Archive for the tag “fossil fuels”

News update

Saudi Arabia’s Plan to Extend the Age of Oil
Peter Waldman, Bloomberg.com
Last Novemeber, Ali al-Naimi, Saudi Arabia’s petroleum minister and the world’s de facto energy czar, told his OPEC counterparts they should maintain output to protect market share from rising supplies of U.S. shale oil, which costs more to get out of the ground and thus becomes less viable as prices fall. Supply was only half the calculus, though. While the new Saudi stance was being trumpeted as a war on shale, Naimi’s not-so-invisible hand pushing prices lower also addressed an even deeper Saudi fear: flagging long-term demand.

OPEC Says US Oil Boom Will End This Year
Oilprice.com
OPEC says the demand for oil – its oil – will rise during 2015 because the cartel is winning its price war against US shale producers by driving them out of business. OPEC forecasts demand at an average of 29.27 million barrels per day in the first quarter 2015, a rise of 80,000 bpd from its previous prediction made in its March report. At the same time, it said, the cartel’s own total output will increase by only 680,000 barrels per day, less than the previous expectation of 850,000 barrels per day, due to lower US and other non-OPEC production.

Guardian Media Group to divest its £800m fund from fossil fuels
The Guardian UK
The Guardian Media Group (GMG) is to sell all the fossil fuel assets in its investment fund of over £800m, making it the largest yet known to pull out of coal, oil and gas companies. The decision was justified on both financial and ethical grounds, said Neil Berkett, GMG chair. Berkett said fossil fuel assets had performed relatively poorly in recent years and were threatened by future climate change action, while an ethical fund already held by GMG had been a “stellar” performer and renewable energy was growing strongly. (Also read: Harvard Students Expand Blockade Calling for School to Divest from Fossil Fuels)

Narendra Modi’s war on the environment
Rohini Mohan, Al Jazeera America
In under a year, the BJP government has begun to undo policies of fair land acquisition, undermine environmental protection and reverse the fight for tribal rights. The finance, environment and rural-development ministers, and Modi himself, have called these safeguards to protect people’s property, the environment and tribal rights “roadblocks” to economic growth. Rules that ensure business responsibility to people and the environment, in other words, are now largely being written off.

India may submit climate change plans in September; Javadekar assures pledges will be submitted in time
The Economic Times
India is likely to submit its plans to tackle climate change, including steps to curb the amount of carbon pollution, in September. Tuesday was the first informal deadline for countries that are able to do so to file their pledges to combat climate change. All countries have agreed to put forward their plans ahead of the crucial Paris meet in December.

PM Narendra Modi launches National Air Quality Index
The Economic Times
Prime Minister Narendra Modi today launched the National Air Quality Index (AQI) for monitoring the quality of air in major urban centres across the country on a real-time basis and enhancing public awareness for taking mitigative action. As part of the endeavour, the Union Environment Ministry proposes to extend the measurement of air quality to 22 state capitals and 44 other cities with a population exceeding one million.

Not In a Hurry to Change Green Laws, Says Environment Minister Praskash Javadekar
NDTV.com
The Centre, which was keen on amending key green laws as early as second half of the budget session, will now reportedly adopt a slower and a more studied approach. This shift in pace, comes after opposition from various state governments at a two day conference of states environment and forest ministers. On agenda was to seek views from the state governments on various environment related issues, including the Subramaniam committee report.

Climate Crisis And Banking
Countercurrents.org
Climate crisis is pushing financial institutions to take steps. Financial institutions with over US$ 2,100 billion in assets publish principles to guide future investments in clean energy and India’s fourth largest private bank fixes goal for investment in 5GW of renewable energy by 2019.

Making Another World Possible Will Require Radical Alternatives – Impressions from the World Social Forum
Ashish Kothari, Degrowth.de
At the Tunis WSF there was some attempt made to host ‘convergence assemblies’ to bring people together, and a final session of open mingling and some common messages, which may be a step towards making it a more transformative process while retaining openness. There was considerable synergy between the movements demanding an end to corporate dominance and impunity, those fighting for climate justice, and women’s movement groups. The language of alternatives from various parts of the world also seemed to get significant traction in the convergence assemblies.

News update

Can Solar be the Backbone of Indias Energy System by 2035?
Tobias Engelmeier, The Energy Collective
Around 70% of India’s power comes from coal, less than 1% from solar. Will that change in the next 20 years? Can solar become the new backbone of the Indian energy system? I think there is a good possibility that it will. Here is a thought experiment.

Is Big Oil Finally Entering a Climate Change World?
Michael Klare, TomDispatch
Many reasons have been provided for the dramatic plunge in the price of oil to about $60 per barrel (nearly half of what it was a year ago): slowing demand due to global economic stagnation; overproduction at shale fields in the United States; the decision of the Saudis and other Middle Eastern OPEC producers to maintain output at current levels; and the increased value of the dollar. There is, however, one reason that’s not being discussed, and yet it could be the most important of all: the complete collapse of Big Oil’s production-maximizing business model.

Keep fossil fuels in the ground to stop climate change
George Monbiot
You cannot solve a problem without naming it. The absence of official recognition of the role of fossil fuel production in causing climate change – blitheringly obvious as it is – permits governments to pursue directly contradictory policies. There is nothing random about the pattern of silence that surrounds our lives. Silences occur where powerful interests are at risk of exposure. They protect these interests from democratic scrutiny.

Climate Justice and Degrowth: a tale of two movements
Tadzio Müller, Degrowth blog
While degrowth is a story that is largely articulated in the global North, a story that speaks from and to sensibilities that exist largely in the North, climate justice is a movement and a story that it articulated and led by folks in the global South.

Find a new way to tell the story how the Guardian launched its climate change campaign
The Guardian UK
Climate change is the biggest story journalism has never successfully told. The Guardian’s editor-in-chief, Alan Rusbridger, has decided to change that. This podcast series follows Rusbridger and his team as they set out to find a new narrative on the greatest threat to humanity

Peak meaninglessness
John Michael Greer
Secular stagnation? That’s the concept, unmentionable until recently, that the global economy could stumble into a rut of slow, no, or negative growth, and stay there for years. And the most important cause of secular stagnation is the increasing impact of externalities on the economy, hidden by dishonest macroeconomic bookkeeping that leads economists to think that externalized costs go away because they’re not entered into anyone’s ledger books.

Can the world get richer forever?
Theo Leggett, BBC News
We live on a finite planet, but growth is exponential. So an annual increase in gross domestic product (GDP) of 3% might not sound like much but it means an economy will double in size every 23 years. So does this matter? According to Tom Murphy, professor of physics at the University of California San Diego, it definitely does, as economic growth goes hand in hand with increasing energy consumption.

We need regenerative farming, not geoengineering
Charles Eisenstein
Geoengineering has been back in the news recently after the US National Research Council endorsed a proposal to envelop the planet in a layer of sulphate aerosols to reduce solar radiation and cool the atmosphere. The mindset behind geoengineering stands in sharp contrast to an emerging ecological, systems approach taking shape in the form of regenerative agriculture. More than a mere alternative strategy, regenerative agriculture represents a fundamental shift in our culture’s relationship to nature.

News update

Can Solar be the Backbone of Indias Energy System by 2035?
Tobias Engelmeier, The Energy Collective
Around 70% of India’s power comes from coal, less than 1% from solar. Will that change in the next 20 years? Can solar become the new backbone of the Indian energy system? I think there is a good possibility that it will. Here is a thought experiment.

Is Big Oil Finally Entering a Climate Change World?
Michael Klare, TomDispatch
Many reasons have been provided for the dramatic plunge in the price of oil to about $60 per barrel (nearly half of what it was a year ago): slowing demand due to global economic stagnation; overproduction at shale fields in the United States; the decision of the Saudis and other Middle Eastern OPEC producers to maintain output at current levels; and the increased value of the dollar. There is, however, one reason that’s not being discussed, and yet it could be the most important of all: the complete collapse of Big Oil’s production-maximizing business model.

Keep fossil fuels in the ground to stop climate change
George Monbiot
You cannot solve a problem without naming it. The absence of official recognition of the role of fossil fuel production in causing climate change – blitheringly obvious as it is – permits governments to pursue directly contradictory policies. There is nothing random about the pattern of silence that surrounds our lives. Silences occur where powerful interests are at risk of exposure. They protect these interests from democratic scrutiny.

Climate Justice and Degrowth: a tale of two movements
Tadzio Müller, Degrowth blog
While degrowth is a story that is largely articulated in the global North, a story that speaks from and to sensibilities that exist largely in the North, climate justice is a movement and a story that it articulated and led by folks in the global South.

Find a new way to tell the story how the Guardian launched its climate change campaign
The Guardian UK
Climate change is the biggest story journalism has never successfully told. The Guardian’s editor-in-chief, Alan Rusbridger, has decided to change that. This podcast series follows Rusbridger and his team as they set out to find a new narrative on the greatest threat to humanity

Peak meaninglessness
John Michael Greer
Secular stagnation? That’s the concept, unmentionable until recently, that the global economy could stumble into a rut of slow, no, or negative growth, and stay there for years. And the most important cause of secular stagnation is the increasing impact of externalities on the economy, hidden by dishonest macroeconomic bookkeeping that leads economists to think that externalized costs go away because they’re not entered into anyone’s ledger books.

Can the world get richer forever?
Theo Leggett, BBC News
We live on a finite planet, but growth is exponential. So an annual increase in gross domestic product (GDP) of 3% might not sound like much but it means an economy will double in size every 23 years. So does this matter? According to Tom Murphy, professor of physics at the University of California San Diego, it definitely does, as economic growth goes hand in hand with increasing energy consumption.

We need regenerative farming, not geoengineering
Charles Eisenstein
Geoengineering has been back in the news recently after the US National Research Council endorsed a proposal to envelop the planet in a layer of sulphate aerosols to reduce solar radiation and cool the atmosphere. The mindset behind geoengineering stands in sharp contrast to an emerging ecological, systems approach taking shape in the form of regenerative agriculture. More than a mere alternative strategy, regenerative agriculture represents a fundamental shift in our culture’s relationship to nature.

Max Weber on energy and industrial civilisation

Max Weber Biography - Profile, Childhood, Personal Life, Major ...
The German sociologist, philosopher, and political economist Max Weber (1864-1920) is often cited, with Émile Durkheim and Karl Marx, as among the three founders of sociology. Weber is best known for his contention that ascetic Protestantism was the driving force behind market-driven capitalism and the rational-legal nation-state in the West. Against Marxs historical materialism, Weber emphasised the importance of cultural influences embedded in religion as a means for understanding the genesis of capitalism. This view was summed up in his magnum opus, The Protestant Ethic and The Spirit of Capitalism, one of the founding texts of Sociology.

But what interests us here is this intriguing passage, which comes towards the end of Webers classic book:
[The tremendous cosmos of the modern economic order] is now bound to the technical and economic conditions of machine production which to-day determine the lives of all the individuals who are born into this mechanism, not only those directly concerned with economic acquisition, with irresistible force. Perhaps it will so determine them until the last ton of fossilized coal is burnt.

According to John Bradford of the U.S. Mississippi State University, Not only does this passage eloquently articulate the binding imperatives engendered by the “modern economic order”, it also unambiguously contravenes the view that the classical theorists were unaware of the essential role that energy played in the creation and maintenance of that order.

Reviewing a work on Weber in the Times Literary Supplement, Prof Duncan Kelly of Cambridge University says, In The Protestant Ethic, [Weber] wrote that perhaps the mechanization of life would continue unchallenged until the last ounces of fossil fuel had been used up, and the danger was that we might simply fail to notice. In later work, such environmental imagery had turned into a worry about the future as a polar night of icy darkness.

Its interesting is that Weber aired this view nearly 110 years ago (The Protestant Ethic was completed in 1905). As Kelly says,  In our own age, where borderlands between environmental crisis, near-pathological boredom and disaffection with mainstream politics, and tensions driven by religion have if anything become more rigidly crippling than ever, Max Weber looks a more profound guide than we might care to think. And an overlooked one, we might add.


Download the e-book version of Webers classic:
The Protestant Ethic and The Spirit of Capitalism
Read John Bradfords essay: Energy and Limits to Growth

T. Vijayendra: Post Carbon Society And Transition

The Industrial Society or the Carbon Society
The present social system that we are living is called Industrial Society. It began with the Industrial Revolution (1760 -1830) in the West and was followed by social revolution in various countries Holland, France, England and the USA, ending the age old feudal society and ushering in a capitalist society. Later, similar revolutions followed in many countries in the West and in Japan in the East. In the twentieth century, many socialist revolutions occurred, notably in Russia, China, Cuba and Vietnam. All of them had two things common ushering in an industrial society (whether capitalist or socialist) and ending the feudal society.

However, capitalism spread in other countries too mainly through colonialism, but without effecting a similar social revolution. These countries are generally known as Third World countries, which includes India too. In the absence of a social revolution, it did not unleash the people’s energy as they continued to suffer from poverty and lack of education and good health care. On the other hand, many traditional low energy technologies and ways of living are still active in these societies.

The material basis of industrial society has been coal, oil and many other minerals. These are generally known as non-renewable resources because, unlike plant and animal resources, these are fixed in quantity under the earth and as we take them out, their stock keeps on dwindling. Among these, coal and oil are the most important because they represent concentrated sources of energy. Hence industrial societies can also be called carbon-based societies. Read more…

News update

The Fracking Bust Hits Home
Wolf Richter, Wolf Street
In the latest reporting week, drillers idled another 84 rigs, the second biggest weekly cut ever, after idling 83 and 94 rigs in the two prior weeks. Only 1056 rigs are still drilling for oil, down 443 for the seven reporting weeks so far this year and down 553 – or 34%! – from the peak in October. Never before has the rig count plunged this fast this far.

Part Of West Antarctic Ice Sheet Starting Slow, Unstoppable Collapse
The Huffington Post
The huge West Antarctic ice sheet is starting a glacially slow collapse in an unstoppable way, two new studies show. Alarmed scientists say that means even more sea level rise than they figured. The worrisome outcomes wont be seen soon. Scientists are talking hundreds of years, but over that time the melt that has started could eventually add 4 to 12 feet to current sea levels.

Cold Fusion Takes Another Step Towards Credibility
Oilprice.com
Professor Alexander Parkhomov of Lomonosov Moscow State University has published a paper describing his successful replication of Andrea Rossi’s E-Cat LENR or cold fusion device. It seems Parkhomov managed to acquire enough working data from Swedish and Italian academics to execute an experimental replication that offers data showing 2.74 more energy out than put in.

Why Cheap Oil Does Not Mean that Peak Oil is a Myth
Chris Rhodes, Energy Balance
Peak oil is a fundamental tenet of the Transition Towns concept, but the current return of “cheap oil” has muddied the waters about how to discuss it. Heres a response to the debate following the prevailing low oil price, set within the context of whether or not we can now dismiss peak oil, e.g. as is currently being contested.

Charts showing the long-term GDP-energy tie (Part 2 – A New Theory of Energy and the Economy)
Gail Tverberg, Our Finite World
In Part 1 of this series, I talked about why cheap fuels act to create economic growth. In this post, we will look at some supporting data showing how this connection works. The data is over a very long time period–some of it going back to the Year 1 C. E.

Who gets left with the unburnable carbon?
Rob Hopkins, Transition Culture
Christophe McGlade is a research associate in energy materials modelling at the UCL Institute for Sustainable Resources. He recently co-authored, with Paul Ekins, a paper called “The geographical distribution of fossil fuels unused when limiting global warming to 2°C”, a paper whose stark call to leave the substantial majority of fossil fuels in the ground generated a lot of media coverage

Fossil Fuel Use is Limited by Climate, if Not by Resources
Chris Rhodes, Energy Balance
A study by researchers at University College London conclude that it will be necessary to leave some two thirds of the fossil fuels available to us unburned, to achieve just a 50% chance of keeping global warming within the 2 degree C limit. From their analysis, they deduce more specifically that it is necessary to leave one third of the oil, half of the gas and more than 80% of the worlds coal in the ground, up to 2050.

Why People Dont Believe in Climate Science
Global Warming Is Real
It’s a hoax, it’s the sun, it’s scientists after grant money, it’s a play for world domination. Then there’s Al Gore, the favorite straw man for many climate change deniers. One thing is clear, facts don’t matter. A climate change narrative based solely on facts hasn’t worked and won’t work. Why is this?

How One Neighborhood in Seoul Sparked a Movement of Urban Villages
Cat Johnson, Shareable
In 1994, when city officials threatened to remove trees from the top of Mt. Sungmi, in Mapo-gu, Seoul for the creation of a water facility, a group of neighbors joined forces to oppose the plan. By banding together, a community was created. After defeating the plan for the facility, the community continued to organize, eventually becoming the Sungmisan Village which encompasses a one-kilometer radius at the base of the mountain and now connects over 700 families.

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.

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