Thursday, September 01, 2005

Non-Normal Perfect Storm approaching

In a previous entry, I mentioned the issue of non-normality and predicting whether or not a Hurricane's path could be predicted accurately enough to allow for the evacuation of a large metropolitan city like New Orleans. Well it looks we are able to really evaluate non-normal strong convective flow behavior, but these computations seldom can evaluate the cost in human life and the triggering effects they produce.

Non-normal perfect storms are where seemingly small unrelated elements join together to produce an expected result in proportions unheard of before, are probably the best way to conceive what is about to happen. So while the destruction and damages of Katrina can be witnessed here (before and after picture - move mouse of images) and while the conditions in New Orleans downtown are downright terrible (people are looting to survive) another major effect is looming: oil crisis.

For instance, at $5.87 a gallon, gas prices are the same as in Europe where one forks about 1.1 euros per liter. This photograph above, while not representative of most U.S. current prices yet, tells you that you now have to fork over 1.2 euros per liter in the U.S., more than some place in Europe. This is just unheard of, since up until three to four years ago, gas prices were about one fourth of the U.S.

I am also a big believer of small signs. Just last week, I have seen an astounding three references to the SI unit system on the local TV station. It is probably more comforting to hear that the heat wave is at 34 degrees than 100 degrees ! Also mentioning a distance in kilometers or filling a gas tank with liters instead of gallons makes it likely (because they are smaller) these items will become another way of selling products in the future (the liter was in reference to bottles of Dr. Pepper!).

More recently, the issue of perfect storm was becoming clearer two months ago. With Katrina it becomes crystal clear:

- There is a similar decrease in oil production in the Gulf due to the Hurricane (Ivan's damages),

- there is a rise in foreclosures in Houston

- An oil consultant is thinking, after going through the petroleum engineering literature, that oil estimates in Saudi Arabia cannot be trusted.

- $70 a barrel.

- China had an 8.2 % share of global oil consumption last year, and they just have been congratulated by Kazakh officials on the purchase of PetroKazakhstan

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