Kind of embarrassing, but until recently I had no idea how much of the world’s economy is based on coal from QLD. For example – Queensland exports half the world’s coking coal which is used to make steel. HALF! That means 50% of the world’s steel is manufactured with QLD coal. For the last year I’ve been working with a client who are coal mining consultants in QLD. They’ve been giving me an education. Mining – mostly coal, coal seam gas and bauxite with some oil shale and natural gas – makes up about 9% of the QLD economy. Meanwhile the cost of solar is dropping exponentially. I have to wonder what’s going to happen to the QLD economy over the next 20 years when coal becomes a dirty word and people are using solar-generated electricity to make steel instead.
CEO of ExxonMobil, Rex Tillerson, in an on-the-record speech to the Council of Foreign Relations that is publicly available online, has now said that it is clear that burning fossil fuels warms the planet.
His actual words are:
“So I’m not disputing that increasing CO2 emissions in the atmosphere is going to have an impact. It’ll have a warming impact. The — how large it is is what is very hard for anyone to predict. And depending on how large it is, then projects how dire the consequences are.”
I discovered this video in an article by Bill Blackmore on the US ABC News about how American news directors just aren’t covering the latest stories on climate change – possibly because of political and corporate agendas but also possibly because it’s TOO BIG TO HANDLE. It’s worth a read but I think it’s letting news directors off the hook. The real reasons they aren’t talking about the new data is due to corporate agendas. Yes, the story is huge. Of course it is. But that’s only MORE reason to give it the coverage it deserves.
Where’s Will McAvoy when you need him?
This video posted today by Get Up! got me thinking about “fracking”.
What is this “fracking” that I’ve been hearing so much about lately? It’s something I’ve been meaning to pay more attention to.
According to this excellent site put together by the ABC, “fracking” is short for “hydraulic fracturing”. It’s all about “coal seam gas” (CSG) or “coalbed methane” as it’s known outside of Australia. CSG is methane gas that’s trapped deep down in the earth under layers of coal. The objective is to drill down into the layers that contain the CSG and bring it up to the surface. Mining CSG is a fairly recent phenomenon and there are lots of environmental concerns about how it is extracted, the amount of water the process requires and what happens to the water afterwards. It is estimated there will be 40,000 coal seam gas wells in Australia – mostly in QLD.
So what is “fracking”? According to the ABC:
In the process known as ‘fracking’, a mix of water and chemicals is pumped at high pressure down the well and into the coal seam. This process creates a network of cracks in the coal, releasing the gas and water trapped inside it. Not all wells need to be fractured. In some places, the coal is permeable, meaning it already has lots of natural cracks. In others, gas companies drill horizontally into the coal seam as an alternative to fracturing.
So is that a good thing or a bad thing? The answer is – we don’t know. There is a lot of debate between the various interested parties. The CSG industry claims the water that is extracted during the process will be available for irrigation but first it will have to be decontaminated and that’s a costly process. The environmentalists and farmers (nice to see them on the same side for once) are worried about the effect this entrance of this water will have on our water ecology. The bottom line is that this is a new industry that the mining companies are rushing into and I’m betting the majority of Australians have given little thought about what the long-term effect is likely to be on the country. A lot of money is likely to be made by a relatively small number of companies in the next couple of decades – but what will the long-term cost be to the country? To the farming industry? To the health of the people? As water is already a precious commodity in Australia, it’s something that needs serious debate and discussion before the government just hands out CSG licenses.
Today I had the pleasure to catch up once again with G’Day World regular Dr Peter Ellyard, futurist, environmentalist, and author of “Designing 2050: Pathways To Sustainable Prosperity On Spaceship Earth” which is published by TPN TXT. Buy your copy now!
I chatted with Peter today about the recent IPCC report, Kevin Rudd’s emissions trading scheme and whether or not we are all doomed, as George Monbiot is suggesting. Peter told me that our politicians and media are focusing on the wrong thing. We shouldn’t be just thinking about reducing emissions, we should be talking about MINING THE SKY.
As always, I just loved talking to Peter. He never fails to inspire. He’s now on Twitter (I gave him a crash course today), so make sure you follow him. And we also have a Facebook group for Peter call “The Future Makers Club“, make sure you sign up for that as well.
If you are a journalist, blogger, twitterer or podcaster and you’d like a review copy of Designing 2050, please email me.
Half the time I try to open a Microsoft Word attachment in my email (which is Gmail through the browser) I get this error message:
Windows doesn’t seem to know that Word is the application to open a .doc. Anyone else seen this? Damn annoying!
If you want to know what carbon trading is all about, listen to The Cleantech Show #007: Understanding Carbon Offsets – Interview with Jeff Angel, Total Environment Centre. It’s an excellent overview. Well done Nick!
Didn’t expect THAT, did you?
I’m prepping for my chat with Vint tomorrow morning and happened upon this recent interview with Kuzweil on CNNMoney where he says:
“These slides that Gore puts up are ludicrous,” says the man who once delivered a tech conference presentation as a singing computer avatar named Ramona. (That stunt was the inspiration for the 2002 Al Pacino movie “Simone.”) “They don’t account for anything like the technological progress we’re going to experience.”
I guess he means that accelerating technological progress will allow us to generate power using fossil-fuel substitutes and undo the damage we’ve already done. He might be right. I hope he is. I still don’t think that means we should stop doing what we can do now to change our behaviours though.
By the way… I’ve got something VERY exciting in the works for TPN’s audience regarding carbon offsets. Stay tuned.