How to get the money back from the bankers

When the first signs of the British banks failing arose, I thought that the solution was obvious. The Northern Rock Bank was the first to go, and although at that time I did not realise that they were merely the first in a row of dominoes, I thought the best way to handle the run on the bank was for the Government to guarantee the deposits, put the bank into liquidation and reconstruct it. Liquidation is always a last resort, but it enables, in these circumstances, the liquidator has the legal right to renounce onerous contracts (too bad for the people contracting, but they took their chances when they entered into those contracts) and reconstruct the bank in the interests of the creditors and shareholders. Continue reading

Recession and climate change

The value of the goods and services of most nations, their total value and output is declining. In effect, there is no economic growth at the moment – the economies of the majority of the world are in recession. Recession is the opposite of growth and a recession occurs when there are six continuous months of no economic growth. Over the whole period of human history there has been economic growth, even though from time to time there have been recessions, economies recover from recession and continue to grow.

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How do we plan for when the fuel runs out

I wrote yesterday about the conclusion of the International Energy Agency that energy demand will increase by 45% in the next twenty one years and that 80% of the increase will be by people burning more fossil fuel, most of which will be coal. We ought to consider this prediction in the light of the limited supplies of fossil fuel and uranium. No one knows exactly how much of these fuels is left but generally informed consensus is that there is less left than is being claimed. What can we do to protect ourselves from a fuel crisis? If we are to, we must act now, not in two or three years’ time. Continue reading

No credit crunch comfort on climate change

The credit crunch (or perhaps more accurately the confidence crisis) is closing down good businesses, putting people out of work and out of their homes and slowing down production of many goods and leaving most of the service industry not providing as many services. Is there an environmental silver lining? It may be that with less economic activity we can get those wretched greenhouse gas emissions down to a level that the planet can cope with.

Most emissions (by far) are from energy use and with less economic activity there will be less demand, so what do the experts predict about future energy use in light of the credit crunch? The International Energy Agency are experts.founded in the 1974 oil crisis to provide advice to 28 of the most prosperous nation on earth.

The International Energy Agency (IEA) has studied, as it studies every year, energy consumption trends, what will happen to carbon dioxide emissions associated with energy consumption, tasking into account all existing energy policies, on the assumption that no new energy policies are brought into being. Its World Energy Outlook is published every year; it out to be read more widely as the Agency is a widely respected body whose studies are created without political motive and without any agenda.

The IEA now expects world wide energy use to grow more slowly to 2030 than it has projected in previous years. It expects energy demand to increase by a massive 45% by 2030 at an average growth rate of 1.6% each year. Fossil fuel will provide 80% of the growth of energy. In other words a 36% increase in carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuel, assuming that the fossil fuel mix is the same as at present.

The IEA foresees that large energy users in the developed world will be importing more and more natural gas and oil. The IEA has taken the present credit crisis into account in its calculations; otherwise its projected energy consumption would be higher. Out of the fossil fuels, oil will remain dominant, but the demand for coal will rise more than for any other fossil fuel, with the coal being used the generate electricity. The IEA points out that energy is subsidised in the twenty largest countries outside the OECD by more than $310 billion. Subsidising fossil fuel energy may be politically expedient in the short term but it is environmental terrorism.

The IEA forecasts a massive growth in renewables but the growth in energy created from this source is less than a fraction of the growth in energy from demand created by increases in population and increases in prosperity. India and China together will account for more than half of the increased energy use between now and 2030.

The Middle East alone will contribute 11% to the incremental world demand for energy. These increases in demand create a greater need for international co-operation in order to ensure that the energy supply routes are kept working. There will almost certainly be created increased competition for energy and with almost all energy coming from fossil fuel I shall expect very large price increases in real terms for oil, natural gas and coal, as more nations chase larger supplies, most of which will come from non OECD nations.

Certainly on the IEA’s projections there is little sign of any credit crunch comfort on climate change.

Peak oil, peak coal, peak gas and projected fossil fuel use

It is interesting how much difference there is between targets and projections. The United Kingdom has an ambitious target to cut greenhouse gases by 80% by 2050. For this figure to be realistic we have got to cut them by 60% by 2030, because the easiest gains in emissions reduction come first. Of course there is little sign of the United Kingdom making any emission reductions for the time being, but that is another story. Continue reading

Which is better – solar flat panels or evacuated tubes?

I am often asked about the difference between evacuated tubes and flat plate solar panels; people want to know which is better and there are some confusing websites out there, particularly those which extol the virtues of evacuated tubes, so I shall let you have my views on each type of product. You will have to bear in mind my own bias; after some considerable research I invested my own money in a flat plate factory for Genersys; I personally decided my preference and the reasons have not changed in the past eight years. Continue reading

Mercury,health damage and low energy lighting

Mercury pollution is a growing problem. Mercury damages the nervous systems of animals, dissolves in sea water where it is ingested by sea mammals and fish. Begula whales and arctic seals have higher levels of mercury in their bodies than ever and the poison works its way through the food chain, until it gets into the bodies of humans, where the young and pregnant women are particularly at risk of suffering damage to their lives and their health. Continue reading