Peak Foiled ?  

Posted by Big Gav in

Grist notes that Spanish oil company Repsol just announced that it has made the largest onshore oil discovery in the United States in 30 years - a find of 1.2 billion barrels beneath Alaska’s North Slope - PEAK FOILED.

If there’s anyone still waiting for peak oil to save us from climate change, get over it. People just keep getting better at finding crude. If anything can get us out of this mess, it won’t be a scarcity of fossil fuels but an abundance of creativity. The same innovative capacity that allows humans to keep expanding the amount of oil that can be pumped out of the earth can also create laws to stop the flow and cleaner technologies to use instead.

Vault 7  

Posted by Big Gav in , ,

A few years ago I speculated that one day some unenthused young contract worker at an Intelligence agency would decide to do a Snowden and release details of the backdoors that have been built into our electronic devices - Gen Y's Revenge - Opening The Back Door ?.

After thinking about this for a while I eventually concluded that the next big scandal could be one that could have far more real world impact than the current round of revelations (which are going to have a lasting effect on American technology providers over the next decade as foreign and multinational entities start trying to attain some level of information privacy that they don't enjoy today).

My thinking goes like this - if all our technology platforms now have backdoors built into them, what happens if some whistleblower decides to make public the mechanisms for accessing these backdoors ? Is there some procedure on the shelf that will allow a (relatively) rapid rollout of fixes to close the backdoors (and the cynic in me assumes, install new ones) ? Or is this just a hacker's wet dream waiting to come true...

So I wasn't all that surprised by Wikileaks' latest release, the much hyped "Vault 7" - Vault 7: CIA Hacking Tools Revealed.

Like the Podesta emails, the timing for this one was dodgy at best, with Trump doing some paranoid tweeting about his phones being tapped by Obama a couple of days before the document dump. By and large I still like Assange, but the entire neocon and Democratic establishment seem to determined to paint him as yet another tool of Vladimir Putin - and some of Wikileaks' tweets and the way they seem to be co-ordinating with the Trumpists don't do much to contradict this.

Fingers crossed they start releasing some dirt on the Trump administration before too long to restore some balance to the force.

There are a few other conspiracy theories about this latest release floating around that don't come from the Washington establishment. One of these is that this is part of a turf war between the NSA and CIA, with the NSA perhaps deciding that the CIA are encroaching too much on their area of expertise (mirroring some theories around the time of the Snowden revelations that the CIA wanted to discredit the NSA).

Bruce Schneier has a good roundup of articles on the topic - WikiLeaks Releases CIA Hacking Tools.

Somewhat weirdly, while browsing Facebook outside yesterday (off my home network) I emailed the link to this Intercept story to myself with the subject line "Vault 7" yesterday. A minute or so later I had an aborted call from a number in The Seychelles then my phone popped up a dialog box asking me what wifi network I wanted to connect to (something I can't recall it ever spontaneously asking me to do before). It did make me wonder just how active / automated the surveillance systems are these days when it comes to grabbing all the information off your phone...

FORMER CIA DIRECTOR Michael Hayden told the BBC this week that he blames millennials for the government’s secrets being leaked to the public.

“In order to do this kind of stuff, we have to recruit from a certain demographic,” he said, referring to government surveillance. “And I don’t mean to judge them at all, but this group of millennials and related groups simply have different understandings of the words loyalty, secrecy, and transparency than certainly my generation did.”

Carnegie eyes 100MW wave farm in Western Australia  

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Australian wave power company Carnegie Clean Energy is expressing interest in building the country's first commercial scale wave power plant on the south coast of Western Australia - Carnegie eyes 100MW wave farm in Albany if Labor wins W.A. poll.

Perth-based Carnegie Clean Energy says it will consider a 20MW wave farm off the cost of Albany in West Australia if Labor wins the state poll and delivers on a commitment to provide $19.5 million of funding. Carnegie, which is currently preparing its first full-size wave farm off the coast of Fremantle, helping to supply Garden Island naval base with a mixture of wave and solar energy and battery storage, says the Albany plant could be upgraded to 100MW. ...

Carnegie CEO Michael Ottaviano said the Albany wave farm would be an opportunity to tap into a highly consistent renewable resource; delivering “24/7 clean power” into the electrical grid at a time where recognition of the importance of reliable, clean energy in Australia has never been higher. “Albany has one the most consistent wave energy resources in the world, experiencing greater than 1m swell 99.7 per cent of the time,” he said in a statement.

ANU: Wind, solar and hydro grid cheapest option for Australia  

Posted by Big Gav in ,

ReNew Economy has a look at a report from the Australian National University claiming the lowest cost electricity grid for Australia is a 100% renewable energy one - ANU: Wind, solar and hydro grid cheapest option for Australia.

A new study by energy experts from the Australian National University suggests that a 100 per cent renewable energy electricity grid – with 90 per cent of power coming from wind and solar – will be significantly cheaper future option than a coal or gas-fired network in Australia. The study, led by Andrew Blakers, Bin Lu and Matthew Stocks, suggests that with most of Australia’s current fleet of coal generators due to retire before 2030, a mix of solar PV and wind energy, backed up by pumped hydro, will be the cheapest option for Australia, and this includes integration costs.

Renewable Energy: The disruptive impact of technology  

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Nick Butler at the FT points to this paper from the Grantham Institute and Carbon Tracker on the disruption cheap renewable power and electric vehicles are starting to have on global energy markets, a process which is going to continue to accelerate - Expect the Unexpected: The Disruptive Power of Low-carbon Technology (pdf).

Butler notes of the report:

* Solar will take 23 per cent of the power generation market by 2040 and 29 per cent by 2050.
* Wind power could constitute another 12 per cent of the power market by 2050.
* Electric vehicles will account for around 35 per cent of the road transport market by 2035.
* Hydrocarbons will peak and the authors are bold enough to foresee peak oil and coal demand in 2020

Britain's Cleaner Future  

Posted by Big Gav in , ,

The Times (A Murdoch rag of all things) has an editorial celebrating the UK's plummeting carbon emissions - A Cleaner Future.

Without much fanfare and four years ahead of schedule, Britain has achieved an ambitious policy goal that should have significant public health benefits and serve as a case study for other large economies. The UK has cut its carbon dioxide emissions to a level last seen during the General Strike of 1926. Apart from that exceptional year, when most coal mines were closed, the last time emissions were this low was in 1894, when Karl Benz produced the world’s first car. Most of this reduction is the result of a 52 per cent cut in a single year in the use of coal, which, like diesel, fouls the air with sooty particulates when burned. This should have an immediate and positive impact on illness and …

Tweet Tweet  

Posted by Big Gav

Just a reminder that while posting here can be sporadic, I do tweet (or at least retweet) almost every day - BigGav on Twitter.

Argentina Eyeing Lithium Superpower Status Amid Battery Boom  

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Bloomberg has a report on Argentina's hopes to dramatically expand lithium production - Argentina Eyeing Lithium Superpower Status Amid Battery Boom.

If all of the projects go ahead, Argentina’s annual output of the metal used in electric-vehicle batteries would surge to 165,000 metric tons, or about 45 percent of global supply, according to government projections. Prices will increase as much as 15 percent this year, Albemarle predicted last month. “Conservatively, Argentina will represent about half of global lithium production by 2020,”

Weekend reading  

Posted by Big Gav

* The Marked Woman. "In the early twentieth century, the members of the Osage Nation became the richest people per capita in the world, after oil was discovered under their reservation, in Oklahoma. Then they began to be mysteriously murdered off."

* Exponential growth devours and corrupts. "It’s the banality of moral decline. No one person sits down and imagines that Angry Birds of 2009 becomes the Angry Birds of 2017. A fun, novel game turned into a trashy slot machine. Nobody is proud of work like that. But it happens. One pea at a time. Until the split-pea soup has no more peas."

* Tech and the Fake Market tactic. "These new False Markets only resemble true markets just enough to pull the wool over the eyes of regulators and media, whose enthusiasm for high tech solutions is boundless, and whose understanding of markets on the Internet is still stuck in the early eBay era of 20 years ago."

* Will Democracy Survive Big Data and Artificial Intelligence?. "Our society is at a crossroads: If ever more powerful algorithms would be controlled by a few decision-makers and reduce our self-determination, we would fall back in a Feudalism 2.0, as important historical achievements would be lost. Now, however, we have the chance to choose the path to digital democracy or democracy 2.0, which would benefit us all "

* The AI Threat Isn’t Skynet. It’s the End of the Middle Class. "In the US, the number of manufacturing jobs peaked in 1979 and has steadily decreased ever since. At the same time, manufacturing has steadily increased, with the US now producing more goods than any other country but China. Machines aren’t just taking the place of humans on the assembly line. They’re doing a better job. And all this before the coming wave of AI upends so many other sectors of the economy."

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