Tag Archives | Fossil Fuels

$548 Billion In Global Fossil Fuel Subsidies “Rig The Game” Against Renewables

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via Clean Technica:

In the same week that a new study found that G20 nations, including Australia, were providing $US88 billion ($A102 billion) a year in subsidies just for fossil fuel exploration, another report – this time from the highly conservative International Energy Agency – has put a number to the global value of subsidies that artificially lowered end-use prices for all forms of fossil energy in 2013: $US548 billion.

It’s a huge number, and although $25 billion less than in 2012, the IEA notes that the $548 billion spent in 2013 – over half of which was directed to oil products – remains more than four times the value of subsidies to renewable energy and more than four times the amount invested globally on improving energy efficiency.

In its 2014 World Energy Outlook report, released on Wednesday, the IEA says the subsidisation of fossil fuels remains a big problem globally, imposing enormous economic, social and environmental costs.

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The End of Peak Oil

Peak oil has been an alarmist catch phrase for so long that many of us simply assume that oil production has in fact peaked and we’re well on the way to running out of the world’s favorite fossil fuel. Not so, according to this story in the Wall Street Journal:

Have we beaten “peak oil”?

For decades, it has been a doomsday scenario looming large in the popular imagination: The world’s oil production tops out and then starts an inexorable decline—sending costs soaring and forcing nations to lay down strict rationing programs and battle for shrinking reserves.

Estimates of Peak World Oil Production.jpg

U.S. oil production did peak in the 1970s and sank for decades after, exactly as the theory predicted. But then it did something the theory didn’t predict: It started rising again in 2009, and hasn’t stopped, thanks to a leap forward in oil-field technology.

To the peak-oil adherents, this is just a respite, and decline is inevitable.

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Rockefellers Selling Fossil Fuel Investments, Buying ‘Clean’ Energy Assets

Johndrockefeller.jpg

John D. Rockefeller

If the archetypal American oligarchs, the Rockefellers, are divesting themselves of fossil fuel assets and replacing them with so-called clean energy assets, have we moved past a tipping point or is it just propaganda? From BBC News:

Heirs to the Rockefeller family, which made its vast fortune from oil, are to sell investments in fossil fuels and reinvest in clean energy, reports say.

The Rockefeller Brothers Fund is joining a coalition of philanthropists pledging to rid themselves of more than $50 bn (£31 bn) in fossil fuel assets.

The announcement will be made on Monday, a day before the UN climate change summit opens on Tuesday.

Some 650 individuals and 180 institutions have joined the coalition.

It is part of a growing global initiative called Global Divest-Invest, which began on university campuses several years ago, the New York Times reports.

Pledges from pension funds, religious groups and big universities have reportedly doubled since the start of 2014.

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World Council of Churches to Divest from World’s Dirty Fuels

Image by Arnold Paul cropped by Gralo.

Image by Arnold Paul cropped by Gralo.

In a big move, the World Council of Churches plans to pull funding from fossil fuels.

Jon Queally writes at Common Dreams:

In what the global fossil fuel divestment movement is claiming as a “major victory,” the World Council of Churches has agreed to phase out its financial holdings in the world’s dirtiest energy sources and will encourage the congregants in the churches it represents to do the same.

Passed by a vote taken Thursday in Geneva at meeting of the Central Committee of the WWC—comprised of over 300 Christian churches from around the world and representing some 590 million people in 150 countries—the council sited both its ethical obligations, the desires of its members, and Biblical scripture as informing its decision.

“There was an explicit wish at the Finance Committee to include fossil fuels as one of the sectors where the WCC will not invest in, based on decisions to divest from fossil fuels taken by member churches in different parts of the world,” said Guillermo Kerber, who coordinates the WCC’s work on care for creation and climate justice.

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The Impossibility of Growth

Battle of Actium

Battle of Actium

British political and environmental activist George Monbiot addresses the excellent question of why industrial nations all believe that economic growth is a necessity, at The Guardian:

Let us imagine that in 3030BC the total possessions of the people of Egypt filled one cubic metre. Let us propose that these possessions grew by 4.5% a year. How big would that stash have been by the Battle of Actium in 30BC? This is the calculation performed by the investment banker Jeremy Grantham(1).

Go on, take a guess. Ten times the size of the pyramids? All the sand in the Sahara? The Atlantic ocean? The volume of the planet? A little more? It’s 2.5 billion billion solar systems(2). It does not take you long, pondering this outcome, to reach the paradoxical position that salvation lies in collapse.

To succeed is to destroy ourselves. To fail is to destroy ourselves. That is the bind we have created.

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Can Fire Ice Save The World?

A burning methane hydrate chunk - inlay is a lattice of the clathrate. USGS.

A burning methane hydrate chunk – inlay is a lattice of the clathrate. USGS.

Methane hydrate, colloquially known as Fire Ice, is being discussed as the energy of the future that will render peak oil and all the other expiring fossil fuel sources irrelevant. BBC News investigates the pros and cons of what is, after all, another hydrocarbon:

The world is addicted to hydrocarbons, and it’s easy to see why – cheap, plentiful and easy to mine, they represent an abundant energy source to fuel industrial development the world over.

The side-effects, however, are potentially devastating; burning fossil fuels emits the CO2 linked to global warming.

And as reserves of oil, coal and gas are becoming tougher to access, governments are looking ever harder for alternatives, not just to produce energy, but to help achieve the holy grail of all sovereign states – energy independence.

Some have discovered a potential saviour, locked away under deep ocean beds and vast swathes of permafrost.

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Why We Must Divest From Fossil Fuels: A Student’s Open Letter to Harvard President Drew Faust

PIC: Harvard (CC)

PIC: Harvard (CC)

Wen Stephenson and Benjamin Franta, via the Nation:

The movement for fossil-fuel divestment has swelled to what an Oxford University study calls the fastest-growing divestment movement in history, one with the potential to shift the political ground beneath the fossil-fuel lobby’s feet. There are more than 500 campaigns globally—including on some 400 college and university campuses in the United States, along with city and state governments and major religious institutions. Ten colleges and more than twenty cities—including Seattle, San Francisco and, as it happens, Cambridge, Massachusetts—have committed to divest.

Back in October, Harvard University President and distinguished American historian Drew Gilpin Faust, having faced more than a year of increasing calls by students, faculty and almuni to divest from fossil fuels, released a statement in which she explained why Harvard would do no such thing, at least not on her watch. Reactions to her position—by critics ranging from climate activist Tim DeChristopher (now at Harvard Divinity School) and Columbia’s Todd Gitlin (an alum) to former Oberlin president and National Science Board member James Lawrence Powell, among others—pointed to its logical inconsistency, not to mention blindness to moral, political and economic facts.

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The 14,000 Oil Spills Nobody is Talking About | Brainwash Update

Abby Martin goes over updates to the chemical spill in West Virginia and the coal-ash spill in North Carolina, exposing the human and environmental impact as well as the lack of accountability that accompanies tens of thousands of similar ecological catastrophes that occur in the US every year due to the US’ addiction to fossil fuel.

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Futureconomics of Food

Vandana Shiva writes on the intersections of capitalism, the state, agribusiness, and a burgeoning organic movement in South Asia. Via Al Jazeera:

The economic crisis, the ecological crisis and the food crisis are a reflection of an outmoded and fossilised economic paradigm — a paradigm that grew out of mobilising resources for the war by creating the category of economic “growth” and is rooted in the age of oil and fossil fuels. It is fossilised both because it is obsolete, and because it is a product of the age of fossil fuels. We need to move beyond this fossilised paradigm if we are to address the economic and ecological crisis.

Economy and ecology have the same roots “oikos” — meaning home — both our planetary home, the Earth, and our home where we live our everyday lives in family and community.

But economy strayed from ecology, forgot the home and focused on the market.

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“Too Much Magic” With James Howard Kunstler

"Too Much Magic" With James Howard Kunstler | The DisinfoCast with Matt Staggs: Episode 07 toomuchmagiciTunes | Download (mp3) | RSS | iPhone App

Social critic and peak oil provocateur James Howard Kunstler is on The DisinfoCast to discuss his upcoming book Too Much Magic: Technology, Wishful Thinking and the Fate of the Nation. Kunstler believes that the end of cheap, readily available oil is very near, and with it the collapse of the industrial society as we know it. According to Kunstler, alternative energy sources and other technological solutions are just wishful thinking, and the future that awaits us may very well resemble our past.
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