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9.29.2011

Huit Nobel exhortent Harper d'arrêter d'exploiter les sables bitumineux

Source: Presse canadienne, 28 septembre 2011

Bob Weber
La Presse Canadienne
Edmonton

L'archevêque Desmond Tutu et sept autres lauréats du prix Nobel de la paix ont signé une lettre demandant au premier ministre Stephen Harper de faire ce qu'il peut pour stopper la croissance de l'industrie des sables bitumineux de l'Alberta.

La lettre au premier ministre canadien a été écrite trois semaines après que plusieurs lauréats du prestigieux prix eurent écrit une lettre au président américain Barack Obama lui demandant de bloquer le projet d'oléoduc Keystone XL, qui ferait augmenter les exportations vers les États-Unis de pétrole issu des sables bitumineux albertains.

«De la même manière que nous avons demandé au président Obama de rejeter l'oléoduc, nous vous demandons d'utiliser votre pouvoir pour faire cesser l'expansion des sables bitumineux, et vous assurer que le Canada se dirige vers un futur énergétique propre», lit-on dans la lettre, obtenue via l'organisme Nobel Women's Initiative.

La lettre adressée à M. Harper a été paraphée par tous les signataires de la missive destinée au président Obama, à l'exception du dalaï-lama. Ce dernier, explique Jody Williams, également lauréate du Nobel de la paix, n'a pu être joint à temps.

Les lauréats du prix Nobel soulignent que M. Harper a déjà soutenu que le changement climatique est peut-être la plus grande menace pour l'avenir de l'humanité. Ils lui demandent de passer de la parole aux actes en utilisant les pouvoirs fédéraux pour freiner la croissance de l'industrie des sables bitumineux.

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9.25.2011

Is Junk Food Really Cheaper?

Source: NYTimes, Sept 24, 2011

THE “fact” that junk food is cheaper than real food has become a reflexive part of how we explain why so many Americans are overweight, particularly those with lower incomes. I frequently read confident statements like, “when a bag of chips is cheaper than a head of broccoli ...” or “it’s more affordable to feed a family of four at McDonald’s than to cook a healthy meal for them at home.”

This is just plain wrong. In fact it isn’t cheaper to eat highly processed food: a typical order for a family of four — for example, two Big Macs, a cheeseburger, six chicken McNuggets, two medium and two small fries, and two medium and two small sodas — costs, at the McDonald’s a hundred steps from where I write, about $28. (Judicious ordering of “Happy Meals” can reduce that to about $23 — and you get a few apple slices in addition to the fries!)

In general, despite extensive government subsidies, hyperprocessed food remains more expensive than food cooked at home. You can serve a roasted chicken with vegetables along with a simple salad and milk for about $14, and feed four or even six people. If that’s too much money, substitute a meal of rice and canned beans with bacon, green peppers and onions; it’s easily enough for four people and costs about $9. (Omitting the bacon, using dried beans, which are also lower in sodium, or substituting carrots for the peppers reduces the price further, of course.)

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9.14.2011

IEA says fundamental tightness explains sustained high oil prices

Source: Platts.com

Oil prices have remained stubbornly high this year, with Dated Brent currently averaging more than $110/barrel, seemingly at odds with the worsening economic outlook in many key oil-consuming countries.

But despite all the attention being given to the parlous state of many western economies, fundamental market tightness lies behind the apparently paradoxical sustained high crude prices we have seen, according to the International Energy Agency.

In its September oil market report, the IEA said demand had been outpacing supply since the middle of 2010, leading to a depletion of stocks. In the second half of last year the supply shortfall was around 1.4 million b/d, while in the first six months of this year the deficit was closer to 500,000 b/d.

At the end of this period, OECD oil stocks in July 2011 dipped below the average level over the last five years for the first time since June 2008, the IEA said. This situation continued in August, when an estimated stock build of 600,000 barrels fell well short of the normal increase for the month of 14 million barrels, despite the release onto the market of oil from emergency stockpiles of IEA member countries. This tightness now looks set to ease, the IEA said.

With demand forecasts being revised down as a result of the increasingly gloomy economic outlook, the IEA expects the call on OPEC crude--which broadly measures the amount of oil the cartel's members would have to pump in order to balance supply and demand--to fall too.

Demand for OPEC crude in the fourth quarter of this year and the first quarter of 2012 is now estimated at around 30.5 million b/d, not much higher than the group's current production.

Adding in more hypothetical factors, such as the partial return of Libyan oil to the market or any further downgrade to oil demand estimates, would point even more strongly to an easing of market tightness in the coming months.