Thursday, June 22

Peak Oil

Peak oil describes the point in time when oil production declines. Peak oil theory assumes demand will outstrip supply as future deposits become increasingly costly to extract, ensuring price escalation and an end to oil dependant economies with catastrophic results. Nobody can tell reliably when that will happen but a groundswell of current opinion suggests it is already upon us. In June last year the prediction was $46 a barrel for oil, compared to our actual average cost so far of $67.

It is an undeniable fact that reduced oil use, particularly in agriculture and most types of transport require huge societal shifts to sustainable limited alternatives. Alternative technology is far from encouraging. Man made fuels such as ethanol, derived from plants or diesel from coal only partially cover the gap and are much more expensive. There is no viable alternative other than to drastically curtail our use of oil, with less dependence on transport and requiring communities to become more self sufficient.

But is the peak oil theory creditable? Are we at the end of the oil age?

In the past we have encountered similar sharp price increases in the 1970’s when OPEC curtailed production, in 1981 when Iraq was at war with Iran, and in 1991 during the gulf war. This time proponents of the peak oil theory say it’s a different scenario because our reserves have been in decline and new fields will be increasingly costly. We cannot change geology. Oil and gas will become increasingly expensive to extract from dwindling reserves. It seems creditable enough to believe we have reached this point in the cycle where oil prices can only escalate rapidly.

However recent statistics on world reserves show a small net increase, cementing a continuing trend of the oil industry each year to find more oil then it produces. In other words the net effect of new discoveries of economically feasible oil fields and assessment of the life of existing reserves of what’s left in the ground showed an incremental increase over previous years, in line with a positive continuing trend. The proponents of the peak oil theory argue countries like Saudi Arabia deliberately lie about their level of reserves, overstating the figures to justify pumping more oil. But their motivation for doing this is at odds with their investment plans, as they implement large scale infrastructure spending. Why spend vast sums of money to increase your capacity if your reserves are running out!!

Herein then lies the confusion, assuming there is a fudging of figures than the theory remains creditable, if not we have time to adjust. And if the latter be correct than the price of oil will actually fall back to somewhere in the range of $50 per barrel, or even below within a year, assuming countries don’t simply turn off the pump and also barring another War or a cataclysmic event.

What of the future? No one knows!

Maybe there is a window of opportunity over the next 30 years to finally make some headway in reducing our reliance on oil, time for consumers to adjust. Either way the key is to change towards a sustainable pollutant free lifestyle.

Oil markets and futures contracts are going to be in for a very rocky ride in the meantime. The same analysists who predicted $46 for this year are now predicting $60 for 2007.

Wednesday, June 14

To Russia with love

The era of new freedom, market force your new way
Don’t rule out compassion as economics give sway

Speak of the devil, beware shadowy cloaks
Time for renewal, cast off bitter yokes

Arise now new leaders with hearts now restored
Bring justice mighty homeland for one and for all

Tuesday, June 13

Headless Chickens

I am pleased to report the Migration and Amendment Bill 2006 I commented on in the last post received a frosty reception from the Senate Committee who concluded that in its current state it was unfair, undemocratic and violated human rights.

At least 2 Government back benchers signalled their intention to “cross the floor” and vote against the provisions of the Bill with the Opposition Parties in Federal Parliament. By all accounts it’s a Bill which will be defeated. It’s also worth mentioning the reason for the legislation, arising as an intended appeasement to Indonesia for the recent action in granting asylum in Australia. to a group of Papuans. The Indonesian Government withdrew its Ambassador and was exceedingly displeased with Australia’s actions in recognising the Papuans as refugees. .

The heading for this post brought to mind my Father beheading a chicken to be eaten, by chopping off its head. But on rare occasions the hapless headless chicken ran around the back yard briefly in an involuntary action.
And so it reminds me of the current state of play of politics in Australia. Given there are some good things going on in Government but there has largely been a void of genuine policy initiatives, for quite some time. For policy to work well I believe it must have as its roots prescribed community values. Values need to be reflective of ethics that provide such things as equal opportunity, minimum heath care, rewarding working conditions, universal education opportunities to all, care for our environment, human rights and freedoms of expression. The effectiveness of policy is to measure its implementation and effect against theses core values. This is not rocket science, nor should it be, but it’s a far cry from the attempted knee jerk reactions to governance responding just to opinion polls on the run and around elections time.

A good example recently was the proposed 2 billion dollar float of the Snowy Mountain Scheme. After a public outcry the Commonwealth reversed its decision to sell its stake, only weeks after our Prime Minister was espousing its virtues.The absence of serious policy initiatives remands me of those hapless chooks.

Monday, June 12

Migration and Amendment Bill 2006

In Australia next week our Government debates a new Bill which will divert future refugees to Nauru, a tiny island in the Pacific. Other Provisions of the Bill reintroduce child detention indefinitely.

I have visited Nauru, known for its past mining of phosphate, and it now resembles a lunar landscape, except for the tiny green perimeter around the island. Otherwise the island consists of massive grey cones, a legacy of the phosphate mining when no attempt was made towards restoration.

This detention centre, for processing of Refugees away from the public, frees the government from the responsibility to accept refugees. By processing refugees off shore the government is also freed from the responsibility do case managed mental care. I have signed a partition against the Bill and refer you to the various submissions to the Senate Enquiry to view comments of many concerned citizens.

If only One Liberal member will vote with Labour against the Bill it will be defeated.Click here for the various submissions.

Tuesday, June 6

Young Hearts

Who can recite multiverses?
Could there be strangers in parallel universes?

Are new births, new stars every day?
New dimensions in time far away?

Behold our precious light so profound
Rejoice in one universe for all of mankind

Saturday, June 3


Last weekend our parish celebrated jointly our patrons Mary and St Kizito who is the patron saint of our sister parish in Malawi. I had been asked to say a few words on what it means to be part of our parish and what motivated me to join the Malawi Support Group.

I first joined the parish in 1983, becoming a catholic in 1986 and I think I can say what it meant to me then, applies equally to day, that is to be part of a vibrant community.

That community like the branches of a tree needs nourishment. For me that nourishment of community has its expression in a parish fellowship and friendship together, a spiritual uplifting liturgy, sharing in a common faith and hope that enhance our wellbeing. To join in our parish is to join in a communal oasis. A sanctuary to be sustained in a renewed reverence for life. Hence I rather like the expression, the deer refreshed from the cool steams.

Turning to the second question on what motivated me to join the Malawi Support group I also begin with the idea of community which was the primary motivational force, to share one community’s gifts with another.
Many years ago when I belonged to an Anglican Fellowship I was interested in communities abroad and drawn to become their Missionary Secretary, raising small amounts of money for African missions.
So my interest in a sister parish in Malawi was a natural corollary that quickly caught my attention, just after formation. My motivation arises from a desire to share our gifts with those in the poorest communities, wherever they are but particularly in Africa and in Malawi.

For me there was strong motivation to help in a small way the warm heart of Malawi and Africa, cradle of our civilisation, bleeding badly to day.

Just after the talk we shared with the congregation recent photos from Malawi. The photos are also posted on the Malawi Website(click here to view) and include pictures of women knitting sweaters for orphans for the coming cold season.
Currently there is a group of 60 girls learning to knit and trying to improve their English. All have just about completed knitting hats and sweaters for themselves. Fr. Paddy Hagan from Mtsiriza who has also started a small project where he is distributing fruit tree seedlings for folk to plant trees.

Their mosquito net scheme is proving to be an effective deterrent to the incidence of malaria, with nets distributed by woman vendors who make a small profit of 20KW on each net sold. Their VCT-ARV clinic dispenses AIDS drugs for aids sufferers as part of the home based care centre and has up to 35 clients a day.

At the same time we also presented contrasting scenes of our own parish life, to give a perspective of the two communities.

On the Saturday evening as part of that celebration we were entertained in our School Hall by the ‘DEGENERATES”, a musical group of fathers of students attending Genazzao school in Melbourner who had kindly agreed to play for us on the night. The dollars raised on the night go to a parish fund for the legal costs for our friends we are currently supporting in an application to allow them to stay in Australia.

It was great night and we look forword to having the “THE DEGENARATES “back in the future for a fully supported function.

I had the pleasure of singing one number with the band, "White Christmas" as one of our parishioners has requested it. He had served in the Merchant Navy in WW2, and tells the story of how morale was low, following an Air raid, when over the loud speakers they heard the recording of “White Christmas” which immediately had a calming effect, as morale was restored. Just as it did on so many other occasions during WW2.