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.