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Agency report rings alarm bells for global energy security

Staff with wire services, Turkish Daily News
Alarm bells are ringing on the issue of security of global energy supplies, International Energy Agency (IEA) Chief Economist Dr. Fatih Birol said Friday at a press conference in Istanbul.

“The threat to the world’s energy security, especially on oil and natural gas, will reach serious dimensions in the next 10 years,” he added.

Energy and Natural Resources Minister Hilmi Güler and Birol co-hosted the press conference at which they commented on a report prepared by the IEA titled “World Energy Outlook 2006.”

Birol highlighted that the most important message the report was delivering was the “threat to energy security, especially in natural gas.”

Safeguarding energy supplies will once again be at the top of the international policy agenda, Birol noted. As the IEA, they predict that global energy security will be under serious threat in coming years, he added. “In this context, we advise governments to take stronger action to steer the energy system onto a more sustainable path.”

The world is facing twin energy-related threats: that of not having adequate and secure supplies of energy at affordable prices and that of environmental harm caused by consuming too much of it, the report said.

Birol underlined the need to curb the growth in fossil energy demand, to increase geographic and fuel supply diversity and to mitigate climate-destabilizing emissions.
(23 Dec 2006)
Contributor David Bell writes:

The IEA appears to be warning us that Peak Oil (while not referring to it per se) and Global Warming are both clear and present dangers. Perhaps it is now time for member countries to begin taking some serious action. Business can no longer remain as usual.

Discussion: Energy crisis in the Urals

Nadezda Markina, Innovations Report (Germany)
…Has the energy crisis begun? If so – what should be done about it, if not – how should we get ready for it?

Answers to these questions were sought for by the participants of the academic cafe in Ekaterinburg. The cosy room of “Coffee House # 7” brought together the leading specialists on power engineering of the Ural region and journalists. The presenters – Lubov Strelnikova, editor-in-chief of the “Chemistry and Life” journal and of the InformNauka Agency, and Sergei Katasonov, supervisor of the site – asked anything but simple questions.

The extent the life of a contemporary person is dependent on power can be judged by the facts cited by Vladimir Begalov, Director of the Institute of Regional Power Engineering (Ural State Technical University) in his speech. The facts are as follows. The life span in different countries is directly proportional to energy consumption per head. For example, in Canada, where the average life is approaching 80 years, 8 tons of equivalent fuel are consumed per man a year. Therefore, high living standards require a lot of energy, there is nothing to do about it. As for Russia, we are leading the world in terms of power intensity of produce (as compared to Japan, it is higher by more then twice). We do not count or save energy, assuming that we have enough of it. At the same time, for example, in metallurgy, up to 40 percent of production value accounts for energy enclosed in it.

Specialists believe that the nature of Russian power consumption is formed by three factors. These are peculiarities of our economy that counts on minerals export, climate severity on the major part of territory and technology backwardness, due to which we simply lose energy.
(18 Dec 2006)
Fascinating perspectives from the Russian point of view. More at the original article.

At war with Russia?

Jerome a Paris, Daily Kos
Or so says Senator Lugar, as relayed by the Washington Post and now the Wall Street Journal in its editorial pages (sub. only link):

The New Threat to Europe

NATO, Lugar said, should resolve to treat “an attack using energy” the same way it would a land attack by conventional military forces
And, as Lugar pointed out: “The use of energy as an overt weapon is not a theoretical threat of the future. It is happening now.”

Wow. We’re at war, and we should sent NATO to fight it. Shouldn’t we all worry a bit?

Let me take a shot at the whole article. …As my regular readers will know, this is a highly partial description of what happened. I wrote at length about last year’s crisis, so I can only encourage you to go read again the following detailed posts: …But anyway, the stage is set: “we” are fighting for our very survival against a ruthless, dictatorial regime….

That sounds daunting at a time when NATO has its hands full trying to fight a war in Afghanistan. But the energy threat goes to the alliance’s historic purpose: defending democratic Europe from attack by the autocratic and belligerent power on its Eastern frontier. And, as Lugar pointed out: “The use of energy as an overt weapon is not a theoretical threat of the future. It is happening now.”

Yeah, better to posture, hector and say we’re at war with an Evil Empire than actually think about real solutions – you know, those that involve abandoning ideological blinders, a blind trust in “markets”, and focusing on things like governments setting long term priorities and imposing regulations or – gasp – spending money to get there.

If energy is a strategic issue, then it requires public intervention and it should not be left to the narrow short term interests of market players. And a note to the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal: there is more to government than the military.
(28 Dec 2006)

New Federal Fuel Economy Ratings Set a Double Standard

Matthew L. Wald, NY Times
GOVERNMENT regulators, along with most American drivers, have long understood that the fuel economy estimates on the window stickers of new cars can be laughably optimistic. Even the federal fuel economy label serves notice that the actual mileage will depend on options, driving habits and other conditions.

So this month the Environmental Protection Agency revised its method for calculating mileage, an effort to provide more realistic numbers for shoppers considering a new vehicle. The change, which takes effect on 2008 model year vehicles, will be considerable; miles per gallon in city driving may drop by as much as 30 percent for gas-sippers like hybrids, the agency says. On average, city mileage for all vehicles is expected to be about 12 percent lower; highway estimates could be as much as 8 percent lower.

The new method of calculation recognizes that Americans drive faster, accelerate more quickly and use the air-conditioning more frequently than the federal mileage tests have been taking into account. It also takes into consideration changes in the ways Americans now buy and use vehicles, especially as large S.U.V.’s have evolved from work trucks to family haulers.
(24 Dec 2006)

Avatars consume as much power as Brazilians

Carolyn O’Hara , Foreign Policy (Passport blog)
They don’t have bodies, but they do leave footprints.

It was only a matter of time before someone took the avatar world to task for their environmental impact. (In case you think an avatar is a new model of Hyundai, here’s a brief primer. Avatars are computer-generated, physical representations of people in virtual online games or social worlds. Think Second Life, Sims, World of Warcraft, etc.)

The virtual world of Second Life, which hit one million residents back in October, is one of the most popular online games of its kind. To even call it a game is perhaps inaccurate. It’s a full-fledged virtual world, complete with crime, sex, commodities, and real-world advertising. (Don’t miss BusinessWeek’s journey into Second Life or its great “Old Fogey’s Guide to the Online Universe.”) It goes way beyond the traditional online games of old: These days, politicians like former Virginia Gov. Mark Warner hold town meetings and musicians use music streaming to stage “live” concerts in Second Life in order to be heard.

So, it’s fascinating to see blogger Nick Carr (also a former exec editor at Harvard Business Review) calculate whether avatars consume more energy than their human counterparts. He found that the thousands of avatars “living” in Second Life at any given moment, given the servers and computers needed to run the virtual world, use about the same amount of electricity as a comparable number of real-life Brazilians. So, here’s my question: Has anyone done any research on whether avatars are much more wasteful than their human counterparts? Say, in terms of energy: Do avatars not bother to turn off the lights?
(7 Dec 2006)
See original for links. For the calculations, see Nick Carr’s blog.