Farewell. The Flying Pig Has Left The Building.

Steve Hynd, August 16, 2012

After four years on the Typepad site, eight years total blogging, Newshoggers is closing it's doors today. We've been coasting the last year or so, with many of us moving on to bigger projects (Hey, Eric!) or simply running out of blogging enthusiasm, and it's time to give the old flying pig a rest.

We've done okay over those eight years, although never being quite PC enough to gain wider acceptance from the partisan "party right or wrong" crowds. We like to think we moved political conversations a little, on the ever-present wish to rush to war with Iran, on the need for a real Left that isn't licking corporatist Dem boots every cycle, on America's foreign misadventures in Afghanistan and Iraq. We like to think we made a small difference while writing under that flying pig banner. We did pretty good for a bunch with no ties to big-party apparatuses or think tanks.

Those eight years of blogging will still exist. Because we're ending this typepad account, we've been archiving the typepad blog here. And the original blogger archive is still here. There will still be new content from the old 'hoggers crew too. Ron writes for The Moderate Voice, I post at The Agonist and Eric Martin's lucid foreign policy thoughts can be read at Democracy Arsenal.

I'd like to thank all our regular commenters, readers and the other bloggers who regularly linked to our posts over the years to agree or disagree. You all made writing for 'hoggers an amazingly fun and stimulating experience.

Thank you very much.

Note: This is an archive copy of Newshoggers. Most of the pictures are gone but the words are all here. There may be some occasional new content, John may do some posts and Ron will cross post some of his contributions to The Moderate Voice so check back.


Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Where Peak Oil Meets Poverty

By BJ Bjornson

What makes this story from the BBC so sad is the almost certain fact that the situation can only grow worse as heating fuel and other oil products become increasingly dear over the next few decades.

Thousands of people die each year from illnesses linked to fuel poverty, according to an independent report.

. . .

There are 27,000 extra deaths in the UK each winter compared to other times of year, according to figures from the Office for National Statistics. The report found most of this was due to cold weather.

. . .

The main cause of these deaths is respiratory and cardiovascular illness brought on by the cold, with lower outdoor and indoor temperatures each accounting for about half the total number of deaths.

Prof Hills then drew on a separate recent report, the Marmot review, which found that more than one-fifth of all additional winter deaths were directly attributable to lower indoor temperatures in homes that, on average, are among the coldest 25% in the country.

From my read of the story, there�s a fair bit of wiggle room in determining just how many of the deaths are directly tied to the inability to afford enough fuel to heat the home, but the overall theory seems quite plausible.

It also reminds me that one of the best ways for most people to cut down on their �carbon footprint� and use energy more efficiently, is related to how well-insulated your house is. It probably goes without saying that the cheapest and most affordable housing are also those with the worst ability to retain heat in the winter (or conversely stay cool in hotter climes). Which means that those most at risk for being unable to pay their heating bills are the very same people who most need the extra heat, and whose bills are more painful than they need be were the buildings they live in built to better standards.

While I�m generally less pessimistic than Ron regarding the world�s transition into a period of decreasing oil production, this is definitely one area where the effects are going to be very painful indeed.


  1. Peak fossil fuel may not be the what starts killing people first. It may well be peak phosphorus.
    Why is phosphorus pivotal? Phosphorus is in the DNA of all plants, microbes and animals. It is a key ingredient in fertilizer, but high quality phosphate deposits for mining are limited in both quantity and locality. Indeed, there are increasing concerns that with 85% of the resource limited to three countries in the world, inexpensive phosphorus may become a vestige of the past.Many farmers in the world cannot afford phosphorus now and it's only going to get worse.

  2. I guess I also have to ask the question - how many of these deaths were in part the result of pollution from coal and oil fired power plants.

  3. Re: Peak Phosphorus - You're always so full of good news, Ron, though I do admit that reading through these things often does feel like humanity is taking bets on which method of destroying civilization will come first.
    As to the pollution effects, it's hard to say. A quick Google search and read seems to indicate that different kinds of pollution are worse in heat and others in colder surface temperatures, and I know there can be an effect when you're cooped up in a tightly-sealed building for long periods, but that's generally due to the heat being set too high rather than the reverse. From the study, it appears that the big culprit is the added stress the body is under to deal with the non-optimal temperature, which in the UK at least, is something you find much more often in the winter.