Some linky goodness

I know that I need to tell you about Plettenberg Bay (as promised here), but all in good time. In the meanwhile (what’s a meanwhile?) here are some interesting stories for your perusal.

This is not to be confused with a Wednesday Ephemera post, despite the obvious similarities.

Fracking news: In a post that is more about the disgraceful hounding of the late Tony Twine than our energy reserves or whether or not we should be extracting them, comes the (repeated) news that there’s LOADS of gas under the Karoo and even if we can get at just a bit of it, it will have a HUGE effect on the country.

The potential was so mind-boggling Twine tried to tone down expectations. He ran his econometric model on just 10% of what the US’s Energy Information Administration (EIA) had published as the Karoo Basin’s “recoverable reserves”.Even at this conservative level, the model concluded shale gas would create 850 000 jobs and, for a minimum of 25 years, generate annual economic growth equivalent to 9.6% of 2010’s GDP.

In a country so bogged down by youth unemployment, a frankly terrifying economic outlook and widespread pessimism WHY ARE WE STILL WAITING to move on this?

Things which are connected to Fracking news: While the US economy continues to recover, use of clean shale gas instead of coal has assisted in reducing that country’s carbon emissions to levels not seen since 1994:

Last year, the US saw its lowest carbon emissions since 1994, continuing a downward trend that began in 2008 during the economic crisis. It marks the second year in a row that carbon emissions have dropped despite a growth in gross domestic product. Prior to the last few years, economic growth had been closely tied to increased carbon emissions.

Other fracking related posts on 6000 miles… 

Today’s bizarre story of the day: A man who forgot to book the venue for his wedding decided that rather than admitting this to his wife-to-be, he’d phone the place just before the ceremony and claim that there was a bomb on the premises.

…as she got dressed on the morning of the wedding he slipped out of the house, went to a phone box and, disguising his voice, told the receptionist at Liverpool Register Office, which is part of St George’s Hall:

“This is not a hoax call. There’s a bomb in St George’s Hall and it will go off in 45 minutes.”

The call, 11 days after the Boston Marathon bombing, provoked “terror” and the building was immediately evacuated and emergency services called. He was given a 12-month jail sentence after admitting making the hoax call.

And yes, they’re still together. Awww.

Bascule Bar at the Cape Grace is now a bit rubbish: According to this post, anyway. I haven’t been there for years, but they do (did?) stock Tamdhu, which is my whisky of choice when I have a spare £9 to drop on a shot. Would it be worth putting up with the (allegedly) rubbishy chairs, the lack of soul, the poorly motivated staff and the thieving prostitutes though?

What is worse is that prostitutes are camped out at the bar. I’m not naïve – Bascule is at The Cape Grace Hotel, a superb 5 star property. Ladies for hire are a fact of life at many 5 star hotels in tourist cities.  But at Bascule, they have taken over. There are many stories around of customers being robbed and accosted by the women. A few Friday evenings ago I went with an old friend – someone who at one stage shared a wine locker with me… That Friday it resembled a seedy pool bar, without the pool tables. There was a 19-year-old prostitute at the bar – and she left with an elderly German tourist. Another woman at the bar stole a bottle of cider – slipped it into her handbag. There was not a glass of whisky in sight.

Actually, I think it probably would. Especially if they get some pool tables in.

Nigel Clough is the new Blades manager: a little over 20 years after United ended his Dad’s managerial career with a 2-0 win at the City Ground (Glyn Hodges and Brian Gayle the scorers, if memory serves) in a game that he played in, Nigel Clough has been announced as the new Sheffield United manager. The board at the club have said some lovely things about him:

Nigel was the clear, first choice of the board. He brings an approach to the game that is well suited to what we are trying to achieve at Sheffield United. Nigel has enjoyed managerial success in the game. He knows how to inspire first team players to give their all and has a proven track record of making an academy a key ingredient to the club’s success. We count ourselves lucky to have Nigel aboard.

Just as they did about David Weir a few months back:

We are thrilled to appoint David and the three-year contract emphasises the fact that he will assist in a change in club culture. I have stated before that the club needs to act differently and David is young, has a great pedigree and will bring a new vision and leadership to the club.

Weir was rubbish and lasted just 13 league games.
So what of Nigel? We’ll surely keep you informed.

Carbon dioxide emissions in US drop to 20 year low. Why?

I mentioned this article from briefly yesterday, but it’s worth putting on here as well as it does rather poke a bit of stick into the ribs of the local environMENTALists currently going nuts over the SA Government moratorium on fracking being lifted.

Carbon-dioxide emissions in the United States have dropped to their lowest level in 20 years. Estimating on the basis of data from the US Energy Information Agency from the first five months of 2012, this year’s expected CO2 emissions have declined by more than 800 million tons, or 14 percent from their peak in 2007.

The cause is an unprecedented switch to natural gas, which emits 45 percent less carbon per energy unit. The U.S. used to generate about half its electricity from coal, and roughly 20 percent from gas. Over the past five years, those numbers have changed, first slowly and now dramatically: In April of this year, coal’s share in power generation plummeted to just 32 percent, on par with gas.

It is tempting to believe that renewable energy sources are responsible for emissions reductions, but the numbers clearly say otherwise. Accounting for a reduction of 50 Mt of CO2 per year, America’s 30,000 wind turbines reduce emissions by just one-10 the amount that natural gas does. Biofuels reduce emissions by only 10 megatons, and solar panels by a paltry three megatons.

All of which further demonstrates the benefits of shale gas, not just for the South African economy, but also for the environment. And with Eskom currently building the  largest dry-cooled coal fired power station in the world at Medupi in Limpopo, which will burn through almost 15 million tonnes of coal each year for the next 40 years, it would be nice to have a safer, cleaner, more efficient yet viable alternative.

The carbon cost of Germany’s nuclear ‘Nein danke!’

We’ve mentioned Andrea Merkel’s idiotic decision to abandon nuclear power a couple of times on this blog recently (namely here and here). At the time, I said it was a kneejerk reaction – one that hadn’t been properly through (save for trying to keep the green lobby happy). Well, things seem to be going from bad to worse, as David Strahan states in the New Scientist.

Last year the government, headed by Angela Merkel, made the sensible but unpopular decision to extend the life of Germany’s nuclear plants to 2036 as a “bridge technology” towards “the age of renewable energy”. But after the disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in Japan, public hostility intensified and Merkel retreated. The U-turn may help her in the 2013 federal elections but it is a major reversal for the climate.

Germany, (a country which, lest we forget, is a world leader in solar and wind power) now needs to get its energy from somewhere and even with its ambitious plans to produce 35% of its energy from renewable sources by 2020, that simply isn’t enough – even for this world leader.
So, what do they do?

How will Germany fill that hole? With coal and other fossil fuels. It has plans to build 20 gigawatts of fossil-fuel power stations by 2020, including 9 gigawatts of coal by 2013. The government now describes fossil-fuel power stations – apparently without irony – as “the new bridging technology”. Some of this may never be fitted with carbon capture and storage because German environmental campaigners don’t like this technology either.


Trevor Sikorski, head of environmental market research at London investment bank Barclays Capital, calculates that Germany will emit an extra 300 million tonnes of carbon dioxide between now and 2020. That is more than the annual emissions of Italy and Spain combined under the EU’s emissions trading scheme (ETS).

So much for the EU’s plan to reduce carbon emissions by 335 million tonnes by 2020. That’s now been almost completely negated by Germany turning its back on nuclear energy. And with the fossil fuelled power comes other air pollutants, such as nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide, volatile organic compounds and heavy metals.

South African anti-nuclear campaigners (with their dramatic websites) would do well to take note. Their demands for using “renewable” sources to generate electricity might be well-meaning, but are hopelessly inadequate. When a first-world, developed country with a reputation for green technology and engineering can’t support itself with wind and solar and has to turn to dirty coal and oil (albeit because of a silly decision), realistically, what hope does SA have?