Fuel Sources for U.S. Energy Demand to 2035

According to the latest forecasts from the Department of Energy in its latest Annual Energy Outlook, the fossil fuel (coal, natural gas and oil) share of energy consumption will fall only slightly in the future, from 83 percent of total U.S. energy demand in 2010 to 77 percent in 2035 (see chart). On the other hand, the future of renewables is not looking so bright, in terms of its future contribution to America’s energy demand. In 2010, renewables (wood, municipal waste, biomass, and hydroelectricity in the end-use sectors; hydroelectricity, geothermal, municipal solid waste, biomass, solar, and wind for generation in the electric power sector; and ethanol for gasoline blending and biomass-based diesel in the transportation sector), contributed only about 7% of U.S. energy consumption, and that was less than the 8.9% share back in 1983. Even by 2035, more than twenty years from now, renewables as a fuel source are expected to provide less than 11% of total energy demand.

Bottom Line: The scientific and economic reality (and even the government’s own forecasts support this) is that affordable and reliable hydrocarbons will continue to be the major source of energy that will fuel America’s economy well into the future, despite Obama’s embrace of alternative energies as the “energies of the future,” and his dismissal of oil as a “fuel of the past.” Hydrocarbon energy is America’s future, and it’s the energy treasures beneath our feet that will continue to power the U.S. economy for many generations to come.

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Coastal N.C. counties fighting sea-level rise prediction

By Bruce Henderson – bhenderson@charlotteobserver.com

State lawmakers are considering a measure that would limit how North Carolina prepares for sea-level rise, which many scientists consider one of the surest results of climate change.

Federal authorities say the North Carolina coast is vulnerable because of its low, flat land and thin fringe of barrier islands. A state-appointed science panel has reported that a 1-meter rise in sea level is likely by 2100.

The calculation, prepared for the N.C. Coastal Resources Commission, was intended to help the state plan for rising water that could threaten 2,000 square miles. Critics say it could thwart economic development on just as large a scale.

A coastal economic development group called NC-20 attacked the report, insisting the scientific research it cited is flawed. The science panel last month confirmed its findings, recommending that they be reassessed every five years.

But NC-20, named for the 20 coastal counties, appears to be winning its campaign to undermine them.

The Coastal Resources Commission agreed to delete references to planning benchmarks – such as the 1-meter prediction – and new development standards for areas likely to be inundated.

The N.C. Division of Emergency Management, which is using a $5 million federal grant to analyze the impact of rising water, lowered its worst-case scenario prediction from 1 meter (about 39 inches) to 15 inches by 2100.

Politics and economics in play

Several local governments on the coast have passed resolutions against sea-level rise policies.

When the General Assembly convened this month, Republican legislators went further.

They circulated a bill that authorizes only the coastal commission to calculate how fast the sea is rising. It said the calculations must be based only on historic trends – leaving out the accelerated rise that climate scientists widely expect this century if warming increases and glaciers melt.

The bill, a substitute for an unrelated measure the N.C. House passed last year, has not been introduced. State legislative officials say they can’t predict how it might be changed, or when or whether it will emerge.

Longtime East Carolina University geologist Stan Riggs, a science panel member who studies the evolution of the coast, said the 1-meter estimate is squarely within the mainstream of research.

“We’re throwing this science out completely, and what’s proposed is just crazy for a state that used to be a leader in marine science,” he said of the proposed legislation. “You can’t legislate the ocean, and you can’t legislate storms.”

NC-20 Chairman Tom Thompson, economic development director in Beaufort County, said his members – many of them county managers and other economic development officials – are convinced that climate changes and sea-level rises are part of natural cycles. Climate scientists who say otherwise, he believes, are wrong.

The group’s critiques quote scientists who believe the rate of sea-level rise is actually slowing. NC-20 says the state should rely on historical trends until acceleration is detected. The computer models that predict a quickening rate could be inaccurate, it says.

“If you’re wrong and you start planning today at 39 inches, you could lose millions of dollars in development and 2,000 square miles would be condemned as a flood zone,” Thompson said. “Is it really a risk to wait five years and see?”

State planners concerned

State officials say the land below the 1-meter elevation would not be zoned as a flood zone and off-limits to development. Planners say it’s crucial to allow for rising water when designing bridges, roads, and sewer lines that will be in use for decades.

“We’re concerned about it,” said Philip Prete, an environmental planner in Wilmington, which will soon analyze the potential effects of rising water on infrastructure. “For the state to tie our hands and not let us use the information that the state science panel has come up with makes it overly restrictive.”

Other states, he said, are “certainly embracing planning.”

Maine is preparing for a rise of up to 2 meters by 2100, Delaware 1.5 meters, Louisiana 1 meter and California 1.4 meters. Southeastern Florida projects up to a 2-foot rise by 2060.

Dueling studies

NC-20 says the state should plan for 8 inches of rise by 2100, based on the historical trend in Wilmington.

The science panel based its projections on records at the northern coast town of Duck, where the rate is twice as fast, and factored in the accelerated rise expected to come later. Duck was chosen, the panel said, because of the quality of its record and site on the open ocean.

The panel cites seven studies that project global sea level will rise as much as 1 meter, or more, by 2100. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change estimated in 2007 a rise of no more than 23 inches, but did not factor in the melting land ice that many scientists now expect.

NC-20’s science adviser, Morehead City physicist John Droz, says he consulted with 30 sea-level experts, most of them not named in his latest critique of the panel’s work. He says the 13-member panel failed to do a balanced review of scientific literature, didn’t use the best available science and made unsupported assumptions.

“I’m not saying these people are liars,” Thompson said. “I’m saying they have a passion for sea-level rise and they can’t give it up.”

John Dorman of the N.C. Division of Emergency Management, which is preparing a study of sea-level impact, said an “intense push” by the group and state legislators led to key alterations.

Instead of assuming a 1-meter, worst-case rise, he said, the study will report the impact of seas that rise only 3.9, 7.8, 11.7 and 15.6 inches by 2100. The 1-meter analysis will be available to local governments that request it.

“It’s not the product we had put the grant out for,” Dorman said, referring to the $5 million from the Federal Emergency Management Agency that’s paying for the study. Coastal communities will still find the work useful, he predicts.

The backlash on the coast centers on the question of whether sea-level rise will accelerate, said Bob Emory, chairman of the Coastal Resources Commission.

Emory, who lives in New Bern, said the commission deleted wording from its proposed sea-level rise policy that hinted at new regulations in order to find common ground. “Any remaining unnecessarily inflammatory language that’s still in there, we want to get out,” he said.

New information will be incorporated as it comes out, he said.

“There are people who disagree on the science. There are people who worry about what impact even talking about sea-level rise will have on development,” Emory said. “It’s my objective to have a policy that makes so much sense that people would have trouble picking at it.”

In written comments, the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources said the legislation that circulated earlier this month appeared consistent with the coastal commission’s policy changes.

But the department warned of the “unintended impacts” of not allowing agencies other than the coastal commission to develop sea-level rise policies. The restriction could undermine the Division of Emergency Management’s study, it said, and the ability of transportation and emergency-management planners to address rising waters.

The N.C. Coastal Federation, the region’s largest environmental group, said the bill could hurt local governments in winning federal planning grants. Insurance rates could go up, it says.

Relying solely on historical trends, the group said, is like “being told to make investment decisions strictly on past performance and not being able to consider market trends and research.”

Read more here: http://www.newsobserver.com/2012/05/28/2096124/coastal-nc-counties-fighting-sea.html#storylink=cpy

Bonn – Another UNFCCC Epic Failure

May 26
Posted by Tory Aardvark

Pre Rio+20 climate talks in Bonn, another epic fail for the UNFCCC headed by Christiana Figueres

Poor old Global Warming Climate Change Climate Disruption Climate Change after so many name changes and failed cataclysmic events, Climate Change has been dropped for “sustainable development” and publicly demoted by such luminaries as Barack Hussein Obama.

The purpose of the 2 week long meeting in Bonn was to set the framework and agenda for the next big warming alarmist meeting, the Rio+20 Earth Summit next month, when the Green climate zealots will ignore the possibilities of video conferencing and hypocritically emit tons of CO2 when 50,000 of them get into those evil winged machines and fly to Brazil.

The Bonn meeting was supposed to prepare the way for the bright new shiny Green scam of sustainable development, instead there was no agreement about anything really, and what little progress there was at COP17 Durban started to unravel:

At the talks, countries were supposed to set out a workplan on negotiations that should result in a new global climate treaty, to be drafted by the end of 2015 and to come into force in 2020. But participants told the Guardian they were downbeat, disappointed and frustrated that the decision to work on a new treaty – reached after marathon late-running talks last December in Durban – was being questioned.

China and India, both rapidly growing economies with an increasing share of global emissions, have tried to delay talks on such a treaty. Instead of a workplan for the next three years to achieve the objective of a new pact, governments have only managed to draw up a partial agenda. “It’s incredibly frustrating to have achieved so little,” said one developed country participant. “We’re stepping backwards, not forwards.”

The only developed country participant left will be a Green Liberal Climate zealot from the EU, Canada and Japan having left Kyoto already, the US never signed and China, Russia and India are in no hurry to destroy their economies with carbon stupidity.

Connie Hedegaard, the EU climate chief, said: “The world cannot afford that a few want to backtrack from what was agreed in Durban only five months ago. Durban was – and is – a delicately balanced package where all elements must be delivered at the same pace. It is not a pick and choose menu. It is very worrisome that attempts to backtrack have been so obvious and time-consuming in the Bonn talks over the last two weeks.”

Things are really bad when Comrade Connie, the unelected EU Climate Commissar cannot put a positive Green spin on the proceedings.

There was also little progress on the key issue of the financing by rich countries of actions in the developing world. Meeting in Bonn, negotiators and officials from around the world haggled over the set-up of a ‘Green Climate Fund’ that would channel cash from the developed world to poorer countries, to help them cut greenhouse gas emissions and cope with the effects of climate change.

Probably because there is no money, the politicians know that their voters are wise to the Climate Change scam and there is one thing politicians fear far more than the manufactured threat of Anthropogenic Global Warming, and that is being voted out of office.

Tove Maria Ryding, coordinator for climate policy at Greenpeace International, said: “Here in Bonn we’ve clearly seen that the climate crisis is not caused by lack of options and solutions, but lack of political action. It’s absurd to watch governments sit and point fingers and fight like little kids while the scientists explain about the terrifying impacts of climate change and the fact that we have all the technology we need to solve the problem while creating new green jobs.”

Still more reasons why Greenpeace should be ignored, there are no such things as lasting Green jobs, a report by US House of Representatives in September 2011 concluded that globally Green jobs have been a myth.

If you need further proof of the illusion of Green jobs then Spain is the case in point for a country that Greened its economy early on, each Green job killed 2.2 jobs in convential industries.

Christiana Figueres really hit the nail on the head when she complained that “Citizens Are Not Pushing For Climate Action“, which would account for why the politicians are doing nothing.

To Green environmentalists, the UN and all those complicit in the Climate Change scam democracy is something they want suspended, so they can save us all from a terrible death by CO2.

The major lesson to be learned here, is beware of people wanting to save you from a crisis they have manufactured.

UK Coalition on Energy: Dumb and Dumber

By Peter C. Glover

UK Energy plc is not in the best of hands. Quite honestly, the Muppets could have come up with a more coherent script than that contained in the coalition’s new energy bill.

With investor interest in developing North Sea oil and gas fields running at an all-time high, and parts of the UK onshore and offshore sitting on potentially world class shale gas reserves, it beggars belief that David Cameron’s coalition partners could end up presenting UK energy as a bad news story.

Somehow they managed it.

Faced with a choice of looking across the English Channel to Europe or across the Atlantic to the United States to see how best energy is ‘done’, the new UK draft energy bill has ‘sponsored by Brussels’ stamped all over it. In short, the bill prioritises nuclear power and renewables overlooking what actually drives the economy (and will for decades): fossil fuels, especially shale gas. While nuclear is important in the mix, the UK would benefit greatly by extending the life of existing power stations – were it not for the pointless obsession of meeting EU emission targets. And, in electricity generation terms, wind and solar are just ‘kids’ stuff’: overly-expensive kids’ stuff at that.

In socialist Europe, centralized energy controls have stymied shale gas development through crassly stupid fracking bans and swathes of greens taxes and subsidy regimes which have greatly increased fuel poverty via some of the highest electricity prices in the world. Over in the States, despite President Obama’s centralizing socialist ambitions that saw him derail the Keystone Pipeline project, America’s more free market energy industry is currently transforming the entire face of US energy. The US shale revolution has already halved gas prices with the switch to gas more generally fuelling a manufacturing revival, including an estimated one million associated new jobs.

A no brainer? Not it seems for the UK coalition. The architect of the UK’s reversal of economic fortunes in the 1980s, partly via energy deregulation, Lord Nigel Lawson, neatly sums up the philosophy of the new bill. Now Chairman of the Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF), Lawson warns: “The Energy Bill constitutes a disastrous move towards a centrally planned energy economy with a high level of control over which forms of energy generation will be favoured and which will be stifled. The government even seeks to regulate the prices and profits of energy generation.”

GWPF Director, Dr Benny Peiser, adds, “At a time when most major economies are gradually returning to cheap and abundant fossil fuels, mainly in the form of coal and natural gas, Britain alone seems prepared to sacrifice its economic competitiveness and recovery by opting for the most expensive forms of energy.”

If creating a business climate attractive to the major investors currently buzzing around North Sea oil and gas and shale gas prospects was envisaged by the bills drafters, it has achieved the polar opposite.

As part of the consultation process, there was also the strange case of the ‘UK shale gas summit’ attended by David Cameron and energy secretary, Ed Davey. In the immediate aftermath, according to a report in The Independent, “senior coalition figures have agreed that shale gas has the potential to be deeply controversial without securing major benefits in lowering carbon emissions or reducing energy costs”. Let me translate: Whilst the UK may well be sitting on a huge domestic energy bonanza that could eclipse North Sea oil and gas, this would upset Eurocratic emission targets, not to mention a few NIMBY voters. Try telling that to the Americans. Anyone in any doubt that market forces alone do not have the power to transform the world is simply not paying attention to America’s revitalized energy sector.

And exactly which “senior coalition figures” agreed, we do not know. If they had been Conservatives it would have made a headline story. More likely, it was Lib Dem, Ed Davey, and his merry green anti-fossil fuellers who had ‘heard what they wanted to hear’. A closer look at the fallout from the meeting reveals that the few companies involved, including Royal Shell and UK gas suppliers, Centrica, are actually clueless about how much shale gas the UK has but would “take a look”.

In the wake of the meeting UK shale gas expert, Nick Grealy, in his post “Misinformation on UK shale at highest level”, points out two key facts. First, that shale gas exploration was put on hold over a year ago by the government (so nobody has actually been looking for it) – and the particular companies invited mostly have a vested interest in keeping gas prices high.

Meanwhile the British Geological Society and Cuadrilla, who have already “taken a look”, suggest a world class 200 trillion cubic feet of shale gas at the very minimum, with UK offshore promising still more. And that’s just the Bowland Shale in the north-west of England. There are other prospects further south.

Currently, shale gas development is the victim of its own success. The effect of the US shale revolution has been to not only drive down prices in America but it has also held prices steady on the international market. However, that doesn’t change the fact that the resources exist and are massive – with early development proving it to be commercially viable and providing a raft of associated benefits to industry and consumers.

So how could Russian, Norwegian and Qatari imports be a better economic option for the UK? And what about the effect of a burgeoning domestic shale gas industry on UK job creation? Or would it be just too cynical to think that Lib Dem support for shale gas development would undermine investment in their ideologically-preferred wind and solar developments? British economist Tim Worstall sums the UK energy situation up well in his recent Forbes column posting, “The British Government Being Fools About Shale Gas”.

When David Cameron took office in 2010 he clearly had to cut cards with the Lib Dems when it came to dealing out Cabinet posts. It seems that Cameron felt energy was one he could safely hand to the Lib Dems with whom he shares a predilection for green-at-any cost-to-the-consumer agenda. He might as well have handed it to Greenpeace. As if the Huhnatic’s – Chris Huhne’s – legacy of an incredibly over-generous solar panel fiasco scheme that the government is still trying to wriggle out of, not to mention an increasingly unpopular and electricity bill-inflating wind industry was not enough, Ed Davey’s new energy bill threatens an entire regime of centralized regulatory energy controls. Meanwhile, all that Energy Minister Davey can do in presenting his bill is to admit lamely that UK electricity bills – unlike those in the shale-impacted United States – will only soar further.

David Cameron could do worse than reading Fracking: A Tale of Two States. It reveals how the farmers and landowners of New York State (where there’s a shale fracking moratorium) look on with envy at the economic benefits accruing across the border in Pennsylvania (where fracking is allowed). If his government runs with this draft energy bill, he will soon know how the New Yorkers feel.

All of which only fuels a long-held suspicion about the UK coalition: that Conservatives may be on the bridge, but it’s the anti-fossil fuel Lib Dem greenies steering the course.

Peter C Glover is the International Associate Editor, Energy Tribune & author of Energy and Climate Wars, Power Politics: The Inside Track On EnergyFor more: http://www.petercglover.com

STATES STRIKING BACK AGAINST JOB-KILLING, FREEDOM-CRUSHING U.N. AGENDA 21

URGENT: If the Obama Administration, United Nations and radical environmentalists at all levels of government get their way, Americans will quickly become one-world subjects governed by the global body rather than land-owning sovereign citizens with inalienable rights.

Fortunately, some states are starting to fight back. But we must make our voicesheard now against U.N. Agenda 21 before our sovereignty and the American way of life are forfeited to the extreme agenda of U.N. bureaucrats forever.

The United Nation’s Agenda 21 was developed 20 years ago as an attempt to impose the extreme environmentalist agenda globally — including in every state, city and town in the United States. Masked as a “green initiative,” it seeks to dictate and control every aspect of our lives.

Specifically, at risk from Agenda 21 are, among other things:

* Private property rights;
* The ability to choose what vehicle we drive and even our very means of travel, and
* Private ownership of family farms

What’s scary is Agenda 21 is already taking hold in states and municipalities across America.

In fact, the U.S. subsidiary of the International Council of Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI) — the international body charged with implementing Agenda 21 at the local level — claims nearly 600 local governments in 49 states in America today. George Soros’ Open Society has given more than $2 million to ICLEI to support implementation of Agenda 21 at the local level.

As one commentator wrote in a piece published in The Blaze:

“Do you support your local government agreeing to rules and regulations set up by a UN-based organization that wants private property transferred to government control?”

Of course not. But that is exactly what could happen if we don’t sound the alarm against Agenda 21 right here and right now!

Implementation of the U.N.’s Agenda 21 is not just confined to the local level. Indeed, Barack Obama’s utopian vision for a “green economy” and “sustainable development” can be traced directly back to Agenda 21.

And it is no coincidence that much of the radical job-killing agenda being rammed down our throats by Obama’s EPA seeks some of the very same goals outlined in Agenda 21.

Private property rights, energy independence, freedom — to Agenda 21 supporters these are all just pesky barriers to achieving their goals. And they will stop at nothing to knock down those barriers to implement the U.N.’s Agenda 21.

Fortunately, however, some states and patriotic Americans are starting to wake up and fight back!

Local Tea Party groups have begun petitioning their local governments to withdraw from membership in the ICLEI USA. The Republican National Committee in January passed a resolution exposing U.N. Agenda 21 and warning against its implementation.

And now seven states have proposed similar resolutions to warn their citizens, policymakers and local governments about the dangers of implementing Agenda 21.

But the fight is proving to be an uphill battle that needs grassroots Americans to make their voices heard in order to win.

The Tennessee legislature passed an anti-Agenda 21 resolution, but Governor Bill Haslam refused to sign it.

Last week, the Kansas House passed a similar resolution that, among other things, condemns any attempts by any Federal agency to implement Agenda 21 within Kansas’ borders. Of course, the pro-Agenda 21 forces are doing everything in their power to kill it.

The Kansas resolution reads as follows:

——————————————————————————–

Session of 2012

House Resolution No. 6032

By Committee on Federal and State Affairs

A RESOLUTION opposing and exposing the radical nature of United Nations Agenda 21 and its destructiveness to the principles of the founding documents of the United States of America.

WHEREAS, The United Nations Agenda 21 is a comprehensive plan of environmental extremism, social engineering and global political control that was initiated at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in 1992; and

WHEREAS, The United Nations Agenda 21 is being covertly pushed into local communities throughout the United States of America through the International Council of Local Environmental Initiatives through local “sustainable development” policies such as Smart Growth, Wildlands Project, Resilient Cities, Regional Visioning Projects and other “Green” or “Alternative” projects; and

WHEREAS, This United Nations Agenda 21 plan of radical so-called “sustainable development” views the American way of life of private property ownership, single family homes, private car ownership, individual travel choices and privately owned farms as destructive to the environment; and

WHEREAS, The United States federal government nor any state or local government is legally bound by the United Nations Agenda 21, the influence of the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives has now infiltrated approximately 600 local and regional entities in the United States, with as many as 54 of such entities withdrawing enrollment during 2011, due to the negative consequences experienced through implementation of Agenda 21; and

WHEREAS, According to the United Nations Agenda 21 policy, social justice is described as the right and opportunity of all people to benefit equally from the resources afforded us by society and the environment, which would be accomplished by redistribution of wealth:

Now, therefore,

Be it resolved by the House of Representatives of the State of Kansas: That we recognize the destructive and insidious nature of United Nations Agenda 21 and hereby expose to public policy makers the dangerous intent of the plan; and

Be it further resolved: That the federal government and all state and HR 6032 local governments across the country should seek to be well informed about the underlying harmful implications of the implementation of United Nations Agenda 21 destructive strategies for “sustainable development”, and that we hereby endorse rejection of its radical policies; and

Be it further resolved: That the Chief Clerk of the House of Representatives shall send an enrolled copy of this resolution to each member of the Kansas Congressional Delegation.

——————————————————————————–

Simply put, implementation of the U.N.’s Agenda 21 must be stopped. Every state must passed resolutions similar to the one above to expose the “underlying harmful implications of the implementation of United Nations Agenda 21 destructive strategies for ‘sustainable development'” and reject its “radical policies.”

If a groundswell of everyday Americans makes our voices heard, we can stop this radical U.N. agenda dead in its tracks.

Thorium – the energy solution for the future

John Coleman

THORIUM will power the world. That is the bumper sticker of the future.

The ugly debate about energy has gone on and on. It is costing us billions of dollars. It is beginning to cripple our nation. I have been looking for a source of abundant, cheap electric power that short cuts the raging, highly destructive debate; a source all sides can support. I think I have found it. It is thorium.

Thorium is nothing new. It was successfully demonstrated in the 1960s. I am not the only one to find it; there are now 100s, maybe even thousands of scientists, promoting it. But it has largely been forgotten and overlooked ever since the military/industrial complex and their political and bureaucratic servants dumped it 50 years ago.

I am asking for all sides in the climate change, global warming, carbon dioxide, carbon footprint debate to consider supporting thorium. It is green; it produces no “greenhouse gasses”, no particulate pollution, leaves little waste and produces no risk of explosion, radiation or pollution in the atmosphere or ocean. It is cheap; an abundant resource found in the desert salts and rocks in virtually every country on Earth. It is relatively cheap and simple to use.

I see every reason why, despite their huge, continuing differences on other issues, that thorium power can be accepted and promoted by all sides. I think Richard Lindzen and Michael Mann, Joe Bast and Peter Glieck, Fred Singer and James Hansen, Lord Monckton and Al Gore, Roger Pielke and Joe Romm should all set aside their debate long enough to help get the move to thorium electric power generation rolling.

I have just finished my first television report on thorium. It is about five minutes long; a true monster of a long “package” by television news standards. Yet Steve Cohen, the News Director of KUSI-TV, gave his full support and approval and cleared it for telecast on Monday, May 21st. It has now been posted on the KUSI website at

http://www.kusi.com/video?clipId=7310055&autostart=true

After you have watched, please, do a little internet digging of your own. The Thorium Alliance.com website is a good place to look:

http://thoriumenergyalliance.com/ThoriumSite/portal.html

http://thoriumenergyalliance.com/

http://www.thoriumenergyalliance.com/downloads/ThoriumSummary_Alex_Cannara.pdf

It will take a mountain of enthusiasm from a broad range of well positioned people to move the politicians and bureaucrats to back thorium. It would also be great if a major supplier of generating stations would climb aboard. I fear it is going to take a lot of political donations to move our Congress. And, I don’t think this can move forward without Congress.

If you interested enough to learn about thorium power here and now, read on:

Is Thorium the Biggest Energy Breakthrough Since Fire? Possibly

By William Pentland, Contributor

For the past several months, a friend of mine has been telling me about the potentially game-changing implications of an obscure (at least to me) metal named Thorium after the Norse god of thunder, Thor.

It seems like he is not the only person who believes thorium, a naturally-occurring, slightly radioactive metal discovered in 1828 by the Swedish chemist Jons Jakob Berzelius, could provide the world with an ultra-safe, ultra-cheap source of nuclear power.

Last week, scores of thorium boosters gathered in the United Kingdom to launch a new advocacy organization, the Weinberg Foundation, which plans to push the promise of thorium nuclear energy into the mainstream political discussion of clean energy and climate change. The message they’re sending is that thorium is the anti-dote to the world’s most pressing energy and environmental challenges.

So what is the big deal about thorium? In 2006, writing in the magazine Cosmos, Tim Dean summarized perhaps the most optimistic scenario for what a Thorium-powered nuclear world would be like:

What if we could build a nuclear reactor that offered no possibility of a meltdown, generated its power inexpensively, created no weapons-grade by-products, and burnt up existing high-level waste as well as old nuclear weapon stockpiles? And what if the waste produced by such a reactor was radioactive for a mere few hundred years rather than tens of thousands? It may sound too good to be true, but such a reactor is indeed possible, and a number of teams around the world are now working to make it a reality. What makes this incredible reactor so different is its fuel source: thorium.

A clutch of companies and countries are aggressively pursuing Dean’s dream of a thorium-powered world.

Lightbridge Corporation, a pioneering nuclear-energy start-up company based in McLean, VA, is developing the Radkowsky Thorium Reactor in collaboration with Russian researchers. In 2009, Areva, the French nuclear engineering conglomerate, recruited Lightbridge for a project assessing the use of thorium fuel in Areva’s next-generation EPR reactor, advanced class of 1,600+ MW nuclear reactors being built in Olkiluoto, Finland and Flamanville, France.

In China, the Atomic Energy of Canada Limited and a clutch of Chinese outfits began an effort in mid-2009 to use thorium as fuel in nuclear reactors in Qinshan, China.

Thorium is more abundant than uranium in the Earth’s crust. The world has an estimated 4.4 million tons of total known and estimated Thorium resources, according to the International Atomic Energy Association’s 2007 Red Book.

The most common source of thorium is the rare earth phosphate mineral, monazite. World monazite resources are estimated to be about 12 million tons, two-thirds of which are in India. Idaho also boasts a large vein deposit of thorium and rare earth metals.

Thorium can be used as a nuclear fuel through breeding to fissile uranium-233. For those technically-inclined readers, here is a link to a geek-friendly explanation of what that means.

I have no idea whether thorium is the panacea many people claims it is likely to be, but I believe we’ll be hearing more about it in the years to come.

The entire article is on the Forbes website.

There is more to come. Let’s get focused on this concept and try to see it through. It could save our modern, high technology way of life.

John Coleman, KUSI
jcoleman@kusi.com

Shocker: Obama-regime-squeezed-contractors-to-fudge-their-job-loss-estimates-associated-with-coal-regulations

Obama administration officials may have pressured government contractors to change job loss estimates associated with coal regulations, audio recordings reveal.

The tapes show that unnamed officials with the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSM) asked government contractors to change their calculations of job losses associated with the Stream Protection Rule.

A preliminary draft of an environmental impact statement estimated that up to 7,000 coalminers could lose their jobs under the administration’s “preferred” regulation. After a leaked copy of the report went public, officials asked the contractors to compare job estimates to a model in which another regulation was enforced, rather than the real world numbers.

“It’s not the real world, this is rulemaking,” an OSM official tells a skeptical contractor on the recording.

“If we’re to assume [the 2008 rule] is enforced in the coal-producing states, this is a very small [impact],” the contractor replies. “But that, as you said, is not the real world, that’s pretending. . . I thought we were looking at what’s going to change in Kentucky, what’s going to change in Pennsylvania, what’s going to change in Ohio, what’s going to change in Wyoming.”

Leaked Strategy Paper: EU Plans To Phase Out Green Energy Subsidies

Hendrik Kafsack

The economic cost of the expansion of renewable energy could become prohibitively expensive. Subsidies in the EU for solar and wind power should be phased out as quickly as possible. That is what the European Commission says in an internal draft strategy paper that EU Energy Commissioner, Günther Oettinger, will present in Brussels early next month.

In doing so, the EU Commission is supporting the German government which wants to reduce solar subsidies by up to 30 percent, a plan which has met with resistance in the Upper House of the German Parliament.

The expansion and especially the maturity of renewable energy such as solar and wind power have grown much faster than expected, the strategy paper points out. The cost of photovoltaic systems, for instance, had fallen by 48 percent in the last five years. The cost for the construction of offshore wind farms had decreased by 12 percent since 2008. In light of these developments, member states would have to make their programmes more flexible to phase them out.

At the expense of taxpayers

If green subsidy programmes are too rigid, there is a risk that producers would be over-compensated and the cost of developing renewable energy would become intolerable, the paper warns. The sharp decline in the cost of many new green energy sources together with the strong expansion of solar and wind energy had driven the cost for consumers and, in some cases, for taxpayers sharply higher. For many people, energy costs were already too high, especially in light of the difficult economic situation today. The price for renewable energy such as solar and wind power would therefore have to be left entirely to the forces of the free market and as quickly as possible.

However, the Commission does not intend to abolish all forms of renewable subsidies. The development of newer green energy sources, such as geothermal or novel solar thermal power plants, that are not yet commercially viable should be encouraged even beyond the year 2020.

Harmonisation of green subsidies among member states

In its strategy paper, the Commission also calls for the harmonisation of national subsidy and support programmes. The Commission has been criticising the coexistence of different support systems for some time. This dicrepancy has led to the inefficient use of renewable energy within the EU given that they have often been developed in countries where they are simply inappropriate. Instead of subsidising the expansion of solar energy in Northern Europe, for example, the Commission wants these nations to finance their expansion in sunny countries like Greece. The paper specifically mentions the so-called Helios Project in Greece. Energy generated in such projects could then be counted towards the renewable targets which Northern Europeans have signed up.

Until now, the German government has opposed any such Europe-wide plan because it would put in question Germany’s Renewable Energy Law (EEG) in which the feed-in tariff for renewable energy is set out. Not a single German party is currently prepared to agree to such a plan.

Translation Benny Peiser

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 19 May 2012

Only global poverty can save the planet, insists WWF – and the ESA!

By Lewis Page • Get more from this author

Posted in Science, 16th May 2012 08:19 GMT

Analysis Extremist green campaigning group WWF – endorsed by no less a body than the European Space Agency – has stated that economic growth should be abandoned, that citizens of the world’s wealthy nations should prepare for poverty and that all the human race’s energy should be produced as renewable electricity within 38 years from now.

Most astonishingly of all, the green hardliners demand that the enormous numbers of wind farms, tidal barriers and solar powerplants required under their plans should somehow be built while at the same time severely rationing supplies of concrete, steel, copper and glass.

The WWF presents these demands in its just-issued Living Planet Report for 2012. It’s a remarkable document, not least for the fact that it is formally endorsed for the first time by the European Space Agency (ESA) – an organisation which would cease to exist in any meaningful form if the document’s recommendations were to be carried out.

The report is also unusual in that it seeks to set policy on economics and energy, but doesn’t anywhere give any figures expressed in units of energy (watt-hours, joules etc) or currency (dollars, euros or what have you). Instead the WWF activists prefer to base their argument on various indices invented either by themselves or by other international non- or quasi-governmental organisations.

For instance one key figure used in the report is the Living Planet Index, invented by the WWF, which apparently shows “trends in the overall state of global biodiversity”.

It does this by examining the number of individuals (or sometimes pairs) in various local populations of 2,688 selected species – of vertebrates only. Every two years WWF changes what species and populations are included, in large numbers: and anyone would acknowledge that a limited, localised picture of a couple of thousand vertebrate-only species is an utterly minuscule, extremely selective pinpoint on the picture of all the Earth’s life.

Nonetheless WWF think that their LPI number offers conclusive proof that “biodiversity has decreased globally”.

This is bad, because:

Biodiversity is vital for human health and livelihoods …

All human activities make use of ecosystem services – but can also put pressure on the biodiversity that supports these systems.

If that’s not enough for you, the document is liberally spattered with case studies showing how various animal populations have plunged. For instance there are now many fewer wild tigers than there were in 1970, which is plainly a bad thing for human health and livelihoods.

The report then assumes that global resources in general are limited, which is easily achieved by measuring them in terms of “biocapacity” expressed in hectares of Earth surface, and further stipulating that no resources can come from beyond Earth (which seems an odd idea for a major space agency to endorse, but there). WWF goes on to assign numbers showing how much of these hectare-resources everyone is using, their “ecological footprint”.

In these terms, the only people on Earth who are living within their means are those in the poorest nations – their “footprint” exactly matches the “biocapacity” in their countries (doubtless a coincidence) offering a picture of the sort of life all human beings could aspire to in a WWF-run world. Middle-income nations use more “biocapacity” than they actually have, and high-income ones – all the ones where you as a Register reader are most likely to live – use nearly twice as many eco-resources as they produce.

What does this mean?

The Earth’s natural capital – biodiversity, ecosystems and ecosystem services – is limited …

Human demands on the planet exceed supply.

The WWF eco-nomists also argue that human beings actually don’t – or anyway, shouldn’t – want to get richer, as people getting rich means economic growth and that (regardless of what all world governments and almost all economists think, especially right now) is a Bad Thing as it leads to consumer demand which leads to resources and energy being used.

“We need to measure success beyond GDP,” says WWF, an argument they’ve made before. In particular the organisation argues that “human development” or the still-flakier metric “inequality adjusted human development” is a far better one than GDP per capita. (One may note that under the normal HDI (Human Development Index) it is better to live in Ireland, Hong Kong, Israel, Korea, Slovenia, Spain, Italy or the Czech Republic than in the UK.)

As the green hardliners note:

In countries with a low level of development, [HDI] development level is independent of per capita [ecological] Footprint.

As development increases beyond a certain level, so does per person Footprint — eventually to the point where small gains in development come at the cost of very large Footprint increases.

Or, paraphrased, provided that development and consumption are both miserably low, you can achieve some development without noticeably increasing consumption. Of course only a cynic would suggest that the very design of the “human development” index – whether adjusted for inequality or not – ensures that there will come a point where only tiny increases in development can be achieved no matter the resources used. This is because the Human Development is on a scale from zero to 1, with 1 being unachievable.

It’s not just resources that are limited, in the WWF’s view: human potential itself is up against a hard limit beyond which the race cannot ever advance. Even progress thus far, as seen in the wealthy nations, has been achieved only by an unfair and wasteful over-use of precious resources: we rich Westerners are already beyond the practical limits that humans should ever aspire to achieve in terms of health, wealth – and even of education.

That’s not economics – that’s religion. And not very nice religion either.

All this is followed up with some standard rehashing of the standard carbon-driven apocalypse arguments, so setting the stage for WWF’s policy agenda. Some of it is relatively uncontroversial: creation of nature reserves, efforts to control overfishing, efforts to ease deforestation.

But then we get onto the big stuff. First up, there must be an “immediate focus” on “drastically shrinking the ecological footprint of high income populations”.

That means you, Reg reader: you are to accept a massively lower standard of living, in order to reduce your “footprint” to match your nation’s “biocapacity”. Then you’ll have to take another cut, because your nation – being rich – has more “biocapacity” than a poor country does (despite their claim that planetary resources are finite, WWF acknowledges that new “biocapacity” can be created in the form of cropland, forests etc), but this should be shared with the poorer lands under “equitable resource governance”.

That means less heating when it’s cold – no cooling at all, probably, when it’s hot. It means sharply limited hot water: so dirtier clothes, dirtier bedding and a dirtier you – which will be nice as you will also have to live in a smaller home and travel almost exclusively on crowded buses or trains along with similar smelly fellow eco-citizens. Food will be scarcer and realistically much less nutritious (milk for kids will be a luxury, let alone meat, fruit, coffee, that sort of stuff. Get ready to eat a lot of turnips, if you’re a Brit.)

Windfarms, tide barriers, solar panels to power EVERYTHING. But you can’t have any concrete or steel or iron or copper. Or glass. Or shipping either. Get on with it!

All this means more disease, and there will also be less health care (only rich nations can afford proper health care for all or most).

Everything – everything – will be a lot more expensive: materials, tools, books, booze, gadgets, clothes. Holidays will be bus trips to the seaside if you’re lucky, not trips overseas by plane or car. So it goes on.

Even this grim poverty-stricken dystopia, though, is not the biggest of the WWF demands. The real biggy is that by the year 2050 all energy is to be supplied in the form of renewables-generated electricity, that is by means of windfarms, solar plants, tidal barriers and so forth. For almost all of human history and prehistory we have burned things to generate energy – it is one of the things that makes us human – but now, within a single generation, that is to almost completely stop. After a million years, the fires will go out.

That won’t be simple. At the moment, the great bulk of energy used by humanity is not electrical at all – it is generated directly by burning fossil fuels (a little, by burning biofuel such as wood). What electrical energy there is (only a tenth of the total even in countries like the UK) is also mostly fossil-generated right now, and the small proportion of this small proportion which isn’t fossil is mainly nuclear, not renewable – presumably to disappear for some reason under the WWF plan.

Then, regardless of the impression one gets from the media, it is not perhaps-dispensable things like aviation or gadgets which use most of our energy. Overwhelmingly, energy is used either in the home, by industries – including for example the health and construction industries – and for ordinary everyday forms of transportation.

And as even WWF acknowledges, billions of people worldwide have no access to any electricity grid at all.

Yet nonetheless – without giving any specifics as to how – WWF considers that just about everyone on Earth can be hooked up to an electrical grid and that these grids can be entirely powered by renewables; and the transport sector can be pretty much entirely electrified; and all of industry, all the mines and smelters and refineries and factories, all of it, can go electric. All this, within 38 years.

There will need to be quite a lot of industry remaining. Even quite limited renewable power goals – for instance (pdf) getting the US onto 20 per cent wind electricity by say 2030 (in other words achieving roughly 2 per cent renewables power for the US) would require every year:

About 6.8 million metric tons of concrete, 1.5 million metric tons of steel, 310,000 metric tons of cast iron, 40,000 metric tons of copper, and 380 metric tons of the rare-earth element neodymium.

Even this equates to 3 per cent of current US domestic consumption of steel, iron and copper – much more in the case of neodymium. To achieve full renewable power you would be talking about doubling or tripling production of concrete, steel and copper. At the moment these materials are produced by burning vast amounts of fossil fuels, so even if you managed to slash use of energy in all other sectors then huge increases in energy demand for materials to build the windmills would cause a massive further demand for more windmills and more materials for them and so on. And all this stuff would have to be hauled all over the place, as renewable plants normally have to be built in inaccessible locations – hauled by electric transport!

But in the WWF cloud-cuckoo-land all this steel and concrete and copper is probably, somehow, unnecessary. The 2012 report says that there must be:

Ambitious energy demand management, especially in sectors with limited renewable options that are likely to be dependent on bioenergy. (Aviation, shipping and high heat industrial applications are likely to be among these.)

“Demand management” is eco-nomics code for “rationing, or making mostly illegal”. Rationed aviation is not a big deal except socially (no flying means a return to the days when only the rich and powerful ever got to travel other than for war and migration).

But rationed shipping, in a world which needs to shift gigatonnes of iron and concrete and steel and copper about, is fantasy – the more so as much of the new infrastructure would have to be situated offshore.

And far worse still, “ambitiously” rationing “high heat industrial applications” means that you basically can’t have much concrete. Or steel, or copper. Or carbon fibre for your wind-turbine blades. Or glass for your possible solar plants either.

No: the whole plan is plain and simple barking lunacy, based on comedy made-up numbers that signify nothing.

And yet WWF is big stuff. Reports of this type get picked up not just by the mass media but by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and used in official UN doom warnings (often much to the UN’s subsequent embarrassment, as in the cases of the non-melting glaciers and the non-burning rainforests). WWF turns over half a billion dollars a year: not much money in some contexts, but a very big budget in marketing or PR terms. WWF can sign up the ESA, for goodness’ sake. ESA astronaut André Kuipers – now in space aboard the ISS – is an official WWF ambassador, and his signature is in the front of Living Planet 2012. He writes:

Looking out of my window and watching Earth from space comes with my job as an astronaut. Nevertheless, I feel I am privileged … I will live on the International Space Station for five months …

Seeing Earth from space provides a unique perspective. Our planet is a beautiful and fragile place, protected only by a very thin layer of atmosphere essential for life on our planet. And seemingly large forests turned out to be small and passed by very quickly. It was this perspective, and realization, that lie behind my motivation to become a WWF ambassador.

And yet the hundreds of billions it took to build the ISS, the lesser but still enormous sums that sent Kuipers up to live aboard it – there isn’t the slightest prospect that these resources would have been available in a world of the sort that WWF advocates. In a world where governments cared nothing for GDP and economic growth and surpluses, where rich nations or populations able to afford proper space programmes had been outlawed (and poor nations with small space programmes, like India, no longer got aid payments from rich ones) … in that world, Kuipers would never have got the chance to look down on Earth. With WWF-mandated rationing on aircraft, most of his previous career as an aviation-medicine expert and airforce officer would also not have happened.

But people have a strange blind spot about WWF. They think it’s still the cuddly old World Wildlife Fund (CNN does, anyway – and so indeed does the ESA). But it’s not the WWF any more, nobly trying to save the whale and the dolphin and the tiger. It has transformed into simply WWF – the initials, like those of global arms multinational BAE Systems, no longer stand for anything.

Today’s WWF is not really about tigers and dolphins any more, though they make excellent figureheads for fundraising. Just to show how much they aren’t, in fact, in step with everyone else, the organisation’s activists would be very happy if the present desperate efforts to end global recession were to fail; and this just as a prelude to making you (perhaps still more) miserably poor and launching a frankly insane effort to stop the human race using fire in just 38 years – by building windmills without steel or carbon, tide barrages without concrete and solar panels without glass.

Think about it, next time one of your kids asks if you can sponsor a dolphin, or the next time you hear “WWF says …” on the news. ®

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The cost of energy bills soar by 140pc in eight years

The average household’s annual energy bill of £1,252 now accounts for 11pc of a couple’s basic state pension of £11,175 a year, the study by price comparison website uSwitch.com found.

The cost of energy is now the top household worry for Britons (90pc), ahead of the rising cost of food (77pc) and mortgage payments (42pc).

Almost a third of consumers (32pc) say that household energy is unaffordable in the UK, the poll found.

While the average UK household income has increased by 20pc from £32,812 in 2004 to £39,468 today, the average energy bill has risen by 140pc, according to uSwitch figures.

Households were spending an average of £522 a year for their energy in 2004, but now pay £1,252 a year – 3.2pc of income or double the 1.6pc of eight years ago.

Britons now have an average of £297 of disposable income left each month after all essential household bills are paid.

The study found 83pc of people believe that rising energy bills have had an impact on their disposable income, with 17pc of these reporting that they no longer have any disposable income as a result and 27pc saying energy bills have reduced their disposable income dramatically.

Director of consumer policy at uSwitch.com Ann Robinson said: “This is the cold reality facing households today; in less than 10 years our energy bills have rocketed by 140pc. The break-neck speed at which energy prices have sprinted upwards has caught many people unawares. Consumers are still playing catch-up.

“Energy now accounts for a significant slice of household income which is why the numbers rationing their energy use have risen so steeply in recent years. But going cold or without is a short-term and potentially harmful fix and not a long-term solution.

“The fact is that consumers can control how much they spend on energy by making their homes more energy-efficient and paying less for the energy they do use by moving to a competitively-priced energy plan.

“Those who are on a low income or benefits could even benefit from free insulation from their energy supplier, so it’s always worth contacting them first to see what financial help you can get.”

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