I have a story up on Spiked today…
It was the latest in a long series of last chances to save the planet. Like a convention of superheroes, 14,500 politicians, civil servants, journalists and campaigners from development and environmental NGOs descended on Durban, South Africa, for the seventeenth Committee of Parties (COP) meetings under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Their agreement, if they could reach one, would save the remaining 6,999,985,500 of us from certain doom.
I read your article at “Spiked”
After this debacle I hope that “the iron law of energy-/envrionment policy”, namely the political necessity to deliver energy at affordable prices, will be brought to the forefront. As fossile fuels sooner or later will cost more and more we have to get credible alternatives. And that has to be accomplished through new technologies. Hopefully we will see increased resources for research. Not only on new nuclear techniques.
Roger Pielke Jr writes about this. I think he is right. Sensible people can use the CAGW-hype to further this development.
And now, Vaclav Havel has gone and what else is there left to say. The blows of death hit one again and again in the solar plexus. The Czechs, his people, where ambivalent about him – he made an extraordinary brave decision early in his Presidency – he decided that since one couldn’t determine who was a criminal and who a political prisoner one should let all of them out. And they hated him for that. And his yearly soliloquies, his radio ‘sermons’, reminding them of their complex but beautiful Capek (sic! Sorry, I forget) roots. These extraordinary brave people, flawed, yes, for look how they continue to treat, despite their better nature, the so called ‘Gypsies’, but riddled with the ultimately Pyrrhic cancer of freedom. Vaclav, you were the best, the better self of ourselves and I feel guilty that latterly I didn’t pay attention to you. The power of the powerless, my friend.
Quote: “As fossil fuels sooner or later will cost more and more we have to get credible alternatives. And that has to be accomplished through new technologies”
Has it occurred to you that;
Very slowly the use of fossil fuels will increase as we very slowly use up the easy to access stuff, and need to dig deeper to extract the not-so-easy stuff.
Most of the new technologies that get developed to make energy cheaper, concentrate on making the existing energy fuels more efficient. So we don’t actually get away from coal, gas, oil, at all. This is the point that environmentalists haven’t grasped yet. Better technology they scream, but you’re still using oil they bemoan.
Credible alternatives, as in “new” energy sources (as you stated as your requiremnet), are in limited supply, and are not understood much at all by vertue of their never having been used before. Far better; meaning more efficient, to use known and understood energy sources more efficiently.
Makes me wonder how Germany managed to fuel an entire world conquering (almost) war machine, when Germany didn’t have much natural oil themselves, and were quarantined by the surrounding hostile nations. Synthetic oil much?
I don’t see what is sensible about it. Energy is useful. It’s an essential condition of development beyond subsistence. That fact alone is a sufficient imperative for R&D into producing cheaper, more abundant energy — the ‘ethic’, if you like. I.e., I’m talking about a human-centric, rather than eco-centric ‘ethics’ of energy production. Nobody is against ‘renewables’ on principle.
Before June 1941, Germany imported large quantities of oil (as well as grain) from the Soviet Union. After then, its oil needs were met largely from Romania, as well as from synthetic oil manufactured from coal. This process would be a climate activist’s nightmare, as two-thirds of the coal was actually burned in order to provide the energy to convert the remaining one-third into oil. (However, the Los Alamos Natural Laboratory has proposed Green Freedom, which is a carbon-neutral version of the process using nuclear energy, along with atmospheric CO2 as the carbon source.)
However, one mustn’t underestimate just how poor and weak Nazi Germany really was though — I strongly recommend reading Adam Tooze’s book The Wages of Destruction. Only the rich owned cars in Nazi Germany — there were less than 1/30th the number of cars there compared to Germany today, and the vast majority of those were for business rather than personal use. The Wehrmacht seriously considered abandoning motor transport for the invasion of the Soviet Union in order to conserve oil.
Although Germany hosted a cluster of world-beating industrial corporations, its agriculture was essentially still in the 19th century and made inefficient use of land (one of the main reasons why the Nazis were eager to conquer more land). The reason why the Nazis worked foreign labourers to death on starvation rations was because there simply wasn’t enough food available to feed them properly (as imports of fertilizer and animal feed were cut off by the Royal Navy blockade, and domestic nitrate production had been diverted from fertilizers to explosives). And the captured industries in France and the Low Countries were almost useless to the Germans, because the Germans didn’t have access to enough raw materials to run those industries in addition to the industries of Germany itself.