Archive for the month “December, 2014”

News update

Bad loans will worsen if economy falters: RBI
Indian Express
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has warned that the asset quality of scheduled commercial banks may worsen from the current level if the macroeconomic conditions deteriorate drastically. The central bank’s latest Financial Stability Report has also raised red flag on connected banks triggering a contagion and sought more disclosures and accountability in big-ticket corporate debt restructuring (CDR).

Oil’s Swift Fall Raises Fortunes of U.S. Abroad
Andrew Higgins, New York Times
A plunge in oil prices has sent tremors through the global political and economic order, setting off an abrupt shift in fortunes that has bolstered the interests of the United States and pushed several big oil-exporting nations — particularly those hostile to the West, like Russia, Iran and Venezuela — to the brink of financial crisis.

Five energy surprises for 2015
Kurt Cobb, Resource Insights
The coming year is likely to be as full of surprises in the field of energy as 2014 was. We just dont know which surprises! I am not predicting that any of the following will happen, and they will be surprises to most people if they do. But, I think there is an outside chance that one or more will occur, and this would move markets and policy debates in unexpected directions.=

Weve Been Incorrectly Predicting Peak Oil For Over a Century
Matt Novak, Paleofuture
The authors lists a number of failed predictions about oil depletion and argues that the idea of peak oil has contributed to climate change more than any other meme of the 20th century. Rather than making the case for alternative energy sources, too many people believed that it would be a problem that eventually sorted itself, which it wont. Also read the lively debate triggered by the article, in the comments section.

A Roadmap to Global Burning: Notes for Understanding the Lima Outcome
Pablo Solón, Common Dreams
The “Lima call for climate action” which came out of the recent UN climate talks, establishes a roadmap to a post-2020 agreement that will be weaker than the ongoing Cancun Agreement (for 2012-2020), and it lays a foundation for an even worse agreement in Paris in 2015, says Solon, former Bolivian ambassador to the United Nations.

What climate change asks of us
Margaret Klein, The Climate Psychologist
Climate change is a crisis, and crises alter morality. Climate change is on track to cause the extinction of half the species on earth and, through a combination of droughts, famines, displaced people, and failed states and pandemics, the collapse of civilization within this century. This is an unprecedented moral responsibility, and we are by and large failing to meet it.

Review: The Great Transition The New Paradigm
Nafeez Ahmed, Degrowth 2014 blog
Worried about the shit hitting the fan on climate change and other major crises? Good. Because those crises prove that civilization is in the midst of a phase shift to new forms – and we’ve got the opportunity, right now, to ride the wave of five interlinked revolutions in information, food, energy, finance and ethics, to co-create a new way of being that works for everyone. (This is a review of University of Turin economist Prof Mauro Bonaiutis new book, The Great Transition. Read Part 1 of the review: The End of Growth?)

Leading archaeologist says world civilization approaching collapse
PBS Hews Hour
Arthur Demarest, one of the world’s leading archaeologists, studies the collapse of ancient civilizations, from Greece and Rome to the Maya and Aztecs. In this interview with Ted Fischer, a professor of anthropology at Vanderbilt University, he says I see most of the symptoms of societies on the brink of collapse, not just in the U.S., but in the tightly interconnected societies of Western civilization – now essentially world civilization, and gives detailed reasons why.

Book: Just Enough lessons in living green from traditional Japan

Rob Hopkins, originally published by Transition Culture  

edo

One of the most extraordinary books I have read in recent years is Just Enough: lessons in living green from traditional Japan by Azby Brown. Brown is director of the Konazawa Institute of Technologies Future Design Institute and has lived in Japan for the last 30 years.  It is a beautiful analysis of the integrated, mindful and design-driven way in which one traditional society worked and embodied the principles of sustainability.

Here is a TEDxTokyo talk Brown gave about this:

Read Part 1 and Part 2 of Hopkins interview with Brown.
Visit http://www.indiabookstore.net/ to compare prices for Just Enough.

News update

The Oil Price Crash of 2014
Richard Heinberg, Post Carbon Institute
Oil prices have fallen by half since late June. This is a significant development for the oil industry and for the global economy, though no one knows exactly how either the industry or the economy will respond in the long run. Since it’s almost the end of the year, perhaps this is a good time to stop and ask: (1) Why is this happening? (2) Who wins and who loses over the short term?, and (3) What will be the impacts on oil production in 2015?

Déjà Vu All Over Again
John Michael Greer, The Archdruid Report
The blogosphere is full of claims that the Saudis crashed the price of oil to break the US fracking industry, or that Obama got the Saudis to crash the price of oil to punish the Russians, or what have you. I suspect that what’s going on is considerably more important. To start with, oil isn’t the only thing that’s in steep decline.

Who Will Get Caught When The Oil Debt Bubble Pops?
Christopher Helman, Forbes Magazine
America’s oil and gas boom was enabled by a huge pile of cheap financing. The mountain of debt advanced to drillers in recent years is estimated to be in the neighborhood of $500 billion. But now, with oil prices half what they were six months ago, there’s tremors in that debt mountain, and concerns that an avalanche could quickly take out the weakest oil companies, which simply won’t be able to generate sufficient revenues to service their debt.

North Sea oilfields ‘near collapse’ after price nosedive
The Telegraph, UK
The North Sea oil industry is “close to collapse”, an expert has warned, as a slump in prices piles pressure on drillers to cut back investing in the region. Robin Allan, chairman of the independent explorers’ association Brindex, told the BBC that it is “almost impossible to make money” with the oil price below $60 per barrel.

Carbon-dioxide emissions at all-time high in 2013
The Hindu
Global carbon-dioxide emissions from burning of fossil fuels and production of cement reached a high of 35.3 billion tonnes in 2013, mainly due to the continuing steady increase in energy use in emerging economies such as India, a new report says. Brazil (6.2 per cent), India (4.4 per cent), China (4.2 per cent) and Indonesia (2.3 per cent) reported a sharp rise in emissions of the greenhouse gas that year. (View report: Trends in Global CO2 Emissions)

Loss of rainforests is double whammy threat to climate
Climate News Network
New research spells out the devastating impacts that complete destruction of tropical forests would have on global temperatures, weather patterns and agriculture. In what is claimed as the most comprehensive analysis to date, US researchers report in Nature Climate Change that they used climate models to test the consequences of the complete devastation of the tropical rainforests.

An Open Letter on Climate Change to The Minister for Environment
Shankar Sharma, Frontier Weekly
Many expert observers of the Climate Change initiatives in India are of the unambiguous opinion that we, as a nation, lack the urgency and commitment needed to objectively address the related issues. NAPCC is seen as neither adequate nor focused enough to bring about the essential changes in our approach to the developmental thinking and processes.

US Families Prepare For Modern Day Apocalypse
Sky News
From the outside America may seem to be a land of endless optimism and confidence. But could it be in danger of falling apart? An increasing number of Americans seem to think so, and theyre preparing for the end. They call themselves preppers. Mainstream suburban Americans hoarding supplies and weapons while leading otherwise perfectly normal lives. (Also read: The Doomsday Preppers of New York)

Video: The Third Curve interviews by Mansoor Khan

Peak Oil India member Mansoor Khan has been doing a series of short video interviews with experts in various fields from ecology to energy to economics. The interviews take off from the themes covered in his book, The Third Curve: The End of Growth. As We Know It!. Some of the prominent names interviewed so far are Vandana Shiva, Ashish Kothari and Sunita Narain (featured in the video above), apart from POI members Sagar Dhara, Nagraj Adve and Mihir Mathur. Mansoors YouTube channel also has a short video which neatly summarises the books contents.

Visit The Third Curve YouTube channel 

News update

Editors note: The ongoing oil price war that pits a shale-boom riding U.S. and their allies OPEC against arch rivals Russia, Iran and Venezuela could have far-reaching consequences. It has begun to seriously impact a Russian economy already isolated by U.S. and EU sanctions. At a time when Ukraine is a flashpoint between the West and Russia, such high stakes economic warfare could have serious consequences. Russias leading newspaper Pravda had suggested this as early as April this year, in a report titled Obama wants Saudi Arabia to destroy Russian economy, recalling that it was a similar event that helped bring about the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Writing about this in The New York Times, columnist Thomas Friedman quotes Yegor Gaidar, who between 1991 and 1994 was Russia’s acting prime minister: “The timeline of the collapse of the Soviet Union can be traced to Sept. 13, 1985. On this date, Sheikh Ahmed Zaki Yamani, the minister of oil of Saudi Arabia, declared that the monarchy had decided to alter its oil policy radically. The Saudis stopped protecting oil prices. During the next six months, oil production in Saudi Arabia increased fourfold, while oil prices collapsed. The Soviet Union lost approximately $20 billion per year, money without which the country simply could not survive.” Its unlikely that the Russians will let that happen again without a fight.

Why oil prices keep falling — and throwing the world into turmoil
Brad Plumer, Vox.com
The plummeting price of oil is the biggest energy story in the world right now. Its bringing back cheap gasoline to the United States while wreaking havoc on oil-producing countries like Russia and Venezuela. But why does the price of oil keep falling? (Also read the Stratfor report: Lower Oil Prices Carry Geopolitical Consequences)

The high cost of low-priced oil
Kurt Cobb, Resource Insights
Is the price of oil falling because we can no longer afford it? This is not an idle question. Record high average daily prices for oil in the last three years have been an unrecognized cause of sluggish overall worldwide economic growth. That subpar growth appears to be exhausting itself now, particularly in Asia and Europe. In dampening growth, high oil prices sewed the seeds of their own demise by ultimately dampening demand.

The Shocking Data Proving Shale Oil Is Massively Over-hyped
Peak Prosperity
Hooray, oil is suddenly much cheaper than it used to be. Thats great news, right? Not so fast. For certain its not good news for those counting on a continued rise in US oil production from the shale miracle. Many drillers were challenged to operate profitably when oil was above $70 per barrel. Very few will remain solvent with oil in the $50s (as it is as of this writing).

Fossil fuels should be phased out by 2100 says IPCC
BBC News
The unrestricted use of fossil fuels should be phased out by 2100 if the world is to avoid dangerous climate change, a UN-backed expert panel says. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says in a stark report that most of the worlds electricity can and must be produced from low-carbon sources by 2050. If not, the world faces severe, pervasive and irreversible damage.

Cities could be the secret to fighting climate change
The Conversation
Currently cities consume 78% of the world’s energy and produce more than 60% of all carbon. Recent research by the ESRC Centre for Climate Change Economics and Policy at the University of Leeds and London School of Economics and Political Science found that cities could help cut global energy-related emissions by 34% at absolutely no net cost.

What did the Romans ever do for us? They left a water warning
Jonathan Bridge, The Conversation
In the next 30 years we are facing a critical combination of inter-related stresses on the core resources that keep our civilisation running. As it happens, the Romans gave us a word for that too – the “food-water-energy nexus” (from the Latin nectere, to bind together). So are we doomed to the same fate as the Romans?

Nature at My Doorstep Reviving Traditional Building Practices
GOI Monitor
From climate-friendly homes of yore to monotonous concrete and glass structures of today, we are losing out on aesthetics and warmth. Thankfully, there are people who are reviving the time-tested practices.

Report: The Future of Food and Farming

This report by the UK Governments Foresight project looks at the increasing pressures on the global food system between now and 2050. Titled The Future of Food and Farming, it highlights the decisions that policy makers need to take today, and in the years ahead, to ensure that a global population rising to 9 billion or more can be fed in a fair and sustainable way.

The project focused on 5 challenges for the future:
-balancing future demand and supply sustainably to ensure that food supplies are affordable
-ensuring that there is stability in food prices and protecting the most vulnerable from the volatility that does occur
-achieving global access to food and ending hunger
recognising that producing enough food in the world so that everyone can potentially be fed is not the same thing as ensuring food security for all
-managing the contribution of the food system to the mitigation of climate change
-maintaining biodiversity and ecosystems while feeding the world

The project involved around 400 leading experts and stakeholders from about 35 countries across the world. It was overseen by a high level stakeholder group and lead expert group to make sure it included the most relevant evidence and its findings were of a high scientific standard.

Over 100 peer-reviewed evidence papers were commissioned to inform the analysis.

To learn more about the project and to download a copy of the report, click here.

News update

Guess What Happened The Last Time The Price Of Oil Crashed Like This
Michael Snyder, The Economic Collapse blog
There has only been one other time in history when the price of oil has crashed by more than 40 dollars in less than 6 months. The last time this happened was during the second half of 2008, and the beginning of that oil price crash preceded the great financial collapse that happened later that year by several months. Well, now it is happening again, but this time the stakes are even higher. (Snyders latest post: Anyone That Believes That Collapsing Oil Prices Are Good For The Economy Is Crazy)

Ten Reasons Why a Severe Drop in Oil Prices is a Problem
Gail Tverberg, Our Finite World
If high oil prices can be a problem, how can low oil prices also be a problem? In particular, how can the steep drop in oil prices we have recently been experiencing also be a problem? Here is an explanation. (Also see: Energy Matters blog post: Oil price wars – who blinks first? which says OPEC is bound to trump the U.S. shale oil producers in the ongoing price war)

Signs Of Peak Oil Starting To Emerge
Euan Mearns, Oilprice.com
What caused the recent crash in the oil price from $110 (Brent) in July to $70 today and what is going to happen next? With the world producing 94 Mbpd (IEA total liquids) $1.4 trillion has just been wiped off annualized global GDP and the incomes of producing and exporting nations. Energy will get cheaper again, for a while at least. The immediate impact is a reduction in global GDP and deflationary pressure.

India Says Pollution Levels Need to Rise Further to Boost Growth
Bloomberg Businessweek
India said its pollution levels will need to increase in the years ahead to support its economic development and it won’t discuss limiting greenhouse-gas emissions at United Nations climate talks that began this week. Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar also said the government is preparing to make a pledge on how India will develop cleaner forms of energy, though he stopped short of indicating when the country might take on the sorts of caps for emissions that the U.S., China and Europe are adopting. (Editors note: Heres another report based on Javadekars statement, which puts a completely different spin on it: India plans 5-fold increase in renewable energy. Also see: The Next Big Climate Question: Will India Follow China?)

A Dam Revival, Despite Risks
Erica Gies, The New York Times
While some dams in the United States and Europe are being decommissioned, a dam-building boom is underway in developing countries. World hydropower production will grow from 4,000 terawatt hours now — about the annual power output of the United States — to 4,670 terawatt hours in 2020, according to Maria van der Hoeven, executive director of the International Energy Agency, in Paris. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change predicts that hydropower generation will double in China between 2008 and 2035, and triple in India and Africa.

Solar as Industrial Revolution
The New York Times
The Hanergy Holding Group, created in 1994 and based in Beijing, is a major renewable-energy company, notably in thin-film solar technology. Its founder and chairman, Li Hejun, has written a book, China’s New Energy Revolution, recently translated into English, in which he argues that solar energy will lead a third industrial revolution.

Energy Efficiency May Be the Key to Saving Trillions
Beth Gardiner, The New York Times
Compared with eye-catching renewable power technologies like wind turbines and solar panels, energy efficiency is nearly invisible. But advocates say doing more with less power may be an even more critical weapon in the fight against climate change and offers big economic benefits, too.

Permaculture, a Vision of the Post-Oil World
Yves Cochet, originally published by Holmgren Design
More than an agricultural technology, permaculture is a vision of the societies of tomorrow, ours, which will be confronted with the evolution of energy and climate systems. Permaculture is not only another way to garden: it is another way of thinking about and acting on the world, a global philosophical and concrete change, at the same time as a drawing together of strategies of resilience in the face of radical transformations, if not collapses, which are presenting themselves.

Book: Degrowth A Vocabulary For a New Era

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We live in an era of stagnation, rapid impoverishment, rising inequalities and socio-ecological disasters. In the dominant discourse, these are effects of economic crisis, lack of growth or underdevelopment. A new book,  Degrowth A Vocabulary For a New Era by the Research & Degrowth group argues that growth is the cause of these problems and that it has become uneconomic, ecologically unsustainable and intrinsically unjust.

When the language in use is inadequate to articulate what begs to be articulated, then it is time for a new vocabulary. A movement of activists and intellectuals, first starting in France and then spreading to the rest of the world, has called for the decolonization of public debate from the idiom of economism and the abolishment of economic growth as a social objective. ‘Degrowth’ (‘décroissance’) has come to signify for them the desired direction of societies that will use fewer natural resources and will organize themselves to live radically differently. ‘Simplicity’, ‘conviviality’, ‘autonomy’, ‘care’, ‘commons’ and ‘dépense’ are some of the words that express what a degrowth society might look like.

Degrowth A Vocabulary For a New Era is the first English language book to comprehensively cover the burgeoning literature on degrowth. It presents and explains the different lines of thought, imaginaries and proposed courses of action that together complete the degrowth puzzle. The book brings together the top scholars writing in the field with young researchers who cultivate the research frontier and activists who practise degrowth on the ground. It will be an indispensable source of information and inspiration for all those who not only believe that another world is possible, but who work and struggle to construct it right now.

Those looking to purchase a copy can visit http://www.indiabookstore.net/ to compare prices offered by various online stores.
Heres a report on Research & Degrowths first symposium in India

News update

India Struggling Between International Image & Equity at Lima Climate Talks
Dispatches from COP 20, Lima by Kabir, Whats With The Climate
Indian government delegation is warming up for a test match like scenario at COP 20 in Lima. It seems that India in coordination with other developing countries will push for Adaptation, Adaptation, and Adaptation at par with mitigation in Paris, 2015 climate deal. The equal parity between mitigation, and adaption in the mandate of Global Climate Fund was appreciated in the interaction.

Is India’s prime minister, Narendra Modi, a climate leader?
Mat Hope, The Carbon Brief
In May, Narendra Modi was sworn in as the new prime minister of India. Many hoped he would prove a climate change champion. Six months later, those expectations have been tempered.

Can China Cut Coal?
David Biello, Scientific American blogs
Coal is cheap and getting cheaper in China. In fact, though the country may require more and more coal imports to satisfy its voracious demand, the cost of coal is cheaper now than in 2000, according to an analysis by WWF’s Hu. As a result, the owners of coal-fired power plants can still make money burning the polluting rock to generate electricity—and even more money if they keep pollution controls in the off position.

Watching the Watchdogs: 10 Years of the IEA World Energy Outlook
David MacLeod, Integral Permaculture
The International Energy Agency (IEA) is the energy watchdog of the industrial world. The IEA World Energy Outlook has gradually moved from rosy to pessimistic reports over the last ten years, or what Stuart Staniford called “increasingly reality-based.”

Down With Sustainable Development! Long Live Convivial Degrowth!
Justin Hyatt, Inter Press Service
For anyone who recently attended the Fourth International Conference on Degrowth in Leipzig, Germany, listening in on conference talk, surrounded by the ecologically savvy, one quickly noticed that no one was singing the praises of sustainable development. Nonetheless, development per se and all that this entails did take centre stage, as a crowd of three thousand participants and speakers debated ongoing trends in the fields of environment, politics, economics and social justice.

The Fragmentation of Technology
John Michael Greer, The Archdruid Report
As resource depletion and economic contraction tighten their grip on the industrial world, the stock of existing and proposed technologies face triage in a continuum defined by two axes—the utility of the technology, on the one hand, and its cost in real (i.e., nonfinancial) terms on the other. A chart may help show how this works.

Are Humans Going Extinct?
Dahr Jamail, Truthout
Without a major shift away from coal, average global temperatures could rise by 6 degrees Celsius by 2050, leading to devastating climate change. Some scientists, Guy McPherson included, fear that climate disruption is so serious, with so many self-reinforcing feedback loops already in play, that humans are in the process of causing our own extinction.

Video: Cocaine & Crude Mexican Cartels Discover Oil

Vice News

Mexico’s notoriously violent drug cartels are diversifying. Besides trafficking narcotics, extorting businesses, and brutally murdering their rivals, cartels are now at work exploiting their country’s precious number one export: oil.

Every day as many as 10,000 barrels of crude oil are stolen from Mexico’s state-run oil company, Pemex, through precarious illegal taps, which are prone to deadly accidents. Pemex estimates that it loses $5 billion annually in stolen oil, some of which ends up being sold over the border in US gas stations. As police fight the thieves, and the cartels fight each other, the number of victims caught in the battle for the pipelines continues to climb.

At a time of depleting oil reserves and fierce competition for whats left, this video gives us a glimpse of what a post-peak world could look like and its not pretty.

ALSO WATCH:
Bomb Trains: The Crude Gamble of Oil by Rail

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