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New York Bans Fracking
From: New York Times  Posted: December 17th 2014

"Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s administration announced on Wednesday that it would ban hydraulic fracturing in New York State because of concerns over health risks, ending years of debate over a method of extracting natural gas."

"On Wednesday, six weeks after Mr. Cuomo won a second term, the long-awaited health study finally materialized, its findings made public during a year-end cabinet meeting convened by the governor in Albany. In a presentation at the cabinet meeting, the acting state health commissioner, Dr. Howard A. Zucker, said the examination had found “significant public health risks” associated with fracking."

"Holding up copies of scientific studies to animate his arguments, Dr. Zucker listed concerns about water contamination and air pollution, and said there was insufficient scientific evidence to affirm the safety of fracking. Dr. Zucker said his review boiled down to a simple question: Would he want his family to live in a community where fracking was taking place?"


Déjà Vu All Over Again
From: John Michael Greer  Posted: December 17th 2014

"Oil isn’t the only thing that’s in steep decline. Many other major commodities—coal, iron ore, and copper among them—have registered comparable declines over the course of the last few months."

"The steep oil prices of the last few years have taken a hefty bite out of all economic activities. The consequences of that were papered over for a while by frantic central bank activities, but they’ve finally begun to come home to roost in what’s politely called 'demand destruction'."

"That, in turn, reminded me of the last time prolonged demand destruction collided with a boom in high-priced oil production, and sent me chasing after a book I read almost three decades ago."

Theo Colborn Dies
From: Wikipedia  Posted: December 14th 2014

"If you ever had the chance to meet her, even once, you knew Theo Colborn. She didn’t have a single hidden agenda. Her commitment to uncovering the truth was out there for the world to see."

"For nearly 30 years she dedicated herself to revealing the dangers of endocrine disrupting chemicals to wildlife and humans. More recently she alerted us all to the threats posed by chemicals associated with oil and gas development."

Theo's courage and eye for detail were legendary. No opposition went unanswered, however powerful; no stone was left unturned in her search for scientific precision. We have lost a heroine.........[Ian]


Path is unclear - Nicholas Stern
From:The Guardian  Posted: December 14th 2014

"The road to Lima began in Durban in December 2012, when governments decided to try again to hammer out an international deal, setting themselves a three-year deadline. Now, with just 12 months left, the talks in Lima mean that there is a draft negotiating text for the Paris summit."

"But there are still significant stumbling blocks on the road to success. Perhaps the biggest challenge is that governments are unlikely to outline cuts in annual emissions that will be collectively consistent with a path that gives a good chance of remaining below the 2C danger limit."

"So countries must focus on increasing the ambition of their intended reductions, and show these are credible by setting out how they will be achieved through domestic policies and legislation. But they must also recognise that such increases may not be sufficient, and a mechanism must also be included in the Paris agreement which commits countries to continuous reviewing and strengthening of their emissions targets."


David Hughes Interview and Transcript
From: Peak Prosperity  Posted: December 13th 2014

"Chris Martenson talks with oil analyst David Hughes, who has analyzed the major shale plays utilizing a massive database of well production results from America's shale basins. The data show that declines tend to be hyperbolic in all shale fields. The average first-year decline is 70%; down to 85% by year three. And we're drilling the best parts of these plays first: meaning that future wells will yield less even under the best results."

"If rigs are more productive, sure you can drill those locations out quicker, but you don’t necessarily get any more oil at the end of the day. It is per well productivity that counts at the end of the day."

"We know that they need to drill 1,500 wells a year just to keep [the Bakken] production flat. But as you go into lower quality rock and the well quality in most of the plays is only about half of what it is in the sweet spot. If you have to rely on the lower quality price of the play you need 3,000 wells per year instead of 1,500 to offset the field decline. But the wells aren’t any cheaper. They cost the same amount to drill."


New Oil Discoveries Fading
From: Deborah Lawrence  Posted: December 12th 2014

"Global economic growth and expansion will not be possible if we rely on hydrocarbons only. In fact, the contraction of global growth rates since about 2006 are directly correlated to the higher cost of hydrocarbon extraction which has occurred since that time"

"Industry has spent literally hundreds of billions of dollars in a desperate attempt to increase production but to no avail. In seven short years, CAPEX had trebled while production had fallen"

"So how do we jumpstart global GDP rates and lead it toward continuous growth? We ensure that policy is in place to promote forms of energy which have no limits."

Fracking Risks to Health
From: Albany Times  Posted: December 11th 2014

"Having said he wants science to drive the decision on whether to open the state to natural gas hydrofracking, NY state Gov. Andrew Cuomo got a telephone book-sized dose of science dropped on his desk Thursday by two health groups that want to keep out fracking."

"There were 32 fracking health studies in 2011, 66 more in 2012, and 139 more in 2013, when the state Health Department was ordered to conduct its health fracking study. By the end of November 2014, there were another 154 such peer-reviewed studies, according to the PSE study."

Concerned Health Professionals of New York (CHPNY) published the 2nd edition of their Compendium, to which Fractual contributed. The Compendium catalogues the most relevant papers, studies and journalism in CHPNY's struggle to have fracking banned in New York state..... [Ian]

Abandoned Wells are 'Super Emitters' of Methane
From: Nature World News  Posted: December 9th 2014

"This previously unknown source of methane could be a substantial contributor to the greenhouse gas effect, leaking methane into Earth's atmosphere for decades."

"With some three million abandoned wells found in the United States, this source could very well be the super emitter scientists hadn't expected."

The article pinpoints methane as being 20 times more powerful (Kg for Kg) than carbon dioxide as a GHG. That's old data and science now tells us it's 27 - 33 times worse. A figure of 30 is commonly used, but there's still hugely more CO2 in the atmosphere than CH4.
However, the case against shale gas is now so strong that we should halt any further steps towards exploration or production until the downsides can be shown to be overcome...........[Ian]

Storage for Better Transmission Grids
From:   Posted: December 7th 2014

"Energy storage will be an essential part of future power grids and it actually has little to do with global warming."

"The various solutions to creating a more efficient power grid are not 'either/or' solutions — the silver bullet for renewable energy is a shotgun blast, no single technology is going to win out. The best grids will be diversified."

"Bic Stevens of Stevens Capital Advisors tells us 'that in 10 years there could be a $100 billion global market for Utility Energy Storage.'"

Storage only becomes essential when renewables form (say) 30% of grid capacity. South Africa can add plenty of renewable energy yet and can add it quickly should it wish to.

Bundu's revised Karoo shale-gas programme
From: Engineering News  Posted: December 5th 2014

"Bundu has appointed Golder Associates, which undertook the update of the EMP, to commence 'the process of notifying and consulting with interested and affected parties in respect of the revised document'."

"Challenger MD Robert Willes said the EMP would be made available for public review from December 8, 2014, and would remain open for comment until February 16, 2015."

"Challenger indicated that, pending the promulgation of new technical regulations on petroleum exploration and exploitation, the updated EMP described a revised work programme that included 'only seismic studies and drilling'. The South African government had not yet allowed for hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.

Bank of England investigating risk of 'carbon bubble'
From: The Guardian  Posted: December 1st 2014

"The Bank of England is to conduct an enquiry into the risk of fossil fuel companies causing a major economic crash if future climate change rules render [a significant part of] their coal, oil and gas assets worthless."

"The concept of a 'carbon bubble' has gained rapid recognition since 2013, and is being taken increasingly seriously by some major financial companies including Citi bank, HSBC and Moody’s, but the Bank’s enquiry is the most significant endorsement yet from a regulator."

"News of the Bank’s enquiry comes on the day that global negotiations on climate change action open in Lima, Peru, and as one of Europe’s major energy companies E.ON announced it was to hive off its fossil fuel business to focus on renewables and networks. The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change recently warned that the limit of carbon emissions consistent with 2C of warming was approaching and that renewable energy must be at least tripled."

Project of the Year Award Finalists
From: Renewable Energy World  Posted: November 25th 2014

"To be eligible for an award, a project needed to have been commissioned between August 1st, 2013 and July 31st, 2014 and make a significant impact on the entire renewable energy industry."

The winner was declared on December 8th in Orlando, Florida and came from one of the five finalists: Atikokan Generating Station (Ontario); Ivanpah (California); Pantex Renewable Energy Project (Texas); Solana (Nevada); UN City (Copenhagen).

Each of these projects is inspirational and offers hope in the face of encroaching climate change and the need to reduce global GHG emissions. Would that we could emulate them in South Africa ............[Ian]


The State of the Climate Debate
From: Ian Perrin  Posted: June 13th 2014

"Kevin Anderson's blog of 5th June examines the US commitment to cut its emissions by 30 percent by 2030 and concludes that: The maths accompanying obligations to avoid 'dangerous climate change' demand fundamental change rather than rousing rhetoric and incremental action."

" View a 7 minute video clip of Michael Mann explaining the IPCC's conservatism and note that even the IPCC tells us that South Africa can expect temperature increases of 3 to 5C, without emissions reduction and that in turn implies consequences for food production."

"Ezra Klein, until recently a highly regarded political commentator with the Washington Post, wrote a piece entitled '7 Reasons America will fail on climate change' and Joe Romm of Climate Progress responded. Here we look at each of his 'Reasons' in turn and Joe Romm's response to each. "


Obama: ‘If Congress Won’t Act Soon To Protect Future Generations, I Will’
From: Joe Romm  Posted: February 13th 2013

"For the sake of our children and our future, we must do more to combat climate change. Yes, it’s true that no single event makes a trend. But the fact is, the 12 hottest years on record have all come in the last 15. Heat waves, droughts, wildfires, floods – all are now more frequent and more intense."

"We can choose to believe that Superstorm Sandy, and the most severe drought in decades, and the worst wildfires some states have ever seen were all just a freak coincidence. Or we can choose to believe in the overwhelming judgment of science – and act before it’s too late."

"I will direct my Cabinet to come up with executive actions we can take, now and in the future, to reduce pollution, prepare our communities for the consequences of climate change, and speed the transition to more sustainable sources of energy."


TEDX study reveals more detail about the dangers of gas drilling
From Ian Perrin  Posted: 14th November 2012

"The study shows that air sampling near natural gas operations reveals numerous chemicals in the air, many associated with natural gas operations. Some of the highest concentrations in the study were from methane, ethane, propane, and other alkanes that occur as a result of natural gas operations"

"Although concentrations of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) found in this study appear low, they may have clinical significance."

We thank them sincerely on behalf of all South Africans for the effort they are making to understand the effects of drilling and fracking for natural gas that will result in better protection for our workers and communities alike. [Ian]

Greenhouse Gas Theory explained
From Ian Perrin  Posted: 24th October 2012

You might have gained the impression climate change caused by rising amounts of CO2 in our atmosphere is a contentious theory added only recently to our scientific understanding.

Not so – we can trace the basis for it all the way back to Isaac Newton's work in the early 1670's and the first, generally accepted theory around 1859, more than 150 years ago."

Here's our plain English version of the history of its development and some detail on the scientists involved.

We Must Heed James Hansen
From: Joe Romm & Michael Mann  Posted: 9th August 2012

"During the hot, dry summer of 1988, Hansen announced that 'it is time to stop waffling…. The evidence is pretty strong that the [human-amplified] greenhouse effect is here.'" Much criticism followed.

"Hansen, it turns out, was right, and the critics were wrong. Rather than being reckless, as some of his critics charged, his announcement to the world proved to be prescient – and his critics were proven overly cautious."

"Given the prescience of Hansen’s science, we would be unwise to ignore his latest, more dire warning."

"The time for debate about the reality of human-caused climate change has now passed. We can have a good faith debate about how to deal with the problem – how to reduce future climate change and adapt to what is already upon us to reduce the risks that climate change poses to society. But we can no longer simply bury our heads in the sand."

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