Energy for Democracy

Dropping The Campaign Wrecking Ball

Intelligent commentators, authors and policy people are often suspicious of campaign groups. At the back of their minds they are drawing on a cultural discourse, primarily conducted in the media, that equates campaigners with mini-Hitlers – spreading disinformation and cult behaviour.

It is true that – as Mein Kampf reveals – the National Socialists in Germany used the latest communications tools to coerce and channel the energy of democracy towards their goals.

Some of the Nazi ambition was for democratic engagement, involvement in the process of rebuilding the country. Yet some of the methods were perverse, and caused an inexorable descent into the abuse of power.


When people like Mark Lynas accuse Greenpeace and other green campaign organisations of failings, there is any underlying theme – accusations of manipulation – both of facts and people. The sub-text harks back to the combat against fascism and Nazism in Europe.

We’re never going to make any progress on climate change if those advocating for energy change are equated to early 20th Century dictators and totalitarians.

Energy is a Social Good

I recently wrote an essay called “Energy for Democracy” making a first attempt at connecting the dots on grassroots democratic mobilisation and energy change. The subject set was in the field of “Environmental Communication”, and so I went back and looked at the development of mass media, advertising and public persuasion. I then went on to think about how propaganda and governance are interrelated. And I also looked at philosophy, and politics. I looked at the early 20th Century ideological splits in Europe, and the part that industrial development played. I looked at how democratic and other forms of socialism dealt with the problem of energy.

I posited that, since energy is produced for the Common Good, it should be subject to democratic management. I found myself “channelling” the spirit of Ramsay Macdonald, and going back to the questions of society and the integration of new industries that were pervasive before the two so-called “World Wars”.

Energy Of A Similar Wavelength

And today I find this very theme picked up by Ulrich Beck in The Guardian newspaper, along with the expression “energy change”, which is a term I am using increasingly to encapsulate the pivotal and essential response to climate change :-

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/jun/20/germany-nuclear-power-renewable-energy

“Germany is right to opt out of nuclear”, he headlines, “The rejection of nuclear power is a result not of German angst but of economic thinking. We must invest in renewable energy”.

I was gladdened when he stepped from economics to democratics :-

“…Ultimately, the rejection of nuclear is not a result of German angst but of economic thinking. In the long run, nuclear power will become more expensive, while renewable energy will become cheaper. But the key point is that those who continue to leave all options open will not invest…People everywhere are proclaiming and mourning the death of politics. Paradoxically, the cultural perception of the danger may well usher in the very opposite: the end of the end of politics…what is denounced by many as a hysterical over-reaction to the “risks” of nuclear energy is in fact a vital step towards ensuring that a turning point in energy generation becomes a step towards greater democracy…The novel coalition between the state and social movements of the kind we currently see at work in Germany now has a historic opportunity. Even in terms of power politics, this change of policy makes sense…”

The British are stumbling towards democracy, too, but they keep tripping over old divisiveness, and create new divisions too, just to complicate matters.

People Power – Not Potty Nor Puny

The Climate Camp has just been a baby step on the pathway to democratic movement on energy. Camping in coal trucks and dropping banners from power station cooling stacks has been a sign that democracy has been ailing – if there were genuine engagement between the governments, private enterprises and “campaign” groups over the future scenarios for energy, then people wouldn’t need to camp outside banks and coal-fired power plants.

As a consumer of mainstream media, all you see is the blockade of a Biofuel refinery, or people gluing themselves to the entrance of the Royal Bank of Scotland, or the occupation of a plant nursery at the site of a proposed runway. If you think “what a ramshackle bunch of unwashed hippies, straining the last of their voices, railing at the State, in a vain attempt to roll back the tide of industry, progress and Thorium reactors”, then you haven’t understood the bigger picture.

People want to be engaged in the decisions made about energy in this country – properly engaged. People want to use their knowledge to influence decisions. If the only means they have of expressing their democratic will and their opposition to hydraulic fracturing is to D-lock themselves to Shale Gas drilling equipment, then perhaps they might just do that. This might happen in Poland too. The alternative would be a proper discussion between the people groups and the governments. Where’s the European Union environmental legislature while all of this is happening ? Shale Gas could destroy Poland.

Energy Collectives – Expressing Collective Democratic Will

Groups like Fair Pensions are building momentum between people groups and investing institutions – raising the flag for clean energy. This isn’t about fighting – let’s drop the battlefield language, including that word “campaign”, which is so often used in a derogatory, dismissive, belittling way. This is about getting people working together on a new, sustainable future, and it requires all the righteous anger rising up to be channelled into a positive, productive movement, fully expressing the will of the people.

Consultations and placard-waving demonstration protests are not the way forward – we need energy change, and that’s going to require a whole lot more democratic energy. People don’t want dirty energy, and they don’t want nuclear power. Dirty energy should be asked to leave the building, nicely, politely. Firm but fair.

Group Thinking – Democratic Intelligence

Investment in renewable and sustainable energy is creating long-lasting assets for the UK and other countries. We don’t need and we don’t want dirty, radioactive energy any more. A thousand cheers for German democracy !

Alien robot inspects windfarm

The design of the UK Department of Energy and Climate Change “Energy Infrastructure” website shows what appears to be an robotic, alien figure in a green and pleasant land under a wind turbine. It must be a trick of the light, but I’m sure you can see the join between its head and its body, and added to that, there’s an unearthly glow around its helmet :-

https://www.og.decc.gov.uk/EIP/pages/recent.htm

But what intrigues me more than the choice of photographs to adorn this website, and the curious, 1940’s style graphic of an electricity pylon used as a logo, is the mention of the recent permission granted to an CCGT/OCGT power station planning proposal at RWE npower Willington C in Derbyshire :-

http://www.decc.gov.uk/en/content/cms/meeting_energy/consents_planning/consents_planning.aspx
https://www.og.decc.gov.uk/EIP/pages/onshore.htm
https://www.og.decc.gov.uk/EIP/pages/recent.htm
https://www.og.decc.gov.uk/EIP/pages/projects/willington_ccgt_decision_letter.pdf

Burning petroleum refinery residues ? Yes.

The decision letter lays out that :-

“On 24 September 2010 the Company formally requested if section 36 consent was granted that it could be on the basis of a phased development, that is the construction of the open cycle gas turbine generating station, followed by the combined cycle gas turbine generating station once development consent for the natural gas pipeline had been obtained. The Company has explained that the open cycle turbines can be operated on distillate oil and would be used only for periods to meet peak demand or in response to intermittency in renewable generation”

The gas pipeline has been requested :-

http://infrastructure.independent.gov.uk/projects/east-midlands/willington-gas-pipeline/

But I’m asking myself, has no progress been made in energy policy ? Are we going to carry on burning oil refinery residue at times of peak demand ? The people and many of the Parliamentarians have shown their resistance to new coal-fired power stations, and there does appear to be a moratorium on new coal, kind of. But do people realise that some of the new “peaker plants” that are believed to be necessary will be burning fuel oil ? You see, Willington C is not alone :-

http://www.rwe.com/web/cms/en/97626/rwe-npower/about-us/our-businesses/power-generation/fawley/

“In June 2011 we announced that we are investigating the possibility of developing a new distillate oil-fired open cycle gas turbine (OCGT) plant at our Fawley site. For more information about the proposals…” :-

http://www.rwe.com/web/cms/en/97626/rwe-npower/about-us/our-businesses/power-generation/fawley/
http://www.rwe.com/web/cms/en/657602/rwe-npower/about-us/our-businesses/new-power-stations/fawley/

http://www.thisishampshire.net/news/9066256.Energy_giant_pledges_consultation_over_new___100m_power_plant/
http://www.internationalsustainableenergy.com/news/rwe-npower-investigates-new-ocgt-plant-at-fawley/
http://www.dailyecho.co.uk/news/9066256.Energy_giant_pledges_consultation_over_new___100m_power_plant/?action=complain&cid=9407217

Are people aware of what fuel oil is and what burning it can do ? :-

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fuel_oil
http://www.epa.gov/ttnchie1/ap42/ch01/final/c01s03.pdf
http://www.epa.gov/ttnchie1/ap42/ch01/final/c01s11.pdf

So you see, people, if you refuse wind farms, you get Civil Service non-engineers agreeing RWE npower can carry on burning toxic oil refinery waste to provide your electricity. Great choice, Britain !

Mark Lynas : Turn Turtle

from : Jo Abbess
to : Mark Lynas
cc : George Monbiot
date : Thu, Jun 16, 2011 at 8:07 PM
subject : You may not have properly understood Germany’s energy plan

Dear Mark,

From where I’m sitting, you appear not to have understood Germany’s energy plan, which centres on ramping up and rolling out as much renewable energy as possible.

You are quoted, and write :-

http://us.arevablog.com/2011/06/16/quote-of-the-day-42/
http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/blog/2011/jun/15/italy-nuclear-referendum

“If the German greens really took climate change seriously, they would instead be pushing for a phase-out of coal – which generates by far the largest proportion of the country’s power and consequent carbon emissions – from Germany’s electricity grid. Instead, the new nuclear phase-out plan will see a hefty 11GW of new coal plants built in years to come, with an additional 5GW of new gas. The only way emissions from these plants could be controlled would be through “carbon capture and storage” (CCS) – yet Greenpeace in Germany has already mounted a successful scaremongering campaign against this new technology, helping to ensure that future fossil emissions will go into the atmosphere unabated.”

How does having strong renewable energy ambition sit with commissioning new coal power plants ?

Well, as you probably know, the wind does not always blow and the sun does not always shine – hence back up is required. Nuclear power cannot back up wind power or solar power because it is not very flexible.

Coal and gas are easily stored, and coal and gas power plants can be kept awaiting use as and when required by renewable lulls.

There is no point in fitting Carbon Capture (and eventually Storage) to coal fired power plants if they’re only going to be used for occasional wind back up – too expensive. And the tests are showing problems. And even though it’s claimed that CCS can take away 90% of the emissions, it’s more like 85% because CCS uses more coal fuel.

It would be better if Germany opted totally for new gas plant for their wind back up, but they appear to not want to be big importers of fossil fuels, so they’ve gone mostly for coal which they can mine, at a pinch, at home. In the UK we’re going for gas, because we believe in continued good relations with Qatar (via the House of Saud ?) and Russia (via BP ?)

The amount of time that coal and gas plants will be in use when renewable energy is fully developed in Gemany will be days per year in total. So in 20 years time when they’ve built all their wind and solar, they get to meet their carbon targets and still have operational coal and gas plant for when necessary.

How is it that you’ve missed this central plank of their policy ?

On the one hand, I could be asked to excuse this lapse of reasoning on your part – as far as I know you haven’t trained as an energy engineer, so how could you be expected to understand load balancing and load following in the real world ?

On the other hand, you’ve just written a book extolling the virtue of nuclear engineering, in effect dismissing the sensible decisions that Germany and other countries have taken, so I cannot let this pass by without commenting.

Sorry to report it, but you’ve just made it into my Little Book of The World’s Most Annoying Men because you appear to have no idea about the pitfalls of nuclear power, you do not seem to understand other approaches to the energy crisis; and in addition, you have built a generalist argument concocted from stereotypes to make the green movement the punch bag for your position. When I read a similar irrational rant in Anthony Giddens’ book “The Politics of Climate Change”, I became so angry, my reptile-inherited brain took over, and I threw the book across the room.

Why, I ask myself, are you following in Giddens’ footsteps and becoming so reactionary ? Are you adopting the position of George Monbiot, who seems to be evolving into a curmudgeon ?

I shall not be buying your new book, because your arguments are, to my mind, faulty.

Regards,

jo.

Mark Lynas : Mutant Ninja

Mark Lynas may call himself a “green”, and be a clean-shaven, respectable, politely-spoken Oxford academic type but he appears to be mutating into something very unappealing indeed. He’s written some good books on climate change – every schoolroom and university module should have one – but on energy, he is deep in the political woods, without even a wind-up flashlight.

His latest stunt is to join in with accusations from Steve McIntyre of Climate Audit that the IPCC’s report on Renewable Energy has been partly crafted by people without appropriate independence or expertise. Here, from Andrew Revkin :-

http://dotearth.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/06/15/a-deeper-look-at-an-energy-analysis-raises-big-questions/

“The IPCC must urgently review its policies for hiring lead authors – and I would have thought that not only should biased ‘grey literature’ be rejected, but campaigners from NGOs should not be allowed to join the lead author group and thereby review their own work.”

And who is this nefarious untalented Non-Governmental Organisation ? Greenpeace, it appears, according to Mark Lynas, is not capable of writing about the future of energy (or even the current situation).

Daniel Kammen has weighed in and The Revkin has updated his post :-

“There is no Himalaya-gate here at all. While there are some issues with individual chapters, there is no ‘Greenpeace Scenario.’ The 77% carbon free by 2050 is actually more conservative than some cases. The European Climate Foundation, for example has a 100% carbon neutral scenario and Price Waterhouse has a very low carbon one for North Africa. Further, while the IPCC works from published cases, the scenarios are evaluated and assessed by a team.”

There have been a number of reports written in the last year that back the viability of Renewable Energy technologies in replacing the world’s fossil fuel and nuclear energy systems. Not all of them were crafted by Greenpeace researchers. In fact, virtually none of them. Nuclear…yes…maybe it’s that little word “nuclear” that’s the root cause of Mark Lynas’ problem with Greenpeace.

In the Guardian, he is quoted as saying :-

http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/blog/2011/jun/15/italy-nuclear-referendum
http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2011/jun/13/greenpeace-foe-charles-secrett-criticism

“Many ‘green’ campaigns, like those against nuclear power and GM crops, are not actually scientifically defensible…”

And that’s where you are so wrong, Mark Lynas with the book coming out soon that you seem so desperate to publicise by saying things you know people will find annoying. Nuclear power is a TECHNOLOGY, not a SCIENCE. This is the same basic category error made by Dick Taverne and a number of other public commentators who don’t appear to have an engineering background.

TECHNOLOGY is where people decide that their designs to make something look like they’ll work, build them and don’t foresee flaws with them. SCIENCE is where people study the technology that they’ve built and research the flaws that appear and report on them. Science is what has shown the limitations with the original boasts about genetically modified crops. It turns out that GMOs are a ruse to sell chemicals. And on nuclear fission – the science is in and on the front of your daily newspaper : nuclear power plants pose a number of risks. The advice of the reputable scientists and engineers – old fission nuclear power plants should be withdrawn.

But returning to Renewable Energy, a number of organisations now believe that the demise of fossil fuels needn’t stop humanity from accessing abundant energy. Here is just a very short compilation :-

The Two Marks : Mark A. Delucchi and Mark Z. Jacobson :-
http://www.peopleandplace.net/on_the_wire/2011/2/5/mark_jacobson_and_mark_delucchi_wind_water_and_solar

PriceWaterhouseCooper :-
http://www.pwc.co.uk/eng/publications/100_percent_renewable_electricity.html

CAT Zero Carbon Britain 2030 :-
http://www.zerocarbonbritain.com/

Roadmap 2050 :-
http://www.roadmap2050.eu/

European Renewable Energy Council R[e]volution :-
http://www.erec.org/media/publications/energy-revolution-2010.html

But oh, no, we can’t quote the last one because Greenpeace researchers were involved, and Mark Lynas wouldn’t approve of that. Mark Lynas appears to be living in a world where Greenpeace people can’t have engineering research skills because they have ideals, working for a world that uses safe, clean energy.

The IPCC report on Renewable Energy is here :-
http://srren.ipcc-wg3.de/

Much as I respect turtles, I have to say it – Mark Lynas, you’re a turtle – slow-moving and easy to catch out and turn into soup. You should know by now not to get sucked in by spurious non-arguments from Steve McIntyre. The “cleantech” industry that’s ramping up to provide the world with green energy is worth billions, soon to be trillions of dollars worldwide, and this fact appears to have completely passed you by. The only future for energy is sustainable, renewable, non-nuclear, clean, quiet and safe. There is no other viable, liveable, option.

[ UPDATE : In the Independent newspaper, Mark Lynas is quoted as remarking “Campaigners should not be employed as lead authors in IPCC reports”. So, Mark, it’s really fine for employees of the major oil, gas and mining companies to take a leading role on major IPCC reports; but it’s not fine, according to you, that somebody working for much less money and much higher principles than mere corporate profit should contribute ? Denigrating somebody for being a “campaigner” is a stereotypical insult. Everybody’s got an agenda, campaigners included. What’s your agenda, Mark ? Selling your new book ? Don’t be dismissive about Greenpeace researchers. They may have ideals, but they’re not naive – they also have brains – and with their declared position on getting at the truth they can be trusted to be direct, decent and honest. Where’s your ethical compass, Mark ? ]

Viva Italia !

James Delingpole : Going Underground

James Delingpole hardly ever sets his delicate foot in Wales, the country he archaically refers to as “the Principality”, apart from, ooh, about ten days a year when he holidays there, but nonetheless, feels he has some kind of inherited ex-colonial right to be affronted that large electricity generation and transmission infrastructure are going to be built there :-

http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/jamesdelingpole/100088906/wales-is-in-danger-why-isnt-the-prince-of-wales-saving-it/

He gets top marks for being rather offensive himself – achingly rude, in fact, about the Welsh Assembly, besides his getting untethered about the wind farms and pylons for the transmission cables :-

“…The wind farms are bad enough on their own. But to make matters far worse […], in order for these bird-crunching, bat-chomping, view-blighting, rent-seeking monstrosities to be connected to the grid a huge 400kv power line is going to be constructed all the way from Montgomeryshire through some of Britain’s most spectacular scenery to the equally beauteous Shropshire…”

Continue reading James Delingpole : Going Underground

George Monbiot : Wrong Choice

Data Source : IEA via ESDS

This chart shows why George Monbiot, Mark Lynas and Stephen Tinsdale have all plumped for the wrong choice – new Nuclear Power cannot deliver more electricity or reduce carbon dioxide emissions for us at the time when we need it most – the next few years :-

0. Massive energy conservation drives – for demand management – are clearly essential, given the reduction in UK generation.

1. It is impossible to increase new Nuclear Power capacity in less than ten years, but total UK generation is falling now, so now and in the next few years is the timeframe in which to add capacity. We cannot go on relying on Nuclear Power imports from France – especially given the rate of power outages there.

2. The fastest growing generation sources over the next few years will be Wind Power, Solar Power and Renewable Gas – if we set the right policies at the government and regulator levels.

Continue reading George Monbiot : Wrong Choice

The toxic legacy of mined energy

We are stardust ? Well, not quite. As carbon-based lifeforms we’re actually the offspring of a young sun, composed of the lighter elements, with a low concentration of a few transition metals essential for our health and vitality. Irn Bru, anyone ?

The actual products of exploding old stars that got lodged in the crusty skin of the accreting Earth are often quite toxic to us. Over millions of years, heavy and radioactive elements, being of no use to the ecosystem, have been deposited at the bottom of lakes, seabeds, and ended up lodged in seams of coal, and caverns of petroleum oil and Natural Gas. Uranium ores and other nasties have been overlain by forests and deserts, and only rarely vent, like radon, from Vulcan’s infernal lairs.

And what do humans do ? We dig this stuff up to burn or fission for energy, and when we do it creates toxic waste, that hurts us, and the life around us. Why are we surprised that mercury from the coal power industry is killing fish and harming children ? Why is it a shock that the tailing ponds from mining tar and oil sands are devastating pristine wilderness and waterways ?

Continue reading The toxic legacy of mined energy

Shale gas toxic shocker

It appears that science has now caught up with shale gas extraction technology, and the result is a toxic shock :-

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=fracking-for-natural-gas-pollutes-water-wells
“Hydraulic Fracturing for Natural Gas Pollutes Water Wells : A new study indicates that fracturing the Marcellus Shale for natural gas is contaminating private drinking water wells : By David Biello, Scientific American, May 9, 2011”

http://www.nytimes.com/gwire/2011/05/09/09greenwire-study-finds-methane-contamination-rises-near-s-87464.html

This might come as a bit of a nasty blowback for Christopher Booker, who was singing the praises of “gamechanger” shale gas at the weekend :-

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/comment/columnists/christopherbooker/8500496/Shale-gas-could-solve-the-worlds-energy-problems.html

“Shale gas could solve the world’s energy problems : It’s anathema to environmentalists, but shale gas is a new fossil-fuel source that could power the world for centuries : By Christopher Booker 7:30PM BST 07 May 2011”

Continue reading Shale gas toxic shocker

BP : Politely Requesting an Interview

[ 02 JUNE 2011 : THIS POST HAS ALWAYS AND WILL ALWAYS FULLY RESPECT BP COMPANY CONFIDENTIALITY, AND HAS NOT AND WILL NOT INCLUDE THE REPRODUCED TEXT CONTENT OF E-MAILS FROM BP, ARISING FROM AN E-MAIL EXCHANGE WTIH JOABBESS.COM. NOTWITHSTANDING THIS CLEAR ATTEMPT ON THE PART OF JOABBESS.COM TO CONSERVE THE FULNESS AND THE ESSENCE OF COMPANY CONDIENTIALITY, IT HAS BEEN DRAWN TO THE ATTENTION OF JOABBESS.COM THAT EVEN JUST MENTIONING THE NAME OF THE CORRESPONDENT AND THE DATES OF THE EXCHANGE MAY TECHNICALLY CONSTITUTE A BREACH OF BP COMPANY CONFIDENTIALITY. SO, TO ENSURE THAT NO ACCUSATION OR COMPLAINT OF BREACH OF COMPANY CONFIDENTIALITY COULD EVER BE MADE, AND TO ENSURE THE PROTECTION OF THE CORRESPONDENT, THE NAME OF THE CORRESPONDENT AND THE DATES OF THE EXCHANGE HAVE BEEN REDACTED AND REMOVED AS OF TODAY. IT CAN STILL BE DEDUCED FROM THIS POST THAT AN E-MAIL EXCHANGE TOOK PLACE. THAT FACT, I THINK, IS NOT COMPANY CONFIDENTIAL, ALTHOUGH I EXPECT BP ARE WITHIN THEIR RIGHTS TO TELL ME IF THEY BELIEVE OTHERWISE, AND OPEN UP A PERSON TO PERSON CONVERSATION ABOUT THE BEST COURSE OF ACTION. THEY KNOW MY TELEPHONE NUMBER. IT’S AT THE TOP OF THE POST. WHERE IT’S ALWAYS BEEN. ]

From: jo abbess
To: XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX, BP
Date: XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

Dear XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX,

Thank you for your time on the phone earlier this week.

Last year in February, I was part of a small group of students that were grateful to have the benefit of an interview with XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX at BP, then XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX.

I am taking my research into the energy sector further for my MSc dissertation, and I would be grateful if I could have an interview with somebody in an engineering department who has an overview of the energy sector.

It doesn’t need to be a face to face interview, as I am quite willing to telephone people. It only needs to be 20 minutes in duration.

I have prepared a short list of open questions that I am considering would be suitable for my enquiry into the future of energy resources and technologies (see below).

I hope that you can point me in the direction of somebody within BP who would like to offer their thoughts.

Thank you.

Questions with a UK focus

1. What do you think have been the best developments in the energy sector in the last 20 years ?

(What do you think are the most significant developments in the energy sector in the last 20 years ?)

2. What positive or negative changes in energy production and supply will take place over the next 2 decades ?

(What do you think will be the most important developments in the energy sector in the next 20 years ?)

3. Which energy resources and technologies look the most troubled ?

4. Which energy resources and technologies look the most promising ?

5. Does the UK face an energy supply gap ? Can we keep the lights on ?



From: jo abbess
To: XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX
Date: XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXx

Hi XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX,

Thank you for your helpful reply.

What I am trying to achieve is a real conversation with somebody within BP who has a general overview of the energy industry – sadly, the annual Statistical Review and company report do not answer the scoping questions I have.

I am offering an opportunity for BP to voice a vision, on record, of how the company intend to navigate future change, using parameters that are not generally the basis of shareholder reports.

I am sure that somebody in the organisation has a view on the onset of Peak Oil and Peak Natural Gas – from conventional resources, and that there must be aims and objectives for BP to manage this issue.

I am convinced that BP has planned for a range of policy scenarios concerning climate change – both mitigation and adaptation measures.

I am also sure that somebody in BP has a plan for navigating political problems, such as the probability of continued unrest in the Middle East, with the accompanying likelihood of compromised oil and gas production.

In addition, I am sure that somebody from BP can speak on the company’s behalf about how it will deal with the threats of economic turbulence and still be able to meet the needs of shareholders.

Some sample questions that could take in part of this landscape :-

1. Do you think that we are heading for a period of global energy insecurity ? What are the factors that could cause this ? What are the timelines ? Who are the key players ?

2. What is aiding or blocking the transition from fossil fuels to clean energy ? What technologies look promising ? What technologies are stuck in the lab ?

3.. How do you think we will manage the transition to clean energy ? How will the economic actors be able to diversify out of fossil fuels and still retain balance in the world markets – and not disappoint their investors ?

4. Do you think that people generally are aware of the issues of energy security ?

It would be excellent if you could find somebody to speak to these or similar questions in a short interview with me. I can do interviews by telephone at very low cost, and I would e-mail the transcript for verification before using in my research report.

My central question is “are we ready for energy change ?” – major transition in the resourcing and use of energy – and I am seeking a full range of opinion on that question.

If you could point me towards somebody who is willing and able to speak for 20 minutes on the phone on energy security issues, I would be highly grateful.

Thank you.



The spoils of war

See the rest of Gaddafi’s speech to the United Nations here

When did Colonel Muammar Gaddafi learn of threats from the world’s major oil consumer countries against his rule ? Was it in early 2011 ? Or was it several years earlier ? On the public stage, he has been deliberately reduced to a figure of fun, and his message advising non-aggression and protection from aggression is being lost. He is now a desperate man :-

http://www.youtube.com/?v=DTjpdUiILDw

Continue reading The spoils of war

Bingaman on Gasoline Prices

http://energy.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=PressReleases.Detail&PressRelease_id=262810b2-adf1-4929-9d3c-1376fa7f26f5&Month=3&Year=2011&Party=0

America’s hooked on oil, but more drilling in the Gulf of Mexico won’t drive fuel prices back down, as Republican political activists try to claim :-

http://thehill.com/blogs/e2-wire/677-e2-wire/150003-top-house-republican-to-introduce-drilling-bill

http://moratorium.offshoremarine.org/omsa/

US production is only a small percentage of world supplies – and this won’t increase significantly even with more homeland drilling.

Gasoline prices are going to remain vulnerable to global events, global markets and global nerves.

The oil production companies that operate in the American market are quite happy to maintain higher prices for fuels. Think about it.

If the Americans want to fill up their tanks less expensively, what’s really needed is to consume less oil – and that means using smaller, lighter cars with higher fuel efficiency.

Libya Futures

Outside the usual political and media circles, questions are being asked. Why has the United Nations sanctioned military engagement in Libya in the form of UN Security Council Resolution 1973 ? Why the heavy firepower here, in Libya, when the ostensible rationale for intervention was only to implement a No-Fly Zone ? Why not gloibal military action elsewhere in the Middle East North Africa (MENA) arena where there are other despots making life unpleasant or endable for their citizens ?

I present to you two possible futures for Libya, both of which will require extensive cooperation with foreign corporate and political players, something that Muammar Abu Minyar al-Gaddafi (or Qaddafi) threatens, or rather, depending on various news reports, “threatened”.

1. The Dash for African and Arabic Natural Gas (and Oil)

In a carbon-constrained world Natural Gas is a boon – it has roughly half the carbon dioxide emissions of coal when burned to produce steam to generate electricity. Any country that’s got Natural Gas, especially good quality Natural Gas that doesn’t have to be hydraulically “fractured” from rock strata, is a country we will learn to love and trade on significantly generous terms with.

There has been extensive surveying of Libya, and the whole of North Africa’s Maghreb region, including the type of offshore seismic surveying that found extensive gas fields in the Eastern Mediterranean that Israel is now laying claim to (and preventing Gaza from exploiting). This has led to quite a lot of excitement in the fossil fuel energy industry, so, reading between the lines of the conference agendas, there is high dollar value under Libya’s maritime territory :-

http://www.geolsoc.org.uk/gsl/site/GSL/lang/en/page7792.html
http://www.geolibya.org/evdetails.asp?Myval=36

In addition to Natural Gas there may well be high levels of top quality oil – and keeping up the flow of crude oil, as we all know, is crucial to the health of the world’s economy. Threats of re-nationalising the Libyan fossil fuel resources therefore caused corporate shock :-

http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/67d1d02a-5314-11e0-86e6-00144feab49a.html#axzz1HKdP1z5V

“Oil companies fear nationalisation in Libya : By Sylvia Pfeifer and Javier Blas in London : Published: March 20 2011 : Western oil companies operating in Libya have privately warned that their operations in the country may be nationalised if Colonel Muammer Gaddafi’s regime prevails. Executives, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the rapidly moving situation, believe their companies could be targeted, especially if their home countries are taking part in air strikes against Mr Gaddafi. Allied forces from France, the UK and the US on Saturday unleashed a series of strikes against military targets in Libya. “It is certainly a concern. There are good reserves there,” said one executive at a western oil company with operations in Libya. “We have lost some of our production [because all operations have stopped] but our bigger concern is what will happen to the exploratory work as that gives you a future rather than the immediate impact,” he added. Most of the world’s large international oil companies have producing assets in Libya, including Spain’s Repsol, France’s Total, and Italy’s Eni, which is the largest single investor there. Germany’s Winstershall – a unit of BASF – and OMV of Austria are also present. The country is the world’s 12th largest oil exporter, and the escalating violence there has triggered a jump in prices to nearly $120 a barrel. More than half of Libya’s oil was exported to Italy, Germany and France last year…”

BP had to evacuate its staff, and extend a favour to some British citizens, during the recent uprising :-
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/africaandindianocean/libya/8344391/Libya-Britain-borrows-BP-jet-to-evacuate-citizens.html

Production in the country has taken a hit due to the fighting, but order should soon be restored. Clearly, long-term stability in Libya, with unhindered, inexpensive access to the country’s oil and gas resources is an important part of the national security interests of many Western democracies.

2. Solar Libya

http://www.desertec.org/en/global-mission/milestones/

The DESERTEC project of the European Union seeks to roll out solar power in the desert sands of North Africa, and makes the promise of economic and social development of the countries that take part, although that dream has been questioned :-

http://www.ceu.hu/theses/1/2010/the-desertec-project-a-new-resource-curse-for-countries-in-north-africa-and-the-middle

Let’s face the facts here – massive new energy projects in North Africa will be financed and developed through large multinational, transnational corporations, companies who have contributed to the economic slavery of Africa for, let’s approximate here, centuries.

What guarantees can the Maghreb have that this is not a further land grab on Africa’s potential ?

In addition, the recent social and political volatility in the Middle East North Africa region could jeopardise the noble plans of the European Union to reach out in energy partnership.

Hang on. Wait a minute. Is the wave of uprisings across the Middle East and North Africa connected in any way to the interests of oil and gas companies who want Future #1 to prevail for the whole region, not just Libya ?

American companies have been so keen to sell nuclear electricity projects to Saudi Arabia and others around the Arabian Gulf – but has this been encouraged from the high-ups to keep the Arabs off the scent of Renewable Energy ? Forget nuclear power – it’s expensive and awkward. Iran only pursues civilian nuclear power to irritate the United States Government. A solar Arabia could give the Middle East and North Africa a second generation of being the energy princes of the world. I suspect they will go for this in a big way very shortly, uprisings or no uprisings. Why ? Two little words – Fukushima Daiichi.

So there we have it – two entirely probable, slightly competing, futures being mapped out for Libya by the big guns of NATO (a euphemism for the USA). If Libya is split into two countries, the fossil fuel Future #1 will be likely applied to East Libya, and the desert solar Future #2 will be foisted on West Libya.

Continued interference in the country is a certainty.

Pakistan : Inundation Nation

[ UPDATE : Don’t tell me. I know the images are mostly from India, but the music is Punjabi… ]

http://www.thenews.com.pk/TodaysPrintDetail.aspx?ID=32170&Cat=6&dt=2/21/2011

“Draft of national climate change policy finalised : Noor Aftab : Monday, February 21, 2011 : Islamabad : The draft of National Climate Change Policy has been finalised after two years of deliberations and now the Environment Ministry would present it to the federal cabinet for final approval, the sources told The News here on Sunday. The sources said the recommendations in the draft would certainly test the government’s commitment as it has been proposed to go for alternative energy resources instead of using fossil fuel, considered one of the major reasons for environmental degradation. The sources said the draft recommendations prepared by a core group of the Environment Ministry mainly focuses on two areas including adaptation and mitigation with an aim to enable the country to cope with fast increasing environmental challenges. One of the top officials of the Environment Ministry told this correspondent that continuity of casual approach towards environmental sector has now made economic managers and policy makers feel the heat as environmental degradation has started costing five per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) in Pakistan…”

“Sunday, February 20, 2011 : UK to keep helping Pakistan’s flood victims: Sayeeda Warsi : LAHORE: Baroness Sayeeda Warsi, a British cabinet minister of Pakistani-origin, said on Saturday that the United Kingdom would continue supporting Pakistan in the post-flood operations. “Today I have been heartened to see and hear how the UK is helping millions of people in Pakistan rebuild their lives, but there is much more to do, with widespread malnutrition and the risk of disease outbreaks,” Warsi said while talking to reporters in Islamabad. The primary purpose of Warsi’s visit to Pakistan is to learn how the country is recovering, what more needs to be done, and to see how more than Rs 27.7 billion from British people is supporting the flood victims. “When I was here exactly six months ago in August at the peak of the floods with the UK International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell I saw scenes of devastation,” the British lawmaker recalled. She said that some areas of Sindh were still under water, adding that reconstruction of millions of houses, bridges and schools that were destroyed would take years…”

Glimpsing the Future

Can we glimpse the future of energy ?

Ambient, sustainable energy is all around us, and sooner or
later we will find the ways to make use of it for the good of all.

The following is an appropriately edited transcript of a
conversation on the Claverton Energy Research Group
forum online, and was written by Nick Balmer, a consultant
in renewable energy.
__________________________________________________________

…The huge scale of the possible changes for all concerned is
causing all of the current Titans in the [energy] industry to deploy
the full force of the media [and their] PR [public relations] in an
attempt to manipulate the public and policy towards their own way
of thinking, or in such a way as to protect their own vested interests.

The great thing is that these issues are being aired out in the open,
and groups like [Claverton Energy Research Group forum] allow
people with knowledge of these affairs to debate these issues openly.

The big problem is that each of us has only a very detailed
understanding of some small fraction of the total issue.

Most of the public and government only has a very slight knowledge
of the total issue, and has had only limited access to ways to find out
in detail what is going on.

As Egypt is demonstrating today, everybody now has a voice and as
Wikileaks shows, sooner or later everything will come out into the
open.

All of us are struggling to come to terms with this explosion of
access to knowledge.

It is quite clear that lots of bubbles are being burst as a result of
the Global Financial implosion and the huge expansion in available
knowledge.

Just as banking and property has been shown to be an unaffordable
Ponzi scheme and to be vastly over-inflated, UK energy policy is now
coming under huge scrutiny.

We can now compare our energy systems with other countries.

Due to the huge geological accident of fate, since the 1700’s in coal,
and 1970’s in oil and gas, we have been extremely fortunate in being
able to live way beyond the lifestyle standards of most of the World.

We have not had to adapt.

Other countries that didn’t have this advantage had to change over
recent decades.

Places like Denmark, Austria, Germany [and so on] have made huge
changes because they had less energy from fossil resources.

Now we have reached the peak or crunch point, we find ourselves well
behind those countries that had to adapt earlier.

Everybody is concentrating on the Capital cost of deploying per
MW [megawatt] and overlooks the cost of fuels.

The cost of fuels over time is massively more important than the
CAPEX [capital expenditure on investment].

So even if windfarms cost 20 times per MW or GW [gigawatt] more to
build than nuclear or coal or gas, in the scheme of things,
[wind power] is always going to win, because the fuel is free and
unlimited for centuries to come.

Similarly [solar power technologies], or even more effective,
household insulation and cutting energy use.

And yet the media and government are blinded by the barrage of PR
and media from the energy vested interests who are working with
every muscle to stop this coming out into the open.

I often meet financiers in my work trying to promote and support AD
[anaerobic digestion of biological waste for the production of
renewable methane], biomass, solar and wind projects.

I am always struggling to prove to them that I have an offtake [return
on investment] and the fuel supply. This is often really hard to do
[but] I only have to do this for seven to 12 years to make my business
cases stack up.

I was really depressed at the end of one such presentation and
discussion, when one broadly sympathetic banker who had turned me
down said that he was having even worse problems with largescale
energy projects.

How do you predict the price and supply of coal forward for 25 years
or more ?

It has jumped 17% in recent months.

How do you prove that you are going to have offtake for huge power
stations in future years ?

Demand dropped 8% in 2009.

How do you raise the equity or debt for a billion [pound] project when
banks don’t want to lend more than £30 million each ? Imagine how
many banks that would take ?

We have reached a tipping point in our economy, sustainability and
future outlook.

Yes, the existing mega-power companies are fighting as hard as
Mubarak today to hold onto power, but they represent the past just
as surely as he does.

Those companies can rejuvenate themselves, unlike the Egyptian
President.

If they don’t, there are an increasingly large number of smaller and
more active players coming into the market.

The average household pays somewhere around £1,300 a year for
its heating and lighting.

The companies that come forward with a way to do that for £1,000 is
going to capture the market very quickly.

I have friends in Austria who only pay 65 Euros for services that I
pay £1,400 for.

They do this through insulation, triple glazing, solar and biomass energy.

Most [UK] households have less than £400 per year discretionary
disposable income. This prevents them making changes to their houses
they desperately want and know they need to make.
This can
drop their energy demands hugely.

If somebody can unlock that Gordian Knot the benefits would be
enormous as there are something like 27 million households.

At a time when household debt is at an all-time high, incomes are
shrinking, and 40% live on ether government salaries, state
pensions or benefits.

Energy is a very high part of these households’ outgoings – if you
pay £1,300 a year and your house only brings in £11,000 to £20,000
per year.

A 50% increase in the £1,300 could bring great distress, and
possibly even civil unrest here.

The increases fossil power [companies] need to make their systems
bankable will increase energy bills. This will feed straight through into
government liabilities because 40% of us live on government payouts.

If government can drop the cost of heating and lighting quite easily
by £100 to £500 per household per year while at the same time
provide employment for hundreds of thousands of White Van men
cutting energy uses, doesn’t this make far more sense than building
unsustainable power stations that will have to be [bankrolled] by the
government, who will then have to buy back electricity at a price our
communities cannot stand ?

Project a similar calculation onto transport fuels and you get even
greater problems.

At $80 a barrel [of oil] industry is shrinking and relatively few
renewable fuel business cases work. At $100 a barrel most renewable
fuels can compete.

At $120 a barrel almost any alternative beats oil, and that is before
you start to look at issues like fuel security and the environment.

Although the battle is one of David and Goliath, or the Dinosaur and
those early mammals, between the new energy industries and the
existing vested energy industries, [it] has only one outcome.

It is only a matter of the co-lateral damage along the way.

Like Mubarak, it is clear they must go. Are they going to go
gracefully, or are they going to smash the place up first ?

Nick Balmer
Renewable Energy Consultant

American Full Spectrum Dominance

The documentary evidence shows that America’s business interests often outweigh its political progress. Yet it’s perhaps more concerning that, increasingly, corporate America is at risk of damaging good environmental governance.

With all the talk of free markets in international trade, the Coalition Government in the United Kingdom has felt the pressure to open up the back door to American energy businesses, whose highly-paid sales representatives in slick suits want us to buy their dirty energy projects – just take a look at the upcoming UK Energy Bill and its proposals for Electricity Market Reform.

American companies seem poised to sweep in and take all our public non-subsidy “support” for building new nuclear power plants. Viewers of a sensitive political disposition should look away now as this is a Wikileak :-

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/wikileaks-files/london-wikileaks/8305283/UK-RAMPING-UP-ON-NUCLEAR-POWER-BUT-CHALLENGES-REMAIN.html

The country that brought you the engineering industry that brought you the giant Gulf of Mexico giant oil spill now wants to bring you unsafe deepwater drilling in Britain’s Continental Shelf – and the UK’s new Energy Bill would let them do that without demonstrating any learning from the BP April 2010 fiasco :-

http://act.greenpeace.org.uk/ea-campaign/…

There’s lots of talk in the energy sector and the financial markets about the American shale gas miracle “gamechanger” and how it can be replicated in Europe and across the world, and not enough discussion about the environmental dangers :-

http://www.tyndall.ac.uk/shalegasreport

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-12190810

It’s good to talk about local environmental damage from “unconventional” gas, but what’s not being discussed so widely is that these “new” resources of Natural Gas aren’t really very green, and neither are the “traditional” resources – in some cases they’re not much better than coal :-

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=climate-benefits-natural-gas-overstated

http://www.propublica.org/article/natural-gas-and-coal-pollution-gap-in-doubt

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/01/25/natural-gas-clean_n_813750.html

We know that the Americans always seek to protect the interests of American-owned businesses – and we know they do that for the best of intentions – to keep America wealthy (except it’s really only a few people in America that have any wealth, but anyway…)

Yet I think there should be a limit to how far we have to bend over backwards to accommodate their needs for economic recovery.

To export all their dirty energy technology to Europe is just not helpful, and I think we should say no, no, no.

Who Planned Pipeline Attack ?

[ UPDATE 3 : Israel has said it has already prepared for just such an Egyptian disruption scenario, and won’t suffer from shortages of gas… http://www.jpost.com/MiddleEast/Article.aspx?id=206940 ]

[ UPDATE 2 : The Jerusalem Post says that it was reported that explosives were detonated at the terminal… http://www.jpost.com/MiddleEast/Article.aspx?id=206940. Why does the Jerusalem Post article contain a history of gas production in the region ? Part of the gas that comes through Egypt has come from Gazan wells http://www.joabbess.com/2010/08/01/natural-gaza-3/. If that supply fails, then countries round about will have to buy their gas from Israel’s new wells… Israel will probably blame Iran for the Egyptian gas terminal explosion http://blogs.forbes.com/christopherhelman/2011/02/05/egypt-pipeline-explosion-cuts-gas-supply-to-israel/. Apparently the gas supply to Israel may not have been damaged http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-02-05/egypt-gas-pipeline-feeding-israel-explodes-in-sinai-desert-arabiya-says.html, but they’ve turned the taps off anyway, as a precautionary measure http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/world/crisis-in-egypt/pipeline-blast-in-egypt-shuts-off-gas-flow-to-jordan-israel/article1895902/?cmpid=rss1 ]

[ UPDATE : We now learn it was not an attack after all… http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/africaandindianocean/egypt/8305962/Egypt-crisis-Sinai-explosion-blamed-on-gas-leak.html. Notice the propaganda – we are reminded in the video report that there may be dark fundamentalist forces at work, even whilst being told that this was not in fact the case.]

An unidentified group has taken advantage of all the turmoil in Egypt, gone undercover, and attacked a gas pipeline, which means that supplies to politically moderate Jordan (and the more hardline Syria) will be cut off.

Who planned this ? It’s probably too early to say, but I can think of several possible answers to the question, and none of them are pretty.

http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5huw-ts1Q5jlhNQ2IOUlli6gjl5gw?docId=CNG.36fe9f8bbc762c3ed9f469e5f80934c5.8f1

“Saboteurs attack Egypt gas pipeline to Jordan”

http://af.reuters.com/article/investingNews/idAFJOE71407020110205

“Jordan gas supplies to be halted a week after blast”

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704843304576125510103424894.html

“Egypt Gas Pipeline Attacked”

http://edition.cnn.com/2011/WORLD/africa/02/05/egypt.pipeline/?hpt=T2

“Gas pipeline to Jordan, Syria set ablaze in Egypt…Unless the pipe is repaired quickly, it could become a big problem for Jordan, a country already spending heavily in fuel subsidies, a Jordanian senior official said….”

Fossil Fuel Aid

Video Credit : Peter Sinclair

Creating a level playing field for Renewable Energy by removing Fossil Fuel subsidies is an excellent idea, as mooted by the International Energy Agency :-

http://www.businessgreen.com/bg/news/1802530/iea-reveals-fossil-fuel-subsidies-usd550bn

“IEA reveals fossil fuel subsidies top $550bn : Report warns kick-backs for fossil fuels are skewing energy markets and holding back renewables investment : By Andrew Donoghue 08 June 2010 : The global fossil fuel industry currently enjoys subsidies worth more than $550bn (£382bn) a year, according to a major new report from the International Energy Agency (IEA) that will increase pressure on world leaders to phase out fossil fuel subsidies ahead of a crucial meeting of the G20 group of nations later this month. The research, which was released at a meeting of G20 finance ministers in Busan, South Korea over the weekend, reveals fossil fuel subsidies amounted to $557bn in 2008 – up from $342bn in 2007. Enormous subsidies are skewing energy markets and inhibiting the uptake of more sustainable energy sources, the IEA warned. “The IEA analysis highlights that the price signal from subsidy phase-out would provide an incentive to use energy more efficiently, and trigger switching from fossil fuels to other fuels that emit fewer GHGs,” the report said…”

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2010-07-29/fossil-fuel-subsidies-are-12-times-support-for-renewables-study-shows.html

“Fossil Fuel Subsidies Are 12 Times Support for Renewables, Study Shows : By Alex Morales – 29 July 2010 : Global subsidies for fossil fuels dwarf support given to renewable energy sources such as wind and solar power and biofuels, Bloomberg New Energy Finance said. Governments last year gave $43 billion to $46 billion of support to renewable energy through tax credits, guaranteed electricity prices known as feed-in tariffs and alternative energy credits, the London-based research group said today in a statement. That compares with the $557 billion that the International Energy Agency last month said was spent to subsidize fossil fuels in 2008. “One of the reasons the clean energy sector is starved of funding is because mainstream investors worry that renewable energy only works with direct government support,” said Michael Liebreich, chief executive of New Energy Finance. “This analysis shows that the global direct subsidy for fossil fuels is around ten times the subsidy for renewables.”…”

Here are some relevant documents :-

http://www.iea.org/weo/docs/second_joint_report.pdf
http://www.worldenergyoutlook.org/docs/G20_Subsidy_Joint_Report.pdf
http://www.iea.org/papers/2002/reforming.pdf
http://www.iea.org/textbase/nppdf/free/1990/weo1999.pdf

Barack Obama and the G20 first made a serious call for the removal of Fossil Fuel subsidies back in 2009 :-

http://www.reuters.com/article/2009/09/26/us-g20-energy-idUSTRE58O18U20090926

“G20 agrees on phase-out of fossil fuel subsidies : 25 September 2009 : The world’s largest economies agreed on Friday to phase out subsidies for oil and other carbon dioxide-spewing fossil fuels in the “medium term” as part of efforts to combat global warming. But Group of 20 leaders at a two-day summit meeting here did not advance discussions about financial aid for developing nations dealing with climate change, exacerbating concerns that U.N. talks to form a new climate pact are in peril. Some $300 billion a year is spent worldwide to subsidize fuel prices, boosting demand in many nations by keeping prices artificially low and, thus, leading to more emissions. The agreement — backed by all of the G20 including Russia, India and China — was a victory for U.S. President Barack Obama, whose credentials for fighting climate change have been marred by dimming prospects that the U.S. Senate will pass a bill to reduce emissions before the December U.N. meeting…”

Seems like it’s a done deal…apart from an issue that should never be forgotten in all global negotiations : economic development.

India, for example, has a policy to keep down the price of diesel fuel – a strategy to promote economic development. They won’t be ready to cut subsidies :-

http://www.sify.com/news/diesel-subsidy-withdrawal-unaffordable-says-minister-news-national-lcesEkcgeee.html

“Diesel subsidy withdrawal unaffordable, says minister : 04 February 2011 : New Delhi: India cannot afford to withdraw the subsidy on diesel and it has to continue till poverty disappears from the country, union Minister for New and Renewable Energy Farooq Abdullah said on Friday. Speaking at the Delhi Sustainable Development Summit here, Abdullah said India gives a lot of subsidy on diesel and, if withdrawn, it will only increase inflation. ‘Diesel subsidy has to continue till poverty disappears from the country,’ he said while reacting to Canadian parliamentarian Stephane Dion’s appeal to phase out diesel subsidy…”

The Americans and the Europeans calling for an end to fossil fuel subsidies could be interpreted as a lever to block the economic development of the Global South – as much of the price-fixing is conducted by developing nations.

It could be argued that the United States and “her allies” want to retain economic dominance – what better way than blocking economic progress in the Global South and making it appear to be a Climate Change measure ?

In addition, much of the financial support for energy projects in the Global South is indirectly awarded to the fossil fuel industry via the international aid cash coming from developed nations and the international agencies. And the fossil fuel producers and engineering companies are not going to be willing to let that source of revenue dry up.

If international aid for energy projects gets stopped, so does a lot of economic development until “technology transfer” of Renewable Energy can be ramped up :-

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/environment/article6836112.ece

http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2010/apr/09/world-bank-criticised-over-power-station

Before they came to power in the United Kingdom, the Conservative Party were strongly behind the proposals to stop international development loans going on dirty energy projects :-

http://www.conservatives.com/News/Speeches/2009/11/…

“23 November 2009 : Andrew Mitchell: Ending Labour’s support for polluting energy projects : …we must end the use of the Export Credit Guarantee Department to promote ‘dirty’ fossil fuel power stations around the world, and instead make it a champion of green technology…”

http://www.businessgreen.com/bg/news/1803148/conservatives-pledge-stop-uk-fossil-fuel-subsidies

This promise has not been kept, according to the Jubilee Debt Campaign :-

http://www.jubileedebtcampaign.org.uk/…

“Lord Green told: Britain’s exports must stop harming people and planet : 24 January 2011 : New report details string of ‘dodgy deals’ at export support body : As new Trade Minister Stephen Green embarks on a national tour to promote British exports, Jubilee Debt Campaign warns that Britain’s export support body is not up to the job : A report released by the organisation today exposes a history of backing projects by large corporations in a handful of controversial sectors. The projects have led to human rights abuses, environmental destruction and corruption in the developing world, and often failed to deliver even on their stated aims. Britain’s export promotion body, the Export Credits Guarantee Department (ECGD), has also undermined Britain’s international development goals by leaving countries like Kenya, Vietnam, Indonesia and Pakistan with £2 billion of debts from failed export deals – 96% of Third World Debt ‘owed’ to the UK today…The Coalition government has failed to act on its pledge to end fossil fuel subsidies through the ECGD, despite taking action to beef up the Department’s role…”

The key global development question remains – is cutting fossil fuel subsidies yet another (underhand) way of reducing international aid budgets ?

To deflect criticism, the spotlight will probably be turned on countries like Iran :-

Image Credit : International Energy Agency

http://www.globe-net.com/articles/2010/june/8/getting-the-prices-right-cutting-subsidies-could-save-billions-.aspx?sub=12

“Getting the Prices Right – Cutting Subsidies Could Save Billions : 8 June 2010 : Global fossil fuel consumption subsidies in 2008 were much higher than previously estimated and totalled USD557 billion, according to IEA analysis…The IEA has undertaken an extensive survey to identify countries that offer subsidies that reduce prices of fossil fuels below levels that would prevail in an undistorted market, thus leading to higher levels of consumption than would occur in their absence. The survey identified 37 countries and it is estimated that these represent over 95% of global subsidized fossil‐fuel consumption…The IEA analysis has revealed that fossil fuel consumption subsidies amounted to $557 bn in 2008. This represents a big increase from $342 bn in 2007…Since 2008, a number of countries – including China, Russia, India and Indonesia – have made notable reforms to bring their domestic energy prices in line with world prices…The country with the highest subsidies in 2008 was Iran at $101 billion, or around a third of the country’s annual central budget. Chronic under‐pricing of domestic energy in Iran has resulted in enormous subsidies and a major burden on the economy that is forcing reliance on imports of refined products. Iran’s leadership came to agreement in 2010 on a sweeping plan for energy subsidy reform; however, steep economic, political and social hurdles will need to be overcome if Iran is to realize lasting reform…”

Obama says we have to drop fossil fuel subsidies. The next thing you know, the inaccuracies start flying :-

http://climateprogress.org/2011/02/04/manchin-coal-subsidies%E2%80%99/

“Manchin claims coal “doesn’t get a penny of subsidies” : In fact, the industry gets trillions of pennies : 4 February 2011 : Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV), the newest member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, claimed today that the coal industry doesn’t receive any government subsidies, unlike every other form of energy. Brad Johnson debunks this absurd claim…”

Market Tinkering

The Conservative and Liberal Democrat Coalition Government in the United Kingdom have several competing interests to juggle when it comes to the electricity generation industry.

Any proposed tinkering in the electricity market will need to show it still promotes competition (even though new entrants will probably complain they can’t compete in auctions), even as it guarantees safe and stable power supplies, even as it needs to make sure consumers don’t get ripped off.

The Department of Energy and Climate Change have published a clearly-written consultation document on their proposals for an Electricity Market Reform (EMR), detailing various methods of intervening to ensure long-term objectives on carbon emissions and energy security :-

http://www.decc.gov.uk/en/content/cms/consultations/emr/emr.aspx

I’ve been reading some really helpful commentary on the system-wide effects of these proposals :-

http://www.decc.gov.uk/assets/decc/Consultations/emr/1043-emr-analysis-policy-options.pdf

http://www.parliamentarybrief.com/2011/01/thumbs-up-a-little-early-for-that-mr-huhne#all

So far, my conclusion is that the net effect of these proposals will be to make the electricity generators feel secure about future earnings.

I’m not convinced that anything I’ve read so far will help energy supply companies feel willing to leap the expensive investment hurdle to ensure the UK gets new low carbon power plants.

I’m not even sure if the carbon and power pricing described will deter companies from dirty power generation and direct them towards new low carbon investment.

When I happened on the levelised cost of power in the main DECC analysis document, I came to a very pragmatic conclusion :-

http://www.decc.gov.uk/assets/decc/Consultations/emr/1041-electricity-market-reform-condoc.pdf

Figure 2 (see top) shows that FOAK (first of a kind) new nuclear reactor plant designs (which is what we are told we will be getting in the UK) are probably going to yield similar unit electricity price values to Onshore Wind Power and Combined Cycle Gas Turbine (CCGT) plant using Natural Gas feedstock.

My question is : why do we need to intervene with the electricity market to incentivise low carbon generation if the cheapest technologies are the low carbon options anyway ? (Yes, I’ve deliberately forgotten to discuss Carbon Capture and Storage).

My second question is : are the financial instruments proposed for the electricity market simply a sop to the electricity generators to leverage investment in new and efficient low carbon power stations ? Come and invest in new power generation in Great Britain and see your earnings stable (or rising) !

And my third question is this : don’t the NIMBY campaigns against Onshore Wind Power realise their success means that the overall cost of electricity to the consumers will rise significantly as wind power has to move offshore ?

My conclusion is : it would be far cheaper simply to instruct the largely publicly owned banks to make investment finance available, but only for low carbon technologies and forget about trying to maintain the facade of a free market.

Power supply is virtually a monopoly – and the State is bound to maintain supply – DECC have even got proposals on the table in their main Energy Bill to buy up any power companies that fail…yet another bailout !

Polar Bear Co-Option

My print copy of New Scientist magazine slithers through the letterbox in its biodegradable plastic sheath and plops weightily on the doormat. Hours later I pick it up, and it crinkles with the promise of lots of juicy new information. What I’m not prepared for is the disappointment of the sell-out on the inside of the front cover :-

“Win a trip to the high Arctic and the deep sea : Ever wanted to see polar bears and whales in their natural habitats ? Or how about visiting the sea floor ? Here’s your chance : New Scientist has teamed up with Statoil, the global energy company, to offer one lucky winner and a guest the trip of a lifetime – to sail around the Svalbard archipelago inside the Arctic Circle, home to polar bears and whales, and to fly to the giant Troll platform, where you will visit the bottom of the North Sea. To win this amazing prize all you have to do is tell us, in no more than 100 words, which engineering project you think will have the greatest impact on human life in the next 30 years, and why. To find out more and to enter the competition go to www.newscientist.com/engineeringgreats. The closing date for entries is 2 March 2011.”

A large part of the page is taken up with a photograph of a polar bear, a poster child for Climate Change.

The implication-by-association is that Statoil want to protect the environment. But what’s their real business ? Shipping large quantities of Natural Gas – not exactly zero carbon fuel.

Not only that, but pages 10 and 11 of the magazine are an “advertising feature” on behalf of Statoil. The infommercial is in exactly the same style and typeface as the rest of the magazine, which I think is plain deceptive. Perhaps it is there to make sure that people entering the prize competition nominate Statoil’s technology as the “engineering great” for the future. That’s a bit rich. In one fell swoop the global energy industry have co-opted not only polar bears but the New Scientist magazine into the bargain !

The “advertising feature” features Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS), which is what Statoil is famous for with their Sleipner facility, where they inject excess Carbon Dioxide (CO2) from Natural Gas back into the field to store it. The “advertising feature” attempts to sell the “good idea” of CCS, but cleverly injects a bit of “balance” to take the reader along with it.

“…The conclusion so far is that the CO2 is safely stored…It’s not possible to be 100 per cent certain about this…”

I would have thought that if it’s not 100% locked down that some people might be quite unsure about relying on it. But anyway. It appears that the European Union and several other key players really believe in CCS technology, and are willing to put public funds into it :-

http://ec.europa.eu/energy/technology/initiatives/doc/implementation_plan_2010_2012_eii_ccs.pdf

http://ec.europa.eu/energy/technology/initiatives/initiatives_en.htm

The only way that any business would buy into CCS would be if there is a carbon price differential implemented – as CCS adds costs to everything :-

“…Statoil made the choice to lock up the field’s CO2 for good business reasons: the Norwegian government would have levied a tax of $50 for every tonne of CO2 it emitted…”

But fitting CCS to power plants is going to be a lot different than the Sleipner project :-

“…Then there is the question of whether the technique can be extended to CO2 produced by combustion, in particular from fossil-fuel power stations…handling flue gases from power plants is going to require significant extra cost…”

So what kind of carbon price would support Carbon Capture and Storage ? $80 per tonne ? $120 per tonne ? That’s the kind of money our leaders are willing to shell out from tax revenues to support the continued burning of coal to make electricity. Wouldn’t it be better, more cost effective, to put the money into Renewable Energy technologies and just stop burning coal ? After all, coal could get a lot more pricey in the next few years :-

http://www.businessinsider.com/the-chinese-coal-monster-running-out-of-puff-2010-11

If I were in charge, I would recommend that nobody builds any new coal-fired power stations, and that we start a phase of withdrawal from coal-burning for power generation, forget about Carbon Capture and Storage and put the public money into financing the development of Biogas, BioSyngas and Renewable Hydrogen – zero carbon gas products that could replace Natural Gas and coal entirely.

The Gamechanger

Gasland at the ICA London : 17 – 27 Jan, 4 – 6, 11 – 13, 16 – 17, 19, 26 – 27 Feb 2011

The public propaganda budget for most energy and mining companies is eensy weensy compared to the profits they can make by polluting and stealing.

Are you ready for another American energy myth ? Yes, the country with the energy production “community” that brought you the Gulf of Mexico spill disaster of April 2010, is now threatening groundwater pollution and seismic shocks at a county near you in the United Kingdom.

A glimpse of the public relations that have led up to this can be seen very easily by using an Internet Search Engine using an Internet Browser (like Google running on Google Chrome, for example), using the search term : “shale gas gamechanger”.

That little word “gamechanger” has been soaking through the business, engineering and financial press in relation to “unconventional” gas for at least six months. Everybody digests this word in connection with information touting the magical promise of virtually free gas in the rocks beneath our feet. And then they repeat the concept and this little sales word to others. It’s gone completely viral.

Roger Harrabin of the BBC (thanks, Roger) brings word that the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research has recommended a moratorium on shale gas operations until more science is known about the results of the engineering :-

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-12190810

“…”We are aware that there have been reports from US of issues linked to some shale gas projects,” a spokesman for the Department of Energy and Climate Change (Decc) told BBC News. “However, we understand that these are only in a few cases and that Cuadrilla (the firm testing for shale gas in Lancashire) has made it clear that there is no likelihood of environmental damage and that it is applying technical expertise and exercising the utmost care as it takes drilling and testing forward.”…”

So who is this company “Cuadrilla” ?

It is an entity formed from one Australian engineering giant and one American financial giant, seeking to propagate the American way of life of developing “new” energy resources :-

http://www.mining-reporter.com/index.php/component/content/article/653-lucas/2867-riverstone-llc-invests-us58-million-in-cuadrilla-resources-

“…Lucas announced that the Riverstone/Carlyle Global Energy and Power Funds, a group of energy-focused private equity funds managed by Riverstone Holdings LLC, has committed to subscribe US$58.0 million for equity in Cuadrilla Resources Holding Ltd, the holding company established by Lucas to hold its investment for unconventional hydrocarbons exploration and development in Europe.”

“Lucas was a founding shareholder in Cuadrilla and has supported the management team since the company’s inception. Lucas’ total investment as of today’s date amounts to A$52.4 million.
Cuadrilla has applied for, and in some cases been granted, exploration licences totalling in excess of 1.5 million acres in the UK, Holland, Spain and Poland. In addition, Cuadrilla has designed, overseen the manufacture of and delivered state of the art cementing and fracture stimulation equipment and is soon to take delivery of a DrillMec HH220 top drive rig.”

So, does this technology actually work safely ?

Nobody really knows, is the short answer.

http://www.tyndall.ac.uk/shalegasreport

“…Funded by the Cooperative, the Tyndall report demonstrates how the extraction of shale gas risks seriously contaminating ground and surface waters. In this regard alone, there should be a moratorium on shale gas development until a there is a much more thorough understanding of the extraction process…”

Why do we continue to have American companies imprinting their business models on the UK ? We have to have their “independent” nuclear deterrent, their behemoth nuclear reactor construction companies, their health insurance companies, their failed genetically modified crops, their privatised prison and school and health centre management policies, their tax concepts, their social control policies, even their zeal for state terrorism…sorry…”The War against Terror”. And nobody seeks to question why we have to copycat everything the Americans do, even when it goes badly wrong.

Why can’t we have a War against Error ?

We need a real “regime change” here – we need to say a big no to American energy policy. And that starts with asking a few questions about the way American companies do business.

Here’s just one example of the sort of practice that the people behind Cuadrilla get up to :-

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carlyle_Group

“In 2000, Carlyle entered into a joint venture with Riverstone Holdings, an energy and power focused private equity firm founded by former Goldman Sachs investment bankers. In March 2009, New York State and federal authorities began an investigation into payments made by Carlyle and Riverstone to placement agents allegedly made in exchange for investments from the New York State Common Retirement System, the state’s pension fund. It was alleged that these payments were in fact bribes or kickbacks, made to pension officials who have been under investigation by New York State Attorney General, Andrew Cuomo. In May 2009, Carlyle agreed to pay $20 million in a settlement with Cuomo and accepted changes to its fundraising practices.”

And you trust these people with the right motives when agreeing to finance shale gas exploitation in Europe ?

A. J. Lucas Group is the engineering partner in this enterprise :-

http://markets.ft.com/tearsheets/businessProfile.asp?s=AJL:ASX

“The Company’s Oil and Gas segment is engaged in the exploration for and commercialization of hydrocarbons in Australia, Canada, United States and Europe. As of June 30, 2010, the Company held 56.95% interest in Cuadrilla Resources Corporation Limited (Cuadrilla).”

Starting with Blackpool’s Pleasure Beach, they appear to want to dig up the whole of Lancashire :-

http://www.channel4.com/news/shale-gas-striking-gold-in-blackpool

“Mr Cornelius said Cuadrilla would begin the extraction process in early January and would hope to have its first flare – gas burning at the surface – by early February.”

“If successful, the find would be extremely significant given Britain’s dwindling energy resources and our increasing reliance on imported gas. Cuadrilla had previously said the amount of shale gas in the Bowland site could meet as much as 5 to 10 per cent of Britain’s energy resources.”

“Now, after the first samples have been analysed, the suspicion is that the Lancashire fields could hold a lot more.”

“Now one site has been explored, the drilling rig will be moved to another site on the Bowland Shale to assess the size of the gas field overall. If those explorations also prove successful, then Cuadrilla will look to sell the entire operation to a large exploration company, like Shell, to carry out the expensive and time-consuming production process.”

Somebody has to say no to this. That somebody could be you.

What does shale gas “fracking” do to land, peoples and communities ?

Come and find out :-

http://www.culturecritic.co.uk/competitions/win-a-pair-of-tickets-to-the-premiere-of-gasland/

“GASLAND : Opening 17 January 2011 : Winner – Special Jury Prize – Sundance Film Festival 2010 : Nominated – Grand Jury Prize – Sundance film Festival 2010 : A frightening documentary that follows director Josh Fox as he attempts to uncover the truth about Halliburton-developed procedures for drilling for natural gas (known as hydraulic fracturing, or ‘fracking’). When Fox is offered $100,000 for drilling rights to land he owns in Pennsylvania, his subsequent cross-country investigative odyssey lands him in communities contaminated by chemical waste caused by ‘fracking’ (the residents of one town are able to light their drinking water on fire). Another in a long line of essential environmental documentaries – each of which seems to be more alarming and compelling than the last…”

Come along and watch your own hellish future if you are unlucky enough to sit on top of gas-bearing rock formations :-

http://www.ica.org.uk/?lid=27269

“Gasland
17 – 27 Jan, 4 – 6, 11 – 13, 16 – 17, 19, 26 – 27 Feb 2011
A frightening documentary that follows director Josh Fox as he attempts to uncover the truth about Halliburton-developed procedures for drilling for natural gas (known as hydraulic fracturing, or ‘fracking’). When Fox is offered $100,000 for drilling rights to land he owns in Pennsylvania, his subsequent cross-country investigative odyssey lands him in communities contaminated by chemical waste caused by ‘fracking’ (the residents of one town are able to light their drinking water on fire). Director Q&A plus panel discussion : After the premiere on 17 January there will be a discussion panel afterwards comprising the director Josh Fox, along with representatives from The Co-operative and WWF.”…”

Here’s just a few links to peoples groups opposed to the engineering of unconventional gas :-
http://nofracking.com/
http://durangoherald.com/article/20110116/NEWS01/701169903/-1/s
http://www.marcellusprotest.org/
http://www.atlantic.sierraclub.ca/en/we-are-fracking-out
http://dearsusquehanna.blogspot.com/2011/01/fracking-to-pollute-water-air.html

It’s time our authorities read between the lines and regulated this practice away from Europe.

If we had a sparsely populated continent with lots of unused land, then maybe it might be OK. But with the risks still fully unquantified, we should keep this engineering out of well-populated and ecologically sensitive areas, particularly areas with water courses and farmland.

Holy Mother Market !

Video Credit : Democracy Now

Of all the macroeconomic proposals put forward over the last two decades for consideration by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the most ridiculous has to be Carbon Trading.

To imagine that a market can be created for something that the industrialised country economies are highly dependent on is an hallucination.

Carbon Dioxide emissions are in lock-step with economic growth, the creation of liquidity, if not wealth. To try to price Carbon Dioxide emissions would be to attempt to give a negative value to a positive commodity. It just won’t work. Nobody will want to buy it. And if they’re forced to buy it, they won’t want to pay much for it. And nobody can think of a way to force the developed countries to pay for their Carbon Dioxide emissions.

Even before the “serious” negotiating week of Cancun begins, the Kyoto Protocol has been pronounced dead on arrival :-

http://www.democracynow.org/2010/12/6/climate_talks_in_jeopardy_as_industrialized

Nobody ever said the “KP” was perfect – it only committed countries to a very small level of emissions cuts. Some commitment ! Few of the countries in the KP have taken their responsibilities to cut emissions seriously. And if they have, they’ve just outsourced them to China.

But the Son-of-Kyoto Post-Kyoto Protocol Protocol could have been something, you know, if the industrialised countries admitted they needed to back down significantly from rising and large emissions profiles – if developed nations had not tried to lean on the “flexible mechanisms” that effectively legalised offsetting their emissions with emissions reductions in other peoples’ countries.

But, no.

It appears from Wikileaks that the United States of America have been scuppering the United Nations’s best efforts :-

http://www.democracynow.org/2010/12/6/bolivian_un_ambassador_pablo_solon_reacts

“Secret diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks have revealed new details about how the United States manipulated last year’s climate talks in Copenhagen. The cables show how the United States sought dirt on nations opposed to its approach to tackling global warming, how financial and other aid was used by countries to gain political backing, and how the United States mounted a secret global diplomatic offensive to overwhelm opposition to the “Copenhagen Accord.””

http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2010/dec/03/wikileaks-us-manipulated-climate-accord
http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2010/dec/03/us-basics-copenhagen-accord-tactics

It wasn’t China’s fault, (or only China’s fault) as Mark Lynas and many other commentators have asserted :-

http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2009/dec/22/copenhagen-climate-change-mark-lynas

If, as reports state, the United States are continuing to use any leverage they can to push countries to accept the doomed Copenhagen Accord, there can be no progress on Climate Change.

We may have just found the real Climategate.

You cannot buy or sell the atmosphere.

There is only one solution – that is to displace High Carbon Energy with Low Carbon Energy and that means goodbye to Tar Sands, Shale Oil, Tight Gas, deepwater Petroleum, dirty Petroleum, Coal, Coal-to-Liquids, anything that you can dig out of the ground and burn.

We have to stop mining for energy.

And that has serious implications for a number of international energy corporations and state energy enterprises.

Unless this basic issue is addressed, we are all heading for hell and high water.

The Climate Change talks have been window dressing for unworkable hypothetical macroeconomic policies, and continue to reduce chair people to tears :-

Ethical Investment

I met several people in the finance-with-conscience crowd the other week, when I went for a spot of champers and Marmite soldiers at the House of Commons for National Ethical Investment Week.

I learned about various views on social and positive impact investment, and about elements of the Coalition Government’s “Big Society” and the proposed Green Investment Bank.

Ethical Investment appears to have come a long way since I put some money into a Fair Trade company many moons ago, where I knew I would never see a dividend, or even be able to sell the shares at some point.

Grown up people in sharp suits and big name frocks now do moral banking, and often reap a healthy return on their investment – “doing well” as well as “doing good”, as Adam Ognall of UK Sustainable Investment and Finance says.

I was challenged to think about what faith communities do with their money around a month ago, all precipitated by a conversation I had with Martin Palmer of the Alliance of Conservation and Religions, and then I heard something at a recent meeting that caused me to investigate a little… Continue reading Ethical Investment

We Will Get To You

Video Credit : Brooklyn Space Program

Eventually we will reach you.

Scientists are proverbially poor at communication, but we will eventually be able to explain to you what is happening to the Earth in a way that you will understand.

You need to give some time to the data, to the arguments. You need to read the significant research papers, learn how to read graphs, learn the acronyms, abbreviations, technical terms.

You will need to be able to weigh in your mind the significance of probabilities, the risks of extremes, the trends, the changing patterns.

After a while, you will start to reappraise the evidence, and start looking into the data and see the conclusions for yourself.

You will begin to appreciate the strong line of reasoning, and come to be in awe of the minds of many who work on Climate Change.

I’ve become impressed by the body of scientific evidence, that’s why I will always be aligned with the Climate Change science community.

We’re not going anywhere. We’re here, and we’re right. There has already been significant change in the Earth’s climate due to humankind’s mining-to-burn activities, and the projections are for further, possibly very dangerous change.

The scientists know what the problems are, and what the engineering solutions are. Some companies/corporations, economists and politicans and sadly even some compromised “environmentalists” promote non-solutions like carbon pricing, Carbon Taxation, Carbon Trading, Carbon Capture (and Storage), GM Crops, Nuclear Power, geoengineering – but the academies of scientists are telling you they won’t work, or won’t solve all the problems.

What is needed is wholesale removal of Fossil Fuels from the global economy in order to prevent further deterioration and disruption in the global climatic conditions. Either BP, Shell, Chevron and ExxonMobil hang up their boots forever, or they need to embrace new clean energies (not Nuclear Power) to stay in business.

Oil, gas and coal depletion in the production facilities of those countries that are national players will mean that they will go bust, because a consistently high price for Fossil Fuels is not supportable, because the global economy is so Fossil Fuel-dependent currently. This is both a buyer’s market and a seller’s market, so the price will be governed by the operation of this two-sided cartel, not by the theories of “scarcity economics”.

Either Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Iran, China, Venezuela and so on are on their way to extreme poverty, or they will embrace new clean energies (not Nuclear Power) to stay economically developed.

Meanwhile, the project of empirical scientific enquiry continues apace, and even though rich fossil fuel businesses are financing doubt, even though people with pension funds in mining pour scorn on Climate Change science, and even though the mainstream media can’t recognise uneducated propaganda when they meet it; you need to trust the intellectual community of Climate Change science researchers.

Stop listening to accusations of malpractice, dodgy data, weak methods, poor models. Do you really know what you are talking about when you pass judgement on the scientific community ? Who told you that scientists were wrong ? Can you really trust the people who tell you not to trust the scientific community ? Do you have the right or the authority to lay somebody else’s fabricated blame at the door of those whose whole lives are devoted to discovering the truth ?

Why don’t you do an integrity check on your sources, before replicating myths ?

Read the science journals and not the newspapers, is my advice.

And when it comes to the Internet, search wisely. You can’t believe every website you come across – there are some web loggers who are misled, and there are others seeking to mislead.

If you want to filter out the nonsense, try this :-

True Science

Dearth of the Oceans

An incomplete recording of the BBC Horizon programme “The Death of the Oceans ?” narrated by David Attenborough is below.

It’s about Global Warming, of course (and overfishing, and sonar making whales deaf – which is the bit that’s missing at the end). But it’s also about Global Warming’s evil twin – Ocean Acidification.

Believe what you will about the Anthropogenic component of Global Warming, and I know some of you resist the Science as if it were a hairy, sweaty, alcoholic dentist threatening to pull your teeth without Novocaine, but there’s no way you can deny that the increasing concentration of Carbon Dioxide in the atmosphere, most of it a direct result of humankind’s burning of Fossil Fuels, is turning the Oceans into a giant bucket of fizzy soda, and is threatening marine life, which is a huge risk to the whole of Life on Earth.

The only solution is to stop burning so much Coal, Oil and Gas. Really, that’s the only way.

Oh, you can fight this inevitability with every brain circuit you have, trying to force others to believe that everything’s still OK, that the Earth is not dangerously heating up, that Life on Land and in the Oceans is not on the cusp of mass extinction, and that Progress is just fine, and Economic Recovery, or Shiny New Technology, or Geoengineering will save us, but one day you will understand. You will accept. The global systems of production, transport and agriculture have to change. The Carbon-based Industrial Age will be gone in only a few decades, only a couple of hundred years after it started.

You can relax. Everything will be fine – eventually. When we have Wind Farms on every ridge top, Solar Power plants in every desert, Geothermal stations in our Town Halls, Combined Heat and Power running on Biomass in every street, Marine Power-gathering machines, Organic food, small electric cars, useful 24 hours-in-a-day networks of electricity-powered public transportation. The time is coming for the new human world to be born – and it will be green, clean and less energy-hungry than before.

It’s going to be a bit of a traumatic birth and the Climate Medics are working hard in the delivery suite, but soon, very soon, Green Investment will see the light of day – those who are wealthy will, as one, put their finances towards Renewable Energy and Energy-efficient machines and Energy Demand Management, real assets, with real returns on investment, and the future will be secured.

Part 1/4
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d4rloPBrA6w

See at top for video.

Part 2/4
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fdn1RpqKziE

Part 3/4
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nKPNcQyljds

Part 4/4
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uIKOKG3L3zo

Ellen’s Collaboration

Video Credit : Ellen MacArthur Foundation

I can’t decide whether I’m inspired or concerned by this little film from Ellen MacArthur.

It seems to focus quite heavily on cars, and one of the collaborators is Renault.

It also talks a lot about electricity, and another one of the corporate names shown is National Grid.

And then it also talks a lot about waste, and the company that sponsored Ellen’s sail around the world was B&Q, the chain that spawned a thousand home makeovers.

None of these companies appear to want to follow the sustainability principles spelled out in the movie.

Is it just a little bit too high-brow to be talking of “closing the loop”, when most people in the world are simply concerned with finding their next meal or coasting towards their next pay cheque ?

Who is this video designed for ? What’s the intended audience and how are they being asked to respond to it ?

Tell me I’m wrong to be ever-so-slightly sceptical.