Monday, December 21, 2009

Fighting for fossils: the al-Fakkah oil field and West Virginian mountain tops

The United Nations Climate Change Conference 2009 (COP15) has just ended at the Bella Center in Copenhagen, Denmark. Even while world leaders were discussing how to curb demand for fossil energy the fight for control of supply of them continued unabated.

On the Iran-Iraq border the two countries are moving troops around to impress each other. On Friday the 18th, when COP15 was scheduled to end, Iraq accused Iran of seizing the al-Fakkah oil well on disputed border territory. Saturday they sent troops. Early December Iraq signed contracts with Royal Dutch Shell and Petronas for the development of the 1.5 billion barrel oil field. (Iraq accuses Iran of seizing oil well near border, Iraq sends forces to oil well seized by Iran, Baghdad reclaims oil facility at al-Fakkah)

Although (technically) not in this conflict, the US army is worrying a great deal about it (Mullen: "Clock Now Running" on Iran).

At home the Americans are divided in the question about how far to go in the pursuit of their own fossil resources. Is removing mountain tops for coal going too far? Much too far, says environmentalists. A group called Climate Ground Zero has arranged more than 20 protests in which more than 100 activists have been arrested.

"Mountaintop-removal mining blasts away our souls, blasts away our communities, the souls of the workers who are doing the work and our cultural and natural heritage."
- Rev. Robin Blakeman, West Virginia minister and environmental activist.

"Treehuggers", says the miners. The mine operator, Massey Energy, equates being anti-coal with being anti-American. July 2009 I posted a YouTube video of miners harassing environmentalists (Workers of polluting and nature exploiting industries in violent attacks against environmentalists).

"Look out violence is coming your way. There is a group ready as we speak to eliminate the threat."
- "Superhippieslayer", anonymous online miner

"There's a possibility it might not be safe to live in the Coal River Valley"
- Chuck Nelson, activist and former underground miner

(Fear of violence grows in mountaintop mining fight, Religion shaping mountain-top removal debate in Appalachia coal country)

World Gas Prices by Don Hankins

(This article was cross-posted at TH!NK ABOUT IT.)

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

"The Risk of Caution" by Joachim Spangenberg

The second of three videos: Dr. Joachim Spangenberg, Vice Chairman of the sustainable Europe Research Institute Germany e.V. (SERI), speaks at "Climate change and conflict - The Danger of future wars", Klimaforum09 Sunday the 13th of December 2009. The video is of the first half of his presentation only (the rest I got on audio only).

Joachim Spangenberg at Klimaforum09 from Benno Hansen on Vimeo.

"The greenhouse gas in the atmosphere cannot be convinced by political majority decision it should behave differently."

"There is no substitue for water, there is no substitue for soil, there is no substitue for biodiversity. Which means we are dealing with resources which are all threatened by climate change. [...] We are organizing a multi-threat attack on mankind - at the same time not building up our defense lines."

"Economic tells you that if something's not scarce it's not valuable. [...] Which means biodiversity, as long as it's plentiful, it has no value. And when we begin to lose it it becomes valuable. So maybe the best method to enhance the value of nature is destroying it?"

Jürgen Scheffran at Klimaforum09

I attended "Climate change and conflict - The Danger of future wars", Klimaforum09 Sunday the 13th of December 2009.

Prof. Dr. Jürgen Scheffran, Institute for geography in the KlimaCampus at University Hamburg, Germany and The International Network of Engineers and Scientists for Global Responsibility (INES) made the first presentation.

The event had an initial resource crisis: Too many spectators had showed up and in choosing between fighting over seats or exchanging the limited resource, the room, organizers fortunately chose the latter. Hence, the talk is also a bit chaotic (presentation projector starts 6 min into the talk, microphone 11 mins into it).

Jürgen Scheffran at Klimaforum09 from Benno Hansen on Vimeo.

"The essential simple assumption would [be to] think: more temperature, more conflict. It's not that simple if you look at previous data. [...] there was a drop of conflict with the end of The Cold War despite the fact there was temperature rise. You cannot make that simple link here. Because conflicts have many reasons, not just global warming."

"[We] have looked at major conflict constellations that may be relevant in the future. One is water, one is food, one is natural disasters [...] the fourth one is migration as a factor. These could contribute each of themselves but also in their combination."

"The final choice [...] the world is facing: Are we moving towards [...] more environment destruction, more instability and war - and the link between these two - or are we moving toward [...] sustainable development, emission reduction, peace and security, and the [...] links between peace, security and [...mumbles...sustainable development]?"

The talks had this description in the Klimaforum09 programme:
Climate change will create both floods and draught and force millions of poor people to flee their homes. The world will be short of the basic needs of human beings. We will experience more conflicts about farmland, water and food. According to UN, 20 million people were made homeless because of climate related disasters in 2008. We need solutions that are social and global just and responsible. We need the money used on weapons of mass destruction and warfare to be transferred to social and sustainable development.

Dr. Joachim Spangenberg, Germany and Prof. Dr. Claus Montonen Finland also spoke. I'll post some clips of them later.

They promised to put their presentations online and I'll link as soon as I see them.

Jürgen Scheffran is also the expert in the August, 2008 "Expert: Climate Change causes wars".

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Nnimmo Bassey: "Leave the oil in the soil, leave the coal in the hole"

The alternative to the official UN COP15 summit is called Klimaforum09 - free, open for all and packed with interesting speaks, workshops and exhibitions. It opened this Monday, the 7th of December, simultaneously with COP15.

The main attraction was, hands down, Naomi Klein. She is also getting the attention on the website so far: Last chance to save the world says Naomi Klein is basically the only new article there right now.

At least as inspiring as her was one Nnimmo Bassey whose speech I give you my recording of right away. Watch (well, listen) now. Very critical of COP15 this African is.

Activist and author Nnimmo Bassey was awarded a TIME Magazine Hero of the Environment 2009 award. Rather than being a climate change activist he's from a oil corporation vs. human rights background:

"Oil has been the destruction of the Nigerian economy. It destroys the relation between the people and the state."

As quoted from the TIME article. From the speech in the video:

"People say that crude oil is an easy and cheap form of energy. But it's not the truth. Crude oil may be cheap but only because people are not paying the price. If you see what is going on in the oil fields: The pollution, the degradation, the human rights abuses, the murders and the killings - I would like you to tell me how much one drop of oil should cost." (4:07)

I have previously blogged about Nigeria. It's one of the epicentres of climate change impact. We write about it, they got it: Deforestation and desertification (as mentioned briefly in the video speech), violence over oil and a life giving but drying out lake.

The other aspects of the opening ceremony included - besides Naomi Klein - one Henry Saragih and a percussionist playing on melting ice (yes!). Stay tuned for more!

(As you may have guessed, my visit to klimaforum09 was largely inspired by my participation in TH!NK ABOUT IT #2 about climate change. So, this video is cross posted at my column there.)

Search This Blog