Archive for the month “September, 2014”

News update

Could Fighting Global Warming Be Cheap and Free?
Paul Krugman, The New York Times
In his latest column, well-known NYT columnist Krugman attacks, among others, the Post Carbon Institute, a leading think tank on Peak Oil and Climate Change, as wrong-headed and inducing climate despair.  In a piece titled Paul Krugman’s Errors and Omissions the Post Carbon Institutes Richard Heinberg responds to Krugman. Below is prominent Peak Oil writer John Michael Greers rather interesting take on the exchange which, he interprets as a sign that we are approaching a financial crash.

Dark Age America: The Senility of the Elites 
John Michael Greer, The Archdruid Report
When a significant media figure uses one of the world’s major newspapers of record to lash out at a particular band of economic heretics by name, on the other hand, we’ve reached the kind of behavior that only happens, historically speaking, when crunch time is very, very close. Given that we’ve also got a wildly overvalued stock market, falling commodity prices, and a great many other symptoms of drastic economic trouble bearing down on us right now, not to mention the inevitable unraveling of the fracking bubble, there’s a definite chance that the next month or two could see the start of a really spectacular financial crash.

A Hundred Days Closer to Ecological and Social Suicide
Ashish Kothari, The Economic & Political Weekly
The first 100 days of the Narendra Modi government which have been celebrated by the mainstream media saw what can only be called a widespread and large-scale assault on rules, laws and institutions meant to protect the environment, and more is on the cards. Side by side, the central as also state governments of various hues have moved against non-governmental organisations raising social and environmental issues. But resistance to corporate-driven growth continues and alternatives continue to be explored. (Article can be accessed for a limited period only)

Global Warming and the Shifts in Species’ Range in India
Nagaraj Adve (POI member), The Economic & Political Weekly
Global warming and changing rainfall patterns have resulted in shifts or extensions in species range in every terrain, region and ecosystem in India. If it is indicative of a wider unfolding process related to climate change, it would suggest that a staggering number of species in India are moving home. This would adversely affect human habitat as well. (Article can be accessed for a limited period only)

New Study Demonstrates Dramatic, Immediate Energy Shift Needed
Popularresistance.org
Here’s the frightening implication of a landmark study on carbon emissions: By 2018, no new cars, homes, schools, factories, or electrical power plants should be built anywhere in the world, ever again, unless they’re either replacements for old ones or carbon neutral. Otherwise greenhouse gas emissions will push global warming past 2˚C of temperature rise worldwide, threatening the survival of many people currently living on the planet.

Cities Will Solve Climate Change, Not Nations
The Scientific American
Cities now deliver fully three-quarters of global economic activity, totaling more than $50 trillion. And it is citizens of cities who are responsible for at least half of all greenhouse gas pollution—through demand for heating and cooling, food, lighting, entertainment and transportation. As a result, city action (or inaction) on climate change may determine the ultimate outcome of global warming.

Who will feed China?
Earth Policy Institute
China is a leading importer of grain and it imports a staggering 60 percent of all soybeans entering world trade—and it looks like it will continue. The problem is not so much population growth, but China’s rising affluence, which is allowing its population to move up the food chain, consuming more grain-intensive livestock, poultry, and farmed fish. (Also see: collection of links to informative articles at the bottom of the page)

Could This Environmental Risk Derail Americas Oil and Gas Boom?
Fool.com
Americas oil and gas boom has done wonders for energy independence and the economy. However, fracking, which is largely responsible for Americas energy renaissance, has proven to be a highly controversial issue, with environmentalists claiming that it pollutes ground water with large numbers of little-studied chemicals and even causes earthquakes. This article examines this last claim with the aim of detailing how this risk, whether true or perceived, might affect the future of Americas oil and gas boom.

Rockefellers, Heirs to an Oil Fortune, Will Divest Charity of Fossil Fuels
The New York Times
John D. Rockefeller built a vast fortune on oil. Now his heirs are abandoning fossil fuels. The family whose legendary wealth flowed from Standard Oil is planning to announce on Monday that its $860 million philanthropic organization, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, is joining the divestment movement that began a couple years ago on college campuses.

Report: Common Cause The Case for Working with our Cultural Values

(Editors Note: This 2010 article (full text below) by well-known columnist George Monbiot says provides a summary of Common Cause: The Case for Working with our Cultural Values, a paper by Tom Crompton of the environment group WWF. The paper uses the latest research in psychology as a prism to understand why progressive causes, even the most urgent ones, often fail to make an impact with the public, and how this situation can be remedied. It remains as relevant now as when it was written.)

The Values of Everything
By George Monbiot. Published in the Guardian 12th October 2010

So here we are, forming an orderly queue at the slaughterhouse gate. The punishment of the poor for the errors of the rich, the abandonment of universalism, the dismantling of the shelter the state provides: apart from a few small protests, none of this has yet brought us out fighting.

The acceptance of policies which counteract our interests is the pervasive mystery of the 21st Century. In the United States, blue-collar workers angrily demand that they be left without healthcare, and insist that millionaires should pay less tax. In the UK we appear ready to abandon the social progress for which our ancestors risked their lives with barely a mutter of protest. What has happened to us?

The answer, I think, is provided by the most interesting report I have read this year. Common Cause, written by Tom Crompton of the environment group WWF, examines a series of fascinating recent advances in the field of psychology(1). It offers, I believe, a remedy to the blight which now afflicts every good cause from welfare to climate change. Read more…

Born in 2010: How much is left for me?

born-in-2010-how-much-is-left-for-me_53725a7f21e54

(click to enlarge. right click to save.)

Resources are running low. The Born in 2010: How much is left for me? infographic puts the amount of each energy resource, metals used in renewable energy solutions, and other industrial metals left in perspective and which country to find them in. The infographic was created by Plan C.

Courtesy: Randy Krum

News update

Greenhouse Gas Pollution Sees Fastest Rise
From The Scientific American
Despite some recent regional reductions in greenhouse gas emissions in the United States and other industrial nations, the total concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere continues its upward march at an unprecedented rate, the World Meteorological Organization has announced.

Stand by for the ‘megadroughts’, scientists warn
From The Independent, UK
Climate change is set to unleash a series of decades-long “megadroughts” this century, according to new research. Experts warn the droughts could be even more severe than the prolonged water shortage currently afflicting California, where residents have resorted to stealing from fire hydrants amid mass crop failures and regular wildfires.

Low Oil Prices: Sign of a Debt Bubble Collapse, Leading to the End of Oil Supply?
By Gail Tverberg, Our Finite World
Oil and other commodity prices have recently been dropping. Is this good news, or bad? I would argue that falling commodity prices are bad news. It likely means that the debt bubble which has been holding up the world economy for a very long–since World War II, at least–is failing to expand sufficiently. If the debt bubble collapses, we will be in huge difficulty.

Saudi Arabia Aims For Nuclear Power Within 20 Years
From Oilprice.com
To help address its energy needs, last week Saudi Arabia announced plans to incentivize both private and public investments in energy sources other than oil. Within 20 years, the Saudi Royal Family aims to invest $80 billion and $240 billion so that nuclear and solar, respectively, will each provide 15 percent of the Kingdom’s power needs. The transition is intended to happen quickly, with the first nuclear reactor expected to come online in only eight years.

Fossil Fuel Development in the Arctic is a Bad Investment
By Emily E. Adams, Earth Policy Institute
The world has become blinded by oil and gas as the familiar ways to run the economy and so is proceeding to look for them in hard-to-reach places like the Arctic, even as the costs mount and the returns diminish. An example of the world being set in its ways was the announcement on August 28th that Royal Dutch Shell, despite many setbacks in recent years, submitted plans to the U.S. government to again drill for oil offshore of Alaska as early as summer 2015.

The Peak Oil Crisis: It‘s All Around Us
By Tom Whipple, Falls Church News-Press
If we step back and acknowledge that the shale oil phenomenon will be over in a couple of years and that oil production is dropping in the rest of the world, then we have to expect that the remainder of the peak oil story will play out shortly. The impact of shrinking global oil production, which is been on hold for nearly a decade, will appear.

Is Narendra Modi a climate sceptic?
From The Guardian
India’s prime minister, Narendra Modi, reportedly will be a no-show at the United Nations climate summit this month. Could it be because he does not accept the science behind climate change? Modi used to be a supporter for climate action. But in public remarks on two occasions in the last week, the leader of one of the fastest growing – and biggest emitting – economies appeared to express doubt about whether climate change was even occurring.

World population to hit 11bn in 2100 – with 70% chance of continuous rise
From The Guardian
The world’s population is now odds-on to swell ever-higher for the rest of the century, posing grave challenges for food supplies, healthcare and social cohesion. A ground-breaking analysis released on Thursday shows there is a 70% chance that the number of people on the planet will rise continuously from 7bn today to 11bn in 2100.

Earth Overshoot Day
By Lyla Bavadam, The Frontline
August 19 was Earth Overshoot Day: an estimate of the moment in a 12-month period when humans have consumed more natural resources than the biosphere can replace and created more waste than it can absorb. To put it simply, in less than eight months of 2014, the annual supply of land, water and trees and the planet’s ability to deal with waste products, including carbon dioxide, have been used up. This means that humanity is already living off next year’s supplies, which in turn means that next year’s supplies will end even sooner than this year’s. No wonder Earth Overshoot Day is also called Ecological Debt Day.

Theres a lot more to Transition than community gardens
By Rob Hopkins, Resilience.org
Community gardens can give people a sense of “can do” that no amount of reading articles advocating “radical politics, confronting capitalism, fundamental structural change and “revolution”” can.   We need a new language to communicate this stuff.  That’s what Transition does.  We need to speak to peoples’ values, of community, of family, of the things they love, of place, of possibility, of things their children love and value.

Peak Shit! How Oil Spilled the Economy –1

Part 1 Energy Misuse Starts With School!

By Stanley Ravi, POI member

(Editor’s Note: Stanley Ravi got interested in Peak Oil when he attended a conference on the subject in 2004 in Bangalore. Since then, he has been involved with several Peak Oil and Transition related initiatives, including an attempt to set up one of the first Transition Town experiments in the country. This is the first installment in a series of articles in which he will recount his journey.)

I was born in a lower to middle income family in Bangalore in 1967. My parents put me in to schools they could hardly or just about afford. I learnt good English.

I didnt like schooling, and found it a total waste of time and energy. Here’s one valid reason to believe and prove that schooling is a huge waste of life and energy just to learn: Learning is so mediocre and drab when compared to Mastery, and every form of life is capable of mastery. But more on that later.

It is also an example of wasting energy. Let’s make a simple calculation: Carrying 100 pages x 10 books x 200 days x 10 crore children x 5 kms x 2 directions x 10 years only to write on 10 pages max. See what I mean? Read more…

Melbourne University research on Energy, Climate Change, Collapse, Resilience and Transition

(Editors Note: Some of the most important academic research into mankinds present and future is being conducted at the Melbourne Sustainability Society Institute at the University of Melbourne. Here are links to some of their most important papers)

Is Global Collapse Imminent? by Graham Turner. Dr Turner gathered data from the UN (its department of economic and social affairs, Unesco, the food and agriculture organisation, and the UN statistics yearbook), the US national oceanic and atmospheric administration, the BP statistical review, and elsewhere, which was plotted alongside the 1972 book Limits to Growth scenarios. The results show that the data is strikingly similar to the book’s forecasts.

Other MSSI Research Papers
The Ideology of the Anthropocene? by Jeremy Baskin
Resilience and its Discontents by Brendan Gleeson
Resilience and Justice by Susan S. Fainstein
Coming Through Slaughter: Ecology of the Urban Age by Brendan Gleeson
The Economics of Oil by Samuel Alexander
Chinas Energy Transition: Effects on Global Climate and Sustainable Development by Ross Garnaut

Post Carbon Pathways: MSSI Working Paper Series
A Critique of Techno-Optimism by Dr Samuel Alexander, Research Fellow MSSI
Post-Growth Economics by Dr Samuel Alexander, Research Fellow MSSI

Visions & Pathways 2040: MSSI Working Paper Series
Pathways to a Zero-Carbon Economy: Learning from Large Scale De-Carbonisation Strategies by Prof John Wiseman, Deputy Director MSSI
Disruptive Social Innovation for a Low-Carbon World by Dr Samuel Alexander, Research Fellow MSSI

MSSI Journal Publications
Barriers to Effective Climate Change Mitigation: the case of senior government and business decision makers, by Lauren Rickards, John Wiseman and Yoshi Kashima. Published in WIREs Clim Change 2014.
Rickards L, Ison R, Fünfgeld H, Wiseman J, 2014, Opening and closing the future: climate change, adaptation, and scenario planning Environment and Planning C: Government and Policy 32 587-602. Featured by journal as Editors Choice paper.
Rickards L, Wiseman J, Edwards T, Biggs C, 2014, The problem of fit: scenario planning and climate change adaptation in the public sector Environment and Planning C: Government and Policy 32 641-662.

MSSI Books
Carbon Governance, Climate Change and Business Transformation
Promoting Sustainable Living
Resilient Sustainable Cities: A Future 2020
Vision for a Sustainable Society

MSSI Research Project Briefings
Sustainability Indicators in Local Government
Build It And They Will Recycle

Report: Weaving the Community Resilience and New Economy Movement

From the Post Carbon Institute
(Editors Note: The Post Carbon Institute has been at the forefront of spreading awareness about Peak Oil and exploring solutions and alternatives. Their new report is an instructive look at emerging grassroots initiatives that are building alternatives to a centralised, energy-intensive, global economy.)

A movement is emerging in many places, under many guises: New Economy (or Economies), Regenerative Economy, Solidarity Economy, Next Economy, Caring Economy, Sharing Economy, Thriving Resilience, Community Resilience, Community Economics, Oppositional Economy, High Road Economy, and other names. It’s a movement to replace the default economy of excess, control, and exploitation with a new economy based on respecting biophysical constraints, preferring decentralization, and supporting mutuality. This movement is a sign of the growing recognition that what often are seen as separate movements—environment, social justice, labor, democracy, indigenous rights—are all deeply interconnected, particularly in the way that the current economic system is a root cause of much that they seek to change.

We interviewed eighteen leaders (read the interviews) and held group conversations with dozens more leaders by phone and via an in-person workshop at the New Economy Coalition’s CommonBound conference in June 2014. Our interviews had an “appreciative” focus (an approach taken from the Appreciate Inquiry model of analysis); they gave participants the opportunity to step back and reflect on what is and has been “most alive” in their work, to dream about what “wild success” might look like five years from now, and to imagine the next steps we might collectively take to achieve that success. Many of them reported that this was an experience they valued—one that was not generally afforded during the day-to-day flow of their work.

 What emerged was a portrait of a rich and vibrant movement, full of promise and hope for a better future—and still very much in formation—with many opportunities for creative engagement, collaborative movement-building, visioning, and developing strategy.

Download a PDF version of the report.

News update

Trader Who Scored $100 Million Payday Bets Shale Is Dud
From Bloomberg News
Andy Hall, who was once awarded a $100 million trading bonus, has not seen his good fortune carry over to his bet on shale.

How Did Oil Make a Comeback?
Michael T. Klare, The Nation
Just five years ago, experts were predicting an imminent peak and decline in global oil production. Instead, we’re in the middle of a historic boom. What happened?

Oil rush in America
By Michael T. Klare, TomDipatch.com
Considering all the talk about global warming, peak oil, carbon divestment, and renewable energy, you’d think that oil consumption in the United States would be on a downward path. By now, we should certainly be witnessing real progress toward a post-petroleum economy. As it happens, the opposite is occurring. U.S. oil consumption is on an upward trajectory, climbing by 400,000 barrels per day in 2013 alone and, if current trends persist, it should rise again both this year and next.

Ozone layer shows signs of recovery after 1987 ban on damaging gases
From The Guardian
The ozone layer that shields life from the suns cancer-causing ultraviolet rays is showing its first sign of thickening after years of dangerous depletion, a UN study said on Wednesday. But continued rises in other greenhouse gases, as well as illicit usage of carbon tetrachloride, still has potential to undo gains.

India: The Deafening Silence On Climate Change
By Avinay Umesh-Saiyogita, Countercurrents.org
India is the third largest country in terms of carbon emission. India is the second largest country in terms of population. India is the the country to hold the biggest democratic elections in the world! To exclude the rest, these three factors are enough to highlight the rising importance of India globally. Still, why is there a deafening silence on climate change in India, not only by the media but also by the politicians, subsequently followed by the people as the two former agencies are responsible for prioritizing any agenda.

Three Limits To Growth
By Herman Daly, Steadystate.org
As production (real GDP) grows, its marginal utility declines, because we satisfy our most important needs first. Likewise, the marginal disutilitiy inflicted by growth increases, because as the economy expands into the ecosphere we sacrifice our least important ecological services first (to the extent we know them). A look at these rising costs and declining benefits of growth.

Can supermarkets ever be sustainable?
By Rob Hopkins, Transition Network
Walmart’s new boss is on a mission. Will his drive for renewable energy and waste reduction transform the supermarket model?

On becoming a Ecomodernist
From Peakoil.com
The last few years have seen the emergence of a new environmental movement — sometimes called ecomodernism, other times eco-pragmatism — that offers a positive vision of our environmental future, rejects Romantic ideas about nature as unscientific and reactionary, and embraces advanced technologies, including taboo ones, like nuclear power and genetically modified organisms, as necessary to reducing humankind’s ecological footprint.

Peak Complexity, Peak Ignorance and Peak Selfishness

By Johnson Dantis, POI member

I have been reading many posts on the Peak Oil India website about various events related to environment, sustainability, climate change, energy etc. I often find that such conferences and seminars do not have the seriousness these issues deserve. I sometimes visualize the importance of these as a sort of kitty party-like events, where most attendees do another kind of window shopping and socialising.

Forums and similar events are a necessary part of the process for change, but when they become a mere platform for awards, demonstration of personal skills, casual get-togethers and publicity-mongeirng with little focus on the severity of the issue, then they lose all meaning. As Einstein said, doing the same thing again and again and expecting different results is nothing but insanity. In many of these events, we see the same drama playing out in full force.

All sources of energy generate heat. When 10 people generate heat there is only a minimum effect, usually unnoticed by the individuals or the community, but when 7 billion does the same and in rising quantities, it obviously will have a proportional effect somewhere. So, scale matters in whatever we do and innovation does not come in time for rescue. To take an example, if you invite 100 people for a wedding and 1000 turn up, you can understand the chaos and drama that would unfold.

Whether we call this “climate change” or something else does not make any difference to the outcome. What we are realizing now is that this planet was never designed for such intense energy consumption and for so many people to live at the same time and aspire for a high standard of living. The problem simply cannot be solved unless you reduce energy use per capita or population or both in equal proportion and stay within earth’s carrying capacity. As for breaking peoples habits and demanding sacrifices of them, it is near impossible to do in the democratic world we inhabit. So there are no choices before us, and the whole debate will eventually be settled by nature (floods, droughts, desertification, diseases, famine etc) and also by human conflict (war) arising from resource depletion and environmental damage. Read more…

News update

Limits to Growth was right. New research shows were nearing collapse
From The Guardian
The 1972 book Limits to Growth, which predicted our civilisation would probably collapse some time this century, has been criticised as doomsday fantasy since it was published. Research from the University of Melbourne has found the book’s forecasts are accurate, 40 years on. If we continue to track in line with the book’s scenario, expect the early stages of global collapse to start appearing soon.

India blackouts casts shadow over Modis economic recovery
From Moneycontrol.com
More than half of Indias thermal power stations have less than a weeks supply of fuel the lowest levels since mid-2012 when hundreds of millions of people were cut off in one of the worlds worst blackouts. Coal stocks at thermal stations have hit critical levels as payment disputes escalate, unleashing power cuts that could choke off an economic recovery before it takes hold and hurt Modis prospects at forthcoming state elections.

When Will The Peak Oil Crisis Begin?
By Tom Whipple, Post Carbon Institute
For those following the world oil production situation, it has been clear for some time that the only factor keeping global crude output from moving lower is the continuing increase in U.S. shale oil production, mostly from Texas and North Dakota. Needless to say, once the fabled “peak” comes oil and gasoline prices are certain to move higher, triggering a series of economic events – most of which will not be good for the global economy.

Why Peak Oil Refuses to Die
By Richard Heinberg, Post Carbon Institute
Perhaps you’ve seen one of the recent barrage of articles claiming that fears of an imminent peak and decline in world oil production have either been dispelled (because we actually have plenty of oil) or are misplaced (because climate change is the only environmental problem we should be concerned with). I’m not buying either argument.

EU energy-saving rules cut power of vacuum cleaners
From The Telegraph, UK
Britain’s domestic vacuum cleaners will become less powerful under European Union rules designed to cut energy use that come into force next year. New machines will be banned from having motors that exceed 1,600W from September 2014, and they will be limited to 900W from 2017.

Geothermal Power Approaches 12,000 Megawatts Worldwide
J. Matthew Roney , www.earth-policy.org
In 2013, world geothermal electricity-generating capacity grew 3 percent to top 11,700 megawatts across 24 countries. Although some other renewable energy technologies are seeing much faster growth—wind power has expanded 21 percent per year since 2008, for example, while solar power has grown at a blistering 53 percent annual rate—this was geothermal’s best year since the 2007-08 financial crisis.

At War With Reality: The Absolute Insanity of Humanitys Rulers.
By Michael Byron, OpEd News
Imagine that somewhere out in the vastness of the Cosmos, there exists a species that knows, or reasonably should know, that its economy is organized in such a manner as to inevitably trigger its own total extinction, likely within the lifetimes of all but the oldest members of that species. Suppose that this species collective reaction was to simply ignore this unpleasant reality and continue with business as usual!

Alternative Energy Fetishes and Temples to Technology
From Collapse of Industrial Civilization blog
Surely if we had some sort of techno-fix to halt the cascade of biospheric tipping points we have breached, we would have deployed them by now. Nevertheless, the carrot of a civilization-saving technological breakthrough is forever dangled before our eyes. By all accounts, we appear hellbent on doing everything humanly possible to maintain and perpetuate industrial civilization by deploying “earth-friendly” renewable energy technologies which, in the end, turn out to be nothing more than “reconstituted fossil fuels”.

Peak Everything: 1970
By Peter Goodchild, Survive Peak Oil
Perhaps the most common response to the peak-oil problem is: The oil isnt going to disappear overnight. We have a century to prepare. Unfortunately, the fact that the decline in oil is a curve, not a vertical line, makes it difficult to comprehend. What matters is that the serious damage will have been done long before we get to those tiny remaining drops. That damage started around 1970, and it was not confined to oil.

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