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Energy Headlines - May 4, 2005

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Peak Oil

Seriously, maybe they do need the energy

The Oil Drum (blog)
Much has been written in recent days about the Iranian nuclear program. There have been a lot of questions as to whether this is a subterfuge to cover the development of nuclear weapons. The jury on that may not even have been called yet, but perhaps the Iranian Government are not being totally deceptive, and do need the potential energy.
...
All things considered, the use of nuclear power as a form of energy provider, makes some sense. Given that it will take some significant amount of time to get enough of the background protocols covered, planning to have such power in around 10 years, as their current power supply disappears, could be considered only prudent. Of course it could also be being used for a more clandestine purpose, but the legitimate need should not be treated in too cavalier a fashion.
(4 May, 2005)

Turia on Peak Oil

Scoop (NZ)
The Maori Party today announced that it is considering a range of options to best respond to Peak Oil in their policy and operational thinking. “Peak oil is rushing towards us and will significantly change life in New Zealand as we know it”.

“Members of the Party have raised their concern that the global capacity to consume crude oil crude will, sooner or later, exceed our global potential to find and produce it. Across the world, we are currently burning more than four barrels of oil for every new barrel discovered while demand continues to rise” said Tariana Turia, Co-leader of the Maori Party.

“We have read with interest, the draft emergency plan released by the international energy agency which describes options such as carless days, or a speed limit of 80km/h”.
(4 May, 2005)


Energy-related News

Q&A: A Planetary Problem

New Yorker
Elizabeth Kolbert travelled from Alaska to Greenland, and visited top scientists, to get to the heart of the debate over global warming. In this week’s magazine, she publishes the last of a three-part series on climate change; the first and second parts are here online. Below, she discusses the series with Amy Davidson.
(2 May, 2005)
Ed: Outstanding series on climate change in the New Yorker. Part II was just put online. Part I is also online.

No Nukes Is Good Nukes

Grist
An interview with longtime anti-nuclear activist Helen Caldicott

Q: There's a concerted effort right now to rehabilitate the image of nuclear power. Proponents argue that fossil fuels are more damaging to the environment, as well as being in short supply, and that nuclear is the [best option going forward]. What's going on here?

A: The people saying these things are not biologists, they're not geneticists, they're not physicians. In other words, they don't know what they're talking about. And that makes me very annoyed. First of all, every reactor produces about [20 to 30] tons of highly radioactive waste a year. The majority of it is very long-lived and will have to be isolated from the ecosphere for hundreds of thousands of years ... As it leaks into the environment, it will bio-concentrate by orders of magnitude at each step of the food chain: algae, crustaceans, little fish, big fish, us.

It takes a single mutation in a single gene in a single cell to kill you. [The most common plutonium isotope] has a half-life of 24,400 years. Every male in the Northern Hemisphere has a small load of plutonium in his gonads. What that means to future generations God only knows -- and we're not the only species with testicles. What we're doing is degrading evolution, and not many people understand that.
(3 May, 2005)

Scotland Ministers plot 'power grab' over planning
The Herald
MINISTERS want unprecedented powers which will make it virtually impossible for
objectors to block developments such as nuclear power stations, motorways or
airport expansions.

Under a streamlined new planning process, public inquiries into such projects in
Scotland will be neutered or even scrapped if the schemes are designated of
national strategic importance, The Herald has learned.

The proposals have shocked environmentalists, who have described them as a
"power grab by ministers" and "a developers' charter".
(3 May, 2005)

IEA grapples with oil supply scare

Reuters via CNN-Money
World's richest nations meet to discuss securing supplies, keeping crude prices from hurting growth.
PARIS (Reuters) - Energy efficiency and investment are high on the agenda for ministers from leading energy consuming nations at talks Tuesday on securing future oil supplies to prevent energy costs hurting economic growth.

Ministers from the United States, Europe and Japan were among those attending a meeting of the 26-nation International Energy Agency, the energy arm of the OECD, which meets every two years at ministerial level to protect the interests of oil consumers.
(3 May, 2005)
Related:
IEA To Discuss Energy Efficiency,Closer OPEC Ties -Source (Dowjones Newswire)

U.S alters tactics on Venezuela
The Globe and Mail
U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has discarded her failing tactic of
confronting Venezuela publicly in favour of working behind the scenes in Latin
America against a country she says threatens the region's stability.

The shift was evident last week in a four-country Latin America tour by Ms.
Rice, during which she studiously avoided mentioning Venezuela in speeches and
statements.

Earlier this year, her criticism of the "negative force" of Venezuelan President
Hugo Chavez backfired by burnishing his anti-American credentials and irking
governments in a region wary of U.S. interference.

Venezuela is one of the world's largest exporters of crude oil and a major U.S.
supplier. A crisis in Venezuelan-U.S. relations could slow the flow of crude
and raise world prices that have repeatedly set records in recent weeks.
(2 May 2005)

The Story of Energy

Financial Sense Online

What would the world do without energy? Computer access would be virtually impossible; businesses would shut down - life, as we know it, would come to a standstill. Addison Wiggin explores the options that the U.S. has to make sure an energy crisis of that proportion will never come to light...

The story of energy is the story of survival...

First came fire. Then oxen pulling plows. Sun converted crops to food energy. Water and wind energy churned mills. Milled grain fed more oxen and horses. The horses pulled more plows.

The story of energy is the story of civilization...

First it was just wood, dried dung and straw that put heat in our homes. Then we had coal and furnaces. Coal made steam - steam powered factories, trains and boats. It turned turbines, which gave us electricity.

The story of energy is the story of wealth and power...
(2 May, 2005)

Capitals of smog

Guardian
Our cities need to unite to tackle climate change

Given the air miles the party leaders have been blithely clocking up in the election campaign, it seems climate change has fallen off the political agenda; meanwhile, new reports suggest the Antarctic ice sheet is melting far more rapidly than we thought. We have global land temperatures expected to rise by at least 3 degrees by 2100, sea levels by 40cm by 2050, and chief scientist David King calling climate change a greater threat than terrorism. But the world's elected national leaders seem incapable of addressing the challenge.

Thankfully, outside traditional party politics, there are signs of hope. It has fallen to cities to lead the way. Tired of the intransigence of national and multinational government, civic leaders are starting to act unilaterally to counter the spectre of global warming.
(4 May, 2005)


Solutions and Sustainability

Pedal power thrives in Germany

Christian Science Monitor
Ad-friendly and environmentally sensitive, human-powered taxis are flourishing across German cities.

FRANKFURT, GERMANY – Like many of Germany's 5 million unemployed, Jens Indorf trudged out each morning in a futile search for a job. His year-long quest ended when he took a job as a Velotaxi driver. Now he gets up each morning with a spring in his step - a product of days spent pedaling his tricycle taxicab along the banks of the Main River, under the blossoming cherry trees, and past the tall glass towers that are the trademark of continental Europe's banking capital.

Mr. Indorf is part of a new fleet of taxi drivers that have flourished on the gridlocked streets of Germany's big cities. Pedal-powered, mouse-shaped Velotaxis, or "cult-flitzers," as they are called here, ride streets, bike paths, and pedestrian zones to transport tourists and city dwellers. They've transformed Indorf's life. And they could transform the way cities fight car pollution.

"I love to sweat," says the former car mechanic, hauling his 308-pound steel tricycle through nooks and crannies unreachable to buses and taxis.
(3 May, 2005)

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