The Crude Oil Export Ban - What, Me Worry About Peak Oil?  

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Art Berman has an article in Forbes on the ending of the crude oil export ban in the US - The Crude Oil Export Ban--What, Me Worry About Peak Oil?. It's quite amazing just how much oil the US still imports after 10 years of the shale oil boom.

Congress ended the U.S. crude oil export ban last week. There is apparently no longer a strategic reason to conserve oil because shale production has made American great again. At least, that’s narrative that reality-averse politicians and their bases prefer.

The 1975 Energy Policy and Conservation Act (EPCA) that banned crude oil export was the closest thing to an energy policy that the United States has ever had. The law was passed after the price of oil increased in one month (January 1974) from $21 to $51 per barrel (2015 dollars) because of the Arab Oil Embargo.

The EPCA not only banned the export of crude oil but also established the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. Both measures were intended to keep more oil at home in order to make the U.S. less dependent on imported oil. A 55 mile-per-hour national speed limit was established to force conservation, and the International Energy Agency (IEA) was founded to better monitor and predict global oil supply and demand trends.

Above all, the export ban acknowledged that declining domestic supply and increased imports had made the country vulnerable to economic disruption. Its repeal last week suggests that there is no longer any risk associated with dependence on foreign oil.

Developer of $20 million Australian-first solar thermal pilot plant predicts sunny future under Turnbull  

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The ABC has a report on a new solar thermal pilot plant using sodium for energy storage in New South Wales - Developer of $20 million Australian-first solar thermal pilot plant predicts sunny future under Turnbull.

The Australian company has developed what it hopes will be a low-cost, high-efficiency Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) generation technology. The Jemalong pilot plant will be ready for commissioning in mid-January and is designed to prove the technology works.

Peak oil losing credibility as renewables shift accelerates  

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The ABC has a report on the decreasing levels of belief in peak oil (with Shane Oliver predicting peak oil will be due to consumption shifts not supply limitations) - Peak oil losing credibility as renewables shift accelerates.

AMP's Shane Oliver believes that, rather than facing a peak oil shock, consumers and industries will continue to move away from fossil fuels in an orderly manner as a wider range of renewable technologies get closer to affordable reality. "What's going to happen is that oil production globally will at some point peak but it's going to be because the world has moved away from oil towards the use of other things," Dr Oliver told AM. "The electrification of automobiles and greater efficiency in the use of oil will drive a decline in the demand through time anyway."

Dr Oliver said that, rather replicating a shock in the 1970s when OPEC restricted supply, the globe is undergoing a quiet revolution that will see the world requiring less oil. "Only a decade ago I was being told that I've got to get rid of my car and replace it with a horse and buggy. That prospect appears as less likely," Dr Oliver said. "The reality is the days of the internal combustion engine using oil are numbered, and I won't be getting rid of the car and getting a horse and buggy - I'll perhaps be getting a car with an electric engine."

BioPower wave power unit deployed in Southern Ocean  

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Many years ago I wrote about a company looking to exploit ocean energy using biomimicry. REW reports a pilot project has finally gone live - Victoria’s first wave power unit deployed in Southern Ocean.

Another Australian-designed wave energy project has been deployed, with the completion this week of the 250kW bioWAVE pilot demonstration unit off the Victorian coast near Port Fairy.

The $21 million project has been in development by Sydney and US-based company, BioPower Systems, for three years, with $11 million funding from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) and $5 million funding from the Victorian Government.

Earth has lost a third of arable land in past 40 years, scientists say  

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The Guardian has an article on soil depletion - Earth has lost a third of arable land in past 40 years, scientists say.

The world has lost a third of its arable land due to erosion or pollution in the past 40 years, with potentially disastrous consequences as global demand for food soars, scientists have warned. New research has calculated that nearly 33% of the world’s adequate or high-quality food-producing land has been lost at a rate that far outstrips the pace of natural processes to replace diminished soil.

The University of Sheffield’s Grantham Centre for Sustainable Futures, which undertook the study by analysing various pieces of research published over the past decade, said the loss was “catastrophic” and the trend close to being irretrievable without major changes to agricultural practices. The continual ploughing of fields, combined with heavy use of fertilizers, has degraded soils across the world, the research found, with erosion occurring at a pace of up to 100 times greater than the rate of soil formation. It takes around 500 years for just 2.5cm of topsoil to be created amid unimpeded ecological changes.

Animating the changing shape of the world population pyramid  

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From Peter Winfield (via The Economist) - Animating the changing shape of the world population pyramid.

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