Saturday, 21 April 2012

A great way to celebrate Earth Day

On Earth Day we should celebrate the fact that there is plenty of affordable fossile energy  -  like shale gas - for us to  use

Mark Perry invites Americans to celebrate the Earth Day:

We’re coming up on Earth Day this Sunday, and it might be a good time to celebrate the fact that we still get most of our plentiful, affordable energy directly from Mother Earth in the form of fossil fuels (coal, natural gas and petroleum) that helps to fuel our vehicles and airplanes, and heat and light our homes, businesses and factories.  Shouldn’t that be part of the “awareness and appreciation of Earth’s natural environment,” to celebrate the Earth’s bountiful natural resources in the form of fossil fuels? 
The two charts above illustrate the fact that despite Obama’s claims that oil and fossil fuels are “energy sources of the past,” they are still very much the primary energy sources for both domestic production and consumption (EIA data here) of energy, and will likely remain so for many generations to come. Despite all of the billions of dollars in government taxpayer subsidies of renewable energy, they provided only 9.3% of energy consumption in 2011, which was barely more than the 8.9% share in 1983, almost 30 years ago – that’s not a lot of progress for the politically popular renewables.  And when it comes to solar and wind, together combined they provided only 1.6% of the total energy produced in the U.S. in 2011 – an almost insignificant amount.  Given the abundance of shale oil and gas in the U.S. it’s highly likely that fossil fuels will continue to fuel our economy and continue to be our dependable, affordable “fuels of the future.” 
On Earth Day, we should also celebrate the fact that extracting oil and gas from the earth creates thousands of jobs for Americans.  We now have more direct jobs in the domestic oil and gas industry (193,000) than at any time since 1988, and the industry has been creating more than 100 new jobs every day for the last year.

There is no reason for us here in Europe not to join the Perry style Earth Day celebrations. There is plenty of affordable fossile energy here, too - if we do not allow the eco-loonies to stop us using it.  

Times they are a changin´ - Germany and France want to reintroduce border controls

These "border controls" are not anymore good enough  for  the  Germans

We now read about a joint proposal by Germany and France to allow Schengen-zone countries to temporarily reintroduce border controls:

Germany and France are serious this time. During next week's meeting of European Union interior ministers, the two countries plan to start a discussion about reintroducing national border controls within the Schengen zone. According to the German daily Süddeutsche Zeitung, German Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich and his French counterpart, Claude Guéant, have formulated a letter to their colleagues in which they call for governments to once again be allowed to control their borders as "an ultima ratio" -- that is, measure of last resort -- "and for a limited period of time."

You may remember what happened in June last year, when the Danish government wanted to introduce some kind of (lawful) border controls:

German Foreign Ministry official Warner Hoyer fretted about countries “playing with the fire of nationalism.” 

The German ambassador to Denmark also joined in the fray, strongly criticizing the Danes and earning a strong rebuke from right-wing politicians.

"Denmark is aware of our criticism on their plan," said German Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich while attending talks with European Union Counterparts on Thursday. 

"We do not want to initiate a conflict with Denmark, but we will ask clear questions," he said. "We cannot accept that Schengen be undermined."

Well, the least one can say is that, The Times They Are a-Changin'! 

A doomsday prophet celebrates Earth Day

The publisher of  a global warming doomsday book - "Uninhabitable, a case for caution" by G.S. Goldsmith - "celebrates" Earth Day by distributing a press realease to humanity, which tells us that "we have 5 short years before we reach an irreversible tipping point in Co2 emissions". 

The press realease then gives us a selection of excerpts from the book. 

Here are some of the "highlights":  

"We are the very last of at least 24 hominids that have gone extinct before us and if we go extinct like our cousins the Neanderthals and Cro-Magnons did not that long ago, then our species like that of the dinosaurs will be gone forever."

"We will push 30 to 50% of our fellow species into extinction over the next 50 years and we could easily follow them within just two generations if we continue to allow Co2 to build up in our atmosphere."

 "We are slowly cooking our planet and ourselves along with it."

"Co2 is 1.5 times heavier then oxygen and displaces oxygen, with just 10% of Co2 in the atmosphere we simply will not be able to breathe."

"In just 32 years we will have an ice free Antarctica condemning to extinction Polar Bears, five species of seals, Emperor Penguins, Pacific Walruses, Arctic Foxes, Beluga Whales and countless other arctic wild life."

"Fighting a war with nature is a war we won’t win." 

"If we do nothing then we must accept our fate and prepare to suffer the consequences of famine, war, and possible extinction." 

But no need to despair, the author knows how we can avoid the doomsday catastrophy: 

we could give our brightest scientists and best entrepreneurs what they need to try and save us from ourselves. 

It´s really that simple - we can save us from ourselves by giving James HansenMichael Mann and Al Gore dictatorial powers! 

Happy Earth Day on April 22! 


If you desperately want a signed copy of Goldsmith´s masterpiece, you will have to take a high carbon foot print flight to Las Vegas this weekend:

Earth Day book signing: Author C.S. Goldsmith will hold a book signing at Barnes & Noble at 567 N. Stephanie in Henderson on Earth Day. His book is titled Uninhabitable: A Case for Caution and discusses climate change and its effects on our planet.

Friday, 20 April 2012

Poland leads the fight against EU`s disastrous global warming policy

Poland again shows the way in the fight against the European Union´s disastrous and stupid climate change/global warming policy:

A European Commission plan to boost the carbon market is unfeasible and could bankrupt Polish companies, Poland's environment minister said on Thursday.

European Climate Commissioner Connie Hedegaard announced a review of the auctioning profile for the EU's Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS), which could limit the number of allowances available and help tackle a glut that has kicked the market to record lows.

EU ministers said there was widespread support for action, but Poland, which is heavily reliant on carbon-intensive coal is worried about the rising cost of offsetting emissions.

Asked what impact the Commission's proposal would have on Poland, the nation's Environment Minister Marcin Korolec told Reuters: "Bankruptcy of companies."

He said the EU executive should not be considering taking "administrative decisions" that would increase power prices in times of economic austerity.

"I don't think we have a mandate to artificially increase the price of electricity in times of crisis, in times of austerity measures, higher unemployment, etcetera," Korolec said.

"We simply do not have a mandate for manipulation in the market mechanisms," he said. "I think you can ask some countries which are in extremely difficult economic situations what their position on that is.
Read the entire article here
Hopefully the Polish minister´s realistic and sound views will inspire other EU governments to start questioning the liturgy of the Brussels global warming high priests. 

"Special price only for you" - but who would like to buy a loss making wind turbine giant?

Even if the price is cheap, Vestas will have huge problems in finding  a buyer

"Vestas lost money on each dollar of sales last year as turbine prices fell and is now grappling with the loss of wind-project subsidies in the U.S., Spain and India."
Vestas, the worlds largest manufacturer of wind turbines, is up for sale. But who would like to buy the loss making Danish giant at a time when there is more than enough of good, inexpensive and clean energy (like shale gas) available? At the same time governments are either reducing or eliminating subsidies to wind energy - the only reason why turbine manufacturers have been able to show profits. 
Vestas may have trouble luring a buyer while the wind industry faces a decline in demand and excess production capacity, according to David Vos, a London-based analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. The company can manufacture more than 8,500 megawatts of turbines a year, according to its annual report. Turbine production and shipments totaled 5,054 megawatts last year, or about 60 percent of capacity.
“It doesn’t make sense for any player to add so much capacity to their operations at this point in time,” Vos said. “The major conglomerates who might have the spending power to purchase assets have overcapacity themselves, and you’re facing a structural demand decline over the next two or three years.”
Industrywide, prices of turbines sold in the second half of 2011 fell to 910,000 euros ($1.2 million) a megawatt, the lowest since at least 2008, when records began, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance. Wind-power installations, which grew at an annual rate of about 36 percent in the five years through 2009, expanded just over 5 percent the following two years combined, according to Global Wind Energy Council data, as banks tightened financing and governments threatened to rein in support for clean-energy projects.
Spain in January declared a moratorium on subsidies to new renewable-energy plants, while India, the world’s third-biggest wind market, reduced a tax break this month.
In the U.S., the second-biggest turbine market after China, a Treasury grant program offering as much as 30 percent of development and construction costs for renewable-energy plants expired on Dec. 31. Another incentive, the Production Tax Credit, expires at the end of 2012. Vestas in January said it may cut an additional 1,600 jobs in the U.S. if lawmakers don’t extend the credit, which gives an incentive of 2.2 cents a kilowatt-hour of wind power.

Read the entire article here

Dalai Lama as a high priest of the global warming cult

Dalai Lama has become one of  the  high  priests of  the  global warming cult

His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, has always been highly respected in the western world for his principled championing of the Tibetan cause. Sadly though, he has recently turned himself into a high priest of the global warming cult. 

Californians are, of course, always an excellent audience, when a celebrity wants to spread the cultist message:

More than 4,000 people flocked to UC San Diego’s campus Wednesday morning to hear His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama talk about global warming and its implications.  

The spiritual leader of Tibet, who is in San Diego on his first official visit, received a celebrity’s welcome. The audience, which ranged from college students in backwards caps to men in blazers, stood and cheered as the Dalai Lama took the stage inside the RIMAC auditorium. When the Dalai Lama put on a UCSD visor, the crowd went wild.
The audience was soon hushed, however, as the Dalai Lama began to talk about the perils of global warming, including rising sea levels and poor air quality. Using a simple but powerful metaphor, the Dalai Lama illustrated just how critical he feels the issues are.
“Look at birds: Even they respect their nests because they know their survival depends on it," he said. "This small blue planet is our only home. If we do not respect it, the entire planet and billions and billions of species will be affected. This is a question of life, a question of survival for the entire planet.”
As he spoke, audience members sat captivated, some wiping away tears or closing their eyes to better absorb what he was saying.

Perhaps somebody should tell His Holiness that at least he does not have to worry about the Himalayan glaciers, which are are growing, despite of the dark prophesies of all doomsday scaremongers! 

Read the entire article here

(image by wikipedia)

Thursday, 19 April 2012

New York Times never fails when there is a chance to promote the global warming cult

"The poll opens a new window on public opinion about climate change."    

New York Times, 17 April 2012

The New York Times has for years now been one of the main promoters of the global warming cult. Now the formerly great newspaper is celebrating the fact that Americans fail to understand that weather events cannot be attributed to greenhouse gas emissions. Climatologist Roger Pielke Jr. comments on his blog:  

The latest NYT story on extremes and climate change celebrates the fact that many Americans fail to understand how human-caused climate change may be related to recent extreme events. Today's NYT reports a new poll that indicates that a large portion of the public believes that specific, recent events can be attributed to greenhouse gas emissions.

Yet, rather than citing recent research on the topic -- such as the IPCC SREX report -- the NYT decides to cheer about the public misunderstanding and speculate on its possible political usefulness:
Read together, the polls suggest that direct experience of erratic weather may be convincing some people that the problem is no longer just a vague and distant threat.
Ends justify the means -- This reminds me of Dick Cheney's comments about connections between Al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein. It is the political outcome that matters, no?

The poll reported by the NYT actually reports nothing new, the public has for a long time (decades and centuries, actually, see Stehr and von Storch, PDF) believed that the human impact on weather is much greater than the science shows.

This is what science tells us, according to professor Pielke:

Yet, as most scientists will explain, weather events and even climate patterns over a period of years simply cannot be attributed to greenhouse gas emissions. Detecting changes in climate requires decades of observations. A very cold winter or two does not disprove a decades-long warming trend, and a series of damaging hurricanes is not evidence of a human influence.


A bright future for shale gas in the UK

This what British consumers need.
 "In March U.K. households paid between £9.60 to £11.19 ($15.36 and $17.88) per million BTUs for natural gas, compared to spot prices in the U.S. of about £1.25, or $2". 

The UK is now well poised to become a shale gas pioneer in Europe:

The British government will allow shale-gas exploration to resume in northern England. Monday's preliminary finding from the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC), to be finalized this summer, comes nearly a year after Lichfield-based Cuadrilla Resources suspended its hydraulic-fracturing activities near Blackpool. The finding could be the harbinger of some very good news for consumers in the U.K. and throughout Europe.

The DECC report confirms that Cuadrilla's test-fracking likely caused two small tremors last year. But the report also said the company could proceed exploring the area if it follows a new set of expensive safety measures. Cuadrilla clearly thinks those measures are worth it: Initial estimates suggest that the land under exploration could hold up to 200 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, of which between 10% and 30% is likely recoverable. Even the 10% figure would more than triple Britain's current proven reserves and could make the country a net exporter of gas.
Fortunately, efforts by the "GG consortium" (Greens and Gazprom) to prevent the European shale gas revolution are going nowhere: 

British energy users need all the help they can get. In March U.K. households paid between £9.60 to £11.19 ($15.36 and $17.88) per million BTUs for natural gas, compared to spot prices in the U.S. of about £1.25, or $2. American natural gas prices have plunged in the last decade as shale production has taken off. Britain and Europe could be on the brink of a similar energy revolution—or at least an end to chronic undersupply—if its governments don't stand in the way.
On that point, the U.K. isn't the only good-news story. Poland, which is keen to throw off the yoke of dependence on Russian fuel, continues to press forward with shale-gas exploration. Efforts from Greens in the European Parliament to ban or restrict fracking throughout the European Union have gone nowhere.
So far, only France (and Bulgaria) have bought into the anti-fracking hype and banned the practice. With French retail natural-gas prices at least 25% higher than in the U.K., cheaper domestic gas would be a particularly welcome reprieve for the French economy.
Read the entire article here


And the sooner David Cameron and other European leaders admit that subsidies for the primitive, technicially underdeveloped wind energy - not to speak of even more useless solar power - are a waste of taxpayers´ money, the better. 
(image by wikipedia)

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

The $100 billion a year "Green Climate Fund" wants immunity privileges for its operations and officers

Do you remember the "Green Climate Fund", launched last December in Durban as some kind of substitute for the failure to agree on any other concrete matters?

The fund is supposed to distribute up to $100 billion a year by 2020 to poor countries fighting (non-existent, human caused) global warming. These enormous sums would - surprise, surprise - be taken out of  "rich" countries´ taxpayers´ pockets.

Apparently the western leaders, who committed their countries to this unheard of transfer of billions (most of which would go to corrupted and authoritarian third word governments) did not fully understand what they were doing. Maybe they thought that this was something similar to the usual "commitments" to save the world in 2050 or 2100.

Unfortunately, the "Green Climate Fund" is supposed to get going soon, and the third world dictators are already eagerly demanding to receive "their" share of the promised windfall.

In the typical UN fashion, a vast bureacracy, with hundreds of highly paid international officials is already in the planning. The most pressing issue is now, which country will get to host the huge new "Green Climate Fund" headquarters. Germany, Mexico, Namibia, Poland, South Korea and Switzerland have volunteered to host the bureacrats.

But there is one problem that may delay the project: The people planning the GCF want to make sure that the new organization - and above all, its highly paid international bureaucrats - gets the same immunity as UN organizations have, although the fund is not officially an UN institution:

According to the U.N.’s convention on privileges and immunities as applied in 1947 to U.N. “specialized agencies,” their property and assets “shall enjoy immunity from every form of legal process,” except when waived. And even then, waivers can never apply “to any measure of execution,” meaning whatever was done with them.
U.N. premises as well as property and assets, are immune from “search, requisition, confiscation, expropriation and any other form of interference, whether by executive, administrative judicial or legislative action.” All archives and documents, including even those “held” by the agencies, are considered “inviolable.”
Such agencies can move money, gold or any kinds of funds outside of any national regulation; are exempt from taxes, customs duties and import or export restrictions.
The same bulletproof status goes for their officials.

In the case of something like the GCF, this is “an issue of extending privileges and immunities to property rights,” in the opinion of Allan Meltzer, a distinguished professor of political economy at Carnegie Mellon University. “And these privileged people will not necessarily protect the property rights of others,” he adds.
A consultant at various times to the U.S. Treasury, the Federal Reserve, and Congress, Melzer also chaired a Clinton-era congressionally-mandated advisory commission on International financial institutions, including the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.
Says he: “Rather than extending immunities, we should be emphasizing the rule of law. If we want to do environmental things, we should do them above board, not in secret.”
“Immunities amount to a veil of secrecy,” says Bea Edwards, executive director of the Government Accountability Project, a Washington-based whistleblower protection organization.
“They are an immunity from external audit or oversight. They build in a structural conflict of interest at any immune institution for any international oversight mechanism.”

Read the entire article here

Most likely the "Green Climate Fund" will never receive anything close to the anticipated amount of money,  but one thing is certain: Even if the final cash flow will be only 5 or 10% of the annual $100 billion promised, somewhere in one of the six candidate countries a huge headqarters, housing hundreds of highly paid global warming bureacrats, will be erected as a monument to global (warming) stupidity.

Forget "peak oil" and renewables: There is more than enough of "unconventional" oil and gas

Robin Mills, writing in the European Energy Review, explains why the "peak oil" debate has lost its relevance. The hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling techniques, which brought us the shale gas revolution, can now also be applied in oil exploration. There is now more than enough of "unconventional" oil  to fill the needs in growing markets:

It's widely believed nowadays that global oil production is running up against its limits. "The days of easy oil are over", we are told and we should brace ourselves for an age of relative oil scarcity. The reality, however, is very different. As more and more people within the oil industry have come to realize in recent years, the world has plenty of oil that can be produced at competitive prices for a long, long time to come. This means the world does not face inevitable "energy poverty" and there is no reason to be afraid of unavoidable "energy wars". 
Antonio Brufau, the CEO of Spanish oil producer Repsol, told the World Petroleum Congress in Doha in December, "The speed at which technology changes and its consequences have taken us largely by surprise. The peak oil debate, for example, has lost a great deal of its relevance in the past three years".

The key issue driving Brufau's confidence was the extension of hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling techniques, the cornerstone of the US’s shale gas revolution, into 'tight' oil production. With these technologies it is possible to exploit low-permeability reservoirs which would otherwise not flow oil at commercial rates.

It has been clear for many years that 'unconventional' oil from a variety of sources greatly outweighs 'conventional' oil in volume. The issues have been cost, speed and environmental impacts. Reuters columnist John Kemp observes that "As a practical matter, the supply of liquid transportation fuels is unlimited at prices of $100 per barrel", pointing to the potential of gas- and coal-to-liquids. 

The US was the largest contributor to global supply growth in 2011 - an additional 320,000 bpd outweighed the whole of OPEC. Canada came second. The Energy Information Administration (EIA) in the US projects this pattern will be repeated in 2012. Jim Hackett, chairman and CEO of sAnadarko Petroleum, has suggested that North American oil output could double over the next 25 years – probably an over-ambitious goal but one which would make the continent at least self-sufficient. Citigroup estimates that by 2022, the US could be producing 3.5 mbpd and observes that, "The concept of peak oil is being buried in North Dakota...We expect industry expectations to lag behind reality, just as they did with shale gas for many years". 

The doomsday prophets were wrong again. There is plenty of good, affordable oil and shale gas available to cover the world´s energy needs. Taxpayers´ money should not be wasted on ineffective, unreliable and expensive wind turbines or solar power. Their time may come, maybe 100 years from now, when they hopefully have reached the technical level that makes them competitive.

What you will not find in Schwarzenegger´s memoirs

Arnold Schwarzenegger, the former governor turned enviro-loony, has got a lot of attention for his request on Facebook for people to tell him what to write about in his pending memoir book. Chris Reed comes with a good suggestion:

But the former governor’s upcoming book is unlikely to truthfully detail perhaps the most profound and far-reaching action of Schwarzenegger’s life: his decision to betray Californians and saddle their economy with a permanent burden because of his determination to be remembered as a green icon.

I refer to Schwarzenegger’s 2006 decision to embrace and sign AB 32, the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 – a bill forcing California utilities to switch to cleaner but much costlier forms of energy and establishing a cap-and-trade pollution credits market for heavy industries.

The state media’s amazingly incompetent and biased coverage of AB 32 treats it as an open question whether forcing California businesses to pay much higher costs for energy than firms in rival states and nations will help them or hurt them. Reporters covering energy and the environment also never mention the very related fact that one of the main rationales for AB 32 — that it would inspire the rest of America and the rest of the world to copy the Golden State in fighting global warming — never came to pass.

The result is that as AB 32 is phased in, California products will have an increasingly large competitive disadvantage because of  the de facto green energy surcharge their price includes.

Read the entire article here

Neither will Schwarzenegger include anything in his memoirs about the campaign against suburbia his Global Warming Solutions Act started:

It's no secret that California's regulatory and tax climate is driving business investment to other states. California's high cost of living also is driving people away. Since 2000 more than 1.6 million people have fled, and my own research as well as that of others points to high housing prices as the principal factor.
The exodus is likely to accelerate. California has declared war on the most popular housing choice, the single family, detached home—all in the name of saving the planet.
Metropolitan area governments are adopting plans that would require most new housing to be built at 20 or more to the acre, which is at least five times the traditional quarter acre per house. State and regional planners also seek to radically restructure urban areas, forcing much of the new hyperdensity development into narrowly confined corridors.
The campaign against suburbia is the result of laws passed in 2006 (the Global Warming Solutions Act) to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and in 2008 (the Sustainable Communities and Climate Protection Act) on urban planning. The latter law, as the Los Angeles Times aptly characterized it, was intended to "control suburban sprawl, build homes closer to downtown and reduce commuter driving, thus decreasing climate-changing greenhouse gas emissions." In short, to discourage automobile use.
If the planners have their way, the state's famously unaffordable housing could become even more unaffordable.

Read the entire article here

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Wind energy: No more turbo growth for the turbines

Even the Wind energy lobby now has to admit, that there will be no turbo growth for the turbines during the next few years:

The outlook remains bumpy for the wind-power industry after regulatory turmoil along with flattening demand in China hampered growth in key markets last year, according to a report from the Global Wind Energy Council released Tuesday at the European Wind Energy Association’s annual event in Copenhagen.
Potentially sluggish demand after presidential elections in the U.S. and Europe’bt troubles are further expected to weigh on the industry’s growth potential in coming years, while new markets in South America and Canada likely will make up for lost momentum.
The sector grew 6% in 2011, with the majority of new wind turbines being installed outside traditional markets like Europe and the U.S. Before the financial crisis undercut funding and triggered cuts in governmental subsidies, the sector as a whole saw growth rates of 34% and 45% in 2008 and 2009 respectively.
Read the entire article here
The wind energy growth in 2008 and 2009 was possible only because of large subsidies and tax credits. Now, when plenty of much better and cheaper energy - like shale gas - is available, why should countries like the US and China waste taxpayers´ money on subsidies and tax breaks for the expensive, ineffective,  unreliable and ugly bird killing turbines! 

Climate change plummets on American television networks

James Hansen´s publicity stunts do not  anymore  get  the same  attention  they  used  to have on American  television networks 

Americans are tired of James Hansen´s, Al Gore´s and the other global warming scaremongers´ doomsday predictions. That is why these study results are not surprising: 

News coverage of climate change/global warming has dropped dramatically on American television, according to a new study published by Media Matters

Sunday Show Coverage Of Climate Change Fell 90% Between 2009 And 2011. Since 2009, climate coverage on the Sunday shows has dropped every year across all networks. The Sunday shows spent over an hour on climate change in 2009, compared to 21 minutes in 2010 and only 9 minutes in 2011.
Nightly News Coverage Decreased 72% Between 2009 And 2011. Coverage of climate change on the nightly news programs dropped from over 2 hours in 2009 to just 27 minutes in 2010 and 38 minutes in 2011.

The above facts seem to be somewhat difficult to swallow for Media Matters, because they feel  a need to add e.g. the following comment, which is totally unrelated to the study subject: 

Each Network Covered Donald Trump More Than Climate Change In 2011. Every program included in our analysis devoted more airtime to Donald Trump's flirtation with a presidential run and birther antics than to climate change in 2011, with the exception of ABC World News

(image by wikipedia)

US and EU representatives in Beijing criticize China´s sentencing of disabled human rights lawyer

China´s communist rulers contine their crackdown on human rights and democracy activists:

China has sentenced disabled human rights lawyer Ni Yulan to two years and eight months in prison on charges of causing a disturbance and committing fraud, prompting complaints by rights activists.

A Beijing court sentenced the 51-year-old lawyer on Tuesday. Her husband, Dong Jiqin, was also jailed for two years on similar charges.

Both deny the charges, and their supporters say the charges were intended to silence their criticism of the government. The two were arrested a year ago as part of a wider crackdown on political dissent following anonymous online calls for protests in China after a series of uprisings in Arab countries.

Sarah Schafer, a Hong Kong-based China researcher with Amnesty International, told VOA the sentence is "absolutely unfair." She charged that Ni Yulan was targeted because she and her husband have been outspoken advocates for victims of land rights violations.

"Ni Yulan has suffered countless abuses at the hands of authorities, trying to defend people from forced evictions," she said. "In fact, she herself is a victim of a violent forced eviction, and she began giving aid to other victims to other victims of these types of evictions in 2001."

A positive sign is, that both US and the EU representatives in Beijing have publicly criticized the verdicts:

Outside the heavily guarded courtroom in suburban Beijing, European Union official Raphael Droszewski read a statement expressing "deep concern" about the sentences and calling for Ni's immediate release.

"The delegation of the European Union in China is deeply concerned by news of the sentence handed down to human rights defenders Ni Yulan and Dong Jiqin," said Droszewski The EU firmly upholds the rights of a person to address any human rights on behalf of individuals or groups, as enshrined in the United Nations declaration on human rights defenders."

He also said the EU is "preoccupied with the deterioration of the situation for human rights defenders in China," and will continue to closely monitor such cases.

Read the entire article here

The U.S. ambassador to China called on Beijing to release a prominent property activist sentenced last week to more than two years in prison, a rare move by an envoy who has criticized China's human-rights record but has seldom publicly questioned individual cases.

"I am very concerned by the sentencing of property and petitioner rights advocate Ni Yulan and her husband Dong Jiqin, as well as Ms. Ni's health and well-being, particularly in light of past abuses she has suffered," he said.

Read the entire article here

The logical next step should be a public condemnation of China´s crackdown on dissent by the US and EU governments. However, such actions are unlikely, in view of the fact that western political leaders at the same time are begging China to help solving the present financial crisis.

Monday, 16 April 2012

Encouring news from Australia: Government to shed half of Climate Change Department staff

Another encouraging piece of news from Down Under:

The federal Department of Climate Change will shed nearly half of its Canberra-based staff within the next three years as it struggles with further deep budget cuts.
Public service sources say the department will reduce its workforce by about 440 people, or 48 per cent, by 2014-15.
Staff were told in a meeting this week that the current workforce of nearly 920 full-time-equivalent workers would be cut to about 520 in 2013-2014 and to some 470 in 2014-15.

The remaining 470 could then be retrained to use their energy e.g. in shale gas exploration:

Santos Ltd. Australia’s third-largest oil producer, said the shale gas potential in the Cooper Basin in the center of the nation is “very large.” 

Danish PM: Denmark "the place to be" for wind energy - But is it?

Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning Schmidt today spoke at  the annual gathering of the European wind power subsidy beneficiaries - also known as the European Wind Energy Association’s Annual Event - in Copenhagen

“This is the place to be for renewable energy and green growth”, Helle Thorning-Schmidt, Prime Minister of Denmark, said in Copenhagen this morning at the opening of the European Wind Energy Association’s Annual Event. 

Flashback January 2012:

With a goal to reduce its fixed costs by more than 1.1 billion kroner by the end of the year, Vestas (the world´s largest Wind turbine manufacturer) announced this morning that it is laying off 1,300 employees at its facilities in Denmark. An additional 1,000 employees will be cut worldwide

Vestas is closing a factory in the western Jutland town of Varde and trimming administrative services in Hammel, Varde, Lem, Ringkøbing and at the company’s headquarters in Aarhus.
The company blamed the layoffs on the global financial crisis and a sluggish market for wind turbines in the United States and said that support functions are being streamlined to adjust capacity to meet market demand.
Last year, Vestas laid off 3,000 workers worldwide after posting a 24 percent drop in the third quarter.

One wonders whether Mrs. Thorning-Schmidt - a social democrat - has asked the former Vestas employees whether they also think that Denmark "is the place to be for renewable energy and green growth"?

Or has she asked what ordinary Danish taxpayers think about her green boasting? Obviously not, since most Danes are well aware of these facts:

Denmark's economic growth is forecast to slow for the second consecutive year in 2012, the Economic Council said Thursday.
The economy is set to expand 1.1 percent next year, slower than the 1.3 percent growth estimated for 2011, the council said. The gross domestic product rose 1.7 percent in 2010.
The accumulated growth forecast for the period 2011-13 has been lowered by more than 2 percentage points, compared to the assessment in Danish Economy, spring 2011.
The public deficit is likely to rise to DKK 84.2 billion in 2012 from an estimated DKK 72.5 billion this year, the council assessed.
In an annual Banking System Outlook on Denmark, Moody's on Wednesday said the Danish banking system's outlook remains negative. 

Exxon CEO: "If you want to live by the precautionary principle, then crawl up in a ball and live in a cave"

"The most important thing for people to understand about shale gas is it's just yet the next big resource opportunity for us," he says. "The world's economy has a voracious appetite for energy, so thank God we can do this."

"If you want to live by the precautionary principle, then crawl up in a ball and live in a cave."

Rex Tillerson, CEO of Exxon Mobil 

Exxon Mobil, America´s most profitable company, now produces as much natural gas as oil, and the share of shale gas is set to grow. The Chairman and CEO of Exxon, Rex Tillerson, a shale gas pioneer himself, knows what he is talking about:

Tillerson brushes aside environmental concerns as manageable and overblown. He regards the shale surge as unambiguously good news for the U.S. and the world, the latest triumph for an industry that periodically invents new ways to find and harness fossil fuels from the earth. "The most important thing for people to understand about shale gas is it's just yet the next big resource opportunity for us," he says. "The world's economy has a voracious appetite for energy, so thank God we can do this."
Tillerson believes the discourse about shale has been hijacked and distorted. He says that Exxon is transparent about its practices and points out, for instance, that the company was an early proponent of disclosing the chemicals that it uses in fracking. He argues that shale drillers are being held to an unrealistic safety standard. "What's happened is the tables have been turned around now to where we have to prove it's not going to happen," he says. "Well, that is a very dangerous exchange to get into because where it leads you from a regulatory and policy standpoint is to govern by the precautionary principle. And the precautionary principle will absolutely undermine the economy." He adds, "If you want to live by the precautionary principle, then crawl up in a ball and live in a cave."
Given Tillerson's long experience with fracking, it's perhaps not surprising that he takes criticism of shale drilling a bit personally. To him, the shale boom is a great example of the fundamental effectiveness of his industry -- the kind of achievement that always seems to be unappreciated. "We go through this every time we go to a new area to develop," he says. "It's just part of how society deals with having their energy needs met. What I find interesting about the U.S. relative to other countries is in most every other country where we operate, people really like us. And they're really glad we're there. And governments really like us. And it's not just Exxon Mobil. They admire our industry because of what we can do. They almost are in awe of what we're able to do. And in this country, you can flip it around 180 degrees. I don't understand why that is, but it just is."
Read the entire article here

One must only hope that the political decision makers understand the historic importance of the American led shale gas revolution. It is the best - and maybe only - hope for the US to regain its economic leadership role in the world.