Are you sick of being ripped off at the petrol pump? Are you annoyed that despite ample oil supplies on the market to meet current demand the speculators persist in trying to push up world oil prices? And don’t forget that the Singapore benchmark for refined petrol used to calculate local petrol prices remains one of the highest in the world.
A rip off is a rip off. The fact is that despite consistently being an inflated benchmark the Singapore benchmark for unleaded petrol has fallen dramatically since May 6. Despite valiant efforts by the speculators to try and prop up world oil prices, the Singapore benchmark price has fallen signifcantly.
As the Singapore benchmark price falls so should the local wholesale and retail petrol prices. The problem is that falls take forever to be passed through to motorists at the pump. We are given the usual “reasons” for the time lag. We are told that it takes time for the oil companies and major retailers to clear out old stock bought at the old, higher price.
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Last July I had dinner with Malcolm Fraser and a small group in the Karagheusian Room in University House at the University of Melbourne. The dinner was in honour of my brother in law Gerry Simpson, who had just delivered his Inaugural Professorial Lecture, entitled “War Crimes Trials, Solemnity and the Problem of Evil”.
The evening displayed symbols of ancient, privileged University traditions that clash with contemporary political life. Waiters served us pre-Master Chef dishes on good china, surrounded by walnut antique furniture from Paris and a Brueghel III oil painting peered down on us through the centuries. Mr Fraser was relaxed and comfortable.
Our conversations turned to climate change, of course. I said I thought the legal profession should do more to litigate against polluters and regulators. I understand that there is no climate law under which to run cases, but if the planet is burning, that is enough of a smoking gun for this bush lawyer.
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For three weeks I have been anxiously waiting for an answer from President Barack Obama. Not to me, unfortunately, but to my old friend Danny Kennedy, who recently met POTUS in the Rose Garden of the White House.
Danny Kennedy is a solar entrepreneur in San Franscisco. His company Sungevity has offered to install a US$108,000, 17.85kW solar PV system on the roof of the White House, which would supply 81% of its electricity needs. The Secret Service can even see a handy photoshopped image of the rig, to check the security implications.
The public campaign behind the solar offer, Solar on the White House, or ‘Globama’ is not merely a smart PR exercise. Danny and other ambitious green capitalists know that the political economy is built not just of steel and dollars but stories and symbols. When we change these things, we change the rules that shape political reality.
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Last week I was bored to death reading coal industry propaganda and needed some inspiration, so I took $50,000 worth of new green technology for a test drive.
The Prius is the worlds first and biggest selling hybrid car, meaning it has both an electric motor and a petrol engine, which work in tandem to minimize petrol consumption. It also features a HUD heads up display, like in a military jet and solar panels built into the roof. If Captain Planet had a car, this would be it.
The market for hybrid cars is driven (sorry) by both Peak Oil and climate change. Peak Oil is the term for ecological limits as they apply to crude oil, or more specifically, the point in history at which oil production reaches a peak.
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