Tag Archives: fossil fuels church renewables energy

Think of a world without any flowers or fossil fuels



An intriguing blog on the rejection of fossil fuels . Some do not like his stuff, but this thought experiment on stopping using fossil fuels sums up the absurdity and folly of divestment

This is from the conclusion of  what I re-blogged. It should make those asking for divestment reconsider

A thought experiment on what would happen if all fossil fuels disappeared tomorrow.

In this thought experiment we will assume that a mystical power has arrived on Earth and using some unknown technology eliminated all fossil fuels from the planet. What would happen? Since I live in Langley, I’m going to consider this from a Lower Mainland perspective.

If you lived in the Lower Mainland, all transportation systems (except Skytrain and a few hundred electric vehicles) would immediately stop. Stores would cease to get new supplies as all supplies are transported from warehouses by truck. No new supplies could get to the warehouses as all the trains depend on diesel, transport planes on aviation fuel and container ships on bunker oil or diesel. Soon the folks in the urban areas would be fighting over the remaining scraps in the stores and once those supplies were gone there would be nothing to replace them.

Starvation would not be the biggest concern though as in area likes Vancouver, the potable water and electrical supplies are dependent on diesel for pumps and the electrical system is maintained by men and women with trucks. We in BC pride ourselves on getting most of our energy from non-fossil fuel sources but absent those pumps and those trucks within days (perhaps weeks if we didn’t have any storms) our electricity supply would be down as well. With no electricity and no diesel all the pumps would fail and Vancouverites would suddenly discover that living in a rain-forest means nothing if you don’t have access to stored water.

Within a couple weeks, the city-centers would look like a scene from The Walking Dead, with corpses everywhere as the weakest folks lost out in the battles for the gradually diminishing supplies of food and water. Absent the sanitary system, the remaining folk would be fighting dysentery as human waste polluted the limited freshwater aquifers. Anyone with the capacity to do so would be moving away from the city-centers as quickly as possible to forage as far as they could roam by foot and on the remaining bikes (the remaining electric vehicles having used their last charge after the electrical system failed).

In the Lower Mainland the city folk would be streaming out towards the Valley where they would discover that virtually everything edible (from plant to animal) had long since been eaten by the Valley folk. Within a few months over 90% of the population would have succumbed to the lack of clean water and food leaving a small minority fighting it out over the few remaining crops. Come winter, absent fossil fuels, the remaining few would go back to burning wood for heat and in doing so would add to the ecological devastation wrought by the first wave of city folk cleansing the ecosystem of everything edible. Certainly in parts of the developing world and in portions of the prairies, subsistence-level communities might remain intact but they would be re-building on a planet that had been systematically stripped of everything edible by the 7 billion souls who did their best to survive and in doing so wrought an ecological apocalypse.

In television shows like The Walking Dead, the zombie apocalypse addresses our population density before the millions of hungry humans have had a chance to devastate the planet. In a post-fossil fuel world, those 7 billion souls would be fighting tooth and nail for every scrap of food and whatever large or mid-sized animals left behind would take hundreds of years to regenerate their populations and the ecosystem that came back would look a lot different from the ecosystem that existed before humans. Climate Change may represent a real threat to humanity, but absent fossil fuels it is likely that 6 billion or more people would pass away in the first six months in this post–fossil fuel world.

A Chemist in Langley

It has now been over a week since the Husky Oil Spill in the North Saskatchewan River. To date I have resisted writing much on the topic as details on the spill have been scarce and contradictory. As a blogger who prides himself on reporting reliable information, the information about the spill was not good enough to justify a blog post.

Today a trickle of information was released by Husky on the spill. So what do we know now that we didn’t know a week ago? First and foremost we now know that the 250,000 L spill was not diluted bitumen (dilbit), as has been suggested by many, but was rather a conventional oil called HLU Blended LLB Heavy Crude Oil but known better by its common named “Llloyd Blend”. Lloyd Blend is a “heavy sour” meaning it has a relatively low API and high sulphur…

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Fracking Fun by Pinnochio

Well. petroleum products are so ungreen and we can see how fossil-fuel dependent the bicycle is;

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So cheers to fracking

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Fracking will destroy our countryside and will make it look like this – The Jonah gasfiled in Wyoming

jonah

This is what our countryside will look like

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Hold on a mo! Jonah is not fracking of shale but tight gas from sandstone done before fracking for shale. A big porkie. This picture is simply deceitful

 

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Just one snag – these are caused by wastewater injection not fracking – and the earthquake damage is from the Far East.

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Whoops. Walport never said anything like that . It was said by a leftie prof from Sussex and misquoted by Adam Vaughan in the porkie Graudain

 

Now here are lots of misrepresentations of the effect of fracking on our water. The graphics do not give true scale so it seems that fracking takes place just below an aquifer. Mendacious

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How do these parties compare to the Tories?

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plaid cymru

This is nearer the truth showing actual fracking 8000ft below the surface. Frack cracks do not travel more than 1000ft upwards so still a mile off an aquifer

 

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And the chemicals  – actually 99.5 5 water and a bit of sand and polyacrylamide. A drinkable mixture. The claim of 632 chemicals is what HAS been used in the past, not what are used even in the USA today.

 

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Naughty Cuadrilla. Please count the porkies. They are easily counted but take longer to give details why they are porkies

Cuadrilla

A Blackpool college. An energy centre in the area of Britain with the highest unemployment……

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How to intimidate academics. Yes, I have heard accounts of what has happened . It is not pleasant

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Alleged health effects.

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westwood

 

But smoking has no health effects

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Experts like Mike Hill say fracking is dodgy

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After all Blackpool will go under the sea. The effect of a few 6in holes 8000ft below surface

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Mike hill’s office in Lytham

Hill under water

His misrepresentation of flares

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and so the locals of Lancashire get hopelessly confused. I don’t blame the writer of the letter but I do blame those who have conned the people of Lancashire

Quake in Lancs

as does the sub-christian horror comic The Church Times.

It was a bishop who told me that the CT was a sub-christian horror comic

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And now for more green shibboleths; – for light entertainment

GMO

 

GMO

Danger of GMO

Chemical-free organic food

chemical-free

Anti-vaxxers

 

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Now here’s the result of a frack-free, organic, no-vaxxer  lifestyle.

 

Not for me , thanks

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renewable

Christians Found Guilty for Climate Protest

I cannot say I have any sympathy for these people. neither can I understand the motivation of them or Prof Northcott, whose views are incredibly strident and often inaccurate.

Why do any look at these thinking they are doing a fine thing

 

 

Monday 31st May 2016 Five Christians have been found guilty today of causing criminal damage when they whitewashed the walls of the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC). On the first day…

Source: PRESS RELEASE: Christians Found Guilty for Climate Protest

 

PRESS RELEASE: Christians Found Guilty for Climate Protest

Monday 31st May 2016

The five members of Christian Climate Action outside court after the verdict

Five Christians have been found guilty today of causing criminal damage when they whitewashed the walls of the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC). On the first day of the Paris climate conference in November of last year, the members of Christian Climate Action exposed the department’s hypocrisy by whitewashing its walls and rebranding it the ‘Department for Extreme Climate Change’ in black paint.

Their case was held in front of a crowded public gallery as around 25 supporters of action against climate change gathered at Hammersmith Magistrates Court to pray and vigil throughout the day. The defendants, who represented themselves, did not dispute their presence at the scene or the actions attributed to them, but argued that they had a ‘lawful excuse’ under section 5 of the Criminal Damage Act.

Speaking after the verdict, Father Martin Newell said:

‘Pope Francis has called on Christians to go further in opposing climate change and we have tried to answer that call in faithfulness to Jesus who was also tried and found guilty by a court.

‘As a Catholic I believe in the power of symbols and symbolic actions and our actions symbolically highlighted that this department is whitewashing the truth of what’s happening. This is urgent – climate change is already happening and people are already dying.’

Phil Kingston, 80, and the oldest member of the group, said:

‘I was speaking on behalf of my grandchildren and the uncertain future they face. Preventing unnecessary deaths is an integral part of our humanity. When we do what we believe is right, good will come. I have regularly questioned what to do when democratic processes yielded no progress and warnings were ignored and have concluded that, as with other successful protest movements, non-violent direct action is the answer.’

Ruth Jarman, 53, said:

‘We do not agree with today’s judgement. The point of the law is to maintain justice, stability and order. Climate change threatens all these things so fundamentally that the law should be used to defend those who are trying to stop climate change, not those who are creating it. We think DECC should have been in the dock, not us. The department speaks fine words, but its actions scupper any possibility of sufficient global action on climate change.’

Helen Whitall, 32, said:

‘What we did was reasonable under the circumstance. As a Christian I feel that whilst it is essential to always act out of love for God and others, I have a responsibility to speak out against injustice to protect all that God loves, human and non-human, which may at times involve non-violent direct action in the tradition of Christ and the prophets where I feel justice and truth are being silenced.’

Westley Ingram, 39, said:

‘The climate talks in Paris were akin to leaders gathered in a burning house agreeing to only buy flame retardant furniture in the future. I do not believe we have damaged DECC’s building, because we have not affected its utility; if we have done anything, it is to damage the propaganda value of the building by exposing it for what it really is.’

The group has received support from a number of theologians. Michael Northcott, Professor of Ethics at the University of Edinburgh, said,

‘Without such acts in the history of the United Kingdom, the vote would not have been conferred on non-land owning citizens, nor on women, and we would not have ended slavery, or forced child labour in our factories. Civil disobedience is essential to democracy provided it harms no one. The actions of these protestors were a non-violent and peaceable way to expose the hypocrisy of current UK government energy policies. The UK has the potential still to lead the world towards the new sustainable energy economy that the climate crisis calls for and this type of action is essential to the democratic process in the UK.’

The five were ordered to pay £340 each.

ENDS

 

Editors Notes:

  1. More information, including statements of support and photographs, can be found on our website: www.christianclimateaction.wordpress.com
  2. Ruth’s statement explaining her actions in court is here:  https://christianclimateaction.wordpress.com/2016/06/01/ruths-defence-statement-2/
  3. A video of our action: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/climate-change-activists-vandalise-government-building-ahead-of-paris-climate-talks-a6754496.html
  4. The letter handed into DECC at the time of the action:https://christianclimateaction.wordpress.com/2016/02/05/dear-amber-the-letter-we-handed-in-to-decc-to-explain-our-re-branding-exercise/

PRESS RELEASE:Call for ‘cloud of witnesses’ to support Christian climate protesters on trial

I do not consider this a worthy cause as these are simply protestors claiming their actions are a Christian virtue. They are not.

However it does illustrate the fact that the churches have lost the plot on then environment and prefer watermelons

 

Monday 23rd May 2016

Contact: Ruth Jarman 07970 907784 / 01252 849904

https://christianclimateaction.wordpress.com/2016/05/23/press-releasecall-for-cloud-of-witnesses-to-support-christian-climate-protesters-on-trial/

Climate Change_149Supporters of action against climate change are invited to gather in front of Hammersmith Magistrates Court at 9am on Tuesday 31st May to pray and vigil as five Christian climate activists go on trial for whitewashing the walls of the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC).

On the first day of the Paris climate conference in November of last year, five members of Christian Climate Action exposed the hypocrisy of the Department of Energy and Climate Change by whitewashing its walls and rebranding it the Department for Extreme Climate Change in black paint. The protesters were arrested and charged with criminal damage.

The activists will enter court at 9:15am. After this there will be short vigils on the hour and half hour outside court throughout the day. Supporters are welcome to join these vigils at any time throughout the day for as short or long a time as they wish. More details: http://tinyurl.com/hp2v3h4

One of the five, Westley Ingram, said,

‘We stand everyday before a Judge who holds us to account. This day in court must be considered in this light. There are two judges, two laws and two authorities ruling on our actions and one must be subservient to the other. The conduct of this government through DECC is on trial today as well ourselves. We encourage Christians to consider whether civil disobedience may be considered holy obedience when the law of the land is in conflict with the law of love as exemplified by Jesus Christ.’

Phil Kingston, 80, said:

‘I am looking forward to speaking on behalf of my grandchildren and their generation, and the generations who will follow them: to continue to add to this unprecedented concentration of greenhouse gases when we know that they are causing climate change is, I believe, to cause criminal damage at a worldwide level.’

Helen Whitall, said:

‘What we did was reasonable under the circumstance. As a Christian I feel that whilst it is essential to always act out of love for God and others, I have a responsibility to speak out against injustice to protect all that God loves, human and non-human, which may at times involve non-violent direct action in the tradition of Christ and the prophets where I feel justice and truth are being silenced.’

Ruth Jarman, said:
‘For 20 years I have been campaigning on climate change and it is clear to me that lawful political action is not being heeded. When we look back to times when governments and their laws were wrong we revere those who broke the law to stand up for what is right. In many cases peaceful civil disobedience enabled the change to a better society. The law is here to keep order and peace but climate change is set to bring unimaginable chaos and breakdown of global civil society. Campaigning to the limit of the law and then standing by and watching the destruction of what God has made can’t be right. When there is a mismatch between obeying the laws of our country and those of God, I have to go with the latter. It is Christian obedience, rather than civil disobedience. For me, being a Christian requires me to listen to my conscience and act accordingly.’

The group has received support from a number of theologians. The scholar, writer and broadcaster, Professor Alastair McIntosh said,

‘Christian Climate Action is a howl of prophetic protest against the kings of our time, who have turned their backs on caring for the Creation, and imagine they can do so with spiritual impunity.’

Professor Tim Gorringe, Emeritus Professor of Theological Studies at the University of Exeter, said:

‘Wendell Berry speaks of organized Christianity as a “respecter and comforter of profitable iniquities”. This includes war, in all its forms, which is blessed and hallowed in every Cathedral and in most parish churches, and support for an economic system which threatens to make human life on earth impossible. Both are in contradiction of every single line of the Messianic Writings. To be Church, which is disciples of Jesus of Nazareth, is to protest these blasphemies and to call for a politics and an economy which is answerable to the God of Life.’

ENDS

Contact: Ruth Jarman 07970 907784 / 01252 849904

Editors Notes:
More information, including statements of support and photographs, can be found on our website: http://www.christianclimateaction.wordpress.com
A video of our action: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/climate-change-activists-vandalise-government-building-ahead-of-paris-climate-talks-a6754496.html
The letter handed into DECC at the time of the action:https://christianclimateaction.wordpress.com/2016/02/05/dear-amber-the-letter-we-handed-in-to-decc-to-explain-our-re-branding-exercise/
The statement read out by one of the five, Ruth Jarman, at her police interview following arrest:https://christianclimateaction.wordpress.com/2016/02/05/ruth-jarmans-statement-read-at-police-interview-at-charing-cross-police-station-30th-nov-2015/

Christian Climate Action

Monday 23rd May 2016

Contact: Ruth Jarman 07970 907784 / 01252 849904

Climate Change_149Supporters of action against climate change are invited to gather in front of Hammersmith Magistrates Court at 9am on Tuesday 31st May to pray and vigil as five Christian climate activists go on trial for whitewashing the walls of the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC).

On the first day of the Paris climate conference in November of last year, five members of Christian Climate Action exposed the hypocrisy of the Department of Energy and Climate Change by whitewashing its walls and rebranding it the Department for Extreme Climate Change in black paint. The protesters were arrested and charged with criminal damage.

The activists will enter court at 9:15am. After this there will be short vigils on the hour and half hour outside court throughout the day. Supporters are welcome to join these vigils at any time…

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Robust (?) approach (by churches) to fossil fuels required

On 15th April 2016 the Church Times (house paper of the Church of England) published an article

Robust approach to fossil fuels required

by Dr Hannah arguing that the churches need to bear down hard on fossil fuel firms. This reflects the view of Operation Noah, a Christian group very concerned with climate change and through its off-shoot Bright Now pushing for fossil fuel divestment by the churches.

In early 2015 Bright Now produced the argument for divestment which can be seen here;

http://brightnow.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/Bright-Now-Report.pdf 

The argument is very one-sided and looks to Lord Stern and the Centre of Alternative Technology‘s arguments for Zero Carbon. Any other argument, such as that of dieter Helm in The Carbon Crunch simply is not mentioned. Its description of fracking is simply woeful.

As I was not happy with article I wrote a brief letter which was published on 22nd April;

Dear Sir
A more robust approach to fossil fuels
Having recently given a paper at an international conference of the AAPG (American Association of Petroleum Geologists) in Spain, I found  the article “Robust Approach to fossil fuels required” (CT 15/4/16) rather inadequate and strident. It reflects the current phobia of fossil fuels with realising there are no alternatives in the foreseeable future. Concern for the planet is essential but it must be grounded in realism.
Fossil fuels will be used way into the 22nd century whether we like it or not and the key is to use them in an environmentally sensitive way. Thus coal needs to eliminated as soon as possible and natural gas must be seen as the best/least worst replacement either as a bridge fuel or having a permanent place (hopefully with CCS). Few commentators expect fossil fuels to be replaced by 2050 if at all, and are thus not going to be stranded assets. (petroleum companies will change drastically in the next decades.)
I found the article both biased and in places inaccurate (as over claims that petroleum companies have almost all the necessary expertise for CCS). Much of the “robust approach” is simply ill-informed attacks on oil and gas, as is seen over fracking on onshore oil and gas in the UK. Sadly too many Christian green groups repeat the inaccuracies of the green NGOs, Naomi Klein and others, and that includes Operation Noah.
Rather than “robust approaches”, which are often inaccurate and ideological attacks on ALL fossil fuels, all in general, and the churches in particular, need to consider what are the best (or least worst) energy solutions for the present rather than to have blind faith in renewables, which at present produce less than 5% of the worlds energy. To go from 5% to 100% will take many, many decades. As Prof Dieter Helm recently pointed out, we have no alternatives at present and need to go into to the future with a mix of energies, including nuclear, which is a no-no for many. Most importantly he emphasises the need for far more research in alternatives, rather than pinning our hopes on our present and limited renewables.
The “Carbon Bubble” will not burst and will either go to an environmental indifference at great human cost or the development of a greener energy mix. The pushing of green idealism and ideology makes the former more likely.
Sincerely
Michael Roberts
Unsurprisingly there were two letters in the Church Times today; one from Ruth Jarman of Operation Noah, who is awaiting a court case for daubing paint over the DECC building in London. Here she is saying prayers after daubing the building.
jarman decc)
Dr Hannah also replied, accusing me of having “a mindset, also found among executives of oil and gas multinationals”, which is an offensive statement as well as untrue. As he is an expert in Second Temple Judaism, I am sure he would welcome Francis Egan , John Dewar or any other leading oil or gas executicve to present a paper on second Temple Judaism at a theological conference.
I was not surprised at these two reactions from members of Operation Noah, but it does show I touched a raw nerve.
I have to say I am very concerned at the way groups like Operation Noah  are misleading the church at present and this is not helped by Rowan Williams supporting the Cambridge University Zero Carbon Society, who published their report this week http://zerocarbonsoc.soc.srcf.net/ with Rowan writing a supporting preface. He may know his theology but not his energy issues.
I reckon that poor “Christian” arguments like thes actually do no good for the environment and undermine the credibility of the church. I am afraid the various churches have been very naive over both Climate Change and fracking and just jumped onto MCkibben’s 350.0rg divestment program.
Fortunately I am not alone in my opposition to such ideas on divestment or fracking, but few are prepared to put their heads above the parapet. The weakness in the church is that they ignore those who actually have some knowledge of the extractive industries, which are regarded as dirty and capitalistic. Here the gospel of St Naomi Klein is of more importance than that of Jesus Christ.

Blog

29 APR 2016

Darrell Hannah’s Church Times article: Robust approach to fossil fuels required

Following the Church of England’s decision at last year’s General Synod to pursue a policy of ‘robust engagement’ with fossil fuel companies rather than disinvestment, Operation Noah trustee The Revd Dr. Darrell D. Hannah wrote the following article for the Church Times outlining what ‘robust engagement’ would truly require to keep global temperature rises below 1.5°C. Operation Noah’s Bright Now campaign continues to call on UK churches to fully disinvest from fossil fuel companies.

This article was first published by the Church Times on 15 April 2016:www.churchtimes.co.uk

Robust approach to fossil fuels required

The Church must keep up the pressure on oil and gas companies, arguesDarrell Hannah

Much has changed in the past ten months. The recognition by the nations participating in the UN climate summit in Paris, COP21 (News, 11 December 2015), of the need to keep the world’s temperature rise to under 1.5°C has revealed an urgency that has often been lacking until now: it has changed the game with regard to even the medium-term viability of oil and gas multinationals.

To keep below a 1.5°C rise, about 85 per cent of all fossil-fuel reserves must remain in the ground. The 2.0°C target required about 80 per cent of all fossil fuels (88 per cent of coal reserves, 35 per cent of oil and 52 per cent of gas) to remain unburned.

Not surprisingly, investors and market analysts speak of ‘a carbon bubble’ and ‘stranded assets’ with regard to fossil-fuel companies. For any corporation 80 per cent (or 35 per cent or 52 per cent) of whose assets are untouchable must be deemed a risky investment. Now, with the world committed to less than a 1.5°C rise, even more of those assets are in danger of being stranded, and the bubble has grown larger.

In addition, the number and severity of extreme weather events have increased. The excessive rain and floods in the north of England and Scotland in January this year are the fourth such ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ or ‘once-in-a-century’ weather events in the UK since 2000 (News, 1 January). Similar patterns of extreme floods, and/or droughts, and subsequent wild fires, have occurred in North America, Australia and North Africa. The past year, 2015, was unambiguously the hottest globally on record, with 2005, 2010 and 2014 tied for the next hottest year.

We should also consider the implications of the current migration crisis in Europe. The 2006-09 drought in Syria was one of the stress factors that led to its continuing civil war, which in turn has contributed significantly to the unprecedented number of immigrants seeking entrance into Europe. It is increasingly clear that it is not just poor nations that will be affected by climate change. We are already beginning to experience the consequences in Europe.

Nonetheless, the oil and gas companies continue to conduct their business as if nothing had changed. BP’s recent report Energy Outlook 2016 Edition: Outlook to 2035 tacitly acknowledges the need for change, but puts the onus on governments. Moreover, the report predicts that the demand for oil and gas will increase in the coming decades. In view of the decisions made at the Paris climate summit, this must be deemed environmentally and financially irresponsible.

In the light of the Paris summit, the worsening effects of climate change and the business-as-usual attitude of the industry, a small working group of those responsible for the Oxford and Birmingham diocesan disinvestment motions met to discuss what ‘robust engagement’ should look like in the current context. This is a summary of our discussion.

Last year, the EIAG’s initiative, Aiming for A, succeeded in getting resolutions calling for enhanced disclosure of carbon emissions passed, with large majorities, by shareholders’ meetings of both BP and Shell. Exxon refused – and is still refusing – to consider such a resolution.

Thus, with the EIAG’s encouragement, Shell and BP (but not Exxon) have promised to disclose just how much carbon their operations emit. It is now essential that these companies, as well as others, progress to actual reductions in carbon emissions – and not just more promises of further disclosure – or EIAG’s much heralded Aiming for A will be deemed a failure.

Oil and gas multinationals must also radically reduce exploration. Since, as noted above, approximately 85 per cent of known fossil-fuel reserves must remain in the ground if we are to have any chance of remaining below a 1.5°C rise, it is senseless for multinationals to continue to outlay more than $300 billion annually, which they spent in the past two years for which records are available (2012 and 2013), in the search for more oil and gas reserves.

Any future exploration in sensitive areas, such as the Arctic and certain coastal regions, must be avoided altogether. Furthermore, it follows just how spurious is the claim – which was made, for example, at the General Synod meeting in July – that companies need to continue some limited exploration because many of their reserves are situated in difficult locations where extraction is expensive.

Even if this were accepted, it is obvious that the $300 billion spent annually would still be excessive. Oil and gas companies have been exploring for the best locations for more than 100 years. The primary reason that they have been forced to search in less advantageous locations, such as deep sea and the Arctic, is because the unproblematic locations have already been exploited.

Since the vast majority of fossil-fuel reserves are unburnable if the world is to avoid a 1.5°C rise, more radical and imaginative ways of thinking must be considered by the oil and gas multinationals. To an objective observer, their long-term future in their current form must be regarded as extremely questionable.

Therefore, if they are to be ethically responsible towards their shareholders, they need to move to a ‘harvest mode’ of operation, bringing exploration to an end, and progressively reducing oil and gas production. This could either result in increased dividends, as the capital value of the company is returned to shareholders over time, or it could be coupled with diversification into renewables, more efficient battery storage and carbon capture and storage (CCS), where oil and gas companies already have almost all the necessary expertise.

The companies should consider converting their petrol stations to the re-fuelling of electric or hydrogen vehicles. The flirtation with renewables by a few oil and gas multinationals a decade or so ago and their current pitiful level of investment in CCS appear to be no more than exercises in public relations. ‘Robust engagement’ would seek to convince the oil and gas companies that the transformation of such image management into their core business models is their only hope of survival.

It is also essential that these companies begin the process of moving jobs from oil and gas production to renewables and CCS. Oil and gas multinationals could potentially be a powerful voice with governments. Instead of spending significant resources lobbying governments to protect their subsidies and their current rates of emissions, they should concentrate their lobbying efforts on influencing governments to seize this moment of change, and support renewables, CCS and electric or hydrogen vehicles.

Finally, ‘robust engagement’ must recognise the huge influence that these multinationals have with other players, especially state-owned oil and gas companies. State-controlled companies – such as Saudi Aramco, Gazprom (Russia), the China National Petroleum Corporation, National Iranian Oil Company, Petróleos de Venezuela, Petrobras (Brazil) and Petronas (Malaysia) – own most of the world’s reserves of coal, oil and gas, while those companies listed on the world’s stock exchanges, such as BP, Shell and Exxon, among others, possess a much smaller market share.

Nonetheless, the division between the two types of companies is not as great as it seems. Many of the largest state-owned companies float some of their stock, recruit non-executive directors from the publicly traded companies and contract these companies to help extract their reserves.

The immense influence that the listed companies have means that where they lead, state-owned oil and gas companies inevitably follow. Thus the multinationals need to be encouraged to take their leadership seriously, and to cease using their smaller share of the market as an excuse to avoid necessary change.

At a recent meeting in the Guildhall, attended by more than 2000 investment managers and asset-owners, it was suggested that companies such as BP, Shell and Exxon could soon go the way of Kodak, Blockbuster and Olivetti typewriters. This seems an incredible statement, until one remembers just how quick was the demise of these three commercial monoliths. If Shell and BP were to follow the example of Kodak and Blockbuster, the impact on the pensions of millions of ordinary individuals would be disastrous.

‘Robust engagement’ that is worthy of the name should include challenging oil and gas multinationals to make real reductions in carbon emissions now; to end nearly all exploration; to move to a harvest mode for the oil and gas parts of their business; to diversify into CCS, renewables and the servicing of electric and hydrogen vehicles without delay; to begin moving jobs towards renewables and CCS; to lobby governments to invest in renewables and CCS; and to show real leadership in the industry, especially towards those in the state sector.

All this is necessary, most importantly, because of what the enormous threat of climate change means to God’s world and his children, but also because of the danger that the national investment bodies of the Church of England will lose many millions when the ‘carbon bubble’ bursts.

The Revd Dr Darrell D. Hannah is Rector of All Saints’, Ascot Heath, in Berkshire, and a board member of Operation Noah. This article incorporates contributions from the Revd Hugh Lee, Marilyn Hull and the Revd John Nightingale.

 

My reply published on 22nd April 2016
Dear Sir
A more robust approach to fossil fuels
Having recently given a paper at an international conference of the AAPG (American Association of Petroleum Geologists) in Spain, I found  the article “Robust Approach to fossil fuels required” (CT 15/4/16) rather inadequate and strident. It reflects the current phobia of fossil fuels with realising there are no alternatives in the foreseeable future. Concern for the planet is essential but it must be grounded in realism.
Fossil fuels will be used way into the 22nd century whether we like it or not and the key is to use them in an environmentally sensitive way. Thus coal needs to eliminated as soon as possible and natural gas must be seen as the best/least worst replacement either as a bridge fuel or having a permanent place (hopefully with CCS). Few commentators expect fossil fuels to be replaced by 2050 if at all, and are thus not going to be stranded assets. (petroleum companies will change drastically in the next decades.)
I found the article both biased and in places inaccurate (as over claims that petroleum companies have almost all the necessary expertise for CCS). Much of the “robust approach” is simply ill-informed attacks on oil and gas, as is seen over fracking on onshore oil and gas in the UK. Sadly too many Christian green groups repeat the inaccuracies of the green NGOs, Naomi Klein and others, and that includes Operation Noah.
Rather than “robust approaches”, which are often inaccurate and ideological attacks on ALL fossil fuels, all in general, and the churches in particular, need to consider what are the best (or least worst) energy solutions for the present rather than to have blind faith in renewables, which at present produce less than 5% of the worlds energy. To go from 5% to 100% will take many, many decades. As Prof Dieter Helm recently pointed out, we have no alternatives at present and need to go into to the future with a mix of energies, including nuclear, which is a no-no for many. Most importantly he emphasises the need for far more research in alternatives, rather than pinning our hopes on our present and limited renewables.
The “Carbon Bubble” will not burst and will either go to an environmental indifference at great human cost or the development of a greener energy mix. The pushing of green idealism and ideology makes the former more likely.
Sincerely
Michael Roberts

 

 

The Big Church Switch; why the Church should not put faith in renewables

 

 

https://www.bigchurchswitch.org.uk/

One of the recent environmental campaigns in the churches is the Big Church Switch, which encourages local churches and individuals to switch to Green, renewable suppliers for electricity.

The Big Church Switch calls on churches and individual Christians of all denominations to switch their energy supply from fossil fuels to renewable energy, as part of their commitment to care for our neighbours and for the earth – our common home.

Big Church Switch | Loving our neighbours and caring for the earth

By using clean, renewable energy we can help restore the earth and bring balance to God’s creation. Clean energy sources offer a reliable energy supply and secure long-term jobs, fuelling prosperity for our neighbours near and far.

Big Church Switch | A clear and powerful message

By acting together as the Church community we will send a clear and powerful message to governments and businesses that Christians are prepared to lead the way and that switching to renewables is crucial if we are to live in and enjoy God’s world together.

Collectively as the Church we have huge buying power and can secure some market-beating renewable tariffs. Whether you want to switch your home or inspire your church to switch, we will guide you through the process so that you and your church can switch in a simple and affordable way to a tariff that restores, rather than damages, creation.

Partner organisations have been working closely together in the process of the careful selection of suppliers. This will ensure that the offers from renewable energy suppliers meet stringent criteria in terms of customer service and providing value for money

This sounds marvellous but it puts blind faith in renewables, as if they would cure the energy and climate crisis overnight. In fact, it is a faith which falls into the Dawkinites’ definition; “Faith is belief without evidence”. To make this change , sufficient renewables need to be in place, such that a complete change to renewables could occur in the near future. Or,  at least. renewables such as sun, wind and wave, do provide a moderate proportion of our energy.

The actuality is very different as the graph below shows. Renewables provide a whopping 1.5% of the world’s energy consumption as the graph shows as opposed to nearly 85% from fossil fuels. The annotations on the graph shows that the transition from fossil-fuels to renewables is a vast mountain to climb, reducing Everest to a mole-hill. The mountain is even bigger if nuclear energy is rejected as the Big Church Switch implies.

renewBLES

 

 

The picture is no better for Britain as the following slide shows with renewables producing less than 5% of our total energy usage. Yes, there are times when renewable electricity production well exceeds 20% but that it only on a very windy day

energyuseUK - wheressolar

 

There is a danger, which is often succumbed to, of confusing electricity production with total energy. Electricity is about half of the total energy used as so much is used in transport,  industry and heating. So often this is overlooked, either deliberately or due to incompetence not understanding energy.

Even so the contribution of renewables is still very low as the next slide shows.

 

ukelec

The next slide shows the contribution of renewables to the total energy used in various European countries.

 

renewables

Even Germany, which has rejected nuclear and emphasises renewables has not fared well. In fact, be rejecting nuclear they have used more lignite or brown coal , which makes ordinary coal seem quite clean.

germanrenew

The following graph shows the worldwide energy deficit from 1990 to 2035  if fossil fuels are removed. The deficit in 2015 was 10,000 million tonnes oil equivalent with non-fossil fuels producing about 2000.

It is obvious that the deficit is enormous.

 

energydeficit

 

And so to the child in the back seat asking, “are we nearly there?” The answer is NO, we have only just left home.

Transition to renewables.

I would be wonderful to say that the transition period will be only a few years, but energy transitions take decades on the world stage (if pushed graph back to 1800 biofuels i.e wood would be nearly 100% and even in Britain, then the most industrialised nation, coal was hardly dominant. Renewables are now in the same position as oil and gas were in a century ago.

energytransistion

However much we long for “clean” energy, it simply will not happen overnight. It is here where so many concerned environmentalists seem to leave realism behind and opt for blind faith. Before anyone concludes that I am not an environmentalist, I stress that I am but we have to take the world as it is and not how we dream it to be.
This is the failing of many green groups and especially those like Greenpeace or friends of the Earth, though the former UK director of Greenpeace, Stephen Tindale is a beacon of light and a source of wisdom. He has a wise and pragmatic approach to the conundrum of energy. Many Christian green groups seem to follow Foe and Greenpeace and have a naive faith in renewables  (and also in organic food and a rejection of GMO).

Cartoons like this from the  Church Times help no one and betray a total lack of understanding

rape

Thus the publication Bright Now  produced by Operation Noah takes a very one-sided view rejecting fossil fuels and arguing for renewables NOW. Their argument is dependent on the ideas of Lord Stern and the Centre for Alternative Technology and ignores the powerful GREEN voices, like Dieter Helm in The carbon Crunch who argue that fossil fuels cannot be ditched over-night and a transition period is essential. Of course, they do accept the fracked gas will be needed as a transitional fuel thus destroying their green purity for many. The paper Bright Now  and other resources on divestment in the churches can be found on http://brightnow.org.uk/resources/ 

 

I would suggest none of church commentators on energy, divestment (or fracking) have, or had, any involvement with mineral extraction or energy. Two Christian geologists of my acquaintance who have worked in mineral extraction independently told me that so many Christians have no idea where their minerals or fuel actually comes from. Most people are unaware that they have to be forced out of the ground whether through open-cast mining as for Lithium for renewables, or blasted from underground mines as for much copper (to make that personal I worked in a copper mine and a mine captain conned me into going into a stope about 15 metres by 3m by 4m, just as blasting was taking place. I also once got Carbon Monoxide poisoning because of his shoddy leadership.) Compared to that the extraction of oil and gas is relatively benign!

Of course, the reply will be an appeal for “clean” energy. there ain’t no clean energy , it is all dirty, whether through opencast mines for Lithium, the great expenditure of energy to build the turbines, not to mention the large holes needed for a base for a turbine.

turbinebldg

I enjoy showing that photo as I am usually told it is a fracking site!! I dread to think of the damage to peat bogs on our upland areas, where turbines are placed

Similar attitudes are to be found in the churches’ environmental project Ecochurch , which expects ecochurches to opt for a clean renewable supplier.  http://ecochurch.arocha.org.uk/how-eco-church-works/ 

I am aware that I am going against the contemporary environmental thinking of the British churches, but I was convinced that the environment needed caring for way back in the 60s after reading Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring.  It was reinforced by working for a mining company in Africa, both in a mine and in exploration, and for many decades have attempted to lead a life more sympathetic to the environment. Perhaps my time in mining made be both wary of polluting, unsustainable industry AND the need to provide our material needs.

I will end on a less serious note with first a cartoon of the problems of divestment and total reliance on “clean” energy

 

 

fossilfuels

and what fossil-free really means for most of our world.

fossilfree

Why I am no longer a Green

 

That is a surprising statement for someone to make when he read Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring  half a century ago and has been green ever since.

I can boast like the apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 11! But I am not speaking like a fool 🙂 Every garden of mine has had a compost heap, I tend to grow organically, plant flowers, shrubs and trees to attract wildlife, ride a bike when I can (and even more so for fun), energy economical – or bloody mean and keeping the heating down; and lots of other things to get brownie points from treehuggers. I have voted Green and been active in Friends of the Earth.

However, I confess that the disimulation and nastiness of anti-frackers made me reconsider my green credentials.I found greenie Christians , as a whole, no better as so many repeated the dodgy dossiers of Greenpeace, Fiends of the Earth , Frack Off and the rest of them, and often think I don’t care for the environment because I think f***ing is a good rather than a bad thing.

So I had to become a Green anti-green. Or so I thought until I came across the alternative, which goes by the clumsy name of Ecomodernism.  I stumbled across it and as I read it, I found that it summed up the position I had come to myself as I rejected the orthodox green faith. I had to apostasize from evangelical greenery as I found they were not quite honest and from their moral high ground didn’t give a damn for the poor especially those freezing to death. Far too many in Britain are living like this;

fuel poverty

Some get upset by this blog; https://michaelroberts4004.wordpress.com/2014/11/01/aunt-elsie-rip-13-january-2020-a-fracking-shame/

But back to Ecomodernism.

You will find their manifesto here

http://www.ecomodernism.org/

To comment briefly on the Manifesto; many criticise their split of intense human habitation and wilderness, where they argue agriculture should be intesive rather than centred on small farms and small-holdings. At first I baulked at that and then realised we have no choice if we are to feed the world, which I consider a moral imperative. As for wilderness, which I love, it is not suitable for much human habitation without wrecking it.  An example of wrecked wilderness is the south rim of the Grand Canyon, which has less feel of wilderness than many of the hilly parts of Britain.

Grand Canyon wilderness seen from the south Rim. LH picture is the Bright Angel trail which makes a nice August day’s walk RH is the Unconformity

494greatunconformity

Mt St Helens; wilderness at its most wild (Oct 2009)

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And two within 30 miles of my home in the Yorkshire Dales and Forest of Bowland

DSCF3617017

Needless some have tried to shred them like George Monbiot and co. It is a great shame and it would be far better if all concerned about planet and people looked for the common ground that unites, rather than minor differences. But then are stuck with a green ideology which takes them over. I will say no more but here is a fine article which outlines  the different perspectives of those who care for planet and people by Matthew Nisbet with the unfrotunate title of  Disruptive ideas: public intellectuals and their arguments for action on climate change.[ Ref;Nisbet, M. C. (2014), Disruptive ideas: public intellectuals and their arguments for action on climate change. WIREs Clim Change, 5: 809–823. doi:10.1002/wcc.317] and on-line

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/enhanced/doi/10.1002/wcc.317

He discusses the three main approachs from Bill McKibbin, who sticks to protesting not realising that this will not change everything despite Naomi Klein, through Al Gore and Lord Stern, who try too hard to face both ways to the Ecomodernism of Nordhaus and Shellenburger, who have recruited Mark Lynas to their ranks.

In his paper Nisbet presents the different stances on the various issues in the table I reproduce below. (apologies for the imperfect copying)

Table 1. Public Intellectuals and their Arguments for Action on Climate Change
Group Problem Framing Outlook on Nature Outlook on Technology Policy Proposals Model of Social Change
  • 1Monbiot supports nuclear, carbon capture.
  • 2Gore skeptical of nuclear, carbon capture, puts stronger faith in market than Sachs or Stern to drive innovation.
  • 3Artistic expression specific focus of Kingsnorth.
Ecological Activists
Examples:

  • B. McKibben
  • D. Suzuki
  • C. Hamilton
  • G. Monbiot
  • N. Klein
  • P. Kingsnorth
Capitalism, consumerism has exceeded the carrying capacity of the planet, risking catastrophe, or certain collapse. Sacred, fragile nature provides human salvation. Must be kept separate, protected against human influence. Advocate small-scale, locally owned renewables. Warn that nuclear energy, genetic engineering too risky, promote consumption.1 Call for strong regulation of industry, rationing of energy use, localization of economies, food systems, governance. New consciousness spread through grassroots organizing, social protest. Artistic attention to ‘ecocide’, myth of progress.3
Smart Growth Reformers
Examples:

  • T. Friedman
  • Gore
  • N. Stern
  • J. Sachs
  • A. Lovins
Climate change is ultimate market failure, corrected by putting price on carbon. Progress blocked by ‘deniers’. Nature has limits, but ‘dangerous interference’ can be avoided by smart policy, ‘stabilizing emissions’, enabling ‘sustainable growth’. Market pricing will drive adoption of renewables, energy efficiency. Need government to catalyze nuclear, carbon capture.2 Call for binding international agreement, national carbon pricing, and government investment in innovation. Market mechanisms drive change. More recent calls for grassroots pressure, third-party movements, new ‘mindfulness’.
Ecomodernists
Examples:

  • S. Brand
  • M. Hulme
  • R. Pielke Jr
  • S. Rayner
  • T. Nordhaus/M. Shellenberger
  • A. Revkin
Misdiagnosed as environmental problem and market failure. Should be re-framed as energy innovation and societal resilience challenge. Nature is more resilient than fragile. Innovative, high-energy planet can promote human progress, while conserving, managing nature. Renewables not capable of meeting energy demand. Need government to develop natural gas, nuclear, carbon capture, other innovations. Argue for portfolio of ‘clumsy’ policy approaches across levels of society, government investment in energy technologies and resilience strategies. Technologies that lower cost of action, public forums that challenge assumptions create conditions for cooperation, innovation.

Sometime I would like to write up a Christian Ecomodernism, if only to counter the Bambi eco-theology.

 

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