Environmentalism

Should’a gone fracking

Bit of a missed opportunity there:

Soaring gas prices have forced two industrial sites in the north of England to close as fears grow of a winter energy crisis.

CF Industries, a fertiliser manufacturer, said that it was halting operations at its plants at Billingham in Teesside and Ince in Cheshire “due to high natural gas prices”. The company could not say when production would resume.

The two sites, which employ about 600 people, produce roughly 40 per cent of the UK’s fertiliser needs. Officials in the Civil Contingencies Secretariat, the government’s crisis planning unit, were believed to be meeting yesterday to discuss the impact on fertiliser supplies to farmers.

Given the costs of exporting natural gas – it’s entirely possible but it’s not wholly and exactly cheap to do so – we would have had, if we had fracked, significantly lower gas prices domestically than currently apply across Europe.

How grateful we should all be for Princess Nut Nut’s fears of earthquakes, eh?

This seems entirely fair if we’re to be honest about it

A complaint:

The fragile Cerrado grasslands and the Pantanal wetlands, both under threat from soy and beef exploitation, have been excluded from a European Union draft anti-deforestation law, campaigners have said, and there are many other concerning loopholes.

The European Commission has pledged to introduce a law aimed at preventing beef, palm oil and other products linked to deforestation from being sold in the EU single market of 450 million consumers.

Given that the cerrado and the panatal are not forests there is little reason to have them included in laws about deforestation really.

This isn’t good news, really, it isn’t

Britain’s power grid has repeatedly fallen below its targeted frequency level this year, raising fears that it is struggling to cope with intermittent energy supplies.

It comes amid rising international energy costs and a recent drop in wind power due to particularly still weather. Earlier this week the UK was forced to bring a coal-fired power plant back online to boost the grid.

The grid’s level of frequency dipped to between 49.79Hz and 49.67Hz on 11 occasions between February and June, according to data analysed by The Sunday Telegraph from the Gridwatch database which measures frequency at five-minute intervals.

It’s not, particularly, that the grid will go kablooie if this happens too much or too often. They’ll manage to stop that happening.

Rather, it’s that a lot of the industrial machinery attached in the factories doesn’t want to have to deal with this. There have been reports out of Germany of manufacturers looking around for someone to sue for compensation as a result of lines switching themselves off as a result of such variations. Part completed runs meaning heating/cooling and the ruination of the run, possibly even of the equipment.

The answer to which is the factory setting up its own generators to ensure consistency. But those are likely to be diesel of gas, meaning that the supposed emissions savings actually reverse.

Grid instability just isn’t s good thing.

Dear God Almighty, are these people insane?

HS2 has lost vast amounts of a potentially highly polluting substance in an aquifer during the construction of the high-speed rail link, it has emerged.

Environmental campaigners have raised concerns about the impact of this on the water supply.

The company lost 1,600 cubic metres of clay slurry known as bentonite, which is used in construction work, in the last few months of last year.

A Network Rail environmental guide to bentonite says that as a liquid it is highly polluting. “If it enters watercourses or drains it can cause damage to plants and animals,” the guidance says.

HS2’s development partner Align has produced a report analysing the impact of this loss on the aquifer on the site where works are being carried out, north of Chalfont St Peter in Buckinghamshire.

The lost bentonite is thought to be sitting in the fractures and fissures around the sides of the aquifer.

It’s clay for fuck’s sake. You know, clay, weathered rock, entirely and wholly natural stuff that abounds in the environment.

One type is oft known as Fuller’s Earth and used in finishing cloth. The other is used in drilling muds – or, perhaps, as the sealant layer on the bottom of landfill. That is, when we do bother to dig it up we use it to be stuck down in the ground again because that’s what it’s useful for.

The effect upon an aquifer will be to seal the edges of it.

“We went digging, found some clay” is the latest thing the enviros are screaming about?

Work, Peasants!

Isn’t this a convenient finding?

Everything, it is said, is good in moderation, and a new study has found that the adage is seemingly true for how much “me” time we give ourselves.

Analysis of lifestyle patterns of more than 21,000 Americans found that having more free time is linked to increased feelings of wellbeing – but only up to a point. In fact, when a person exceeds more than five hours of free time a day, their state of mind declines.

Dr Marissa Sharif, the study’s lead author, of the University of Pennsylvania, said: “People often complain about being too busy and express wanting more time. But is more time actually linked to greater happiness?

“We found that having a dearth of discretionary hours in one’s day results in greater stress and lower subjective wellbeing.

“However, while too little time is bad, having more time is not always better.”

You should be – for your mental health! – working for The Man. And that retirement idea? Right out of it.

The Greens have a plan for this of course. You’ll recycle and dig veggies for the sake of your mental health of course.

Shoulda’ gone fracking

Russia’s Vladimir Putin is orchestrating a deliberate energy supply crisis in Europe by restricting the seasonal flows of pipeline gas, preventing the region rebuilding its severely depleted inventories fast enough before the onset of winter.

The UK is not the target of this geostrategic squeeze but is dangerously exposed after having slashed its gas storage capacity to wafer-thin levels in order to save costs. The country must rely on energy back-up through gas and electricity interconnectors to the Continent, which cannot be taken for granted in emergency circumstances.

“The UK is more vulnerable to a gas supply crisis than other Western European countries. It has way too little storage and it is buying more Russian gas than it realises through the Netherlands,” said Marco Alverà, chief executive of the Italian pipeline and infrastructure group SNAM.

Instead the green tits took over and imposed that ludicrous 0.5 on the Richter scale limit.

The problem with a circular economy in a poor country

The problem comes when we are in a country, an economy, where we are building that industrial civilization for the first time.

With cars the point is obvious; few in India or Bangladesh own a car, so to get to the point where we have as many cars as people – like in Europe or the US – we are going to need a lot more steel than we can have just by junking the old ones.

But this is true of everything. We can only build the new civilization – say Civilization 2.0 – out of the remains of the earlier one if we actually have that earlier one we are deconstructing.

To make high-rise buildings that do not fall over we need rebar – steel – inside the concrete. We can only get that from old buildings if we are tearing down old ones to make way for the new. Ripping down brick buildings just does not do it, there’s no steel there to recycle.

Or wiring up the country for telecoms and electricity. We can only do this from the old copper if there was already that copper out there in the previous wiring system.

If we are building out that grid for the first time we cannot be doing it in a circular manner.

This really does apply to everything as well.

Well, yes, but….

Scientists have developed technology that can turn footsteps into electricity.

By tapping into an unexpected energy source, wooden flooring, researchers from Switzerland have developed an energy-harvesting device that uses wood with a combination of a silicone coating and embedded nanocrystals to produce enough energy to power LED lightbulbs and small electronics.

This device, called a nanogenerator, is based on sandwiching two pieces of wood between electrodes.

And what is the energy cost of making this stuff?

Seriously folks, get it right

Nearly a third of the world’s trees are at risk of extinction from threats including logging and agriculture, a major new report has found.

There are more than twice as many threatened trees than at risk birds, mammals, amphibians and reptiles combined, according to the report from Botanic Gardens Conservation International (BGCI).

This is not true, not true at all.

The first major assessment of the state of the world’s trees found that 17,500 species are at risk of extinction, out of 58,497 worldwide.

That might be.

The number of trees is rising as humanity’s farming footprint shrinks. The number of species might reduce, true, but the number of trees, no.

Try connecting the two at least

The average person uses 18 throwaway plastic plates and 37 single-use knives, forks and spoons each year, according to ministers, while the durability of plastic litter means it kills more than a million birds and 100,000 sea mammals and turtles every year around the world.

In order to justify a ban in England on such single use plastics it is – sorry, should be – necessary to show a link between the two things. Between plastics use in England and killing babbie sea turtles in the Pacific.

The reason they don’t bother is because no link can be found. Better to use the perversion of logic in order to gain power, eh?

Solved – Ed Davey really is an idiot

New listings of fossil fuel companies would be immediately banned on the London Stock Exchange as part of a proposal by the Liberal Democrats that the party says could help the UK become a leader in tackling the climate emergency.

Under the plan outlined to the Guardian by the Lib Dem leader, Ed Davey, another immediate policy would be to stop new bonds being issued in London to finance oil, coal or gas exploration.

Fossil fuel firms already listed in the UK would then have two years to produce a coherent plan about how they would reach net zero emissions by 2045, or risk being struck off the LSE.

In the longer term, pension funds would have to disinvest from fossil fuels by 2035, with all companies with fossil fuel assets removed from the exchange by 2045.

So it’s not on an exchange (as the bonds usually aren’t). This will lower the price by excluding the small investor. All the more money for private equity to make then.

I’m shocked

The founder of Extinction Rebellion – the climate change protest group who on Monday locked down parts of London – has admitted that she drives a diesel car.

In a fractious interview on TalkRadio on Monday, Dr Gail Bradbrook said she drives a diesel car because she cannot afford an electric vehicle.

The 49-year-old, who founded XR in 2018, told presenter Cristo Foufas that she needs to use the car to take her children to rugby and football matches because there are no available buses near her home on a Sunday.

No, really, shocked. Giving up normal life to save the planet is just for the little people…..

Problem solved then

Atsunami of electric vehicles is expected in rich countries, as car companies and governments pledge to ramp up their numbers – there are predicted be 145m on the roads by 2030. But while electric vehicles can play an important role in reducing emissions, they also contain a potential environmental timebomb: their batteries.

By one estimate, more than 12m tons of lithium-ion batteries are expected to retire between now and 2030.

Not only do these batteries require large amounts of raw materials, including lithium, nickel and cobalt – mining for which has climate, environmental and human rights impacts – they also threaten to leave a mountain of electronic waste as they reach the end of their lives.

As the automotive industry starts to transform, experts say now is the time to plan for what happens to batteries at the end of their lives, to reduce reliance on mining and keep materials in circulation.

A second life
Hundreds of millions of dollars are flowing into recycling startups and research centers to figure out how to disassemble dead batteries and extract valuable metals at scale.

But if we want to do more with the materials that we have, recycling shouldn’t be the first solution, said James Pennington, who leads the World Economic Forum’s circular economy program. “The best thing to do at first is to keep things in use for longer,” he said.

“There is a lot of [battery] capacity left at the end of first use in electric vehicles,” said Jessika Richter, who researches environmental policy at Lund University. These batteries may no longer be able run vehicles but they could have second lives storing excess power generated by solar or windfarms.

Several companies are running trials.

How cool.

End of life batteries could be a problem. Maybe. We’ve got a lorra money being put into working out whether they will be. Cool, so the problems already solved then. Greed the lust for profit, is solving this potential environmental problem.

The propaganda is working, Comrade!

There will be those who insist this shows we really must do something, jump off the economic cliff. The rational will note something different:

Three-quarters of people in the world’s wealthiest nations believe humanity is pushing the planet towards a dangerous tipping point and support a shift of priorities away from economic profit, according to a global survey.

The Ipsos Mori survey for the Global Commons Alliance (GCA) also found a majority (58%) were very concerned or extremely concerned about the state of the planet.

Four in five respondents said they were willing to step up and do more to regenerate the global commons.

The actual report:

Among G20 countries, 73% of people believe
Earth is close to “tipping points” because of
human action. People in Indonesia (86%),
Turkey (85%), Brazil (83%), Mexico (78%) and
South Africa (76%) have a significantly higher
awareness of the risk than people in the United
States (60%), Japan (63%), Great Britain (65%)
and Australia (66%).
Across the G20, 58% of people are extremely
worried or very worried about the state of the
global commons. Concern is highest in Turkey
(79%), Mexico (77%), Brazil (74%), and India (70%).
Concern is lowest in Saudi Arabia (26%), Japan
(44%), United States (45%), and Australia (46%).

The propaganda is working, Comrade! With every media outlet screaming, for decades, that Ecodammerung is right now lots of people believe Ecodammerung is right now.

Are people aware of the scale of
transformation required in the next
decade to protect the climate and
other global commons?
No. While 59% of people in G20 countries
acknowledge that there is scientific consensus
that rapid energy transition is needed in the next
decade, just 8% of people are aware of consensus
on the need for sweeping societal changes over
that period to safeguard the global commons.

But they’re not entirely insane. Sport out the climate change thing with fewer emissions and the rest of it can bugger off.

That’s not even the claim

UK spending far more on polluting policies than green ones, says WWF

No.

The UK government is spending many times more on measures that will increase greenhouse gas emissions than on policies to tackle the climate crisis, according to an analysis of the spring budget.

Only £145m in the March 2021 budget was devoted to environmental spending, most of it on the post-Brexit emissions trading scheme for industry, according to an analysis by the conservation charity WWF. But the cost of tax breaks to companies to encourage investment came to more than £34bn, while maintaining the fuel duty freeze – for an 11th consecutive year – is costing about £4.5bn in lost revenues.

Even the claim is only that new measures in the budget were, not total spending…..

Mr. Monbiot’s insistence

So what would a slow ecology movement look like? As Henry David Thoreau said, we are rich in proportion to the number of things we can afford to let alone.

Cool!

That means that where we do agriculture we must do really intensive agriculture. So as to leave as much land for the wild as possible. Chemicals! Tractors! GMOs! Really fry the shit out of that land!

Now, I don’t know but I’ll hazard a guess

Ireland has a poor environmental record, despite its green image. In the 1980s it had more than 500 rivers and lakes with pristine water, now there are just 20, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

The definition of “pristine” has changed over those years.

That’s about the period of time in which measurement techniques have advanced from parts per million to parts per billion and then trillion.

As I say, I don’t actually know this but I’d most certainly want to disprove that contention before I believed the statement.

Trees and forests

A whinge about the inequality of climate change etc:

What do we owe each other in the face of an existential crisis like the climate emergency? That’s one big question at the heart of The Ants and the Grasshopper, a recently released documentary exploring how power and privilege shape climate justice and food justice from Africa to America – and how we might move forward together.

The film, co-directed by Raj Patel, an author and expert on global food systems, centers on Anita Chitaya, a small farmer and local leader in the village of Bwabwa, Malawi. Like many others in developing countries, she is living in the grip of the climate crisis. The rains, she says, have dwindled to three times a year, and the crops can’t survive. All that remains of the nearby Rukuru river is a ribbon of sand snaking across dry land. Every day, women draw water from boreholes that take longer and longer to replenish.

Blah, blah.

Across the US, they meet farmers and activists that illustrate American intransigence on climate action, the promise of a more just food system and the complexities and constraints that lie in between.

There’s the Goodmans in Wisconsin who run an organic dairy farm and advocate for sustainable farming, but their son flatly denies the realities of climate change saying: “It’s in the Lord’s hands.” Then there’s the Jacksons, a conservative Christian family who switched from conventional to organic farming after their son was born with a heart defect, potentially linked by in-vitro exposure to agricultural chemicals. But their farm isn’t profitable and the father works at a coal-fired power plant for extra money and health insurance. They chalk up shifting weather patterns to normal cyclical changes and view climate change as an “agenda”.

Bastard Christians, eh?

Entirely, wholly and completely missing that proverbial elephant:

On her one-acre farm

Trying to scrape a living from an acre of land is always going to be shit. That’s the thing that has to change. Everything else they’re talking about – while ignoring this central truth – is just ignorant ecowankery.

It’s the lying, the lying

Jennifer Francis: ‘We cannot wait’
We need to immediately stop subsidizing all aspects of the fossil fuel industry. According to this report, the fossil fuel industry received $66bn in 2016, while renewables (excluding nuclear) only received $9.5bn.

From the extended version of her source:

Biodiesel Producer Tax Credita (26 U.S.C. 6426)

This is counted as a subsidy to fossil fuels, not renewables. A few billion a year as well.

Sigh.

This could be exceptionally fun

A Belgian judge has opened an investigation for possible manslaughter over floods there that claimed 38 lives, the prosecutors office in the city of Liege announced.

The investigating magistrate has the task of identifying who might be responsible for “involuntary homicide by lack of foresight or precaution” the prosecutors office said in a statement on Wednesday.

There’re a lot of if’s to string together here as I know very little about this. Possibly some would like to inform me?

So, we know that the enviros have managed, at EU level, to curtail dredging and flood maintenance. Those vital wetlands must be allowed to regenerate. This was the explanation for those Somerset Levels problems.

There are large areas of Northern Europe where doing this will leads to substantial flooding. We’ve just had substantial flooding in areas of Northern Europe.

So, now, magistrates investigation into why the floods. Will that end up being fingered as part of the cause?

Nope, dunno, but would be fun…..