Monday, January 30, 2006

Exxon Record Profits on Oil: Any Questions on Climate Change?

Exxon Mobil Posts Largest Annual Profit for U.S. Company

By JOHN HOLUSHA, New York Times

Published: January 30, 2006

Exxon Mobil Corporation said today that its 2005 earnings totaled $36.13 billion, an increase of 42 percent from the previous year. The amount is the largest annual profit ever for an American company.

Earnings for the final quarter of the year were $10.71 billion, or $1.71 a share, up 27 percent from the $8.42 billion, or $1.30 a share, in the final quarter of 2004.

The fourth-quarter performance capped a record year for oil companies driven by a surge in crude oil and gas prices. Crude oil prices rose 40 percent last year, driven by rapidly rising demand from economically rising countries like China and India and production problems in oil-producing countries like Nigeria and Iraq.

Total revenues for the quarter reached $99.66 billion from $83.37 in the year-ago period.

Exxon Mobil reported that oil and gas production declined by 1 percent in the fourth quarter. However, the company said that if the lingering effects of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, which crimped production in the Gulf of Mexico and on the Gulf Coast, and other factors are included, production rose 2 percent.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Central Challenge of 21st Century: Safely Powering Down Civilization

(Art by Suzanne Duranceau --)

Robert Paterson has written a fine summary of human rules to live by. See links titled "Great Return" currently in six parts.

Why start a story on climate change with Paterson's work? I see his writing as a useful field guide to understanding our species, and anchor my hope for our future in our ability to get information that makes a difference -- so we can change current petrolist policies quickly.

I found Paterson's journal while looking for Elizabeth Kolbert, who has written a fine series on climate change for the New Yorker (The Q & A is a primer for three essays Kolbert has written in the New Yorker on climate change in the past year. Essential reading to inspire social change.) I recommend The New Yorker to you -- good jokes, poems, and thoughtfully edited writing every week.

You may not feel it today, but climate's dice have been thrown. Carbon levels are rising precipitously. The time to act is now.

I enjoy interview formats with experts to learn what people are thinking.

Here is a good example in the climate change/chaos prevention context from German newspaper Der Spiegel

"It's Too Late to Stop Climate Change"

Dr. Hermann Ott is the director of the Berlin office of the Wuppertal Institute for Climate, Environment and Energy, one of Europe's leading climate policy research organizations. In an interview with SPIEGEL ONLINE, he says that global warming is inevitable and mankind must take steps for the softest landing possible. It will also mean fundamental changes in the way we live.

Energy Conservation gets us 40-50% of the way to changing the odds of our civilization's extinction in the next century.

Political will gets us decentralized green energy systems such as the Apollo Alliance is organizing.

Planting trees, roof gardens, and reflective material on rooftops can help mitigate heat in cities. Burlington, VT energy plan is an example of what we must do across US.

The original inspiration for this climate change entry is an essay in The Independent by James Lovelock on the urgent need to shift to survival strategy. I don't share his bleak forecast but welcome his attention-getting forecast.

Finally, Thomas Friedman, Op Ed writer for the New York Times
sums up my own perspective:

The New Red, White And Blue

Published: January 6, 2006

As we enter 2006, we find ourselves in trouble, at home and abroad. We are in trouble because we are led by defeatists -- wimps, actually.

What's so disturbing about President Bush and Dick Cheney is that they talk tough about the necessity of invading Iraq, torturing terror suspects and engaging in domestic spying -- all to defend our way of life and promote democracy around the globe.

But when it comes to what is actually the most important issue in U.S. foreign and domestic policy today -- making ourselves energy efficient and independent, and environmentally green -- they ridicule it as something only liberals, tree-huggers and sissies believe is possible or necessary.

Sorry, but being green, focusing the nation on greater energy efficiency and conservation, is not some girlie-man issue. It is actually the most tough-minded, geostrategic, pro-growth and patriotic thing we can do. Living green is not for sissies. Sticking with oil, and basically saying that a country that can double the speed of microchips every 18 months is somehow incapable of innovating its way to energy independence -- that is for sissies, defeatists and people who are ready to see American values eroded at home and abroad.

Living green is not just a ''personal virtue,'' as Mr. Cheney says. It's a national security imperative.

The biggest threat to America and its values today is not communism, authoritarianism or Islamism. It's petrolism. Petrolism is my term for the corrupting, antidemocratic governing practices -- in oil states from Russia to Nigeria and Iran -- that result from a long run of $60-a-barrel oil. Petrolism is the politics of using oil income to buy off one's citizens with subsidies and government jobs, using oil and gas exports to intimidate or buy off one's enemies, and using oil profits to build up one's internal security forces and army to keep oneself ensconced in power, without any transparency or checks and balances.

When a nation's leaders can practice petrolism, they never have to tap their people's energy and creativity; they simply have to tap an oil well. And therefore politics in a petrolist state is not about building a society or an educational system that maximizes its people's ability to innovate, export and compete. It is simply about who controls the oil tap.

In petrolist states like Russia, Iran, Venezuela and Sudan, people get rich by being in government and sucking the treasury dry -- so they never want to cede power. In non-petrolist states, like Taiwan, Singapore and Korea, people get rich by staying outside government and building real businesses.

Our energy gluttony fosters and strengthens various kinds of petrolist regimes. It emboldens authoritarian petrolism in Russia, Venezuela, Nigeria, Sudan and Central Asia. It empowers Islamist petrolism in Sudan, Iran and Saudi Arabia. It even helps sustain communism in Castro's Cuba, which survives today in part thanks to cheap oil from Venezuela. Most of these petrolist regimes would have collapsed long ago, having proved utterly incapable of delivering a modern future for their people, but they have been saved by our energy excesses.

No matter what happens in Iraq, we cannot dry up the swamps of authoritarianism and violent Islamism in the Middle East without also drying up our consumption of oil -- thereby bringing down the price of crude. A democratization policy in the Middle East without a different energy policy at home is a waste of time, money and, most important, the lives of our young people.

That's because there is a huge difference in what these bad regimes can do with $20-a-barrel oil compared with the current $60-a-barrel oil. It is no accident that the reform era in Russia under Boris Yeltsin, and in Iran under Mohammad Khatami, coincided with low oil prices. When prices soared again, petrolist authoritarians in both societies reasserted themselves.

We need a president and a Congress with the guts not just to invade Iraq, but to also impose a gasoline tax and inspire conservation at home. That takes a real energy policy with long-term incentives for renewable energy -- wind, solar, biofuels -- rather than the welfare-for-oil-companies-and-special-interests that masqueraded last year as an energy bill.

Enough of this Bush-Cheney nonsense that conservation, energy efficiency and environmentalism are some hobby we can't afford. I can't think of anything more cowardly or un-American. Real patriots, real advocates of spreading democracy around the world, live green.

Green is the new red, white and blue.


I subscribe to the paper, so get access to their editorial page, and post this cogent essay to make it easy to access and read.



Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Biodiversity in the balance: Wolf Restoration in Yellowstone poster

Wolves in Yellowstone

I am beginning work on a new biodiversity poster for Yellowstone. The art will be a watercolor similar in look and feel to Good Nature's California Oak Woodlands poster. John Pitcher will be painting the artwork

Wolves were introduced to the park 10 years ago.

I want to design a poster field guide that shows the diverse changes that have resulted to the area's plants and animals.

A species list is the first step in getting our art started. Doug Smith, lead biologist in charge of wolf re -introduction to Yellowstone gave me this starter list.

Here is the draft list for your review of species to consider being
illustrated on our four color watercolor poster:

Black bear

Pronghorn antelope

Golden eagle
Bald eagle
Yellow throated warbler
Western bluebird
Yellow warbler



Everyone of these animals and plant have a rich story between them and the wolves of Yellowstone.

Any additions welcome.

See Good Nature's Oak Woodland Community for example of look and feel I want for Wolves of Yellowstone poster.

What is a good title for this poster?

What other plants and animals should be on it?

How many science teachers across the country are teaching about wolves in Yellowstone?

More information:

US National Park Service Wolf Re- introduction

Defenders of Wildlife

National Geographic geared to kids

Orion Magazine fine story by Rick Bass

Photo credit of wolf behind aspen from GORP type in Yellowstone and go to slide show.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Eight Buddhist Principles for Relationship

The great Tibetan Buddhist teacher Geshe Langri Tangpa designed these teachings in the twelfth century, but they are still potent and helpful today as guides for human behavior, and for learning to relate to and love others unconditionally.

Because love is other-concerned, has no hierarchy, and does not cherish self-vindication, these teachings may be used as wise guides for intimate relating. You can read these eight simple teachings aloud as meditations, if you like:

May I consider all beings precious.

May I always respect others as superior while attaining self-esteem.

May I face my inner darkness and turn it to good.

May I be moved with compassion for the pain behind the spite others may show me.

When I am hurt by others, may I forego retaliation while always fighting injustice.

May I reckon those who betray me as sacred teachers.

May I offer joy to all beings and secretly take on their suffering.

May all beings and I be free from ego concerns of loss and gain.


Candle, breath,love, light, you, me/not me all are gathered here to practice these words.

PS: I think this could be written by Jesus or any other great teacher-- in fact Jesus said many of the same things in different ways.

This text is all quoted from an email I got today.

I have a few questions that don't really bear down on the humane message:

1. Have you ever heard of any Tibetan Monk From The Twelfth Century Who Was Not Great ? -- and most of the time we are talking Tony the Tiger Great!

2. If the author of the eight power points was black, was from say -- oh, the 21st Century and lived in poverty as monks are prone to do -- maybe was even in prison and borrowed the prison library's computer to make his presentation -- his proclamation of humanity -- well dammit, don't you think it would take another 12 centuries for his or her wisdom to get through to me?

Basta. I have to practice.


Adapted from How to Be an Adult in Relationships, by David Richo (Shambhala, 2002).

From the good people at Care2net

Photography by Laine Harris

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Botanical Etchings by Bryan Poole

Bryan Poole's art work is the best engraving I have seen in contemporary botanical art.

Mr.Poole's art took me a little while to really understand. Read his notes on etching process to see what I mean -- there is quite a bit of work involved in every engraving.

You can see what I mean online by going to Poole's website Etchart