Tuesday, 31 May 2011

News Round up - 31st May

After a relaxing weekend by the seaside, away from television and internet, I have returned to find a busy News weekend and here is a round up of the stories catching my attention:

BBC News - Global carbon emissions reach record, says IEA - disappointing, but if the global economy is to grow using the established economic models, it is inevitable. This highlights the enormity of the changes that are required to decouple our economy and prosperity from carbon.

BBC News - Germany: Nuclear power plants to close by 2022 - bold decision, but how will the industrial bedrock of Germany's economy cope with increasing reliance on renewable energy? The country has limited coastline for marine renewables so will be limited to wind energy, or solar in the south.  Will fossil fuel use increase as nuclear is phased out, or will the German grid simply import nuclear base load from France?

BBC News - France expands nuclear power plans despite Fukushima - the French nuclear power station operators see a market for exporting base load to other European countries which do not have the political stomach for nuclear power.

Scotland wants German-style nuclear shutdown, says SNP - The Scotsman - a bandwagon that the SNP are happy to join as part of Scotlands Bold Renewable Targets.

Blow to green energy plans as wind speeds forecast to drop for 40 years - The Scotsman - however, the SNP are more dismissive of this article, indicating that wind energy yield is likely to drop in the coming years as climate changes take effect.  This is coupled with more frequent extreme wind events which cause the turbines to shut down and which will pose risks to our infrastructure.  As a supporter of wind energy, this forecast is of concern and I will be investigating this further.

The road ahead: How will we power our cars in the future? - The Scotsman - There are hybrids, hydrogen fuel cells, battery powered electric vehicles, solar powered vehicles and more efficient internal combustion engines on offer but which will be adopted as the mainstay - well it looks like the good old internal combustion engine will be with us for a while yet.  Unless there is a game-changing breakthrough with the newer technologies they will not compete in terms of being mass produced and providing motorists with the flexibility to which they have become accustomed.

To sum up the story so far, carbon emissions are up and will stay up, the wind will stop blowing and nuclear is on the wane - a recipe for continued growth in fossil fuel use. it has been a good weekend for the oil industry, although they haven't all had it their own way...

Greenpeace raiders board Scottish oil giant's controversial Arctic rig - The Scotsman - as Greenpeace attempt to delay the inevitable drilling for oil off the coast of Greenland.

Away from the energy issue, the Scotsman reported that the Nightingale may sing no more by 2041.  Reasons suggested for its horrific decline over the last decade include loss of habitat due to increased dear numbers but also, possibly, due to factors in its sub-Saharan wintering grounds or along the migration routes.

Could organic farming methods help to maintain its habitat and stem their decline? Possibly, but organic agriculture is in the firing line over hundreds of cases of E-coli, including 14 fatalities.  We should know the source of the contamination within the next few days, but regardless of the conclusion, I would anticipate lasting damage to the reputation of organic produce.

This brings me nicely on to the final story of my collection, that food prices 'will double by 2030', according to Oxfam Climate Change, which we are doing little enough to tackle, as demonstrated by my first link, will be a big part of this increase.  One way to avert such high price rises would be the adoption of much more intense agricultural practices using hybrid (and GMO?) crops to improve yield but the environmental consequences of such a course would be catastrophic.  

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