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January 27 2012

19:32

December 23 2011

19:37

Musing of a Malcontent: Russia to the World: Your Oil Spills Are Like Baby Crying for its Mother.


Musings of a Malcontent: Environmental Irony in an Imperfect (but humorous?) WorldIn a recent interview for Field & Crude, Mother Russia decided to show us all how it’s done when it comes to destroying the environment.

“If you’re going to do it – do it big,” bragged Mother Russia from its exclusive estate in the Upper Volta.

“You are all embarrassment to the world. You make me sick. The Gulf. The Yellowstone River. Boo Hoo! We have spill the size of Deepwater Horizon every two months! That is commitment!”

An article from the Associated Press states that about 5 million tons of oil is spilled every year in Russia. That works out to a Deepwater Horizon spill every two months. Almost half a million tons of that gets into rivers that flow into the Artic Ocean. Since most of the leaks are small many of them go unreported or unnoticed. In fact, leaks less than 8 tons are only considered “incidents” and do not have any penalties associated with them.

“Why bother. If it is not destroying the wildlife and consuming trees, then it is not worthy. This is the land that defeated Napoleon. Defeated Hitler. This is the land that created the beautiful dead zone that is Chernobyl – which by the way is lovely this time of year.”

Ok. Time out.

Little by little, drop by drop. Five million tons of oil leak into the environmental from Russia's oil operationsThis of course could never happen.

Mother Russia would never agree to an interview. That’s the whole problem really. Russia doesn’t talk at all. They stay silent.

Vast and silent.

How else could it have gotten so bad? 5 million tons a year? The number is ridiculous. All slowly seeping into the countryside, killing off vegetation and tainting waterways. Even the 5 million figure is likely an understatement, given how little oversight there is throughout the country. The Russian Economic Development Ministry estimated in a report last year that it was likely more like 20 million tons a year.

And I thought BP was bad.

Russia makes BP look like Greenpeace.

Look at this way. The US, the third largest oil producer, reported 341 pipeline ruptures in 2010 with about 17,600 tons of oil spilled. Canada’s Transport Safety Board reported 11 ruptures in the same year with about 7,700 tons spilled. Nigeria logged 110,000 tons spilled in 2009, much of that due to attacks by rebels in the country – so you gotta cut them a little slack.

Russia reported 18,000 pipeline ruptures.

18,000.

And with the 18,000 figure, no real answers or reasons as to why it is such a high number. Irate Cossacks roaming the Gulag Archipelago sabotaging oil lines? Mmm – not likely. Confusion as to the effects of crude oil on the environment? If they can build a nuclear plant I am fairly sure they know all about that wacky oil substance and its effects on nature. The lure of money and all that that entails? Now we’re getting somewhere.

A main issue seems to be technology and infrastructure. Pipes are broken. Bolts are leaking crude. Platforms are collapsing. In all areas of the system there is a general lack of integrity. There have even been leaks in newly built parts of the system. The whole thing has despair written all over it. This is fine if you are a Chekhov play – not so good if you are a herd of wild animals being killed off.

Dr. Zhivago seems like a comedy in comparison.

What makes all of this more unsettling is that there is a big push by several Russian oil companies to start drilling in the Arctic Circle, in places like the Pechora Sea. Seems like there should be a rule that if you can’t take care of the toys you already have you should definitely not get brand shiny new ones – especially not ones that might cause irreversible damage to the environment.

You don’t get the GI Joe with kung-fu grip without showing you are worthy. Or a Malibu Barbie with adjoining Beach House.

This should just be the way of things.

So what’s in store for Mother Russia in 2012? Doubling the pollution poring into Siberia’s Lake Baikal! You know – the one that holds 1/5th of the world’s supply of fresh water? That’s right! Plans are already underway so the goal is totally attainable. Mother Russia really knows now to take on the environment! Go Russia!!

Gulp.

December 14 2011

17:46

On Our Radar: A Serial Bird's-Egg Thief

A Briton acknowledges possessing 652 "ordinary" wild bird eggs, as well as those from birds like red kites, peregrine falcons, redwings and merlins. He also confesses to taking 12 avocet, 8 osprey and 7 golden eagle eggs.

November 08 2011

16:31

May 05 2011

11:48

Ukraine Makes a Bet on Shale-Gas Extraction

Ukraine already controls the pipelines through which Russia transports its natural gas to Europe. By also finding a greater source of its own natural gas, it would be hoping to reduce Russia's clout.

April 28 2011

09:52

Drive less. No, seriously

Russia takes the predictable move of barring all petrol exports in May:

Russia announced on Thursday it would not export any gasoline next month and would direct all sales to the domestic market in a bid to curb a recent shortage that saw a jump in prices.

“In May, the (Russian energy) companies are not going to export. All volumes will be delivered to the domestic market,” (…) The move from the world’s leading oil producer came after two dozen Russian regions reported gasoline shortages, prompting Prime Minister Vladimir Putin to order officials to get to grips with the situation.

Much like China’s behaviour after establishing a virtual monopoly in Rare Earth elements, Russia is demonstrating that Economics, important and relevant though it is, is one part science, one part fantasy and part wishful thinking. Political Economy is what our elected politicians need to be looking into, to understand how we have come to open our borders, dismantled our industries and productive activities, and now are dependent on countries which have had the good sense of protecting their industries and employment. How long until the double movement?

We need a proper understanding of the world around us, concerted government, citizen and business action, to make sure we can move on and keep some independence. If that does not happen, we may find ourselves begging and wishing all the way to bankruptcy.


March 22 2011

19:52

Chernobyl's Lessons Aid Russia's Nuclear Marketing

The state-owned company Rosatom markets its reactors as safe - not despite the Chernobyl disaster, but because of it.

March 09 2011

21:49

February 08 2011

23:24

January 08 2011

17:53

The Met Office fries while the rest of the world freezes

As the Met Office desperately tries to salvage its reputation, another of this 'warm' winter's ice disasters is unfolding in the Sea of Okhotsk, writes Christopher Booker.

January 05 2011

20:06

Inflation flies up, up and away

Thanks to the rise of the developing world, things won't be getting better any time soon, says Jeremy Warner.
20:06

Inflation flies up, up and away

Food prices, utility bills, clothing and other costs are soaring, and thanks to the rise of the developing world, things won't be getting better any time soon, says Jeremy Warner.

November 30 2010

22:40

Cancun Showdown: Results at the UN Climate Talks More Important Than Ever

 

The United Nations Climate Change talks kicked off yesterday in Cancun.  For many, the mood began much more sombrely than last year.  Copenhagen attracted celebrity clout, world leader buzz, and a sense of optimism for a binding agreement.  For all Copenhagen promised, however, those who hoped for a fair and binding global deal left empty handed.  

Along with analysts, pundits and the blogosphere, the U.S., UK and EU are already downplaying the chances of a deal being reached in the next fortnight.  And as Desmogblog reported today, those fears may not be in vain with threats that the U.S. may pull out of the talks early

The talks during the next two weeks are going to focus largely on forests and finance, but also on questions about the legal status of a future agreement and emissions targets, which are expected to be tackled beginning next week when ministers arrive.

The sense of general pessimism around the talks has led some to question the viability of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to deliver, and has led others to manufacture doubt over the scientific basis for action.  A new report released by Oxfam argues that despite the disconsolate atmosphere, a binding climate agreement under the UN auspices is imperative.  The report, More than ever: climate talks that work for those that need them most, presents the harrowing statistics on the costs of climate inaction.  

According to the report, at least 21,000 people died due to weather-related disasters in the first nine months of this year – more than twice the number for the whole of 2009.  "This year is on course to experience more extreme-weather events than the 10-year average of 770. It is one of the hottest years ever recorded," wrote Tim Gore, Oxfam's EU climate change policy adviser and report's author.

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"This year has seen massive suffering and loss due to extreme weather disasters. This is likely to get worse as climate change tightens its grip. The human impacts of climate change in 2010 send a powerful reminder why progress in Cancún is more urgent than ever."

While many continue to ride a feeling of foreboding about the chances of a binding agreement this year in Cancun, the report notes (and aptly so) that now is not the time to walk away from the UN process. For millions of poor people around the world – those hit first and hardest by a crisis they did least to cause – a fair and safe deal to tackle climate change is not only urgent, but a matter of life and death. 

Oxfam's report notes some harrowing stats on the cost of inaction. Between 2010 and 2050, the World Bank estimates that developing countries will need between $70 billion and $100 billion per year to adapt to climate change. Yet every dollar that is spent on adaptation could save $60 in avoided losses.  And with a sense of foreboding already in the air in Cancun, it is important to remember that the cost of inertia will bear disproportionately on developing countries.  According to the World Bank, developing countries will bear 75-80% of costs of harmful climate change.  

The report also examines some of the countries to watch this next fortnight.  From Pakistan to China to Malawi, these countries have different strengths, experience, and perspectives that they will bring to the talks. 

To read on, download a copy of Oxfam's report below.

 

AttachmentSize Oxfam Media Briefing- Now More Than Ever- Climate talks that work for those who need them most.pdf977.57 KB

November 18 2010

18:54

September 27 2010

12:44

September 24 2010

23:26

August 26 2010

21:46

August 23 2010

22:29

On Our Radar

More than 30 new coal-fired power plants have been built since 2008 or are under construction, representing the coal power industry's largest expansion in decades.

August 20 2010

14:13

Dust-Bowl Bust Haunts Wheat Farmers

Many wheat farmers are nervous about planting more wheat this year, fearing that prices that have recently soared could fall back to earth -- or that commodity speculators and investment funds might be amplifying the a shortfall in Russia.

August 19 2010

13:51

On Our Radar: Candidates Spar on Oil Drilling

Senator Barbara Boxer argues that Carly Fiorina's support for additional oil drilling could threaten the jobs of nearly 400,000 workers whose livelihoods depend on the coastal economy.
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