Thursday, June 21, 2012

World leaders' Rio accord is epic failure, says Greenpeace

NEGOTIATORS in Rio de Janeiro have claimed success after finalising a statement to be issued by more than 100 world leaders who arrive in the Brazilian city over the next few days.

But many observers said the "success" at the United Nations conference was possible only after the agreement was watered down so far it became meaningless.

"Rio has turned into an epic failure. It has failed on equity, failed on ecology and failed on economy," the executive director of Greenpeace International, Kumi Naidoo, said.

The World Wildlife Fund executive director, Jim Leape, said the document was a "colossal failure of leadership and vision". And the Oxfam spokesman Stephen Hale said the world leaders should "start again".

But the Brazilian External Affairs Minister, Antonio Patriota, said the result was "very satisfying … because it is a result. As of yesterday we were facing considerable difficulties to have a text at all". And the US chief negotiator, Todd Stern, said the agreement was a "good strong step forward".

Brazilian negotiators conceded that the European Union, often a leading force at such negotiations, had taken a far weaker role due to its unfolding financial crisis. The European Commissioner for Climate Change, Connie Hedegaard, said after the deal was struck "nobody in that room was happy, that's how weak it was".

After running late into Monday night, the 49-page agreement was finally clinched on Tuesday, ready for agreement by the leaders. It states the world should negotiate new "sustainable development goals" by 2015, but could not agree even what themes they should cover. It states the world should "take urgent action on unsustainable production and consumption" but says nothing about how that should be achieved.

And the meeting failed to meet the hopes of environmental campaigners, and the Australian government, that it would at least launch a negotiation for new rules to protect the high seas, outside the boundaries of individual nations' 200-kilometre territorial zone.

That proposal was blocked by Canada, Japan, Russia and Venezuela. Mr Stern denied the US had contributed to its failure. The "high seas alliance" of 25 environmental groups that lobby on the issue said the result was "profoundly disappointing".

And a proposal to improve UN environmental decision making was also dramatically watered down. Instead of the prospect of a new UN environmental decision-making body, the agreement defers to the general assembly to decide whether the existing structures need an "upgrade".

Mr Naidoo said Greenpeace would have to give up on international negotiations and move to a campaign of civil disobedience to try to overcome the state parochialism that was stopping any progress in multilateral talks to address environmental problems.


U.N. sees fossil fuel as a key to forests, helping poor

Natural gas, including non-traditional shale gas, should play a major role in cutting greenhouse gases, protecting forests and improving the health and living standards of the world's poor, the co-head of a U.N. sustainable energy program said on Monday.

Without it, the U.N.'s Sustainable Energy for All Initiative will have difficulty meeting goals of ensuring universal energy access, doubling the world's share of renewable energy and doubling the rate of improvement in energy efficiency by 2030, Kandeh Yumkella, co-head of the initiative, told Reuters.

"You can't save the forest if you don't have gas," Yumkella, a native of Sierra Leone, said in an interview on the sidelines of a global development meeting in Rio de Janeiro.

"It's one of the solutions we need to reduce deforestation and reduce the two million people who die every year because of indoor air pollution because they use firewood."

Yumkella, who is also the head of the U.N. Industrial Development Organization, understands his support for natural gas is controversial, but finding the estimated $43 billion a year needed to provide electricity by 2030 to 1.3 billion people, half the number without it today, will be near impossible.

Many attending the U.N. conference, known as the Rio+20 as it comes two decades after a landmark Earth Summit in the city, see the inclusion of natural gas in the initiative as problematic.

Natural gas is a non-renewable hydrocarbon the burning of which creates carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas believed to cause global warming.

"Yumkella is a great man, but his panel is dominated by people who speak for big power industries," Pasco Sabido, climate adviser to environmental group Friends of the Earth Europe, said in an interview.

Yumkella's panel, picked by U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, is co-chaired by Chad Holliday, chairman of Bank of America, Chen Yuan, chairman of the China Development Bank, and Carlos Ghosn, chairman and chief executive of Renault-Nissan <7201.

Sabido believes Yumkella's goal to generate more energy and electricity where poor people live, using solar power and fuels made from human and animal waste and other biomass, will be sidetracked. This will hurt the poor, he said.

"Gas may be good as a stop-gap measure," said Carlos Rittl of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF). "But it's not a long-term solution. We need to really move away from old energy sources."

Yumkella, who has consulted governments, industries and non-government groups such as the WWF, says it is hard to push any solution for climate change.


Mistrust has grown around environmental issues after many countries failed to meet promises made after the 1992 Earth Summit and in the Kyoto Climate Change Protocols, he said.

Rich countries have worried that changes in energy policies will make them poor while poor countries worry that the policies will prevent them from rising out of poverty.

"Any global energy initiative that doesn't put people first is bound to fail in addressing energy poverty," said Lidy Nacpil, a coordinator for the Jubilee South Asia/Pacific Movement on Debt and Development.

"Instead of looking at community owned and managed energy, it pushes more privatization."

Yumkella feels the criticism comes with the subject. "At least we've finally managed to get energy on the agenda," he said. "Before this any talk at the U.N. of energy got sidetracked into the geopolitics of oil and gas."

Oil and gas development is essential, he said, especially as concern about energy security has led to discoveries of new resources in places such as his home, Sierra Leone, and other African nations, the region with the lowest access to electricity and clean energy.

"Think about the world 40 years from now," he said. "Is Africa going to ship their resources to the developed world for the rich guys to have their SUVs and air conditioning and all these other folks remain poor? That's a recipe for insecurity."

At the same time he praises the development of shale gas in the United States, an abundant resource that has helped the world's biggest polluter slash carbon emissions - replacing coal with cleaner gas - and making energy cheaper.

"We welcome new sources of energy, in fact you have to give the Americans credit," Yumkella said. "Fifteen years ago they decided to invest in new technology."

"Shale gas is doable if the research and development is done and it is less polluting than other forms ... At the same time we need to safeguard, we need to make sure the technologies don't do collateral damage."

Friends of the Earth's Sabido called such a position dangerous because shale gas exploitation threatens fresh water supplies and disrupts remote communities.

As for existing oil and gas technologies, much needs to be done to prevent waste and pollution. Some measures could help give the poorest energy, he said.

Part of the initiative calls for drastically reducing the amount of gas that is burned off, or "flamed", and wasted for lack of a market or pipelines

"The among of gas flamed in Africa can support 50 percent of Africa's electricity needs, the worst in Nigeria," he said.


Women march in Rio to protest 'green economy'

Thousands of women representing social and farm movements marched in central Rio Monday to rail against the "green economy" advocated by the Rio+20 conference on sustainable development.

Behind a large banner from the international peasant movement Via Campesina proclaiming "the peoples are against the mercantilization of nature", they marched several miles to the Flamengo park, the venue for the "People's Summit" organized by civil society groups on the sidelines of the Rio+20 event.

Several hundred men closed off the march to show their solidarity.

Perched atop a truck fitted with loudspeakers, a female activist howled: "This is a march of urban and rural women against this Rio+20 charade." "No to green capitalism! Yes to an economy based on solidarity, yes to people's sovereignty," she added.

People's Summit militants view the "green economy" concept touted by organizers of the official Rio+20 gathering as just "another stage of capitalist accumulation" after the failure of the current model.

"We are out on the streets to give visibility to our world struggle for an end to violence against women, for peace and demilitarization, access to common goods and economic empowerment for women," said 36-year-old Celia Alldridge, a member of the march secretariat who described herself as "half English, half Swiss".

The marchers comprised women of all walks of life, students, rural and indigenous people, some carrying placards reading "women are not meant to be slapped on the face or the buttocks."

Luise Sanuto, an ethnic Tabajara from northeast Brazil, said she faced even greater discrimination as an indigenous person." "Indigenous peoples are discriminated against and have been shown disrespect since the arrival of the (Portuguese) colonizers" in 1500.


Greenies are the Greatest Threat to Biodiversity

The UN Conference on Sustainable Development is underway in Rio de Janeiro. This time, 20 years after the original 1992 Rio “Earth Summit,” thousands of politicians, bureaucrats and environmental activists are toning down references to “dangerous man-made climate change,” to avoid repeating the acrimony and failures that characterized its recent climate conferences in Copenhagen, Cancun and Durban.

Instead, the “Rio+20” cabal is trying to shift attention to “biodiversity” and alleged threats to plant and animal species, as the new “greatest threat” facing Planet Earth. This rebranding is “by design,” according to conference organizers, who say sustainable development and biodiversity is an “easier sell” these days than climate change: a simpler path to advance the same radical goals.

Those goals include expanded powers and budgets for the United Nations, UN Environment Programme, US Environmental Protection Agency and other government agencies, and their allied Green pressure groups; new taxes on international financial transactions (to ensure perpetual independent funding for the UN and UNEP); and more mandates and money for “clean, green, renewable” energy.

Their wish list also includes myriad opportunities to delay, prevent and control energy and economic development, hydrocarbon use, logging, farming, family size, and the right of individual countries, states, communities and families to make and regulate their own development and economic decisions.

Aside from not giving increased power to unelected and unaccountable bureaucrats and activists, there are two major reasons for stopping this attempted biodiversity-based power grab.

1) There is no scientific basis for claims that hundreds or thousands of species are at risk

Up to half of all species could go extinct by 2100, asserts astronomer and global warming alarmist James Hansen, because of climate change, “unsustainable” hydrocarbon use, human population growth and economic development. At Rio+20 and elsewhere activists are trumpeting these hysterical claims in reports, speeches and press releases.

Fortunately, there is no factual basis for them. Of 191 bird and mammal species recorded as having gone extinct since 1500, 95% were on islands, where humans and human-introduced predators and diseases wrought the destruction, notes ecology researcher Dr. Craig Loehle. On continents, only six birds and three mammals were driven to extinction, and no bird or mammal species in recorded history is known to have gone extinct due to climate change.

The massive species losses claimed by Hansen, Greenpeace, WWF and others are based on extrapolations from the island extinction rates. Some are just wild guesses or rank fear-mongering, with nothing remotely approximating scientific analysis. Other extrapolations are based on unfounded presumptions about species susceptibility to long or short term climate shifts – fed into clumsy, simplistic, non-validated virtual reality computer models that assume rising carbon dioxide levels will raise planetary temperatures so high that plants, habitats, and thus birds, reptiles and animals will somehow be exterminated. There is no evidence to support any of these extinction scenarios.

Indeed, there is no empirical evidence to support claims that average global temperatures have risen since 1998, or that we face any of the manmade global warming or climate change cataclysms proclaimed by Hansen, Gore and others.

2) The greatest threats to species are the very policies and programs being advocated in Rio.

Those policies would ban fossil fuels, greatly increase renewable energy use, reduce jobs and living standards in rich nations, and perpetuate poverty, disease, death and desperation in poor countries.

Today, over 1.5 billion people still do not have electricity, or have it only a few hours each day or week. Almost 2.5 billion people live on less than $2 a day. Millions die every year from diseases that would be largely eradicated by access to reliable, affordable electricity for cooking and refrigeration, clinics and hospitals, clean water, sanitation, and businesses and industries that generate jobs, prosperity and health.

Opposition to large-scale electricity generation forces people to rely on open fires for cooking and heating – perpetuating lung diseases and premature death, from breathing smoke and pollutants. It also destroys gorilla and other wildlife habitats, as people cut trees and brush for firewood and charcoal.

Wind turbines slice up birds and collapse bat lungs, exacting an unsustainable toll on eagles, hawks, falcons, and other rare, threatened and endangered flying creatures.

Turbine and solar arrays cover and disrupt millions of acres of farmland and wildlife habitat, to provide expensive, intermittent power for urban areas. They require backup generators and long transmission lines, and consume millions of tons of concrete, steel, copper, fiberglass, polymers and rare earth minerals – extracted from the Earth, often in countries whose pollution control regulations and technologies are substantially below US, Canadian, European and Australian standards.

Corn-based ethanol requires tens of millions of acres, billions of gallons of water, millions of tons of fertilizer and insecticides, and enormous quantities of hydrocarbon fuels.

And yet, President Obama told Ghanaians in 2010 that poor, electricity-deprived, malnourished Africans should rely on biofuel, wind and solar power – and not build even gas-fired power plants.

Hunting, subsistence living and poverty are among the greatest risks to species. Denying poor families access to reliable, affordable electricity is a crime against humanity.

The Rio+20 biodiversity and sustainability agenda means artificially reduced energy and economic development. It means rationed resources, sustained poverty and disease, and unsustainable inequality, resentment, conflict, and pressure on wildlife and their habitats.

Simply put, 99% of humans and wild kingdom species are being ill served by the 0.1% UN and environmentalist elites gathered in Brazil, and purporting to speak for mankind and planet.

Our Creator has endowed us with a world rich in resources, and even richer in intelligent, hard-working, creative people who yearn to improve their lives and be better stewards of our lands, resources and wildlife. The primary obstacles to achieving these dreams are the false ideologies, anti-development agendas and suffocating regulations such as those being promoted at the Rio+20 Summit.

If we can eliminate those obstacles, the world will enjoy a rebirth of freedom and opportunity, voluntarily stable populations, and vastly improved health, welfare and justice for billions. We will also bring far greater security to Earth’s wondrous multitudes of wild and scenic areas, and plant and animal species. That would be an enormous gain for our planet and people.


How Obama Bureaucrats Fueled Western Wildfires

The smell of singed air here is inescapable. Less than 50 miles west of my neighborhood, the latest wildfire has spread across 1,100 acres. It's the fifth active blaze to erupt in our state over the past month. But ashes aren't the only things smoldering.

The Obama administration's neglect of the federal government's aerial tanker fleet raises acrid questions about its core public safety priorities. Bipartisan complaints goaded the White House into signing a Band-Aid fix last week. But it smacks more of election-year gesture politics: Too little, too late, too fake.

Ten years ago, the feds had a fleet of 44 firefighting planes. Today, the number is down to nine for the entire country. Last summer, Obama's National Forest Service canceled a key federal contract with Sacramento-based Aero Union just as last season's wildfires were raging. Aero Union had supplied eight vital air tankers to Washington's dwindling aerial firefighting fleet. Two weeks later, the company closed down, and 60 employees lost their jobs. Aero Union had been a leader in the business for a half-century.

Why were they grounded? National Forest Service bureaucrats and some media accounts cite "safety" concerns. But as California GOP Rep. Dan Lungren noted in a letter obtained by reporter Audrey Hudson of the conservative D.C. newspaper Human Events last year, a Federal Aviation Administration representative said it was a contractual/compliance matter, not safety, that doomed Aero Union's fleet.

"I am deeply troubled by the Forest Service's sudden action," Lungren warned, "particularly as California enters into the fire season. Our aerial firefighting fleet is already seriously undercapitalized." Both the U.S. Government Accountability Office and the Department of Agriculture's Inspector General have been critical of the Forest Service's handling of the matter. All of this has been known to the Obama administration since it took the reins in 2009.

Nine months after Lungren's warning, the deadly High Park fire in Larimer County, Colo., claimed a grandmother's life, destroyed 189 homes and scorched nearly 60,000 acres. Arizona, New Mexico, Washington and Wyoming also have battled infernos this summer.

After months of dire red flags from a diverse group of politicians ranging from Texas GOP Gov. Rick Perry and Arizona GOP Sen. Jon Kyl to Oregon Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden and New Mexico Democratic Sen. Jeff Bingaman, President Obama finally signed emergency legislation last week to expedite the contracting process. Obama will borrow planes from Canada and provide $24 million for new aerial tanker contracts.

But the money won't come until next year, and the dog-and-pony rescue moves will not result in any immediate relief. "It's nice, but this problem isn't fixed with a stroke of the pen," former Forest Service official and bomber pilot Tony Kern told the Denver Post this week. "You need to have the airplanes available now." Veteran wildland firefighter and blogger Bill Gabbert of adds: "The USFS should have awarded contracts for at least 20 additional air tankers, not 7."

Imagine if Obama's Forest Service had been a private company. White House eco-radicals would be rushing to place their "boots on the necks" of the bureaucrats who made the fateful decision to put an experienced aerial tanker firm out of business as wildfires raged and the available rescue fleet shrunk.

"The Obama administration is scrambling now to help ensure the Forest Service has the air assets it needs to fight the ongoing inferno," Colorado free-market environmental watchdog Sean Paige reported at last week. "But the crisis is bound to raise questions not just about whether the cancelled contract created additional weaknesses and vulnerabilities, but about what the administration has been doing over the past three summers to shore-up the service's air fleet."

Where there's smoke swirling over Team Obama there are usually flames of incompetence, cronyism and ideological zealotry at the source. The ultimate rescue mission? Evacuating Obama's wrecking crew from the White House permanently. November can't come soon enough.


Germany shows the way not to go

And that is sinkling even into traditionally "Green" German skulls

While Ivy league pundits sit comfortably in their intellectually sanitized world of academia and discuss the possible virtues and boldness of Germany’s fast-track energy transition to renewable energy (80% less CO2 by 2050), Germany’s media, business and political leaders are now sounding the alarms for disaster.

This week’s cover story of Germany’s print news magazine FOCUS carries the title: Energy End. If you can read German, by all means pick up a copy.

One year ago Germany, in a fit of hysteria, ordered 8 nuclear power plants closed immediately and the remaining 9 closed by the year 2022. By 2050 it’s energy supply must be at least 80% supplied by renewable sources – costs be damned.

This has come to be knows as the German Energiewende or “energy transition”, roughly translated. And so the mad rush to renewable energy was on in earnest. Today, just a single year later, the high costs and insurmountable technical problems (we warned them) have spooked leaders and sparked a wave of uneasiness to sweep over the country. Even the once green media are waking up and sounding the alarms.

For example FOCUS reports in its story that companies will start refusing to pay the exorbitant feed-in tariffs to power companies in a bid to force the issue all the way up to Germany’s Constitutional Supreme Court in Karlsruhe. One business manager said: "Energy costs will be the big issue of [next year's] federal elections.”

FOCUS writes that one year after the ordered shutdown of nuclear power, the readiness of Germans to accept switching over the renewable energy has collapsed.

A FOCUS survey found that 41% of Germans flat out reject paying one cent more for renewables. In East Germany, that number jumps to 52%. Only a small minority of less than 10% could imagine paying $25 a month more.

German leaders are spooked by the spiralling out-of-control costs and government seizure now spreading though the energy sector. Even leaders within the CDU, Merkel’s ruling ”conservative” party, once a staunch proponent of renewable energies, are now speaking up – and loudly! For example FOCUS quotes:

Josef Schlarmann, Chairman of the Mid-Size Companies Association, CDU party: "The discussion about the energy transition has started, and no one can stop it now.”

Michael Fuchs, Vice Chairman parliamentary party, CDU economics politician: "In the energy sector we are moving slowly but surely to a completely centrally planned economy. We have to be damn careful.”

Arnold Vaatz, Vice Chairman of the CDU parliamentary party: "The renewable energy transition is going to cost us an incalculable sum of money, and in the end cost us our competitiveness.”

Hildegard Müller, Director of the Federal Association of Energy and Water Management: "A system of increasing goverment intervention is not economically sensible and is not affordable for consumers.”

Gerd Billen, Director of Federal Association For Consumer Agencies: "The citizens just don’t have an overview of what this trip is going to cost and where it is taking them.”

FOCUS reminds its readers that the big price driver is not “greedy” power companies, but government taxes and surcharges, which make up a whopping 45% of the price of electricity. In 1998 the 80 million or so Germans paid about €2.3 billion for various surcharges, taxes etc. on electricity. Today that figure is more than 1000% higher: €23.7 billion!

Not only the costs have become major obstacles, but also the technical feasibility of renewable energies is missing, especially wind and solar, which lack the infrastructure elements for taking the power to the markets that need them. These elements include power transmission lines, back-up energy systems for when the sun isn’t shining and the wind isn’t blowing, and power storage systems. Costs costs costs.

Schlarmann says: “What we have are highway bridges without highways.”

FOCUS then warns that Germany’s once super stable power grid, once a model of stability and reliability, is now on the brink of collapse. Even SPD (socialist party) honcho and Al-Gore-worshipper Sigmar Gabriel recently said Germany’s handling of its power system was as precarious as “operating on an open heart”. He added, “900 interventions to prop up the power grid in what was a relatively mild winter makes me nervous.”

It most certainly should. If next winter turns out to be a harsh one and the power fails and leaves citizens out in the cold, then there are going to be lots of angry people. Germany’s social powder is tinder dry.

FOCUS ends its cover story by quoting a citizen, Gisela Deckert: “I’m all in favor of renewable energy, but not like this.”

The voice of just one of millions of suckers who had bought into the false paradise promised by greens.

There was time in Germany when the idiot political leaders were more or less separated from the non-idiot leaders: in the days of East and West Germany. Since then guess who has taken over? {Angela Merkel is from the East]



For more postings from me, see DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here


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