Currently showing: Climate/natural disasters


11 Jun 13 07:33

Our hundred year reliance on oil is at a turning point. The BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico put the spotlight on the far reaching consequences that our addiction to oil is having on the natural world and on the climate.

Today, oil is being used to power most of our vehicles, making us all dependent on it in some way - to get our food, to see our loved ones or to go on holiday. There are millions of cars, buses, trucks, ships and planes moving around our cities, our country, oceans and skies, connecting people and moving stuff around the world. But all of these vehicles need millions of gallons of oil to keep them going every day. And that’s taking a toll on the air we breathe, on our energy security, our economy, the environment and our climate.

But the giant oil fields that the industry hoped would last forever are starting to run dry. Faced with increasing restraints on access to the easy oil, companies are pushing in to areas previously considered too inaccessible, expensive or too risky to exploit. And this means going to greater and greater extremes to squeeze the last drops of oil from the earth - scraping the barrel in the tar sands of Canada, potentially violating the fragile ecosystems of the Arctic and now the pristine coastlines of New Zealand

(Video included with permission.)


Category: Climate/natural disasters, Sustainable energy: Fossil fuel, Other


5 Comments

Alicia Montoya - 11 Jun 2013, 8:56 p.m.

Oh trust me, I can't wait for a world in which all main cities are connected by high speed clean rail, our homes and industries are powered by renewables.. and we fly nothing but solar planes! In fact, I've adopted a solar cell on the first plane that can fly on zero fuel day and night, Solar Impulse. You can too! https://openminds.swissre.com/story/113/i%27ve-just-adopted-a-solar-cell%21

But in the meantime, we're going to need a mix of technologies. The question is what and how much of it needs to go into our energy mix? (And by the way, you never took the bait on my last post on nuclear in which I mention Greenpeace - will we need nuclear? Have your say: https://openminds.swissre.com/story/257/nuclear-economics)

I would say that, until renewables are price-competitive with fossil fuels, we will probably need to rely on a mix of technologies. But in this transitional period, I believe we should be as clean as possible and lay off from the extremely detrimental methods like tar sands. Seriously, we can do much better than that, even with fossil e.g. new, super efficient (ultra-supercritical) steam power plants with CCS.

Also, we need to include all externalities in our cost calculations. I think the day we do that we'll be amazed of just how much better off we'll be -economically, socially and environmentally- with as much renewable energy as our respective regions can produce.

Paritosh - 13 Jun 2013, 9:17 a.m.

The thoughts looks so very similar to my own: https://openminds.swissre.com/story/214/renewable-energy-start-now

There has to be a serious beginning. From a common man's point of views, the price and maintenance are a big setback.

I agree with High rise windmills and acres filled with of solar-power plants, but sadly this is a top to bottom approach.

For a revolution, we need a bottom-top approach. Make windable mp3 players, players, e.t.c. available in the market, easily & cheaply,... once people will realize such a thing could exist on smaller scale, you will see the revolution happening much faster...

Daniel Martin Eckhart - 13 Jun 2013, 9:40 a.m.

I also used to think "if only renewable energy were more price-competitive" ... but the oil industry ensures that it isn't. They're in all the necessary places to ensure that they get the political power - and thus often the better tax and law deals. What's missing is the level playing field. There's two sides to this coins (heck, there are probably many more to this strange coin but I'll focus on two):

1. The current political systems need to have the money taken out of it. This is an impossible battle and yet there is a growing will to tackle it. Wolf PAC is one such example > http://www.wolf-pac.com/

2. People need to pay the real price of what they buy. That would dramatically alter ... everything. There's a great speaker and poet, Chandran Nair. He's quite controversial in that he suggests Asia should stop following the Western economic model. Here's a bit about him > https://openminds.swissre.com/story/145/do-we-need-a-global-social-contract . It's definitely also worth looking up his TED Talk on YouTube.

Bernd Wilke - 13 Jun 2013, 11 a.m.

Transport is surely the least difficult point to tackle in respect to a carbon free future. The consumer would be in a very good position to actually steer that process. But when I see all the cars on the road and especially the kind of cars, which are out there - gasoline gulping SUVs with one person in it - I wonder if the consumer leaves his environmental consciousness at the front door of the car dealership.

Zürich is not lacking a good public transport system and still very day I see long queues of SUV stuck in traffic in town. So for me the key question is, how we get the people to change their habits. And it does not seem to be an intellectual "logic" thing - because looking at the traffic even the drivers should know, that this does not make sense. Maybe we have to make public transport an emotional experience similar to getting a new Porche.

If we would change our consumption pattern, the need to go deep drilling would no longer be there - i.e. it would not be economically viable. But it is not only us. In Bejing the number of cars increased by 173,000 to 5.017 million (http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/china/2012-02/16/c_122713279.htm). How do we deal with this?

Bernd Wilke - 13 Jun 2013, 11:01 a.m.

And it should not be the "least" but the MOST difficult point of course:-)


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