Wednesday, 25 December 2013

bleak this midwinter

As I sit here and strong winds batter at the windows, I am feeling pretty bleak. 
Yesterday I was out picking up the from the roadside,the beer cans and cigarette packs and plastic bottles and sweet wrappers of our seasonal binge.  A few days before, I was walking along the coastal path in Lerwick picking up litter which seemed poised to blow into the sea while less than 20ft away a seal hunted for food. 
While lugworms and other species are threatened by us washing our clothes,, among other things, while  peak oil may already have happened, with all the consequent stresses it will bring...
In the UK the government has gone fracking mad and said that over 60% of the UK could be open to fracking, while proposing to change the planning regulations so individuals will not need to be notified and also that the taxpayer will pay the cleanup costs .  And seems to be making moves to silence protest

At both the personal and political level, or indifference to the planet and the consequences of our lifestyles is chilling.  despite the heroism of activists and the fine words of political promises, the corporatized ecocide rolls on.  I have no hope that 2014 will prove significantly different. 
While I think that collapse will bring about radical change, I fear it will be too late for so many

Saturday, 16 November 2013

It's the stupid economy

So developed nations, like Japan, Canada and Australia are backpedalling on their pledges to reduce emissions while thousands are dead and so many are homeless and bereaved in the Phillipines.  Poland seems to be set on becoming a mouthpiece for the Coal lobby and the Amazon forest is falling
"Developed" nations seem to be reluctant to agree to the idea of paying for "loss and damage" caused by climate change, we want our lifestyles without having to pay the price to those who are suffering for it. 
As climate change makes severe weather events more likely and more frequent, will this be the pattern? 
I have expressed my cynicism about our chances of taking the necessary action in time due to "national economic interest" and unfortunately it seems to be happening.  Climate change looms over all The rage is building, but will things change in time?  I do not know and I am still cynical.

Saturday, 9 November 2013

Is this the beginning...

Methane Clathrate has been found to have been destabilised, by a change in temperature of the gulf stream, under 4000 square miles of seafloor off the US East coast, when you look at the melting Arctic regions you have to wonder, is this it?  Is this the beginning of the changeover.....
http://usnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2012/10/24/.UnwItCTOd68.twitter 
it cites a letter in Nature  from 2012
http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v490/n7421/full/nature11528.html?WT.ec_id=NATURE-20121025

Is it already in train...?

Thursday, 7 November 2013

On the road to nowhere

What can I say
The recent UNEP report "The emissions gap" highlights the situation clearly  We are failing.  While it seems to still be possible, we do not seem to doing what is needed.  The report says that in order to limit the rise to 2 degrees C, our emissions should be a maximum of 44 giagtonnes CO2e
by 2020 reducing to 40 gigatonnes by 2025 and 35by 2030 and so on.  From what I understand our emissions were at over 50 gigatonnes CO2e in 2010 and this report by the World Meteorological Organisation shows that CO2, methane and nitrous oxide all reached record levels in 2012.
We are on the wrong track.  Governments are investing in fracking, deepwater drilling, coal and all other sources of fossil energy.  According to the Overseas Development Initiative, Rich nations are apparently supporting coal, oil and gas seven times more than they are supporting developing nations in combating climate change, to the tune of  half a trillion dollars, averaging out at $112 per adult.
In the UK our government has effectively bet on higher fuel prices by agreeing a strike price of £92.50 per kilowatt hour for the next 35 years as a condition of building new nuclear power stations, while fuel poverty and winter deaths across the UK are rising. 
We seem likely to breach the 2 degrees C "safe" limit by mid 2030s if not sooner, as said in the last post, the next mass extinction, in the oceans, may already be inevitable.  Already others are paying the price for our lifestyles and in our kids generation it will come home to roost. 

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Bleak reading

So The IPPC report has been published, indicating that while some of the more extreme scenarios are less likely, we are on track to breach the 2 degree C mark within the next 20-30 years, sea level rise, ocean acidification and more...  It appears that the data from the arctic is not complete yet and I wonder how this will play out... My personal view is that it will not be as smooth and will be more extreme.  The report which is available online ,or even the summary for policy makers makes for pretty disturbing reading. 
Even when you look at ocean acidification, research shows that the ocean acidification, due to absorption of carbon dioxide, is at its highest for 300 million years and suggests that marine mass extinction may already be inevitable, with de-oxygenation (through fertiliser run-off), acidification and ocean warming combined with overfishing combining to bring about the possibility of a very bleak future for the oceans. 
In the face of all this, the UK government's Environmental Audit Committee has warned the government against watering down carbon reduction targets in the next review of the carbon budget which seems likely to be in the new year. 
The fact that there needs to be this warning says something.  With all that the next generation face, with all that is in our future... For Mr Osborne to say that he does not want the UK to lead in acting on climate change as he recently has, for the government's continued subsidy of fracking and deep water drilling.   And while the US funds dredging and gas plants near the Great Barrier Reef. 
 I really have no understanding, to me this is absolute capitalism at it's blindest.  To chase short term profit in the face of environmental disaster, knowing that your greed now will bring that disaster down on the next generation seems to me to be actually insane. I really have no words.

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

It's been a while...

It has been a while since I have posted on this blog and a lot has happened...
The latest IPCC report is due out on Friday
UKIP have shown their pro-fracking freakism, Russia is pushing for geoengineeering to be looked at as response to climate change, while imprisoning Greenpeace activists, from the Arctic Sunrise.  Phillip Berry a founder of the Sierra Club and long term environmental activist has died.
The badger cull has started in the UK, and more locally for me, offshore drilling seems to be booming, while there has been a ruling against the Viking windfarm, over failure to take "engage" with the Wild Birds Directive 2009. 
Interestingly, Mary Robinson, UN Comissioner on Human Rights is calling on governments to face the fact that fossil fuels must be left in the ground, with oil and gas being so profitable (although BP's ongoing liability for Deep Water Horizon may have an impact) I cannot imagine her call being heeded. 

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

The state preparing for collapse?

I read this article in the Guardian newspaper and it made me wonder.  It seems the US and I imagine other governments are preparing for much more dissent as resources become depleted, as climate change bites.  If, as is suggested, they are spying on us due to their concern that we will become more radicalised and more active as this happens, then I imagine there are several unpleasant possibilities including martial law running through their wargames.   
But the thing that struck me quite forcibly was that the state is preparing and that they take this very seriously, my question is why don't we?
Why are we so distracted, why is this not headline news?  Why are we not  shouting about this and about the likely impacts of climate change? 
While many, the heroic activists on the front lines, are, many, many, more of us are sitting quietly at home.  A story  which I have heard is that shortly before his death, Bakunin was asked what he feared and that he is supposed to have replied that he feared the embourgoisement of the working class, because it would mean an end to the struggle....
I fear that this is where we are.  We have so many luxuries and we do not want to lose them.  Most of us in the global North have enough to eat (or far too much) and a roof over our heads and running water etc, the status quo is doing ok by us.  I know that this is not true for everybody and that with the ongoing austerity, even in the global North people are feeling it.  But if the state is preparing for collapse, then how stable is our security?  Can we really count on it? 

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

In overshoot

Yesterday was Earth Overshoot Day.   From here on in we are eating into "natural capital".    We have used in 8 months, the planetary budget for the year.  As we talk about financial austerity, where is the discussion of our need to limit our environmental consumption?  The contradiction clearly expressed at Rio +20 between our "who dies with the best toys wins" culture which sees consumption as enviable and our need to adapt in the face of the oncoming crisis is once again highlighted. 

We must adapt or collapse.

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Fighting the good fight

The news from Balcombe has been fairly positive.  The outpouring of public support and mobilisation has, it is to be hoped made Caudrilla take pause.  And seeing a politician show some ethical spine has made a pleasant change, and she says it very well.
One concern is the possibility of an increased financial incentive leading to more division
Locally, Clair ridge drilling has moved closer with the installation of platform jackets
and the contrast is quite striking, there is no protest,  talk is of jobs.  To some degree the debate regarding the independence referendum next year and the way which North Sea Oil plays into that debate, seems to be overshadowing local environmental concerns.  The most pressing environmental concern I have really heard discussed, besides litter, seems to be a distinct lack of mackerel locally this year, and fisheries politics is definitely involved. 

My respect for the activists around the world, many of whom risk their lives to fight for the planet increases, and even though I am very cynical, their actions do give me a bit of hope.

Sunday, 4 August 2013

Fracking UK government!

According to The Guardian newspaper, government is instructing local planners that if they receive an application for fracking in their area, they are not allowed to consider whether renewables would be a "better fit" in their local area. 
What can I say, as the drama at Balcombe unfolds, our plutocratic government is showing their true colours once again.  This is utterly irresponsible of  a government, when we stand at the very brink of the crisis. 

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

a very stark warning

I saw this article in the Guardian online and it is extremely worrying.  The authors of a forthcoming paper in Nature, one of whom is Professor Wadhams, argue that melting in the Arctic could trigger a massive methane release, the impact of which would cost roughly the GDP of the entire planet to remediate, they do propose a "slower release" scenario which they say would cost an extra $37 trillion of climate impacts.  and they emphasis that in concentrating on just one factor (methane release) their estimate is conservative.  An article in New Scientist, covers the same ground and mentions previous work done by Natalia Shakhova and Igor Semiletov in 2010.  On being asked how likely a methane belch is, Shakhova apparently responded by saying that an abrupt release of 50 billion tonnes is "highly possible at any time"  .  Nafeez Ahmed has posted a very good article, countering the dismissal of this issue here

Are we looking at the clathrate gun?  Will our political and corporate leaders take this on board or will we continue to drill, frack and burn our way to destruction.  I know what I think.....

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Maybe I am extreme but.....

As I have stated many times on this blog, I have very little to no hope left.  In a recent conversation someone close to me said I was a bit extreme and when asked to explain, said that while they did not think I was wrong in my collapsitarian view, they said that my rage was a bit extreme. 
In considering this, I had to look at where my rage comes from, it comes from my despair.  I am a parent.  I believe that unless the system comes crashing down "overnight" we face the very real possibility of the planet tipping over into a "hot phase" fuelled by carbon dioxide and methane release.  In this scenario, I believe we face a likelihood of real mass extinction.   
The thing is that our current system rewards and protects corporate entities and individuals who are, in a large part, responsible for the ecocide.  You only have to look, in the UK, at the revelations about the government adviser Lynton Crosby and his links to fracking, tobacco, and private healthcare.  When you consider the tax breaks given to the oil and gas industry, when you look at the police spying on green activists and the suppression of effective environmental activism, the government lobbying for GMO and Tar Sands fuel. You can see where the state's priorities are. 
I accept that we, especially in the global North, must take some personal responsibility for our impact but....
I see this protection and reward as a very real threat to the lives of my children and many, many other beings, also as a pagan who identifies as Gaian, there is a real ethical/spiritual aspect to this.   This is where the rage comes from. 
I have some real sympathy with folks like MEND or DGR who advocate fighting back to change things locally or to try to bring the system down soon enough that there is something left.  We can only adapt so far and I do not see the real meaningful mitigation happening.  And does anyone believe that the corporate and political elites will give up power willingly?  I do not and I wonder how much of our window of opportunity (if any) is left.

Friday, 19 July 2013

Grrr!

So Mr Osborne is to give the most generous tax breaks (for shale) in the world to fracking companies! 
This seems to be me to be just plain mad.  While we seem to be facing a very bleak climate outlook, while scientists from the Potsdam Institute predict a sea level rise of 2.3m per degree Celsius rise in global mean temperature, with all the impact that is likely to have on cities and low lying cropland, while we face real hardship in the future.
 With all the water which fracking will require, when we will need it  and the contamination of said water, the burning of more fossil fuels just seems so unwise.
  We as taxpayers are effectively subsidising our own and our children's destruction, to "keep the lights on". 

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Over the edge

This article in The Guardian is extremely frightening. 
Former NASA Scientist James Hansen's new paper paints a very bleak picture, we are on course to exploit the remaining planetary fossil fuels, triggering runaway global climate change, sustained for centuries possibly reaching 16 to 25 degrees C
As we face a boom in fracking, as mountaintop removal coal mining and "clean coal" boom, as the tar sands are mined and as E.ON, Gazprom and all the rest queue up to drill in the arctic.  We are on course for this, the UK govt and others give them tax breaks for this. 
We should be investing in reducing our demands on the planet and in renewable energy. 
As I have referenced earlier on this blog. a 1.5 degree C rise may be the tipping point for the permafrost and as  Carbon in Arctic Reservoirs Experiment( CARVE ) says 

"If just one percent of the permafrost carbon released over a short time period is methane, it will have the same greenhouse impact as the 99 percent that is released as carbon dioxide."

Climate Action Tracker has previously reported that we are on track for a 3 degrees C rise by 2040

With the forthcoming IPCC assessment, like it's predecessors,  apparently likely to specificly exclude permafrost carbon feedback  and with the UK decarbonisation bill defeated and all the rest,  then the outlook really seems very bleak. 

Friday, 5 July 2013

An interesting week

There has been some good news in the UK, with the opening of the London Array, the largest offshore wind scheme in the world, which should produce enough electricity to power 470,000 homes.    On the minus side, E.ON has pulled out of a wave power research scheme in Orkney, and while apparently saying that it  "will now focus its efforts on wind, biomass and solar energy instead." has been gaining exploration licenses for arctic drilling, along with Centrica and RWE. 
On another topic, the UN FAO has improved it's forecast for grain production and this has lead to a fall in food prices.  But in the UK, The Environment Select Committee has realeased a report, which warns of the risk to food security posed by flooding.  And the number of people using Food Banks has apparently nearly tripled in 2012-13.

What can I say, I am not optimistic.  I feel that the rush in the arctic is just utter greed driven and irresponsible.  With all the fossil energy which is estimated to there, it seems we are rushing blindly over the edge. 

Sunday, 30 June 2013

An eventful week

I has been quite an eventful week in the news.  President Obama has laid out his climate strategy and in the UK we have had the latest spending review.  There have been some major positives, but also some distinct negatives. 
On the positive side, the Obama Administration's engagement with climate change is a very good thing, but the 17% emissions cut is really not enough.  The advocacy both in the UK and the US for fracking seems to me to be misguided in terms of climate change and more concerned with energy security and "keeping the lights on".  I think the news from OFGEM , that spare energy generation capacity could fall, in the UK, to 2% by 2015 has played a key part in focusing the UK government's minds, along with the vastly increased estimation of UK shale gas reserves from the British Geological Survey. 

This dash for gas, which is after all another fossil fuel seems to me to be heading in exactly the wrong direction in terms of climate change and I am personally not a fan of nuclear energy
On the positive side, the investment in infrastructure and adaptation seems to me to be a good thing.  The recognition of the need for flood defence as climate change bites is an important step and the increased funding can only help. 

 Angela Merkel and David Cameron's quashing of EU emission targets for new vehicles  seems to me to highlight the real plutocracy which governs us. 

Thursday, 13 June 2013

Beginning to feel it?

The Guardian reports that, this year,  English farmers expect to import 2.5m tonnes of wheat, whereas usually 2.5m tonnes of wheat is exported.  With the weather also having effects on apples, sugar beet and other crops.  Honeybees in England have also suffered, with a third of colonies being reported to have failed over the winter and the loss of pollinators will also have an impact on food production.
 While this is not catastrophic in itself, it seems to me that, with the changes in arctic summer sea ice, which has been linked by the Met Office to the recent weather, this trend is likely to continue.  As climate change affects other countries ,like the US and Russia, who are major food exporters and their crops suffer, it seems almost certain that food prices will rise. 
With the current financial crisis and more people in the UK being reliant on Food Banks and people in Greece, Spain and other places really struggling, then people will really suffer. 
Our current food system seems so fragile.  We really need to be adapting, sowing hardier crops such as rye, barley (or bere), black oats etc.  There needs to be much more support for home growing and seed swapping etc and much more of it. 
If we do not begin to do this now, it will be much harder later and I fear the consequences could be more extreme. 


Sunday, 12 May 2013

Are we heading for 8 degrees?

This question was sparked by reading this article in The Guardian.  It appears that sediments from the Siberian Lake El'gygytgyn are offering a rare glimpse into the past and a model of a possible future. 
The lake was formed 3.6 million years ago by a meteor strike, and it appears that the sediment record is unbroken and that the atmospheric concentration of CO2 was similar to the 400ppm we have today and the temperature at the time was 8 degrees C warmer than today. 
While climate sensitivity (estimated) seems to be in the range of between 2 and 4.5 degrees C, there are major possible feedbacks which can amplify the effects and also the effects of global warming are likely to be more rapid and severe at the poles.  This find of the lake sediments suggests that we may be in for more than we have so far estimated.
One of the issues is the inertia of the system.  Even if we stopped emitting CO2 now, the temperature would likely continue to rise for the next 50 years or so. 
And with the (predicted) effects of the arctic becoming ice free in the summer in 2 years (when, for example, loss of arctic summer sea ice has been linked to the recent harsh winters, flooding and droughts) and the possibility of the permafrost going at a 1.5 degrees C rise then we really can not be complacent.

Friday, 10 May 2013

Passing 400ppm

So with us passing 400ppm atmospheric CO2 and the Arctic likely to be ice-free in the summer in 2 years.  How are we reacting?
Shell proposes more extremely deep water drilling, fracking is set to go ahead in the Home Counties (it will be interesting to see how that plays out politically) fracking companies in the UK now have permission to flare, and the UK government is being urged to go ahead with a third runway at Heathrow, despite  the Conservative's pre-election promise.
On the whole I would say we are shot.  As I have said many times, I see no real hope, geoengineering may be the answer (much as I find the idea distasteful) but personally I doubt it.  

Monday, 29 April 2013

Passing 400ppm

After all the conferences, all the "commitments" all the politics..... all the protests.
Global CO2 levels are expected to pass 400ppm atmospheric concentration in the next few days.  While there have been "blips" this is different. 
What can I say  Do you still have hope?  With our governments subsidising fracking and deep sea drilling, with the tar sands barely started, and with coal still big business,  I do not. 

Monday, 22 April 2013

This site is tapped

The header of this site is dark today because of CISPA.  This proposed Act would mean that your and my information would be passed to the US government without any warrant.  And of course, sharing intelligence and the threat of intelligence sharing withdrawal was one of the justifications for the UK government's Crime and Security bill, and the secret courts contained in it. 

Saturday, 20 April 2013

Thoughts today

I was coming home on the bus today, having crashed on a friend's floor last night after having attended a meeting of Transition Shetland, concerning their intent to take over management of and to utilise the Tingwall Glasshouses. and a screening of the inspirational film In Transition 2.0. 
On the bus on the way home we passed what looks like accomodation for the oil and gas workers ,related to the Clair and Bentley fields,under construction and there has been a floating hotel, the Bibby Stockholm which has arrived in Lerwick to accomodate workers.   Passing Sullom Voe terminal, with its gas flaring, it just does make you think about the real underpinning of our industrial civilisation and all that is invested in it. 
While I often feel despair, I draw some hope from the effectiveness of MEND, who seem to me to be the successors of Ken Saro Wiwa and the Ogoni activists who were hanged after non-violent action against Royal Dutch Shell. 
I recognise that it is much harder to get traction against a domestic polluter than a foreign one and that conditions are very different in the UK than in the Niger Delta.  But if MEND can acheive what they have, maybe there is some hope. 
With the use of anti terror legislation against environmental activists from Climate Camp and the whole Mark Kennedy affair and the provision for secret courts under the Crime and Security Bill which is going through parliament.  It does seem that we are, or will be, targets.   
Maybe Anonymous have a point

Monday, 15 April 2013

More local drilling

It has been reported that Xcite Energy is saying that the Bentley Oilfield, 100 miles east of Shetland contains 250 million barrels (recoverable) of oil and gas, which is more than double the original estimate.   The Bentley field, like the Clair, was discovered in the 1970s when the technology to extact its heavy crude wasn't around.  Extraction is planned to begin in 2015 and they hope to be producing 2 million barrels a day by 2017.
A point worth making here I feel, is that we are subsidising them!  Tax breaks for the offshore industry are important.  We are living under austerity and the Oil and Gas industry is about the most profitable industry there is, yet we are foregoing tax revenue to subsidise their profit and extraction and processing of this heavy crude, knowing that it will just add to the real oncoming crisis of climate change. 
While we may look towards the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum, as a sort of model.  It is worth remembering that the process of getting there took around 20,000 years and we are talking about getting there within a century.  Also, as James Hansen has pointed out, the Sun is warmer now.  There is no guarantee we will not tip the planet into runaway climate change and end up like Venus. 

So we face a very real crisis and we really cannot afford to continue doing this, it amazes me that we still are.

Something that I feel sort of connects to this is the ideas around protest.  I think that mass demonstrations and petitions need to be a warning.  There needs to be an "or else" and that "or else" needs to be followed through on.  Without that I feel that in the face of all the profit and political donations and "the national economic interest", it is likely to fail.  Look at the protests aginst the invasion of Iraq, look at The Wave....   Do the government and the Oil executives feel scared?  Are they concerned about the consequences of their actions?   I think not.  I feel that until they believe that there will be real consequences then they will not change their actions.  And we do not have the time to wait.  So I have to say that I feel groups like Movement for Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), Sea Sheperds, Anonymous,  Rising Tide, Earth First and Deep Green Resistance have it right.  We have to fight this. 

Thursday, 11 April 2013

Saturday, 30 March 2013

Local Drilling

A consortium of companies, including BP, Shell, ConocoPhillips and Chevron.  have announced a further £330 million investment in the Clair oilfield 75 km west of Shetland.  This field has previously benefited from government largesse to the tune of £4.5 billion and is estimated to hold around 8 billion barrels, the plan is apparently to drill 12 new exploratory wells. 
At the moment there is a particular political resonance to this issue.  The Referendum on Scottish Independence is due on 18 September 2014 and energy reserves and their economic power come into this.  Alex Salmond has already been accused of cherrypicking forecasts to boost the case for Independence  and our local MSP, Tavish Scott made a recent speech at the Liberal Democrat Conference advocating "home rule" and claiming "...it's wir oil" adding to the local debate around Shetland's status regarding independence. 

Politics  and jobs seem to be a much greater priority for many than the planet. 

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

More weather

Just a quick line.  As Spring seems to be on hold and as severe weather affects much of UK.  An article in the Guardian seems to me to be worth a read. 
Loss of arctic sea ice affecting the jet stream,  affecting the weather in the Northern hemisphere. 
We can look forward to more of this in the future I imagine....

Monday, 25 March 2013

Fracking export

I saw this article in the Guardian and it got me pretty angry. 
So Centrica is making a deal with Cheniere to import gas produced by fracking from the US as Liquified Natural Gas into the UK. 
With all the issues surrounding fracking this just seems to guarantee it's continuation and expansion.
It is really not good

Thursday, 21 March 2013

Frack, frack, frack.....

So the budget has come and gone.  With debt increasing and social inequity a real issue. 
George Osborne has commited the UK to more fracking.  Apparently there will be more tax breaks for fracking companies and they will be allowed to offset their exploration costs against tax for a decade.  While there seems to be a "sweetener" in the form of proposed incentives for local communities, my cynical self wonders if this is an attempt to divide and lower opposition  (get locals on side against the protestors and also divide local people).  Where I live, the economic benefits of oil and gas make opposition to them difficult. 
This comes as EDF, who have been in the news recently for targeting individual protestors, get planning permission for nuclear new-build at Hinkley Point. 
Cairn Energy have reduced their losses to $194 million and are planning exploratory drilling in Morocco and Greenland. 

This determination to "keep the lights on" as our energy needs blossom in the increasingly obvious face of the crisis seems to me to be really putting our head in the sand. 

Saturday, 16 March 2013

Earth Hour 2013

As Earth Hour approaches, when across the planet, electric lights will be quenched.  I imagine that many of us will be thinking about the state of the planet. 
While this action is symbolic and certainly "speaks from privelege" I think awareness is growing. 

For all my cynicism and despair, I have not entirely lost hope.

  While Earth Overshoot Day, (which was on August 22nd  last year), seems to come around earlier each year, and while the permafrost looks set to melt and we look to be headed blindly over the cliff.

I think hope has to come from alternative sources. The growth of resistance, consideration of post collapse such as...
 What can we remake after the collapse? How will we function within the ecosystem? These can be sources of hope.  The Transition movement is in part about this, and it is to be hoped that we can build a more unified culture which  resists and is different from the current ecocidal consumption paradigm. 
It will not be easy but it must be done. 

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

What!

I don't know if I am completely off the wall here?   As you know I have real concerns about the melting of the permafrost and the release of the methane locked up as methane clathrate. 
It seems Japan has no such qualms....
Japan has demonstrated the ability to extract and burn the Methane Hydrate off shore and plans to develop this to meet (at least part of) its energy needs. I believe that this is in part driven by their need, after Fukushima, to find alternate ways of fueling their energy "needs" and in trying to be less dependent on importing energy. 
I know that we produce methane from other sources such as coal mining, fracking, landfill and agriculture, and that in burning the methane we reduce it's greenhouse gas effect considerably (it still produces CO2).  My big concern is leaks and disruption to the methane hydrate,  presumably some care will be taken but  this just seems like SUCH a bad idea to me.

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

A relevant question

This was a post on the Deep Green Resistance page on Facebook (sadly I am on facebook).  and it seemed to me a relevant question

"What are you going to do when you've filled in all the petitions and gone on all the marches, and the world is still being ravaged? What's left? Are you going to withdraw and build a lifeboat? Are you going to put your faith in prayer? Or are you going to join together and do your utmost to incapacitate the Machine that is destroying our world? Begin it now..."

When you look at the scale of the crisis and the window we have to really adapt.  When you look at the planetary effects of corporatisation, whole ecosystems turned into commodoties for our consumption  and corporate profit.  Maybe we need to be asking ourselves this.  What are we doing?  What can we do when we really put our hearts into it?  What steps can we take to make the change happen?

Business as normal is not an option if we want things to change. 

Sunday, 10 March 2013

Time to end the fantasy

The recent news, reported in the Guardian, that the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii, has recorded an increase in CO2 emissions of 2.67ppm in 2012, to 395ppm, which although there is seasonal fluctuation, indicates the trend of increasing emissions, despite the much vaunted attempts by governments to curb them.   There is of course the difference between substance and speech when it comes to these pronouncemnets by governments of measures to curb emissions. 

The idea of being able to curb emissions enough to keep the rise below a "safe" 2 degrees C seems to increasingly shown to be a fantasy.  As well as the recent research which indicates that a warming of 1.5 degrees C may be the tipping point for the permafrost and so bring about a "clathrate gun" type scenario.  Maybe, with the permafrost going and the warming arctic , we will see a something like the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM).  It seems that at current rates, anyhow, we are on course for a 6 degrees C mean rise. 

It is time to end the fantasy!  We have already set this in motion.  We cannot deny responsibility or the scale of what we face.
It is time for us to face facts and start acting accordingly.  We cannot rely on our political or business leaders to do this for us, they have shown again and again that they are are only interested in the bottom line and are just broken reeds.  We need to pull our heads out of the pillows of our comfortable lives and actually start the process of adaptation now, build it up, talk to people, educate ourselves and others, skill share, seed bomb, use imagination, get active and actually get to work before it hits us all unprepared. 


Monday, 4 March 2013

On the "Great Turning"

Do you believe in the "Great Turning"?  Personally I do not, more than that, I find it actually enraging!  I feel that the myth of the "Great Turning" is just the delusional fantasy of the guilt-ridden priveleged.  I count myself amongst the guilt-ridden priveleged to be sure, but so many I have met who profess that we are on the edge of the "Great Turning" do not even seem to be aware of our privelege.  In the global North, we live in privelege.  Our lives are built on the backs of others and at the cost of lives and ecocide.  Our lives are the major cause of the crisis we and our children face. 
"The Great Turning" is millenialism, just like "sending our energy" to the whales and dolpins while they are being slaughtered in the Southern Ocean or "engaging with our inner wolf spirit" while wolves are being killed in the US and Scandinavia.  It is a way that we, the privileged, assuage our guilt, without actually lifting a finger or losing any of our comfort.  It totally ignores the causes and the scale of the crisis we face. 
We are already about 0.8 degrees C warmer than pre-industrial and if the permafrost tipping point is 1.5 degrees C then we are already half way there.  As far as I am aware, the last time all that methane was up in the atmosphere, was around the time of the Permian Mass Extinction.  This is the scale of what we face.  We are in the middle of a man made mass extinction as we slaughter species by the bucketload every day and that is without this on top. 
If we do not start facing up, adapting now and taking real action, beyond just emailing our MPs, what hope do we have?
  Civil Disobedience at the very least, is what each of us should be doing.  Build the culture of resistance.  Support those like the Sea Sheperds, the activists in the Niger Delta, Idle No More, The Zapatistas, Rising Tide, Earth First, No Dash for Gas, Deep Green Resistance and so many others, who are actually stepping up and trying to end the ecocide.  They are the frontline heroes. And we need to be equally strong. 

Friday, 22 February 2013

Are we focused now?

I saw this article in The Guardian and I was scared.  Why are we still pissing about?  Why are we not focused? 
If, as is suggested, a 1.5 degree C mean temperature rise can start the permafrost melting and start the release of methane......  

I have mentioned the Clathrate Gun  Hypothesis several times on this blog and maybe it is alarmist, but should we not be alarmed?  We should be taking this extremely seriously and yet we seem far more focused on trivia. 

2020 is too late.  I believe, based on what I have read, that we are already committed to at least a 4 degrees C mean rise, so maybe it is already too late, but we must try and remember that is is not only about us, but about all. 

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Keeping the lights on

According to the Guardian neswpaper, The UK government has admitted that they are in negotiations with EDF, concerning nuclear new-build and, crucially, over "contracts for difference" where the generators are guaranteed a "strike price" and if the market price falls below this, then a surcharge is added to customers bills.  Apparently the contracts are proposed to last for 40 years, so we could be subsidising EDF's (and maybe others) profits for that long.  One very unpleasant thought, is if the companies involved in building new gas power plants seek similar subsidies. 
The pressure on the government is ,in part, due to the warning from the energy regulator OFGEM that due to EU emissions regulations, closure of some coal and oil fired power stations could lead to a 10% drop in energy generation capacity in April alone (with further decline to come).  Mr Buchanan, has said that the UK needs more gas to make up the shortfall, but competing for that gas on a global market will increase the price.  This also explains the government's interest and tax support for more drilling in the North Sea and fracking.

I think a key issue around this is that there seems to be an assumption of continued normality and consumption.
  Whether we are talking energy from renewable resources or from fossil fuels or nuclear power, our current (and growing) level of energy and resource usage is unsustainable.   
We should be investing in renewables, yes.  But we should be prioritising reduction of demand, not just for electricity but for everything.  Our lifestyles are killing the planet.  We do not have the right to do this.  This is the hard sell, this is the unpleasant truth.  Solar power, wind turbines and electric cars will not save us. 

Sunday, 10 February 2013

Facing the truth?

Here's the thing.  I see no light at the end of the tunnel.  With extinction rates, going through the roof, with phytoplankton in decline, with fish species on the verge of collapse and with our rubbish contaminating marine life.  With the arctic melting and corporations waitng to plunder the fish and fossil fuels which this exposes,with the ongoing ecocide of the Alberta Tar Sands, with our current "who dies with the best toys wins" paradigm I see no real hope. 
While there are some positives, such as a bacteria which may well prove vital, and our politicians finally addressing our exploitation of the marine ecosystem, I think the key issue is that there is no real challenge to our basic consumption model.  

There is no way that, with 7 billion of us on the planet, "consumption-lite" will do it.  Our windfarms, our eco-cars and our fairtrade silver still consume vast resources.  it is more than our livliehoods at stake. It is the lives of our children and all the other non-human individuals. 

As someone who has tried and continues to try the lifestyle approach, trying to live more simply and lower impact.  I have to face the fact that I am still part of the problem.  I still want my electricity and my computer and my water from the tap, my books and my Zapatista coffee. 

Our capitalist, industrial and urban society is the problem. and it will not stop.  I  do not believe that we have the time for a mass consciosness change.  I think that with ecosystems on the verge of collapse and global change looming, maybe the Deep Green Resistance have it right, maybe the time has come for us to fight for the future? 

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Stern warning

So Lord Stern, author of the 2006 Stern Review has come out and said that he got it wrong on climate change, it's much much worse than he thought and that if he had known how things would evolve he has reportedly said

 "I think I would have been a bit more blunt. I would have been much more strong about the risks of a four- or five-degree rise."

Bluntness is what we need!  We need to face up to the grim reality of the oncoming crisis, it seems  our political masters need a dose of reality.  As the World Economic Forum (WEF) pointed out in their recent report, income disparity and unsustainable government debt sap the ability to deal with climate change.  Placing us more at risk of severe crisis and collapse.  When you consider the austerity and the disparity in incomes, the competition between  states and the current financial paradigm it is difficult to see how this will be avoided, there is no silver bullet and I see no real solutions from Davos.  As Femen point out, the situation is desperate. 



Thursday, 24 January 2013

Sensing the teeth

I was thinking about the austerity which is raging across Europe, and how this is affecting people.  While I was pondering this, the question running through my head was do I think it will really get better?  I have to say I do not. 

I see the strains on the system increasing.  As climate change  really begins to bite, as food prices rise and as our increased dependency on "unconventional" sources of energy such as fracking or deep water drilling or similar techniques increases the cost of extraction and processing(as well as the environmental impact) and as corporate interests prevail, then I imagine energy prices will rise. 

Already people are beginning to go hungry.  when so much of our food is wasted, this is kind of a twisted irony.  Already people are suffering due to lack of ability to heat their homes.  Of course, with our current system, the effects are not distributed evenly, the global and the various national poor suffer first.  This social injustice is rage inducing but we still want our ipods and our coffee and our flights etc, so we must accept at least some of the responsibility. 

So far we haven't (it seems to me) really felt the full-on bite, but our children will. 

Thursday, 17 January 2013

Idle No More!

One thing which seems not to have registered much over here in the UK is the Idle No More grassroots movement.  There is a good explanation of it here.  It is not just a Native American/First Nations concern.  It is not just about the Tar Sands.  It concerns all of us who are actually concerned with the wellbeing of the planet.
 It is a direct challenge to the corporate and capitalist paradigm, and so it should be supported cheered and we should get involved. 


(image courtesy of Huffington Post)
 
 
I hope that this movement grows and that it becomes much wider.

What can I say, we all could do with being Idle No More. 

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

More UK Government lies and Doubletalk

So a document leaked to The Guardian reveals that while the UK Government was telling MPs about it's " acute awareness" of the environmental risks posed by deepwater drilling and while insisting that "robust environmental protection" for drilling in the arctic, it was moving in Brussels to try to water down environmental regulations such as the need for companies to lodge their emergency response plans with relevant governments.
  And the government also seems to be relying on a reapeat of the Braer disaster in attempting to change proposals regarding protection of vulnerable/fragile areas( by preventing them drilling if the time between the spill and the response would be too great due to adverse weather conditions for example), in saying...

 "oil spills may be effectively dispersed by wind and wave action and this is in itself one form of effective response".

They are saying it is ok to drill and maybe spill even where we can't get to it for weeks or perhaps months, in the arctic winter, because it might be dispersed by the weather, after all that is what happend when the Braer was wrecked  (note the Braer was carrying Norwegian Light Crude).  This is pretty damned outrageous!

 The UK government has previously been involved (after much lobbying from Canada) in trying to water down proposed EU fuel regulations concerning fuel derived from the Alberta Tar sands, so it is not the first time that their doubletalk and outright lies have been exposed. 

But I suppose what is really concerning is the absolute disregard for anything other than the "national economic interest" .  We know burning more fossil fuels, especially on the scale of those under the arctic is effectively dooming our children and many, many other beings.  We should be investing in adaptive technology while the window is still open not indulging corporate shareholders at the expense of our future. 

Saturday, 12 January 2013

Shell: Tax Dodgers

It appears that Shell's recent loss of their Noble Kulluk deep sea drilling rig and the endangering of the marine community off Sitkalidak Island, Alaska, came about because Shell wanted to avoid paying state taxes. Rachel Maddow covers this for MSNBC here.  When you consider Shell's massive profits in 2011 and their protests against the regulatory system, this is pretty outrageous! 

One positive which I hope will come out of this, is the increased political scrutiny and public focus may well, I hope lead to a ban on arctic drilling.  I may well be dreaming, with the estimated motherlode  of fossil fuels under the arctic but one can hope. 

Saturday, 5 January 2013

Northern Drill and Spill

So Shell's Arctic rig Noble Kulluk has crashed off Alaska, threatening a fairly pristine enevironment.  Will the sea-lions and the other sealife again pay the price for our high  energy lifestyles?
 In perhaps a more positive development this seems to be drawing more intense political scrutiny
as well covered by the inimitable Rachel Maddow
Locally, it is the 20th anniversary of the Braer spill, 85,000 tonnes of Light Norwegian crude which while it affected seabirds and other marine life was prevented from being much worse by the weather, which swept much of the oil out to sea.  I do not feel that this can necessarily be relied on again

As drilling continues to the west of Shetland in the Laggan and Foinaven fields, the risks posed to the marine ecosystem become more apparent.  With the reduction in emergency tugs and the coastguard under the government cuts, if ,or rather when, something does happen it is likely to be severe.

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

New year Conversations

In this festive period I have, unusually, been party to conversations with some of my fellow human beings where I did not feel like a complete nutter for holding my collapsitarian views. 
I was conversing with two men who are also both parents of teenagers who also see the stresses on the system and fear for the future of their kids.  I must admit to finding this very unusual but refreshing to not feel so alienated.
I have also had a long conversation which made me consider my slightly cynical view of human nature and that if maybe, despite the limitations imposed by climate change, the transition might be mostly positive instead of the dystopian view I have?

 While I am still cynical, and stories like this about the rehabilitation of Mussolini in Italy or the rise of the Golden Dawn in Greece (when I have often thought that as times get tougher the calls for a "strong man" and hence the rise of fascism might re-echo) do not help, I have to have hope that human nature can be good as well

Other news about the "secondment" of fossil fuel company employment at the Dept of Energy and Climate Change and their "self-policing" does tend to make me less confident about our adaptation. 

Let us hope that we can actually make the change and make it more positive.