Wednesday, 27 January 2010

some summer wine?

I could do with some...

Carpe diem!

ignore! I want war!

telegraph: Government knew 'no leg to stand on" legally to go to war in Iraq

It is amazing with how much you can get away with these days!

Carpe diem!

next sunday's roast: pick your brain

Microwaves dominating our lives:

Admitted, it is no fun to read this report on microwaves and cell phones, mobiles; however, it is an interesting summary of what we should be much more aware of and what we (all?) feared to be(-come) reality for many, many years.

I have picked up on the subject before and had/have to go through all kind of responses like the funny smile or the always aggressive "What do you know!?" from school bus drivers to headteachers and fellow parents that all either love to play with the gadget - the "emergency argument" to "must have one" proves to be the smaller 0.1% exception - or need it as an important element of demonstrating their Zeitgeist understanding and membership or to simply boost their suffering image and that of their ward/family members.

And in my own family? The arguments like "but the others..." or "It can't be that bad..." are dominating and often scotching any discussion; so - as usual - what is left is the vague hope that statistics will hit the others.

The public should know if they are taking a risk with cell phones. What we're doing is a grand world experiment without informed consent."
If all this sounds like some abandoned X-Files script, consider the history of suppression of evidence in the major issues of consumer health over the past half century. Big Tobacco hid the dangers of smoking and the addictiveness of nicotine, supporting its position with countless deceptive studies. Asbestos manufacturers hid evidence that the mineral was dangerous even as tens of thousands of workers died from exposure; the makers of DDT and Agent Orange stood behind their products even as it became clear that the herbicides caused cancer. That the cell-phone industry, which last year posted revenues in the hundreds of billions of dollars, has an incentive to shut down research showing the dangers of cell-phone use is not a radical notion.

It is very worthwhile to read; good luck with taking consequences.

Carpe diem!

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

growth, growther, growthest

growth isn't possible

Dr. Victoria Johnson of nef:

Magic bullets - such as carbon capture and storage, nuclear or even geo-engineering - are potentially dangerous distractions.

BBC news, in short

download the publication (pdf) here.

The definition of growth based on a pecuniary increase alone is just one possible but ancient criteria ruling our lives; should we not better begin to evaluate other areas that could benefit from "growing" such as "quality of life" in general terms or "harmony", "health", "comfort", "knowledge" and "wisdom"; finally "real solutions to real problems" could do with massive growth!

Carpe diem!

Monday, 25 January 2010

the new EU energy commissioner

As a native German speaking English fairly well it is kind of hard to have to listen to another native German trying to speak English having not been taught to do so... while not being able to help. However, it is cruel to have to hear him speak German which he does by insisting (beginning of the video) on absolutely every German needing to be able to speak and understand - guess what?: Die englische Sprache!

Carpe diem!

re-pression is programme

Stock markets are running out of arguments where "all the money pumped into the economies" would pump the global party to new heights. While bank crunch has now turned into a credit crunch and soon will be a supply and demand crunch the global players gamble on all kinds of commodities, an artificial world they dream to live in and bound to bounce.

The wake up call will be ugly; it will be a fight for labour and energy enforced by neo-protecionism which will leave the neo-liberals homeless.

Not that charts tell you much other than memorising the past; obviously 1929/30 and last five years' FTSE look very similar - the challenging difference is that then we had lots of white spots on this planet and WWII was next while today we have many unsolved hot spots in a globalised over-populated world pressurised by the ongoing fights for labour, energy and any other resource.

And why does the GBP look so similar?


history of CO2: Richard B.Alley

You want to take part in the discussion?
You want to understand, know, learn...?
You want to deny CO2 causing global warming?

Then you better listen to Professor Richard B. Alley: it just takes under an hour but will help you to understand things related to many millions and millions of years.

Carpe diem!

Sunday, 24 January 2010

rock's snap-shot

Somewhere in the wwweb, while discussing hottest years, models, numbers, methods and global temperatures:

I really am appalled that stupid has become a lifestyle.
Joe Sixpack and Jane Winebox have decided that somehow objective reality just doesn’t apply to them – and there is no consequence.

You’re considered rude if you point out to them that they are being stupid.
Their vote counts the same as that of somebody sane. I really don’t see how our country comes back from this.

The rest you would find here.

Carpe diem!

Saturday, 23 January 2010

Haiti - the tectonic destruction

The logic behind a terrible disaster.

Carpe diem!

Friday, 22 January 2010

the race for the weakest currency...

has only just begun!

We live in a globalised world where all have access to the same means and tools to compete in what is running for labour, market shares and hopefully heaps of money.

While the US very openly seek an advantage in keeping the greenback at the low side the Chinese just piggybacked their paper money called Renminbi to ensure their exports staying competitive which at the same time enables them to massively import labour; the trick with holding more than two trillion soft bucks in cash is not really that bad as those dollars buy access to energy and plenty of shares in i.e. African countries and companies that are used to even weaker currencies.

What is likely to happen in the not so far future is the EURO, which so far endured and tolerated - of course, lacking an alternative - the dominant but weakening world currency ending is some kind of programmed implosion.

With Greece more than insolvent, Spain, Portugal, Italy and Belgium not far behind and in general terms very overstressed French and German budgets and economies the once so-called hoard of stability, the EURO, is about to fail dramatically. And if it is not failing in one go we will see it stretched until it does.

A scenario where one EURO country goes bust has not been taken into any kind of consideration in Maastricht when the artificial currency was imposed not to mention an ugly event where a number of EURO economies are becoming insolvent in a matter of months. What a coincidence, at the same time the once leading and ever so strong economies like France and above all Germany are virtually running out of paper to print the buckets of money they need to bail out or rather pump up banks, run scrappage schemes or fill up tax revenue holes.

A bursting EURO will automatically open the currencies' race downwards; the battle to export what is produced and to minimise cost but still put people into jobs is fought at the low end of a currency's value, see China. With only two plus two major and globally traded currencies left - $, €, and
¥, £ - it will be interesting to see who will win that race.

I dare say we will all loose.

Carpe diem!

Thursday, 21 January 2010

incentives avoid 3 (8) pplants since 2002

The "B-KWK", the "Bundesverband Kraft-Waerme-Kopplung", a complicated name for what is simply the association of CHP manufacturers and suppliers in Germany has proudly published that the capacity of all installed CHP units since 2002 has avoided to build three average sized power plants in Germany; export included the equivalent of even eight pplants had not to be constructed.

Here is the link; sorry you will need to use some translation software as the association is merely supporting German manufactures - in German language - I was told today. So much for globalisation.

Anyway, it would be interesting to compare the total of paid out incentives with the cost of building those power plants; and then there is the benefit (for...?) of not having had to convince sensible voters and force tough antagonists into actually approve those plants whether nuclear or gas or coal.

Carpe diem!

the crux with foreign incentives

...and why the UK is falling behind: fast!

The most advanced alternative energy systems based on PV (photovoltaic), biogas (manure sewerage), or CHP (Combined Heat and Power), proven in thousands of applications, are on offer from European markets, dominated by mostly German based companies.

Those companies and their clientele benefit from a wide range of incentives for supplying electricity "back" into the public grid; this is because the enduser sells at least part of what he produces to the providers which helps to improve the return on investment into such innovative means of generating energy. In fact those incentives are actually what makes the complete investment feasible and are often paid for all energy produced even when used right away on site!

The various programmes and incentives are constantly discussed; often they are labelled unfair and an unjustified interference with what is to be "left to the markets"; without doubt the oligopoly of energy suppliers makes and dominates this market and is constantly fighting against anything that might threaten its position.

And threatening it is; the more decentralised the energy supply will become the more ground the oligopoly will loose. What is more, a "fast forward" with supporting and developing the intelligent grid based on decentralised power generation will prove at least some of the gigantic investments and unpleasant political pronouncements against very strong public resistance towards new nuclear or in fact any other kind of power plant avoidable.

While this is all happening accompanied by innovative power saving devices and highly energy efficient construction we can all but watch; as the cheap times of pumping oil a few feet up being burnt in what looks like medieval monsters are counted for investments into new proven technologies are almost impossible and often make no "economic", i.e. monetary sense for us in the UK.

Of course, a weak Pound is one problem, but investing into such advanced technology by importing what is proven is hindered even more by the fact that we lack the support, the incentives that, as above, created a vast market on the Continent. Feasibility lacks commercial viability.

I can hear the "let's do it ourselves!" Well, that is like "inventing the wheel again", needs people and banks ready to invest in technology, lots of wheels, a skilled workforce and yet supportive regulation.

So, we leave it to the markets: happy falling.

Carpe diem!

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

wood is not increasing efficiency!

This is biomass; wood, logs, wood chips, saw dust... no doubt, isn't it? Oh, and it is carbon! Right?

Yesterday I spent the better half of an hour on the phone with a gentleman insisting on his idea of sustainability.

He explained how much more energy efficient his 150 year old stone house had become since he generates the necessary heat by taking advantage of the latest technology from Austria, an automatic log burner.

My question as to how much energy his house would need to be comfortable he answered "Depends on how warm you want it; but a trailer-full a week is plenty. Before the new boiler went in we spent about 6,000 quid a year on oil and electricity for heating."


Well, I gave the polite and understanding admirer, just as I am told by our marketing and my preferred wife; however, in principle, I am offended: of course, stone-built-traditionalists might admire the strong and secure walls built by stone; fine, I do to, however, I avoid discussing efficiency and energy consumption when I discuss the architecture and construction of these houses; that is a bit like admiring the vintage RR while avoiding to discuss its CO2 performance. What would be the benefit? The difference of the footprints comparing stone built walls and modern high tech wood built frames is massive and positive reciprocal; structural strength and safety are no question at all.

What put me off was his egocentric declaration and use of wood as a cheap and - he insisted on what he has been told for what is probably the last ten years - carbon-neutral fuel. The picture of an enormous trailer a week, probably half a dozen of trees thrown in that burner to be turned to ashes in a fraction of a fraction of the time it took them to collect CO2 and create carbon, i.e. grow over the last 40 or 50 years, is hardly a sustainable one.

The real offence was the fact that he insisted on having turned his beautiful and ancient house into an energy efficient home just by switching from oil and electricity to wood.

I tried to explain that his house's efficiency like that of any construction rather depends on its demand than on what is generating the heat - but only once.

He is an engineer by profession designing roads and bridges. For the sake of my own safety I hope he won't calculate a bridge's load capacity by means of length and height-above-sea-level alone.

Carpe diem!

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

flood of weak pound equals inflation

telegraph: Bank of England's 'nerves' to be tested as inflation jumps most on record

The sharp rise in the annual rate of consumer price inflation from 1.9pc to 2.9pc was driven by exceptional events in December 2008, as the VAT cut and high street discounting at that point were not repeated last month.

Fine, but here are the two really significant reasons:

  • The weak Pound is automatically importing inflation as imports generally became more expensive; classic example: automobile and energy import prices;
  • bailing out the banks was flooding them with liquidity; € 1,5 trillion in 2009 Europe wide alone - passing those sums on into the economies has not happened at all - but the liquidity has helped to transform what had begun as a bank crunch into a credit crunch. That is per se bad enough, but the real damage is done by the fact that the banks, flooded with cash, had and have to find lucrative investments; so they did what they know best, had done before and what has proved most profitable to achieve ROI figures of 25% (> Josef Ackermann); they buy gold where they produce no jewels, they buy oil without producing energy and food not for feeding anyone; they gamble and speculate as before and very obviously can hardly get enough highly paid gamblers on board.

The Bank of England certainly is the expert; so what is the hidden agenda behind favouring a weak pound in order to boost an almost not existing and really diminishing export industry and of throwing cheap money at failed banks that then dry up the credit markets, chase commodity prices higher and higher and couldn't care less?

It can hardly make sense to get oneself into the either... or...

Carpe diem!

Monday, 18 January 2010

beware the expert: Dominique Strauss-Kahn

THE WALL STREET JOURNAL: IMF Chief Cautions Against Early Stimulus Exit

You read a lot of rubbish these days; and if it is not rubbish it is needless and superfluous platitudes you hear from the ones that are to run the show.

IMF Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn noted that private sector demand is "still very weak" in most nations, while jobless rates could rise in the U.S., Europe and Japan in the months ahead.

Although Strauss-Kahn didn't clearly answer the question of what he thinks of concern over monetary tightening by China, he said: "Certainly, we need rapid growth in China."

Private-sector demand and employment conditions, which could be the "best" indicators to determine the timing of withdrawal, are weak in many economies, he said. Private demand remains dependent on government expenditure and is "not on a sustainable path" in most countries, he said.

"There's a risk of...unemployment rising in coming months" in the U.S. and Europe from their current rates of 10%, and in Japan from around 5%, he said.

The IMF's website notes ambitious aims:

About the IMF

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is an organization of 186 countries, working to foster global monetary cooperation, secure financial stability, facilitate international trade, promote high employment and sustainable economic growth, and reduce poverty around the world.

Ambitious! But obviously in shambles... still, for my part I would like to read about possible solutions and answers, not about what is the obvious.

"Mr. Strauss-Kahn, how do want to achieve a "... rapid growth..." in China and at the same time create new jobs and boost private sector demand in such minor and weak areas like the "U.S., Europe and Japan"?

Thank you for your early answer.

Carpe diem!

Sunday, 17 January 2010

nuclear waste heritage!

A couple of weeks ago under the headline "Forever waste" I referred to problems of the salt mine ASSE in Germany used as a final storage for light and medium contaminated nuclear waste. The storage was used from 1965 until 1978; originally declared safe for at least 100,000 years to come soon penetrating humidity, then water questioned its reliability.

As usual all kinds of sources give you a wide range of choices to select your fears from; while in October of 2009 - see photo below with a man filling his wee cup - reported that the daily volume of water penetrating certain areas of the salt mine and only such with no nuclear waste stored in had increased from 30 to 100 litres per day - which in buckets sounds not really threatening - other official sources report water volumes of up to 12m³ - avoiding to say "12,000 litres per day"; what a charming and calming difference?

Cleaning up in 420 days

Last week it was decided to clean up the place. Roundabout 126,000 barrels filled with nuclear waste, the majority not even labelled, and dumped in deep, now salt water flooded holes will need to be taken above ground (from 750m down) and precisely examined; not decided, yet, is what to do then with the historic waste the majority of which was dumped in 1976 and 1977 when the closure was imminent and all wanted to get rid of then most probably all kinds of nuclear waste; now the commission allows 4.8 minutes for each barrel for transport above ground and thorough examination.

Odd figures always make one sceptical: so they calculated 10,080 hours to do the complete job!? One year equals 8,760 hours, surely they can work in three shifts, so all will be cleaned up within one year and 55 days.

Besides the threat of the water the salt mine is obviously declared structurally unsafe; life spans of 3 to 10 years are given before the risk of collapse is declared acute; no worries, this time the scientists should be a wee more accurate and the tolerance in their guesses might be a bit closer to reality than 100,000 safe years compared to really only just some dozens of years. It remains to be seen whether the tolerances in guessing and throwing the dice will allow for 420 stress-free days for this 4.8 minute per barrel operation.

Would a € per barrel figure not be more interesting?

May be that tells you why the hurry...

Yes, this bracket was once straight.

The globe’s stories about finding appropriate sites for storing nuclear waste even on a minimum scale of sustainability are stories of failure, lies and in the best cases belittlement; never over the last fifty years was just one safe place found but billions have been spent and will now need to be invested into old waste – not to talk about the new one.

It is just another lie that alternative energy is expensive and the driver of cost when it comes to sustainable electricity generation and transport; the real cost for R&D and the waste problematic of nuclear power is dumped on us through separate balance positions. But what is cost against the threat of nuclear contamination? Would you like to own a house around Hanover/Germany and drink fresh water?

final storage sites near Hannover, Germany

Carpe 420 dies!

Thursday, 14 January 2010

do you understand Sarkozy?

Reuters: Sarkozy to grill Renault chiefs over Clio on Saturday

President Nicolas Sarkozy has summoned Renault executive chairman Carlos Ghosn for a meeting over concerns that a new version of its popular Clio car could be made mainly in Turkey.

Government spokesman Luc Chatel told reporters the meeting would take place "very soon" and said it was "completely normal" for the state to make its views clear.

The state has long sought to influence Renault's strategy to preserve domestic jobs. In recent years, Renault has moved production of many of its smaller models to countries where labour, taxes, and production costs are lower.

In February 2009, as a condition of a government aid package during the economic crisis, Renault pledged not to close factories in France for the duration of a 3 billion euro ($4.37 billion) low-interest loan.

Interesting to see the difference between Mrs. Merkel and Mr. Sarkozy running their economies; to imagine Mrs. Merkel ordering Mr. Volkswagen, Mr.Piech, in to tell him to not transfer jobs into foreign countries like Turkey or in the end China would cause a major revolt amongst the German neo-liberal global players; their social consciousness has been globalised; as well and at best.

Remember that disastrous headline about "British jobs for ..." not so long ago? President Sarkozy takes short-cuts - good for him that he obviously has something to protect and at the same time understands, that labour is not an endless resource but faces severe competition.

Carpe diem!

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Is your car the better CHP?

The other day I explained to a visitor that his car would basically be the same like our wee domestic power plant ecopower, a CHP, a Combined Heat and Power unit. You should have seen his face's expression, but...

  • the automobile's engine makes you cover miles; the heat generated from the engine's work keeps one warm, preferably in hard winters like just now;
  • the CHP's engine makes a generator produce electricity; the heat generated from the engine's work keeps your house warm, pref...

That's putting it very basic, true; but it is spot on; Mike Cocking of Marathon, our American partner, reveals the "not so dark secrets" behind all that:

Find more videos like this on PickensPlan

And NO, your car is not the better CHP; among others it produces far more thermal energy (heat) than you need to be kept warm inside that small vehicle - even if it was a gigantic mobile home. That surplus of heat is radiated, i.e. blasted into the environment. Strangely enough that "wasted" heat is by far not discussed as much as GHG emissions are even though it definitely warms up the globe.

Our system produces just the "energies" (electricity and heat) that are needed to run our premises, no more, no less, no excess, no waste!

Okay, it does not carry you anywhere, but it is simple, reliable and very efficient; such systems will be the basic elements of what will become the intelligent grid and is strongly supported in many countries worldwide but the UK!


Carpe diem!


click to enlarge
Just a normal winter showing its beautiful side.

Carpe diem!

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

water equals energy

The Threat of a Global Water Shortage

click to enlarge

While studying the above: food of (almost) all kinds (like water) is energy; but water also is a necessity for generating electric energy and that is not only for hydro stations or growing energy crop but to cool most power plants from nuclear to gas and coal; or to drive steam turbines; vast amounts are also needed to dissolve and clean or separate all kinds of natural resources from oil to gold; hence, water will soon become another cost driving factor.

Carpe diem!

Monday, 11 January 2010

phthalates and obesity

Child Obesity Is Linked to Chemicals in Plastics

The chemicals in question are called phthalates, which are used to to make plastics pliable and in personal care products. Phthalates, which are absorbed into the body, are a type of endocrine disruptor — chemicals that affect glands and hormones that regulate many bodily functions.

The headline is not new; anyway, here is what can be done to avoid these phthalates:

How to Avoid Phthalates In 3 Steps

Here are three tips for identifying products that have, or are likely to have, phthalates or another compound that has raised similar concerns and is found in similar products, Bisphenol A.
  1. Read the ingredients. According to the organization Pollution in People, you can identify phthalates in some products by their chemical names, or abbreviations:

    • DBP (di-n-butyl phthalate) and DEP (diethyl phthalate) are often found in personal care products, including nail polishes, deodorants, perfumes and cologne, aftershave lotions, shampoos, hair gels and hand lotions. (BzBP, see below, is also in some personal care products.)
    • DEHP (di-(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate or Bis (2-ethylhexyl) phthalate) is used in PVC plastics, including some medical devices.
    • BzBP (benzylbutyl phthalate) is used in some flooring, car products and personal care products.
    • DMP (dimethyl phthalate) is used in insect repellent and some plastics (as well as rocket propellant).
  2. Be wary of the term "fragrance," which is used to denote a combination of compounds, possibly including phthatates, which are a subject of recent concern because of studies showing they can mimic certain hormones.
  3. Choose plastics with the recycling code 1, 2 or 5. Recycling codes 3 and 7 are more likely to contain bisphenol A or phthalates.

on fast track: PRoChina!

How about a fast train connection between the Channel Tunnel and Inverness? The +600 miles could be cut down to a three to four hour trip at the most - say, breakfast, attending to some messages and a cosy tea break. Including planning and construction it can be done in about 4 years, the Chinese say - and have done it.
Unveiled: China's 245mph train service is the world's fastest... and it was completed in just FOUR years

The super-high-speed train reduces the 664-mile journey to just a three-hour ride and cuts the previous journey time by more than seven-and-a-half hours, the official Xinhua news agency said.
In September, officials said they planned to build 42 high-speed lines by 2012 in a massive system overhaul as part of efforts to spur economic growth amid the global downturn.
China's fast track railway system, planned or under construction - the scale is gigantic and makes Taiwan (and us) look extremely tiny:

Besides building the track Wuhan to Guangzhou Chinese workers simultaneously built nine (!) stations and they ordered 100 new trains from SIEMENS, BOMBARDIER and ALSTOM; a nice contract one would think, definitly for the shareholders and the Chinese work force as all the trains will be built in China!

When will we begin to attend to future?

Carpe diem!

perverse? no: healthy and safe!

Health and safety experts warn: don't clear icy pavements, you could get sued

Why does nobody clear the paths outside their homes? Yup, it's all down to health and safety

Making your way through uncleared snow, ice and slush is healthy and safe; for all ages and at any time! This makes clearing pavements, roads and parking places really an absurd and unhealthful conception! And there is more room for all the other Bull...t! Or would "perverse" be the better expression?

Carpe diem!

P.S. There are rumors that Health and Safety wants everybody to wear helmets; that's against birds, birds' sh.. and the occasional plane; it will make the timely shareholder rich and most of us looking like idiots on ice.

Update 12-01-10: Interesting!

Sunday Telegraph and Mail on Sunday accused of printing false comments from health and safety experts

Health and safety gone mad? Poor journalism run amok more like.

Journalism obviously goes mad; from birds to swines and from snow to health.