35 thoughts on “Monday message board

  1. Discussions on the relative importance and practicality of mitigating global warming or adapting to it are being manipulated, according to this piece by George Monbiot. Some extracts:

    “The story begins with a body called the International Policy Network (IPN). Like many other organisations that have received money from Exxon, it describes itself as a “think tankâ€? or “an independent educational charityâ€?… The International Policy Network has so far received $295,000 from Exxon’s corporate headquarters in the United States(3)…

    “The IPN argues that attempts to prevent (or mitigate) manmade climate change are a waste of money. It would be better to let it happen and adapt to its effects. It published a book this year arguing that “humanity has until at least 2035 to determine whether or not mitigation will also be a necessary part of our strategy to address climate change … attempting to control it through global regulation of emissions would be counterproductive.â€?(5) [Julian] Morris has described the government’s chief scientist, Sir David King, who has campaigned for action on global warming, as “an embarrassment to himself and an embarrassment to his country.â€?(6)

  2. gandhi,
    I think you are confusing the US government with OPEC – the US government cannot influence the world oil price in a major way except, perhaps, temporarily, through the release of the US strategic reserve. A variety of governments who would have some interest in governmental change in the US actually have much more say in the oil price than the US government has.

  3. Andrew,

    Oh, really? So maybe you can tell me what was discussed at Dick Cheney’s Energy Task Force? Or are you saying that Bush’s friends in the House of Saud would rather deal with Michael Moore? Or maybe you can explain the oil industry’s record profits over the past five years, Bush’s pre-fabricated invasion of an oil-rich country, and his oil-focussed politicking around the globe (including a failed coup in Venezuela)?

    I am familiar with the conventional rationales, I just don’t happen to believe them. It’s all about faith, you see? Surely you of all people can understand that.

  4. gandhi,
    None of the events you have identified would be pushing the price downwards – except the one about the House of Saud. Even there, though, they will not have to deal with Michael Moore as President. I do not think he is even running (besides anything else he would get a bit puffed).
    The House of Saud knows that a change in President is going to happen at the beginning of 2009, come what may. If Bush is kept busy domestically until then all the better – they are not interested in his stated (perhaps true, perhaps not) objective of bringing democracy to the middle east. They also know that the next president will disengage, whoever he or she is. The more they can hold prices up, from their perspective, the better.

  5. gordon:
    The deniers are morphing into adapters before our very eyes.

    I don’t buy the manipulation of oil prices in the run up to the mid-term elections conspiracy theory either (sorry). However (with my tinfoil hat on) I reckon when the minutes of Cheney’s Energy Task Force meetings are finally released it will be a bombshell. You don’t go to the US Supreme Court if you’ve got nothing to hide.

    Everyone should read this speech Cheney made in 1999 when he was still CEO of Haliburton. A couple of choice quotes:

    “Oil is unique in that it is so strategic in nature. We are not talking about soapflakes or leisurewear here. Energy is truly fundamental to the world’s economy. The Gulf War was a reflection of that reality”

    “While many regions of the world offer great oil opportunities, the Middle East with two thirds of the world’s oil and the lowest cost, is still where the prize ultimately lies”

  6. Andrew,

    Commodity prices can be influenced temporarily, outside of supply and demand, by futures contract weightings changing. If, say, a huge fund changes it’s weighting in, say, oil futures, and other smaller funds follow suit (the herd mentality is very real in the fund manager’s world), then, at least in the short term, prices can go up and down somewhat.

    And lo, it’s happening in oil! Right before the mid-terms! Check out http://www.lewrockwell.com/orig7/stojan1.html which summarises the relevant NYT article.

    It ain’t rocket science.


  7. None of the events you have identified would be pushing the price downwards…

    Presumably. If they had actually worked. As intended. Which, of course, they did not.

    On the other hand, a US-controlled Venezuela could have done a LOT to manipulate the price of oil, as could a US-controlled Iraq. He who controls the oil fields also controls the bowsers, to SOME EXTENT.

    But as we all know, the price at the pump is not 100% linked to the crude barrell price. It’s a funny old game, innit?

    Anyone who thinks Bush is not a plaything of the oil giants and thier globalized big business corporate cousins, please say asap: “I believe in fairies!”

  8. Ghandi

    If you want a real conspiracy theory about upcoming elections in the US and fuel prices, then you should check out Goldman Sachs’ 75% reduction of the weight of gas futures in the Goldman Sachs Commodity Index.

    I probably don’t need to tell you who Treasury Secretary Paulson was CEO of before accepting a job in the Bush cabinet.

    I’m sure the guys at Amaranth have about $6 billion reasons to be interested in any theories you might come up with.

  9. Peter,
    Even at the most, that is about 6 day’s supply of gasoline for US consumption, or less than a day for the world. It is a fair chunk, but at best it is only going to move it until the information is digested by the market – which would not cover the period of the current drop or even the time up to the mid-terms.
    To me, the real reason is the end of the US driving season and the stabilisation of the Iran situation – simple reasons, no conspiracies.

  10. Ah Iraq.

    Now it seems, according to the UNHCR figures there is a humanitarian crisis, created by displaced internal migrants running they say at 50,000 per month, and an external migration, mostly to adjoining countries, in excess of 350,000 per year. I think it can be quessed as to what sort of people are likely to make up the different groups. A telling figure, I believe, is that whereas last year 50,000 emigres returned home, this year so far there has been 1,000 returnees.

    For Iraq these figures represent a catastrophe, but let us not forget the calamity in the making for both the US and British armies, alluded to recently by General Dannant.

    The Iraq escapade, given at some point soon it will be drawn to a close by necessity, is hardly an exemplar in public democratic policy making. There are many lessons, but probably little will be learnt from them.

  11. Yes, Carbonsink, I suspect they are. The objective of both deniers and adaptors is, of course, to head off any kind of social action (read: Govt. action) in relation to global warming. The only response to be tolerated is “every man/woman for him/herself”, or in an equally gender-neutral but easier phrase: “Sauve qui peut”.

  12. I read a letter in the local paper about maritime terror laws being used to prosecute a group of envirnmental protestors? This of course would be a gross misuse of terror laws, and severely undermines freedom of speech and the right to protest.
    Does anyone know anything about this? google is drawing a blank.

  13. “…the US government cannot influence the world oil price in a major way except, perhaps, temporarily, through the release of the US strategic reserve. A variety of governments who would have some interest in governmental change in the US actually have much more say in the oil price than the US government has.”

    Hmmm…why yes actually.

  14. I missed the bit about why the neocons bothered to invade Iraq for cheaper oil when they could have simply rung up their mates at Goldman Sachs.

  15. But then I also missed the explanation from the usual suspects like the NRMA, unions, Beazer and Co and the mother’s milk manufacturers as to why the big bad heartless oil companies who were raising oil prices and ripping us all off at the bowser had a sudden change of heart recently. I’ve gotta learn to concentrate more in class.

  16. What is this “US driving season” anyway? Surely the onset of winter heating would compensate for teenagers geting out of their convertibles? Anyone got comparitive oil consumption figures for non-election years?

  17. Observa, for the 1000000th time, it’s not about cheap oil, it’s about who gets to make the profits. Fercryinoutloud.

  18. Recent stories about Govt. assistance to drought-affected farmers made me think about the Farm Management Deposits scheme. According to Federal Dept. of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry data, the value of Farm Management Deposits is (March 2006) $2.36 billion. These funds are tax-exempt until withdrawn, the idea being that farmers can “bank� income in high-income years and “receive� it in low-income years – like drought years. So why do the statistics show no falling trend for the value of FMDs? What you see is a rising trend since June 1999, with regular upticks in June followed by slight falls in succeeding quarters until the next June, which takes the total ever higher. I would have thought that farmers would be raiding their FMDs to cover drought-related losses, and the totals would be falling. Couldn’t just be a tax-avoidance scheme, could it?

    And while we’re (still) on the drought, I was delighted by Peter Cullen’s comment (first link above) that instead of “drip-feedingâ€? drought-affected farmers, the Govt. should be assisting them to leave the land. Clive Hamilton has said much the same. What are the chances of proposals which imply the depopulation of solid National Party electorates? Bill Heffernan’s idea of an Australian version of the Great Trek, whereby drought-stricken farmers head North en masse, is likely to attract more support – at least an equivalent number of electorates might be created!

  19. Fercryinoutloud why not just keep the prices up of the oil they do control, rather than making a target of their world money machine with the fundies by invading Iraq, and to boot they could have continued supporting sanctions against Saddam’s oil to aid the ripoff? Hey, they could have even got in on some juicy food for oil scam money via the UN to really ice their profit cake.

  20. Bingo, I got it! The price of world petrol fell because our Johnny subsidised LPG conversions. The old master does it again for the little Aussie battlers, but he’s history now as the big bad oil companies swing their support behind the Beazer, as a warning to others. Such is life for we little blokes!

  21. observa,

    you are not making much sense (which is ironic, given that you are ridiculing others for not making sense). Get your head around the concept of a cabal of self-interested parties. They only work towards their common good insofar as their mutually assured destruction requires it.

    Big Business, Big Oil and Big Money put Bush in the White House and they are not about to lose control of it any time soon. If they need to soak up some short-term pain (lower oil prices) for the long-term gain ($2 a litre next year?), so be it.

    You are using hindsight to declare their original intentions absurd: obviously they expected a better pay-off for invading Iraq, but that does not change their original goals.

  22. Much, much more on US control of Iraq’s oil here:

    “In February of 2001, just weeks after Bush was sworn in, the same energy executives that had been lobbying for Saddam’s ouster gathered at the White House to participate in Dick Cheney’s now infamous Energy Taskforce. Although Cheney would go all the way to the Supreme Court to keep what happened at those meetings a secret, we do know a few things thanks to documents obtained by the conservative legal group JudicialWatch. As Mark Levine wrote in The Nation($$):

    … a map of Iraq and an accompanying list of “Iraq oil foreign suitors” were the center of discussion. The map erased all features of the country save the location of its main oil deposits, divided into nine exploration blocks. The accompanying list of suitors revealed that dozens of companies from thirty countries–but not the United States–were either in discussions over or in direct negotiations for rights to some of the best remaining oilfields on earth.

    Levine wrote, “It’s not hard to surmise how the participants in these meetings felt about this situation.”

    According to The New Yorker, at the same time, a top-secret National Security Council memo directed NSC staff to “cooperate fully with the Energy Taskforce as it considered melding two seemingly unrelated areas of policy.” The administration’s national security team was to join “the review of operational policies towards rogue states such as Iraq, and actions regarding the capture of new and existing oil and gas fields.”

    At the State Department, planning was also underway. Under the auspices of the “Future of Iraq Project,” an “Oil and Energy Working Group” was established. The full membership of the group — described by the Financial Times as “Iraqi oil experts, international consultants” and State Department staffers — remains classified, but among them, according to Antonia Juhasz’s The Bush Agenda, was Ibrahim Bahr al-Uloum, who would serve in Iyad Allawi’s cabinet during the period of the Iraqi Governing Council, and later as Iraq’s Oil Minister in 2005. The group concluded that Iraq’s oil “should be opened to international oil companies as quickly as possible after the war.”

    But the execs from Big Oil didn’t just want access to Iraq’s oil; they wanted access on terms that would be inconceivable unless negotiated at the barrel of a gun. Specifically, they wanted an Iraqi government that would enter into Production Service Agreements (PSAs) for the extraction of Iraq’s oil.

    PSAs, developed in the 1960s, are a tool of today’s kinder, gentler neocolonialism; they allow countries to retain technical ownership over energy reserves but, in actuality, lock in multinationals’ control and extremely high profit margins — up to thirteen times oil companies’ minimum target, according to an analysis by the British-based oil watchdog Platform (PDF)….”

  23. Sorry Gahndi but my Moonbat detector is going all the way over to red here in the maximum region of secret plans for everlasting light globes and motors that run on water.

    Firstly let me say that big biz will always try and capture markets and maximise oligopoly profits and seek out govt rent handouts, in collusion with big labour. That’s what they do and what small biz wants to get a share of too if it can.

    As you say
    “Big Business, Big Oil and Big Money put Bush in the White House and they are not about to lose control of it any time soon. If they need to soak up some short-term pain (lower oil prices) for the long-term gain ($2 a litre next year?), so be it.”

    So this big biz is aware of tradeoffs between short term gain and long term gain, which apparently explains why they forgo their recent $1.45/L for petrol to gain say $2.00/L next year. Fair enough, but in the same breath we’re being told another big biz in the commanding heights, namely Goldman Sachs, is gunna screw over the big institutions and hedge funds for a big short term killing, when blind freddy could see they’ll only do it once and bye bye their commanding heights in that marketplace.

    Then apparently…..’ [I am] using hindsight to declare their original intentions absurd:’ in Iraq. Pardon me but economic sanctions against Saddam’s regime were well known, certain and no hindsight whatsoever, as was the UN Food for Oil scam which as ‘everybody’ knew was common knowledge as we’ve been told ad infinitum since. So economic sanctions were keeping much Iraqi oil off the market, thereby increasing the value of oligopolistic stocks in the hands of Big Oil, who can charge what they like for it apparently, yet this same careful, forward thinking BO wants to gamble and liberate Iraqi oil onto the market. As I said why bother when you can get $1.45/L for it or even $2.00/L by manipulating the price, yet now they lower the price nearer a $1.00/L(the careful forward thinking?) All this machinations yet Goldman Sachs know immediately and instinctively a bird in the hand’s worth two with the Bushies. Something doesn’t add up here folks.

  24. Hi everyone,
    go to google and type in failure. then press “I feel lucky” for a laugh.
    This gag won’t last long and google will shut it down as soon as they can.

  25. observa,

    they’ll only do it once and bye bye their commanding heights in that marketplace…

    You have more faith in the marketplace than me, obviously. I think the big players understand how these things work. That’s why GS is up there.

    Goldman Sachs know immediately and instinctively a bird in the hand’s worth two with the Bushies.

    Again, you have more faith in GS than me. And probably more faith in the Bushies too.

  26. Having done what they can to help Bush’s GOP in the coming elections, the Saudis are getting ready to push the price back up:

    “Ministers are aware their failure to speak with one voice in the two weeks leading up to the hastily convened [OPEC] talks has contributed to oil’s slide to $US58 a barrel, 26 per cent off its mid-July peak and near its lowest level this year.

    The silence in public of OPEC’s most influential member, leading exporter Saudi Arabia, had led some analysts and investors to speculate the kingdom opposed a plan to cut one million barrels per day, or 3.6 per cent, of group output.

    Saudi Oil Minister Ali Al-Naimi laid those doubts to rest when he arrived in Doha on Thursday, saying he stood fully behind the planned reduction and suggesting a further cut of 500,000 bpd could follow when OPEC meets in Nigeria in December.

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