IKEA Flips the Switch on a 65,000 Square Foot Solar Array in Sacramento  

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Inhabitat has a report on IKEA's solar roofs in California - IKEA Flips the Switch on a 65,000 Square Foot Solar Array in Sacramento.

Furniture giant, IKEA, just switched on a 573-kW solar power system, which covers 65,000 square feet of space at their Sacramento, California store. The array is made up of approximately 2,548 panels and will help to cut 630 tons of carbon dioxide per year from the atmosphere. The solar array is the eighth solar power project that IKEA has finished in the US, and they still have plans to build twelve more — four more in California and eight on the East Coast.

“We at IKEA believe in the never-ending job of striving to improve the sustainability of our day-to-day business,” said Heine Roikjer, IKEA West Sacramento store manager. He added, “The IKEA coworkers in West Sacramento are excited to help contribute to this goal with our newly operational solar energy system.” The new solar array will provide 795,500 kWh of clean solar energy annually, and is equivalent to removing 109 cars from the road or powering 69 homes for a year.

IKEA has been hip to the green energy movement, and they were the first US retailer to ban incandescent light bulbs. They also manufacture solar powered lighting — like this lamp — and have built their own wind farm, which currently power 17 Swedish stores.

The Limits to Growth Revisited  

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Ugo Bardi at Cassandra's Legacy has a post on his new book on The Limits To Growth - The Limits to Growth Revisited. You can read the book online here at Springer Link.

In some respects, "The Limits to Growth Revisited" is a rather technical book. It goes in some depth in describing the controversy that flared between critics (mainly economists) and supporters of the system dynamics methods used for the 1972 study "The Limits to Growth" (LTG). But "LTG revisited" is not just a technical book. It also tells the whole story of the LTG study: how it was conceived, what were the political reactions to it, how it was demonized and misunderstood, and what is its relevance - also in its more recent versions of 1992 and 2004 - to the present situation of the world.

Writing this book has been a fascinating work. Re-examining the story of LTG opens up a whole new world that urban legends and propaganda had tried to bury under a layer of lies and misinterpretations. We all have heard of the "mistakes" that the authors of LTG, or their sponsors, the Club of Rome, are said to have made. But LTG was not "wrong": nowhere in the 1972 book you find the mistakes that are commonly attributed to it. LTG never predicted catastrophes to occur soon, never estimated that some specific mineral resources should run out by some specific date, it never contained prophecies of doom. In other words, LTG was not, and never was, "Chicken Little with a computer."

What caused the demonization of the study was, in large part, the fact that it was so new and so advanced for its times that it was widely misunderstood, often by its supporters as well as by its detractors. But the misunderstanding was enhanced by a media campaign very similar to the one that has been recently directed against climate science. The trick of these campaigns is always the same: find a single mistake and use it to demonize the whole concept. It doesn't matter that the mistake is real or an invention, it doesn't count whether it is relevant or not. The trick is to repeat the concept of "mistakes" a large number of times and that is enough to confuse the public and cloud the issue. In recent times, the method has been used to demonize climate science with the alleged mistake found in the "hockey stick" temperature reconstruction of past climate. For LTG, the "mistake" was found in a few numbers taken from just one of the many tables of the 1972 book. There was nothing wrong in these numbers, but the concept of the "mistakes of the Club of Rome" went viral and it is still widespread, and perhaps prevalent, whenever the LTG study is mentioned today.

Understanding the real message that LTG sent to us in 1972, and that it is still sending, takes a certain effort. First, you have to free your mind from the layers of legends that have accumulated around it over four decades, but that is not enough. You have to free yourself also from the common attitude that prevents us from understanding how complex systems behave. There is no fixed future for systems such as the world's economic system, only trends. But these systems still obey physical laws: the limits of natural resources, the finiteness of the world system, the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. And there are the constants of human behavior: mainly our tendency of preferring immediate satisfaction to a future one, a phenomenon known as "discounting the future."

All together, these factors push the world system to follow a well defined path. We cannot determine exactly what the future will be, but we can produce a "fan" of trajectories that show to us how where the system is heading to. The original 1972 LTG study had already identified the main factors that have been dominating the behavior of the world's economy. The combined effects of resource depletion and pollution accumulation (seen today mainly in terms of climate change) have been gradually reducing the ability of the industrial system of accumulating capital and of fuelling growth. These factors will, eventually, cause the world's industrial and agricultural systems to start a decline that could be defined as "collapse" which, later on, involves also the world's population.

It is not possible to determine exact dates for these events but, still, the insight that this kind of modelling offers to us is amazing. Just think how, already 40 years ago, the LTG study may have anticipated the worldwide financial crisis that occurred in 2008 and also the present debate on whether climate change or "peak resources" is the most important problem that we face. Dynamic modelling is a flexible tool, something that enhances the capability of the human mind to understand the world that surrounds us. The 1972 LTG study was the first to use this tool, but it is not the only possible way. Simpler dynamic models will tend to produce the same final outcome.

If we use this tool, and we use it wisely, we can discover that nothing of the future is written in stone. The future is something that we create every day with our actions. At the same time, we can also discover that the future has a life of its own, that it resents being forced into what we think it should be on the basis of obsolete ideologies. We will have to adapt to the future and that may not be painless but, if we try to understand the future, we may discover that it doesn't need to be our enemy.

ALgae.tec to build production facility next to Nowra Ethanol Plant  

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The Climate Spectator has a post on another proposed algae production plant in Australia - Team Biofuel.

Australia’s Algae.Tec says it has signed a deal to build its proposed algae harvesting and production facility at the Nowra ethanol plant of Manildra Group, the largest ethanol producer in Australia. Algae.Tec executive chairman Roger Stroud said the algae photo-reactors would be sited next to the main facility and take a carbon dioxide feed from the main ethanol fermenters.

“Algae.Tec is one of only a few advanced biofuels companies with a technology designed to grow algae on an industrial scale," says Stroud. "The photo-reactors are currently being assembled at the company’s USA headquarters, in Atlanta, Georgia." Algae.Tec says its enclosed module systems occupy less than one tenth the land footprint of pond growth options.

Researchers discover way to convert heat to electricity  

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PhysOrg has an article on a new alloy material that converts heat directly into electricity - Researchers discover source for generating 'green' electricity.

Researchers say the material could potentially be used to capture waste heat from a car's exhaust that would heat the material and produce electricity for charging the battery in a hybrid car. Other possible future uses include capturing rejected heat from industrial and power plants or temperature differences in the ocean to create electricity. The research team is looking into possible commercialization of the technology.

"This research is very promising because it presents an entirely new method for energy conversion that's never been done before," said University of Minnesota aerospace engineering and mechanics professor Richard James, who led the research team."It's also the ultimate 'green' way to create electricity because it uses waste heat to create electricity with no carbon dioxide."

Compressed-Air System Could Aid Wind Power  

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Technology Review has a look at a new approach to CAES energy storage - Compressed-Air System Could Aid Wind Power.

SustainX, a startup in West Lebanon, New Hampshire, has received $20 million in venture capital to test its compressed-air energy storage technology on a large scale.

The technology could allow for a wider use of compressed-air storage, which in turn could make renewable energy more attractive, since it would allow wind power generated at night to be stored until daylight hours, when demand is higher. If it's successful, the technology could decrease the need to build natural gas plants to supply peak power demand.

The need for storage is increasing as governments mandate the use of more renewable energy. SustainX has demonstrated a 40-kilowatt prototype and is now completing a one-megawatt system, slated to be deployed next year with the power company AES.

In conventional compressed-air storage, electricity is used to compress air, which is stored in underground caverns or aquifers. That air is then released to drive a turbine-generator to produce electricity when needed. Such storage costs roughly a tenth of what battery storage costs, but it isn't used much because in large part because it requires a location with underground storage space. SustainX's system eliminates this problem because it can efficiently use above-ground storage tanks rather than caverns.
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Storing compressed air in tanks aboveground is impractical with a conventional turbine-based system because of the large size and cost of the tanks. SustainX's technology reduces the cost of the tanks and other capital costs. "We do aboveground compressed-air energy storage at belowground prices," says cofounder and vice president Dax Kepshire.

The company reduces costs by using pistons, rather than turbines, to generate electricity. Gas turbines can only generate electricity from a narrow range of air pressures. The pistons can operate at a larger range—and because air can be compressed more, the system can store more energy. What's more, the pistons operate well after the pressure in the tank has fallen too low to drive a turbine.

Bougainville: Blood and Treasure  

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SBS had an episode of Dateline this week which looked at the past and future of the Bougainville copper mine - Blood and Treasure.

This is the Panguna mine, two kilometres wide and half a kilometre deep, the war ensued here after the mine was closed down. It claimed the lives of 15,000 Bougainvilleans, around one 10th of the population. The PNG government was desperate to reopen it because it provided 20% of government revenues. The people of Bougainville got a little over 1% and a degraded environment, which is why they revolted.

In 2001 in the aftermath of the war many of the islanders launched a class action in the US against Bougainville Copper Ltd's parent company Rio Tinto. The case has been bogged down for 10 years. The landowners accused Rio Tinto of genocide, citing the company's support of the blockade of the island and the military action which took place after the revolt against the mine began. The plaintiff's lawyers claiming that Rio Tinto's manager on Bougainville at the time encouraged continuation of the blockade for the purposes of starving the bastards out.

I Think, Therefore I Am Not  

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The NZ Herald reports that electric vehicle manufacturer Think has succumbed to bankruptcy once again - Think Global: Electric car maker goes bankrupt.

Tiny electric car maker Think Global has filed for bankruptcy in its home market of Norway after attempts to keep the company going through recapitalisation and restructuring failed. It is the fourth time Think has collapsed financially in its 20-year history.

"We needed some additional funding and although we had interested investors they were not able to come to the table quickly enough," said Think spokesman James Andrews. He declined to say how much cash Think sought to remain operating, but industry sources say the company would have needed many millions to keep going.

Andrews said Think's options were either to liquidate assets or sell the company to a new investor.

European production of the carmaker's lone model, the City minicar, stopped in March.

At the time, the company said it halted the production line at contract manufacturer and Think investor Valmet Automotive's factory in Uusikaupunki, Finland, to rebalance its inventory.

Think sold just 1043 units of the City last year.

Central Petroleum plans to tap world's biggest coal field ?  

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The ABC has a report on a proposed UCG (underground coal gasification) / coal to liquids project being promoted by Central Petroleum (whose pronouncements I tend to regard with a large degree of skepticism) - Company plans to tap world's biggest coal field.

An Australian company says a coal field discovered in the Simpson Desert could be the biggest in the world.

Central Petroleum Limited says it recently discovered the field in the south-east of the Northern Territory, about 300 kilometres from Alice Springs. It says the coal seam stretches across 400 kilometres.

The company has signed an agreement with Allied Resource Partners (ARP) to work towards setting up a coal production plant in the Great Artesian Basin area. ARP says the plan is to make liquid fuel without mining, by heating the coal underground, turning it into a gas, and then turning that gas into a liquid.

ARP spokesman David Shearwood says operations could last for 100 years because the field is so big. "It is an enormous quantity of coal," he said. "In our analysis, we can't find a bigger coal field on the planet."

He says the project would involve building a pipeline to Darwin and possibly one to South Australia.

The joint venture partners say they are seeking $300 million from investors to pay for a feasibility study that would include extensive exploration.

Australian Government approves $12b Inpex gas project  

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The ABC reports that the government has given the go-ahead to Inpex's Ichthys LNG project off the north west coast of Australia - Government approves $12b Inpex gas project.

The Federal Government has given the green light for a multi-billion-dollar gas plant to be built in Darwin.

Japanese company Inpex will now be able to press ahead with building a gas field facility about 800 kilometres from Darwin, and a pipeline from there to a processing facility in the NT capital, after Federal Environment Minister Tony Burke gave approval for the project.

Mr Burke says there will be significant economic benefits from the $12 billion project, but says he has only given his approval under strict environmental conditions. Mr Burke says that includes conditions on dredging to ensure dolphins, dugongs and turtles are protected.

Inpex will be able to produce liquefied natural and petroleum gas through offshore processing, and build an 850-kilometre pipeline and an onshore processing facility in Darwin Harbour. But the company will be required to protect and manage about 2,000 hectares of vegetation and a marine habitat.

Mr Burke says it is now up to the company to decide whether to invest in the plant.

The SMH has more - Gas project green to go.
The Ichthys project is considered more robust than most other proposed LNG export projects in Australia because its gas will come to the surface with a rich stream of condensate (light oil) and other petroleum liquids. The condensate and other liquids will be stripped from the gas stream at Ichthys's offshore location, with the gas then piped to the LNG plant in Darwin for eventual export, mainly to Japan.

On an annual basis, the project is expected to produce 8.4 million tonnes of LNG and 1.6 million tonnes of liquefied petroleum gas (propane). The project sweetener is the 100,000 barrels-a-day of condensate that the project is forecast to produce at its peak.

Biofuels Take Off  

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Technology Review reports that "KLM and Lufthansa say they'll burn bio-based jet fuel on regular routes" - Biofuels Take Off.

Last week, for the first time, a jumbo jet used a blend of biofuel and kerosene on a transatlantic flight. Also last week, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines announced a biofuel supply agreement to commence regular flights on a biofuel-petroleum blend on 200 Amsterdam-to-Paris runs starting in September. Lufthansa could beat it by a month under previously announced plans to launch a six-month test on Frankfurt-Hamburg flights.

Such regularly scheduled operations mark a big jump from the one-off biofuels flights that airlines have conducted since 2009. Aviation and biofuels sources say this indicates that biofuel-based jet fuels are ready to be scaled up. Amy Bann, director of environmental policy for Boeing's commercial airplanes division, says the KLM and Lufthansa announcements "signal to governments, fuel processors, and the financial community that the demand and market for these fuels exist."

Pressure to cap and ultimately reduce greenhouse-gas emissions is driving the developments. The European Commission is making flights within, into, and out of Europe subject to its carbon-trading scheme starting in 2012—a move that will cost the aviation industry an estimated €1.4 billion ($2 billion) next year and about €7 billion by 2020, according to a March 2011 report by Oslo-based consultancy Thomson Reuters Point Carbon.

Environmental groups say biofuels make sense for aviation, since they are the sector's only alternative to petroleum. "You're not going to have electric airplanes," says Kate McMahon, biofuels campaign coordinator for Washington-based Friends of the Earth.

Lab-grown meat would 'cut emissions and save energy'  

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Physorg has a article on the reduced environmental impact of artifical meat - Lab-grown meat would 'cut emissions and save energy'.

The analysis, carried out by scientists from Oxford University and the University of Amsterdam, also estimates that cultured meat would require 7-45% less energy to produce than the same volume of pork, sheep or beef. It would require more energy to produce than poultry but only a fraction of the land area and water needed to rear chickens.

A report of the team’s research is published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology.

‘What our study found was that the environmental impacts of cultured meat could be substantially lower than those of meat produced in the conventional way,’ said Hanna Tuomisto of Oxford University’s Wildlife Conservation Research Unit, who led the research. ‘Cultured meat could potentially be produced with up to 96% lower greenhouse gas emissions, 45% less energy, 99% lower land use, and 96% lower water use than conventional meat.’

The researchers based their calculations on a process, using Cyanobacteria hydrolysate as a nutrient and energy source for growing muscle cells, that is being developed by co-author Dr Joost Teixeira de Mattos at the University of Amsterdam. At the moment this sort of tissue engineering technology is confined to the laboratory, but the researchers estimated what the various costs would be for producing 1000kg of cultured meat using a scaled-up version of the technology compared to the costs associated with livestock reared conventionally.

In comparison to conventionally-produced European meat, the team estimate cultured meat would involve approximately 7-45% lower energy use, 78-96% lower greenhouse gas emissions, 99% lower land use, and 82-96% lower water use depending on the type of meat.

‘We are not saying that we could, or would necessarily want to, replace conventional meat with its cultured counterpart right now,’ said Ms Tuomisto, ‘however, our research shows that cultured meat could be part of the solution to feeding the world’s growing population and at the same time cutting emissions and saving both energy and water. Simply put, cultured meat is, potentially, a much more efficient and environmentally-friendly way of putting meat on the table.’

5 reasons Google PowerMeter didn’t take off  

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Earth2Tech has a report on Google’s abandonment of its PowerMeter experiment - 5 reasons Google PowerMeter didn’t take off.

Google officially shuttered its web energy tool PowerMeter Friday after the application failed to bring in enough users. For those who have watched PowerMeter’s slow slog over its two-year lifespan, the move to kill it isn’t all that shocking. But the application, which enabled people to monitor and manage their home energy consumption, does have an important legacy as one of the first examples of how the Internet and broadband will change the way people consume energy.

Here are some of the reasons why I think PowerMeter didn’t take off:

1. It’s early. The market for energy management tools is still in a really early stage. Consumers are largely unaware of the tools and technologies available to monitor and manage their own energy. The Consumer Electronics Association found that 64 percent of consumers are unaware of electricity management programs, and 66 percent of consumers aren’t familiar with the smart grid. Google launched its PowerMeter tool in early 2009, when very few smart meters and smart grid network deployments had been installed in the U.S.

2. Opt-in, not opt-out. In this early stage of the market, it seems like programs that are opt-out (sent unless the customer says they don’t want it), not opt-in (only sent if the customer wants it), are the ones working. OPower has been successful largely because it connected with utilities early on, and OPower’s detailed energy bills and energy savings recommendations, are delivered to utility customers automatically. A utility is one of a few types of companies that can send its customers this type of information without getting an opt-in agreement, and the mailed OPower energy bills have a very high open rate, because they look just like a utility energy bill. ...

3. Utility friend or foe? Since Google first launched PowerMeter, some utilities saw the tool as a threat to the relationship they have with their customers. … At the same time, when Google first launched PowerMeter, it focused on connecting with data from smart meters, then later opened its API and connected with gadget makers to circumvent smart meters. Smart meters were in a very early stage then (and relatively still are), and are the end devices for utilities (utilities are behind their installments). …

4. Direct to consumer. Perhaps Google would have been better served if it created PowerMeter to go directly to the consumer originally, but did it in its own algorithm-focused way. Earth Aid, for example, uses algorithms to take utility data straight from an online utility account if the consumer gives Earth Aid permission to link that account to its system, and Earth Aid doesn’t need utility partnerships. …

5. Google isn’t an energy company. Google didn’t ever really market PowerMeter, and PowerMeter came out of its philanthropic arm Google.org. It was an experiment, and one that didn’t work. Despite the amount of funding Google has been putting into clean power, Google isn’t an energy supplier or manager at heart. ...

This little pig went to carbon market  

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Giles Parkinson at The Climate Spectator has a look at increasing interest in generating biogas from pig manure - This little pig went to carbon market.

The latest proposal is to capture the methane emissions produced by the tonnes of pig poo at the nation’s piggeries. The idea is to cover the open ponds where this poo is usually left, often two metres or more deep, capture the enormous amounts of methane that is created and either flare it or burn it to create heat and electricity.

The pig industry estimates that about 1.25 million tonnes of greenhouse gases from the nation’s 682 enclosed piggeries are emitted in this manner per year, and from other associated emissions from the pig industry.

It is estimated that about one million tonnes a year could be abated by 2020 if the 100-biggest piggeries decided it was worth the cost of investment to harness the methane emitted from the manure. The slumping cost of these technologies, and the ability to cash in on credits generated by the scheme, is likely to make that investment worthwhile, with a payback as short as 12 months or less.

Harvesting pig poo is the latest methodology to be approved by the government’s carbon farming initiative, following on from proposals to cull wild camels – there are more than one million of them and they are each responsible for emitting around one tonne of greenhouse gas a year – as well as various forms of reforestation initiatives.

Future methodologies will include better management of cattle herds, particularly in the far north. If cattle producers can improve their management skills, reduce the rate of still-births and early mortality, encourage richer grazing and get them to grow quicker and “spend less time on planet Earth," then they too could generate carbon credits from reduced emissions.

This was the intention of the carbon farming initiative – to engage farmers in a positive way in the carbon pricing issue, and to provide an incentive to correct practices that are either wasteful, or not environmentally friendly.

But, exotic as it may sound, as far as piggeries go, Australia is just catching up to the rest of the world. In Europe, piggeries receive a feed-in tariff guaranteed for 20 years for the electricity and heat that they generate from the effluent from their farms.

There are only about three farms in Australia that capture their methane, according to Janine Price, the manager of environment and climate change at Pork Australia, the producers’ peak body. But more are expected to embrace the idea, inspired not just by the inclusion of the practice in the carbon farming initiative, but also by the development of bio-gas technologies in New Zealand that dramatically reduce the cost of the practice – the price of scrubbers that remove hydrogen sulphides so the emissions can be used in biogas plants now amount a few hundred dollars, rather than a heavily engineered system costing in the tens of thousands.

If the credits generated by the piggeries qualify under the government’s carbon pricing plan, then they will get the fixed price set by the government. At $20/t, Pork Australia estimates the returns will be around $3 a pig, and up to $4.50 a pig at $30/t. If it is not included, the credits will be sold on the voluntary market, at a price more likely to be around $5/t.

Still, the technology changes means that farms with as few as 400 sows should be able to make money from the investment, and pay back within four years, even without carbon credits and renewable energy certificates.

Bigger farms could get pay-back within 12 months, because they will be able to install systems to generate heat and electricity for farm use. The industry as a whole could generate $20-$30 million of credits by 2020, depending on the uptake and, of course, the carbon price.

GE Signs Up For Holden Commodore EV Pilot Project  

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GoAuto has a report on plans to build an electric version of the Holden Commodore (its just a pilot at this stage though) - Fleet boost for electro-Commodore.

A FULL-SIZE factory-built Holden Commodore that consumes no petrol, delivers at least 160km of all-electric motoring, comes with a switchable battery leased from Better Place and costs no more than the model on which it is based will be available to all Australian within a few years.

That is the ambitious plan that took one step closer to reality today with the announcement that Australia’s largest fleet car buyer has joined forces with a consortium that will produce a Commodore EV initially for fleet consumption prior to its full-scale public release.

Melbourne-based start-up company EV Engineering (EVE), a consortium of five leading Australian automotive suppliers with global connections, revealed its $26 million project to produce an Australian-built rear-drive large electric car based on Australia’s top-selling model in February.

It now says it is on target to produce the first two concept vehicles by the end of this year, and to have a fleet of seven all-electric ‘proof-of-concept’ Commodores ready for real-world testing by mid-2012.

None of the vehicles will be ready to unveil at this week’s Melbourne motor show, but EVE today announced a significant boost to the project by announcing it has been joined by GE – the parent company of Australia’s largest company vehicle provider, Custom Fleet.

GE will join automotive component suppliers Futuris and its partner Air International, Bosch and Continental, and EV charging network company Better Place Australia, in the EVE consortium, which is funded partly by a $3.5 million grant from the federal government’s now defunct Green Car Innovation Fund (GCIF).

EVE and GE would not reveal financial details of the deal, but each existing consortium partner will supply both financial and technical support to the project, with GM Holden and the CSIRO to provide technical expertise.

Holden’s only involvement at this stage is the initial supply of vehicles, data for those vehicles and the use of its proving ground at Lang Lang, but EVE today indicated it was likely Holden would manufacture the Commodore EV.

“Clearly we will be working with them on the project and updating them on our progress and yes we’ll be happy to review plans for mass production as we get further down the track with the car," said EVE CEO and former senior Holden executive Ian McCleave.

Insiders Sound an Alarm Amid a Natural Gas Rush  

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The NYT has a skeptical look at the shale gas boom in the US, which may not augur well for later stage investors like BHP and the Chinese who have paid large sums of cash for their stakes - Insiders Sound an Alarm Amid a Natural Gas Rush.

Natural gas companies have been placing enormous bets on the wells they are drilling, saying they will deliver big profits and provide a vast new source of energy for the United States.

But the gas may not be as easy and cheap to extract from shale formations deep underground as the companies are saying, according to hundreds of industry e-mails and internal documents and an analysis of data from thousands of wells.

In the e-mails, energy executives, industry lawyers, state geologists and market analysts voice skepticism about lofty forecasts and question whether companies are intentionally, and even illegally, overstating the productivity of their wells and the size of their reserves. Many of these e-mails also suggest a view that is in stark contrast to more bullish public comments made by the industry, in much the same way that insiders have raised doubts about previous financial bubbles.

“Money is pouring in” from investors even though shale gas is “inherently unprofitable,” an analyst from PNC Wealth Management, an investment company, wrote to a contractor in a February e-mail. “Reminds you of dot-coms.”

“The word in the world of independents is that the shale plays are just giant Ponzi schemes and the economics just do not work,” an analyst from IHS Drilling Data, an energy research company, wrote in an e-mail on Aug. 28, 2009.

Company data for more than 10,000 wells in three major shale gas formations raise further questions about the industry’s prospects. There is undoubtedly a vast amount of gas in the formations. The question remains how affordably it can be extracted.

The data show that while there are some very active wells, they are often surrounded by vast zones of less-productive wells that in some cases cost more to drill and operate than the gas they produce is worth. Also, the amount of gas produced by many of the successful wells is falling much faster than initially predicted by energy companies, making it more difficult for them to turn a profit over the long run.

If the industry does not live up to expectations, the impact will be felt widely. Federal and state lawmakers are considering drastically increasing subsidies for the natural gas business in the hope that it will provide low-cost energy for decades to come.

But if natural gas ultimately proves more expensive to extract from the ground than has been predicted, landowners, investors and lenders could see their investments falter, while consumers will pay a price in higher electricity and home heating bills.

There are implications for the environment, too. The technology used to get gas flowing out of the ground — called hydraulic fracturing, or hydrofracking — can require over a million gallons of water per well, and some of that water must be disposed of because it becomes contaminated by the process. If shale gas wells fade faster than expected, energy companies will have to drill more wells or hydrofrack them more often, resulting in more toxic waste.

The e-mails were obtained through open-records requests or provided to The New York Times by industry consultants and analysts who say they believe that the public perception of shale gas does not match reality; names and identifying information were redacted to protect these people, who were not authorized to communicate publicly. In the e-mails, some people within the industry voice grave concerns.

“And now these corporate giants are having an Enron moment,” a retired geologist from a major oil and gas company wrote in a February e-mail about other companies invested in shale gas. “They want to bend light to hide the truth.”

Mythonium  

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SP at TOD ANZ has a look at the safety myth that existed in Japan about nuclear power - Mythonium.

Easier to create than Unobtainium, and with a longer half life than any of the transactinides, it is a powerful and necessary element in any public relations effort.

Myth creation is common during a crisis. Some of them are deconstructed below.

The first major myth concerns Japanese technological prowess. As a nation the Japanese have a strong technological history, but they are not alone in having a long cultural history of avoiding (or outright denying) uncomfortable “truths”.

The first article below is an extensive cut and paste from the New York Times (follow the link for the complete story). I have edited out more from the start of the original piece and highlighted some of the more boring technical or “factual” statements that normally get relegated to the bottom of the journalists pyramid. ...
Over several decades, Japan’s nuclear establishment has devoted vast resources to persuade the Japanese public of the safety and necessity of nuclear power. Plant operators built lavish, fantasy-filled public relations buildings that became tourist attractions. Bureaucrats spun elaborate advertising campaigns through a multitude of organizations established solely to advertise the safety of nuclear plants. Politicians pushed through the adoption of government-mandated school textbooks with friendly views of nuclear power.

The result was the widespread adoption of the belief — called the “safety myth” — that Japan’s nuclear power plants were absolutely safe. Japan single-mindedly pursued nuclear power even as Western nations distanced themselves from it.

As the Japanese continue to search for answers to the disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi plant, some are digging deep into the national psyche and examining a national propensity to embrace a belief now widely seen as irrational.

Because of this widespread belief in Japanese plants’ absolute safety, plant operators and nuclear regulators failed to adopt proper safety measures and advances in technology, like emergency robots, experts and government officials acknowledge.]

Banri Kaieda, who runs the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, which oversees the nuclear industry, said at a news conference at an International Atomic Energy Agency meeting in Vienna on Monday. “It’s a fact that there was an unreasonable overconfidence in the technology of Japan’s nuclear power generation.”

With radiation levels too high for workers to approach the reactors, the Japanese authorities floundered. They sent police trucks mounted with water cannons — equipment designed to disperse rioters — to spray water into the reactor buildings. Military helicopters flew over the buildings, dropping water that was scattered off course by strong winds, in a “performance, a kind of circus” that was aimed more at reassuring an increasingly alarmed Japanese population and American government, said Kenichi Matsumoto, an aide to Prime Minister Naoto Kan.

Japan lacked some of the basic hardware to respond to a nuclear crisis and, after initial resistance, had to look abroad for help. For a country proud of its technology, the low point occurred on March 31 when it had to use a 203-foot-long water pump — shipped from China…

But perhaps more than anything else, the absence of one particular technology was deeply puzzling: emergency robots.

Japan, after all, is the world’s leader in robotics. It has the world’s largest force of mechanized workers. Its humanoid robots can walk and run on two feet, sing and dance, and even play the violin. But where were the emergency robots at Fukushima?

The answer is that the operators and nuclear regulators, believing that accidents would never occur, steadfastly opposed the introduction of what they regarded as unnecessary technology.

“The plant operators said that robots, which would premise an accident, were not needed,” said Hiroyuki Yoshikawa, 77, an engineer and a former president of the University of Tokyo, Japan’s most prestigious academic institution. “Instead, introducing them would inspire fear, they said. That’s why they said that robots couldn’t be introduced.”

The rejection of robots, Mr. Yoshikawa said, was part of the industry’s overall reluctance to improve maintenance and invest in new technologies.

“That’s why the safety myth wasn’t just an empty slogan,” said Mr. Yoshikawa, now the director general of the Center for Research and Development Strategy at the Japan Science and Technology Agency. “It was a kind of mind-set that rejected progress through the introduction of new technology.”

After Chernobyl, the nuclear establishment made sure that Japanese kept believing in safety.

The plant operators built or renovated the public relations buildings — called “P.R. buildings” — attached to their plants. Before Chernobyl, the buildings were simple facilities intended to appeal to “adult men interested in technical matters,” said Noriya Sumihara, an anthropologist at Tenri University who has researched the facilities. Male guides wearing industrial uniforms took visitors around exhibits consisting mostly of wall panels.

But after Chernobyl, the facilities were transformed into elaborate theme parks geared toward young mothers, the group that research showed was most worried about nuclear plants and radiation, Mr. Sumihara said. Women of childbearing age, whose presence alone was meant to reassure the visitors, were hired as guides.

In Higashidori, a town in northern Japan, one of the country’s newest P.R. buildings is built on the theme of Tonttu, a forest with resident dwarfs. The buildings also holds events with anime characters to attract children and young parents…

Here in Shika, more than 100,000 guests last year visited the P.R. building where Alice discovers the wonders of nuclear power. The Caterpillar reassures Alice about radiation and the Cheshire Cat helps her learn about the energy source.

The nuclear establishment also made sure that government-mandated school textbooks underemphasized information that could cast doubt on the safety of nuclear power. In Parliament, the campaign was led by Tokio Kano, a Tepco vice president who became a lawmaker in 1998.

In 2004, under the influence of Mr. Kano and other proponents of nuclear power, education officials ordered revisions to textbooks before endorsing them. In one junior high school social studies textbook, a reference to the growing antinuclear movement in Europe was deleted. In another, a reference to Chernobyl was relegated to a footnote.

The nuclear establishment itself came to believe its own safety myth and “became entangled in its own net,” said Hitoshi Yoshioka, an author of a book on the history of Japan’s nuclear power and a member of a panel established by the prime minister to investigate the causes of the Fukushima disaster.

Will the Mad Monk be brought low by madder Monckton ??  

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Crikey's Guy Rundle has a look at the latest tour of Australia by mad British aristocrat Chris Monckton to entertain the climate skeptic fringes - Rundle: will Mad Monk be brought low by madder Monckton?.

There is no doubt that times are not good for the Australian far Right — but will its troubles create real problems for the Coalition, and the mainstream Right? Will the Mad Monk be brought low by the madder Monckton?

Two days after I noted the rise of “hysterical conservatism” in the US, its Australian manifestation had exploded closer to home, with a storm over Christopher Monckton, viscount and jobbing political hack turned climatologist, and his decision, in speeches elsewhere, to label Ross Garnaut as a Nazi, juxtaposing a quote from Garnaut with a large slide of a swastika.

Monckton used the term “fascist”, a term of abuse that has lost nearly all dramatic effect — but the swastika is something else. Fascism, Italian-style, was a cruel political movement, but its frequent use as a catch-all term including Nazism obscures major differences.

Nazism was something more than merely violent — it was a radically evil movement that celebrated itself as the negation of any notion of common human being, of mercy, kindness or love. The swastika was the symbol of that — it was meant, for its enemies, to be a pure expression of despair. Originally a north Indian symbol of the wheel of life, it has become the image of death.

Monckton is not the first climate-change denialist — yes, yes, a usage I’ll return to — to use the Nazi analogy; he may not even be the hundredth. Highlights in Australia included Andrew Bolt’s incessant references to “greenshirts”, and George Brandis’s extension of the argument in the coward’s castle of the Senate. ...

Monckton’s right to say pretty much what he likes is not in dispute; the question is whether a Catholic university, and its faculty, should see itself as a glorified conference centre with a chapel, or as some other sort of thing — the sort of entity that would legitimately express some concern at the possibility that a swastika might be brandished within their institution

Indeed, you would have to say, that if a Catholic university, of all places, cannot recognise the real being of symbols such as the swastika, the bodying forth of evil, then it is more or less lost as an institution.

Monckton’s swastika act is, of course, pathetic — a ramping up of his narcissistic campaign for attention. To say his lordship is something out of Wodehouse would be an insult to the subtlety of the master. Bug-eyed (not his fault, but what can ya do?), in tweeds, claiming membership of the British “upper house” (he has lost his right to vote as a hereditary peer since the House of Lords was reformed).

Devisor of the easily solved “unsolvable” puzzle (which cost him £1 million, the prize he had promised for it, and reportedly, his castle), he is natural kin to Peter Cook’s creation, Sir Arthur Streeb-Greebling, who devoted his life to teaching ravens to fly underwater (Dud: “your life Sir Arthur has been a … failure.” Pete: “Yes I think it fair to say that my life has been a complete and utter failure.”).

And Monckton’s apology is disingenuous. He has used not merely the fascist slur, but the Nazi slur so often that even planet Albrechtsen was moved to reprove him on his last visit. Most famously, at Copenhagen, he repeatedly barked “Hitler Youth!” at a young climate activist, Ben Wessel, even after Wessel had informed him he was Jewish — indeed, his family were Holocaust survivors.

The Nazi-climate change “argument” relies on a meta-version of the false syllogism by which people such as Jonah Goldberg (author of Liberal Fascism) argue the left to be Nazis. “The Nazis like bushwalking/The Greens like bushwalking/Therefore the Greens are Nazis” and so on.

The trick can be done on anything you like: freeways, anti-smoking campaigns, a sense of place and national community, state-funded economic development, and, if you like, Fanta* (short for Fantasie), the drink Coca-Cola developed to sell in Germany during WWII, when the main brand had become official sponsors of the other side.

The left for many years did it with any notion of national pride, flag or honouring military service: the Nazis were patriotic … etc, etc. It was bad then, and it’s bad now when it is almost solely coming from the Right, on other themes.

The habit is kitsch, but it has a more insidious effect, a debasement of our capacity to think about the difference between political contestation within a shared framework, and radical evil, which is intent on the annihilation the other.

The deliberate reaching for the swastika as a way of debasing politics, rather than, say the hammer and sickle — which would be more with the grain of frequent claims that Greens are crypto-communists — is because climate-change denialists recognise that the hammer and sickle, however debased by the actions of many of those wielding it, remains the symbol of a movement acting in the spirit of universal values and a common humanity.

To use the hammer and sickle would be to remind people that combating climate change is a universal cause of humanity, while opposition to it is partial and tied to nations, industries and the implicit claim by the West to deserve higher levels of consumption.

In desperation to avert what is becoming Moncktongate, the Right is repeating the false syllogism on critics of denialism. Thus the term denialism itself — which may have originated with Holocaust denialism, but has since been used elsewhere, such as AIDS denialism — becomes a mark of Nazism. It isn’t, of course — it is simply a useful term to describe politically motivated resistance to obvious and overwhelming evidence that demolished one’s position.

Moncktongate has now become a political and moral test for Tony Abbott, whose principal political action to date has been to exile climate-change denialism from the political mainstream. Does he have the courage and command to talk back to the Right fringe – in the manner indeed that John Howard reproved George Brandis for comparing the Greens to Nazis?

Does he possess that minimum level of political authority? Or is he ruled by his shifty and opportunistic side, the dimension of him that prompted a call for a plebiscite — and then a refusal to say that he would honour it, if the result went against him? Moncktongate is a test of whether he’s got the ticker, or would rather guzzle more Fantasie.

Labor’s Solar Flagships: Smoke and Mirrors…and Coal Seam Gas  

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Beyond Zero Emissions has an article on the recent solar flagships announcement by the government, arguing the choice of technology and the combination with gas fired backup is a bad idea - Labor’s Solar Flagships: Smoke and Mirrors…and Coal Seam Gas. The ABC also has an interview with BZE Director Matthew Wright. From a purist point of view having energy storage (and no gas) is the right long term goal - whether or not solar towers are superior to the linear fresnel trough technology I'm not so sure of - but this plant is at least a large scale proving ground for the idea. Either way - in the longer term, the gas will run out and we'll have CSP infrastructure in place which can be extended and supplemented with storage - so its a step forward.

The Federal Government's choice of picking French state owned nuclear giant Areva to build a Solar plant based on out‐dated technology is a move that has surprised the climate and energy security think‐tank Beyond Zero Emissions. The proposed plant near the controversial coal seam gas fields at Chinchilla is a missed opportunity to build Australia’s first baseload solar plant.

“The rest of the world is seizing the opportunity to use low‐cost molten salt energy storage technology to build truly baseload solar thermal power plants” says Mark Ogge, renewable energy campaigner, Beyond Zero Emissions.

“Surprisingly the Gillard government has picked outdated and inferior linear technology with gas backup in a cynical attempt to justify destructive coal seam gas extraction on prime agricultural land in Queensland’s Darling Downs,” says Ogge.

“As people now realise that renewable energy can provide baseload power, the main excuse for coal seam gas extraction evaporates.”

“It is ironic that just as the Spanish unveil the Gemasolar power tower plant near Seville, that runs fifteen hours flat out into the night with molten salt energy storage, providing utility scale baseload solar power to the Spanish grid, the Australian government chooses inferior low efficiency linear Fresnel technology with completely unnecessary gas backup.”

“Spain now has seven baseload molten salt solar power plants up and running. The US is building a 1000 MW solar thermal plant with 6 hours storage, equivalent in size to a large coal fired power station. Solar gas hybrid technology is 30 years out of date, and linear Fresnel technology is far inferior to efficient high temperature power towers.”

Alstom estimates 100 MW wave power by 2020  

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Reuters has an article on Alstom's recent forecast regarding wave power development over the next decade (which indicates the somewhat slow rate of progress for this particular form of clean energy) - Alstom estimates 100 MW wave power by 2020.

French engineering group Alstom may install roughly 100 megawatts of wave power by 2020, its Ocean Energy Director Philippe Gilson estimated.

Alstom announced this week that it had bought a 40 percent stake in Scottish wave power developer AWS Ocean Energy, in one of the first cases of a large company entering the fledgling sector.

Wave power is behind tidal power in a marine energy sector which in turn lags maturing renewable power technologies such as wind and solar.

On a 40-year time scale, however, the world could develop as much as 300 gigawatts of power from the movement of waves, equivalent to about double Germany's entire power generating capacity, Alstom said.

The French company's hydro division, where the company's ocean energy is based, is aiming for a 20 percent global market share, which implied tens of gigawatts of installed base for wave power in the long-run, said Gilson.

"For 2020 we hope we can get close to 100 megawatts installed base," he added, referring to that as a "guesstimate".

"Wind was in the same situation 30 years ago. During 10 or 15 years not much happened and then suddenly exponential growth happened for a number of factors. These things take time."

Better Place and Renault to bring first unlimited range electric car to Australia  

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Better Place Australia has announced the Renault Fluence will be the first EV used in Better Place's Australian recharge network - Better Place and Renault to bring first unlimited range electric car to Australia.

Better Place and Renault today announced they are expanding their global partnership by bringing the world’s first mass market, zero-emission car with a switchable battery to Australia. As part of the agreement, the two will jointly commence a marketing campaign for the Renault Fluence Z.E. in Australia leading up to launch in 2012.

“Today marks the natural next step between Better Place and Renault and builds on nearly four years of close collaboration between the two companies. Under this agreement we are giving Australian drivers access to fully electric cars and a ubiquitous charge network that present a real alternative to the tyranny of petrol prices. Together, Better Place and Renault are taking a critical step to accelerate the transition to sustainable transport in a large country like Australia”, said Evan Thornley, CEO of Better Place Australia.

When combined with the Better Place electric car charge network, the Renault Fluence Z.E. is the first mass-market, electric car with unlimited range. It gives Australian drivers the same freedom they enjoy with a petrol car, but with zero oil and zero emissions.

Under the agreement, Renault Australia will import the Fluence Z.E. and Better Place will provide the electric car charging network that makes the car more convenient and affordable for the mass market. Customers will buy the Fluence Z.E. from Renault and sign up for a Better Place membership package tailored for their driving needs. ...

Better Place has announced its plans to begin rolling out its electric car charging network in Canberra from later this year, with a progressive national rollout to follow. By 2013 Better Place will give Australia the largest electric car charge network in the world, which is expected to outpace current deployment plans in market-leading countries including the US and China.

Better Place has committed to purchasing 100% renewable energy for its network in Australia.

US petrol is artificially cheap  

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Grist has a look at the unreasonably low price of petrol in the US - U.S. gas is artificially cheap: What we don’t pay for at the pump.

What's the true price of gasoline? This animated feature from the Center for Investigative Reporting explores the "external costs" of gasoline use in the U.S. -- including pollution and the health problems caused by it. ...

California has some of the dirtiest air in the nation. Consequently, it has some of the strictest rules for gasoline, meaning it burns cleaner than it does in many other states. But cleaner fuels are more expensive.

Clean air requirements, combined with supply and refining constraints, make the price of California gas consistently among the highest in the nation. Turmoil in the Middle East is another factor that pushes up the global price of crude oil. Even though the average price for a gallon of regular unleaded gas in California fluctuates around $4, some experts argue that $4 a gallon is much less than the real cost.

Compared with other industrialized countries, the U.S. has it cheap. The Economist notes that American consumers pay about half of what Europeans pay, which is up to about $8.50 per gallon (or $2.25 per liter). The media website Good has a nifty chart showing the disparity in prices across the Atlantic, and PBS' NewsHour explains the effect Middle East turmoil has on the retail price of gas. While politicians on both sides of the aisle bicker about why gas is expensive, Sen. Jeff Bingaman, (D-N.M.), is one who explains the real reasons, and as David Roberts notes, he is lonely in doing so.

Even though reducing toxic chemicals in gasoline might make it more expensive, the EPA argues that clean air provides long-term cost benefits. A recent study of the Clean Air Act showed "the public health and environmental benefits ... exceed their costs by a margin of four to one."

From 1990 to 2010, these regulations have prevented "23,000 Americans from dying prematurely, [and] averted over 1,700,000 incidences of asthma attacks and aggravation of chronic asthma." In the same two decades, it also prevented more than 4.1 million lost workdays due to pollution-related illnesses.



Large Capacity Lithium Ion Storage Units  

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After Gutenberg has a post on a Japanese energy storage / frequency control unit using Lithium Ion batteries - Large Capacity Lithium Ion Storage Units.

This blog reported before about energy storage that absorbs or delivers energy to the grid at intervals of five seconds. The frequency regulation system uses thousands of lithium-ion batteries.”

Now Green Car Congress reports on “Japan’s first cargo container-type large-capacity energy storage system using Li-ion batteries.” Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. has developed a system capable of providing power of up to one megawatt (MW)
Its mobility makes the system suitable for a wide range of applications, including emergency use. The actual system has been installed at the Nagasaki Shipyard & Machinery Works of MHI in Nagasaki Prefecture, Japan, to begin verification testing for a power stabilization system application from early July towards the commercialization of the system.

The container-type “megawatt-class large-capacity energy storage system (ESS)” consists of a 40ft-long container unit, which houses more than 2,000 units of lithium-ion rechargeable batteries, and a 20ft-long container unit, in which two power conditioners are installed. Power conditioners are used for direct current (DC)/alternating current (AC) conversion and their input/output control. Each container unit can be moved by container trailers. The system has a capacity of 408 kWh and is designed to have a system efficiency of 90%.

2010 - 2011: Earth's most extreme weather since 1816?  

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Weather Underground has a comprehensive roundup of extreme weather events around the globe last year - 2010 - 2011: Earth's most extreme weather since 1816?.

Every year extraordinary weather events rock the Earth. Records that have stood centuries are broken. Great floods, droughts, and storms affect millions of people, and truly exceptional weather events unprecedented in human history may occur. But the wild roller-coaster ride of incredible weather events during 2010, in my mind, makes that year the planet's most extraordinary year for extreme weather since reliable global upper-air data began in the late 1940s. Never in my 30 years as a meteorologist have I witnessed a year like 2010--the astonishing number of weather disasters and unprecedented wild swings in Earth's atmospheric circulation were like nothing I've seen. The pace of incredible extreme weather events in the U.S. over the past few months have kept me so busy that I've been unable to write-up a retrospective look at the weather events of 2010. But I've finally managed to finish, so fasten your seat belts for a tour through the top twenty most remarkable weather events of 2010. At the end, I'll reflect on what the wild weather events of 2010 and 2011 imply for our future.

Earth's hottest year on record

Unprecedented heat scorched the Earth's surface in 2010, tying 2005 for the warmest year since accurate records began in the late 1800s. Temperatures in Earth's lower atmosphere also tied for warmest year on record, according to independent satellite measurements. Earth's 2010 record warmth was unusual because it occurred during the deepest solar energy minimum since satellite measurements of the sun began in the 1970s. Unofficially, nineteen nations (plus the the U.K.'s Ascension Island) set all-time extreme heat records in 2010. This includes Asia's hottest reliably measured temperature of all-time, the remarkable 128.3°F (53.5°C) in Pakistan in May 2010. This measurement is also the hottest reliably recorded temperature anywhere on the planet except for in Death Valley, California. The countries that experienced all-time extreme highs in 2010 constituted over 20% of Earth's land surface area.

Most extreme winter Arctic atmospheric circulation on record; "Snowmageddon" results
The atmospheric circulation in the Arctic took on its most extreme configuration in 145 years of record keeping during the winter of 2009 - 2010. The Arctic is normally dominated by low pressure in winter, and a "Polar Vortex" of counter-clockwise circulating winds develops surrounding the North Pole. However, during the winter of 2009 - 2010, high pressure replaced low pressure over the Arctic, and the Polar Vortex weakened and even reversed at times, with a clockwise flow of air replacing the usual counter-clockwise flow of air. This unusual flow pattern allowed cold air to spill southwards and be replaced by warm air moving poleward. Like leaving the refrigerator door ajar, the Arctic "refrigerator" warmed, and cold Arctic air spilled out into "living room" where people live. A natural climate pattern called the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO), and its close cousin, the Arctic Oscillation (AO) were responsible. Both of these patterns experienced their strongest-on-record negative phase, when measured as the pressure difference between the Icelandic Low and Azores High.

The extreme Arctic circulation caused a bizarre upside-down winter over North America--Canada had its warmest and driest winter on record, forcing snow to be trucked in for the Winter Olympics in Vancouver, but the U.S. had its coldest winter in 25 years. A series of remarkable snow storms pounded the Eastern U.S., with the "Snowmageddon" blizzard dumping more than two feet of snow on Baltimore and Philadelphia. Western Europe also experienced unusually cold and snowy conditions, with the UK recording its 8th coldest January. A highly extreme negative phase of the NAO and AO returned again during November 2010, and lasted into January 2011. Exceptionally cold and snowy conditions hit much of Western Europe and the Eastern U.S. again in the winter of 2010 - 2011. During these two extreme winters, New York City recorded three of its top-ten snowstorms since 1869, and Philadelphia recorded four of its top-ten snowstorms since 1884. During December 2010, the extreme Arctic circulation over Greenland created the strongest ridge of high pressure ever recorded at middle levels of the atmosphere, anywhere on the globe (since accurate records began in 1948.) New research suggests that major losses of Arctic sea ice could cause the Arctic circulation to behave so strangely, but this work is still speculative. ...

Shepherds, portents and Europe face-to-face in Athens  

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This is pretty much off-topic (with the possible exception of the tinfoil at the end) but the Greek debt situation is kind of interesting and thus worthy of a post.

Crikey’s Guy Rundle has a look at the stand-off in Greece, as protesters rally against the imposition of austerity measures - Shepherds, portents and Europe face-to-face in Athens.

Weeks after it began, the world's press has started to pay attention to the real story in Greece -- not the wrangling in Luxembourg over the terms of a second bailout for the cash-starved nation, but the continued refusal of the people of Greece to accept the conditions going with it.

For close to a month now, Syntagma Square at the centre of Athens, in the front of the Greek Parliament, has been occupied by an insistent crowd, who have been dubbed the "aganaktismenoi" (outraged) , a term similar to that applied to the "indignados" in Spain and Portugal.

Originating from one of the mass protests organised by the powerful Greek Communist party (KKE), and its trade union formation, the "Indignant Ones" has become an autonomous event -- a multitude of people acquiring an identity beyond party or narrow formation, and positively asserting their existence separate to the state, or the client parties dependent on it.
This is the real story of the Greek, and European, financial crisis, because it is clearly the process that is driving the crisis -- the insistent refusal of the Greek people to liquidate their social life and their shared assets to serve the global financial markets.

Though the crisis is being presented as an economic one -- with breathless financial commentators following every move of the bond markets, as if it were somehow a living being -- it is nothing of the sort. It is political through and through.

Had the Greeks accepted the sort of deal the Irish accepted -- where the government buys the private sector's bad assets, i.e. the banks, through nationalisation, and sells off the public sector's good assets through privatisation -- there would be no Greek financial crisis.

The ruling PASOK party would have had the political clout to bring in an austere budget, its credit rating would not have dropped to CCC, the bond markets would have eased up a little, and the huge costs of maintaining its debt would have lowered.

That would have offered neither genuine economic improvement -- it would simply have plunged the country into an austerity-driven recession deeper than that which it is currently experiencing -- nor liberation; the opposite in fact. The country would have been laced into the logic of financial capital for good, its politics traded upwards to the empyrean realm of EU and IMF administrators by common consent.

But that was never likely to happen, for Greece is -- as the KKE and PM Papandreou noted -- the "weak link" in the EU project, and, indeed, thereby in the world financial system. The KKE said it about Greece in the way Lenin said it about Russia -- the contradictions were at their utmost there.

Papandreou stripped the sentiment of its assertive political rhetoric, and conveyed it to the apprehensive leaders of the EU as a scare-story: if you don't bail me out, I won't be able to control my crazy people. The son of a former Prime Minister, he had grown up in exile; he found it easy to represent himself to the EU as a governor of a wayward province, rather than as the head of an independent state.

There was more than a touch of orientalism in his pitch, scaring starchy Germans with wild thoughts of mad Greeks.

Yet the problem for Papandreou and the EU is that the Greeks failed to live up to the stereotype. They were neither passive like the Irish, nor aleatoric and ad hoc (but effective) like the Icelandics. Submission had been averted and crisis brought on because their resistance has been disciplined and relentless.

The anarchist black bloc and the kokoulofori (hooded ones -- the unorganised alienated youth who turn up for mayhem at large protests) may grab the headlines, but they have been the "left" margin of what have always been much larger and non-violent, though assertive, protests. Week after week they've come out, relentless.

Now such resilience is starting to pay off. Eighteen months ago, most Greeks were convinced by Papandreou to follow an austerity lead. The centre-Right New Democracy party had been in power for a decade, having come in on a promise to sweep away the corruption and clientelism of the earlier PASOK era.

But it had merely entrenched it, with different clients, and its failure had given PASOK -- Papandreou's new modernised version -- a rare, single-party victory in the elections, taking 156 seats of 300. Since then he has spent all his political capital trying to solve the problems of finance capital, and people are starting to see what the austerity programs look like.
For Papandreou, the financial crisis has become a very political crisis -- losing him the confidence of the old nationalist part of PASOK, and forcing him to seek support from other parties, and, most recently, a unity government with the New Democrats -- which might prompt a wholesale realignment of Greek politics.

Furthermore the Left's slogan -- "we won't pay for their crisis" -- has started to take hold. Narratives of fecklessness and a degree of guilt about failure to reform, appear to have been superseded by an understanding that the financial crisis is an auto-generated one.

It is not deficit spending, per se, that has pushed Greece towards bankruptcy, but the price of borrowing, escalated steadily by talk of Greece's possible bankruptcy. Now most people understand that they are being asked to sell off real assets and cut down real lives, to service imaginary entities.

Europe-wide, the Greek crisis is laying bare the nature of the EU: that it is not an expression of collective development, but an anti-democratic entity, serving financial markets through an inflexible currency, and creating a monopoly on sources of development capital.

Now that the final part of the first bailout has been agreed to pay through, and a second one guaranteed, the crisis may ease off a little (though not for Angela Merkel and the German Christian Democrats -- acceding to the second bailout will finish them politically).

But it will return, since the terms of the second bailout demand yet more austerity from a country that has already shown its unwillingness to cop to existing impositions -- and the amazing announcement from the markets that the country's credit rating won't lift, even if the total austerity package is implemented! Snide remarks by Germans that the country should sell off a few of its islands, and serious suggestions of privatising everything up to and including the Parthenon, will only double the resolve.

You would think, when people talk about privatising the Parthenon, that the nihilistic nature of capitalism would become visible to all. Apparently not. Last year, this publication was almost alone in noting the importance of the crisis, your correspondent observing:
"It is also possible that Papandreou’s remark about Greece as the “weak link" is more telling than he knows -- that the last place in Europe with a living militant, solidarity tradition, when intersecting with a technocratic post-politics, may produce something else entirely. Looking at the bright streets surrounding Syntagma, with its global chain stores -- Costa coffee, H & M, Marks and frikkin Spencers -- you can see why so many people are keen to stay with the smooth euro-vision of the central parties. But those streets lead into other streets, where there is less in the windows, and loose tiles beneath the feet, and the red flags are still flying there."

That has clearly come to pass. The EU, the euro, and through the euro, the world financial system, is having its future fought out in Syntagma square. Still, the financial journalists have not got it.

Like the shepherds outside the ancient city, watching the stars for portents, the financerati watch the changing figures on the screens to divine the future. Inside the city walls, people look to the Acropolis to remind themselves to stand for something more, and to fight for what cannot be traded away. 'tain't no coincidence, as we say, that Europe comes face to face with itself in Athens once more.



CounterPunch has an article from Michael Hudson suggesting that the Greeks have a look at Iceland's example when it comes to paying their creditors - Will Greece Let EU Central Bankers Destroy Democracy?.
Iceland belatedly decided that it was wrong to turn over its banking to a few domestic oligarchs without any real oversight or regulation over their self-dealing. From the vantage point of economic theory, was it not madness to imagine that Adam Smith’s quip about not relying on the benevolence of the butcher, brewer or baker for their products, but on their self-interest is applicable to bankers? Their “product” is not a tangible consumption good, but interest-bearing debt. These debts are a claim on output, revenue and wealth; they do not constitute real wealth.

This is what pro-financial neoliberals fail to understand. For them, debt creation is “wealth creation” (Alan Greenspan’s favorite euphemism) when credit – that is, debt – bids up prices for property, stocks and bonds and thus enhances financial balance sheets. The “equilibrium theory” that underlies academic orthodoxy treats asset prices (financialized wealth) as reflecting a capitalization of expected income. But in today’s Bubble Economy, asset prices reflect whatever bankers will lend. Rather than being based on rational calculation, their loans are based on what investment bankers are able to package and sell to frequently gullible financial institutions. This logic leads to attempts to pay pensions out of a “wealth creating” process that runs economies into debt.

It is not hard to statistically illustrate this. The amount of debt that an economy can pay is limited by the size of its surplus, defined as corporate profits and personal income for the private sector, and net fiscal revenue paid to the public sector. But neither today’s financial theory nor global practice recognize a capacity-to-pay constraint. So debt service has been permitted to eat into capital formation and reduce living standards – and now, to demand privatization sell-offs.

As an alternative is to such financial demands, Iceland has provided a model for what Greece may do. Responding to British and Dutch demands that its government guarantee payment of the Icesave bailout, the Althing recently asserted the principle of sovereign debt:
“The preconditions for the extension of government guarantee according to this Act are:

1. That … account shall be taken of the difficult and unprecedented circumstances with which Iceland is faced with and the necessity of deciding on measures which enable it to reconstruct its financial and economic system.

This implies among other things that the contracting parties will agree to a reasoned and objective request by Iceland for a review of the agreements in accordance with their provisions.

2. That Iceland’s position as a sovereign state precludes legal process against its assets which are necessary for it to discharge in an acceptable manner its functions as a sovereign state.”

Instead of imposing the kind of austerity programs that devastated Third World countries from the 1970s to the 1990s and led them to avoid the IMF like a plague, the Althing is changing the rules of the financial system. It is subordinating Iceland’s reimbursement of Britain and Holland to the ability of Iceland’s economy to pay:
“In evaluating the preconditions for a review of the agreements, account shall also be taken to the position of the national economy and government finances at any given time and the prospects in this respect, with special attention being given to foreign exchange issues, exchange rate developments and the balance on current account, economic growth and changes in gross domestic product as well as developments with respect to the size of the population and job market participation.”

This is the Althing proposal to settle its Icesave bank claims that Britain and the Netherlands rejected so passionately as “unthinkable.” So Iceland said, “No, take us to court.” And that is where matters stand right now.

Greece is not in court. But there is talk of a “higher law,” much as was discussed in the United States before the Civil War regarding slavery. At issue today is the financial analogue, debt peonage.

Will it be enough to change the world’s financial environment? For the first time since the 1920s (as far as I know), Iceland made the capacity-to-pay principle the explicit legal basis for international debt service. The amount to be paid is to be limited to a specific proportion of the growth in its GDP (on the admittedly tenuous assumption that this can indeed be converted into export earnings). After Iceland recovers, the Treasury offered to guarantee payment for Britain for the period 2017-2023 up to 4 per cent of the growth of GDP after 2008, plus another 2 per cent for the Dutch. If there is no growth in GDP, there will be no debt service. This meant that if creditors took punitive actions whose effect is to strangle Iceland’s economy, they wouldn’t get paid.

No wonder the EU bureaucracy reacted with such anger. It was a would-be slave rebellion. Returning to the applicable of Newton’s Third Law of motion to politics and economics, it was natural enough for Iceland, as the most thoroughly neoliberalized disaster area, to be the first economy to push back.

The past two years have seen its status plunge from having the West’s highest living standards (debt-financed, as matters turn out) to the most deeply debt-leveraged. In such circumstances it is natural for a population and its elected officials to experience a culture shock – in this case, an awareness of the destructive ideology of neoliberal “free market” euphemisms that led to privatization of the nation’s banks and the ensuing debt binge.

The Greeks gathering in Syntagma Square seem to need no culture shock to reject their Socialist government’s cave-in to European bankers. It looks like they may follow Iceland in leading the ideological pendulum back toward a classical awareness that in practice, this rhetoric turns out to be a junk economics favorable to banks and global creditors. Interest-bearing debt is the “product” that banks sell, after all. What seemed at first blush to be “wealth creation” was more accurately debt-creation, in which banks took no responsibility for the ability to pay. The resulting crash led the financial sector to suddenly believe that it did love centralized government control after all – to the extent of demanding public-sector bailouts that would reduce indebted economies to a generation of fiscal debt peonage and the resulting economic shrinkage.

As far as I am aware, this agreement is the first since the Young Plan for Germany’s reparations debt to subordinate international debt obligations to the capacity-to-pay principle. The Althing’s proposal spells this out in clear terms as an alternative to the neoliberal idea that economies must pay willy-nilly (as Keynes would say), sacrificing their future and driving their population to emigrate in a vain attempt to pay debts that, in the end, can’t be paid but merely leave debtor economies hopelessly dependent on their creditors. In the end, democratic nations are not willing to relinquish political planning authority to an emerging financial oligarchy.

No doubt the post-Soviet countries are watching, along with Latin American, African and other sovereign debtors whose growth has been stunted by predatory austerity programs imposed by IMF, World Bank and EU neoliberals in recent decades. We should all hope that the post-Bretton Woods era is over. But it won’t be until the Greek population follows that of Iceland in saying no – and Ireland finally wakes up.

Hudson has another column dubbing the debt crisis a new "road to serfdom" - How Bankers are using the Debt Crisis to welcome in the Financial Road to Serfdom.
Financial strategists do not intend to let today’s debt crisis go to waste. Foreclosure time has arrived. That means revolution – or more accurately, a counter-revolution to roll back the 20th century’s gains made by social democracy: pensions and social security, public health care and other infrastructure providing essential services at subsidized prices or for free. The basic model follows the former Soviet Union’s post-1991 neoliberal reforms: privatization of public enterprises, a high flat tax on labor but only nominal taxes on real estate and finance, and deregulation of the economy’s prices, working conditions and credit terms.

What is to be reversed is the “modern” agenda. The aim a century ago was to mobilize the Industrial Revolution’s soaring productivity and technology to raise living standards and use progressive taxation, public regulation, central banking and financial reform to distribute wealth fairly and make societies more equal. Today’s financial aim is the opposite: to concentrate wealth at the top of the economic pyramid and lower labor’s returns. High finance loves low wages.

The political lever to achieve this program is financial. The European Union (EU) constitution prevents central banks from financing government deficits, leaving this role to commercial banks, paying interest to them for creating credit that central banks monetize for governments in Britain and the United States. Governments are to go into debt to bail out banks for loans gone bad – as do more and more loans as finance impoverishes the economy, stifling its ability to pay. Yet as long as we live in democracies, voters must agree to pay. Governments are sovereign and debt is ultimately a creature of the law and courts.

But first, voters need to understand what is happening. From the bankers’ perspective, the economic surplus is what they themselves end up with. Rising consumption standards and even public investment in infrastructure are seen as deadweight. Bankers and bondholders aim to increase the surplus not so much by tangible capital investment increasing the overall surplus, but by more predatory means, headed by rolling back labor’s gains and stiffening working conditions while gaining public subsidy. Banks “create wealth” by providing more credit (that is, debt leverage) to bid up asset prices for real estate and enterprises already in place – assets that either are being foreclosed on or sold off under debt pressure by private owners or governments. One commentator recently characterized the latter strategy of privatization as “tantamount to selling the family silver only to have to rent it back in order to eat dinner.”[1]

Fought in the name of free markets, this counter-revolution rejects the classical ideal of markets free of unearned income paid to special interests. The financial objective is to squeeze out a surplus by maximizing the margin of prices over costs. Opposing government enterprise and infrastructure as the road to serfdom, high finance is seeking to turn public infrastructure into rent-extracting tollbooths to extract economic rent (the “free lunch economy”), while replacing labor unions with non-union labor so as to work it more intensively.

This road to neoserfdom is an asset grab. But to achieve it, the financial sector needs a political grab to replace democracy with financial technocrats. Their job is to pretend that there is no revolution at all, merely an increase in “efficiency,” “creating wealth” by debt-leveraging the economy to the point where the entire surplus is paid out as interest to the financial managers who are emerging as Western civilization’s new central planners.

Frederick Hayek’s Road to Serfdom portrayed a dystopia of public officials seeking to regulate the economy. In attacking government so one-sidedly, his ideological extremism sought to replace the checks and balances of mixed economies with a private sector “free” of regulation and consumer protection. His vision was of a post-modern economy “free” of the classical reforms to bring market prices into line with cost value. Instead of purifying industrial capitalism from the special rent extraction privileges bequeathed from the feudal epoch, Hayek’s ideology opened the way for unchecked financial power to make a travesty of “free markets.”

The European Union’s financial planners claim that Greece and other debtor countries have a problem that is easy to cure by imposing austerity. Pension savings, Social Security and medical insurance are to be downsized so as to “free” more debt service to be paid to creditors. Insisting that Greece only has a “liquidity problem,” European Central Bank (ECB) extremists deem an economy “solvent” as long as it has assets to privatize. ECB executive board member Lorenzo Bini Smaghi explained the plan in a Financial Times interview ...

The key problem is political will on the part of the government and parliament. Privatisation proceeds of €50bn, which is being talked about – some mention more – would reduce the peak debt to GDP ratio from 160 per cent to about 140 per cent or 135 per cent and this could be reduced further.[2]

A week later Mr. Bini Smaghi insisted that the public sector “had marketable assets worth 300 billion euros and was not bankrupt. ‘Greece should be considered solvent and should be asked to service its debts,’ … signaling that the bank remained firmly opposed to any plan to allow Greece to stretch out its debt payments or oblige investors to accept less than full repayment, a so-called haircut.”[3] Speaking from Berlin, he said that Greece “was not insolvent.” It could pay off its bonds owed to German bankers ($22.7 billion), French bankers ($15 billion) and the ECB (reported to be on the hook for $190 billion) by selling off public land and ports, water and sewer rights, ownership of the telephone system and other basic infrastructure. In addition to getting paid in full and receiving high interest rates reflecting “market” expectations of non-payment, the banks would enjoy a new credit market financing privatization buy-outs.

Warning that failure to pay would create windfall gains for speculators who had bet that Greece would default, Mr. Bini Smaghi refused to acknowledge the corollary: to pay the full amount would create windfalls for those who bet that Greece would be forced to pay. He also claimed that: “Restructuring of Greek debt would … discourage Greece from modernizing its economy.” But the less debt service an economy pays, the more revenue it has to invest productively. And to “solve” the problem by throwing public assets on the market would create windfalls for distress buyers. As the Wall Street Journal put matters bluntly: “Greece is for sale – cheap – and Germany is buying. German companies are hunting for bargains in Greece as the debt-stricken government moves to sell state-owned assets to stabilize the country’s finances.”[4]

Rather than raising living standards while creating a more egalitarian and fair society, the ECB’s creditor-oriented “reforms” would roll the time clock back to oligarchy. Not the post-feudal oligarchy of landlords owning land conquered militarily, but a financial oligarchy accumulating banking claims and bonds growing inexorably and exponentially, leaving little over for the rest of the economy to invest or consume.

Dan Denning at The Daily Reckoning also has a few thoughts about the Greek situation - Buy When There’s Yogurt in the Streets.
--This brings us back to Greece. Greece is just one economy and not a particularly big one, although what happens there certainly matters to the Greeks. But Greek problems become global problems because of the connectivity of the global banking sector, which is yet another product of globalisation (the globalisation of finance).

--A lot of European banks own Greek debt. And a lot of global banks own European bank debt. The toe bone is connected to the, nose bone. This is why the suits at the European Central Bank are determined to prevent a restructuring of Greek debt. It's not because the ratings agency considers a restructuring a defacto default.

--It's because if the Greek's restructure their debt and force creditors to take losses on bonds (force in the least compulsory way, of course) a precedent will have been set for every other troubled bank and sovereign bond issuer in Europe. It's not that everyone will default. It's that everyone will restructure, and in so doing, the capital of a lot of European Banks, including the ECB itself, would go up in smoke.

--"Greece could have a contagion effect,'' ECB Vice President Vitor Constancio said in Frankfurt today. "That's the reason why we are against any sort of default with haircuts and any form of private-sector event that could lead to a credit event or a rating event."

--The "credit event" would be even worse for markets. The rating event is a sideshow. The real story is whether Europe will hurtle towards taking all these losses now...or kicking the proverbial can down the road and tolerating a much weaker Euro in the process. Kicking the can down the road would mean more loans to Greece et al. by the ECB and perhaps outright bond purchases with new cash (debt monetisation).

--The Europeans have to get their act together soon. The fifth part of the International Monetary Fund's loan to Greece is due at the end of this month. But the IMF is prohibited by its own rules from releasing that money if Greece doesn't already have a year's worth of financing lined up at the time the IMF is ready to release the money. Without the money, the Greek government has about six days of cash left before it goes broke.

--The meta-story here is that everything central bankers have done since 2007 has been designed to prevent a real reckoning. That reckoning isn't moral or philosophical. It's financial. Too much unproductive debt has saddled the global economy. That debt is hard to service (globalisation has eaten into tax revenues as average incomes declined) and will likely never be paid back.

--Everyone at the ECB must know that. So why are they pretending otherwise? Well, the obvious answer is to prevent a systemic meltdown and the collapse of the Euro. The sick children of Europe-in debt and economic terms-may be forced into some kind of second-class currency. In order to save the Euro it may be necessary to destroy it.

--Or, it could be that deep down in their trans-national progressive centralising hearts, the heads of the ECB and the European Union believe the only way to achieve a more integrated political and economic union is to destroy national sovereignty altogether. If that's their goal, then they are certainly making progress in Greece, where the government has been forced to call a confidence vote and is further forced by the IMF and the ECB to implement fiscal austerity measures that are not pleasing to the Greek's throwing yogurt in the streets.

--What will happen next? Will the yogurt throwers topple the government and prevent their political masters from selling Greece into European servitude? Or do they have a choice at this point? Hmm.

--A single debtor in thrall to his banker/lender/overlord probably doesn't have much choice. The law is against him. His resources are exhausted. And after all, he incurred the debt.

--But a whole nation of debtors? Or, more specifically, a whole nation asked to pay off debts run up over generations? It seems to us they DO have a choice. They can tell the bankers to stick it where the sun don't shine...and then see what happens. And if that's what happens in Greece, you can bet it's a dress rehearsal for what will happen elsewhere.

Dan also has a jaundiced look at the revival of the internet company IPO market - Global Pump and Global Dump.
--IPOs are a way for long-term insiders to "cash out" and boost their compensation by selling the business to the public. It's true that IPO shares are usually "locked up" for a set period of time to prevent the instant flipping of the shares from the insiders to the public at a handsome instant profit.

--But the question for the investment buying public is, or should be, is the business going to be able to generate earnings for shareholders? And are the shares reasonably priced? Or are the insiders selling for a specific reason? That reason being there's more money to be made in selling shares in the business than in operating it.

--And here's a larger question to ponder over the weekend: has the coordinated reflation of stock markets by central banks since Lehman Brothers collapsed in 2008 actually been a giant pump-and-dump exercise? Were QE1 and QEII like mini-IPOS for the stock market in general, a kind of re-selling and rebranding of stocks as an asset class?

---Here's an argument: The insiders-mostly financial institutions-have used their control over monetary policy to flood the market with cheap bank reserves. Those excess reserves have been put to use in financial markets to run up stock, bond, and commodity prices and generate trading profits for banks and investment houses. The upward momentum in markets (more or less) has given anyone who can see the writing on the wall a chance to liquidate their positions into a stable market and leave the shareholding public with all the risk.

--Nefarious? Paranoid? Conspiratorial? Or just the same as it ever was?

--It's not much different than the exercise Jesse Livermore described in Reminiscences of a Stock Operator. If you're a large seller wishing to liquidate a position (the Money Power wishing to sell the assets it bought with credit it created, at no cost, for a high price) the first thing you do is become a buyer and create some buying momentum in the stock.

--Once the public begins to bank on that momentum and get back in the market with conviction, you can liquidate your position into a rising trend. Then, when the public is all in and you're all out and the Fed is set to exit the market and Greece is set to crack, you're in the perfect position to buy up all the good assets cheap, after the crash, when there are no other buyers to compete with and the streets are littered with globs of yogurt and broken bottles and shattered middle-class dreams.

--Are we at the big moment now, where the wealth transfer is accomplished? As we've said all along, the Fed needs a proper stock market crash to justify another round of asset purchases. That could mean even steeper stock falls. What will follow is an even more aggressive monetisation of government debt-or outright default.

--How will you know when the whole system has descended into farce and fraud? Look for the Facebook IPO.

Heading back to something slightly more aligned with the original theme of the post, Dan has an explanation of a term they occasionally drop in to articles at the DR - The Money Power.
--And so we return to the subject broached earlier this week of “the Money Power”. The phrase isn’t ours. And just to be clear what we’re talking about—as opposed to what other people mean by “the Money Power”—we’ll define it for you. “The Money Power” is the disparate group of financiers and bankers who profit the most from accumulating assets when they’re cheap and selling debt to the government and the public.

--The above description may not sound sinister. And it probably isn’t, at least in the sense that the ultimate aim of wealth and power through ill-gotten advantage is more or less the same goal of organised crime. It’s as old as humanity, really.

--What makes the Money Power so destructive is that it achieves its aims through the control of the price of money. This allows it to engineer a cyclical wealth transfer from the public purse to the private purse and from the Middle Class to the Bankers.

--Now normally we wouldn’t use such incendiary and populist rhetoric. And to be clear we don’t mean to suggest there’s any kind of global conspiracy by a secret and shady group of elite trans-national criminals. That would be a good story, though.

--No, what we mean is that there has always been profit in controlling the price of money. Think about it for a moment. Imagine you run a business where you can create the product you sell at no cost AND charge interest for its use. You turn your cost of capital into a rental income. That is a pretty clever trick.

--The Money Power has accomplished this trick through the artificial setting of interest rates and fractional reserve banking. With fractional reserve banking, banks can expand credit far in excess of the accumulated savings on deposit in the banking system. Through manipulating interests, the banks can make the cost of this credit appear attractive to the public.

--And indeed, for awhile, the low cost of credit—or what is also referred to here as “access to mortgage finance”—induces people to borrow so they can buy assets (stocks and bonds and houses). A vast accumulation of private debt ensues, driving up asset prices and looking rather benign.

--But then, when a crisis hits and asset values begin to fall—as they always do when they become too expensive relative to the income they generate or the value they deliver—the debts accumulated at low interest rates do not change in value. The Money Power can then buy up the assets at bargain basement prices, while tending to its debt slaves and collecting interests.

--There is a further wrinkle, too. The government! U.S. interests rates (at least short-term rates)—otherwise known as the price of money—are set by a private cartel of bankers (the Money Power). The Money Power is happy to encourage large government debts because it makes money by lending money to the government. Whether the government is borrowing money for foreign wars or domestic wars doesn’t matter.

-- The Money Power benefits from the permanent expansion of the Welfare/Warfare State because it means the permanent expansion of government debt (debt that will never be paid off, only refinanced or defaulted on). The result is the same as in the private sector, only this time the State is forced to sell assets off to the Money Power at fire sale prices. This is what’s happening in Greece now.

--And of course, this is what’s been happening in cycles for years. The advocates of debt-based money have simply sunk their tentacles into the financial life of the world more effectively now than at any other time in history. Private and public debt has exploded across the globe. Creditors earn interest on the loans they’ve made. But because of fractional reserve banking, they are able to create new product (money) out of thin air at no cost.

--It’s a great racket if you’re on the inside. But if you’re on the outside, this systematic transfer of wealth through manipulation of money and interest rates turns the economy into a boom-bust nightmare. It also impoverishes a lot of people, leaving them with no assets and a lot of debts.

Cold Fusion Now notes the Italian initiated latest cold fusion craze will "soon be made commercially available" by a Greek company - GREECE’s ANSWER TO THE INTERNATIONAL CRISIS: HYDROGEN & NICKEL EXOTHERMIC REACTION - CHEAP, CLEAN & GREEN ENERGY .
Today, there is great pessimism regarding the future energy needs of our planet. Energy will soon become universally cheap, clean and readily usable. Andrea Rossi and Sergio Focardi have discovered and patented a technology that will change the world’s energy field. This technology will be made commercially available by Defkalion Green Technologies s.a., a Greek company.

By combining Hydrogen and Nickel to create an exothermic reaction (at room temperatures and in a device that can be safely placed in households and also industry) heat is emitted on a 24-hour basis. This energy is produced at a fraction of the cost in comparison to currently available energy sources, it is clean and totally green. Furthermore, using conventional, readily available third-party technologies, the heat can also be used to produce electricity.

Defkalion Green Technologies s.a. has secured exclusive distribution rights for the entire world, except for the USA and military applications. It will start production and first distribution of its products from its factory in Xanthi for the Greek and Balkan markets, initially. Two more factories are scheduled within 2012. International sales are already strong in demand, which will spur exports.

Suffice to say, that Greece possesses 83% of Europe’s Nickel deposits, a key strategic consideration. Furthermore, at this time of the global financial crisis, Greece is faced with a golden opportunity to become energy self-sufficient, gain in employment in one of its most underdeveloped regions, as well as become a technological leader in this new scientific field.

The press conference will comprise of undisclosed to-date information relating the technology’s commercial and industrial applications, the company’s strategic placements, as well as commercial issues that are of interest not only to Defkalion’s future customers, but also to the political society of our country.

It goes without saying that such an important development also possesses a strong international dimension in many aspects.

Free Energy News notes the annual Bilderberg meeting was on recently, and after a lengthy diatribe makes a call for people to adopt decentralised energy solutions - Bilderberg Cabal Secretly Plots World's Future.
Of course the good news, is there is some in this, is that these agenda items are awakening the population and urging them to support alternative energy, to remove our dependence on these corrupt central forces of governments controlled by mega-corporations.

As multiple exotic energy technologies are starting to emerge, we have the opportunity to build communities that are less susceptible to their control. Clean, cheap, and plentiful energy will give ordinary people the personal, political, and economic power to live free from global tyrants who wish to impose their will on the world. The upcoming energy revolution will throw a wrench in the workings of many globalist plots.

* Free energy will solve the ecological threats facing our planet, including "global warming." Despite your opinion on the causes of global warming (or if it is taking place), there will be no need for "carbon taxes" when CO2 emissions start dropping due to the emerging energy technologies. The plan to extort the world and push for a one world government (in the name of environmentalism), will be stopped in it's tracks!

* Exotic energy technologies will make the Middle East irrelevant, because oil will only be needed as feedstock for plastics, fertilizer, and other similar goods. Oil will no longer be used as a fuel. This will make the idea of perpetual war in the Middle East completely illogical, even to those who previously supported such intervention.

* With abundant and cheap energy, citizens will be able to live more independently from government. Currently, the high price of energy makes the cost of off-the-grid living mostly prohibitive. However, with free energy technologies everything from transportation, home electrical generation, water desalinization or purification, and indoor gardening becomes more affordable!

The elites of the world that attend the Bilderberg meetings may have an agenda for the future, but free energy hold the potential to spoil all their plans. It's up to us to push for the immediate implementation of these game changing technologies. Soon, we will have the tools we need to make an all out push for freedom. Let's use them!

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