Saturday, 4 August 2012

The Australian on shale gas as a game-changer

Today ´s editorial in the Australian is worth citing in its entirety:

POLITICAL parties preoccupied with environmental protection, including the Greens, should take on board the benefits of breakthrough technology that is already allowing easier access to shale gas in the US.
As environment editor Graham Lloyd reports today, with 250 years' worth of gas reserves now in play, the shale revolution is cutting power costs and carbon emissions and increasing energy supplies. In the longer term, it promises energy security, export earnings and stability as the West's dependence on Middle East oil diminishes.
The unexpected emergence of shale, foreseen by very few four or five years ago, underlines the folly of governments trying to "pick winners" by investing in various forms of renewable energy, such as wind and solar power, which will only be viable on a large scale if technology improves.
Too little attention has been paid to Australia's vast shale reserves, which are potentially far bigger than coal-seam gas. Apart from the volume of water needed to access it, shale poses fewer environmental problems than coal-seam gas. The geological formations are more stable and located in more remote areas. Given the reluctance of our politicians to pursue nuclear power, shale has the potential to be an important energy source for decades.

Clint Eastwood endorses Romney

Clint Eastwood and Ronald Reagan in 1987 (image by wikipedia)

My favorite film director and actor does not disappoint:

"Now more than ever do we need Gov. Romney. I’m going to be voting for him, " Eastwood told Romney supporters Friday night.
"He just made my day," Romney said. "What a guy."  

What the new Schwarzenegger Institute should concentrate on

Former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has partnered with the University of Southern California to create a policy think tank:

The USC Schwarzenegger Institute for State and Global Policy will be funded with a Schwarzenegger commitment of $20 million, which will include a personal donation as well as money from fundraising. Schwarzenegger's personal donation was not disclosed.

The former bodybuilder-turned-actor-turned-governor said the think tank will allow him, among other things, to pass along his experience from his seven years in Sacramento.

The Republican governor worked with Democrats to enact California's landmark 2006 global warming law, called AB32, which paved the way for the state's cap-and-trade system for controlling greenhouse gas emissions by the worst polluters.

"One of the great lessons I learned as governor of California was that the best solutions to common problems could only be found when each side was willing to engage thoughtfully and respectfully with each other," Schwarzenegger said in a statement.

The Schwarzenegger Institute could actually do a great service to Californians by concentrating on a case study trying find out why the ex-terminator was allowed to ruin the future of the great state in just seven years:  

Andrew Chang & Company, which conducted the latest fiscal and economic impact study on behalf of CMTA, found that the average California family will end up paying an additional $2,500 annually by 2020 when AB 32 (Schwarzenegger´s global warming law, NNoN) is fully implemented. In addition, the state is expected to lose an additional 262,000 jobs, 5.6 percent of the gross state product, and a whopping $7.4 billion through decreased annual state and local tax revenues as a result. Figures from the study were based on more conservative estimates, suggesting that expected costs could actually range much higher.

Read the entire article here

Friday, 3 August 2012

The shale gas revolution: China begins to see the light

China, the world's biggest energy user, is also one of the nations with the largest reserves of shale gas. According to government estimates, China has explorable shale gas reserves of about 25.1 trillion cubic meters, which on paper means that based on current gas consumption, there are enough gas stocks to last for the next two centuries.
China Daily

China is beginning to understand the blessings of shale gas: 
There is now a growing urgency in Beijing to further encourage the development of unconventional energy sources as it believes such steps are essential to help reduce carbon emissions and costly gas imports.
Shale gas remains an integral part of the overall energy strategy and the government has outlined a plan that will see China producing 60 to 100 billion cubic meters of natural gas annually by 2020 from shale sources.
Natural gas is the practical solution to China's long-term energy requirements, as other unconventional sources like wind and solar power have proved to be expensive propositions, Chen says.
Though China has the largest installed capacity in wind turbines and is the largest maker of solar panels in the world, it is not safe for the energy-hungry nation to solely focus on renewable energies, experts say.
Energy demand is expected to jump sharply by 2030, when China becomes the largest economy in the world, experts say. According to the BP Energy Outlook 2030 released in January, China's energy consumption in 2030 will be more than the combined demand of the US and Europe.
During the same period the energy deficit between China's own production and consumption is expected to jump six-fold over that of 2010, according to the report. China already imports more than 55 percent of its oil requirements and 20 percent of its natural gas requirements. The over-reliance on costly fuel imports will impact long-term growth and development prospects, experts say.
"There is no country in the world that wants to be reliant on other nations for energy supplies. The reasons for this are both economical and political," says Howard Rogers, director of the Natural Gas Research Programme at the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies in Oxford, United Kingdom.
Expensive energy imports put nations in a vulnerable position, especially when there is political turbulence across the world, says Youn-kyoo Kim, associate professor of International Studies at the Seoul-based Hanyang University in South Korea.
"The US success in shale gas has already made it less reliant on imports from the Middle East. Like the US, if China achieves a shale gas revolution it will also be less reliant on costly gas imports from Russia and the Middle East. It could also pave the way for a new cooperation mechanism in Northeast Asia," Kim says.
The shale gas revolution has helped the US to become the leading nation in terms of natural gas stocks and also cut its oil imports from 60 percent of total consumption in 2005 to 46 percent. Over the next five years, the US is also set to be a leading exporter of natural gas.
"I think China is very impressed by what has happened in the US shale sector and would like to replicate that success. However, I think it will be some time before China can achieve significant volumes of shale gas output," says Rogers from the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies.
Read the entire article here
China´s intention to dramatically intensify shale gas exploration is of course bad news for Putin and Gazprom. The Russian energy giant will not be able to sell as much gas to its eastern neighbor as it had hoped to do. 
And by the way, Oxford´s Rogers is probably not entirely right when saying that "no country in the world wants to be reliant on other nations for energy supplies". Germany for example appears to favor a policy that makes it reliant on Russian energy supplies.

Reuters praising Putin´s fake leniency

It is amazing that an experienced journalist like Reuters´ Mark Trevelyan (who describes himself in this way: "I have reported for Reuters from nearly 40 countries over 25 years, with postings in Brussels, Warsaw, Moscow, Berlin and Wellington, New Zealand".) is willing to act as a de facto PR man for Russian dictator Vladimir Putin
"Putin and Phelps show golden touch"

Putin, who cultivates a macho image based partly on his skills on the mat, slapped the victor repeatedly on the back and grabbed his cheeks with both hands.

In buoyant mood, he went on to suggest to Russian news agency Interfax that members of female punk band Pussy Riot, on trial for protesting against him in a Moscow cathedral, should not be judged too harshly.

Read the entire article here

What Putin said about not too harsh judgment for Pussy Riot - who have been jailed for months and face a prison sentence - was nothing but damage limitation. Putin has finally realized that his decision to have the three innocent girls thrown into prison was a huge mistake. Now he fakes leniency - and Reuters´ Trevelyan thinks that´s a "golden touch"!

Warmists John Kerry and Barbara Boxer disappoint enviro-fundamentalist Oxfam America

The US Congress - including global warming alarmists John Kerry and Barbara Boxer - is to be congratulated;  it must have done the right thing, because it arouses the ire of enviro-fundamentalist Oxfam America

A vote passed Tuesday in the Senate Commerce Committee takes climate bashing in a whole new direction. The “Thune bill” (S.1956) actually makes it illegal for the airline industry to even comply with another country’s climate law. (Since when is the European Union a country? NNoN)

Just imagine what would happen, for example, if European countries voted to make it illegal for their foods, like champagne or chocolates, to comply with US health and safety standards? That’s how bad this is.
At issue is the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS) which applies a uniform rule to all flights landing in or departing from EU airports regardless of origin or destination and regardless of the airline’s home country. The law was upheld in EU Court of Justice (similar to the U.S. Supreme Court) last year in a lawsuit that was brought by U.S. airlines. Since then, the House of Representatives voted to prohibit U.S. airlines from complying with the law and now the Senate has voted its companion bill out of committee with almost unanimous approval. The bill could be attached to all sorts of legislation headed to the president’s desk.

At issue is the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS) which applies a uniform rule to all flights landing in or departing from EU airports regardless of origin or destination and regardless of the airline’s home country. 

Even some of the most reliable stalwarts on climate in the Senate voted for the bill, including Senator Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and Senator John Kerry (D-Mass.), further demonstrating the way that the aviation industry has been able to strong-arm the process. It is astounding and confounding that they would cast this vote. This may be the worst vote by Senate Democrats on climate issues since the Byrd-Hagel resolution in 1997, which cut the legs out from under U.S. engagement in international climate policy for at least a decade.

Read the entire article here

Thursday, 2 August 2012

David Cameron meets dictator Putin at Downing Street 10

David Cameron has met with Vladmir Putin at Downing Street 10. According to Sky News there was - as expected - no progress with regard to Putin´s unwillingness to see fellow dictator Bashar al-Assad dethroned.

Also according to Sky News, Cameron brought up the case of the three girls - The Pussy Riot - jailed for months for staging a protest against Putin, and who now face a lengthy prison sentences. It goes without saying  that Putin did not offer to free the innocent girls.

If there were any justice in the world, the thief and criminal who has proclaimed himself lifetime president of the mafia state Russia, would have been jailed upon entering the UK. Regrettably, only minor dictators face justice in Europe. If you are the "leader" of a big enough petro-gas empire, your host takes you to see the Olympic judo competition instead.

Somewhat later today Sky News had invited an Armenian "Russia analyst" by the name of Lilit Gevorgyan to provide "expert" commentary on Putin´s meeting with Cameron. One wonders why they bothered, when they could had somebody from the dictator´s own PR department to provide exactly the same message for free.

Could Antarctica regain its position as a subtropical paradise?

This could be how the Wilkes Land "Croisette" in the Antarctica will look in the future

The Antarctic continent had a rather pleasant climate about 50 million years ago, with palm trees growing in the near-tropical warmth. That is the main message of a new study published in the scientific journal Nature

We show that the climate in lowland settings along the Wilkes Land coast (at a palaeolatitude of about 70° south) supported the growth of highly diverse, near-tropical forests characterized by mesothermal to megathermal floral elements including palms and Bombacoideae. Notably, winters were extremely mild (warmer than 10°C) and essentially frost-free despite polar darkness

Could a little (most probably natural) global warming bring back those golden days of the Antarctica? That at least seems to be what the Chinese are rooting for. They have commissioned Finland´s Aker Arctic to design a new polar research icebreaker, which might come in handy for the first Antarctic land claims and palm tree plantings:  

The polar research icebreaker for China will be designed to accommodate a total of 90 persons and will have a length over all of about 120 meters, a maximum breadth of 22,3 m and draught of 8,5 m. The vessel will have the ability to break through 1,5 m of level ice at 2 to 3 knots speed, including multi-year ice. The vessel will be fitted with twin azimuthing propeller drives. Ice class will be PC3 and the vessel will have dual classification from China Classification Society (CCS) and Lloyds Register of Shipping (LR).

For marine biological and ecological programs the vessel will enable marine organism and ecological surveys and acts as a biological research platform. The vessel may be used also for the Antarctic station supplies logistic tasks undertaking some of M/V Xuelong’s mission especially in the heavy sea ice condition.

(image of the Croisette in Cannes by wikipedia)

The euro crisis: Germany will never accept unlimited printing of money

The fact that Italy and France now are calling for unlimited printing of money in order to save the euro is another sign of the unavoidable breakup of the eurozone. Germany will of course never accept the destruction of its strong economy by the use of unlimited money printing, and neither will the Finns, the Austrians and the Dutch

This week, some euro-zone members have been calling for the permanent bailout fund to be provided with a banking license that would provide it with unlimited access to money from the European Central Bank. The "bazooka" option might help crisis countries in the short term, but it would entail massive risks in the long run.
The bazooka debate heated up after a suggestion from some countries, including Italy and France, that the permanent euro rescue fund, the European Stability Mechanism (ESM), should be equipped with "unlimited firepower" through a banking license. In concrete terms, it would enable the ESM to borrow unlimited amounts of money from the European Central Bank and use it to shore up euro-zone member states threatening to buckle under the weight of the crisis.
Given that billions of euros have already been deployed in the euro crisis, the idea of unlimited credit seems risky to say the very least. Not surprisingly, the reactions have been intense. "A banking license for the ESM would mean firing up the money printing machine, which means inflation and nearly unlimited liabilities," Patrick Döring, the general secretaty of the business-friendly Free Democratic Party, the junior partner in Chancellor Angela Merkel's government coalition, told SPIEGEL ONLINE. "That is why the FDP cannot and will not allow a banking license to be issued."

Read the entire article here

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Macho man Putin is afraid of girls!

The tiger hunting macho man is afraid of girls
(image by

The great macho Vladimir Putin, ruler of Russia, who has a black belt and shoots tigers,  is afraid of girls! : 
Commentators predicted that the weakened Vladimir Putin would compromise with his political opposition as he began his third (actually fourth) term as Russia’s head of state. Our pundits do not understand Putin. For “once-KGB-always-KGB” Putin, compromise is an admission of weakness. Opposition is to be crushed, not bargained with. If  one hundred thousand demonstrators go on the streets, beat some of them, arrest some, fine them a year’s salary, or jail them as “inciters of mass disorder.”  If anti-corruption bloggers attract too large an audience, pass anti-defamation laws, harass and interrogate then, and then stick them in jail to rot. If investigative reporters get too close, look the other way when they are murdered.
Putin’s persecution targets to date have been grown ups, such as  Oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky, popular anti-corruption blogger Alexei Navalny, who was charged today with embezzlement, investigative reporter (deceased) Anna Politovskaya, Chess master Gary Kasparov, or ex-KGB (deceased) Alexander Litvinenko. Putin’s new enemies are young, naïve, and often female. Muscular, rock-ribbed, macho Putin is picking fights with girls! This doesn’t look good.
On February 21, Putin’s security forces arrested three members of the Pussy Riot feminist band, baklavas covering their faces, as they entreated the Virgin Mary to “get rid of Putin” in a “happening” performance in the Moscow’s Christ the Savior Cathedral. Two band members escaped underground, where they are available for interviews. The arrested Pussy Riot girls –Nadya, Katya, and Masha — are in their early twenties. They have husbands. Two have young children. In April, Amnesty International declared them prisoners of conscience.On July 30, after five months of incarceration, Nadya, Katya and Masha pled not guilty to the charge of “hooliganism motivated by religious animosity” in the same Moscow courtroom in which the Khodorkovsky trial was held. A guilty plea (which their defense attorney expects) could carry a sentence of seven years.
In their statement to the court, Nadya, Katya, and Masha declared they intended no harm to believers. They were protesting the close political relationship between Putin and the corrupt head of the church, Patriarch Kirill (of  $50,000 Rolex watch fame). Kirill has already inserted himself into the case. The Church refers to the Pussy Riot girls as devil worshippers.
At least the steel bars on the steel courtroom defendant cage from the Khodorkosvky case have been replaced by clear glass. A father of one of the defendants volunteered that his daughter “looks like she has been on a long hunger strike. I think this is like an inquisition, like mockery.”  The girls’ lawyer accuses their jailors of food and sleep deprivation. State-run TV focuses on the unrepentant defendants: “Look at their faces; they are laughing and joking” and featured a traumatized parishioner: “When I talk about this event, my heart hurts. It hurts that this is possible in our country. Their punishment must be adequate so that never again is such a thing repeated.”
Putin will understand that he has made a major mistake in taking on a feminist punk rock group. He will be too stubborn to retreat. So he is stuck.
At home, the muscular judo-black-belt Putin looks like a sissy. As one of the at-large Pussy Riot members (“Squirrel”) taunted in an interview with the Guardian: “Putin is scared of us, can you imagine? Scared of girls. The most important dictator, Putin, is really afraid of people.” I tend to agree with Squirrel.
Read the entire article here

Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Gallup poll: Global warming lowest ranking issue in the US

In spite of all recent heat wave hype in the media, climate change and global warming are not among the major concerns  for Americans

While issues like federal deficits, spending, corruption and terrorism rank high among voter concerns, environmental issues and raising taxes on the wealthy do not.
A new Gallup poll shows that only 21 percent of Americans see combating environmental issues, like global warming, and increasing taxes on the wealthy as “extremely important” priorities. In contrast, 19 percent of Americans believe climate change is “not important” for the president to address and 27 percent believe the same for raising taxes on the wealthy.
There is a huge gap in support for President Barack Obama and Republican candidate Mitt Romney when it comes to these issues.
Thirty-three percent of Obama supporters see environmental issues as “extremely important,” 23 percentage points higher than Romney supporters who also believe environmental issues are “extremely important.”
Likewise, 32 percent of Obama supporters see raising taxes on the wealthy as an “extremely important” issue, 22 percentage points higher than the share of Romney supporters who also believe so.
Despite the huge difference in priorities among their supporters, the environment and taxing the wealthy were the lowest-ranked issues of concern for supporters of each candidate.

Read the entire article here

Monday, 30 July 2012

Putin´s faithful servant Mark Adomanis criticizes the Guardian

Mark Adomanis, writing in Forbes magazine, continues his attacks on the Guardian´s coverage of Putin´s mafia state.  This time it is one of the Guardian´s "increasingly frequent editorials against Putin" which has angered this faithful servant of the Russian dictator: 

"The Guardian Seriously Overestimates Vladimir Putin's Weakness  and Vulnerability"

I understand that Russia’s political institutions are much more brittle than those of any Western democracy and that Putin is therefore far more vulnerable to a sudden change in public opinion. But, since it has sufficed in the past, 2/3s approval would seem to be sufficient for the broad continuation of the status quo.  
I can fully understand and sympathize with The Guardian’s evident desire to see Putin replaced: the Pussy Riot trial really is quite a revolting bit of political theater, and it stands to reason that such stunts will only become more common as the Kremlin seeks to drive a wedge between the progressive and conservative parts of Russian society. But I think it’s a big mistake to over-estimate Putin’s weakness and vulnerability: this will tend to raise expectations that cannot possible be fulfilled. Perhaps I’m wrong, but it looks to me like Russia’s current economic and political trends suggest maintenance of the existing system, however rotten and objectionable that system may be.

In this column Adomanis again uses the same technique that he has applied so many times before: First he pretends to "understand and sympathize" with those who criticize the dictator, but his conclusion is always that they are wrong and that Putin is safely in charge.

The Guardian, of course, knows Russia much better than the self-proclaimed Kremlin "expert" Adomanis: 

For now Putin remains unassailable and secure. His response to growing disquiet has been even further repression. Parliament has rushed through new legislation giving Putin ever greater powers to stifle opposition. Even before he marks his 100 days in power in the middle of next month, the new laws include a requirement for non-governmental organisations to carry a "foreign agent" tag; the right for government to block access to blacklisted internet sites purportedly dealing with child pornography and drug abuse and the recriminalising of slander and libel (decriminalised six months ago by Putin's predecessor, Dmitry Medvedev), and the imposition of huge fines.
Repression will continue to work until such point as the anxiety and anger moves from the fringes to the centre of Russian society. That has not yet happened. But political power is based on trust, faith and confidence. It is a delicate ecosystem that can come apart if warning signals are not properly heeded. The Kremlin are looking less sure-footed than they once did. Their reaction to Pussy Riot is a case in point. It would be deeply ironic if the actions of a group of bright, articulate young women were to signal the beginning of the end for the world's most macho political leader.

Read the entire article here