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Resilience Roundup - Aug 14

 

A roundup of the news, views and ideas from the main stream press and the blogosphere.  Click on the headline link to see the full article.


Oil and gas company debt soars to danger levels to cover shortfall in cash

Ambrose Evans Pritchard, The Daily Telegraph
The world’s leading oil and gas companies are taking on debt and selling assets on an unprecedented scale to cover a shortfall in cash, calling into question the long-term viability of large parts of the industry.

The US Energy Information Administration (EIA) said a review of 127 companies across the globe found that they had increased net debt by $106bn in the year to March, in order to cover the surging costs of machinery and exploration, while still paying generous dividends at the same time. They also sold off a net $73bn of assets...


How the shale gas “revolution” stacks up

Mason Inman, Beacon Reader
The future of U.S. natural gas depends deeply on how shale fares over the long run. To understand how shale gas fits in with the bigger picture, I show a long-term view of U.S. natural gas production from each major source...


Three ways that oil matters for the crisis in Iraq

Brad Plumer, Vox
For months now, Sunni militants from the Islamic State (better known as ISIS) have been seizing control of large swathes of Iraq.

But it wasn't until they encroached into semi-autonomous Kurdish territory and near the Kurdish capital of Erbil — an oil boomtown full of Western companies like Chevron and ExxonMobil — that the Obama administration decided to authorize airstrikes against ISIS...

Steve Levine gives the contrary view at Quartz.


As Demand For Oil Drops, Worries Rise For Debt-Heavy Companies

Nick Cunningham, Oilprice.com
Weak global oil demand is keeping a lid on prices, according to a new report from the International Energy Agency (IEA), and that’s bad news for companies carrying a lot of debt. Oil demand for 2014 will be lower than previously expected, prompting the IEA to downgrade its forecast by 180,000 barrels per day (bpd) for the year. In the second quarter, global demand only increased at an annualized rate of 700,000 barrels per day, the slowest pace in over two years. Flagging demand is helping to keep oil prices from spiking, which is fortunate, considering that violence in oil producing countries around the world is keeping a substantial portion of oil supplies offline. All told, around 4 percent of global oil supplies are offline because of conflict...


Fracking fears for the North York Moors after oil company gains permission to drill for gas

Andy Rowell, The Independent
...According to documents seen by The Independent on Sunday, the Environment Agency (EA) has been warned that public water supplies could be affected. Yorkshire Water is concerned about the re-injection well which will travel through the rock from which they draw water, called the Corallian limestone aquifer. In submissions to the EA the water company said the water re-injection may "directly affect their asset"...


EDF Energy shuts three UK nuclear reactors after fault found

Nina Chestney, Reuters
EDF Energy is taking three of its nuclear reactors in Britain offline for inspection this week after finding a defect in a reactor of a similar design, the company said on Monday.

The firm, which operates 15 nuclear reactors in Britain, said it came across the defect on a boiler spine at its Heysham 1-1 reactor, which had been shut down in June for refuelling.

As a precautionary measure, EDF Energy is taking Heysham 1-2, Hartlepool 1 and Hartlepool 2 reactors offline from Monday to Wednesday for an estimated eight-week period...


Oil swamps in Usinsk: Investigation finds Russian oil spills six times the size of Deepwater Horizon

Christine Ottery, Greenpeace
Twenty years after a massive, record-breaking oil spill near the northwest Russian town of Usinsk, there has been a fire at an oil storage facility in the same region (pictured below).

These safety breaches aren’t isolated incidents. In the vicinity of Usinsk, near the large oil refinery and storage site, oil slowly seeps into the ground and leaches into the water.


Ukraine Threatens Oil and Gas Cut-Off in Russia SanctionsD

Daria Marchak and Volodymyr Verbyany, Bloomberg
Ukraine threatened to block Russian oil and gas supplies to Europe in new sanctions against Vladimir Putin’s government, which it blames for a separatist uprising that has ravaged the country’s east...

The threat may signal that the government in Kiev calculates it has little to lose. It comes a day after Russia banned food imports from Ukraine, the U.S., the European Union and other countries that blame it for stoking the worst geo-political crisis since the Cold War. Gas prices in western Europe rose on the news of Ukraine’s sanctions plan, which would require parliamentary approval...


Oil companies fracking into drinking water sources, new research shows

Neela Banerjee, LA Times
Energy companies are fracking for oil and gas at far shallower depths than widely believed, sometimes through underground sources of drinking water, according to research released Tuesday by Stanford University scientists.

Though researchers cautioned their study of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, employed at two Wyoming geological formations showed no direct evidence of water-supply contamination, their work is certain to roil the public health debate over the risks of the controversial oil and gas production process...


Oil pipeline impact may be underestimated

Gene Russo, Nature Journal
Keystone XL's greenhouse-gas emissions could be four times larger than US government predicts...

In essence, every additional barrel of oil produced as a result of Keystone XL would increase global oil consumption by 0.6 barrel, the paper finds. “If that’s the case, that’d be a big greenhouse-gas impact,” says co-author Peter Erickson, a senior policy analyst at the Stockholm Environment Institute in Seattle, Washington...


When young people infiltrate the UN climate machine

Sophie Yeo, RTCC
Even in the great labyrinth of Warsaw Stadium, the venue for the UN’s 2013 climate talks, the young people were never hard to spot.

Youth activists stalked the corridors wielding a giant toy dinosaur. They played ball with an inflatable planet earth, handed out chocolate bars in the foyer and harassed delegates while wearing post-apocalyptic costumes...


False Balance Lives: Media Biased Toward Fringe Climate Scientists Who Reject Global Consensus

Joe Romm, Climate Progress
A new study finds that the media disproportionately favors scientists who reject the basic scientific consensus on climate change. By consensus, I mean the latest findings of the Intergovernmental Panel On Climate Change (IPCC), which are already overly cautious and watered down.

Some — though not most — analysts have declared the media’s era of false balance in climate coverage is over. But the truth is that the media continue to present the public a misleading picture on climate science, giving fringe scientists more attention (disproportionate to their actual number) than the leading climate scientists.

A new study in Environmental Science and Technology by Bart Verheggen et al, surveys “more than 1800 international scientists studying various aspects of climate change”...


Transition énergétique: What France’s energy law learns from Germany and the UK

Mat Hope, Carbon Brief
France has announced it will undertake an ambitious energy sector transformation that will see the country cut greenhouse gas emissions 40 per cent by 2030. France joins neighbours Germany and the UK, who both have their own legislation to cut energy sector emissions. If the plans come off, they will leave the EU's three biggest economies with radically different power systems to those they're operating today.

Such transformations aren't technoligically straightforward, and getting the public to back such ambitious schemes hasn't always been easy.

Here's a look at the three countries' respective plans, and the challenges they're likely to face...


Watch our new video to see which transport option is the healthiest exclusively on The Guardian

Staff, Healthy Air
Transport is the main contributor to air pollution in our cities, and how we move around in them can have huge consequences for how much air pollution we are exposed to. The Healthy Air Campaign teamed up with King’s College London, Camden Council and London cyclist, Vivienne Westwood, to see what travel options are the healthiest. Watch our video exclusively on The Guardian’s website.




The Chinese Are Now Obligated To Combat Smog As Government Urges More Walking

Reuters via Business Insider
China has issued a "behavioural standards" guide to combat pollution and reduce environmental damage, urging people to do everything from walking and riding bicycles to buying goods with less packaging.

The Chinese government has identified public participation as a key element in its efforts to reverse some of the environmental damage done by more than three decades of breakneck economic growth...


The Green Waves of Copenhagen

Mikael Colville-Andersen, Copenhagenize
The City of Copenhagen established the first Green Wave for cyclists back in 2007 on Nørrebrogade and, since then, the concept has spread to other major arteries in the city. The idea is simple. Coordinate the traffic lights for cyclists so that if they ride at a speed of 20 km/h, they will hit green lights all the way into the city in the morning rush hour. The wave is reversed in the afternoon so bicycle users can flow smoothly home, too...


Open Source Farming: A Renaissance Man Tackles the Food Crisis

Dahr Jamail, Truthout
As Lester Brown of the Earth Policy Institute and author of World on the Edge, has written, "Water is the new oil, and land is the new gold." These words underscore how overpopulation and Anthropogenic Climate Disruption (ACD) have combined to overstress our capacities for producing enough food.

These facts, along with ever-escalating food prices, highlight how serious our food crisis has already become...

However, on a local level, scientist Joe Breskin seems to have found a solution for dramatically increasing vegetable yields in greenhouses, doubling the length of growing seasons and feeding more people for less money - all while using cutting-edge energy efficiency techniques.

"Heated greenhouses are not new, but the way we are doing it is," said Breskin, who describes himself as a "senior generalist, engineering design consultant" who likes to "fix complex, interesting things that don't work."

It might sound too good to be true, except that the facts are speaking for themselves.


Economy of Hours Takes Timebanking to the Next Level

Bezdomny, Shareable
When money is hoarded and removed from circulation it prevents people from transacting with one another, not because they don't need one another's services, but because they lack the medium of exchange needed to facilitate the transaction, and this is where alternative currencies, including timebanking, come in.

After less than a year in operation, the “EConomy of HOurs” (ECHO for short) in the UK has proven that their innovative approach to timebanking can catalyze much wider participation than normal by implementing a few, important tweaks to the conventional timebanking model...


Critical Moment To Stop The TPP & Other Rigged Trade Agreements

Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers, Popular Resistance
The moment facing the Trans-Pacific Partnership and its sibling the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (known as ‘TAFTA’) and the future approach to trade is reaching a critical stage. The TPP and TAFTA are attempts to get past the failed World Trade Organization (WTO) negotiations, but like the WTO, these new agreements are meeting significant opposition and obstacles. We are poised to stop these attempts to rig the international economy in favor of multinational corporations and move to a new model of trade that respects the rights of people and nature, but it will take a coordinated effort. We must be prepared for moves to thwart that effort and organize to avoid them...

News clippings image via shutterstock. Reproduced at Resilience.org with permission.

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