Friday, 6 January 2012

Amidst the doom and gloom: An economic miracle in the making - but not yet in Europe

While the mainstream media in the US, and particularly in Europe, continue to focus on the doom and gloom of the financial crisis, there is an economic miracle in the making, which to a great degree goes unreported. In a must-reed article Peter C. Glover explains why, particularly in Europe, the failed "green" energy policies are seriously delaying, or even preventing a positive turnaround:

Amidst the doom and gloom headlines presaging dire prognostications for the Western economies in 2012 there is the very real promise of a global economy re-directing miracle in the making. The impact and promise of shale gas and shale oil is probably the good news story as we step into 2012. Not that you would know it, given the media’s predilection for bad news.

Only two obstacles stand in the way. First, bad energy policies that do not prioritise cheaper fossil fuels – dumping countless millions out of jobs and into fuel poverty. Second, environmentalist campaigners implacably opposed to any hydrocarbon-fuelled energy development. It threatens their Disney-esque utopian blueprint.

But before we glimpse a rare ray of sunshine amidst the stretching economic gloom, we must first demolish a key widely held myth that is fuelling bad energy policy-making: that oil and gas prices will only go on rising, ultimately rendering their cost comparable to expensive and feeble renewable energy generation. As economist and professor of energy policy Dieter Helm’s recent excellent article pointed out, the UK’s current bias towards expensive renewables is a direct result of energy secretary Chris Huhne’s unwavering faith that the price of fossil fuels can only go on rising.

That’s precisely the mistake an incoming Conservative Government made in 1979. Then oil prices peaked at $39 a barrel (the equivalent of $150 today). In the mid-1980s, however, the bottom dropped out of the oil price ‘barrel’ taking over 25 years to recover. As Helm points out, it is the peak oil and gas brigade – today, a useful ally to the green lobbies – who assume depleting resources based on then known reserves. As Helm says: “Nonsense – and some of it dangerous nonsense”.

Helm rightly asserts, “The Earth’s crust is riddled with fossil fuels” adding “there is enough oil and gas (and coal too) to fry the planet several times over.” And his words echo Huber and Mills’ definitive quote on the subject, “Energy supplies – for all practical purposes – are infinite”. The issue is not (and never has been) too much or too little of a given resource. It has always been whether prices are too low or too high to make extraction viable. Today, the shale gas and oil “miracle” – or rather man’s ingenuity in finding new ways to tap previously unrecoverable resources – has yet again blown a gaping hole in the peak-ist argument; as the end of year figures make only too plain.
Equally, the new EU Energy Roadmap 2050 shows the EU is tenaciously holding onto its green dream in the vain hope that rising oil and gas prices will eventually make renewables commercially viable. But the shale gale is blowing an even greater hole in that hope.

While new processes allow vast new energy resources to permeate the world’s shales, the ‘biblical’ scale of the potential economic turnaround still has a way to go to permeate the mindset of policy-makers. Even so, the shale-fuelled miracle, able to part the sea of gloomy economic forecasts and reveal a path to a much happier 2012, is very real – despite the plague of bureaucrats.

Read the entire article here


In the United States the shale gas/oil revolution has through its own force aleady changed the country´s economic outlook. This development is taking place, not because of some positive action of the present US administration, but despite of its policies. Ironically, it is quite possible that the energy centered economic turnaround, in which Obama has had no role, will in the end help to get him re-elected.

In Europe the outlook is much gloomier. We have to wait for new elections in order to replace the present failed leaders - and hope that the Poles will not allow the dark forces (Russia/Gazprom and greenies) to prevent their way to prosperity.

Thursday, 5 January 2012

Greenpeace´s Naidoo: "We´re not going there and having fun on these ships"

Greenpeace International boss Kumi Naidoo has again been boasting about how tough and dangerous it is to be an activist on board a Greenpeace ship:

"We're not going there and having fun on these ships," he said. "We're going and putting our lives on the line. For myself, as a person coming from Africa, you cannot believe how far the Arctic was for me . . . It was no joke trying to go and occupy an oil rig in the middle of the Arctic. To be honest I was scared, terrified, the waves are very rough and so on. So we're not doing this for fun."

Well, one can doubt the danger level of Naidoo´s activities in  the Arctic. Anyway, the Danish police in Greenland last year did a good job by arresting and deporting Naidoo, so he will not have another chance to break the law over there at least.

Meanwhile, let´s have a reality check regarding Naidoo´s claim that "we are not going there and having fun on these ships".

Here are just a few picks from recent reports by activists who have participated in the continuing "launch tour" of the new Greenpeace luxury yacht Rainbow Warrior III:

Activist Markku reports:

The temperature is now 22 degrees Celsius. Dolphins are jumping happily in the Rainbow Warrior's bow waves. The entire crew is smiling and joking. We are in the middle of the Strait of Gibraltar on the way to Barcelona and the Mediterranean Sea. This situation is rather different from the last 6 day's experiences.
Last night, sailing the Mediterranean, lit up by the full moon, I looked back again up the sails and rigging. I almost get a tear in the eye when admiring this amazing example of sailing engineering. This is an incredible ship, and a real work of art in many ways. It occasionally is good to recall how lucky and privileged I am to get to sail on this ship with all these incredibly wonderful people.

In a few days I will be back in Helsinki, the darkness, and slush.

Yes I agree, sure sailing in Mediterranean waters, "lit up by the full moon" beats the darkness and sluss in Helsinki anytime!

And when the yacht reached the port of Barcelona, another treat was awaiting the activists - a luxurious dinner prepared by the famed Michelin star chef Diego Guerrero.

No wonder that the activist Tracy was more than impressed by the dinner menu:

We sat down with Ramon, musicians from the band Maez, el Pais blogger Mikel López Iturriaga and our Spanish colleagues to the first course called Mini Babybell which has won Diego national awards for pinchos and tapas. It’s a camembert and truffle creation that looked like, obviously, a mini babybell cheese.
Next up Vieira – the scallops.

Then sukiyaki – a miso soup that looked like a cocktail, or a cappuccino?

Then an egg dish dumpling…

And the beautiful Gilthead bream - with orange and chocolate.

Breaking open the egg I discovered a gooey centre of mango surrounded by coconut cream the colour and consistency of a soft boiled egg. The shell was chocolate. Diego later told me the dish is called “This is not an egg”

Earlier on, when the weather was still fine in more northern waters, another activist enthused over the yacht´s arrival in Stockholm:

The Rainbow Warrior's fourth stop on her launch tour brought us to the capital of Sweden. She came in on a beautiful morning, with water as smooth as a mirror reflecting a low-hanging November sun.


There is no information about where the Rainbow Warrior "launch tour" will be heading now, but the Caribbean would probably be a good bet - that´s where most luxury yachts and their owners spend the winter months. Who knows, maybe even the big boss will join them over there - if he is ready to put his "life on the line"? Gourmet dinners are not necessarily good for one´s health ...

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Vestas, the world´s biggest wind-turbine maker, plummets

The rapid decline of the wind-turbine industry continues. Today Vestas, the world´s biggest wind-turbine maker, closed down 19 percent after it became known that the company reduced its revenue and profit outlook for the second time in two months:

Vestas, whose shares have lost 92 percent from a 2008 high, blamed higher costs and delayed wind farms, helping drive down shares in rivals Gamesa Corp. Tecnologica SA of Spain and India’s Suzlon Energy Ltd. Its plan to unveil a restructuring on Jan. 12 without giving a hint of its nature left analysts questioning management’s credibility.
Vestas and U.S. rival General Electric Co. are suffering from slower demand growth and narrowing margins caused by subsidy cuts in Europe and rising competition from Asian turbine makers such as China’s Sinovel Wind Group Co., the world’s second biggest, according to a BTMS Consult ranking.

Read the entire article here

The decline of the wind-turbine makers is another blow to the "progressive" "green jobs" politicians, who do not seem to comprehend that there is no future for an industry that relies almost solely on subsidies for its profitability. However, when the shale gas revolution hits the energy markets with full force, even the last supporters of subsidised wind power will have to face reality ....

Wind turbines kill 440,000 birds each year in the US alone

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service reports that wind turbines kill 440,000 birds each year, including many protected and endangered species. In addition wind turbines kill a huge number of bats, which are important for insect control and plant pollination. And the number of killed animals will increase with every new wind turbine.

But the proponents of  wind turbines could not care less. Sterling Burnett, a senior fellow at the National Center for Policy Analysis comments:

“If coal-fired, nuclear, or natural gas power plants killed federally protected golden eagles, they would be shut down. If you or I killed a federally protected species, we’d be thrown in jail. Yet for some reason, wind farms are given a free pass. This has been going on for more than 20 years now,” Burnett said.
HawkWatch International warns a single proposed wind farm project in Wyoming will cause 700 raptor deaths each year, including 200 golden eagle kills annually. With only 30,000 golden eagles in the entire United States, HawkWatch says wind power projects are rendering populations of the birds unsustainable.
A newly released U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service field report stated nearly 500 bird carcasses were discovered in a mere two-week span at the Laurel Mountain wind farm in West Virginia.
Wildlife groups point out carcasses found at the foot of wind turbines represent merely a fraction of the birds that killed by the machines. Other victims of turbine strikes aren’t killed immediately but die shortly after the birds have flown away to other locations.

Mice, Rats Safe to Thrive
In addition to the avian deaths, wind turbines create a safety zone for rodent breeding because birds of prey cannot patrol wind turbine areas. Communities in the vicinity of wind farms report disturbing spikes in the mouse and rat populations.

“They may figure out a way someday to prevent the wind turbines from killing birds, but the real problem is where you build the farms. In order for wind power to make sense, you have to build the turbines in areas where there is a lot of wind, and this just happens to be in the flight paths of migratory birds, which don’t just flap their wings to get where they’re going, they ride the thermal wind currents,” said Burnett.

Read the entire article here

A message to Gazprom and the greenies from Venezuela

Here is some news from Venezuela that should add to Gazprom´s and the European and American renewable energy propagandists´ worries:

Shale gas - natural gas extracted from shale rock - may well be several times more abundant than the proven reserves of conventional natural gas on the planet, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). Moreover there are large volumes of natural gas in sandstones, and other non-conventional sources.

But the real news from EIA studies is that shale gas is abundant in territories previously regarded as poor in fossil fuels or dependent on imports: China, the United States and Argentina head the list, but large reserves are also found in South Africa, Australia, Poland, France, Chile, Sweden, Paraguay, Pakistan and India.

"The global energy chessboard is changing, and markets will be realigned. Countries that have never had so much available energy will become self-sufficient, and perhaps even exporters," Luis Alberto Terrero, head of the Venezuelan Gas Processors Association (AVPG), told IPS.

As gas supplies grow, "fossil fuels may become cheaper, the growth of alternative energies will slow down, and new alliances, investments and trade networks will be established," Terrero said.

Read the entire article here

What Terrero says is true, no matter how much Putin and the greenies try to wish away the shale gas revolution. The time for wind and solar power may yet come, but there is plenty of time to develop these and other forms of renewables to make them truly useful and profitable, without subsidies.

Monday, 2 January 2012

An "anthropological examination of climate change" in Greenland

Modern Greenland: Upernavik first day in class 2007 (image by Wikipedia)

An American writer by the name of Gretel Ehrlich has written a book, "In the Empire of Ice", which has been described  as an "anthropological rather than scientific examination of climate change" in some arctic areas.

According to this reviewer, the "saddest part of this book comes when Ehrlich journeys to Greenland, a place she dearly loves and has written about before". She seems to be particularly fond of the Greenland hunters, whom she has accompanied on several trips "out onto the sea in pursuit of walrus and narwhals".

Historically the sea has given up enough bounty to all but eliminate the need for cash. Now, however, the sea ice vital to these subsistence practices no longer arrives. Within just a few years it went from 6 feet thick and solidly in place throughout the winter to inches thick and intermittent at best. Men whose entire lives and sense of identity revolve around their ability to provide food for their families and communities are now unable to do so. With no cash economy to speak of, their choices will be to starve or to leave.

A proud way of life is being erased by climate change. As Ehrlich writes, “Bands of ice that protected Inuit people for thousands of years, ensuring a continuity of language and life ways and a meta-stable climate, have been assaulted from above and below, inside and out. Pollution, greenhouse gas emissions, the crushing demands of sovereignty and capitalism, war and religion have severed the strong embrace of ice.”

Ehrlich is another writer in the long line of the western "progressives" who have idealised and romanticised the "noble natives" in different exotic areas of the world.

It is quite possible that a handful of Inuit whalers are not happy with their situation, but the great majority of Greenlanders have a different view:

for the 56,000 people who live on the giant Arctic island, climate change is now being seen as an opportunity rather than a threat: a passport to prosperity, perhaps even independence.
On and off, it has been under Danish control for more than 400 years, officially becoming part of the kingdom of Denmark in 1953 before opting for devolution in 1979. But potential oil revenues have raised the prospect of Greenland being able to go it alone in 15 to 20 years.

"The development of the oil industry is one of the most important components in Greenland's effort to establish a self-bearing economy," Kim Kielsen, Greenland's minister of mines and petroleum, has said.

In the shorter term, the country is relying on the rapidly expanding eco-tourism market. Business is already booming in Ilulissat, where hotels are now booked up a year in advance and unemployment is 0 per cent.

And even the self-proclaimed leader of "the fight against global warming", the European Union, now  seems to be more interested in other things in Greenland than global warming:

Europe has over the last 30 years been happy to leave Greenland in the hands of Denmark, its former colonial master. Problems such as the woefully under-educated workforce have until now been a concern for Copenhagen, not Brussels.

Greenland is however suddenly of "increased geo-strategic importance" to the commission. Brussels wants to open negotiations on a host of polices from education to the environment, energy, food safety, disaster resilience and maritime transport.

In exchange for closer ties, the commission is prepared to hand over €217.8m between 2014 and 2020, or around €4,000 per inhabitant, according to negotiating documents. The motivation is quite simple: protectionism is on the rise, and the EU wants access to Greenland's raw materials before markets are closed off elsewhere.

"The importance of Greenland for Europe in terms of raw materials cannot be overestimated. Greenland is home to vast deposits of rare earths and other minerals", Antonio Tajani, EU industry commissioner, told an MEP last month. "The EU's interest in cooperation with Greenland on raw materials is due to Greenland's geo-strategic and economic position," Tajani added in a written exchange. Of interest is Greenland's oil, aluminium, gold, "rare earth elements", rubies and uranium.

The island government is, however, playing down talk of an imminent deal. "At the moment we have a fisheries agreement with the EU. We hope to conclude a partnership on education in the spring. There might then be preliminary talks on other areas," Minninnquaq Kleist, head of office in Greenland's department of foreign affairs, told

As of last year, Greenland controls its own mineral and oil rights, having wrestled them from Copenhagen. Around 100 exploration licenses have been issued. Initial results, says Kleist, are "very promising". There are, he says, "very big deposits". Talk of a deal giving the EU access to rare earths is, for the moment, just "speculation".

So despite the fact that the minnow will be up against a bureaucratic giant in the coming negotiations, the EU is desperate, and Greenland is well placed to strike a hard bargain. Greenlanders have already shown they are willing to say no to Brussels.

"We are talking about a partnership agreement with the EU. That doesn't mean we want to join," Kleist says. "If we implemented all the EU regulations we would need 56,000 people just to govern 56,000 people." A dislike for bureaucracy was one of the reasons Greenland distanced itself from the EU 30 years ago, says Kleist. Negotiators would do well to beware of Brussels officials bearing gifts.   

Read the entire article here


Neither does Queen Margrethe of Denmark share Ehrlich´s romanticised view of the native Greenlanders. This is what she said during a visit to Greenland last summer:

"You just cannot change the climate, when the climate changes itself. That you must understand."

"There is nothing to be done."

"You just cannot set off with a freezer in order to make new ice on a fjord. That´s how it is."