeace in 1971 and left it 15 years later, disillusioned with the members' radical anti-science agenda. Now he is an outspoken critic of the "dream fantasy agendas" that mark many a modern green group, and a staunch defender of pragmatic energy policies. The Alberta oil sands, in his view, represent one of Canada's most important and innovative industries.

Not only is oil sands development essential, Dr. Moore argues, but developers often leave the production sites in better environmental shape than they were before oil was taken from the land. Companies are required by law to return their mine sites to thriving ecosystems. Dr. Moore recalls visiting one such reclamation site, where a herd of more than 300 wood bison roamed the land, managed by the Fort McKay First Nation. Trees, shrubs and lakes can return to a former mine site in a blink of Mother Nature's eye.

Ask Greenpeace, though, and this temporary disturbance to the land is portrayed as nothing less than a mini-apocalypse. The group takes aerial pictures of oil sands mines in the middle of operations and falsely implies that this is how they will always look. This is one way such activists distort the debate on environmental issues. Other tactics include peddling unproven beliefs as fact and denouncing those who disagree as "environmental criminals."

Much of this activism is simply misdirected, but there is also a certain hypocrisy among environmentalists who demonize oil companies while using oil to run their cars, heat and cool their homes, and otherwise enjoy a society that depends on oil for over one-third of its energy. Dr. Moorerelates the story of the "Greenpeace diesel dilemma," in which Greenpeace members had strong words for a Swedish plant that used wind power when it could, but coal as a backup. Those same members' brand-new ship, which they so proudly touted as wind-powered, relied on regular diesel, not bio-diesel -- Greenpeace is against bio-fuels such as wood, which is scorned as a "Stone-Age fuel" despite being the most abundant renewable energy on the planet -- when the wind died down or blew them the wrong way.

Getting a green grip

Too few environmentalists propose sensible solutions to energy problems, says Dr. Moore. "Apparently it is reasonable to be 'just against' oil pipelines, or 'just against' oil tankers." Activists condemn pipelines and tankers without bothering to explain how Canada would function if Alberta oil could not get to market. This knee-jerk "No!" should not be a satisfactory response.

Dr. Moore says that while Greenpeace's influence over public opinion remains strong, its influence on policy is thankfully waning. This is perhaps the result of the European debt crisis, which was caused in large part by "following Greenpeace's advice" on energy policy. Because wind power and solar power require massive subsidies to compete in the energy market, only countries with money to burn or citizens to tax can afford them -- and burn and tax they have.

Two recent events have given Dr. Moore hope for the future: Canada's abandonment of the Kyoto protocol, "which was a stupid idea to begin with," and the European Parliament's decision not to attend the Rio+20 conference (also called Earth Summit 2012) in Brazil, the stated reason for which is "prohibitively high hotel costs." Dr. Moore believes the public is steadily becoming less enamoured with costly and unreliable alternative energy sources. This is a good thing.

After years of fighting for fact-based environmentalism, Dr. Moore feels that "the chickens are finally coming home to roost." By emphasizing science over sensationalism, he believes the world can meet its energy needs both sustainably and economically.

You can send comments to Karen Baxter: karenb@stockwatch.com

A Musical Gold Mine - New Music for Old People

I found the most amazing music discovery source last night. I've checked out Al Kooper's website many times. He has a good top 100 records of all time list on it. On his personal website he makes no mention of a very good column that he writes for The Morton Report. What the fuck is the Morton Report? Doesn't matter. Al Kooper does a weekly column for them called New Music for Old People. He listens tall all the new music that comes out on iTunes every week and picks out 10 songs he likes. He's overqualified, to put it mildly, but I'm grateful he's sharing some of his insights. The fact that he's been doing this for decades because he's a music freak (Burnaholics Anonymous) makes it even better. Not all the music is new, some weeks he picks a theme but at the end of the day its his unbiased opinion. That's hard to find in the music press. Is the new Garbage album any good? What would you compare it to, old Garbage? Kooper has a very broad perspective one what is good but also what is fun (Me First and the Gimme Gimmes!).

I found out about it through a Bob Lefsetz post on Playlists. I hate Bob Lefsetz because he makes fun of Springsteen. I love Bob Lefsetz because he takes on pompous blowhards like Gene Simmons.