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Peak Oil: The Military Seems Concerned … Just Sayin’ – Peak Oil Matters

Peak Oil: The Military Seems Concerned … Just Sayin’ – Peak Oil Matters.

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An observation worth noting … and pondering, from Dr. Nafeez Ahmed (quoting Lieutenant Colonel Daniel L. Davis):

‘A lot of high-ranking officials are starting to ask exactly these hard questions about the sustainability of the current energy system. You’ve got to remember that for the military, it doesn’t matter what you want to do. What matters is what you can do, and it’s our top priority to make sure we understand potential limits to our operational capability. Even the EIA is forecasting that we could see a peak of shale production by 2018 followed by a plateau and decline, and the Pentagon knows this. But our transport infrastructure is totally dependent on liquid fuels. How are we going to sustain that infrastructure with these decline rates? That’s why serious questions are being asked by high level US military officials as to what exactly the Army, as well as American society in general, is going to do to address this challenge.’

Is this a problem? If it is, thank goodness it will only affect the military and not the rest of us!

The military may be worried about how to transport all of its equipment and fuel along with its broad array of weaponry systems, but here in the general population, we have our transportation concerns pretty much under control. Visionary leaders in both government and industry working hard each and every day to provide citizens with all the information they’ll need to properly adapt to the energy challenges our military leaders are concerned with, and plans are this very moment taking shape to allow us all to seamlessly transition away from fossil fuel dependency and its assortment of costs and risks. Better still, industry leaders aware of those impending difficulties are plowing profits into every feasible research project designed to maximize alternative energy supplies.

So that’s what’s it’s like to spin a fact-free, feel-good story! That can be addicting for anyone who benefits from withholding information at the expense of so many others.

Three years ago, I wrote about this issue [here].

In that piece, I cited these observations:

The impact of peak oil on markets, lifestyles, and even national solvency deserves our very highest attention – but, it turns out, some important players seem to be paying no attention at all. [Chris Martenson] [1]
What Chris suspected, and as was confirmed in a presentation (by Rick Munroe) cited in his article, is that while our military (among other nations’) is definitely concerned about Peak Oil and its impact on the operations and responsibilities it’s currently charged with and will likely face in years to come, nothing is being done at the national political level. (Munroe himself, in another article, offered this: ‘This author has yet to encounter a study conducted by a military analyst which dismisses peak oil as an implausible, alarmist issue.’) There are no governmental departments and no bureaucrats who’ve been assigned the task of figuring out anything about what we should do. 
Acknowledging as have others that electoral politics hampers our officials from dealing with long-range planning and problems, Martenson added:
‘So I came away from the ASPO conference pondering two completely polar trends that combined to create a lasting discomfort. On the one hand we have more and more private and military organizations coming to the conclusion that peak oil is imminent and will change everything, possibly disruptively. On the other hand there appear to be no plans within the civilian government to deal with a liquid fuels emergency.’

More than a bit disappointing that not much has changed. Maybe it’s just me, but starting to plan after the big problems make their presence felt seems not the wisest choice.

~ My Photo: Newport Beach, CA – 02.16.14

 

Tory anti-environment advocacy protects corporate, not public, interests | Nafeez Ahmed | Environment | theguardian.com

Tory anti-environment advocacy protects corporate, not public, interests | Nafeez Ahmed | Environment | theguardian.com. (source)

Tory anti-environment advocacy protects corporate, not public, interests

Conservative MP Jacob Rees-Mogg’s Telegraph screed supports Cameron’s contempt for green policies at our expense

Cuadrilla fracking site at Balcombe

Cuadrilla has doubled the height of its security fences and installed razor wire at its Balcombe site. Photograph: Wpa Pool/Getty Images

Yesterday Jacob Rees-Mogg, member of parliament for North East Somerset, wrote an article in the Telegraph claiming that the fundamental cause of the UK’s “high energy prices” is “climate changealarmism.” His piece coincided with Prime Minister David Cameron‘sannouncement that to tackle rocketing gas and electricity bills he would “roll back” green levies on energy bills and subject Britain’s “Big Six” energy giants to a “competition test.”

Even the Tory’s own lead environmentalist MP, Zac Goldsmith, was appalled. “In 2010, leaders fought to prove they were the greenest”, he said. “Three years on, they’re desperately blaming their own policies on the other. Muppets.”

But Rees-Mogg’s piece illustrates the insidious nature of the anti-environment economic ideology that has been so influential in the Tory party, and that has derailed the potential for meaningful environmental policy. Energy companies have announced prices rises against the background of government regulation and “green taxes”, he writes, because concern over climate change has led to unjustifiable opposition to coal and fracking:

“In the 2010s it is not the price of bread that is falsely and unnecessarily inflated by obstinate politicians but that of energy. There are cheap sources of energy either available or possible but there is a reluctance to use them. Coal is plentiful and provides the least expensive electricity per megawatt, while fracking may provide a boon of shale gas.”

He is wrong on both counts – laughably so. A number of recent scientific studies in major journals such as FuelEnergy, the International Journal of Coal Geology – to name just a few – have projected that a peak in world coal production is only a few years away, followed by production declines and spiraling prices.

As for fracking, its capacity to provide cheap shale gas has beenquestioned by leading independent experts who point to steep production declines at wells, along with overinflated industry reserve estimates that have led to a “bubble” that could burst in the next five years.

At the core of Rees-Mogg’s obfuscation on energy is an ideology that paints corporations as the key to prosperity for all:

“As the Government has made the price higher so the energy companies put a margin on top. High prices are almost expected.”

But this is also false. The fundamental cause of the high energy prices consistently dampening prospects for economic growth is the peak and plateauing of cheap conventional oil production since around 2005, which has ramped up oil prices and compelled a deepening dependence on increasingly expensive unconventional sources like tar sands, oil shale and shale gas. This is not particularly controversial – even Shell’s CEO has warned that shale gas will not reduce prices, and evidence submitted to the House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee by Bloomberg New Energy Finance shows that shale gas “will not be a panacea for bringing down gas and electricity bills” as costs will be “50% to 100% higher than in the US.”

Rees-Mogg then flirts unabashedly with climate denialism, arguing that the effect of carbon dioxide emissions on the climate “remains much debated”, and that climate models are inaccurate because it was “computer modelling” that led to the 2008 global banking collapse of 2008. Notwithstanding the obvious fact that climate models are completely different from the quantitative models that justified the reckless debt-expansion behind the global financial crisis, the former are only inaccurate in being too conservative – whereas the latter wererigged by financiers to maximise profits at taxpayer’s expense.

Rees-Mogg’s other case for inaction is that we are not responsible for climate change. Britain emits only “2 per cent” of the world’s CO2. What he ignores here is that the UK is still in the top ten of global emitters – and that if every country decided on inaction because it only contributes by itself a small percentage of emissions, then what we have is a recipe for abject failure.

Rees-Mogg would have us believe he is motivated by the plight of the poor, whom he says are “most particularly” punished as a “matter of choice not of necessity…. This can be stopped by ending the environmentalist obsession and delivering cheap energy.” But one might be forgiven for concluding that his real concern is corporate profiteering. The solution to high energy prices, he says, is “to free the market” – the same “free” market that led to the 2008 crash, the Eurozone crisis, and so on – “not to control prices which will simply reduce supply.”

This is hardly surprising. Rees-Mogg is a founding partner at Somerset Capital Management (SCM), a global asset management fund where hecurrently works as a macro specialist while also being an MP. Among its many investments, SCM specialises in emerging markets, including in the energy industry. Its largest holdings include oil majors such as the China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) – which for instance is spearheading multibillion dollar deals to access the North American shale gas market – and Russia’s OJSC Rosneft Oil Company.

According to its interim report published in March this year, the fund pulled out of some energy projects on the basis of declining rates of profitability “due to the rising cost of production”, but viewed CNOOC’s recent ventures to exploit US fracking as “favourable.” In other markets such as India, China and Brazil, economic prospects were mixed as “both domestic consumption and exports put in lacklustre performances.” The overall assessment was uncertain, with the report noting that emerging market economies are “cooling”, and that “The market has periodic rallies but these show no real conviction.”

While Rees-Mogg’s firm profits from fracking abroad, Rees-Mogg himself uses his own parliamentary privilege to advocate fracking at home, while promoting a kind of free market extremism. In a speech last month during a Private Member’s Bill proposing amendments to the Deep Sea Mining (Temporary Provisions) Act 1981, Rees-Mogg reportedly urged for greater deregulation to permit British companies to explore the potential for off-shore and deep sea resources:

“That’s what this is really about: exploring these resources that could add to the wealth not only of the nation but of the globe at large; because as we’ve seen the emergence of the new economies – China, India, Brazil and of Russia – so we have seen demand for resources grow extraordinarily.”

“I would urge the Bill to have a more deregulatory ambition within it”, he added.

“It’s obviously wise to extend it purely for metals to include gas and to include liquids, because there may be all sorts of exciting things at the depths of the sea. There may be endless supplies of gas, there may be oils spurting out as if Saudi Arabia is on the seabed.”

Ironically, these are precisely the sorts of policies that could indirectly benefit corporate players like Somerset Capital Management, its holdings, and its clients in emerging markets and beyond. Indeed, SCM’s own indifference to environmental challenges is plainly stated on its website, where it declares:

“… we makes [sic] no claim to using environmental, social and governance concerns as tenets of ethics in the fashioning of investment returns.”

That might be all quite acceptable in its own context, but when this cavalier attitude becomes evident in public advocacy by our so-called political representatives, it’s time to start asking questions about the extent to which politics is being hijacked in the name of unaccountable corporate power.

Dr Nafeez Ahmed is executive director of the Institute for Policy Research & Development and author of A User’s Guide to the Crisis of Civilisation: And How to Save It among other books. Follow him on Twitter @nafeezahmed

The crisis of civilisation is an unprecedented opportunity | Nafeez Ahmed | Environment | theguardian.com

The crisis of civilisation is an unprecedented opportunity | Nafeez Ahmed | Environment | theguardian.com.

 

Why the jury’s still out on the risk of Arctic methane catastrophe | Nafeez Ahmed | Environment | theguardian.com

Why the jury’s still out on the risk of Arctic methane catastrophe | Nafeez Ahmed | Environment | theguardian.com.

 

Peak oil lives, but will kill the economy | Nafeez Ahmed | Environment | guardian.co.uk

Peak oil lives, but will kill the economy | Nafeez Ahmed | Environment | guardian.co.uk.

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