Posts Tagged ‘Energy’

Climate hoaxes

September 5, 2017

I keep reading people arguing that climate change is a hoax promulgated by governments or by the corporate sector.

I guess this shows something about how disinformation works, as the most obvious source for conspiracy would seem to involve those who make money from doing the things which are thought to cause climate change, and who generally have a reputation for ruthless political engagement; that is fossil fuel companies, oil and coal barons etc. In general renewable companies do not have the established connections with politicians, and do not have the money to throw at false research or think tanks. Most of renewable companies also came into being after climate change first seemed to be a highly probable trajectory in the late 1970s early 1980s.

Perhaps because this is implausible, and because people who don’t like corporations will have some awareness of how fossil fuel companies have acted in the past, it is more common to argue that scientists ‘believe in’ climate change because governments pay them to and encourage it.

There is only one minor problem with this argument. There are few governments in the English speaking world who show they are really interested in promoting the reality of climate change, and getting out of fossil fuels.

Republican and other rightist governments often try to forbid people from talking about climate change, they never make it central to their agenda or say the situation is urgent, and they often try to remove research monies from people who study climate change, or gather data. They accuse people of politicising weather disasters when those people point out that these weather events could have something to do with the predicted consequences of climate change. They may appoint people from fossil fuel companies to Environmental Departments, or to enquiries into energy reform. Governments can even try to make it easier for corporations to pollute and frequently actively resist renewables. They can tell companies to continue with coal when the companies do not think it economic. Governments encourage heavily polluting fracking and so on. Even the few relatively active governments are not hostile to increased coal mining and exports, and do their best to protect established corporations, as in India and China. Governments rarely behave as if they actually believed that climate change was a real threat, or as if it was a convenient ruse to increase their power.

There is no real government campaign, which I know of, in the English speaking world, which has promoted climate change and anti-climate change action. If you know of something consistent and coherent, which survived for more than a couple of months until the fossil fuel companies persuaded them otherwise, then please tell me about it!!

The fact that scientists keep being persuaded by the evidence that climate change is real and humanly caused, when this goes against government instruction and bias, could be taken as persuasive evidence that it is real.

Advertisements

Trump and “Energy Dominance”

July 4, 2017

It has just been dirty energy week in the US. If you look at Trump’s speech, then the priorities are clear. https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2017/06/29/remarks-president-trump-unleashing-american-energy-event

First he attacks the media, and the democrats, and once the essential stuff is done away with, he is very specific.

“Energy dominance” means removing any restrictions on coal and gas. Approving pipelines, including one taking oil to Mexico under the wall. Ending the EPA, so poisoning the population is ok. Expanding nuclear energy. Financing overseas coal plants to support US coal exports. Opening public land (that presumably include national parks) to mining. There is an implication that dirty fuel exports will increase, and imports will decline.

There is a further statement which clarifies all this, should you need it.

https://www.whitehouse.gov/america-first-energy

“For too long, we’ve been held back by burdensome regulations on our energy industry. President Trump is committed to eliminating harmful and unnecessary policies such as the Climate Action Plan and the Waters of the U.S. rule.”

“We must take advantage of the estimated $50 trillion in untapped shale, oil, and natural gas reserves, especially those on federal lands that the American people own.”

“reviving America’s coal industry, which has been hurting for too long.”

There is also a sop to Republican Environmentalists “with responsible stewardship of the environment. Protecting clean air and clean water, conserving our natural habitats, and preserving our natural reserves and resources will remain a high priority.” But there is no evidence of this.

With this kind of government help, fossil fuel could survive and flourish. Certainly renewables could be set back. For Trump, and established business, Climate change is ignored and ignorable. Just a burden on profit.

Conscience, knowledge and Action

July 4, 2017

Stephen Hawking has been talking about Earth becoming like Venus: unliveable.

Generating conditions such as those on Venus, is probably unlikely – and its probably not useful to mention them, as it gives people an excuse not to believe anything about ecological crisis, or to cop out from action, claiming these are just tales of gloom and doom, nothing real.

I have also heard tales of gloom and doom my entire life. However, it is true that we only avoided nuclear war by the finest of margins. Both Russia and the US were about to make mistaken responses on several occasions, and it was only the reluctance of the people on the ground to launch that saved us. We have depended on individual people acting according to their conscience and understanding. They risked unapproved action. Avoiding catastrophe now, requires the same conscience and understanding and action.

It is a simple matter of logic that you cannot keep destroying, and demanding more from, the environment that you depend on for ever. It would seem that we are reaching the ends of what we can demand from the world in quite a few different systems, some of which get no media attention at all (peak phosphorus for example). The breaking of these systems will produce massive tumult and destruction.

If we continue as we are doing, conditions for any complex civilisation will get more and more precarious. Continuing is not a conservative policy, it is a destructive one.

It is not Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris Agreement that is the problem. It is Trump’s slackening of rules which allow corporations to poison people and the environment, together with his regulative hostility to renewables that is the problem.

Basically, action in the US has to be at the State level. It has to refuse more coal mines and coal based power stations and phase out those which exist. We have to stop fracking, and stop the leakage of gas through crappy pipelines. We have to encourage renewables. We have to make corporations responsible for the pollution and poison they produce. There are no economic externalities in a (more or less) closed system. Non of this will be easy and it may have deleterious consequences as we sort things out and change expectations.

It will involve a massive political conflict, but Trump just makes this explicit. Under Clinton it would have been obstruction in Congress, and the hope that things will be alright. Under Trump there is no Congressional obstruction to destruction, and people have to take back their own power and conscience. There is no alternative. It is up to you and your ability to cooperate with others.

Possession

April 8, 2017

I’ve been in Queensland and have just finished reading the last week of the Murdoch owned Courier mail – which may well be the only local daily newspaper for the whole state. Lots of stuff on the massive cyclone, the devastation and the spirit of Queenslanders.

Hardly any mention of climate change. Except to denounce the Greens for exploiting the tragedy for political gain and for dissing Queenslanders, and quoting Bill Shorten, leader of the Labor party, agreeing that the Greens were indeed terrible. So much for the ‘obstructionism’ of the mainstream left.

However, there was Lots and Lots of stuff about how wonderful the Adani mine is going to be for jobs and development, and suggesting that any opposition is from privileged city folk and racists…. They also spent many column inches denouncing a small Melbourne Council who was going to remove its funds from Westpac, because that bank was funding the Adani mine. Most of the denouncing focused on how small this council was. Yes even what they perceive as the smallest dissent, really upsets the Righteous.

They did cheer for the Queensland Labor government allocating Adani unlimited water access and use, at the cost of farmers and rivers all the way down to South Australia. Only recently 87% of Queensland was declared drought affected, but that must not stand in the way of…. whatever this mine is doing. Some Federal Minister said if this mine can’t go ahead then no mines anywhere in Australia will be successful. There is nobody living out there…. News to the local aboriginal people I would suspect and, as usual, devoid of any sense that local events can produce wide range catastrophe. Coal mining does produce poisons and threaten the common water table for the whole state. Coal is burnt and the atmosphere is shared, whatever he might want to the contrary.

There is a kind of total weirdness going on here. A real threat to ‘colonial civilisation’ in Australia is being deliberately shunted to one side, in favour of extremely dubious short term benefits, which will probably not be delivered.

We sell our coal, and get nothing for it, except a dead barrier reef, dispossessed locals, poisoned water, and less than 2,000 jobs. Royalties and taxes will be unlikely to be paid to cover the costs or even repay the loans from the government – Adani’s tax arrangements are legendarily complex. The profit does not even go to a local company, or even a reputable company. We do not help relieve poverty in India, because there is no grid in the poor areas (people cannot afford it).

There seems to be a madness infesting the right, a possession by an ideological machine, which blinds, deafens, numbs and rips out the smell centres of its possessed, and clatters on without any direction other than destruction. Nothing must stop it. It chants away that resistance is useless.

It would be nice to think not, but what is the alternative?

The Energy Crisis

March 19, 2017

This article developed from a comment on an article by Jessica Irvine in the Sydney Morning Herald “Energy crisis: The 9 questions you were too embarrassed to ask”.

Point 1: There may be no energy crisis but there is an ecological crisis – which is growing. It is vital to keep the ecological crisis in focus as other crises flow on from that.

Point 2: The worse the ecological crisis gets, the more the energy crisis mounts, and the more people will suffer or die as a result. The economy and food supply will be hurt as well.

Point 3: There is currently a problem with gas supply in Australia, but that results from gas companies deciding not to supply gas to local consumers, and from gas power stations failing in the heat (from the ecological crisis). We need to get out of the control of the gas companies.

Point 4: A point of agreement with the author. Coal is stupid, expensive and poisonous to people and the environment.

Point 5: One significant problem is that the Coalition parties (both in government and opposition) have become obsessed with defending fossil fuel companies, and have actively worked to prevent alternate energy supplies from increasing. Labor was not much better, but it was better.

Point 6: Prices will continue to increase in the market as it exists, as companies continue to manipulate that market to increase profit. That is what companies do. That is why the prices have increased after the Carbon tax was repealed. We have a situation in which various companies are profiteering from the destruction of both our environment and Australia’s energy systems. This, is the main story, so let’s not forget it.

Point 7: South Australia is going it alone because the Federal government has done little but attack them (mostly using false information) in order to defend fossil fuel companies, and has provided no help, or even moral support. Essentially more states will have to go it alone if we want a solution under this Federal Government.

Point 8: Battery storage is still in development and will get better. They are still cheaper than the alternatives. We might think about a contract in which batteries get replaced with newer models as time passes. But that would not be supporting fossil fuel companies, so there is little chance of that.

Point 9: The Coalition government is in the business of picking losers that won’t challenge fossil fuel companies. The new Snowy scheme will be overpriced, depend on water and snow we may not have, and be powered by coal if possible. It is a massive waste of money, as you might expect.