Friday, 15 June 2012

Hu Jintao in Copenhagen: Danes excel in the art of kowtowing

The visit of China´s president Hu Jintao in Denmark proceeds as expected; the Danes, who otherwise are eager to show how they care about democracy and human rights - particularly in small economically less important countries - are speaking softly, and without a stick in sight, to their high guest.

Denmark´s socialist Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt refuses to put Tibet on the agenda during her discussions with Hu tomorrow, thus going against the clearly manifested policy agreed by the Danish parliament. 

Instead the representative of China´s authoritarian ruling clique is wined and dined like an emperor while in Copenhagen. Today Queen Margrethe took her guest on a tour of the harbor on board the royal yacht Dannebrog. Earlier in the morning almost the entire Danish cavalry - 48 riders - greeted Hu on his arrival at the Queen´s Amalienborg palace. 

Later on in the afternoon Crown Prince Frederik will pay tribute to the "300 years of Danish-Chinese trade", at a business gathering. Denmark, like most other crisis ridden EU countries, is looking for help from China to get the economy going. So far, China has offered only nice words - which is the likely outcome also of this visit. 

Meanwhile, tens of thousands of political prisoners languish in the enormous government operated Laogai slave labor camps in China ...

But, who knows, maybe Hu will offer to buy the loss making Danish wind turbine manufacturer Vestas. Modern Danish technology could be the key to improving the productivity of the camps ...

New research: "Green economy" increases poverty

The "green economy" is another favorite slogan of the enviro-fundamentalist movement. However, new studies show that this trendy catchword is anything but beneficial:

The rapidly-growing appropriation of land and resources in the name of 'green ' biofuels, carbon offsetting schemes, conservation efforts and eco-tourism initiatives – is forcing people from their homelands and increasing poverty, new research has found.

Ecosystems being 'asset-stripped' for profit is likely to cause dispossession and further poverty amongst already-poor land and resource users, according to a set of 17 new research case studies from Africa, Asia and Latin America, published in a special issue of the Journal of Peasant Studies.

Examples of green grabs include: in Guatemala, conservation agencies, ecotourism companies and the military are 'protecting' the Guatemalan Maya Biosphere Reserve as a 'Maya-themed vacationland', violently excluding local people. In Eastern and Southern Africa, businesses are revaluing soil systems and farming practices for 'biochar', dispossessing farmers and pastoralists from land and resources important for their livelihoods. Meanwhile evidence is mounting that some Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD and REDD+) schemes are dispossessing local forest users of vital resource access.

(image wikipedia)

Thursday, 14 June 2012

Fareed Zakaria on shale gas: Western democracies no more dependent on rogue states (like Russia)

Fareed Zakaria has an excellent column about the huge impact of the American led shale gas revolution:

And in a short time, its success has led to the drilling of 20,000 wells in America, the creation of hundreds of thousands of jobs, and a guaranteed supply of gas for perhaps 100 years. The International Energy Agency says global gas production will rise 50% by the year 2035; two-thirds of that growth will come from unconventional sources like shale — a market the U.S. completely dominates.
We've become the world's lowest-cost producer of natural gas at a cost of $2 per thousand cubic feet; compare that with many European countries which have to pay seven times as much to Russia.
It's increasingly possible to use liquified natural gas as a substitute for oil as a transportation fuel, so the effects go beyond generating electricity. General Motors is planning to produce cars that can take natural gas or oil in their fuel tanks.
Aside from the advantages to America, shale gas has the potential to change the geopolitics of energy.
So far, gas has been supplied by a handful of regimes — Russia, Iran, Venezuela — many of them nasty and illegitimate, thriving on global instability, which actually helps their bottom line since instability equals higher oil and gas prices.
In the next 20 years, much of this energy could come from stable, democratic countries like the United States, Canada, Australia, Poland, France and Israel. That would be good for the free world, bad for the rogues and good for global stability. China has huge shale reserves and, even though it is not democratic, it is a country that seeks stability, not instability.
In Europe, where the greenies and Gazprom have formed an unholy alliance against shale gas, there is at least some good news to report:
Energy from gas power stations has been rebranded as a green, low-carbon source of power by a €80bn European Union programme, in a triumph of the deep-pocketed fossil fuel industry lobby over renewable forms of power.
In a secret document seen by the Guardian, a large slice of billions of euros of funds that are supposed to be devoted to research and development into renewables such as solar and wave power are likely to be diverted instead to subsidising the development of the well-established fossil fuel.

Scientific academies have become enviro-fundamentalist propaganda centers

Gone are the days when scientific academies were concentrating on what they were founded for: scientific matters. The once highly esteemed UK Royal Society and 104 other of the  "world´s leading scientific academies" have now become centers for spreading leftist enviro-fundamentalist propaganda: 
The Rio+20 Earth summit must take decisive action on population and consumption regardless of political taboos or it will struggle to tackle the alarming decline of the global environment, the world's leading scientific academies warned on Thursday.
Rich countries need to reduce or radically transform unsustainable lifestyles, while greater efforts should be made to provide contraception to those who want it in the developing world, the coalition of 105 institutions, including the Royal Society, urged in a joint report.
It's a wake-up call for negotiators meeting in Rio for the UN conference on sustainable development.
The authors point out that while the Rio summit aims to reduce poverty and reverse the degradation of the environment, it barely mentions the two solutions that could ease pressure on increasingly scarce resources.
Many in the scientific community believe it is time to confront these elephants in the room. "For too long population and consumption have been left off the table due to political and ethical sensitivities. These are issues that affect developed and developing nations alike, and we must take responsibility for them together," said Charles Godfray, a fellow of the Royal Society and chair of the working group of IAP, the global network of science academies.
In a joint statement, the scientists said they wanted to remind policymakers at Rio+20 that population and consumption determine the rates at which natural resources are exploited and Earth's ability to meet the demand for food, water, energy and other needs now and in the future. The current patterns of consumption in some parts of the world were unsustainable. A sharp rise in human numbers can have negative social and economic implications, and a combination of the two causes extensive loss of biodiversity.
Read the entire article here
It is all very easy for the Royal Society grandees, enjoyng the comfortable club atmosphere of the Carlton Terrace Marble Hall, to urge other people to "transform" their "unsustainable lifestyles". But tell that to the almost five million people in the UK who live in absolute poverty.

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

The European Union defines success in Rio: A definition of "green economy"

The European Union is sending a huge delegation to the Rio+ 20 UN mega conference, due to begin in Rio de Janeiro next week. Today EU überwarmist Connie Hedegaard and environment commissioner Janez Potocnik briefed the press about their expectations: 

Hedegaard said that the fact that the concept of the 'green economy' is recognised and is on the international agenda is already an acquis.For Hedegaard, Rio+20 will have to build a strong global vision of what this concept covers.

In response to a question about what would make Rio a success, Potocnik said that binding commitments are not necessarily required. He explained that even though it would only be partial success, he would be satisfied with arriving at the adoption of a document with a clear definition of 'green economy' and concrete targets, along with an agenda on the 'pillars of life'.

Hedegaard, Potocnik and more than 50,000 other politicians and bureaucrats are flying (by private jet or first/business class) to Rio in order to discuss how to define "green economy"! The European Union is "satisfied" if the conference  adopts "a document with a clear definition of "green economy". 

Considering how many hundreds of meetings and conferences in different exotic holiday resorts have preceded the Rio+, the "green economy" document will probably be the most expensive definition ever adopted. 

But that is only the best case scenario. The more likely outcome is that yet another mega conference - or maybe two - is needed before the "green economy" has a definition. All paid for by the taxpayers of the "rich" countries. 

Could a Finnish exit trigger the end of the euro?

Matthew Lynnchief executive of the London based consultancy Strategy Economics, thinks that Finland´s exit could be the trigger breaking the eurozone in its present form:  
But here’s how it might come to a head over the summer: a “Spanic,” followed by a “Quitaly,” followed by a “Fixit.” A fresh panic in Spain might be followed by rising demands for Italy to quit if it doesn’t get the same terms its fellow Mediterranean country has been offered, followed bya Finnish departure from the euro that might finally bring the whole saga to a climax. 
Finally a Fixit (for a Finnish exit). The crisis will finally come to a head when one country decides to get out. Finland is the most likely. Why? Because it is a small nation with a strong economy. It is easy to head for the door. Finland would be better off on the first day, just as Estonia was when it decided to leave the ill-fated ruble zone created after the collapse of the old Soviet Union. It doesn’t particularly have to worry about the impact on the European Union, in the way that Germany would if it opted out. If a country such as that leaves, it is effectively game over, but no one can really say that of a tiny place such as Finland. And it has a strong anti-euro political grouping; the True Finns scored well in the last election and may well improve their position in the polls.
Finland is already demanding collateral for its portion of the Spanish loan. That could well turn into a deal-breaker — no collateral, so we’re out of here. Once one country leaves, it is much easier for the next to leave, in much the same way as it is easier to be the second person to leave a really bad party than the first.
A Finnish exit will be the trigger for the single currency to either be taken apart, or else for a smaller euro zone with fewer countries and tighter rules to be created. Either way, it would bring the crisis to a much-needed resolution.
Read the entire column here
A Finnish exit would indeed be welcome, but whether the current Finnish government - which so far has been very pro euro - will have the courage to go for it is another matter. 

IMF boss Lagarde´s climate change message: US taxpayers should pay more

Christine Lagarde does not pay any taxes  herself,  but  she  thinks  others  should pay much more!

The lady is at it again!

The other day the IMF boss Catherine Lagarde - the world´s best paid female politician, with annual tax free earnings of more than $550,000 - caused international outrage, when she suggested that beleaguered Greeks might do well to pay their taxes.

Now the same Lagarde is demanding tax rises for US and other western taxpayers in order to transfer huge sums of money to "developing countries" (mostly run by corrupt authoritarian governments) in order to fight (bogus) global warming projects: 

Getting the prices right means using fiscal policy to make sure that the harm we do is reflected in the prices we pay. I am thinking about environmental taxes or emissions trading systems under which governments issue—and preferably sell—pollution rights. It is basically a variation of the old mantra: “you break it, you buy it”.
... in these difficult budgetary times, countries need revenue and these kinds of tax or tax-like instruments can deliver. In the United States, for example, a carbon tax of about $25 per ton of CO2—which would add 22 cents to a gallon of gasoline—could bring in about 1 percent of GDP, or over $1 trillion over a decade. Charges on international aviation and maritime emissions would raise about a quarter of the $100 billion needed for climate adaptation and mitigation in developing countries—resources that developed countries have committed to mobilize by 2020.
Lagarde´s speechwriter had added this poetic ending to her speech, which apparently was intended to move the audience at the Washington DC Center for Global Development to tears: 
Once again, Wangari Maathai said it best: “We are called to assist the Earth to heal her wounds and in the process heal our own—indeed, to embrace the whole creation in all its diversity, beauty and wonder. This will happen if we see the need to revive our sense of belonging to a larger family of life.”
We all belong to this larger family of life. Rich nations and poor nations. Economists, environmentalists, and social policymakers. Public sector, private sector, civil society, and international organizations. We must all come together and work together.
For in the end, we all share the same goal—to make this small planet we call our home a better place for this generation and for generations to come.

Well, US taxpayers are certainly making it easier for Mme Lagarde to embrace "the whole creation in all its diversity, beauty and wonder" by paying almost 20% of her huge wage and benefit package, worth more than American president Barack Obama earns from the United States government. (The US share of IMF funding is close to 20%).

The question US taxpayers - and politicians - should ask themselves: Why on earth keep on financing a life in luxury for this French lady, who is reciprocating with demands of higher taxes for ordinary citizens?

Denmark next country to kowtow to China´s authoritarian communist leaders

Ordinary people - and media - in the Western countries are so used to their leaders kowtowing to the communist party authoritarians, who run China, that questions about the country´s abysmal human rights record are more or less forgotten. 
On Thursday it is Denmark´s turn to give a Royal welcome Chinese President Hu Jintao. Queen Margrethe will host a formal state banquet in honor of the visiting dignitary. Denmark´s socialist Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt has described Hu´s visit as "historic", and the left wing socialist foreign minister Villy Soevndal said "the visit reflected Denmark's status as the sole Nordic state and one of very few European countries that has made a Strategic Partnership Agreement with China".
The Danish trade minister Pia Olsen-Dyhr described the real reason for the excitement:
A visit to Denmark later this week by Chinese President Hu Jintao is expected to provide a backdrop for companies to sign export deals worth more than 10 billion Danish crowns ($1.68 billion), the Danish trade minister said.

Denmark also hopes the June 14-16 visit will lead to a doubling of exports to China over the next five years and improve the balance of trade, which is now in China's favor, Minister for Trade and Investment Pia Olsen Dyhr told Reuters in an interview on Tuesday

Oh yes, the trade minister also mentioned human rights:

Olsen Dyhr said that Denmark would not miss the opportunity to discuss human rights in China with the Chinese officials. "We always talk human rights when we meet with the Chinese." 

These kind of meaningless "discussions" are of course always on the agenda when western leaders meet with China´s authoritarian communist bosses. Their only purpose is to offer a chance to tell the media that "of course we brought up the issue of human rights". 

Neither Denmark´s socialist Prime Minister, nor the country´s far left foreign minister will ask Hu e.g. this question:

Mr President, why is your government running a system of state sponsored slavery consisting of more than 1,000 slave labour prisons with more than five million prisoners, among them tens of thousands of political or religious prisoners?

Monday, 11 June 2012

Nobody of any real importance is going to Rio

Nobody of any real importance is going to the (hopefully) last UN mega sustainability/climate change conference about to open in Rio de Janeiro next week.Other, more urgent matters need the attention of world leaders: 

Next week, the world of environmental summitry descends again on Rio de Janeiro, for what is being described as “Earth Summit +20”. But the mood is very different. Barack Obama, David Cameron and Angela Merkel are not expected to attend; Obama’s presence in particular is deemed counter-productive to his re-election bid, as the Democrat president attempts to win over climate-sceptic voters in swing states

Still, among the 50,000 or so global warming/sustainability tourists expected to arrive in Rio, there are a number enviro-fundamentalists who act and speak like nothing would have changed, among them the Scottish minister for climate change, Stewart Stevenson. He seems to live in a parallel universe, full of imaginary "green" jobs and abundant (non-existent) renewable energy:

The aim is to establish the credentials of the “green economy”. The Scottish Government is to form part of the UK’s delegation to the summit, also known as the Conference on Sustainable Development, keen to promote its own credentials as a promoter of low-carbon growth. Stewart Stevenson, the minister for environment and climate change, says: “The low-carbon economy offers a huge opportunity for us, creating tens of thousands of jobs and re-industrialising our economy. And as we create green jobs at home we are helping other countries develop renewable energy, and also tackling the devastating impact of climate change on the world’s poorest. It is this joined-up vision that I will take to Rio.”

Read the article here

The eurozone is burning - EU grandees busy doling out money in the Pacific

The eurozone is burning, economic growth has stopped, unemployment has reached catastrophic levels in Spain and several other member countries .....

However, there is one pillar of stability amidst the turmoil: The European Union is "committed to consolidate its position" (read: dish out even more of European taxpayers´money) as a "reliable and substantial development and climate change partner in the Pacific". No matter how empty the coffers at home are, the EU grandees are always delighted to fly first class to some exotic Pacific island in order to bring yet another announcement of new new aid millions to the natives: 

Tomorrow, European Commissioner for Development, Andris Piebalgs, will attend in Auckland the EU-Pacific Islands Forum Ministerial Meeting, along with Christian Friis Bach, Minister of Development Cooperation of Denmark, who represents the High Representative/Vice-President of the Commission Catherine Ashton. A wide range of issues affecting the region will be discussed, such as climate change, sustainable development, economic stability, growth and trade, and development cooperation. The positions ahead of the Rio+20 United Nations Conference on sustainable development of 20-22 June will also constitute a part of the debate and focus on how the EU and the Pacific could reach a substantial outcome in Rio+20 especially around the adoption of concrete goals and targets supporting the transition to an inclusive green economy.
Ahead of the Ministerial meeting, Danish Minister for Development Cooperation Christian Friis Bach, said: ''Our presence here demonstrates the EU's expanding interest and continuous engagement in the Pacific, as a foreign policy priority for the EU. Our cooperation has worked well both in political and financial terms, but we can still do more. In the future, we expect that our partnership will continue to grow and intensify. The EU is committed to consolidate its position as a reliable and substantial development and climate change partner in the Pacific''.
"The European Union is a global player and respects its global commitments. The Pacific Islands are the first to suffer the impact of climate change, which is why the EU decided to take the lead in rallying substantial international community support for the Pacific's climate change adaptation efforts. The ministerial meeting gives us yet another opportunity to strengthen our partnership and take forward our shared positions to international stage. Rio+20 conference will give us an opportunity to demonstrate our commitment to sustainable development and green economy."
At the core of EU-Pacific partnership is cooperation on climate change; the single greatest threat to the region. Since the EU and the Pacific Islands Forum adopted the Joint Declaration on Climate Change in November 2008, EU-Pacific cooperation on climate change has increased substantially, both politically and financially.
The EU and its Member States are the largest donor worldwide and the second in the region, after Australia.
On top of resources for development and climate change initially allocated to the Pacific ACP countries for the period 2008-2013, the EU has made available a financial package of €110 million in additional climate change related resources committed by the Commission since 2008.

Read the entire article here

Sunday, 10 June 2012

Dutch professors solve the euro crisis: "Get rid of those debts with sun and wind"

The eurozone is on the brink, with Spain now asking for bail-out money. But no reason to worry. A group of Dutch professors know how to solve the euro crisis

The countries most affected by the Eurocrisis could reduce their debts substantially with concessions for renewable energy. Greece, Italy, Portugal, Spain and Ireland have excellent conditions for harvesting energy from the solar energy, wind power and geothermal energy sources. They could give their creditors concessions for large scale investment programs in renewable energy that offer enough long-term financial profit.

This 'renewable-energy-concessions-for-debt-reduction-plan' was introduced by a group of renowned economics and energy professors and proposed in the Dutch daily 'NRC Handelsblad' last Monday. A thirty percent debt reduction is possible if Ireland gives less than one percent, Portugal about one percent and Greece about two percent of its total surface into concession for renewable energy production. The authors emphasize that 'the energy projects don't have to exclusively be large-scale and on a few big pieces of land. They could capitalize on vast opportunities for decentralized energy locally as well'.

The involved countries would be able to pay off a substantial part of their debts to the creditors and at the same time they will also receive a positive stimulus for their economy and employment from the construction and maintenance of the projects. 'Especially the young generation in these countries who now face a tremendously high unemployment rate will enjoy a new perspective for a debt-free future with many opportunities for healthy growth. And Europe will have more renewable energy with which to contribute to a cleaner, healthier and safer environment for its citizens', according to the professors.

The professors have obviously not noticed that governments in a number of countries have been forced to cut  the subsidies to ineffecient, unreliable and expensive wind and solar energy projects:

This plan only has winners. The concessions allow the creditors to get their money back, which is quite uncertain in the current situation. The indebted countries will not only be paying off a substantial part of their debts, but they will also receive a positive stimulus for their economy and employment from the construction and maintenance of the projects. Especially the young generation in these countries who now face a tremendously high unemployment rate will enjoy a new perspective for a debt-free future with many opportunities for healthy growth. And Europe will have more renewable energy with which to contribute to a cleaner, healthier and safer environment for its citizens.

Source: this opinion article was published in NRC Handelsblad (The Netherlands) on June 4th by Prof. Dr. Klaas van Egmond (Professor in Geosciences – Utrecht University), Prof. Dr. Sylvester Eijffinger (Professor Financial Economy – Tilburg University), Prof. Dr. Herman Wijffels (Professor Sustainablity and Societal Change – Utrecht University), Prof.  Dr. Wim Sinke (Professor Sustainable Energysystems – Utrecht University) en Marco Witschge (initiator of this article and Director of the New Energy for The Netherlands Foundation)

Read the entire article here

One´s first reaction when reading the Dutch academics´ article is that this must be a joke. But regrettably these professors appear to be serious when they suggest that huge investments in solar and wind energy could solve the eurozone crisis. How detached from reality can you be as a Dutch academic?

Putin´s timepieces: "watches of a kleptocrat"

Russia´s ruler, former second rate KGB spy Vladimir Putin is officially a man of rather modest means. He owns a small flat in St. Petersburg, a couple of old Volgas, a 2009 Lada and and a 1987 car trailer inherited from his father. Putin´s salary last year was a rather paltry $112,000. Still he has been able to acquire an impressive collection of the world´s most expensive watches: 

President Vladimir Putin declared income of 3.6 million rubles ($112,000) last year, but his watch collection alone may be worth six times that.
Putin, who wears the timepieces on his right wrist, has been photographed sporting a Patek Philippe Perpetual Calendar, valued at $60,000.
The president has also been seen wearing a Leman Aqua Lung Grande Date by Blancpain, worth $10,500.
Made of crocodile leather, sapphire glass and platinum, an A. Lange & Söhne Tourbograph may be his most expensive timepiece, valued at half a million dollars.
Shots of the president sporting expensive watches appear in a recent video by the Solidarity opposition group that is circulating the Internet.
Putin's watch collection is worth at least 22 million rubles, Solidarity says.
"Putin, it seems, did not eat or drink for six years to acquire this collection,"Boris Nemtsov, a Solidarity member and former deputy prime minister, wrote in a blog post featuring the video Thursday.
The video begins with Putin lauding his administration's progress fighting corruption. The following scene bears the words "watches of a kleptocrat"
In one clip, Putin presents the son of a shepherd with a $10,500 Blancpain. In another, he tosses a similarly priced Blancpain into wet concrete.

Read the entire article here


There are different estimates about Putin´s real net worth. The analyst Stanislav Belkovsky has stated that Putin could be worth about $70 billion. Judging by his watch collection, this estimate might not be very far from to the truth. 

"Green" energy hoax exposed

Marty Sieff exposes the the phantasies of "green" energy:

Understand this: the technology to store solar energy on a gigawatt (billion watts of power) scale does not yet exist. If you want it to, invent it. But to imagine that it does exist is to indulge in science fiction.
The energy output of a single medium-size coal mine in Kentucky, Robert Bryce writes, is greater than the entire solar and wind energy output of the United States.

This is not because some mythical evil oil and nuclear corporation executives have plotted to sabotage virtuous “clean” and renewable wind and solar power. It is because wind and solar power do not work. Wind power never will. Solar power may fifty or a hundred years from now. But right now, to bet on wind and solar power to run the US economy is ludicrous. It is science fiction.
And to dream that hydroelectric power, biomass, or thermal power can make the American people energy-independent is worse than science fiction; it is a fairy tale for babies.

Wind energy is never going to be more than a marginal energy source. That is because, quite simply, it depends on the wind. Electrical generating stations need to have regular, sustainable sources of energy their machinery can constantly rely upon. Storage batteries and technology to store wind energy do not exist. Hopefully, one day soon they will. But we simply cannot count on it.
Also, as Robert Bryce, the managing editor of Energy Tribune, has pointed out, the most effective wind turbines require major quantities of the extremely rare minerals or rare earths lithium and lanthanides. “That means mining,” Bryce writes in his book Power Hungry. “And China controls nearly all of the world’s existing mines that produce lanthanides.”
In other words, when Thomas Friedman is telling us to embrace a wind energy future, he is not making us less energy-dependent on the Middle East, he is making us far more energy-dependent on China.

Read the entire article here

The question to ask is why so many "progressive" and leftist - and even a number of conservative - politicians continue to praise "green" energy, even if most of them understand, or at least should understand, that solar and wind power are no solution to our present - or foreseeable future - energy needs. We in Europe have reason to envy the United Sates, where the overwhelming majority of leading Republican politicians dare to oppose the politically correct enviro-fundamentalist agenda, dictated by the greenies and their supporters in the media.