quinta-feira, julho 10, 2008

Be there! Or be square!

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The G8 won't act on Climate Change anymore than the UN did on Darfur, forget it. They are the global equivalents of the NDP in Canada, hand wringers, bureaucrats, moral incompetents, greed heads, silly buggers.

Germany is backing out of its plan to decommission nuclear plants, France is heavily nuclear, the US, even Canada, and with the support of rocket-scientist air-heads like James Lovelace, Lovelock, whatever his name is, as things get worse nuclear will be reconsidered and built as the "only feasible" option.

Meanwhile, the soft path is towards private enterprise, there is huge profit to be made in the situation, T. Boone Pickens' plan is really a transparent ploy for natural gas, but even so it has potential, particularly as an example.

1. The oilman's new stripes, Barrie McKenna, July 9.
2. Climate Change and the G8, Better luck next time, Editorial July 10.
3. African leaders know G8 hypocrisy when they hear it, Gerald Caplan, July 9.
4. G8 patches up climate deal, others want more, Yoko Kubota and Chisa Fujioka, July 9.
5. China rejects G8 plan on climate, UN leader says it's a poor option, Yoko Kubota and Chisa Fujioka, July 9.
6. Harper Sahib at the G8, Rick Salutin, July 10.
7. T. Boone Pickens Rides the Wind, NYT Editorial, July 22.

See Also:
T. Boone Pickens site, and The Pickens Plan site.

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The oilman's new stripes, Barrie McKenna, July 9.

WASHINGTON — T. Boone Pickens is used to getting his way.

So when the famed U.S. oil tycoon and corporate raider launches a multimillion-dollar blitz to convince Americans to kick their foreign oil addiction by embracing wind energy and natural gas powered cars, the obvious question is what's in it for B.P.?

“I've been an oilman my whole life, but this is one emergency we can't drill our way out of,” Mr. Pickens drawls in a national TV ad he paid for with his own money. “And I have a plan.”

Of course, Mr. Pickens' plan to save the planet would also make the 80 year old, who's already worth about $4-billion (U.S.), even richer.

His Dallas-based company, BP Capital, is spending billions on the world's largest wind farm and he's heavily invested in natural gas, including a 12-per-cent stake in Westport Innovations Inc. of Vancouver, which manufactures natural gas truck and bus engines.

And he's unabashed about what he wants: rich government subsidies and incentives to put more wind and solar on the electrical grid, and to help build out a natural gas distribution network for cars.

But Mr. Pickens, a generous philanthropist, insists he's not going green for the money. He's already got plenty of that and, as he points out, he's too old to be overly concerned about his next big payday.

No, Mr. Pickens insists he's doing it for America, and he's putting his money where his rhetoric is. His aides say the $58-million he'll spend may rank as the largest public policy ad campaign ever.

“One of the benefits of being around a long time is that you get to know a lot about certain things,” Mr. Pickens explains in an op-ed piece this week in the Wall Street Journal. “Like many of us, I ignored what was happening. … It's extreme, it's dangerous and it threatens the future of our nation.”

A growing dependence on costly foreign oil, he says, is the biggest threat to the country since the Second World War, transferring nearly $700-billion a year in wealth to often hostile regimes and destroying the U.S. economy, Mr. Pickens says.

It's all part of what Mr. Pickens, a lifelong Republican, says is an effort to solve the energy crisis as the November general election nears.

“It's a golden opportunity in this election year to form bipartisan support for this plan,” he says.

Mr. Pickens admits he hasn't yet spoken to the two presidential hopefuls – Democrat Barack Obama and Republican John McCain. But he says he will, if asked. During the 2004 U.S. presidential campaign, Mr. Pickens caused a stir by offering $1-million to anyone who could disprove the Swift Boat veterans' allegations that Democrat John Kerry lied about his Vietnam War record.

Mr. Pickens' conservative activism and oil industry baggage doesn't bother leading environmentalists, who have enthusiastically endorsed his ideas.

If this all makes Mr. Pickens rich, so be it, says David Willet of the Sierra Club. Indeed, that's the point, he adds.

“We want to get the message out that transforming our economy to renewable energy can be a money making effort,” Mr. Willett explains.

“That's the only way to get it done, and he's sending a signal to the market.”

Mr. Willett acknowledges that the Sierra Club and Mr. Pickens have rarely been on the same side of the environmental debate. But that's all water under the bridge. What could be better, he says, than a leading conservative Republican agreeing that “we can't drill our way out of energy problems.”

Likewise, veteran Wall Street economist Ed Yardeni commends Mr. Pickens for providing the “only leadership in the United States for dealing with America's pathetic addiction to foreign oil producers, many of whom are using their windfalls to undermine our country's national interests.”

The cornerstone of Mr. Pickens' plan is wind power.

When most people look at the vast interior of the United States, they see windswept crop fields and grazing land. Mr. Pickens sees wind farms – thousands of them – that would transform the spine of the country into a giant energy production plant, stretching from Texas to the Canadian border.

Those wind farms would produce enough electricity within a decade to divert a fifth of the natural gas that now goes to utilities, to auto fuel, creating a bridge to a new generation of alternative fuels.

Ultimately, Mr. Pickens believes, up to a third of the U.S. vehicle fleet could run on natural gas – a target most experts say is unrealistic, given the massive infrastructure required.

There's also a legitimate question of whether Mr. Pickens has accurately framed the problem. It's true the U.S. is more dependent than ever on foreign oil – 60 per cent versus less than 40 per cent at the time of the 1973 oil crisis. But roughly half its crude comes from countries the U.S. regards as close allies, including Canada, Mexico and Saudi Arabia.

Another 40 per cent is produced domestically, leaving the bulk of its oil in, arguably, friendly hands.

Climate Change and the G8, Better luck next time, Editorial July 10.

In the end, aside from a symbolically important agreement to halve greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, this week's three-day G8 summit in Japan accomplished little on climate change. Leaders of developed nations could not agree on medium-term goals for themselves for 2020. They could not decide on how they would measure their success when 2050 arrives (or the world chokes on greenhouse-gases, whichever comes sooner). And they could not persuade the eight other members of the so-called Major Economies group, which includes India and China, to accept any numerical targets whatsoever.

With these inconclusive results, the struggle to reach a successor agreement to the Kyoto Accord on emissions - which expires in 2012 - now shifts to the lead-up to a United Nations conference on climate change to be held in Copenhagen in late 2009.

It was probably unreasonable to hope that a tentative global deal could emerge from the annual summit, even when the other Major Economies members joined the discussions. After all, U.S. President George W. Bush only agreed two days ago to accept any target for American greenhouse-gas reductions, after years of playing down the problem.

If only to preserve that vague U.S. consent, the G8 nations should not back away from their commitment for 2050. But they should also increase the pressure on the other members of the Major Economies group, which Mr. Bush cobbled together last year. The 16 members of that organization, including the G8, account for 80 per cent of today's emissions. More important, as Prime Minister Stephen Harper noted yesterday, developed nations will likely be responsible for only 20 per cent of emissions in 2050. So no one should let developing nations off the hook today - no matter how much nations such as India plead poverty, demand that developed nations bear the brunt and ask for technology transfers.

In fact, developed nations should not provide major transfers without firm commitments from their developing partners. It may be unfair, but if developing nations merely agree to produce fewer emissions per capita than the developed world, as India is now proposing, the climate change battle will not be winnable. Now is the time, with Copenhagen looming, for serious bargaining.

African leaders know G8 hypocrisy when they hear it, Gerald Caplan, July 9.

The pungent odour of G8 self-righteousness, wafting all the way from northern Japan, can ruin your breakfast. There they are, the leaders of the wealthiest countries in the world, reneging as always on solemn pledges to Africa, now demanding that African governments get serious about Robert Mugabe, blithely ignoring the West's complicity in Africa's woes and confident no one will reveal the real story.

What is the real story?

There are several components.

Every year, going back about 500 of them, we in the rich world have sucked out of Africa more wealth than we have ever injected into the continent. Over the past decades, Western governments and Western corporations have been party to virtually every tyrannical regime, conflict and injustice Africa has suffered. Neo-liberal economic nostrums imposed on African governments by the West have utterly failed to provide promised economic growth but have been wildly successful in increasing grotesque inequality and in impoverishing even more Africans.

How do countries that, until only a few years ago, backed apartheid in South Africa have the right to criticize African governments? In Canada, it's entirely forgotten that, Joe Clark, external affairs minister in the Mulroney government, persistently denounced and refused to support Nelson Mandela's African National Congress because it embraced armed resistance as a liberation strategy.

Every time another soiled Western leader righteously demands that Mr. Mugabe be removed, their African counterparts get their backs up. So should the rest of us. Africans remember what Westerners are pleased to forget.

Robert Mugabe is a tyrant, but no worse than Mobutu Sese Seko or Idi Amin or Emperor Bokassa or P.W. Botha or Jonas Savimbi or any of the dozens of others whom Western countries have backed. Even today, the United States and Britain co-operate closely with the genocidal government of Sudan in the name of the “war on terrorism.” Who condemns that?

Mr. Mugabe is a tyrant but he's the West's tyrant, he's OUR tyrant. The British government made him.

In 1965, I was living in Zimbabwe (then Rhodesia), when the Ian Smith dictatorship that represented the tiny white minority illegally declared independence from Britain. We foolishly expected this racist rebellion to be swiftly suppressed by Harold Wilson's Labour government.

But Britain refused to depose the rebels, who were after all its white “kith and kin.” With no option to negotiate majority rule, the new liberation movements launched a ferocious civil war that killed at least 20,000 mainly unarmed Africans and a small number of whites. It was out of that crucible that Mr. Mugabe emerged.

Through most of those years, South Africa backed its white Rhodesian brethren, and the most powerful Western countries backed the apartheid government of South Africa. Once Zimbabwe won its independence in 1980, the South Africans did all they could to destabilize the new regime.

Under president Ronald Reagan, the United States worked hand in glove with the very same South African security and military forces that were terrorizing southern Africa. Together, the U.S. and the South African apartheid government destabilized virtually all of southern Africa. Do we think President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa is ignorant of this record?

In fact, we don't think about it at all. Can Stephen Harper grasp a word of any of this background as, with self-satisfied superiority, he demands an end to the Mugabe regime? This, from the man who has almost deleted Africa from his government's vocabulary and who hasn't uttered a peep about the endless violations of human rights perpetrated by his best pal, Yo Bush.

Here's the truth: Robert Mugabe's egregious crimes against humanity began at the very start of his presidency. Yet, for the first 20 years, he was the darling of the West. He was only crushing other Africans. Not until he lashed out at white farmers did Western governments decide he was evil incarnate. Even now, as the tragedy in Darfur continues, Mr. Mugabe alone wins the attention of the G8. No wonder African leaders roll their eyes when our leaders demand his head. They know hypocrisy and double standards when they see them.

Gerald Caplan is the author of The Betrayal of Africa, a study assessing the role of Western policies and practices and African leaders in creating Africa's problems. He was briefly imprisoned and then deported by the Ian Smith regime.

G8 patches up climate deal, others want more, Yoko Kubota and Chisa Fujioka, July 9.

TOYAKO, Japan, July 9 (Reuters) - Group of Eight leaders patched together a deal to fight climate change at a summit that wound up on Wednesday, but failed to convince big emerging economies that rich countries were doing enough.

Climate change was the most contentious topic at this year's G8 summit in Japan, which also tackled geopolitical problems from the crisis in Zimbabwe to worsening security in Afghanistan as well as soaring food and oil prices and poverty in Africa.

"There's been no huge breakthrough at this particular meeting, it is one step along the road," said Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, who attended a climate change meeting on Wednesday where the G8 leaders were joined with eight more big polluters. "Of course, there's a long, long way to go."

The 16-member Major Economies Meeting group agreed that "deep cuts" in greenhouse gas emissions were needed to combat the global warming that is closely linked to rising food and fuel prices, already hitting vulnerable economies hard.

But bickering between rich and poorer countries kept most emerging economies from signing on to a goal of at least halving global emissions by 2050. Nor did the Major Economies Meeting come up with specific numbers for the interim targets they agreed advanced countries should set.

The leaders of Japan, Britain, Canada, Germany, France, Italy, Russia and the United States had embraced the 2050 goal a day earlier, but stressed their countries could not do it alone.


The rich countries had to paper over deep gaps just to get their own climate change deal, with Europe and Japan urging bolder action while the United States opposed promising firm targets without assurances big emerging economies will act too.

U.S. President George W. Bush said "significant progress" was made on climate change at the summit, while Japan and the European Union also lauded the outcome.

Environmentalists, though, saw nothing to cheer.

"It's the stalemate we've had for a while," Kim Carstensen, director of the WWF's global climate initiative, told Reuters.

"Given the lack of willingness to move forward, particularly by the U.S., it hasn't been possible to break that."

Expectations for this week's summit talks on climate were always low.

Many are sceptical that any significant advance on steps to combat global warming can be made until a new U.S. president comes to office in January 2009, including South Africa, one of five big emerging economies collectively called the G5.

"Until there's a change in the position of the United States, South Africa's feeling is that it will be very difficult for the G5 to move forward because they will always be forced to work on that level of the lowest common denominator," said South African Environment Minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk.

Developing countries, along with the European Union and green groups, say rich countries must take the lead and specify interim targets for how to reach the mid-century goal, which scientists say is the minimum needed to prevent dangerous global warming.


India told the major economies meeting that developed countries had not done enough.

"This must change and you (the G8) must all show the leadership that you have always promised by taking and then delivering truly significant GHG (greenhouse gas) reductions," Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh told the meeting.

The stance of emerging nations is important. The G8 nations emit about 40 percent of mankind's greenhouse gas emissions. China and India together emit about 25 percent of the total, a proportion that is rising as their coal-fueled economies boom.

Leaders of the G8 countries agreed at the summit to impose sanctions against Zimbabwe's leaders because of violence during the widely condemned re-election of President Robert Mugabe.

"There should be no safe haven and no hiding place for the criminal cabal that now make up the Mugabe regime," British Prime Minister Gordon Brown told a news conference after the summit.

The G8 also urged Afghanistan's government to take more responsibility for its own security and reconstruction, and pledged to increase assistance to that country's army and police.

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who led the discussion on the topic, said all members agreed with "unprecedented unanimity" about the need to do much more.

"I think every one of the G8 countries understands the question is critical, understands that success in Afghanistan is critical," said Harper.

About 900 soldiers in a U.S.-led coalition force have died in Afghanistan since 2001, among them 90 Canadians.

The G8 countries also reassured sceptics on Tuesday that they were "firmly committed" to an aid target for Africa that was pledged at the Gleneagles summit in 2005.

Aid workers and NGOs have expressed concern that donor countries would fail to meet a G8 pledge to raise annual aid levels by $50 billion by 2010, half of which was to go to Africa.

The G8 leaders also acknowledged the economic threat from surging oil and food prices, which could drive millions more into poverty but came up with no fresh initiatives to tackle what they said were complex problems requiring long-term solutions.

Additional reporting by William Schomberg, David Clarke, David Fogarty, Lucy Hornby, Edwina Gibbs; Writing by Linda Sieg; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall.

China rejects G8 plan on climate, UN leader says it's a poor option, Tom Raum, July 10.

China, India and other energy-guzzling developing nations rejected Wednesday key elements of a global-warming strategy embraced by President George W. Bush and leaders of other wealthy nations. And the United Nations' top climate official dismissed the goals as insignificant.

The sharp criticism emerged at the close of a summit of the Group of Eight industrial powers that was dominated by the issue of how to address the warming Earth. The end of the session included developing nations but merely showcased a widening rift over the best approach.

It was the final G8 summit of Bush's presidency, and he said "significant progress" occurred on fighting climate change when the leaders agreed to slash global-warming gas emissions in half by 2050 and to insist that developing nations be part of any new international agreement.

"In order to address climate change, all major economies must be at the table, and that's what took place," Bush said before boarding Air Force One to return to Washington.

The major economies are the world's 16 largest-emitting nations, accounting for 80% of the world's air pollution. The expanded meeting that included all of them was the first time their leaders had sat down together for climate discussions.

But it ended with only a vague reference in their final declaration to a long-term goal for reducing global emissions and a pledge for rich and poor countries to work together. Only a few of the emerging powers -- Indonesia, Australia and South Korea -- agreed to back the reduction target of 50% by 2050.

The five main developing nations -- China, India, Brazil, Mexico and South Africa, which together represent 42% of the world's population -- issued a statement saying they rejected the notion that all should share in the 50% target, because wealthier countries have created most of the environmental damage up to now.

China President Hu Jintao said that "developed countries should make explicit commitments to continue to take the lead in emissions reduction."

"China's central task now is to develop the economy and make life better for the people," he said. "China's per-capita emission is relatively low."

Yvo de Boer, who leads UN negotiations to forge a new climate change treaty, challenged Bush's optimistic assessment of the meetings.

"I don't find the outcome very significant," de Boer said in the Netherlands. He said the target for reducing carbon emissions by 2050 mentioned no baseline, was not legally binding and was open to vastly different interpretations.

The other G8 nations are Japan, Germany, Britain, France, Italy, Russia and Canada.

Harper Sahib at the G8, Rick Salutin, July 10.

Stephen Harper's performance at the G8 this week in Japan emitted a bracing whiff of Canadian imperialism. Did you know there once was such a thing back in the days of Queen Victoria and King Edward VII? It doesn't mean that Canada had its own empire but that it identified with the British Empire and its rulers, along with other “white dominions” such as Australia and New Zealand, rather than with the rebellious colonials in places such as India. This led us into the Boer War to expand the Empire in Africa.

In the century since, Canada gradually adopted another posture: honest broker between the old rulers and ruled, known today as the developed and developing nations. This rested on a sense that Canada could identify with both sides, because it had been a colony, too. Stephen Harper shows no such sensibility. He's the Gunga Din of post-9/11, carrying water (and oil) to his masters, along with the white man's burden. How so?

He overidentified with the big guys there, like a yelpy pup among Great Danes. He took it on himself to explain that the G8 excluded nations such as India and China since its job is “to bring together the major countries, advanced countries of shared values.” It's insulting, grandiose, delusional and ignores all the similarities “we” share with “them.” Does he even know that Canada was once a colony?

He joined in piling onto Zimbabwe (“We've added the G8's powerful voice”) for its “fraudulent election” and “illegitimacy.” He showed no sense of perspective: that the U.S. held a fraudulent election in 2000, or illegitimately tortures in Guantanamo, and that his own government continues to permit the Americans to practise on Canadian Omar Khadr.

He was at his most smug and patronizing as he lectured those “less developed” than us about climate change – a term he and others have managed to substitute for global warming. “The developing world is up against some simple mathematics, and we've simply got to make that point to them,” he said. Did he want to add, as he likes to, that he's an economist and knows about this tricky stuff? “I could show you the graphs,” he told the press. Did he expect the developing countries to squeal, Oh look, he has graphs. Do show us your graphs. And “this is not a philosophical position. This is a mathematical certainty.” It's way more glorious than philosophy, folks; this is math! Bow down before it.

The plan they were supposed to gratefully accept wasn't even a plan. It's a wish stated in wishful terms of vision or goal. It has no start line for reductions, which could be measured from 1990, or any other year. It has no interim targets and exerts no pressure. It aims only to avoid “the most serious consequences of climate change” – omitting to say which effects are less serious. And even this non-plan won't happen unless they sign on first, and admit by the Harper logic that they have no choice.

The over-obvious irony is that China and India are developed. They've built postmodern, industrial, innovative economies. Their big flaws are social and moral, not economic. Canada, meanwhile, is deindustrializing, with full acquiescence by the Harper government, and declining into reliance on raw materials. We're back to hewers and carriers. It's rapid underdevelopment. Those nations must snicker faster than they can bristle as they watch our PM strut among the G8 as he condescends to them. He's George Bush's poodle now that Tony Blair's moved on, and there's nothing to be gained by it.

Maybe it's Canada's role, or that of today's white dominions, to be more imperial than the Empire long after the Empire has relinquished its crasser forms and learned a few lessons. I mean, who still celebrates Victoria's birthday? Trust me, it's not the Brits.

T. Boone Pickens Rides the Wind, NYT Editorial, July 22.

T. Boone Pickens, the legendary wildcatter and corporate raider, has decided that drilling for more oil is not the answer to the nation’s energy problems. President Bush should listen to his fellow Texan and longtime political ally.

The 80-year-old Mr. Pickens does not oppose drilling. He’s been doing it for most of his life. Nor has he become a born-again eco-warrior (a conservative, he helped underwrite and made no apologies for the Swift Boat campaign against John Kerry). But he knows something that his friends in the White House won’t acknowledge: that a nation holding less than 3 percent of the world’s oil reserves while guzzling 20 percent of the world’s production will never be able to drill its way out of its dependency on foreign oil.

He also considers it absolute madness — financially and in terms of national security — to be spending $700 billion every year on imported oil produced in volatile and in some cases hostile countries.

His answer is to develop wind power in states with steady, forceful winds (like Texas) and use it instead of natural gas to produce electricity (natural gas now generates about one-fifth of the power in the United States). He would then use the natural gas saved to fuel cars and trucks. He predicts that oil imports would drop by 40 percent and the country would save $300 billion a year.

There are, he concedes, obstacles. The country would need to rebuild the power grid to transmit wind energy from the Great Plains to consumers in the big population centers. It would need lots of service stations capable of selling natural gas. And automakers would need to produce cars that run on natural gas. There are about 8 million such vehicles in the world, but only 142,000 in the United States.

Mr. Pickens is putting his money where his ideas are, and in Texas he has begun assembling the pieces of a huge wind farm. He estimates the cost at $6 billion to $10 billion (his Mesa Power is the lead investor but his personal stake is unknown). He confidently forecasts that this wind farm and others like it will not only reduce the demand for oil but create thousands of construction and operating jobs.

Mr. Pickens concedes that people may suspect that his sudden enthusiasm for alternative energy is just another way “to make Boone Pickens rich.” But with at least $3 billion in the bank, he really doesn’t need the money anywhere near as much as the country needs alternative energy and new ideas.

Posted julho 12, 2008 4:21 AM by Blogger Scotty /  

Pickens Energy Plan Public Discussion Forum at :
Cheers !