Obama : Tough on Grime

Image Credit : McClatchy

Tough on grime; tough on the causes of grime.

American President Barack Obama declares that as regards environmental pollution, “we shall fight them on the beaches”.

http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/remarks-president-nation-bp-oil-spill

“Already, this oil spill is the worst environmental disaster America has ever faced. And unlike an earthquake or a hurricane, it’s not a single event that does its damage in a matter of minutes or days. The millions of gallons of oil that have spilled into the Gulf of Mexico are more like an epidemic, one that we will be fighting for months and even years.”

“But make no mistake: We will fight this spill with everything we’ve got for as long as it takes. We will make BP pay for the damage their company has caused. And we will do whatever’s necessary to help the Gulf Coast and its people recover from this tragedy.”

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Blackout Asia : Crispy Baking

While Europe has been enjoying an early Summer, elsewhere in the world high air temperatures have been record-breaking.

When the heat gets this bad, public services need to provide air-conditioned community shelters as a key adaptational strategy.

But any plans of this nature are being thwarted by power shortages, for example, in India and Pakistan :-

http://www.ecanadanow.com/world/2010/06/01/200-dead-in-india-heatwave/

“200 Dead In India Heatwave”, 01 June 2010

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/jun/07/pakistan-energy-policy-proving-deadly

“Pakistan’s heatwave and a deadly lack of energy policy : The blackout-blighted country should be free to accept development help from China, and not rely on US financial aid : Nosheen Iqbal”, 07 June 2010

Clearly, the time has never been more right for clean, renewable energy.

BP : Oily Hands On The Arts

   

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The Gulf of Mexico just now is no oil painting, and it’s costing BP in share price and reputation.

Just how much do BP care about Nature, about life, about humanity ? The answer can be found, perhaps, in their liberal sponsorship of the Arts :-

http://www.britishmuseum.org

Criticised by some as a blatant attempt to court public favour and tacit acceptance, BP have continued to financially support the Tate Britain gallery :-

http://www.bp.com/sectiongenericarticle.do?categoryId=9026067&contentId=7048078

It is a statement of the most culturally sensitive kind. Yet, the key question in my mind is : will they be able to continue to afford this, what with their excessive liabilities in the Gulf of Mexico ?

Continue reading BP : Oily Hands On The Arts

The Price of Carbon

The Price of Carbon

by Jo Abbess
20 April 2010

1.   Introduction

Policy strategy for controlling risky excess atmospheric greenhouse gas (Gowdy, 2008, Sect. 4; McKibben, 2007, Ch. 1, pp. 19-20; Solomon et al., 2009; Tickell, 2008, Ch. 6, pp. 205-208) mostly derives from the notion that carbon dioxide emissions should be charged for, in order to prevent future emissions; similar to treatment for environmental pollutants (Giddens, 2009, Ch. 6, pp. 149-155; Gore, 2009, Ch. 15 “The True Cost of Carbon”; Pigou, 1932; Tickell, 2008, Ch.4, Box 4.1, pp. 112-116). Underscoring this idea is the evidence that fines, taxes and fees modify behaviour, reigning in the marginal social cost of “externalities” through financial disincentive (Baumol, 1972; Sandmo, 2009; Tol, 2008). However this approach may not enable the high-value, long-term investment required for decarbonisation, which needs adjustments to the economy at scale (CAT, 2010; Hepburn and Stern, 2008, pp. 39-40, Sect. (ii) “The Consequences of Non-marginality”; MacKay, 2008, Ch. 19; Tickell, 2008, Ch. 2, pp. 40-41). Continue reading The Price of Carbon

Polar Bear : Poster Child

So, I’m standing in the G2 theatre at the School of Oriental and African Studies, after the “Sceptic Backlash” event, talking with two Climate Change activists, one Irish, one American.

The question arises : since our lifestyles are causing deadly Climate Change for people in other parts of the world, maybe we should have communications based around pictures of suffering children ?

I disagree. I point out that when the environmentalists put out posters about Polar Bears, that the audience pretty quickly realised that the Polar Bears were being used as a “poster child” for Climate Change, and they started to mock the campaigning.

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Robert Kennedy : Coal Revolt

Coal is dirty – and dangerous. This month’s coal mine disaster in West Virginia, United States should have underscored this very point for a great number of people.

It makes Robert F. Kennedy Jr’s recent debate with Massey Energy’s Don Blankenship all the more pertinent, and poignant.

It’s time we made the decision to leave the Coal in the ground.

http://www.deseretnews.com/article/700021126/Robert-F-Kennedy-Jr-says-not-to-get-science-from-Glenn-Beck.html

“Robert F. Kennedy Jr. says not to get science from Glenn Beck : By Josh Smith : Deseret News : Published: Tuesday, April 6, 2010 : Don’t get your science from Glenn Beck. That’s the message environmental activist Robert F. Kennedy Jr. wants to bring to citizens and media across the country, and recently he brought it to Utah. Americans should be trying to prevent further global climate change and environmental destruction for economic and national security reasons, but an “18-year propaganda campaign” by oil and coal companies has misled the public and media on their dangers, Kennedy said. “The science on global warming is stronger than it is on tobacco and cancer, yet we still have these myths that create doubt…Our children will pay the price for our joy ride,” he said. “Incumbent” energy companies, such as those using oil, coal and nuclear power, are hogging taxpayer resources and hiding the true costs of such energy, Kennedy said. “When they say it’s clean, we know it’s a dirty lie. When they say it’s cheap, we know it’s a bigger lie,” he said…

http://www.robertfkennedyjr.com/index.html

Continue reading Robert Kennedy : Coal Revolt

Nightmare on Easy Street

Every now and again, some well-meaning, or even lightheartedly jokey relative or friend lets me know I should calm down with the story of the risk of Climate catastrophe as it’s (a) not effective; (b) not necessary or (c) way off the end of the scale. Apparently I’m crying wolf, but there’s not even a messy puppy in the neighbourhood.

There are two narratives at work here. One is that people don’t like being preached too (neither do I), and they feel that the sum total of Climate Change communications amounts to somebody high up the authority chain telling them to change their behaviour, somehow making the common man (and woman) responsible for a problem that should actually be fixed by the governments, who have the power (or large companies and international corporations, who have the financial resources).

The moral of nearly every cultural telling of the Climate Change story is “ten things you can do to make a difference”, and a lot of people feel it will mean shivering in the dark with no car and more tax. People are so not into self-sacrifice and abstention from consumerism, and they react badly, even to the extent of skin rashes, to the fear of micromanaged austerity being thrust upon them.

But that’s not why I talk about Climate Change.

Continue reading Nightmare on Easy Street

Climate Union

I’m in the Climate Union. Are you ?

Finally, I have to admit that I have an personal stake in the outcomes of Climate Change and Energy policy.

I have to confess to a utilitarian, yet enlightened, self-interest.

And so say all of us.

In the future, I want there to be jobs. New jobs, for young and old, for me. Productive, worthwhile employment, green jobs that don’t permanently wreck the atmosphere for future generations.

When I get sick, unabled or old, I want there to be social services. Not run on a shoestring budget owing to Carbon Taxes or Carbon Trading, but Low Carbon hospitals with well-motivated, sufficient staff; and decent, affordable sheltered housing and residential homes for the vulnerable.

I want cheap, Zero Carbon Energy; as access to Energy is an essential public good, even a human right, for those who live towards the Poles. I don’t want to be made poor by a badly managed transition out of Fossil Fuels, or expensive Carbon Capture projects that the State pays for, because Electricity generation companies want to burn dirty Coal. I don’t want to have to pay double for my power, just because new Nuclear Power stations cost so much to build.

Continue reading Climate Union

No More Coal

The options are clear : either rapidly commence the largest, most complex and resource-hungry engineering infrastructure ever conceived to do Carbon Capture and Storage, or simply halt the burning of Coal to generate electricity.

Simple choice, you would have thought; yet governments around the world have been sucked in by the slick allure of the all-expenses-paid lobbyists for Old King Coal. Politicians and civil servants roam the halls of power with that glazed look in their eyes as they recite the mantra “Clean Coal. Clean Coal. Clean Coal…”

Yet all is not a done deal. In Scotland, common sense and good, open debate have led to a rejection of all that is lumpy and sooty; and that can only bode well for the future of Energy policy.

Coal is not clean. It never has been and it never will be.

We can’t afford cheap Coal. It’s time to ban it.

Green Energy : Stuck in the Sidings

If you can imagine the engine for new, renewable and sustainable Energy systems as a train which should by now be thundering down the tracks, get this : it left the depot only to get stuck in the sidings.

Enough of the locomotive metaphors, already. On to the analysis. Here’s an excerpt from Catherine Mitchell’s fine book “The Political Economy of Sustainable Energy” (2008, 2010) :-

Continue reading Green Energy : Stuck in the Sidings

The Great Coal Bailout

As predicted in some parts, the Coal-burning electricity generation sector is going to get a bailout, to the (hope you’re sitting down) tune of milliions, no, billions :-

http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/9e191774-2647-11df-aff3-00144feabdc0.html

“Coal-fired power to win carbon capture grants By Fiona Harvey and Ed Crooks : Published: March 2 2010 : Two coal-fired power plants, including Eon’s controversial Kingsnorth project, are to be given government support that could be worth tens of millions of pounds to develop technology for storing carbon dioxide emissions, the Financial Times has learnt…Although much of the technology needed to capture carbon dioxide from power plants and store it underground is already available, there are questions over whether it can be developed for widespread use, and over its expense. A provision of the energy bill passing through parliament would allow for a levy on consumer bills to pay to install the technology. The levy could raise £9.5bn, Ed Miliband, the secretary of state for energy and climate change, said. CCS development would “require the right combination of private sector and government investment”, he added…”

So, Carbon Capture and Storage is not fully tested, and will take a long time to be sure it can be implemented. Meantime, all that Coal is being burned to make electron juice, and the emissions are fouling up the skies, locally and globally warmingly.

It’s time we put our collective foot down, loudly, and demanded an end to Coal combustion.

It’s 19th Century dirty, smoking technology, and we really have to give it up.

In other news…Members of Parliament have refused to regulate Greenhouse Gas Emissions from the major power plants in the UK. What a sorry, sorry mess :-

http://www.hackneygazette.co.uk/content/hackney/gazette/news