Monthly Archives: April 2010

Things To Depress You

Hey, I Don’t Invent This Stuff

Wordle: Gulf Coast oil spill could eclipse Exxon Valdez

It was one thing for a wayward tanker to crash right into the Great Barrier Reef this month, there’s also been this disaster in the Gulf of Mexico where an oil rig blew up and now oil is spewing everywhere.

NEW ORLEANS, Louisiana (AFP) – Oil is leaking from the ruptured well of a large rig that exploded, burnt and sank in the Gulf of Mexico earlier this week, the US Coast Guard said Saturday.

The Coast Guard estimated that up to 1,000 of barrels of oil, or 42,000 gallons (158,987 liters) were spewing each day from a riser and a drill pipe, prompting further concerns of damage to Louisiana’s fragile ecosystem, already stressed by hurricanes and coastal erosion.
Officials confirmed the discovery a day after the Coast Guard said that no oil appeared to be leaking from the well head.

Coast Guard Eighth District commander Rear Admiral Mary Landry told reporters the leak likely began on Thursday, when the rig sank two days after an initial explosion tore through the Deepwater Horizon semi-submersible oil drilling platform.

The best case scenario is sealing off the pipe ruptures in a few days; the worst case scenario is a matter of months. The Coast Guard said it would take several days before they determine how to stop the pipe leaks 5,000 feet (1,525 meters) down in the Gulf waters.

Petty Officer Connie Terrell told AFP the oil sheen was now 20 miles (32 kilometers) in diameter about 40 miles (64 km) off the Louisiana coast. Over 33,700 gallons (127,570 liters) of oily water mix have been recovered in the cleanup effort so far, she said.

Now that’s got to be an ecological disaster the size of which has not been seen since the Exxon Valdez. I know our civilisation runs on oil, but surely these kinds of disasters have to force us to think of alternatives means of running out civilisation. It’s depressing to think that 21 years on from the Exxon Valdez outrage we’re still just as hooked on oil and vulnerable to massive ecological disasters.

The Big ETS Delay

Meanwhile back in Australia, the Labor Government is now making noises that it will delay the introduction of the ETS.

A spokesman for Mr Rudd said the government would legislate an emissions trading scheme by 2013 if there had been ”sufficient international action”. The strategy has been the subject of fierce debate within the government. The move will save $2.5 billion over the next four years.

A special prime ministerial task group will report in June on options including an energy efficiency trading scheme and new industrial and building efficiency measures.

Together with new fuel efficiency regulations and existing funding for solar and clean coal projects, the measures will become pre-election announcements to justify the claim the government is still committed to tackling climate change and able to meet the reduction targets it has pledged internationally.

But environment groups said the deferral – aimed at defusing the opposition leader Tony Abbott’s scare campaign about ”a great big new tax on everything” – would drastically increase the cost of meeting Australia’s targets, no matter what other policies the government adopts. They said it would also send a disastrous signal to the flailing international climate negotiations.

In other words, you delay it and pay more, but you’re not crossing the road alone, first. Was tat really what we voted for back in 2007?

Here is another piece on it, with more of an explanation why they will delay the introduction of the ETS.

The Climate Change Minister, Penny Wong, told the Herald the government would not try to legislate the ETS even by its new delayed start year of 2013 unless there is ”credible action” by the end of 2012 from countries such as China, India and the US. It would also require a resolution of the Copenhagen deadlock over how national efforts are checked.

”We will only [legislate] if there is sufficient international action,” Senator Wong said, declining to explain exactly what that meant. She admitted the delay would ”make meeting our [emission reduction] targets more expensive” and that without a carbon price Australia would not meet the targets at all.

”You can’t get to your targets without a cost on carbon … we have been very clear that we have to put a price on carbon,” she said.

Which all goes to show they understand what they’re trying to do, they understand how urgent it is to do it, but they’re letting the rest of world’s intractability get in the way of doing the right thing. Consider that Kevin Rudd’s government got elected on this promise back in late 2007.  2013 would be 6 years lapsed from that election. The wait is intolerable, and this is absolutely the kind of failure of leadership for which Kevin Rudd was lambasting the Coalition.

The commentary on this very moral cowardice is here.

Tony ”the settled science of climate change is absolute crap” Abbott and Kevin ”the greatest moral challenge of our age” Rudd know they have to have a carbon price to make a significant difference to Australian greenhouse emissions. But both now say they want to wait and see what the rest of the world does.

To understand just how far this debate has shifted, think back to poor old Brendan Nelson, who lost the Liberal leadership in 2008 for suggesting the wait-and-see approach that now seems to have bipartisan approval.

Kevin Rudd suggested yesterday he was just shifting the timing of the ”implementation” of his carbon pollution reduction scheme – like it was a minor administrative matter.

But then he also said he would be assessing at the end of 2012 what the rest of the world had done, and the political realities in the Senate. What if the rest of the world hasn’t done much? Seems he could drop an emissions trading scheme altogether.

The Coalition’s decision to abandon bipartisan support for an emissions trading scheme last year obviously changed the politics of the issue. Labor could have put the issue to a double dissolution election, or said it would try again after a normal half Senate poll. Instead it has distanced itself as far from the scheme as it can without dropping it altogether.

And therein lies the heart of the shit-fight that is the ETS scheme. For a start, the best thing about the ETS is that it puts a price on carbon. When you look at it closer, it’s a crappy price they put on it, because they don’t want to hurt the current emitting industry too much, but it also stalls the growth of carbon capture/management businesses that are waiting for a price. Then of course the ETS arrangement isn’t even perfect. It gives away too many freebies to polluters, which is why the Greens won’t even countenance negotiating with the ALP.

So really, the Rudd Government is basically strapped to both extremes of the argument having to put something in the space dead-bang in between, while the extremes move further out in their cloud-cuckoo directions… rather than just doing what’s right. It should be willing to go the double-dissolution on this alone, but hasn’t. There’s something that reminds us of the politics around the introduction of the GST back in the day. There was no way known a Labor government could/would introduce it, so it fell to the Coalition. The electorate bitched and whined and moaned all the way but hasn’t really found the GST regime to be so crippling to the economy or daily life. It seems there’s no way that a Coalition government an ever put in an ETS given its ‘Global Warming Sceptic’ constituency, so it’s inevitably going to fall to Labor to pass it. And the electorate will bitch and whine and moan, but chances are that in years to come it will be accepted for what it is.

The thing is, if it’s so necessary – and sane people all agree it is – then why don’t they just do it properly? That’s all I’m asking for.

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