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The post News Round-Up appeared first on The Daily Sceptic.
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The post How Scotland Became the Wokest Country in the World appeared first on The Daily Sceptic.
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The post Are We the Mainstream Media Now? appeared first on The Daily Sceptic.
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Energy and the Environment
Monday December 03, 2007 02:46 by Blazes Boylan - none
John Gormley and Trevor Sargent posing with Al Gore
Energy & Environment Conference, Dublin 1st December. Senator Al Gore & Bono save the world (again).
A well written and entertaining report of a conference on Energy and the Environment organised by Merrion Capital at the Royal College of Surgeons in Dublin on the 1st December. The reporter describes the speeches on the environment from luminaries such as David Begg of ICTU talking about the consequences of using land for bio-fuel, Tadhg O'Donoghue of the ESB focusing on nuclear power, and Willie Walsh of Aer Lingus fame speaking about the effects of low-cost aviation before the key-note speech from Al Gore, producer of the popular presentation "An Inconvenient Truth".
BB suspected that indymedia.ie wouldn't send anyone along to a late capitalist event such as this, and used his standard routine. Suit and tie, walk in backwards, some press contact to meet inside, an unpronouncable name (ha-ha), love your Prada jacket darling, and minimal security after that. A few Gardaí were to hand to keep away the uninvited. Dozens of PR girls inside wearing tight two-piece trouser suits to quicken the blood (steady on now, Blazes). Two brave souls in anoraks handed out Shell-to-Sea leaflets outside and at the front a Save tara banner was guarded by at least three enthusiasts.
But saving the Irish economy in a warming world was the aim of the conference. A youthful John Conroy of Merrion Capital was host for the day to several hundred in a packed room. John Gormley showed his enthusiasm for renewables in a well-crafted speech. The European Investment Bank was doubling its investment in this area. David Begg followed with the warning that Europe would use 72% of its arable land to grow 10% of its oil as biofuel. This would cause food price inflation (we're there already?), with some estimates that 2 billion would then starve in the third world. Begg acknowledged that such an outcome was "fairly serious stuff". No gasps or laments for the 2 billion amongst his audience. How were we to deal with an expected population here of 5.5 million by 2025 and also reduce emission by 3% p.a.?
Next the ESB had its say with chairman Tadhg O'Donoghue. The focus was on the nuclear option; the smallest designed plant would generate 800MW (usually 1,500MW), while the ESB's largest plant generates 400MW. With a load of 1,500MW to 5,000MW daily, 800MW was too big to be feasible. The interconnector with Northern Ireland and Scotland was in place, and another to Wales would be finished in 2012. These sent us power that was nuclear-generated, so in effect we have nuclear power without the expense of building our own plant. Renewables were a fact but existing capacity had to be ready to take up any drop in the wind, which cost money. Peat-fuel plants were the 'dirtiest' of all options. Burning elephant grass as a carbon-neutral crop to supply 10% of our electricity would need 500,000 hectares, more than all our arable land.
Then Antony Froggatt demolished the nuclear option, reminding us that known reserves of uranium would only last 70 years. Ireland's problem would best be solved by wind and tidal power, the latter giving us all our electricity in theory. Other renewables would also reduce our CO2 by 33% (electricity) and 10% (transport). At last the number crunchers had a direction to follow. Finally Willie Walsh presented a tight speech on low-cost aviation and emissions; that would of course have an effect on Irish second homes and second mortgages in places like Spain. The speeches had given us a load of data, well presented and with a refreshing absence of any Bertie-style "It'll be all right on the night, youse are paying for it anyway whedder it works or not" plamas.
After our coffee break upstairs, applause went up for Bono and then Al Gore. Al started with his famous line: "I used to be the next president of the USA", and then acknowledged the presence of John Sweeney as one of the 2,500 scientists in the IPCC who had produced four reports since 1988 on global warming. Daily, 70m tons of CO2 pours into the atmosphere and another 25m tons into the sea. In 2008 China's output of CO2 would overtake the USA for the first time. Australia had just finished "the first climate change election". Tax policy would have to shift from taxing employment to taxing pollution; the audience liked the sound of that. But this was the only meat of his argument.
The rest showed his enthusiasm with some down-home wisdom. The worry was that people would pass straight from denial to despair when they realized the problems involved. "Denial ain't a river in Africa, despair ain't the tyre in your trunk". Amen to that, good for the youth maybe, but not a hit with Dublin's number-crunchers. The students of 2030 would look back on us and wonder, either "what were they thinking?" or "how did they solve it?" A final rallying call that "political will is also a renewable resource" led on to the Q and A session.
Here the answers were slick but sometimes a little awkward, as comparing the challenge to defeating the Axis powers in 1941-45 led to comments about Churchill's bravery and FDR's determination. Gore acknowledged that an Irish audience might find this hard to swallow. No-one batted an eyelid. Dev and neutrality were the long-distant embarrassingly impoverished past and we wanted to hear about the future. Ultimately it was a moral challenge: "What a privilege it is to have an opportunity to use our best efforts". "This will be larger than IT, biotech, larger even than the industrial revolution". Standing ovation.
So Merrion's clients can reflect that some elephant grass will help, some biofuel can be grown, but not enough. Nuclear and even wind power are not the answer. A tidal power system alone will do it, along with solar panels as they become cheaper and a mix of the other elements. If we realize all the investment needed, the rest of the world will probably still mess things up and endure some "fairly serious stuff". Outside a small fleet of high-end mercedes and beamers waited to drive the VIPs away.