Tuesday, November 30, 2010

nesting boxes

I've just bought some nesting boxes. it's been a learning curve. One remarkable thing is that the native birds are neat nesters and the introduced species are messy. And that natives won't nest in the mess left behind by an introduced species. An odd little fact but maybe revealing something of the difference between the strategies of a "weedy" colonizing species and one adapted to the terroir. The other thing that interested about the notes that came with the boxes is that in Melbourne we should face our nesting boxes east as the cold weather comes from the south and the west and the sun warms an east facing entrance as it rises. A kind of a salute to the sun by the nester!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The tragedy of industrialized private property

I've been reading a report by the Kachin Development Networking Group which I came across thanks to a link from Chatham House about the Hugawng Valley and the confiscations of land and forced relocations that began in 2007 when the Yuzana Company started to turn the valley into an industrialized farming landscape of monocrops. It also happens to be an internationally recognised tiger reserve.

It is hard to digest in the safety of my living room the brutality these people have to face. The completeness with which their lives and villages are being destroyed. There being encircled by there oppressors, cut off from their culture and their connection to the land; their right to farm their lands and to gather in their commons, their forest and their streams and rivers, forced to grow alien crops in their "model village". I find their dogged stoic resistance awesome.

This a warfare between peasants and industrialized farming, the sort that was fought in England in the 18th century. Now I understand the pain of those labourers and peasants. It seems that little changes just the location. It is a concentration of the world's wealth from the many to few so that the developed world can enjoy artificially cheap goods at the expense of the long term health of the environment.

Another parallel is the American frontier. I'm reading, in a slow and leisurely fashion, Turner's The End of the American Frontier. I'm not sure about the "end". There are frontiers everywhere. Hukwang Valley is a frontier between a traditional life of common property and invading industrialization and private property. These are land wars.

This is the tragedy of property, the conversion of commonly held resources to privately held and exploited resources. Economics has it arse about.

Friday, October 22, 2010

privatize the profits and socialize the environmental costs

When a mine becomes an environmental bombshell, is it the technique of mining companies or operators to sell it to a minority government owned shareholder and skedadle on out of there, leaving somebody else holding the baby? Chevron in Ecuador? BHP at Ok Tedi? Rum Jungle and Rio Tinto?

Olympic Dam sustainable?

I've been reading BHP's Olympic Dam sustainability report for 2008.

It is the last sustainability report for the mine I can find. Maybe 2009 and 2010 had some breaches that weren't worth recording?

A couple of points or so.

There are some 7 pages on employee safety at the start of the report and two and half pages on the environment. Safety is important but why is in the Sustainability report. Is it something along the lines of "if I kill or maim my employees my business is unsustainable". Safety and employee welfare is an HR& S issue and shifting it to the front of the sustainability report just muddies the issue. It looks like window-dressing. You could stick your finances into the sustainability report and say that without money my business is not sustainable. It just do justice to HR&S either. In the context of a sustainability report it looks like padding to me, but it is common in mining companies sustainability reports.

A definition of sustainable development is that which "meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs." (Brundlandt Report) So I'd want to know in the case of Olympic Dam in its sustainability report about water. What impact will pumping so much water out of the Great Artesian Basin have on other parts of the aquifer. Is it being pumped out at a sustainable rate? Is it being refilled at the same rate as it is being pumped out? There's no mention of aquifer or Great Artesian Basin anywhere in the report. Yet that's what is at great risk of unsustainable development.

It is nice that the BHP has a program that encourages the use water-saving showerheads at Roxby Downs, but in the context of being the largest industrial user of underground water in the Southern Hemisphere, cosuming some 35 million litres a day, it probably just isn't having a whole lot of impact. The pressure in the local springs has been much reduced in recent years. It's observable.

By the way the water doesn't cost BHP.

A small point it says BHP finalize an agreement with three Aboriginal groups who "claim" an interest i the regions. That suggests that BHP doesn't believe them.

It does raise the question in my mind about how seriously mining companies are about their sustainability programs, and how much it is just window dressing.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Ranger - green wash of the darkest hue

Here's a link to ERA's water treatment page on their website. Jeez that sounds nice I thought when I read it. But now I'm reading that the tailings dam is estimated to be seeping at 150,000 litres a day, and in December a dam burst releasing 6 million litres of contaminated water into the national park.

The website when I was reading made much of the tailing dam exceeding original design specifications but according to Wikipedia the original design specifications grossly underestimated the rainfall in the region. Nice to exceed original specs but not actually nice enoug. The original authorization of the mine required water to be contained at all times.

The Mirrarr people and the Gundjeihmi Aboriginal corporation are opposing expansion of the mine, asking how a mine that can't meet current standards can be allowed to expand. The Greens are asking the same question.

The mining companies sort a foot in the door so they could shove it wide open.

So is ERA practicing green wash of the darkest hue?

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

disappointing IPA report

I found Tim Wilson's "Green Excuses: Collusion to promote protectionism?" a disappointing read. The report seemed badly structured with a lack of clarity about its intent. It came across to me as a reader as a grab bag of ideas, rather than a coherent argument. It is an article about the dumping of toilet paper in the Australian market with a bit about the Labor Party's policy of banning illegal timber imports tacked on the end. The pieces do not fit together well. As the first IPA paper I've read I was disappointed it wasn't more convincingly argued even if I didn't agree with the basic premise. The author frequently conflated green groups industry and unions together and then attributed a common goal to them. He uses 'industry' as a catchall term but never defines what he means and in context of the paper the meaning of the term seems to slide around. He also conflates any organization with an environmental interest into the one conspiracy.THe WWF and FSC are separate organizations, for example. He makes accusations of collusion for which he provides no convincing evidence except on occasion narrowly sharing the same goals. The CFMEU is not a green organization. It is a union that has often been in conflict with environmental organizations in Tasmania.The goals of unions and business and organizations are sometimes shared but I don't see any evidence of collusion. The language was colourful and the author ignored the evidence provided by

As well as these general comments there is a particular point I'd like to make. Wilson says: "For years environmental groups have claimed there is mass deforestation and illegal logging

occurring in the developing world." implying that there isn't deforestation and illegal logging since it is only 'claimed'. He uses the CIE report to support the idea that illegal logging is overstated. Wilson says; "The study released in February 2010 concluded that the actual volume of illegal logging internationally appears to be grossly over-estimated and may only be between five and ten per cent." And what the CIE report actually says:

The extent and size of illegal logging is debatable, but even forest associations agree that some illegal logging occurs in all countries. Estimates of the extent of overall level of illegal logging vary substantially, and depend on who is doing the estimates and the methodology and assumptions used. At the lower end, forest associations estimate that illegal logging accounts for around 10 per cent of the total harvest (American Forest and Paper Association 2009), whereas environmental NGOs estimate that the proportion is up to 80 per cent (for example, Greenpeace 2009), and others somewhere in between. The World Bank (2006) considers that significant proportions of timber production in South East Asia, Central Africa, South America and Russia are illegal.

The Bank estimates the following proportions of illegal harvest to total harvest.

Russia — 50 per cent of far eastern production

Southeast Asia:

Cambodia — 90 per cent

Indonesia — 70 to 80 per cent

Lao PDR — 45 per cent

Malaysia — 35 per cent

Thailand — 40 per cent

Vietnam — 20 to 40 per cent

Papua New Guinea — 70 per cent

South America — over 40 per cent

Africa — on average over 50 per cent.

I don't see that there is much debate that deforestation is a huge problem and Wilson's article comes across to me as Wilson egregiously refusing to acknowledge what his own sources are saying, which then goes to a lack of quality in the article and the arguments he is presenting.

Monday, October 4, 2010

We depend on the sea

"All surface life depends on life inside and beneath the oceans. Sea life provides half our oxygen and a lot of our food and regulates our climate." Ian Poiner, chairman of the steering committee of the First Census of Marine Life, which is establishing a baseline against which changes in the 21st century can be measured. .

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Labor goes again

Tony Burke announced during the election that labor will: "implement a package of reforms to restrict the sale of illegally logged wood in Australia". And they did that at the last election, but nothing happened. A report from the Centre for International Economics said it wasn't worthwhile doing it because we constitute such a small proportion of global timber exports, and it was cost more than it was worth. But isn't it worth setting an example? Isn't worth doing what is right? What is the CIE's measure of worth.

Monday, August 30, 2010

On Walden Pond

I'm listening to it as an audio book — and audio sets a nice reflective pace, and I have it on my iPhone as an ebook, which allows for a different style of reflection.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

medicines from nature - Why bother?

I found this an elegant explanation about why we can find things in nature that are hard to discover in the laboratory:

Toxins that have already been designed in nature have the unusual combination of precise specificity and extreme potency – characteristics that make them particularly amenable to use as leads in drug design.
— Dr Brian Fry, Bio 21 Institute

I'd always wonder why you can't just sit in a lab and make drugs. Why it was worth discovering them in nature whether in the middle of the Amazon rain-forest or in the Antarctic ocean.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

enviro quote IV

“I am following Nature without being able to grasp her.” – Claude Monet

Sunday, August 15, 2010

DSE and EEG. The three wise monkeys: nonfeasance, misfeasance, and malfeasanc

As I'm understanding the DSE and VicForests defence against the EEG was the three monkeys: see no evil, hear no evil, say no evil. Except in this case it was endangered species. If you don't see endangered species (or hear them and especially don't talk about them you don't have to protect them

I'm seeing this as a sign of the hardening of positions as the global debate on the environment warms; positions are delineated and deliberate nonfeasance, misfeasance, and malfeasance kicks in. No longer ad hoc but deliberate.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Environment quote III - another view from above

'For the first time in my life I saw the horizon as a curved line. It was accentuated by a thin seam of dark blue light — our atmosphere. Obviously this was not the ocean of air I had been told it was so many times in my life. I was terrified by its fragile appearance.'

Ulf Merbold, German astronaut

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Quotation II: A stark view from above

Astronaut John Grunsfeld is the veteran of five space missions between 1995 and 2009 and when he first flew over the Amazon in 1995 he saw networks of new roads fanning into the forest. By 2009 "there were huge open tracts, signs that some of the tributaries were drying out. Madagascar has basically been denuded of forest in 15 years.
Rivers I saw flowing to the sea are clogged up from erosion. At night the number of forests burning around the globe has gone up significantly. Our decisonmakers are ignoring it but it's so obvious from space. Everything is connected. Whether the Barrier Reef survives will depend on whether China keeps building coal-fired power plants."

Jeffrey Lee Lee

John Lee Lee is an absolute hero, donating land worth billions to Kakadu National Park. He should, no, must be declared Australian of the Year. Here is an indigenous Australian giving up more than any of us to protect his land. He's not a man who has had monetary wealth in his life, which makes his gift all the greater. He says, " It was a hard decision."

And he went on to say: "You are the only one in your clan group that is left and the pressure is on you.

"You've got a lot of responsibilities of that area, of that country, that's been passed on to you."

This is act defines the meaning of a "moral compass".

Presumably as it is Labor supported if the Liberals getting in, the land won't be joined to Kakadu and the French mining giant AREVA will go ahead and mine John Lee Lee's land.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

great environmental quotes I

"We are in the unusual predicament as a global civilization. The maximum that is politically feasible, even the maximum that is politically imaginable right now, still falls short of the minimum that is scientifically and ecologically necessary."
Al Gore, and he said it near the start of the Clinton Administration.

50% of our oxygen comes from plankton (which will be seriously affected by ocean acidication)

" The world is a fragile place, and even the most robust systems hang by a fine thread." found serendipitously in today's paper.

Monday, August 9, 2010


I do like the term bioengineering which I first came across the other day. The way I'm meaning is engineering of the environment by animals and plants. The classic example is a pair of beavers and their dam. But an example closer to home the spiral burrows of bilby acting as a nutrient trap to enrich our deserts.

I did learn some interesting facts about beavers in the process of writing this entry. There were 200 million of them in North American when Europeans arrived (and there'snow a great deal less), they mate for life, and the females are a little heavier than the males.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

tax deductible carbon offsets

I discovered most carbon credits are not tax deductible. Shock and horror!

The good news is that Greenfleet is, and so is Carbon Neutral (http://www.carbonneutral.com.au/general.htm#399960)

Saturday, August 7, 2010

How big is the world's economy?

I admit I stole this from Fortune magazine who in admit they stole if from a famous article published in Prospect magazine. It's the idea of thinking of the world economy as a multiple of one state's economy, and thereby reducing the the unmanageable to the imaginable. It's a version of see foreign exchange rates in terms of the cost of a Macdonald's burger. Nico Colchester the author of the original article measured in Italys. The economy was then worth about a trillion or 26 Italy's. Fortune, being an American magazine has chosen Californias. The world economy is worth 32 Californias. (California $1.8b and World - $58 trillion; 58 times what it was in 1995 by the way.) And here's a table of a breakdown of of the world's economies:
US economy - 8 Californias
European Union (and added to it the holdouts in Europe, Switzerland and Norway), plus Canada, Oz and NZ: 10.5 Californias
"Prosperous Asia" (a neat term) - 3.5 Californias
that's Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Singapore
China - 3.3 Californias
The rest - 6.7
that's most of SE Asia, BRICs, all of Latin America and the whole of the Islamic world including all the oil.

Fortunes does say the figures are very rough.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Big things are dependent on little things

"Diatoms are the grass of the sea."

The Everchanging Sea by David B Ericson and Goesta Wollin

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Offset with Greenfleet not Qantas or Virgin

Carbon offsets that are done direct with Qantas or Virgin Blue for business flights are not tax deductible!

A business is much better off making an offsetting donation through Greenfleet. This renders the Qantas and Virgin Blue programs very unattractive. The airlines should be lobbying the government to change that — if they're smart.

Of course any offsetting personal donation with Greenfleet is just as deductible.

That's a message worth getting out and about.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The Coalition's Policy on Marine Protected Areas

I rang the Liberal Party to protest about Tony Abbott's new policy to curb the declaration of marine sanctuaries. I was referred to the policy, which then made interesting reading.
It's disingenuously name a plan for "real action on marine protected areas", when it is a plan for procrastination aka "consultation". It's a plan to create another layer of bureaucracy, the Bioregional Advisory Panels, to slow the process of protecting our seas, to give the appearance of something being done while industry and recreational fishers, kill the breeding stocks of the fish that they catch. It's very much a bit by bit approach: the plan is to address but one Bioregion at a time.
The second point in the policy is to "Provide a fair and balanced displaced effort policy". What nutty policy wonk came up with that phrasing! What's "displaced effort"? Well its something to do with a displacement policy. "The displaced effort policy will be informed by socio-economic modelling of the reach of the fishing sector into the community." What does that mean? That's all some dickhead is offering as an explanation of this this piece of jargon.
Interestingly, the Coalition admits in the policy that Labor's scientific assessment process was rigorous.
The policy is poorly worded but the intent is clear. It is about procrastination and delay in the first place and then when forced to make a decision, to make a decision that permits this generation of fishers and tourist operators to fish out the existing stocks at the expense of future generations. It's about not having no-take zones; it's about not building up nurseries or fish stocks; in case any business operator or recreational fisher suffers a short-term disadvantage.
In any other sector of the economy, if you get stung by change, its part of the risk of business. If a multinational closes a mining town contrary to everything they've just been saying, the small businessman takes it on the nose; but the Liberals view of the environment is that nobody in this generation should be economically disadvantage in any way to protect our future. The view enshrines the sacred right to exploit. It's about pandering to industries who resist conservation of the resources on which they depend.
This is a reversal of previous Liberal policy and marks the continued swing to the far environmental right by Liberals under Tony Abbott, and a willingness to sacrifice the long term to indulge short-term sectional interests. "Let's dig it up, cut it down or stick it on a hook"

Saturday, July 17, 2010

What are we doing?

A quarter of the mammals in the world are threatened with extinction, and only a small fraction are recovering.

It's odd and extraordinary that many national symbols are among those threatened. To give but one example: the Spanish Lynx.

Friday, July 16, 2010

eating sharks to death

100 million sharks are caught every year and 70% of those are targetted for their fins according to Darren Kindleysides, the director of the Brisbane based AMCS. And he went on to say, the world's shark population has dropped by 90% in the past 50 years.

And tuna and cod have dropped by amount the same amount, as have most of the the other large fish species that we eat.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

A temporary no to commercial whaling

Peter Garrett had a temporary win with the IWC postponing the decision about whether to approve commercial whaling, forcing Japan to continue whaling under the farce of it being scientific.
I was reading the other day that since the end of whaling in Australia in 1963 and the subsequent end to commercial whaling in 1965 worldwide, the humpback population in the Kimberley has grown from 500 to 20,000. That's the largest population globally. Still it's less than it was before whaling commenced on an industrial scale.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Oz to be the best and safest driller

Recently and in response to the ongoing investigation into the Montaro blowout, Martin Ferguson is saying that "Our approach must be to ensure our oil and gas exploration and production operations are the best and safest in the world?" That is quite something to be held to. At least it looks like he's not going to rely on Colin Barnett to achieve that, as it looks like he'll support a national regulator.
Martin went on to say: "Shutting down the industry and putting the nation's energy security, jobs and the economy at risk does nothing towards achieving any of these goals." Huh!
That's a case of overstating the case. The Norwegians haven't shut down their industries; they've simple declared a moratorium on new deepwater wells. Nor, Martin, have the Americans shut down their industry.
I think the question is, in the light of the West Montaro leak, could Deepwater Horizon have happened here? We don't drill as deep, but West Montaro still leaked for months.

Thanks to the AFR

oil hypocrisy?

When oil companies lobby governments to reduce environmental protections, can the still use the defence that they complied with regulation? The president of BP Canada Anne Drinkwater was lobbying the Canadian government to end the requirement that a relief well had to be drilled at the same time as the main well in the Arctic. (She said it wasn't about money, though BP's submission said it was.)
It's not just about BP, it's about the oil industry as a whole. It's a matter of attitude. If the oil industry is saying we're just responding to demand but they're encouraging (and spending big bucks) people and industry to consume more, then the excuse isn't valid.
It's the way commerce is set up rather than an individual or even a company responsibility.

bellicose chauvanism - the accuracy of environmental claims

I've been reading a claim that the level of unique marine life that is found off south-western Australia is greater than that on the Barrier Reef and almost anywhere in the world. I've heard a similar claim for the Port Phillip Bay. So how true it is it?
Are the people making the claim guilty of environmental hyperbole? Are we always overstating the environmental case in a form of jingoism (aka "belicose chauvanism")? Or is this like the south-west botanically - a hotspot of diversity? A special claim is extended for everything - which devalues all claims.
Do we protect places because they have a level of endemic species? Is that the same as saying they have a high level of biodiversity? Why are we protecting the Great Barrier Reef? Because it is big and beautiful, or because it has a high level of diversity?
I can't assess the validity of the claim so I'll go off and do some research.

Why are the leatherbacks classified as critically endangered?

I receive a flyer from the ACF a little while ago and it has been sitting on my desk. It listed 3 endangered and one critically endangered species, which was the Leatherback turtle. I would have thought the long-footed potoroo would be much more at risk of extinction, with a much more localized distribution and a smaller overall population
I was intrigued and I started to read up on the Leatherbacks, and the more I read the more impressed I was by this animal. They're widespread with the largest geographical spread of any turtle, resident in three oceans and travelling as far north as Norway and as far south as the Cape of Good Hope. The species has been around a long time in its current form. More modern turtles have a proper carapace but the leatherback as its name suggests just has tough layers of skin. It is big, the largest reptile after three crocodiles species, and that enables it to stay warm, and it stays warmer than expected for a reptile of its size because of a number of adaptations including the oilness of its flesh.
The definiton of critically endangered isn't quite what I understood it to be. It's a relative term. It means that the population has or will decline by 80% in three generations. That intrigued me. The classfication system is complex, more complex than I thought people would have expected it to be. The terms come from the IUCN Red Book.
The other place to look is the CITES appendices. I hadn't quite got the distinction between the two and that CITES and IUCN are unrelated organizations, and the definitions are determined independently. CITES is only about trade, about controlling trade in animals to conserve them. And the devil (or the angels) in CITES is in the appendices. Leatherbacks are listed in Appendix 1, which outlaws harming or killing of the species. The thing about the appendices is the lower the number the more the the species that is listed is at risk.
The IUCN is a broad-based organization that operates at the level below governments. It has over 1000 organizational members and some 13,000 individual scientists as members. CITES is an international treaty between some 89 governments out of some 200 in the world (the UN has 193 members).
I'm glad I went on that little exploratory journey.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

vanishing Cassowary

It's a small item in yesterday's news: the north Queensland cassowary may vanish. The Rainforest Information Centre wants Peter Garrett to spend $60 million buying back land that's to be developed for housing in the Daintree north of Cairns and around Mission Beach to the south of Cairn. Subdivision is cutting through natural vegetation corridors and threatening the small remaining population of cassowarys, some 1000 birds. The cassowary population is being throttled by habitat lost, forced into smaller and smaller and less sustainable parcels of land by highways, subdivision and dogs. It's emblematic of what's happening in Australia, of how habitat loss and extinction happens in a developed country through the pressure of the constant push for development, of everybody wanting more. A third of Mission Beach's population died of starvation after Cyclone Larry in 2006. Populations are fragile and lack the access to alternative resources in times of stress.
"If they go, so too will many of the rainforest trees that depend on them for survival", says Ruth Rosenhek of the Rainforest Information Centre, showing the rippling pattern of change that is being inflicted on our natural environment by poorly planned development. The cassowary is a keystone species that distributes the seeds of some 150 species throughout the rainforest.
Ironically the cassowary is used extensively in tourism promotion for the region. But the tourism industry and the local economy isn't matching that with an obligation to protect this vanishing bird.

vanishing Cassowary

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Oil companies need to consider the inevitable corruption

Following the angry response of Obama to the Deepwater Horizon/Macondo leak in the Gulf of Mexico about the leaks in Nigeria. As much oil that has leaked from the Deepwater Horizon so far, leaks in the Niger delta every year! There's debate on how much responsibility the oil companies should accept for these leak - see the comments on John Vidal's article in The Guardian. The lesson that can be drawn from the history of the exploitation of the Niger delta is that you can't pump the wealth from oil into a third world economy without almost guaranteeing corruption. If the oil companies can't guarantee a equitable distribution to the stakeholders on the ground, especially in developing countries, then the sort of disaster that is happening in Nigeria is inevitable. It's an obvious truth but one which resource industries have yet to properly address. It's convenient to believe that resource wealth will benefit everybody.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Let's blame the British and avoid any responsibility ourselves

A US Congressmen is demanding the BP apologize to every American. Yep maybe after the president of Union Carbide has apologized to every Indian and Exxon to every Alaskan. American politicians are being hypocritical in their comments about British Petroleum, more correctly now called BP. What's happened in the Gulf is a disaster but it's the arrogance and greed of the oil industry, and the greed of consumers that is cultivated by the oil companies, not just the arrogance of BP, that's the cause. The focus on BP is a useful way to avoid dealing with the problems of the oil industry, the most profitable industry in history.

The rig is owned by an American company Transocean, which has applied to have its potential damages limited to the value of the rig. Transocean relocated to Switzerland and the rig itself is registered under a flag of convenience in the Marshall Islands. The repair work was done by another American company Halliburton, which is associated with an ex-American vice-president, Dick Cheney. Andarko Petroleum, another American company, which owns 25% of the leaking Macondo well, is paying out a dividend. Mistui also owns 10% of Macondo. BP was the operator though. BP has agreed to well more than the $75 million is required to under the US legislation that established the oil reserve.

BP has been British enough to stand up and put its hand in its pocket. Transocean aren't; Halliburton aren't. And let's go back to Union Carbide. The accident happened in December 1984 and the site is still leaking chemicals. Some 2000 to 13,000 people were killed in the disaster. UC offered the Indian government the value of the insurance claim. Warren Anderson the UC fled to the US while under arrest in India, and has not been returned to India by the US government. The US is using one standard for itself and another for others.

It's being widely stated on the internet that Canadian law requires that a relief well be drilled at the same time as the main well. A quick survey of the internet sees the statement widely quoted but no reliable source so it may be something of an urban myth but though it not sure that it's that neat. The Canadians do demand oil companies have much better developed plans for relief wells than US legislation and in some circumstances require relief wells to be drilled. BP was certainly kicking against the cost of drilling prophylactic relief wells in the Canadian Arctic earlier this year.

And there has been remarkably little discussion in Congress about the Ixtec-1 leak on June 3 1979. The blowout preventer was powerful enough to shear through the drilling pipe. It is estimated to have leaked 3.3 million barrels of oil (524.6 million litres). The biggest marine oil leak in history.

And there hasn't been much talk about the leaks in Nigeria.

Nobody at this stage knows why the blowout preventer failed. The American obsession with dumping all the blame on BP is a political convenience that distracts attention away from the real issues and real solutions.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Honest John

Here's John saying let's drill on the outer edge of the continental shelf back in February 2009

Fossil fuel is just too cheap

When the price of oil went up in 2008 the industrialized fishing fleets came home and the fish stocks had a chance to recover - at least a little. Just a tiny breathing space. But it shows that oil is too cheap. Read more on the subject of oil being too cheap.

And then you have idiots like John Hofmeister, an ex-president of Shell, who campaigns for cheap oil. He's just an oil industry front. He's been blustering on the US news a lot - apparently the accident was the fault of the public as we didn't allow the industry to drill in shallow water, and John gave the example that he had to spend $300m to get permission to drill in Alaska. He has an idiotic not-for-profit Citizens for Affordable Energy, funded by whom I wonder.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Transocean wriggly out of responsibility

BP are bearing the brunt of criticism and stating they accepting responsibility beyond the legal compensation requirements, while Transocean is sneaking around the back seeking to limit its legal liability to the value of the rig. It was after all Transocean employees who were killed. Why isn't the press focussing solely on BP. Halliburton have remained eerily silent.

Corporations aren't good at taking responsibility, except for profits.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Big Oil

It was fascinating and frightening watching an ex-President of Shell on CNN talking about the Gulf oil spill. What I heard was that it was the public's fault forcing the oil companies to drill in deep water. He was angry that Shell had had to spend $300 million to get the right to drill in the shallow water of the Arctic. In between there were ads selling high speed cars. Consumers wanted oil and Americans shouldn't be dependant on foreign sources was his view, so the oil companies were just doing what the consumers wanted. The program was interlaced with ads for fast cars. (It's interesting that one of Exxon's board members is from Big Auto.) His lack of connection with the views of the rest of the world was frightening in its insulation. He's saying that there 3500 wells in the Gulf and this is the only one that's gone wrong, seriously.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Transocean doesn't want to pay for cleanup

Transocean wants to limit its liability in the Deepwater Horizion Gulf oil disaster to the value of their interest, some $26,000,000. Transocean profits from the risk they impose on the community so the value should be across their business, their $1b in net profit or their $11.6b in revenue.


recycled toilet paper

When will hotel along with not washing towels unless requested, which I think is a cost saving rather than an environmental initiative, use recycled toilet paper. It would make a difference.

Friday, May 7, 2010

ethical chocolate

If Cadbury makes a decision to start making Dairy Milk from ethical chocolate does that mean that the rest of the chocolate they use is unethical?