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James Delingpole : Recycling Silliness

I think somebody should take James Delingpole quietly to one side and have a little word in his ear about the ineptitude of recycling silly stories :-

“What Dave and his chum Barack don’t want you to know about green jobs and green energy : By James Delingpole Politics : March 6th, 2010 : Green jobs are a waste of space, a waste of money, a lie, a chimera. You know that. I know that. We’re familiar with the report by Dr Gabriel Calzada Alvarez of the Rey Juan Carlos University in Spain which shows that for every “green job” that is created another 2.2 jobs are LOST in the real economy…”

Here Mr Delingpole, you are on the shakiest of grounds from my point of view. Your writing suggests that in the field of Energy Engineering you have even less knowledge about the technological and economic data than you do about Climate Change Science, and what you have acquired is apparently deeply misinformed. With only the briefest of Google searches, you could have discovered what the Huffington Post uncovered on 2nd May 2009 :-

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The Future of Flight

For decades we have been spoonfed Science Fiction about the future of flight and space exploration as if it were fact.

Richard Branson (“Sir”, if you insist) has drawn us to his vision for commercial passenger space flight :-

Yet his participation in the Industry Taskforce for Peak Oil and Energy Security leads him back down to Earth :-

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Little Chicken

Now’s the right time to talk about gardening. Not just any old gardening, no. I mean food gardening, urban farming, home cropping, edible landscape-type gardening.

Now is the time to be thinking about enriching your soil for your next bumper harvest.

Get your resilience genes working !


Get into Transition mode !

In Transition 1.0 from Transition Towns on Vimeo.

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In The Belly Of The BP

I was warned. And it’s true. BP are so protective of their company image that they live in denial. I should know. I’ve been inside the belly of the beast and spoken to one of their head sustainability honchos. Who had a total disconnect about the risks of Fossil Fuel depletion.

“Oil and gas will remain the mainstay of the “Energy mix”. We’ve said that publicly…”

So they’re telling the world what to believe, are they ?

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British Winter : Power Struggle

Yesterday’s news : there’s nothing to worry about with Natural Gas supplies :-

“Energy: UK has enough gas for another 65 days : By Sarah Arnott : Thursday, 7 January 2010 : …The National Grid insisted that the unprecedented consumption levels will not leave Britain short. “We are absolutely not going to run out of gas,” said a spokesman. “The UK is well supplied.” The shadow Energy Secretary Greg Clark stoked energy security fears on Tuesday by claiming that Britain had only eight days of gas left in storage. But the National Grid dismissed the calculation as a “meaningless number” because it ignored both the amount of gas imported and that nearly half of UK demand is met by North Sea production.”

Today’s news : factories are getting rationed :-

“1970s-style rationing as National Grid cuts off gas to factories : Exclusive: Severe weather and creaking power infrastructure lead to first tangible sign that fears over energy shortages are translating into supply disruption : Terry Macalister, energy editor,, Thursday 7 January 2010…”

This sorry tale happens every time a real Winter comes around… Who to believe ? What to do ?

Well, if the National Grid was obliged by regulation to produce BioMethane from a tie-up with the Waste Water Treatment companies and the Farms, then we could be producing our own gas from yesterday’s curries, pig slurry, straw, hospital waste, and old hens…

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When 100% Becomes 25%

I don’t know about you, but I would have thought that zero should mean zero. Zero tolerance on smoking in restaurants shouldn’t allow one corner of La Dolce Vita, Peckham to have a smoking table.

No, there isn’t an Italian dining establishment called “La Dolce Vita” in Peckham. I made that bit up. But I’m not making this bit up – the Zero Carbon Homes standard will only mandate a 25% reduction from ordinary energy efficiency standards :-

That means that new residential buildings will still emit 75% of the amount permitted today. Seventy-five is not even close to zero, in my book. Even I learned that much at school. Seems like a misnomer to call them “Zero Carbon Homes”.

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Free Energy : The Nuclear Power Dead-End

“Sustainable Development” is a phrase with two distinct meanings.

When people trained in Economics think about what “Sustainable Development” means, they normally assume that Nature’s continuing bounty will sustain our development path. That the pyramid of wealth, the wealth accrual machine and monetary incentives will bring more and more people and material resources into optimal production, and there will be no end to the development of the enrichment of all peoples and the quality of their habitat. Growth is good, for it brings prosperity to all, health, wealth, education, freedom from want and a top-notch built environment.

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The Sun Shines Bright

A truly epoch-changing story is evolving underneath the radar of the mainstream media, and out of sight of the Internetistas.

For some years now, Peak Oilmen (and women) have been trying to draw attention to the problems with the subsiding gushers in Saudi Arabia.

The Oil Drum, who confidently assert they know everything to cast accurate future projections for oil production, say that Saudi Arabia peaked in 2005 :-

Apparently the wells are pumping more water than crude these days.

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A Path to True Enlightenment

One of my relatives takes the Scientific American magazine on subscription, postal strike notwithstanding, so I was privileged to be able to read an article in the November 2009 edition even before it hits the shelves in WH Smith at the major train stations in London, or Waterloo at least, where I looked for my own copy yesterday evening.

An uplifting, positive plan to green the world’s energy, composed by two Marks, one Delucchi, one Jacobson, both in American academia, yet not dreamers; their practical brains fully switched on and their souls engaged.

“A Path to Sustainable Energy by 2030” contains some excellent mythbusting material as well as practical proposals for turning over all our Energy supply to truly sustainable sources.

A full-colour PDF is available online :-

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Claverton Energy Conference 8

The Claverton Energy Group will be holding its 8th Conference from 23rd to 25th October 2009 at the headquarters of Wessex Water, Claverton Down in Bath, England.

Advances in Energy technologies old and new will be presented amongst a wide-ranging and influential forum of engineers. The focus, as ever, will be the development of new infrastructure, within the context of the urgent need to de-Carbonise Energy supply.

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A Very Crude Analysis
“A Crude Awakening – Trailer”

I watched the film “A Crude Awakening” for the third time this week with the good people of Transition Waltham Forest.

Several people in the room were strongly affected by the footage of the deserted oil fields of Texas, Baku and Venezuela.

In the discussion after the film I challenged the Green Party activist in the room (hopefully without hurting anyone’s feelings), asking where Energy is in the list of electoral campaign policy priorities. I said I don’t hear strong concern from any political party. It’s a subject that’s just not there.

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Big Energy : Fighting for Survival

The Carbon game’s up : within 40 to 70 years the Petroleum empires will be gone. Even with massive new investment, Hydrocarbon production will be peaking. With supplies of Crude Oil, Natural Gas, and yes, even Coal, starting to fall away, a crucial sub-plot will begin to play out.

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Deep Gas : Russia Dives

A cursory Western reader of news about Russia would find curious snippets with little context or explanation. “Russia plants flag on Arctic floor” from 2007 or “Vladimir Putin dives to bottom of world’s deepest lake” from 1st August 2009.

With the new streamlined Russian openness strategy, the information is not withheld, just dumbed-down, it seems. When reported in the Western press, it’s easy for further meaning to erode at this extra remove. But there is a story here. What are they up to ? Staking claims in the Arctic and mining for unconventional Hydrocarbon fuels underwater, that’s what.

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Nuclear Drive : Barbecue Country

A number of media outlets have been skewered and grilled one more time in the last fortnight by the Nuclear industry and it’s paid-up or paid-to fans. It feels like the poor lamb hacks have been gambolling and frolicking too close to the fire.

Just getting a Press Release in the papers is not equivalent to convincing a critical mass of people to support your energy technology of choice. It’s like roasting and toasting a very dodgy piece of carcase/carcass and adding hot pepper sauce to hide the bacterial slime.

Even recruiting a senior former British Government Minister to the radioactive cause is not sufficiently influential for a good portion of the electorate. That’s like pulling some Amazon-killing soya-fed dead cow out of the freezer and finding it’s several years too old to eat.

Nuclear Power has a bad track record, and the last couple of years have been near-on laughable.

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10×10 : Cut Carbon 10% by 2010

The Campaign against Climate Change has been running a very thought-provoking extending compendium of ideas on how to reduce British Carbon Emissions by ten percent by (the end of) 2010, to which you are all welcome to contribute :-

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Is That All There Is ?

Image Credit : Scott Kinmartin

Over the course of aeons of archeaological time, there has been a lot of death, I mean mass extinction, periods of natural hyper-slaughter and climate mayhem, atmospheric toxicity and ocean wipeout.

It’s all in the fossil record, except where those dead things have decomposed or chemically transposed into other things, like petroleum oil.

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Pizza Drop

What’s the opposite of a negative “anti-” protest against Fossil Fuels ? Why, it’s a negative “anti-” protest against losing jobs in Renewable Energy, with the best positive intentions.

The assortment of folks occupying the Vestas manufactory in Newport on the Isle of Wight are struggling to make a positive contribution to the future of British green collar jobs.

Alas, their sustainable and forward-thinking plan has met with summary dismissal – sackings by letters slipped under their pizzas in a delivery drop – according to the Press. The ultimate in snide micro-management.

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Milling the Wind : Revolution by Osmosis

There has been a welter of contentious reporting about Wind Power in the English-speaking world. Honestly, you would have thought there was something wrong with investing in energy infrastructure that starts to pay back within three years, the amount of bad press the poor little aeolian turbines have been getting.

“What happens when the wind stops blowing ?”, people ask with a supercilious sneer, or a grumphy guffaw, as if they know every last thing about the way the wind works all of a sudden.

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Beware : History Repeating Itself

[ UPDATE : I need to make clear that there is a lot of partially decomposed and undecomposed biological material in the iced-over regions of the planet. This is not producing Methane yet, but as it Globally Warms, it will. ]

Interestingly, today I have been accosted by e-mail, by a small collection of Peak Oil devotees, begging me not to waste my time on Climate Change : for, as they claim with some foundation, Fossil Fuel depletion rates may well mean that emissions stop short of causing dangerous Global Warming.

“I see the oildrum is part of your background reading!! I was therefore a little disturbed to see that along with most of the rest of the intelligentsia of my beloved home country, you are going to devote your professional future to being a “low carbon activist”. I hope you will reconsider this.”

“Any theory is ever only as good as its assumptions. The assumptions used by the IPCCC to develop future projections of run-away CO2 emissions are enormously “optimistic” about the future availability and price of oil, gas and coal.”

“In fact, we probably saw peak oil flows last year, will soon see peak gas flows, brought forward by Russia’s (and OPEC’s) need to maximize the price of gas and minimize current upstream expenditure. There are soundly based theories that we may be on the cusp of peak coal production. As someone said, it is not the size of the tank that matters, it is the size of the tap! The taps are not getting bigger but smaller, all over the World.”

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The Energy Cliff

We all know we need Renewable Energy, by now, I think. It’s entering public consciousness. It’s no longer gun-toting woods-and-mountains survivalists and deep greens who are asking : “how will you ride the slide ?” :-

The Oil Drum, whose mission is “to facilitate civil, evidence-based discussions about energy and its impact on our future”, is running a short series about transition to Renewable Energy, written by Jeff Vail :-

This is condensed from a series he published on his own webspace about the issues, calling it the “Renewables Hump” :-

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Messing With The Paradigms

Feeling faint and fatigued by Climate Change news recently, with its tit-for-tat spats about Policy and Science and most of all the Economics; grappling with the detractors and wreckers on various channels, I decided to turn to another source of information, trusting to uncover a little alternative inspiration.

I wanted to find something that would be unburdened by corporate advertising, untainted by agendas of those with financial or political capital to be made from various shifts in Energy and Carbon; something transparent and sufficiently broad to avoid niche arguments.

I hit upon a Science book for children, you know, with primary colour diagrams and simplified English, and it was quite refreshing. But wrong.

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What We Have Here Is A Failure To Innovate

Remember the American Space Program ?

Very large sums of public tax money have been ploughed into the National Aeronautics and Space Administration over the years, peaking in 1966 :-

OK, it gave us the Moon landings and Teflon (TM), but just recently, I don’t see much in terms of really, really new things.

What’s happened to the innovation ?

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Peak Everything (2)

The “Standard Fossil Fuel” Peak, that of Coal, Petroleum Oil and Natural Gas, is probably within 10 years.

We really have to avoid “Alternatives”, like Tar Sands, Oil Shale…or we could create Climate Crisis in another 10 years.

When BP branded themselves “Beyond Petroleum”, when Shell expanded its Renewables division briefly, we thought it was Greenwash, we thought it was about a bit of token Renewable Energy…but I think they might be serious – about “Alternative” Energy resources that would be way, way more Carbon-intensive than Coal.

It’s not something David Rutledge at CalTech has factored in, I think. He used to be talking about keeping Coal in the ground, but now he’s more optimistic that standard Fossil Fuels will not bring us to Climate catastrophe…

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Peak Everything

Just because we’ve reached the summit doesn’t mean the mountain’s about to disappear. But we have to recognise that, from now on, things are going to be heading in a sinking and falling away direction.

Some will fear and shake, as the Earth seems to slip away under their feet. Some will have psychological tremours as they have to adjust their world views extremely radically, and rather rapidly.

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No Country for Old Men

Heaven knows what Aubrey Meyer must feel like some days.

For every ounce of frustration I feel about the sloth-like pace of the international Climate negotiations, he must feel a pound of nerve-wrecking agitational sweating stress.

The United States of America has been trumpeting its progressive politics again this week, asserting itself as the world’s Climate Change leader at the G8 talks in L’Aquila in Italy.