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PMC Articles Tagged 'energy'

Why big-money men ignore world’s biggest problem

November 22nd, 2011 by joe | 1 Comment

See Marketwatch: http://www.marketwatch.com/story/why-big-money-men-ignore-worlds-biggest-problem-2011-10-11

Why big-money men ignore world’s biggest problem

By Paul B. Farrell, MarketWatch

SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. (MarketWatch) — Last year Bill Gates said if he had “one wish to improve humanity’s lot over the next 50 years” he would pick an “energy miracle,” some magical “new technology that produced energy at half the price of coal with no carbon-dioxide emissions,” says CNN editor Fareed Zakaria in the New York Times.

And he said “he’d rather have this wish than a new vaccine or medicine or even choose the next several American presidents.”

Energy miracle? But that’s not where he’s giving his billions. In fact, since 1994 the Gates Foundation has spent over $26 billion on philanthropic projects, ventures and innovations, lots in vaccines and medicines that extend life, increase mortality rates and encourage population growth.

Yes, all good stuff, but ultimately undermining the possibility of discovering a magical energy miracle.

Worse, if that energy miracle is discovered anywhere its value could easily be wiped out by the world’s out-of-control population growth, forecast to reach 10 billion by 2050 from 7 billion today, one brief generation.

So why is Gates not focusing solely in his energy miracle? Better yet, why is he ignoring what he agrees is the world’s biggest problem? Even undermining the solution?

To read the full article, please click here: http://www.marketwatch.com/story/why-big-money-men-ignore-worlds-biggest-problem-2011-10-11

Jeremy Grantham–Investing, Population, Environment

September 1st, 2011 by joe | Add a Comment

Thanks to Fred Stanback for this article.  See http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/14/magazine/can-jeremy-grantham-profit-from-ecological-mayhem.html

Can Jeremy Grantham Profit From Ecological Mayhem?


Published: August 11, 2011

Sitting in a Panera in Boston’s financial district in early July with Jeremy Grantham, I suddenly found myself considering how I might safeguard my children’s and notional grandchildren’s future by somehow engineering the U.S. annexation of Morocco. Grantham, the founder and chief strategist of the asset-management firm GMO, was reading aloud from a rough draft of his next quarterly letter to investors, in which he ranks some long-term crises of resource limitation along a scale from “merely serious” to “dangerous.”

Energy “will give us serious and sustained problems” over the next 50 years as we make the transition from hydrocarbons – oil, coal, gas – to solar, wind, nuclear and other sources, but we’ll muddle through to a solution to Peak Oil and related challenges. Peak Everything Else will prove more intractable for humanity. Metals, for instance, “are entropy at work . . . from wonderful metal ores to scattered waste,” and scarcity and higher prices “will slowly increase forever,” but if we scrimp and recycle, we can make do for another century before tight constraint kicks in.

Agriculture is more worrisome. Local water shortages will cause “persistent irritation” – wars, famines. Of the three essential macro nutrient fertilizers, nitrogen is relatively plentiful and recoverable, but we’re running out of potassium and phosphorus, finite mined resources that are “necessary for all life.” Canada has large reserves of potash (the source of potassium), which is good news for Americans, but 50 to 75 percent of the known reserves of phosphate (the source of phosphorus) are located in Morocco and the western Sahara. Assuming a 2 percent annual increase in phosphorus consumption, Grantham believes the rest of the world’s reserves won’t last more than 50 years, so he expects “gamesmanship” from the phosphate-rich.

And he rates soil erosion as the biggest threat of all. The world’s population could reach 10 billion within half a century – perhaps twice as many human beings as the planet’s overtaxed resources can sustainably support, perhaps six times too many.

To read the full article, please click here: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/14/magazine/can-jeremy-grantham-profit-from-ecological-mayhem.html

Future of Natural Gas as an Energy Source

August 29th, 2011 by joe | Add a Comment

Thanks to the Post Carbon Institute for this report on the reality regarding natural gas as an energy source in the future.  A scathing introduction by Richard Heinberg, found at http://www.postcarbon.org/article/330223-foreword-will-natural-gas-fuel-america is found below, with a link to download the report.

FOREWORD: Will Natural Gas Fuel America in the 21st Century?

Posted May 12, 2011 by Richard Heinberg

This is Richard Heinberg’s Foreward to our brand new report ‘Will Natural Gas Fuel America in the 21st Century?’ by Post Carbon Fellow David Hughes.

Post Carbon Institute undertook this report in order to examine three widespread assumptions about the role that natural gas can and should play in our energy future:

  • Assumption #1: That, thanks to new techniques for hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling of shale, we have sufficient natural gas resources to supply the needs of our country for the next 100 years.
  • Assumption #2: That the price of natural gas, which has historically been volatile, will remain consistently low for decades to come.
  • Assumption #3: That natural gas is much cleaner and safer than other fossil fuels, from the standpoint of greenhouse gas emissions and public health.

Based on these assumptions, national energy officials at the Energy Information Administration (EIA) foresee a major expansion of natural gas in the coming decades. President Obama touted natural gas as a cornerstone of his Administration’s “Blueprint for a Secure Energy Future”[1] and endorsed plans for converting a sizable portion of the vehicle fleet to run on natural gas. Some environmental groups, rightfully concerned about the greenhouse gas emissions of coal, have called for large-scale replacement of coal-fired power plants with those that burn natural gas, despite increasing concern over the environmental impacts of hydraulic fracturing.

As this report details, all of these assumptions and recommendations need to be re-thought. What emerges from the data is a very different assessment.

Read the rest of this entry »

Supplements to Will Natural Gas Fuel America in the 21st Century?

August 29th, 2011 by joe | Add a Comment

Thanks to the Post Carbon Institute for this set of supplementary reports on the report, Will Natural Gas Fuel America in the 21st Century? On May 12th PCI released Will Natural Gas Fuel America in the 21st Century?. Written by PCI Fellow J. David Hughes, the detailed report argues that the natural gas industry has propagated dangerously false claims about natural gas production supply, cost and environmental impact. The report calls into question the prevalent assumption that we have access to over a century of cheap and easy natural gas.

Will Natural Gas Fuel America in the 21st Century has been requested by local, state and federal agencies, media and concerned citizens worldwide. Within three weeks of its release, the report has been downloaded over 11,000 times.

PCI has now released three supplements to the report that they hope you’ll find of interest and value:

Agriculture and Natural Gas” by PCI Fellow Michael Bomford

Problems and Opportunities with Natural Gas as a Transportation Fuel” by PCI Adviser Richard Gilbert and PCI Fellow Anthony Perl

Public Health Concerns of Shale Gas Production” by PCI Fellows Brian Schwartz, MD, and Cindy Parker, MD.

Download all three reports in one volume at http://www.postcarbon.org/reports/NatGasSupplements.pdf

Read the rest of this entry »

Will Natural Gas Fuel America?

August 26th, 2011 by joe | 1 Comment

Thanks to the Post Carbon Institute for this report.  See http://www.postcarbon.org/report/331901-will-natural-gas-fuel-america-in. To download the report, see http://www.postcarbon.org/reports/PCI-report-nat-gas-future.pdf,

A detailed new energy report argues that the natural gas industry has propagated dangerously false claims about natural gas production supply, cost and environmental impact. The report, “Will Natural Gas Fuel America in the 21st Century” is authored by leading geoscientist and Post Carbon Institute Fellow J. David Hughes.

REPORT: Will Natural Gas Fuel America in the 21st Century?

David Hughes

Published May 29, 2011

In this groundbreaking report, geoscientist David Hughes (formerly of Geological Survey of Canada) shatters the myth that U.S. natural gas can be a “bridge fuel” from high-carbon sources of energy like coal and oil to a renewable energy future.


Natural gas has increasingly been touted as a “bridge fuel” from high-carbon sources of energy like coal and oil to a renewable energy future. This is based on renewed optimism on the ability of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing to access natural gas from previously inaccessible shale gas deposits. A review of the latest outlook (2011) of the U.S. Energy Information Administration(EIA) reveals that all eggs have been placed in the shale gas basket in terms of future growth in U.S.gas production. Without shale gas, U.S. domestic gas production is projected to fall by 20% through 2035.

To read the full article, please click here: http://www.postcarbon.org/report/331901-will-natural-gas-fuel-america-in

The Imminent Crash Of Oil Supply

August 24th, 2011 by joe | Add a Comment

Thanks to Emily Spence for this article.  See  http://www.countercurrents.org/arguimbau230410.htm

The Imminent Crash Of Oil Supply: Be Afraid

By Nicholas C. Arguimbau

23 April, 2010

What is going to happen and how it came to pass that we weren’t forewarned

Look at this graph and be afraid. It does not come from Earth First. It does not come from the Sierra Club. It was not drawn by Socialists or Nazis or Osama Bin Laden or anyone from Goldman-Sachs. If you are a Republican Tea-Partier, rest assured it does not come from a progressive Democrat. And vice versa. It was drawn by the United States Department of Energy, and the United States military’s Joint Forces Command concurs with the overall picture.

To read the full article, please click here: http://www.countercurrents.org/arguimbau230410.htm

The Nuclear Cost Shell Game

July 18th, 2011 by joe | Add a Comment

Thanks to Fred Stanback for this article.  See http://ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=55527

The Nuclear Cost Shell Game

By Stephen Leahy

UXBRIDGE, Canada, May 6, 2011 (IPS) – The nuclear energy industry only exists thanks to what insurance experts call the “mother of all subsidies”, and the public is largely unaware that every nuclear power plant in the world has a strict cap on how much the industry might have to pay out in case of an accident.

In Canada, this liability cap is an astonishingly low 75 million dollars. In India, it is 110 million dollars and in Britain 220 million dollars. If there is an accident, governments – i.e. the public – are on the hook for all costs exceeding those caps.

Japan has a higher liability cap of 1.2 billion dollars, but that is not nearly enough for the estimated 25 to 150 billion dollars in decommissioning and liability costs for what is still an ongoing disaster at its Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. Seven weeks after the tsunami caused the disaster, radiation levels continued to spike higher.

No one knows when the reactors will finally be in cold shutdown, or when the costs of the Fukushima disaster will stop piling up. One report suggests decommissioning will take 30 years.

Japan’s credit rating was downgraded because of the accident, noted Mycle Schneider, a Paris-based energy and nuclear policy analyst who has worked in Japan. “The Japanese know it’s just a matter of time before another large earthquake occurs,” Schneider told IPS. “Japan will never build another nuclear plant.”

On Friday, Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan ordered the undamaged Hamaoka Nuclear Power Plant, about 200 kilometres southwest of Tokyo, to cease operations over future earthquake concerns.

To read the full article, please click here: http://ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=55527

Why Family Planning Is Critical to Global Energy Strategy

June 24th, 2011 by joe | Add a Comment

Thanks to Joe Bish for this article.  See http://www.huffingtonpost.com/diane-maceachern/why-family-planning-is-cr_b_852395.html

Why Family Planning Is Critical to Global Energy Strategy

Diane MacEachern

During the first Earth Day in 1970, environmental activist Stephanie Mills made headlines when she announced she would not reproduce to avoid contributing to climate change and other environmental problems attributed to a growing human population. Forty-one years later, should reducing population again be considered as a way to contain global energy demand?

Japan’s nuclear catastrophe and the explosion in the Deepwater Horizon oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico a year ago force the question. Nuclear advocates universally justify the decision to fuel power plants with radioactive uranium as the best way to sate the world’s increasing appetite for energy. Coal-fired utilities and oil companies use a “running to stay in place” argument as well. Despite gains in efficiency, they correctly point out, energy demand is on the rise. Part of the reason is because people in developing countries are justifiably using more kilowatts of electricity and barrels of oil to help bring their standard of living up to that of countries that have abundant energy access 24/7. But another reason is because every year, says the United Nations, our global numbers increase by some 80 million people, the equivalent of ten New York cities. At that rate, world population is projected to spike from the current 6.9 billion people to over 9 billion by 2044.

We don’t have to wait thirty-three years to comprehend the impact increasing population growth will have on energy consumption and the resulting carbon dioxide that contributes to climate change. According to the International Energy Agency, from 2004-2008, world population increased 5%. During the same period, gross energy production increased 10% with a comparable 10% jump in annual CO2 emissions.

This does not bode well for our energy future.

To read the full article, please click here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/diane-maceachern/why-family-planning-is-cr_b_852395.html

Water wars? Thirsty, energy-short China stirs fear

May 27th, 2011 by populationmedia | 1 Comment

Thanks to Don Wilkin and Fred Stanback for this article.  See http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/42630131/ns/world_news-world_environment/t/water-wars-thirsty-energy-short-china-stirs-fear/

Water wars? Thirsty, energy-short China stirs fear

Associated Press

BAHIR JONAI, India (AP) — The wall of water raced through narrow Himalayan gorges in northeast India, gathering speed as it raked the banks of towering trees and boulders. When the torrent struck their island in the Brahmaputra river, the villagers remember, it took only moments to obliterate their houses, possessions and livestock.

No one knows exactly how the disaster happened, but everyone knows whom to blame: neighboring China.

“We don’t trust the Chinese,” says fisherman Akshay Sarkar at the resettlement site where he has lived since the 2000 flood. “They gave us no warning. They may do it again.”

About 800 kilometers (500 miles) east, in northern Thailand, Chamlong Saengphet stands in the Mekong river, in water that comes only up to her shins. She is collecting edible river weeds from dwindling beds. A neighbor has hung up his fishing nets, his catches now too meager.

Using words bordering on curses, they point upstream, toward China.

The blame game, voiced in vulnerable river towns and Asian capitals from Pakistan to Vietnam, is rooted in fear that China’s accelerating program of damming every major river flowing from the Tibetan plateau will trigger natural disasters, degrade fragile ecologies, divert vital water supplies.

For the rest of the article, please click here: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/42630131/ns/world_news-world_environment/t/water-wars-thirsty-energy-short-china-stirs-fear/

Humanity Can and Must Do More with Less: UNEP Report

May 25th, 2011 by joe | Add a Comment

Thanks to Eric Rimmer for this article.  See http://www.unep.org/Documents.Multilingual/Default.asp?DocumentID=2641&ArticleID=8734&l=en

Humanity Can and Must Do More with Less: UNEP Report

New York/ Nairobi, 12 May 2011 -

By 2050, humanity could consume an estimated 140 billion tons of minerals, ores, fossil fuels and biomass per year – three times its current appetite – unless the economic growth rate is “decoupled” from the rate of natural resource consumption, warns a new report from the United Nations Environment Programme.

Developed countries citizens consume an average of 16 tons of those four key resources per capita (ranging up to 40 or more tons per person in some developed countries). By comparison, the average person in India today consumes four tons per year.

With the growth of both population and prosperity, especially in developing countries, the prospect of much higher resource consumption levels is “far beyond what is likely sustainable” if realized at all given finite world resources, warns the report by UNEP’s International Resource Panel.

Already the world is running out of cheap and high quality sources of some essential materials such as oil, copper and gold, the supplies of which, in turn, require ever-rising volumes of fossil fuels and freshwater to produce.

To read the full article, please click here: http://www.unep.org/Documents.Multilingual/Default.asp?DocumentID=2641&ArticleID=8734&l=en