Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Forget Kyoto #4

At last, someone has said it in public and on the air - live - intentionally.

The US / Iraq /Afghanistan war is all about, and only about oil.

This morning, Alan Greenspan, beeing interviewed by Anna-maria Tremonte about his book, said that Hussein, had he achieved control of the Straits of Hormuz, through which 18 of the world's 85 million barrels of oil used each day passes, he could have brought the world's economy to a halt. By reducing shipments of mere 5-8 million barrels of oil per day the world's economy comes to a halt - that's quite a declaration from the former chair of the Federal Reserve Bank and former Chair of the World Economic Advisory Board.

I have been saying that the US will never be able to leave the Middle East militarily while it is dependent on Middle East oil supplies. Therefore US activity in obtaining oil must increase in countries outside OPEC to ensure multiple streams of supply.

Now that the cat is out of the bag, although the White House hasn't declared this to be the case - they continue to spin this as an idealogical struggle to set Iraquis free of an oppressive dictator and to enable them to set up a democratic government - we can see how important oil is and how scarce it is becoming. I am referring to the peak oil scenario which says that, since world oil production has peaked, every barrel that comes out of the ground henceforth will cost more and be more difficult to obtain than the previous one, - a scenario that says oil prices must climb at an ever increasing rate and will soon be no longer viable as a fuel source for personal transportation.

Home heating must move away from oil fired furnaces sooner or later but probably within our lifetimes.
This puts upward pressure on natural gas prices.
There will be a greater political move towards damming river valleys to create hydro-electric power. Hydrogen fuel needs electricity to produce it
Wind generation, tidal power, thermal generation - all will be viable as energy costs soar.
Terrifyingly, nuclear power becomes the vehicle of choice, on the coattails of new coal burning plants.

However you get it the world economy currently requires the energy of 85 million barrels of oil per day to function, plus the current hydro, coal and nuclear power it already consumes. As oil supplies dwindle alternative sources must be brought on line. Number one is coal, as I have already written previously. It is plentiful, relatively easy to obtain and therefore cheap. The world wants cheap power. It will burn coal. Forget Kyoto. It won't happen.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Guy on CBC says, just turning off a light..

will make help solve global warming. What is he smoking?

Let’s review the Kyoto proposition.

Some simple arithmetic can illuminate the scale of the Kyoto problem.

Roughly speaking, the Kyoto accord goal is to reduce our greenhouse emissions (GGEs) by 50% by 2050.

Let’s restate that in terms of people. Reducing each person’s output by 50% is one way of achieving this, this is the equivalent of reducing the population polluting at current levels by 50% or 16 million people.

According to IIASA – an NGO,
the Chinese population will increase by 260 million people in the next 30 years i.e. by 2037. Thus even if Canada achieves its Kyoto goal by 2050 it won’t mean a thing because, in terms of equivalent numbers of people, we will have reduced our population by 16 million people and they will have increased their population by 260 million, or 16 times our population.

Chinese are lesser polluters per capita you say? If the Chinese currently produce only a third of Canadian’s output, Canadian output from 16 million equals Chinese output from 48 million people, but that’s at today’s rates of output. Chinese industry and its economy is growing at great rates – China is bringing on line a new coal-burning electricity generation plant - every week, right now. By 2050 they will be equal with any developed nation. The comparison is equally valid with the population of India, which grew at 21% between 1991 and 2001, and is now more than a thousand million people and adds the equivalent population of Australia every year. Between 1947 and 1991, India's population more than doubled. Almost 40% of Indians are younger than 15 years of age.

Canada has 33 million people. China & India together = 2500 million people. At 2% growth per year, that’s 50 million more people every year.

Reducing pollution is generally a good idea in any case, but it is completely false to think anything we do, such as replacing light bulbs, switching off a light or driving a car one day less a week is going to have an impact on global warming. Canada is simply too small a population to matter.

Technological changes such as changing gas engines to hybrids are slow, long-term remedies.
In the short run, we can expect greenhouse gas emissions to be roughly proportional to economic activity. Were we to reduce GGEs by 30% in the next 5 years would mean a reduction of income and employment on a scale commensurate with the Great Depression. No government would inflict such disruption, nor should it.