Humans driving species to extinction 1,000 times the natural rate

[ According to a paper published in Science (Pimm, S.L., et al, 30 May 2014. The biodiversity of species and their rates of extinction, distribution, and protection). The higher estimate in this study than previous estimates is due to a more sophisticated analysis. ]

Current rates of extinction are about 1000 times the background rate of extinction. These are higher than previously estimated and likely still underestimated. Future rates will depend on many factors and are poised to increase.

Recent studies clarify where the most vulnerable species live, where and how humanity changes the planet, and how this drives extinctions. We assess key statistics about species, their distribution, and their status.   Those we know best have large geographical ranges and are often common within them. Most known species have small ranges. The numbers of small-ranged species are increasing quickly, even in well-known taxa. They are geographically concentrated and are disproportionately likely to be threatened or already extinct.   Although there has been rapid progress in developing protected areas, such efforts are not ecologically representative, nor do they optimally protect biodiversity.

Concerns about biodiversity arise because present extinction rates are exceptionally high. Consequently, we first compare current extinction rates to those before human actions elevated them.

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Looting On the Rise As Venezuela Runs Out of Food, Electricity

[ Venezuela is experiencing a double whammy of drought and low oil prices, which has lead to blackouts and inability to import food.  I’ve only put one article below, here are other reports in the news. 

2016-05-04 Hungry Venezuelans Hunt Dogs, Cats, Pigeons as Food Runs Out. Economic Crisis and Food Shortages Lead to Looting and Hunting Stray Animals  

Alice Friedemann   www.energyskeptic.com  author of “When Trucks Stop Running: Energy and the Future of Transportation, 2015, Springer]

Sabrina Martín. April 27, 2016. Looting On the Rise As Venezuela Runs Out of Food, Electricity. PanAmPost.

Food Producers Alert They Have Only 15 Days Left of Inventory amid Rampant Inflation

“Despair and violence is taking over Venezuela. The economic crisis sweeping the nation means people have to withstand widespread shortages of staple products, medicine, and food.  So when the Maduro administration began rationing electricity this week, leaving entire cities in the dark for up to 4 hours every day, discontent gave way to social unrest.

On April 26, people took to the streets in three Venezuelan states, looting stores to find food.

Maracaibo, in the western state of Zulia, is the epicenter of thefts: on Tuesday alone, Venezuelans raided pharmacies, shopping malls, supermarkets, and even trucks with food in seven different areas of the city.

Although at least nine people were arrested, and 2,000 security officers were deployed in the state, Zulia’s Secretary of Government Giovanny Villalobos asked citizens not to leave their homes. “There are violent people out there that can harm you,” he warned.

In Caracas, the Venezuelan capital, citizens reported looting in at least three areas of the city. Twitter users reported that thefts occurred throughout the night in the industrial zone of La California, Campo Rico, and Buena Vista.  The same happened in Carabobo, a state in central Venezuela.

Supermarkets employees from Valencia told the PanAm Post that besides no longer receiving the same amount of food as before, they must deal with angry Venezuelans who come to the stores only to find out there’s little to buy.

Purchases in supermarkets are rationed through a fingerprint system that does not allow Venezuelans to acquire the same regulated food for two weeks.

Due to the country’s mangled economy, millions must stand in long lines for hours just to purchase basic products, which many resell  for extra income as the country’s minimum wage is far from enough to cover a family’s needs.

On Wednesday, the Venezuelan Chamber of Food (Cavidea) said in a statement that most companies only have 15 days worth of stocked food.

According to the union, the production of food will continue to dwindle because raw materials as well as local and foreign inputs are depleted.

In the statement, Cavidea reported that they are 300 days overdue on payments to suppliers and it’s been 200 days since the national  government last authorized the purchase of dollars under the foreign currency control system.

The latest Survey of Living Conditions (Encovi) showed that more than 3 million Venezuelans eat only twice a day or less. The rampart inflation and low wages make it increasingly more difficult for people to afford food.

“Fruits and vegetables have disappeared from shopping lists. What you buy is what fills your stomach more: 40 percent of the basic groceries is made up of corn flour, rice, pasta, and fat”.

But not even that incomplete diet Venezuelans can live on because those food products are hard to come by. Since their prices are controlled by the government, they are scarce and more people demand them.

The survey also notes the rise of diseases such as gastritis, with an increase of 25 percent in 2015, followed by poisoning (24.11 percent), parasites (17.86 percent), and bacteria (10.71 percent).

The results of this study are consistent with the testimony of Venezuelan women, who told the PanAm Post that because “everything is so expensive” that they prefer to eat twice a day and leave lunch for their children. That way they can make do with the little portions they can afford.”

 

Posted in Central & South America, Social Disorder | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Earthquakes in California could cost over $200 billion dollars

earthquake haz nxt 50 yrs USGS 2014The figures below don’t do justice to the harm an earthquake would do.  There is $1.9 trillion dollars of property at risk from earthquakes in the San Francisco Bay Area, where a catastrophic earthquake on the Hayward Fault would almost certainly have ripple effects throughout California, the U.S. and the world, since this area has one of the highest concentrations of people, wealth, and innovation in the U.S. (Grossi).

These are just a few of the earthquake faults and their estimated costs in California:

Earthquake (Cost / Where):

  • $  69 billion / Southern California Puente Hills fault
  • $  54 billion / Northern California San Andreas Fault
  • $ 213 billion / Southern California San Andreas Fault (Ii 2016, USGS 2008)
  • $  49 billion / Southern California Newport-Inglewood fault
  • $ 190-235 billion / Northern California Hayward Fault (Lesle 2014, Grossi 2013)
  • $  30 billion / Southern California Palos Verdes fault
  • $  29 billion / Southern California Whittier fault
  • $  24 billion / Southern California Verdugo fault

Possible cascading effects of a large earthquake would be:

  • Destruction of the delta levee system, resulting in $40 billion losses and no drinking water for 23 million people
  • Crashing the U.S. financial system, perhaps also the global financial system
  • Los Angeles is the #1 port in the USA and Oakland #7 in the value of import and exported goods
  • Food security: California supplies a third of food in the United States, and exports a great deal of food as well
  • Bankruptcy of most insurance and re-insurance companies, delaying and preventing recovery
  • Earthquakes sometimes result in compound disasters, in which the major event triggers a secondary event, natural or from the failure of a man-made system. In urban areas, fires may originate in gas lines and spread to storage facilities for petroleum products, gases, and chemicals. These fires often are a much more destructive agent than the tremors themselves because water mains and fire-fighting equipment are rendered useless. More than 80 percent of the total damage in the 1906 San Francisco quake was due to fire (OTA).

California Bay Area Hayward or San Andreas earthquake

  • According to reports by the Association of Bay Area Governments, more than 100,000 dwellings would be uninhabitable and as many as 400,000 could sustain some damage. In a region where rents and home prices are at a premium and vacancies are extremely low, damage to one third of the housing stock in the counties closest to the fault rupture (combined with the business disruption and the inability to travel around the region) would create a social and financial disaster.
  • The potential for massive disruption is a function of the physical conditions in the region. The building stock and the infrastructure are old. The geography of the region has concentrated urban development between the hills and the bay, forcing limited transit corridors with little redundancy and creating significant distances between the urban core immediately surrounding the bay and outlying communities.

On July 17, 2014, the United States Geological Survey (USGS) announced updated U.S. National Seismic Hazard Maps, with the latest scientific views on where, how often, and how hard future earthquakes will be.  Some of the details have changed since the maps were last released in 2008 (National Seismic Hazard Project.)

Lack of Insurance in the San Francisco Bay Area

Over half of the loss after Hurricane katrina was covered by insurance.  But only 5% to 10% of the total residential losses and 15% to 20% of the commercial losses of a major Hayward Fault earthquake are expected to be reimbursed by insurance. Overall, insurance payments will cover between 10% and 15% of the total loss—somewhere between $11 and $26 billion (Grossi).

[ Appendix A has a house hearing on earthquakes in the U.S. below, after the references ]

Alice Friedemann   www.energyskeptic.com  author of “When Trucks Stop Running: Energy and the Future of Transportation, 2015, Springer

References

Mary C. Comerio. 2000. Paying for the Next Big One. Our system for financing recovery from natural disasters is in shambles. Issues in Science & Technology. National Academy of Sciences.

B. Rowshandel, et. al. 2003. Estimation of Future Earthquake Losses in California.  California Geological Survey.

Earthquake Engineering Research Institute (EERI), Scenario for a Magnitude 7.0 Earthquake on the Hayward Fault (Oakland, Calif.: EERI, 1996).

Grossi, P., et al. 2013. 1868 Hayward Earthquake: 145-year retrospective. Risk Management Solutions.

Ii, Rong-gong Lin. May 5, 2016. San Andreas Fault ‘locked, loaded and ready to roll’ with big quake, expert says. Los Angeles Times.

Lesle, T. 2014. Doomsday 4: A Massive Quake Could Be Only the Beginning of the Bay Area’s Woes. Cal Alumni Association, UC Berkeley.

OTA (Office of Technology Assessment). 1990. Physical Vulnerability of Electric System to Natural Disasters and Sabotage. OTA-E-453. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office.

Peter May and Walter Williams, Disaster Policy Implementation: Managing Programs Under Shared Governance (New York: Plenum Press, 1986).

Risa Palm and Michael Hodgson, After a California Earthquake: Attitude and Behavior Change (Chicago, Ill.: University of Chicago Press, 1992).

Jeanie Perkins et al., Preventing the Nightmare (Oakland, Calif.: Association of Bay Area Governments, 1999).

Jeanie Perkins et al., Shaken Awake (Oakland, Calif.: Association of Bay Area Governments, 1996).

Rutherford H. Platt, Disasters and Democracy: The Politics of Extreme Natural Events (Washington, D.C: Island Press, 1999).

USGS. 2008. The ShakeOut Scenario. United States Geological Survey.    Report 2008-1150

APPENDIX A

House 112-13. April 7, 2011. Are we prepared? Assessing earthquake risk reduction in the U.S.  House hearing. 82 pages.

Excerpts:

The hearing will examine various elements of the Nation’s level of earthquake preparedness and resiliency including the U.S. capability to detect earthquakes and issue notifications and warnings, coordination between federal, state and local stakeholders for earthquake emergency preparation, and research and development measures supported by the federal government designed to improve the scientific understanding of earthquakes. Portions of all 50 states are vulnerable to earthquake hazards, although risks vary across the country and within individual states. Twenty-six urban areas in 14 U.S. states face significant seismic risk. Earthquake hazards are greatest in the western United States, particularly in California, Oregon, Washington, Alaska, and Hawaii. Though infrequent, earthquakes are unique among natural hazards in that they strike without warning. Earthquakes proceed as cascades, in which the primary effects of faulting and ground shaking induce secondary effects such as landslides, liquefaction, and tsunami, which in turn set off destructive processes within the built environment; structures collapse, people are injured or killed, infrastructure is disrupted, and business interruption begins. The socioeconomic effects of large earthquakes can reverberate for decades. The recent earthquake that struck off the coast of northern Japan on March 11, 2011, illustrates that the effects of an earthquake can be catastrophic. The earthquake, recorded as a 9.0 on the Richter scale, is the most powerful quake to hit the country, and it triggered a devastating tsunami that swept over cities and farmland in the northern part of the country. As Japan struggles with rescue efforts, it also faces a nuclear emergency due to damage to the nuclear reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station. As of March 31, the official death toll from the earthquake and resulting tsunami includes more than 11,600, and more than 16,000 people were listed as missing. The final toll is expected to reach nearly 20,000. More than 190,000 people remained housed in temporary shelters; tens of thousands of others evacuated their homes due to the nuclear crisis and related fear.

In Japan, the after effects of the quakes have reduced supplies of water and electricity, hampering their ability to export many manufacturing products and forcing some businesses to slow or stop operation all together. Supply chains for important technology products here in the States have also been interrupted, directly impacting our productivity.

Clearly the consequences of a major earthquake are felt on a global scale. These hazards represent a serious threat to both national security and global commerce. Given our current economic situation, it would be even more painful for the United States to endure a disastrous earthquake, the socioeconomic effects of which would reverberate for decades.

CHRIS POLAND, CHAIRMAN AND CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER, DEGENKOLB ENGINEERS AND CHAIRMAN, NEHRP ADVISORY COMMITTEE

I am testifying on behalf of the 140,000 members of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE). At ASCE, I am Chairman of the Infrastructure and Research Policy Committee. Additionally, I serve as Chairman, Degenkolb Engineers; and I serve as Chairman of the National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program (NEHRP) Advisory Committee. I am registered civil and structural engineer, and have worked for more than 35-years as an advisor on government programs for earthquake hazard mitigation and in related professional activities.

It also must be recognized that resilience is not just about the built environment. It starts with individuals, families, communities, and includes their organizations, businesses, and local governments. In addition to an appropriately constructed built environment, resilience includes plans for post event governance, reconstruction standards that assure better performance in the next event, and a financial roadmap for funding the recovery.

While the nation can promote resilience through improved design codes and mitigation strategies, implementation and response occur at the local level. Making such a shift to updated codes and generating community support for new policies are not possible without solid, unified support from all levels of government.

The federal government needs to set performance standards that can be embedded in the national design codes, be adamant that states adopt contemporary building codes including provisions for rigorous enforcement, provide financial incentives to stimulate mitigation that benefits the nation, and continue to support research that delivers new technologies that minimize the cost of mitigation, response, and recovery. Regions need to identify the vulnerability of their lifeline systems and set programs for their mitigation to the minimum level of need. Localities need to develop mandatory programs that mitigate their built environment as needed to assure recovery.

[In response to a question about how prepared we are on a scale of 1 to 100 for resiliency, preparation, and recovery]:  Are we prepared? No. I would say maybe 10. In areas of very high seismicity in California, Oregon and Washington, there have been building codes in place for 20 years that are going to help people be safe. Other parts of the country that we talk about, those things are not in place., From a scale of safety, I believe that California will maybe 50 or 60. On a scale of resilience to be able to recover quickly and not have a significant impact on the national economy, we are still down in the 10–20 range.

The vast majority of our building stock and utility systems in place today were not designed for earthquake effects let alone given the ability to recover quickly from strong shaking and land movement. Earthquake Engineering is a new and emerging field and only since the mid-1980s has sufficient information been available to assure safe designs. Design procedures that will assure resilience are just now being developed. Strong, community destroying earthquakes are expected to occur throughout the United States. In most regions outside of California, little is being done about it. While modern building codes and design standards are available, they are not routinely implemented on new construction or during major rehabilitation efforts because of the complexity and cost. Many communities do not believe they are vulnerable and if they do accept the vulnerability, find the demands of seismic mitigation unreachable.

The problem of implementation and acceptance does not just lie with the public, but also with the earthquake professionals. Because this is an emerging area of understanding, conservatism is added whenever there is significant uncertainty. Earth Science research has made great strides in identifying areas that will be affected by strong shaking. Unfortunately, each earthquake brings different styles of shaking and building performance. This leaves many structural engineers generally uncertain about what causes buildings to collapse, and unwilling to predict the extent of damage that will occur, let alone whether a building will be usable during repairs or if lifeline systems can be restored quickly enough. Resilience demands transparent performance and significant earthquake science and earthquake engineering research and guideline development is needed to bring that ability to communities.

Comprehensive worldwide monitoring and data gathering related to earthquake intensity and impact. Extensive instrumentation is needed to adequately record the size and characteristics of the energy released and the variation in intensity of strong shaking that affect the built environment. We are lucky if we obtain a handful of records for entire cities but in reality thousands are needed to record the dramatic differences that occur and to understand the damage that results. In addition, the geologic changes that occur due to faulting, landslides, and liquefaction need to be surveyed, recorded, and used to understand the future vulnerability of the built environment to land movement. A network of observation centers is needed to record, catalogue and maintain information related to the impacts on society, and the factors influencing communities’ disaster risk and resilience. At present, earthquake engineering is based more on anecdotal observations of damage that are translated into conservative design procedures without the benefit of accurate data about what actually happened. In my mind, expanded monitoring is the single most important area that will reduce the cost of seismic design and mitigation that will allow us to achieve greater resilience.

An Overarching Framework that defines resilience in terms of Performance Goals Resiliency is all about how a community of individuals and their built environment weather the damage, respond and recover. It is more about improvisation and redundancy than about how any single element or system performs. Buildings and systems are designed one structure at a time for the worst conditions they are expected to experience. This approach worked well when life safety was the goal, and there was no need to consider the overall performance of the built environment. Resiliency, however, demands that performance goals and their interdependencies are set at the community level for the classes of structures and systems communities depend during the recovery process. Facilities providing essential services during post-earthquake response and recovery must function without interruption. Electric power is needed before any other system can be fully restored. Emergency generators can only last a few days without additional deliveries of fuel. Power restoration, however, depends on access for emergency repair crews and their supplies. Community level recovery depends on neighborhoods being restored within a few weeks so the needed workforce is available to restart the local economy. People must be able to shelter in place in their homes, even without utilities, but cannot be expected to stay and work after a few days without basic utility services. To ensure that past and future advances in building, lifelines, urban design, technology, and socioeconomic research result in improved community resilience, a framework for measuring, monitoring and evaluating community resilience is needed. This framework must consider performance at various scales-e.g., building, lifeline, and community-and build on the experience and lessons of past events. Only the Federal government can break the stalemate related to setting performance goals that if left alone will eventually cripple the nation.

Senator David Wu, Oregon. As an Oregonian, I am particularly concerned with the prospect of a similar disaster occurring in the Pacific Northwest. Off the coast of Oregon, Washington and northern California, we have the Cascadia subduction zone, and this fault is currently locked in place, but research over the last 30 years indicates that the same stress now accumulating has been released as a large earthquake once about every 300 years dating back to the last ice age about 12,000 years ago. The last Cascadia earthquake occurred 309 or 310 years ago. It was a magnitude 9.0 earthquake, the same destructive magnitude as the one that stuck Japan. All indications show that we Oregonians can expect another quake any time. It is a matter of when, not a matter of if.

When the next earthquake occurs on our fault, there will be prolonged shaking, perhaps for as long as five minutes, with the potential to collapse buildings, create landslides, and destroy water, power, and other crucial infrastructure and lifelines. Such an earthquake will also likely trigger a devastating tsunami that could overwhelm the Oregon coast in less than 15 minutes, resulting in potentially thousands of fatalities and billions of dollars in damage. Unfortunately, this type of disaster scenario is not limited to the Western United States. In fact, more than 75 million Americans across 39 states face significant risk from earthquakes.

JACK HAYES, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL EARTHQUAKE HAZARDS REDUCTION PROGRAM, NIST.  Since the beginning of 2010, we have witnessed horrific losses of life in Haiti (over 230,000) and Japan (toll still unknown but numbering in the tens of thousands) due to the combined earthquake and tsunami impacts, and lesser, but nevertheless significant, losses of life in Chile and New Zealand. The toll in terms of human life is overwhelming, and we all offer our heartfelt sympathy to those nations and their citizens.

Haiti and Chile earthquakes provided a stark contrast in the effectiveness of modern building codes and sound construction practices. In Haiti, where such standards were minimal or non-existent, many thousands were killed in the collapses of homes and other buildings. In Chile, with much more modern building codes and engineering practices, the loss of life, while still tragic, was far smaller, about 500, despite the fact that the Chile earthquake had a significantly higher magnitude of 8.8 (M8.8) than the Haiti earthquake (M7.0). The fault rupture that caused the Chile earthquake released approximately 500 times the energy released in the Haiti earthquake. The Chilean building code provisions had been based in large part on U.S. model building codes that have been developed by researchers and practitioners who have been associated with and supported by NEHRP. Scientists and engineers have not yet had enough time since the 2011 earthquakes in New Zealand (M6.3) and Japan (M9.0) to draw detailed conclusions. We do know that Japan and New Zealand are international leaders in seismology and earthquake engineering—we in the U.S. partner with our counterparts in both countries, because we have much to learn from one another. Despite their technical prowess, leaders in both countries have been taken aback by the amount of damage that has occurred. One lesson we take from this before we even begin detailed studies is that we still have much to learn about the earthquake hazards we face and the engineering measures needed to minimize the risks from those hazards. Assuming that we already know everything we need to know is the surest strategy for catastrophe. The other broad lesson that has already become clear from both of these events is that local, and indeed national, resilience —to recover in a timely manner from the occurrence of an earthquake or other hazard event—is vital, going far beyond the essential, but narrowly focused, issue of ensuring life safety in buildings and other locations when an earthquake occurs. In Christchurch, NZ, the central business district has been largely closed since the February 21 earthquake, severely impacting the local economy. Some reports indicate as many as 50,000 people are out of work as a result of this closure. In Japan, the impact of the March 11 earthquake and resulting tsunami have been far worse on the national economy, with energy, agriculture, and commercial disruptions of monumental proportions. Some estimates already put the economic losses over $300 billion, and economic disruption is certain to continue for years and extend far beyond Japan’s shores.

The 2010 and 2011 events followed decades or even centuries of quiescence on the faults where they struck and are sobering reminders of the unexpected tragedies that can occur. The USGS has recently issued updated assessments of earthquake hazards in the U.S. that provide appropriate perspectives for us. For example, in 2008, the USGS, the Southern California Earthquake Center (SCEC), and the California Geological Survey (CGS), with support from the California Earthquake Authority (CEA), jointly forecast a greater than 99% certainty of California’s experiencing a M6.7 or greater earthquake within the next 30 years.

The recent New Zealand earthquake, at M6.3, is slightly less severe than that which is postulated for California. The recent Chile and Japan earthquakes, at M8.8–M9.0, occurred in tectonic plate collision zones where one plate overrides another; that characteristic is closely comparable to those which generated 1964 Alaska earthquake and more ancient earthquakes off the coasts of Oregon and Washington, in the Cascadia Subduction Zone. Seismologists thus believe that what we have recently observed in Chile and Japan should serve as clear indication to us for what may likely occur again someday off the Alaska, Oregon, and Washington coasts.

While concern for future earthquake activity is always great along our West Coast, the National Research Council has noted in its publications that 39 states in the U.S. have some degree of earthquake risk, with 18 of those having high or very high seismicity. In 2011 and 2012, earthquake practitioners and state and local leaders in Memphis, St. Louis, and other Midwestern locales will participate in events that will commemorate the bicentennial anniversary of the New Madrid sequence of earthquakes, which included at least four earthquakes with magnitudes estimated at 7.0 or greater.

If a southern California earthquake severely damaged the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, as happened to the port of Kobe, Japan, in 1995, there would be national economic implications. Similarly, if a major earthquake occurred in the Central U.S., one or more Mississippi River transcontinental rail or highway crossings in the Saint Louis to Memphis region, as well as oil and natural gas transmission lines could be severely disrupted.

In 2008, the USGS, California Geological Survey, and Southern California Earthquake Center produced a plausible scenario of a rupture of the southern end of the San Andreas fault that could result in about 1,800 deaths, 50,000 injuries, and economic losses exceeding $200 billion in the greater Los Angeles area. This scenario formed the basis for the 2008 Great Southern California Shakeout earthquake preparedness and response exercise.

JIM MULLEN, DIRECTOR, WASHINGTON STATE EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT DIVISION AND PRESIDENT, NATIONAL EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT ASSOCIATION

Response & Recovery. A major event involving multiple disciplines is complex and difficult to manage. While firefighters, law enforcement officials, and emergency medical personnel often constitute the traditional first responders, emergency managers provide the all important coordination function. This coordination far exceeds the initial response as emergency managers also maintain responsibility for the transition from the lights and sirens of response into the complex and often long-term efforts of recovery. Once an event occurs, the response is a three-tiered process of escalation where the level of support is directly related to the need of the impacted jurisdiction. The initial response is at the local level where first responders and local emergency managers provide assistance. Should the incident exceed the capacity of those local responders, the state may offer assistance in myriad ways including personnel, response resources, financial support, and mutual aid. On rare occasions, an event will even overwhelm the state’s ability to mount an effective response. This is usually the only time in which the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is called upon to offer assistance. FEMA assistance is triggered by a direct request from the Governor to the President. Should the President deem the event worthy of federal assets, a Presidential Disaster Declaration is declared and FEMA can provide assistance such as assets from the Department of Defense, financial aid, and expertise. Disaster assistance from FEMA traditionally comes in one of three forms. The first is the Public Assistance (PA) Program which provides supplemental financial assistance to state and local governments as well as certain private non-profit organizations for response and recovery activities required as a result of a disaster. The PA Program provides assistance for debris removal, emergency protective measures, and permanent restoration of infrastructure. Federal share of these expenses are typically not less than 75 percent of eligible costs. The PA Program encourages protection from future damages by providing assistance for Hazard Mitigation

VICKI MCCONNELL, DIRECTOR, OREGON DEPARTMENT OF GEOLOGY AND MINERAL INDUSTRIES

Oregon’s Department of Transportation published in 2009 the Seismic Vulnerability of Oregon State Highway Bridges: Mitigation Strategies to Reduce Major Mobility Risks. This study incorporates FEMA HAZUS risk assessment modeling funded by NEHRP as well as NEHRP soil conditions data to determine peak ground acceleration (PGA). Their findings indicate that 38% of state-owned bridges in western Oregon would fail or be too heavily damaged to be serviceable after a magnitude 9.0 earthquake and that repair or replacement would take 3–5 years essentially cutting the Oregon coastal communities off from the rest of the state.

Chairman QUAYLE. Mr. Poland, in your testimony you compared the different results of the earthquakes that occurred in Haiti and Japan, and even what happened in the Northridge quake, and the quake that occurred in San Francisco. You mentioned that it would be cost-prohibitive to retrofit buildings across the United States. What is your suggestion to minimize the repercussions of an earthquake? Do you mostly look at where different communities lie along faults? For example, a city is close to the San Andreas fault, you obviously take different things into account than cities in middle America located away from the New Madrid fault line.

Mr. POLAND. The biggest problem we have is that the built environment that we have right now in the country has not been designed for earthquake effects, both in terms of public safety and in terms of being able to recover and resiliency. And so the biggest problem we have is, what do we do with 85 or 90 percent of our buildings and systems that are not adequate for the kind of performance that we want. When I spoke about it being cost-prohibitive, I was speaking about retrofitting those buildings and those systems so that they can perform properly, and that is what costs so much money.

Mr. WU. My second question is that we do have a number of nuclear reactors that are sitting on active seismic zones, and I believe one of them is on the West Coast. Can you all comment on what can be done to build resiliency and recovery into these nuclear facilities? You know, what we found in Japan is that it wasn’t the earthquake, it was the tsunami and the loss of electricity and it affected both the reactor itself and the fuel that was stored in pools on top of the reactor facility. Can you all comment on how we can do a better job with our own nuclear facilities?

Dr. HAYES.  NEHRP itself does not address the nuclear facilities in the United States. That is the responsibility of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the Department of Energy.

Mr. POLAND. I would just like to add that the design process that has been done for nuclear power plants since their inception has been extraordinarily rigorous and much more detailed and much more carefully done than for any other kind of construction by many orders of magnitude. Our facilities, our nuclear facilities from a standpoint of strong shaking are the safest buildings that we have in the Nation. The problem in Japan, as you mentioned, had to do with the tsunami, and it wasn’t that they didn’t think they were going to have a tsunami. They had a wall. The wall wasn’t tall enough. The backup systems didn’t work as well as they thought that they would.

Mr. SARBANES. Okay. Humans are notoriously shortsighted about everything, and even with the earthquake activity of recent days, we will get back to being shortsighted even on this question, and I wonder if you could speak to—I mean, I would imagine if you went to any budget hearing at a local level, at a city, municipality level or at the state level if earthquake preparation and resiliency was even on the budget document, it would be on the last page on the last line because there are so many other things obviously that are pulling on our resources and our attention. So it makes me wonder how much—and I think you have spoken to this a little bit, but the opportunity to piggyback the kinds of things you want to see done onto other kinds of initiatives that are out there that have greater priority in the minds of planners and budgeters and all the rest of it so that you can kind of come along with a little bit, of leverage and not so much add a cost, say, well, as long as you are doing X, Y and Z, why not add this into the mix, and that can go to codes and building standards and so forth. But it also could go particularly well with community resiliency planning, and I wonder if you could speak to that and maybe throw in whether sort of green building codes and sustainable building codes are ones where there can be some added elements with respect to resiliency and so

Mr. MULLEN. I will tell you that on the West Coast, there are significant discussions taking place in local communities about earthquakes and tsunami threats and measures that should be taken. One of the things we haven’t really talked about is the importance of the general public understanding not only the risk they face but the measures they can take to protect themselves. I am very enthusiastic about getting a warning about something that might be coming like the tsunami warning we got a few weeks ago really helped us but the type of events, the no- notice events that we would deal with in the central Puget Sound or in Oregon or on the coast, they are not going to get a lot of warning for an earthquake. One of the things that we need to do is make sure people are prepared to take the protective steps that they need immediately. They need to be able to drop cover and hold. They need to know that they have got—that they need to have some resources for themselves. And on the coast, we have been working hard with the communities about their evacuation programs, knowing what it means to move quickly. The ground motion in an earthquake that is right off our coast is your signal. We also have an elaborate system of warning systems that we can activate to tell people to move to high ground. The difficulty we have, the challenge that communities have as they prepare with us and they have worked with us is there is not a vertical evacuation site that is necessarily readily available to every community, and so we have been trying to plan for the type of vertical evacuation structure that would be necessary on the coast in the Port of Los Angeles or Long Beach or Ilwaco where those folks can get to a place of safety which may not be the warmest, driest place but it will at least be above any kind of potential wave. That is an important step. There is no such structure right now but the communities are planning with it. I think the key to this whole thing that you are getting at in terms of where people are, and I would not hazard a guess about the scale because I would just be making something up. I will tell you if you educate people about the risks that they face and you level with people about what they can do to protect themselves and their families, whether it is the average citizen, someone running a business or the emergency management community or the local elected officials, you begin to generate the kind of interest that will get people looking at this as another issue that they have to deal with and move it up on that committee agenda. The national-level exercise I spoke of in my testimony is an attempt in the Midwest, in eight Midwestern states to begin to educate people at the same time that we are determining whether our doctrines and plans are going to work for us or not. That will be an extremely challenging exercise. We expect failure to occur because we want to find out what our condition is. So we are very eager to find out where we are weak, where we have got strengths and make sure we capitalize on the strengths and shore up the weaknesses.

 

Posted in Earthquakes, Infrastructure | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Tokyo earthquake will cost somewhere from $1 to $4 trillion and likely soon

If a disaster is capable of crashing the world financial system, an earthquake in Tokyo is surely one of them.

Tokyo, with over 33 million people, is the epicenter of finance and politics in Japan. In geologist Peter Hadfield’s 1995 book, Sixty Seconds That Will Change the World-The Coming Tokyo Earthquake, he wrote:

“Envisage Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, Washington, Houston, New Orleans, Philadelphia and Detroit, plus the next 42 largest cities of the United States—whose combined populations equal one quarter of the United States—with all their attendant financial, political, mercantile and petroleum-refining resources, grouped into one continuous urban conglomeration…Put that on top of the San Andreas fault and watch the sparks fly.”

Estimates of how much an earthquake in Tokyo would cost and when it will happen vary considerably.

Source (Flynn et al 2016, Takenaka 2012):

  • $856 billion, 23,000 deaths, 70% chance of 7+ quake within 30 years in Tokyo (Tokyo metropolitan Government)
  • $2 trillion (214 trillion yen) in 9.0 earthquake + tsunami, 323,000 deaths

Source (Artemis 2013):

  • Over $3 trillion, 7.3 magnitude earthquake beneath Tokyo, 48,000 deaths, 70% chance within 30 years Over $4 trillion, 8.5 Sagami Trough earthquake, 124,000 deaths
  • $510 billion insurance industry loss (larger than the global property catastrophe reinsurance market)

Source (Birmingham 2013): $1 trillion, 7.0+ earthquake, 11,000 deaths, 70% chance by 2016 (University of Tokyo)

Source (oilprice 2012)

  • No cost estimate, but the University of Tokyo estimates a 50% chance of a 7.0 or higher earthquake in Tokyo within 4 years
  • A 7.3 quake would kill 6400 people, injure 160,000, and destroy 471,000 homes and buildings, mainly from fires but also liquefied soils (Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology)

If the earthquake happens during energy decline, recovery will take even longer and less extensively, since it is energy after all, not money, that is required to actually accomplish rebuilding.  And Japan has no oil or natural gas resources.

In addition, there are many nuclear power plants near Tokyo (i.e. Fukushima, etc.,) that could be damaged and cause additional harm:

Source: National Report of Japan for the Fifth Review Meeting of the Convention on Nuclear Safety, September 2010, Government of Japan

Source: National Report of Japan for the Fifth Review Meeting of the Convention on Nuclear Safety, September 2010, Government of Japan

Alice Friedemann   www.energyskeptic.com  author of “When Trucks Stop Running: Energy and the Future of Transportation, 2015, Springer

References

Artemis. November 22, 2013. M7.3 Tokyo earthquake could cost $3 trillion in economic losses. www.artemis.bm

Birmingham, L. March 20, 2013. Two Years After Fukushima, Japan Worries About the Next Big Quake. Time Magazine.

Flynn, F., et al. April 26, 2016. Tokyo Races Against Quake That Will Shake World on `X’ Day. Bloomberg.

oilprice. March 8, 2012. Tokyo Warned that “Big” earthquake coming. oilprice.com

Takenaka, K. August 29, 2012. Giant Japan offshore quake could kill 320,000. Reuters.

Posted in Disasters, Earthquakes | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Cascadia subduction zone 9.0 earthquake will cost hundreds of billions of dollars and many lives

[ Would a several hundred billion dollar earthquake shake the global financial system enough to bring on a world-wide depression?  It’s not just the costs of repair, but the indirect costs, such as destruction of the Ports of Seattle and Portland, and the many companies in Oregon and Washington (especially Seattle) that are important in global supply chains.

According to the Oregon Resilience Plan, “The interruption of normal economic activity could generate such huge costs that the region may never fully recover”.

And if this happens on the downside of oil production after global peak oil occurs, the energy available to rebuild may be difficult to find.

Alice Friedemann   www.energyskeptic.com  author of “When Trucks Stop Running: Energy and the Future of Transportation, 2015, Springer]

cascadian subduction zone

The Cascadian subduction zone earthquake is capable of a 9.0 Richter scale earthquake that would rip the continent up from northern California and into Canada (as shown above), resulting in a second horrifying disaster: an 800 mile-long tsunami that will smash into much of the Northwest coast 15 minutes later, and hours later again in Japan.

Over the past 10,000 years, there have been 41 such earthquakes, on average every 243 years, and it’s been 316 years since the last one (though they have occurred as often as every 200 years and as far apart as 1,000 years).

Kenneth Murphy, who directs the FEMA’s area responsible for Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and Alaska, says, “Our operating assumption is that everything west of Interstate 5 will be toast.

Here are some of the grim stats (FEMA), which assumes an earthquake at 9:41 AM on February 6th

  • 13,000 will die (more if it happens on a warm summer day and thousands are on the beaches when the tsunami strikes)
  • 27,000 injured
  • 7 million people will be affected
  • 1,000,000 in need of a shelter
  • 2,500,000 in need of food and water
  • The Oregon Resilience Plan states that “Direct damages may reach into the hundreds of billions of dollars in Oregon” (so the FEMA estimate of $49 billion losses in Washington and $32 billion in Oregon seem a bit low)
  • Thousands of landslides, 30,000 in Seattle alone
  • Liquefied soil collapses, affecting 6 miles of Portland where 90% of Oregon’s oil and natural gas flows, and much other critical infrastructure. Fifteen percent of Seattle will be affected.
  • Over a million structures will collapse or be harmed, since over 75% of structures weren’t designed for a 9.1 earthquake
  • Collapse of half of all highway bridges, two-thirds of railways, and so on.

What follows is from the 2013: Oregon Resilience Plan. Reducing Risk and Improving Recovery for the Next Cascadia Earthquake and Tsunami Report to the 77th Legislative Assembly from Oregon Seismic Safety Policy Advisory Commission. 341 pages.

Recovery time in Oregon

cascade earthquake oregon recovery time highway sewer electricity

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Utilities cannot be repaired if roads and bridges are impassable. Likewise, the communication infrastructure is interdependent with the transportation network. If communications systems are down, repair crews have no way of knowing where they are needed most.

Before a business can reopen following a Cascadia earthquake, the building it occupies has to be certified to be structurally safe, it has to be served by municipal and private utilities, and the communications infrastructure must be operating. A business that cannot reopen within a month of a major earthquake or other disaster resulting in extended service disruption will likely never reopen at its previous location (see Figure 2.10). Potable water, sewage systems, heating (natural gas or electric), and ventilating systems must be operable before workers can reoccupy a business. To a lesser extent, but nevertheless important in our ever more technologically oriented business environment, the communications infrastructure must be re-established before businesses can be re-established.

The emergency plan

It is almost certain that a Cascadia subduction zone earthquake will cause all private and public utilities to fail; this means there will be no municipal water or sewer service, no electricity, no telephone, and no television, radio, or internet. Without power, local grocery stores will be unable to keep frozen foods frozen or fresh meats and dairy cold enough to prevent spoiling. It is likely that most of the food in the grocery stores will be distributed (as opposed to sold) to the public because the store’s registers will not work without power and there would be no sense in letting frozen foods, meats, and dairy products spoil in the store. Because stores are routinely resupplied several times each week, the amount of food actually held in an individual store is probably no more than what is required to supply the surrounding neighborhood for a few days. In particular, fresh fruits, vegetables, and dairy products are typically replenished several times a week, so the quantities kept in stock are not large. With supplies already limited, a related concern is that people will hoard food out of fear that stores will run out completely. In the near term, such hoarding will exacerbate the erosion of the food supply.

Once the food supply at local grocery stores is exhausted, the government will have to set up food distribution centers to support the population until local grocery stores regain electrical power and municipal services and can be resupplied. That resupply activity also requires the transportation and distribution network to be functioning (see Figure 2.8). Transportation lifelines have to be open for trucks to deliver the food, and truckers have to know where the lifeline routes are located and which bridges have been seismically braced and are safe to use following the earthquake. The transportation of supplies by truck is further dependent on the fuel supply. Currently, Oregon’s liquid fuel supply is severely constrained. The main liquid fuel depot in the Portland Metro area is a “tank farm” located in Northwest Portland, adjacent to Highway 30, built on soils that are highly susceptible to liquefaction.

the resupply of food is dependent on a functioning banking system. All commercial transactions at grocery stores involve a debit or credit card issued from a bank (or the Oregon Trail cards issued by the state), a check (which is nearly always scanned to prevent fraud), or cash. Even after electrical power is restored and communications between stores and banks reestablished, the banks themselves have to be functioning in order to assure the stores that transactions will result in actual payment (see Figure 2.9). Even cash purchases will require banks to have cash to distribute, and the banks’ own information systems have to be functioning in order for them to distribute cash to their customers via bank teller or ATM network.

References

FEMA. Cascadia Subduction Zone Earthquakes: A magnitude 9.0 Earthquake scenario.  2013. Cascadia Region Earthquake Workgroup.

Schulz, K. July 20, 2015. The Really Big One. An earthquake will destroy a sizable portion of the coastal Northwest. The question is when. The New Yorker.

 

Posted in Disasters, Earthquakes | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Vines are taking over forests

Laurance, W. October 5, 2013. Planet of the vines: Climbing plants are taking over. NewScientist.

Giant vines are beginning to strangle Earth’s tropical forests, and it’s not just due to climate change.

Gaze out over a tropical rainforest and the scene looks idyllic – a kaleidoscope of trees festooned with colorful vines, orchids, ferns and lichens. Don’t be fooled. Myriad ecological battles are being fought beneath this tranquil surface. None is more embittered than that between trees and their ancient enemies, the vines.

Biologists like myself who study these jungle ecosystems are now seeing a shift in this war. Until a decade or so ago the two adversaries were evenly matched, but vines now seem to be on the march. If that continues, the face of our forests – and of our planet – could be changed irrevocably. We are left scrabbling to unearth the root cause.

If the forest were a financial system, trees would be its old money. Deeply rooted, they grow slowly, investing heavily over time in woody trunks and branches to support their leaves, and providing homes for a zoo of other species. Vines, on the other hand, would be the flashy junk-bond traders. Representing up to half of the plant species in a typical rainforest and producing up to 40% of all leaves, they are down-and-dirty competitors. They invest almost nothing in supportive tissue, instead taking advantage of the trees’ investments to scramble up to the top of the forest and produce great flushes of leaves that bask brazenly in the full sun.

Francis Putz, a biologist at the University of Florida in Gainesville, highlighted this fraught relationship in a 1980 paper entitled “Lianas vs trees”. Lianas, or woody vines, can grow to be hundreds of meters long, with stems over half a meter across. Trees pay a high price for their presence. Lianas can strangle and deform a tree’s branches, their dense foliage robs trees of life-giving sunlight, and their roots scarf up vital nutrients and water. Trees bearing lianas usually grow more slowly, reproduce less and die sooner than those without. Once lianas reach the canopy, they often climb laterally, effectively roping trees together so that, when one falls, it can drag down others. This is why loggers hate them: if they don’t cut every liana linked to a tree before felling it, another may be yanked down on top of them. “Loggers call them ‘widow-makers’,” says Putz.

There are obvious reasons why some vines are becoming more prevalent. Humans have introduced invasive species, such as the rubber vine to northern Australia and kudzu to the south-eastern US, that smother native forests, grasslands and waterways.

Most vines are light-loving, and increase rapidly in forests that have been fragmented by agriculture or selectively logged.

Small, regenerating trees on the edge of disturbed forests provide ideal trellises for climbing quickly into the canopy. A decade ago, my colleagues and I revealed much higher liana abundances in fragmented than in intact Amazonian forests. Trees in these areas are beleaguered, dying two to three times as fast as normal.
Dynamic drivers

But vines are also proliferating in undisturbed forests. Oliver Phillips of the University of Leeds in the UK and his colleagues revealed in 2002 that lianas had increased sharply at the expense of trees at sites across western Amazonia. Something similar has been seen in nearly a dozen other intact forests in Central and South America. “It was controversial at first,” says Phillips, “but few doubt it now.”

What’s happening? A likely cause is that tropical forests around the globe are becoming more dynamic, with trees dying and regenerating more rapidly – conditions that strongly favor vines. It is possible that global warming is intensifying windstorms that increase tree fall in the affected areas, yet there is little evidence for such an effect.

Instead, a more subtle driver seems to be at play: rapidly rising levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide.

CO2 fuels photosynthesis, and the more there is, the faster plants grow. Faster growth creates more competition among plants for light, space and nutrients, which in turn drives higher rates of tree death and regeneration. Rising CO2 could also favor vines directly. Several studies over the past few years suggest that vines, with high photosynthetic rates, an abundance of energy-producing leaves and little costly supportive tissue, are primed to take advantage of rising CO2.

Most evidence suggests Earth is heading for a viney future. This worries ecologists like Stefan Schnitzer at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. “Vines can change forests in a lot of ways,” he says. “They hit big, slow-growing trees far harder than smaller, faster-growing species, meaning they can probably change the entire composition of the forest.”

It’s not just trees that are at risk. Ainhoa Magrach, a postdoctoral colleague of mine at James Cook University in Cairns, Australia, has found that plants that live on trees, such as ferns, tend to be excluded in regions where vines are dense. These ferns are little islands of biodiversity, sustaining many animals in the rainforest canopy. A few species have mutualisms with aggressive ants that attack encroaching vines, but most are not so lucky.

The biggest worry is that proliferating vines could reduce carbon storage. Forests lock up billions of tonnes of carbon in woody tissue, and when vines kill or suppress trees some of that carbon is released into the atmosphere. Studies in Panama and Amazonia suggest rampaging vines replace just a small fraction of the carbon they cause trees to release. That could induce a positive feedback, with still more greenhouse gases and a warmer future for us all. If that goes too far, we really could be heading for a planet of the vines.

Posted in Biodiversity Loss, BioInvasion, Climate Change, Invasive Species | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Large animals driven extinct by human hunters still affect ecosystems today

Below is an excerpt/paraphrased of Michael Marshall’s 14 August 2013 NewScientist Ecosystems still feel the pain of ancient extinctions, the abstract of the original Nature Geoscience article, and future losses of large animals will affect tropical forests in the future. Alice Friedemann  www.energyskeptic.com ]

The large megafauna driven extinct by humans over 12,000 years ago still affects ecosystems today. Large animals have an out-sized effect on ecosystems because they range so widely, dispersing the nutrients in their dung across large areas, making the soil more fertile.

Chris Doughty at the University of Oxford showed that the loss of phosphorous when human hunters drove all the large herbivores extinct in South America is still affecting the Amazon basin today, by estimating how much phosphorus South America’s larger extinct animals would have moved 15,000 years ago, before their decline.

The model suggests that megafauna would have spread nutrients 50 times further than animals today do over the same time period. Or to put it another way, killing off the massive animals reduced the movement of nutrients by 98 per cent. This is because big animals move a disproportionately large amount of nutrients compared with small animals, they travel further in search of food, and they keep that food in their guts for longer.

Doughty compares big animals to the arteries that carry blood around the body. “When you get rid of big animals, it’s like severing the nutrient arteries.” He thinks the same thing has happened in North America, Europe and Australia, where most big animals have also been wiped out.

“The idea that herbivores redistribute nutrients is not new, but the scale of this thinking is much, much bigger,” says Tim Baker at the University of Leeds in the UK.

If Doughty is right, the Amazon is still changing in response to the extinction. His model predicts that nutrient distribution will get patchier for another 17,000 years, although the effect will probably be dwarfed by the impacts of deforestation and climate change in the short term, says Baker.

In the absence of massive herbivores, humans now dominate the movement of nutrients – but we do the opposite of what the extinct animals did. We spread fertiliser on small plots of productive farmland, and keep large animals like cows fenced in rather than letting them roam freely. “There are probably more nutrients because of people, but they are very poorly distributed,” says Doughty.

——————-

The legacy of the Pleistocene megafauna extinctions on nutrient availability in Amazonia

Christopher E. Doughty,    Adam Wolf    & Yadvinder Malhi

Nature Geoscience 6, 761–764 (2013) doi:10.1038/ngeo1895

Published online 11 August 2013

In the late Pleistocene, 97 genera of large animals went extinct, concentrated in the Americas and Australia (1). These extinctions had significant effects on ecosystem structure (2), seed dispersal (3) and land surface albedo (4). However, the impact of this dramatic extinction on ecosystem nutrient biogeochemistry, through the lateral transport of dung and bodies, has never been explored. Here we analyze this process using a novel mathematical framework that analyses this lateral transport as a diffusion-like process, and we demonstrate that large animals play a disproportionately large role in the horizontal transfer of nutrients across landscapes. For example, we estimate that the extinction of the Amazonian megafauna decreased the lateral flux of the limiting nutrient phosphorus by more than 98%, with similar, though less extreme, decreases in all continents outside of Africa. This resulted in strong decreases in phosphorus availability in eastern Amazonia away from fertile floodplains, a decline which may still be ongoing. The current P limitation in the Amazon basin may be partially a relic of an ecosystem without the functional connectivity it once had. We argue that the Pleistocene megafauna extinctions resulted in large and ongoing disruptions to terrestrial biogeochemical cycling at continental scales and increased nutrient heterogeneity globally.

1 Barnosky, A. D., Koch, P. L., Feranec, R. S., Wing, S. L. & Shabel, A. B. Assessing the causes of Late Pleistocene extinctions on the continents. Science 306, 70–75 (2004).

2 Gill, J. L., Williams, J. W., Jackson, S. T., Lininger, K. B. & Robinson, G. S. Pleistocene Megafaunal collapse, novel plant communities, and enhanced fire regimes in North America. Science 326, 1100–1103 (2009).

3 Janzen, D. H. & Martin, P. S. Neotropical anachronisms—the fruits the gomphotheres ate. Science 215, 19–27 (1982).

4 Doughty, C. E., Wolf, A. & Field, C. B. Biophysical feedbacks between the Pleistocene megafauna extinction and climate: The first human-induced global warming? Geophys. Res. Lett. 37, L15703 (2010).

The extinction of large animals from tropical forests could make climate change worse — according to researchers at the University of East Anglia.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/12/151218161237.htm

New research published today in Science Advances reveals that a decline in fruit-eating animals such as large primates, tapirs and toucans could have a knock-on effect for tree species. This is because large animals disperse large seeded plant species often associated with large trees and high wood density — which are more effective at capturing and storing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere than smaller trees. Seed dispersal by large-bodied vertebrates is via the ingestion of viable seeds that pass through the digestive tract intact. Removing large animals from the ecosystem upsets the natural balance and leads to a loss of heavy-wooded large trees, which means that less CO2 can be locked away.

Prof Carlos Peres, from UEA’s School of Environmental Sciences, said: “Large birds and mammals provide almost all the seed dispersal services for large-seeded plants. Several large vertebrates are threatened by hunting, illegal trade and habitat loss. But the steep decline of the megafauna in overhunted tropical forest ecosystems can bring about large unforeseen impacts.  “We show that the decline and extinction of large animals will over time induces a decline in large hardwood trees. This in turn negatively affects the capacity of tropical forests to store carbon and therefore their potential to counter climate change.”

The research team studied data from more than 2,000 tree species in Brazil’s Atlantic Forest, and more than 800 animal species.  They found that frugivores which are not targeted by hunters — such as small birds, bats and marsupials — are only able to disperse small seeds, which are associated with small trees. Meanwhile large heavy-wooded trees, which can capture and store greater amounts of carbon, are associated with larger seeds. And these are only dispersed by large animals.

When we lose large frugivores we are losing dispersal and recruitment functions of large seeded trees and therefore, the composition of tropical forests changes. The result is a forest dominated by smaller trees with milder woods which stock less carbon.

‘Defaunation affects carbon storage in tropical forests’ is published in the journal Science Advances on Dec. 18, 2015

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It’s an oil war, not a “war on terror”. Book review of Mark Danner’s “Spiral”

Book review of: Mark Danner, 2016, Spiral: Trapped in the forever war.  Simon & Schuster.

By Alice Friedemann at www.energyskeptic.com  author of “When Trucks Stop Running: Energy and the Future of Transportation”, 2015, Springer

The opening quote in this book is “We must define the nature and scope of this struggle, or else it will define us.” Obama 2013

Danner has defined the nature and scope of this struggle as a war on terror.  He says that our presence in Iraq and Afghanistan is a Republican attempt to replace “being tough on communism as a defining cause in their political identity” with a war on terrorism.

To make the case for a “war on terror” as our reason for being there, Danner needs to state why we are NOT in the Middle east due to the 1980 Carter doctrine, which states “the overwhelming dependence of the Western democracies on oil supplies from the Middle East…[any] attempt by an outside force to gain control of the Persian Gulf region will be regarded as an assault on the vital interests of the United States of America, and such an assault will be repelled by any means necessary, including military force.”

Since then we’ve invaded, occupied, or bombed Iran (1980, 1987–1988); Libya (1981, 1986, 1989, 2011); Lebanon (1983); Kuwait (1991); Iraq (1991–2011, 2014–present); Somalia (1992–1993, 2007-present); Saudi Arabia (1991, 1996); Afghanistan (1998, 2001–present); Sudan (1998); Yemen (2000; 2002-present); Pakistan (2004-present); and now Syria.

The reason Carter said this is because many Americans, Europeans, and Chinese would die if the oil stopped flowing, but especially Americans since no other nation on earth is as dependent on oil as we are (why we have to be the world’s unpaid policeman is another topic).  Just consider a few of the things that what would happen if trucks stopped running:  by day 6 grocery stores would be out of food, restaurants, pharmacies, and factories closed, ATMS out of cash, sewage treatment sludge and slime storage tanks full, gas stations closed, 685,000 tons of trash piling up every day, livestock suffering from lack of feed deliveries. Within 2 weeks clean water would be gone since purification chemicals couldn’t be delivered. Within 1 to 2 months coal power plants would shut down due to lack of coal, and much natural gas is pumped through pipelines electrically, so natural gas power plants would shut down too.  And there goes the financial system – our energy, electricity, and other 16 vital infrastructures are inter-dependent, which makes us incredibly vulnerable, since many of them can pull each other down.

Michal Breen, of the Truman National Security Project, explained at a 2012 U.S. House of Representatives hearing “The American energy initiative part 23: A focus on Alternative Fuels and vehicles” why we’re doomed to continue to fight wars in the Middle East.  He said:  “Our dependence on oil as a single source of transportation fuel poses a clear national security threat to the nation. As things now stand, our modern military cannot operate without access to vast quantities of oil. A lack of alternatives means that oil has ceased to be a mere commodity. Oil is a vital strategic commodity, a substance without which our national security and prosperity cannot be sustained. The United States has no choice but to do whatever it takes in order to obtain a sufficient supply of oil. We share that sad and dangerous predicament with virtually every other nation on earth”

The word “oil” appears just once in the book as an adjective for Iraq (secular, middle-class, urbanized, rich with oil), and the words petroleum, gasoline, and diesel don’t appear at all.  But the words torture, terror, terrorist, and terrorism each appear about 90 times.

If we want to get out of the Middle East, and stop risking that our ghastly activities on citizens of the Middle East aren’t turned on our own citizens in the U.S. someday, then the President needs to educate the public about the need for energy conservation.  Right now, Americans rush out to buy gas guzzling cars every time the price of gasoline goes down.  In fact, the New York Times reported today (June 24, 2016) that people are turning in their electric vehicles for gas guzzlers (see “American Drivers Regain Appetite for Gas Guzzlers”).  CAFÉ standards were supposed to go up to 54 mpg, but they’ve dropped to 24 mpg since gasoline prices began dropping in 2014.

Former President Carter was invited to a 2009 Senate Hearing “Energy Security: Historical perspectives and modern challenges” to advise the Senate.  He said the president has a responsibility to educate the American public about energy, like he did over his four years in office. Memorably, one of his speeches in 1977 began: “Tonight I want to have an unpleasant talk with you about a problem unprecedented in our history. With the exception of preventing war, this is the greatest challenge our country will face during our lifetimes. The energy crisis has not yet overwhelmed us, but it will if we do not act quickly. It is a problem we will not solve in the next few years, and it is likely to get progressively worse through the rest of this century. We must not be selfish or timid if we hope to have a decent world for our children and grandchildren. We simply must balance our demand for energy with our rapidly shrinking resources. By acting now, we can control our future instead of letting the future control us”. This was unpleasant dinner conversation. President Carter was not invited back to serve a second term.

Energy and transportation policy, diesel engine makers, and trucking companies (rail and ships are already extremely energy efficient) need to focus on energy efficiency, not endless growth. Conventional oil peaked in 2005 and has been on a plateau since then. That’s why our economy isn’t growing either – try to think of a business that doesn’t depend on energy.  We need to reduce our consumption ASAP.  Alternatives to just-in-time delivery where trucks arrive half empty with just what’s needed and return empty has to stop, and many other reductions in consumption if we want to transition to an as yet unknown “Something Else”.

We’ve traded away energy to gain time. We’ve traded away our energy security to get stuff ASAP. Do we really have to have it RIGHT NOW?

 

 

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National security implications of international energy and climate change policies, Senate hearing

[This is an excerpt of a very interesting senate hearing that looks at how war can be caused by climate change (i.e. drought, hunger, rising sea levels) and how climate change will affect infrastructure. The European emissions trading scheme and renewable subsidies is discussed, as well as the enormous amount of wood being burned in Europe to meet renewable standards.

Alice Friedemann   www.energyskeptic.com  author of “When Trucks Stop Running: Energy and the Future of Transportation, 2015, Springer]

Senate 113-623. July 22, 2014. U.S. Security implications of international energy & climate policies and issues. U.S. Senate hearing, 97 pages

EDWARD J. MARKEY, MASSACHUSETTS

Right now dozens of wars and conflicts dot our world map, from the Sudanese desert to America’s longest war in Afghanistan. Two major factors have emerged in the modern era that act to strain the strands of stability until they snap—climate change and energy security. In two regions of our world, climate and energy have recently played major roles in exacerbating what were already tense times. In December 2010, a Tunisian street food vendor lit himself on fire in protest of government corruption and extreme poverty. That spark spread in Tunisia and ignited the Arab Spring. Yet, feeding this anger over years of corruption and autocratic rule was a more immediate hunger. In 2010, terrible droughts in Russia, in China, and floods in Pakistan decimated wheat harvests and created a global shortage. The price of wheat increased dramatically. The Middle East, home to the world’s top nine wheat importers, felt it acutely, especially since the region’s farmers struggled with their own parched fields. Much of Syria was gripped with the worst drought it had ever experienced. The price of bread skyrocketed across the region and demands for regime change were not far behind.

Another weapon has already been deployed in the Russian-Ukraine conflict and in wars across the globe—energy. Russia has already shut off the natural gas spigots to Ukraine. That is more than half of Ukraine’s gas supply gone. When winter arrives and natural gas demand spikes, this could become another political and humanitarian crisis, bringing suffering to Ukrainian families and challenges to the new government. Because of Europe’s reliance on Russian gas, Putin’s energy weapon gives him unparalleled leverage to continue his bullying tactics.

Energy profits can also inflict damage. ISIS, the rebel group destabilizing Iraq, was funded initially by Sunni oil sheiks. ISIS is no longer an upstart insurgency. They are a legitimate threat, consolidating their power around energy holdings as much as sectarian alliances. They have captured Iraqi oil fields. They control much of Syrian oil production, and now they are selling this oil on the black market. Revenues from these operations buy them credibility, weapons, and loyalty—valuable commodities for building a so-called ‘‘caliphate’’ in this volatile region.

Since the Industrial Revolution, our world has burned fossil fuels, increasing temperatures and destabilizing our climate. Since that time, we have become more dependent on these same fuels that have destabilized countries and drawn America into international conflicts.

Tunisia is not the first time famine has played a role in a regional conflict. In a 2007 congressional hearing of mine, one general told the story of Somalia, how drought had caused famine, famine had encouraged conflict, how U.S. military forces were sent to ensure food reached those people who needed it and was not used by warlords to gain further power, and how 18 U.S. soldiers lost their lives in what we now call Blackhawk Down.

Russia is not the first country to use energy as a weapon in geopolitics. Much has changed in the U.S. energy sector since OPEC’s devastating embargo four decades ago. The shale revolution has boosted U.S. oil production to record levels.

Yet much remains the same. Oil still commands a monopoly over our transportation sector. We remain dependent on foreign suppliers to meet nearly one- third of our needs, roughly the same share as 1975, when we banned the export of American oil.

We must do everything in our power today to mitigate the threats that will require military intervention tomorrow. If we fail in our responsibility, it is our men and our women in uniform that will get called upon to try to clean up the mess.

The bottom line is that we fight trade wars over automobiles or computer chips. We fight real wars over food and energy. That is what differentiates those commodities. We have to keep that always in the front of our mind.

DANIEL Y. CHIU, PH.D., DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF DEFENSE FOR STRATEGY AND FORCE DEVELOPMENT, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE, WASHINGTON, DC

Department of Defense’s primary responsibility is to protect our national security interests around the world. To do this, we need to … prepare for the possibility of unexpected developments, both in the near and long term, such as the effects of climate change, sea level rise, shifting climate zones, and more severe weather events, and how these effects could impact our national security. Some of these effects are already being seen today on military bases, installations, and other DOD infrastructure, such as increased flooding from sea level rise and storm surge. The effects of climate change may also compound instability in other countries and regions by affecting things like the availability of food, water, by instigating human migration and competition for natural resources. This could create significant instabilities and potentially provide an avenue for extremist ideologies and conditions that could foster terrorism or other challenges to U.S. national security.

AMOS J. HOCHSTEIN, DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF STATE FOR ENERGY DIPLOMACY, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE, WASHINGTON, DC

Recent developments splashed across the front pages of newspapers around the globe serve as the latest reminders of the interplay between energy security and foreign policy. The critical nature of the geopolitics of energy is easily on display when you look at global oil supply disruptions, which are at historic levels of over 3 million barrels per day due to reduced output in Libya, Sudan and South Sudan caused by political instability, politically motivated declines in Nigeria and Venezuela, and reductions in Iran’s exports by over 50% due to effective U.S. sanctions.

Competition for access to and control of energy sources and supply routes can indeed be a source of conflict, and revenues from energy sales can provide funds that prolong conflict. Poor governance of natural resources can also contribute to conflict by allowing pervasive corruption to undermine accountability, deprive economic growth, and encourage civil unrest. As your former colleague Senator Lugar said in sponsoring his legislation, ‘‘the ‘resource curse’ affects [the United States] as well as producing countries. It exacerbates global poverty, which can be a seedbed for terrorism, it empowers autocrats and dictators, and it can crimp world petroleum supplies by breeding instability.’’

RADM (RET.) DAVID W. TITLEY

There are four important global trends which will provide additional fuel to the accelerating risks of climate change.

  1. Global population growth. Half a billion people have been added since the MAB completed its first report in 2007 and another half billion will be added by 2025. Most of this growth is in Africa and Asia, two of the areas likely to be most impacted by climate change.
  2. Urbanization. Nearly half of the world now lives in urban areas with 16 out of 20 of the largest urban areas being near coastlines. The result is more of the world’s population is at risk from extreme weather events and sea level rise.
  3. Global increase in the middle class, with an accompanying growth in demand for food, water, and energy. The National Intelligence Community predicts that by 2030 demand for food would increase by 35%, fresh water by 40%, and energy 50%. Even without the climate change, it will be a challenge to meet these growth targets. Climate change will further stress the world’s ability to produce food and drinkable water at levels necessary to meet demand. A 2012 National Intelligence Council assessment found that water challenges will likely increase the risk of instability and state failure, exacerbate regional tensions, and divert attention from working with the United States and other key allies on important policy objectives.
  4. The world is becoming more politically complex and economically and financially interdependent, so we believe it is no longer adequate to think of the projected climate impacts to any one region of the world in isolation. Climate change impacts, combined with globalization, transcend international borders and geographic areas of responsibility.

Accelerating risks around the world affect U.S. National Security

The world around us is changing. In recent years we have observed changing weather patterns manifest by prolonged drought in some areas and heavier precipitation in others. In the last few years we have seen unprecedented wildfires threaten homes, habitats, and food supplies, not only across the United States, but also across Australia, Europe, Central Russia, and China. Low-lying island nations are preparing for complete evacuation to escape rising sea levels.

Globally, we have seen recent prolonged drought act as a factor driving both spikes in food prices and mass displacement of populations, each contributing to instability and eventual conflict. In Syria, 5 years of drought decimated farms and forced millions to migrate to urban areas. In overpopulated cities, these climate refugees found little in the way of jobs and were quickly disenfranchised by the government. The ongoing strife in Syria has been exacerbated by drought and rural to urban migration. In this way climate change has exacerbated a region already torn by political and ethnic tensions, serving as a catalyst for conflict.

Over the coming decades we are concerned about the projected impacts of climate change on those areas already stressed by water and food shortage and poor governance—these span the globe, but present the greatest short-term threat.

In the longer term it is those areas that will be threatened by rising sea level that are most at risk. There will be only so much we can do to keep the sea out, and in some areas the sea will flow over the walls we build, in some it will flow under or around the walls and make the land and aquifers not useable. We are concerned about low lying islands in the Pacific and great deltas including the Mekong, the delta of Bangladesh, the Nile delta in Egypt, the Mississippi delta and whole regions like the Everglades. Seawater inundation will drastically cut food production in many of these areas and cause millions to lose their ability to live on these retreating areas. Migration will become a larger form of adaptation. We will need to learn how to accept large transnational migration of people peacefully.

Increasing Impacts on Military Readiness

We expect to see an increased demand for forces across the full spectrum of operations.

Domestically in response to extreme weather events and wildfires in the U.S. will increase demand for National Guard, and Reserves. The frequency, severity, and probability that these events may happen simultaneously will also likely increase demand for Active Duty Forces to provide defense support for civilian authority (DSCA). This causes us concern because, in a leaner military, many of our capabilities reside in the Guard and Reserve and if they are being used domestically they are less available to respond to worldwide crisis. We saw this impact following tropical storm Sandy.

Climate change will be a catalyst for conflict in fragile areas and U.S. military involvement could be an option in response to the conflicts.

Our bases will be increasingly at risk from the effects of climate change. Our bases are where we generate readiness. It is where we train, garrison, repair, maintain and prepare to deploy. Our bases are vulnerable to sea level rise, extreme weather including drought, which restricts training because of the threat of wildfire, and in the future increased precipitation in the form of rain and snow may limit training.

Climate change will cause the military to be deployed to harsher environments. Higher temperatures will stress equipment and people

The Nation depends on critical infrastructure for economic prosperity, safety, and the essentials of everyday life. Projected climate change will impact all 16 critical infrastructure sectors identified by Homeland Security. We are already seeing how extreme heat is damaging the national transportation infrastructure such as roads, rail lines, and airport runways. We also note that much of the Nation’s energy infrastructure—including oil and gas refineries, storage tanks, power plants, and electricity transmission lines—are located in coastal floodplains, where they are increasingly threatened by more intense storms, extreme flooding, and rising sea levels. Projected increased temperatures and drought across much of the nation will strain energy systems with more demand for cooling, possibly dislocate and reduce food production, and result in water scarcity. Since much of the critical infrastructure is owned or operated by the private sector, government solutions alone will not be able to address the full range of climate-related challenges.

DAVID L. GOLDWYN, Non-resident Senior Fellow, Energy Security Initiative at the Brookings Institution, Washington DC  

The national security challenges the United States faces across the globe have inherent energy components. The most prominent issues include the threat posed by Iran’s nuclear program, continued Russian efforts to foment instability in Ukraine, the emergence of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) as a destabilizing force in Syria and Iraq, continued instability in North Africa, and the recent acceleration of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. These are conflicts involving a great percentage of the world’s major energy suppliers. We face additional challenges to the stability of Central America and the Caribbean, as Venezuela’s economic deterioration puts its ability to provide credit support for regional energy purchases through Petrocaribe at increasing risk. Energy poverty in Africa and South Asia pose risks to stability in those regions. The way in which each of these issues is managed or resolved has implications for global energy markets and by extension our own economic growth and prosperity.

Climate change itself poses a significant risk to national security. The Pentagon’s Quadrennial Defense Review, released in March 2014, identifies climate change as a threat multiplier capable of exacerbating poverty, environmental degradation, political instability, and social tensions—all of which contribute to terrorist activity and other forms of violence.1 A report issued by the government-funded CNA Military Advisory Board, released in May 2014, drew similar conclusions and discussed, among other issues, the contributions of climate-induced drought toward fomenting regional and ethnic tensions in the Middle East and Africa.2

Natural gas is the obvious fuel choice to serve as a bridge to scalable renewable energy. While we should continue to pursue a future with abundant use of renewable energy, renewables will not be able to be adopted for grid based systems at scale in the developing world until the battery storage challenge is addressed.

1. Quadrennial Defense Review 2014, United States Department of Defense, March 2014, p. 8., 2. National Security and the Accelerating Risks of Climate Change, CNA Military Advisory Board, May 2014.

MICHAEL BREEN, Executive Director, Truman National Security Project & Center for National Policy, Washington, DC

While advances in technology have improved America’s energy posture in the short term, many of our long-standing vulnerabilities persist and are likely to worsen in the longer term.

The lack of diversified energy sources around the world continues to create undue risk to American national security, the security of our key allies, and global stability and prosperity.

The United States relies on oil for more than 93% of our transportation sector, and most advanced economies are in a roughly similar position. Given that oil is a globally traded fungible commodity, this single-source dependence on oil as a transportation fuel exposes the U.S. and our allies to the full range of risk associated with a complex and frequently manipulated global petroleum supply system. In other words, security and oil are deeply intertwined, with largely negative effects.

Oil resources and infrastructure are therefore key strategic points on the battlefield, shaping the course of the conflict at the tactical and operational levels of war.

One of ISIL’s primary objectives during its recent offensive in Iraq was the refinery in Baiji, the largest in Iraq. Kurdish military action in the conflict to date has been almost entirely defensive, with the sole exception of an early push to secure oil fields. KRG’s seizure of Kirkuk oil province, in part intended to establish defense in depth for Kurdish areas, will also give the Kurds even greater financial and political autonomy from Baghdad. Regional instability and conflict within and between states across the MENA region is driven, in part, because of the uneven distribution of energy resources. This is certainly true in Iraq. Nearly 75% of Iraqi oil production is focused in the Shia-majority south, and the main export terminal in Basra is located there as well. Baghdad’s failure to redistribute revenue from that oil production evenly across Iraq has been a major driver of sectarian and regional conflict. Prized oil fields in the south currently remain productive, but are vulnerable to insurgent attacks and remain an important military prize for all parties to the conflict. Companies will most likely evacuate workers, and quickly, if there are serious security concerns in Basra, a real possibility. This is critical, because continued conflict in Iraq has a significant destabilizing effect on the deeply interdependent global oil market. This instability is already leading to economic and geopolitical consequences around the world, and could impact our economic recovery here at home.

Dramatic increases in Iraq’s oil production are an essential element in most projections of global supply growth. In IEA’s World Energy Outlook, for example, the most likely scenario projects Iraq to double its oil production to 6.1mb/d by 2020, and 8.3 mb/d by 2035.

The IEA projects that Iraq will provide nearly 45% of anticipated global supply growth over the next decade. All of that projected progress is currently at risk. Longer term dynamics, while more difficult to predict, are potentially even more disturbing.

Investments in the Middle East may fall short of projections if armed conflict and cascading instability across the region persist, leading to a potential supply shortfall in the 2020s.

Even as Russia has used energy dependence as a sword against Ukraine, it has employed similar dynamics as a shield against Western European interference in the conflict. Sixteen percent of Europe’s total natural gas consumption comes from Russia through Ukraine.

Earlier this year, Russia and China signed a 30-year gas supply agreement worth approximately $400 billion. This agreement may draw the 2 great powers into deeper alignment, with negative repercussions for the U.S. and our allies.

More than 26% of Japan’s electricity came from nuclear power plants before the Fukushima disaster. Now, with all of its nuclear plants on indefinite suspension, Japan is the world’s leading importer of liquefied natural gas. Japan alone consumed 37% of global LNG in 2012. To meet this need, Japan is reportedly considering a natural gas pipeline to Russia to bring in LNG from Siberia. While this would have some benefits for Japan, Russia’s demonstrated willingness to use energy supplies for coercion should give us pause.

IEA projects that U.S. tight oil production will reach a plateau in the 2020s, before dropping to 9.2 mb/d by 2035—leaving us in much the same position we were in before the shale revolution. The global market is projected to remain fairly tight overall along the way, meaning price volatility will continue to be a problem over the next several decades.

This places the U.S. and our allies at risk of continued overreliance on the same large-scale holders of conventional resources, creating cascading risks and impacts around the globe and across the full range of human activity.

Given these dynamics, a singular focus on fossil fuels production and export simply plays into the strengths of our competitors while leaving the U.S. and our allies with continued vulnerabilities.

Senator MARKEY. Thank you Mr. Breen, for raising the question of what happens with oil production in the United States, because even though we still import 30% of the oil that we consume in the United States, there are advocates for us to start exporting, and the Energy Information Agency is saying we are going to plateau relatively soon in terms of our total oil production. So that goes to a national security issue, too: How wise are we to be exporting our own oil and natural gas when we do not have a surplus today and production is going to slow down and plateau in the relatively near future?

MARY HUTZLER, Distinguished Senior Fellow, Institute for Energy Research

EUROPEAN UNION EMISSIONS TRADING SCHEME

The Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) was launched by the EU in January 2005 as an attempt to comply with the 1997 Kyoto Protocol. It was the world’s first cross-border greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) trading program, regulating more than 11,500 installations and about 45% of total EU carbon dioxide emissions. Under the ETS, European companies must hold permits to allow them to emit carbon dioxide. A certain number of those permits were distributed at no cost to the industries that must reduce their output of carbon dioxide emissions. If businesses emit less carbon dioxide than the permits they hold, they can either keep the excess permits for future use or sell the excess permits and make a profit on them.

The early results of the program were that EU emissions were not significantly lowered until the global recession hit in 2008, which lowered emissions for all countries.

There were also misuses and abuses in the system because of its complexity, politicized decision-making, and the incentive to manipulate it.

Before the global recession hit, some EU countries saw faster carbon dioxide emissions growth than the United States, which was not subject to the policy. From 2000 to 2006, the rate of growth of European emissions under the cap-and-trade policy was almost 5 times higher than the rate of growth in emissions in the United States. 1 After the global recession, however, EU carbon dioxide emissions in 2009 were almost 8% below 2008 levels. 2 Due to the global recession, carbon dioxide emissions, in many cases, were lowered below the targets set by the cap-and- trade policy, so companies did not have to take further actions to reduce their emissions. 3 Severe downturns in economic activity result in significant reductions in emissions.

Because the free allocation of permits was based on future estimates of higher emissions levels, which did not materialize, there were too many free government-issued permits. As a result, companies hit hard by the recession were able to make profits by selling the excess permits but chose not to pass those savings onto their customers. Consumers ended up paying higher energy and commodity costs; taxpayers paid for the program’s implementation; and a new middleman was created to run the carbon permit trading program. 4

Europe found the costs of the program to be large. In 2006, individual business and sectors had to pay $24.9 billion for permits totaling over 1 billion tons. In 2011, the global carbon markets were valued at US$176 billion, with 10.3 billion carbon credits traded.5

The World Watch Institute estimated the costs of running a trading system designed to meet the EU’s Kyoto obligations at about $5 billion. The costs of a trading system to meet the EU’s commitments of a 20% reduction by 2020 (against a 1990 baseline) were estimated to be about $80 billion annually. 6

Unlike traditional commodities, which at some time during the course of their market exchange must be physically delivered to someone, carbon credits do not represent a physical commodity, which makes them particularly vulnerable to fraud and other illegal activity.

Carbon markets, like other financial markets, are at risk of exploitation by criminals due to the large amount of money invested, the immaturity of the regulations and lack of oversight and transparency.

The illegal activities identified include the following :

  1. Fraudulent manipulation of measurements to claim more carbon credits from a project than were actually obtained
  2. Sale of carbon credits that either do not exist or belong to someone else;
  3. False or misleading claims with respect to the environmental or financial benefits of carbon market investments
  4. Exploitation of weak regulations in the carbon market to commit financial crimes, such as money laundering, securities fraud or tax fraud;
  5. Computer hacking/ phishing to steal carbon credits and theft of personal information.

German prosecutors searched 230 offices and homes of Deutsche Bank, Germany’s largest bank, and RWE, Germany’s second-biggest utility, to investigate 180 million euros ($238 million U.S.) of tax evasion linked to emissions trading.

The U.K., France, and the Netherlands also investigated carbon traders, who committed fraud by collecting the tax, and disappearing without returning the tax funds.

According to estimates from Bloomberg New Energy Finance, about 400 million metric tons of emission trades may have been fraudulent in 2009, or about 7% of the total market.8

Tax evasion linked to emissions trading is still a problem. This year Frankfurt prosecutors sought the arrest of a British national in connection with suspected tax fraud worth 58 million euros ($80 million).9

Another problem is the lack of predictability regarding the emissions permit price. Companies need to know the price for long-term planning to decide on what actions they should take. The EU permit price ranged by a factor of 3, but even at the higher price range, it was insufficient to meet the emission reduction targets before the global recession hit. 10

A cap-and-trade policy is a highly complex system to implement because there are a large number of participants and the components of the system are difficult to get right as EU’s experience has shown.

Last year, the EU commenced phase three of the ETS toward meeting their target of a 40% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions below 1990 levels by 2030.11 Phase 3, which has a number of significant rule changes, will continue until 2020. As of 2011, carbon dioxide emissions of the original 27 member EU were just 8% below 1990 levels, and the majority of the reduction was achieved by the global recession.

That means the EU has a long way to go to meet its target. In the meantime, energy prices have increased and more and more Europeans are facing fuel poverty, meaning they pay more than 10% of their household income for energy. For example, industrial electricity prices are 2 to 5 times higher in the EU than in the United States and are expected to increase more. Europe’s once comfortable middle class is being pushed into energy poverty as a result of the carbon reduction measures and EU’s renewable programs. According to the European Commission, electricity prices in the Organization for Economic Cooperation (OECD) Europe have risen 37% more than those in the United States when indexed against 2005 prices. By 2020, at least 1.4 million additional European households are expected to be in energy poverty. EU’s ETS and clean energy programs have not significantly reduced emissions, but rather have dramatically raised energy prices, increased national debt, driven businesses out of Europe, led to massive job losses and unemployment, greatly increased energy poverty, and have been plagued by fraud and corruption. This economic malaise, in turn, has made Europe less capable of expending funds for their national defense needs and has contributed to the weakening of multilateral defense organizations like NATO. The European members of NATO are now spending less than 2% of their GDP on defense spending, which is below NATO guidance. 12

AUSTRALIA’S CARBON TAX

Australia implemented a carbon tax in 2012.   The carbon tax, which is currently set at $24.15 Australian currency ($22.70 U.S.) per metric ton, was initially implemented in July 2012 and was designed as a precursor to a cap and trade scheme, with the transition to a flexible carbon price as part of the trading program beginning in 2015. The tax applies directly to around 370 Australian businesses. But the September 7, 2013, election put a damper on the program. Australia’s new government wants to dismantle the legislation that levies fees on carbon emissions and replace it with taxpayer funded grants to companies and projects that reduce emissions. The Emissions Reduction Fund would be funded at A$2.55 billion ($2.4 billion U.S.). 13

Repealing Australia’s carbon tax on July 1, 2014, is estimated to :

  • Reduce the cost of living of its citizens—the Australian Treasury estimates that removing the carbon tax in 2014 to 2015 will reduce the average costs of living across all households by about $550 more than they would otherwise be in 2014 to 2015.
  • Lower the cost of retail electricity by around 9 percent and retail gas prices by around 7 percent than they would otherwise be in 2014 to 2015.
  • Boost Australia’s economic growth, increase jobs and enhance Australia’s international competitiveness by removing an unnecessary tax, which hurts businesses and families.
  • Reduce annual ongoing compliance costs for around 370 entities by almost $90 million per annum.
  • Remove over 1,000 pages of primary and subordinate legislation.

Australia’s lower House of Parliament voted to scrap the carbon tax on July 14, and the Australian Senate voted in favor on July 17, 2014.15 According to Tony Abbott, Australian Prime Minister speaking at a news conference, ‘‘Today the tax that you voted to get rid of is finally gone, a useless destructive tax which damaged jobs, which hurt families’ cost of living and which didn’t actually help the environment is finally gone.’’ The repeal will save Australian voters and business around A$9 billion ($8.4 billion U.S.) a year.16 Australia’s residents found the carbon tax experience to include soaring electricity prices, rising unemployment, income tax hikes, and additional command-and-control regulations. Electricity prices increased 15 percent over the course of a year (which included the highest quarterly increase on record), and companies laid off workers because of the tax. Further, government data shows that the tax had not reduced the level of Australia’s domestically produced carbon dioxide emissions, which is not surprising, since under the carbon tax Australia’s domestic emissions were not expected to fall below current levels until 2045.17

To reduce greenhouse gas emissions to comply with the Kyoto Protocol, Europe (EU) set mandates for renewable generation (20% of its electricity to be generated by renewable energy by 2020) coupled with hefty renewable subsidies as enticements.

The Europeans have found that these subsidies have grown too large, are hurting their economies, and as a result, they are now slashing the subsidies, so enormous that governments are unilaterally rewriting their contracts with renewable generating firms and reneging on the generous deals they initially provided.

 

RENEWABLE SUBSIDIES IN EUROPE

Spain

In order to enhance renewable energy sources in Spain, the Government enacted legislation to reach 20% of electric production from qualified renewable energy by 2010. To meet this target, the government found it needed to provide incentives to ensure the market penetration of renewable energy, including providing above-market rates for renewable-generated electricity and requiring that electric utility companies purchase all renewable energy produced. In 1994, Spain implemented feed-in tariffs to jump start its renewable industry by providing long-term contracts that pay the owners of renewable projects above- market rates for the electricity produced.18

Because renewable technologies generally cost more than conventional fossil fuel technologies, the government guaranteed that renewable firms would get a higher cost for their technologies. But, because the true costs of renewable energy were never passed on to the consumers of electricity in Spain, the government needed to find a way to make renewable power payments and electricity revenues meet. Since 2000, Spain provided renewable producers $41 billion more for their power than it received from its consumers. 19 (For reference, Spain’s economy is about one-twelfth the size of the U.S. economy.) In 2012, the discrepancy between utility payments to renewable power producers and the revenue they collected from customers was 5.6 billion euros ($7.3 billion), despite the introduction of a 7% on generation. 20 The 2012 gap represented a 46% increase over the previous year’s shortfall.

A massive rate deficit should not come as a surprise. For 5 years, IER has warned of this problem beginning when Dr. Gabriel Calzada released his paper on the situation in Spain and testified before Congress.21 He found that Spain’s ‘‘green jobs’’ agenda resulted in job losses elsewhere in the country’s economy. For each ‘‘green’’ megawatt installed, 5.28 jobs on average were lost in the Spanish economy; for each megawatt of wind energy installed, 4.27 jobs were lost; and for each megawatt of solar installed, 12.7 jobs were lost. Although solar energy may appear to employ many workers in the plant’s construction, in reality it consumes a large amount of capital that would have created many more jobs in other parts of the economy. The study also found that 9 out of 10 jobs in the renewable industry were temporary. 22, 23

Spain’s unemployment rate has more than doubled between 2008 and 2013. In January 2013, Spain’s unemployment rate was 26% the highest among EU member states.24 Spain’s youth unemployment (under the age of 25) reached 57.7% in November 2013, surpassing Greece’s youth unemployment rate of 54.8% in September 2013. 25

The Spanish Government did not believe Dr. Calzada 5 years ago, but they have now been hit in the face with reality. To recover the lost revenues from the extravagant subsidies, the Spanish Government ended its feed-in tariff program for renewables, which paid the renewable owners an extremely high guaranteed price for their power as can be seen by the deficit. Currently, renewable power in Spain gets the market price plus a subsidy which the country deems more ‘‘reasonable.’’ Companies’ profits are capped at a 7.4% return, after which renewable owners must sell their power at market rates. The measure is retroactive to when the renewable plant was first built.26 Therefore, some renewable plants, if they have already received the 7.4% return, are receiving only the market price for their electricity.

Wind projects built before 2005 will no longer receive any form of subsidy, which affects more than a third of Spain’s wind projects. As a consequence of the government’s actions to rein in their subsidies and supports, Spain’s wind sector is estimated to have laid off 20,000 workers.

The Spanish Government also slashed subsidies to solar power, subsidizing just 500 megawatts of new solar projects, down from 2,400 megawatts in 2008.27 Its solar sector, which once employed 60,000 workers, now employs just 5,000. In 2013, solar investment in Spain dropped by 90 percent from its 2011 level of $10 billion.

Spain’s 20% renewable energy share of generation from wind and solar power has come at a very high cost to the nation.

Germany

In Germany, as part of the country’s ‘‘Energiewende,’’ or ‘‘energy transformation,’’ electric utilities have been ordered to generate 35% of their electricity from renewable sources by 2020, 50% by 2030, 65% by 2040, and 80% by 2050. To encourage production of renewable energy, the German government instituted a feed-in tariff early, even before Spain.

In 1991, Germany established the Electricity Feed-in Act, which mandated that renewables ‘‘have priority on the grid and that investors in renewables must receive sufficient compensation to provide a return on their investment irrespective of electricity prices on the power exchange.’’ 28 In other words, utilities are required to purchase electricity from renewable sources they may not want or need at above-market rates. For example, solar photovoltaics had a feed-in tariff of 43 euro cents per kilowatt hour ($0.59 U.S. per kilowatt hour), over 8 times the wholesale price of electricity and over 4 times the feed-in tariff for onshore wind power. A subsequent law passed in 2000, the Renewable Energy Act (EEG), extended feed-in tariffs for 20 years.29 Originally, to allow for wind and solar generation technologies to mature into competitive industries, Germany planned to extend the operating lives of its existing nuclear fleet by an average of 12 years. But, the Fukushima nuclear accident in Japan caused by a tsunami changed Germany’s plans and the country quickly shuttered 8 nuclear reactors and is phasing out its other 9 reactors by 2022, leaving the country’s future electricity production mostly to renewable energy and coal. 30

Coal consumption in Germany in 2012 was the highest it has been since 2008, and electricity from brown coal (lignite) in 2013 reached the highest level since 1990 when East Germany’s Soviet-era coal plants began to be shut down. German electricity generation from coal increased to compensate for the loss of the hastily shuttered nuclear facilities. Germany is now building new coal capacity at a rapid rate, approving 10 new coal plants to come on line within the next 2 years to deal with expensive natural gas generation and the high costs and unreliability of renewable energy.31 As a result, carbon dioxide emissions are increasing.

While the United States is using low cost domestic natural gas to lower coal-fired generation, in Germany, the cost of natural gas is high since it is purchased at rates competitive with oil. Also, Germany is worried about its natural gas supplies since it gets a sizable amount from Russia. While domestic shale gas resources are an alternative, particularly since the Germans are hydraulic fracturing pioneers and have used the technology to extract tight gas since the 1960s, Germany’s Environment Minister has proposed a prohibition on hydraulic fracturing until 2021 in response to opposition from the Green Party.33 According to the Energy Information Administration, Germany has 17 trillion cubic feet of technically recoverable shale gas resources.34

Germany has some of the highest costs of electricity in Europe and its consumers are becoming energy poor. In 2012, the average price of electricity in Germany was 36.25 cents per kilowatt hour,35 compared to just 11.88 cents for U.S. households, triple the U.S. average residential price.36 These prices led Germany’s Energy Minister to recently caution that they risk the ‘‘deindustrialization’’ of the economy.

In addition to high electricity prices, Germans are paying higher taxes to subsidize expensive green energy. The surcharge for Germany’s Renewable Energy Levy that taxes households to subsidize renewable energy production increased by 50 percent between 2012 and 2013—from 4.97 U.S. cents to 6.7 cents per kilowatt hour, costing a German family of 4 about $324 US per year, including sales tax.37 The German Government raised the surcharge again at the start of this year by 18% to 8.61 US cents per kilowatt hour representing about a fifth of residential utility bills,38 making the total feed-in tariff support for 2014 equal to $29.6 billion US.39 As a result, 80 German utilities had to raise electricity rates by 4%, on average, in February, March, and April of this year.

The poor suffer disproportionately from higher energy costs because they spend a higher percentage of their income on energy. As many as 800,000 Germans have had their power cut off because of an inability to pay for rising energy costs, including 200,000 of Germany’s long-term unemployed.40

Adding to this is a further disaster. Large offshore wind farms have been built in Germany’s less populated north and the electricity must be transported to consumers in the south. But, 30 wind turbines off the North Sea island of Borkum are operating without being connected to the grid because the connection cable is not expected to be completed until sometime later this year. Further, the seafloor must be swept for abandoned World War II ordnance before a cable can be run to shore. The delay will add $27 million to the $608 million cost of the wind park. And, in order to keep the turbines from rusting, the turbines are being run with diesel. 41 42

Germany’s power has been strained by new wind and solar projects both on and offshore, making the government invest up to $27 billion over the next decade to build about 1,700 miles of high-capacity power lines and to upgrade existing lines. The reality is that not only is renewable energy more expensive, but it also requires expensive transmission investments that existing sources do not, thus compounding the impact on consumers and businesses.

Germany knows reforms are necessary. On January 29, the German Cabinet backed a plan for new commercial and industrial renewable power generators to pay a charge on the electricity they consume. As part of the reform of the Renewable Energy Sources Act, the proposal would charge self-generators 70% of the renewable subsidy surcharge, (i.e. the 6.24 cents per kilowatt hour). Under the proposal, the first 10 megawatt hours would be exempt for owners of solar photovoltaic projects that are less than 10 kilowatts. According to the German Solar Energy Industry Association, about 83% of solar self-generators would be subject to the new charge. Another reform being considered is a reduction in the feed-in tariff from the current average of 23.47 U.S. cents per kilowatt hour to 16.56 U.S. cents per kilowatt hour.43 On July 11, Germany’s upper House of Parliament passed changes to the Renewable Energy Sources Act, which will take effect as planned on August 1. The law lowers subsidies for new green power plants and spreads the power-price surcharge more equally among businesses.44

United Kingdom

Unlike Spain and Germany, the United Kingdom (U.K.) started its feed-in-tariff program to incentivize renewable energy relatively late, in 2010.45 Hydroelectric, solar, and wind units all have specified tariffs that electric utilities must pay for their energy, which are above market rates. Like the other countries, the U.K. has a mandate for renewable energy. The United Kingdom is targeting a 15% share of energy generated from renewable sources in gross final energy consumption and a 31% share of electricity demand from electricity generated from renewable sources by 2020.46 The U.K. generates about 12% of its electricity from renewable energy today. The increased renewable power will cost consumers 120 pounds a year (about $200) above their current average energy bill of 1,420 pounds ($2,362). 47 The U.K. is closing coal-fired power plants to reduce carbon dioxide emissions in favor of renewable energy. In the U.K., 8,200 MW of coal-fired power plants have been shuttered, with an additional 13,000 MW at risk over the next 5 years, according to the Confederation of U.K. Coal Producers. 48 The U.K.’s energy regulator is worried that the amount of capacity over-peak demand this winter will be under 2%—a very low, scary amount for those charged with keeping the lights on—and the lowest in Western Europe.

Beginning in January 2016, the European Union will require electric utilities to add further emission reduction equipment to plants or close them by either 2023 or when they have run for 17,500 hours. Because the equipment is expensive, costing over 100 million pounds ($167 million) per gigawatt of capacity, only one U.K. electricity producer has chosen to install the required technology. Most of the existing coal-fired plants are expected to be shuttered since only one coal-fired power plant has been built in the U.K. since the early 1970s.

To deal with the reliability issue, the U.K. Government is hosting an auction for backup power, but it is unclear how it will work. According to the Department for Energy and Climate Change, electricity producers will be able to bid in an auction to take place this December to provide backup power for 2018. The program, called a capacity market, is expected to ensure sufficient capacity and security of supply. The Department estimates that the U.K. power industry needs around 110 billion pounds ($184 billion) of investment over the next 10 years. The Renewable Energy Foundation (REF) estimates that consumers currently pay more than £1 billion ($1.66 billion) a year in subsidies to renewable energy producers—twice the wholesale cost of electricity. Those subsidies are expected to increase to £6 billion ($10 billion) a year by 2020 to meet a 30% target of providing electricity from renewable energy. 49 As a result, a growing number of U.K. households are in energy poverty. In 2003, roughly 6% of the United Kingdom’s population was in energy poverty; a decade later, nearly one-fifth of the nation’s population is in energy poverty.

As a result, the government has proposed that renewable companies sell their electricity to the national grid under a competitive bidding system. The new proposal limits the total amount of subsidies available for green energy, which were previously effectively limitless. The reduction in subsidies has led to renewable developers scrapping plans amid claims that the proposal will make future renewable development unprofitable.50

The U.K. is both cutting the level of their feed-in tariffs and the length of time they are available. Effective July 1, 2013, the feed-in tariff for solar generated electricity was reduced from 15.44 pence (24 cents U.S.) to 14.90 pence per kilowatt hour. In October 2011, it was 43.3 pence (67.5 cents U.S.) per kilowatt hour—almost three times the reduced level.51 Also, the length of time for the subsidy entitlement is being reduced—for example, it will be 15 years instead of 20 years for wind farms built after 2017.

The reductions indicate that the original subsidies were overgenerous and that wind turbines are unlikely to have an economic life of 20 years. 52

But, according to the Climate Change Committee (CCC), without tougher action, Britain will miss its 31% target of cutting emissions, managing only a 21% reduction instead, which will hinder meeting its commitment to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 80% of 1990 levels by 2050. The CCC called for more progress on insulating homes, promoting the uptake of ground source and air source heat pumps,

Italy

Similar to Germany and Spain, Italy also used feed-in tariffs to spur renewable development, and found it too costly. In 2005, Italy introduced its solar subsidy plan, providing solar power with premiums ranging from Euro 0.445 ($0.60 U.S.) per kilowatt hour to euro 0.490 ($0.66 U.S.) per kilowatt hour. 54 That subsidy resulted in the construction of more than 17,000 megawatts of solar capacity. In 2011, Italy’s solar market was the world’s largest, but that market has slowed due to the removal of subsidies. Italy ceased granting feed-in tariffs for new installations after July 6, 2013, because its subsidy program had reached its budget cap—a limit of 6.7 billion euros ($8.9 billion) as of June 6, 2013. The law restricts above-market rates for solar energy a month after the threshold is reached. Without tariffs, the Italian solar market will need to depend on net metering (where consumers can sell the power they generate themselves to the grid) and income tax deductions for support.55

Italy also undertook other measures. In 2012, the government charged all solar producers a 5-cent tax per kilowatt hour on all self-consumed energy. The government also curtailed purchasing power from solar self-generators when their output exceeded the amount the system needed. Those provisions were followed in 2013 by the government instituting a ‘‘Robin Hood tax’’ of 10.5% to renewable energy producers with more than $4.14 million US in revenue and income greater than $414,000 US. 56 According to Italy’s solar industry, the result of these and other changes has been a surge in bankruptcies and a massive decrease in solar investment.

EUROPE’S WOOD CONSUMPTION

Besides incentivizing wind and solar generation, EU is also consuming wood to satisfy its renewable mandate of 20% of generation from renewable energy by 2020.

According to the Economist, wood, the fuel of preindustrial societies, represents about half of all renewable energy consumed in the European Union in some form or another—sticks, pellets, sawdust. 57

In Poland and Finland, wood supplies more than 80% of renewable energy demand. In Germany, despite its push and subsidization of wind and solar power, 38% of non-fossil fuel consumption comes from wood.

According to the International Wood Markets Group, Europe consumed 13 million metric tons of wood pellets in 2012 and its demand is expected to increase to 25 to 30 million tons a year by 2020.

According to the National Firewood Association, the 2012 European consumption of wood pellets is equivalent to over 4 million cords of wood, which equates to over 4 million ‘‘big’’ trees and over 8 million ‘‘average size’’ trees. 58

Because Europe does not produce enough timber to meet this demand, imports of wood pellets are increasing. They increased by 50% in 2010. According to the European Pellet Council, global trade in wood pellets is expected to increase five- or six-fold to 60 million metric tons by 2020. Much of that will come from new wood- exporting businesses that are booming in western Canada and the southern United States. According to a report by Wood Resources International, the southern United States surpassed Canada last year as the leading exporter of wood pellets to Europe, exporting in excess of 1.5 million tons. Those exports are expected to reach 5.7 million tons in 2015. During the third quarter of 2012, three companies announced plans for new pellet plants in Georgia and six others were under construction in the south, together adding as much as 4.2 million tons of capacity by 2015. 59 The increase in wood consumption has caused an escalation in prices. According to data published by Argus Biomass Markets, an index of wood-pellet prices increased by 11%, from 116 euros ($152) a metric ton in August 2010 to 129 euros ($169) a metric ton at the end of 2012. Since the end of 2011, prices for hardwood from western Canada increased by about 60 percent. 60

Wood use in Europe is not carbon neutral.

In theory, if the biomass used to power electricity comes from energy crops, the carbon generated from combustion would be offset by the carbon that is captured and stored in the newly planted crops, making the process carbon-neutral. The wood that Europe is using produces carbon through combustion at the power station and in the manufacture of the pellets that includes grinding the wood up, turning it into dough and submitting it under pressure. The process of producing the pellets, combusting them, and transporting them produces carbon—about 200 kilograms of carbon dioxide for each megawatt hour of electricity generated.

A researcher at Princeton University calculated that if whole trees are used to produce energy, they would increase carbon emissions 79% more than coal over 20 years and 49% more over 40 years, with no carbon reduction for 100 years until the replacement trees have matured.

EUROPE ’S NATURAL GAS SUPPLIES

Europe is worried about continually receiving the 30% of its natural gas supplies that it receives from Russia, but instead of embracing hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling on domestic soil, it is looking toward the United States to export LNG to them.

According to a leaked document, the European Union is making its desire to import more oil and natural gas from the United States very clear in the discussions over the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) trade deal. The EU is pressuring the United States to lift its ban on crude oil exports and make it easier to export natural gas to Europe. The EU emphasizes the TTIP’s role in ‘‘reinforcing the security of supply’’ of energy for the member countries, pointing to the political situation in the Ukraine as a key reason to relax rules against U.S. exports. ‘‘The current crisis in Ukraine confirms the delicate situation faced by the EU with regard to energy dependence,’’ the document states. ‘‘Of course the EU will continue working on its own energy security and broaden its strategy of diversification. But such an effort begins with its closest allies.’’ 61

EU could start by developing its shale gas resources throughout its member countries.

According to the Energy Information Administration, Europe has an estimated 470 trillion cubic feet of technically recoverable shale gas resources, around 80% of the U.S. estimated endowment of 567 trillion cubic feet.62

Germany has proposed a prohibition against hydraulic fracturing through 2021. France, which has the second-largest estimated shale gas resources in Europe, has a hydraulic fracturing ban through at least 2017 and Bulgaria also forbids hydraulic fracturing. Poland, which has Europe’s largest technically recoverable shale gas resources at 148 trillion cubic feet, is interested in developing those resources, but has geology problems demonstrated by poor results from exploratory drilling. Several other European countries are now interested in developing their shale gas resources, such as the U.K., the Netherlands, Denmark, and Romania, but none of the European shale-gas exploration efforts are close to being ready for commercial development.63

CONCLUSION

As the Washington Post indicated: ‘‘Cap-and-trade regimes have advantages, notably the ability to set a limit on emissions and to integrate with other countries. But they are complex and vulnerable to lobbying and special pleading, and they do not guarantee success.’’ 64 The European Union has found this to be the case, for their cap-and-trade program did not achieve the intended targets, but made many companies wealthier which in turn resulted in higher energy prices for consumers.

Other ‘‘green’’ energy programs have had similar results in producing higher electricity prices and large subsidies for technologies that contribute only small amounts to their countries’ electricity needs. Countries that have enacted these programs have found them to be very costly and are now slashing those subsidies because the governments and the consumers cannot afford them. It is unclear what benefit the EU and Australia’s climate and ‘‘green’’ energy policies have achieved. Any reduction in carbon dioxide emissions that developed countries make will just be a ‘‘drop in the bucket’’ because total global greenhouse gas emissions will increase as China, the world’s largest emitter of carbon dioxide emissions, and other developing countries continue to improve their economies by using fossil fuels. These developing countries believe it is their turn to develop their economies and to provide energy to their citizens, many of which do not even have electricity. As a result, they either refuse to participate in global climate change programs or have track records of not enforcing such programs. The climate policies of both Europe and Australia have not only driven up their energy prices, but have also harmed their economies and reduced their security capabilities. Because Europe is dependent on natural gas from Russia, it has secretly asked the United States to speed up its review of LNG applications. Europe is clearly worried about further Russian aggression and availability of its natural gas supplies. Australia has learned and repealed its carbon tax with Senate approval on July 17. According to Tony Abbott, Australia’s Prime Minister, in releasing the news of the passage of the repeal legislation to Australia’s citizens, ‘‘We are honoring our commitments to you and building a strong and prosperous economy for a safe and secure Australia.’’ 65 Europe and the United States need to learn that energy security requires energy diversity. For example, during the cold spell in the U.S. Northeast this past winter, natural gas prices spiked because of lack of infrastructure. Lights were kept on due to the availability of coal and nuclear units. But many of those units are now being shuttered, which means that during next winter, the lights may go out in the Northeast.

Ms. HUTZLER replies to later questions. Europe is spending less on defense now than they did prior to the Kyoto Protocol, only 1.6 percent of their GDP. NATO guidance says that they should be spending 2 percent. And we are spending as much as 2.5 percent. In fact, Secretary of Defense Hagel has called on the EU to spend more because of the crisis in the Ukraine.

Carbon trading policies are very complex, which is why you see a lot more criminal activities than you do in a carbon tax. Another place where we have seen abuse in the United States is with renewable identification numbers. Refiners have to use so much biofuel when they produce gasoline, and there has been abuse where there have been fake RIN’s that these people have purchased and we have actually gotten these people—we have found most of this fraud. So it is happening in this country, too.

Some of the policies that Senator Markey seems to advocate in his questions would reduce U.S. energy production, increase oil imports and our trade deficit, and have the effect of reducing U.S. energy security. Senator Markey should understand the implications of ending the tax deductions mentioned below, which is essentially a tax increase on the oil and gas industry resulting in a reduction in domestic energy production, which would result in an increase of oil from overseas suppliers. That said, in regard to tax policy, I believe that all industries should be treated the same, irrespective of the product that the industry produces. There are those who complain about the earnings of the oil and gas companies without understanding the nature of the business, which is the most capital-intensive in the world. The oil and natural gas industry must make large investments in new technology, new production, and environmental and product quality improvements to meet future U.S. energy needs. These investments are not only in the oil and gas sector but in alternate forms of energy (e.g., biofuels). For example, an Ernst & Young study shows the five major oil companies had $765 billion of new investment between 1992 and 2006, compared to net income of $662 billion during the same period. The 57 largest U.S. oil and natural gas companies had new investments of $1.25 trillion over the same period, compared to net income of $900 billion and cash flows of $1.77 trillion. In another Ernst and Young report, the 50 largest oil and gas companies spent over $106 billion in exploration and development costs in 2011, an increase of 38% over those capital investments in 2010. Without these investments, the U.S. oil and gas industry would not have been able to make the strides in increased oil and gas production that they have made and continue to make in this country.1 Earnings allow companies to reinvest in facilities, infrastructure and new technologies, and when those investments are in the United States, it means many more jobs, directly and indirectly. It also means more revenues for federal, state and local governments.

End Notes

1 Energy Information Administration, International Energy Data Base.

2 Ibid.

3 The Wall Street Journal, Cap and Trade Doesn’t Work, June 25, 2009.

4 The Wall Street Journal, Cap and Trade Doesn’t Work, June 25, 2009.

5 Interpol, Guide to Carbon Trading Crime, June 2013.

6 The Wall Street Journal, Cap and Trade Doesn’t Work, June 25, 2009.

7 Interpol, Guide to Carbon Trading Crime, June 2013.

8 Bloomberg, Deutsche Bank, RWE raided in German probe of CO2 tax, April 28, 2010.

9 Reuters, Germany seeks arrest of Briton in carbon trading scam, April 10, 2014.

10 Bloomberg, Deutsche Bank, RWE raided in German probe of CO2 tax, April 28, 2010.

11 European Commission, The EU Emissions Trading System.

12 Defense News, U.S. Pushes NATO Allies to Boost Defense Spending, May 3, 2014.

13 Huffington Post, Australia’s Carbon Tax Set for Final Showdown, July 14, 2014.

14 Department of the Environment, Australian Government, Repealing the Carbon Tax.

15 ABC, Senate Passes Legislation to Repeal Carbon Tax, July 17, 2014.

16 Wall Street Journal, Australia Becomes First Developed Nation to Repeal Carbon Tax, July 17, 2014.

17 Australia’s Carbon Tax: An Economic Evaluation, September 2013.

18 Institute for Building Efficiency, Feed-In Tariffs: A Brief History.

19 Financial Post, Governments Rip Up Renewable Contracts, March 19, 2014.

20 Bloomberg, Spain’s Power Deficit Widens by 46 Percent as Steps to Close Gap Founder, April 25, 2014.

21 Institute for Energy Research, August 6, 2009.

22 Study of the effects on employment of public aid to renewable energy sources, Universidad Rey Juan Carlos, March 2009.

23 Eagle Tribune, Cap-and-trade bill is an economy-killer, June 28, 2009.

24 The Failure of Global Carbon Policies, June 11, 2014.

25 Spain Youth Unemployment Rises to Record 57.7 Percent, Surpasses Greece, January 8, 2014.

26 Financial Post, Governments Rip Up Renewable Contracts, March 19, 2014.

27 Wall Street Journal, ‘‘Darker Times for Solar-Power Industry,’’ May 11, 2009.

28 Heinrich Bo¨ll Foundation, Energy Transition: The German Energiewende.

29 Institute for Building Efficiency, Feed-In Tariffs: A Brief History, Aug. 2010.

30 German Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology and Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety.

31 Forbes, ‘‘Germany’s Energy Goes Kaput, Threatening Economic Stability,’’ December 30, 2013.

32 BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2014. 33Wall Street Journal, Germany’s fracking follies, July 7, 2014.

34 Energy Information Administration, Technically Recoverable Shale Oil and Shale Gas Resources: An Assessment of 137 Shale Formations in 41 Countries Outside the United States, June 2013.

35 Europe’s Energy Portal Germany Energy Prices Report.

36 U.S. Energy Information Administration, Monthly Energy Review.

37 Tree Hugger, German Electricity Tax Rises 50 Percent to Support Renewable Energy, October 17, 2012.

38 Reuters, Five million German families faced with higher power bills, February 24, 2014.

39 Frontier Economics, German renewable energy levy will rise in 2014.

40 The Australian, Europe Pulls the Plug on its Green Energy Future, August 10, 2013.

41 New York Times, Germany’s Effort at Clean Energy Proves Complex, September 18, 2013.

42 Renewables International, First municipal offshore wind farm awaits grid connection, June 25, 2014.

43 Bloomberg, Germany moots levy on renewable power use, February 4, 2014.

44 Wall Street Journal, Germany’s Upper House Passes Renewable Energy Law, July 11, 2014.

45 Institute for Building Efficiency, Feed-In Tariffs: A Brief History, Aug. 2010.

46 International Energy Agency, Global Renewable Energy, National Renewable Energy Action Plan.

47 Bloomberg, Green Rules Shuttering Power Plants Threaten UK Shortage, March 19, 2014.

48 Bloomberg, Green Rules Shuttering Power Plants Threaten UK Shortage, March 19, 2014.

49 The Telegraph, Wind farms subsidies cut by 25 percent, July 14, 2013.

50 The Telegraph, Wind farm plans in tatters after subsidy rethink, March 2, 2014.

51 Mail Online, Solar panel payments are about to fall again but the cost of buying them is falling too—so is it still worth investing?, June 14, 2013.

52 The Telegraph, Wind farms subsidies cut by 25 percent, July 14, 2013.

53 The Global Warming Policy Foundation, Proposals to Step up Unilateral Climate Policy Will Trigger ‘‘Astronomical Costs,’’ Peiser Warns, July 15, 2014.

54 International Energy Agency, Global Renewable Energy, ‘‘Old’’ Feed In Premium for Photovoltaic Systems.

55 Bloomberg, Italy Set to Cease Granting Tariffs for New Solar Projects, June 11, 2013.

56 Financial Post, Governments Rip Up Renewable Contracts, March 18, 2014.

57 Economist, Wood The Fuel of the Future, April 6, 2013.

58 National Firewood Association, Biomass Called Environmental Lunacy, April 10, 2013.

59 Dogwood Alliance, The Use of Whole Trees in Wood Pellet Manufacturing, November 13, 2012.

60 Argus Biomass Markets.

61 Huffington Post, Secret Trade Doc Calls for More Oil and Gas Exports to Europe, July 8, 2014.

62 Energy Information Administration, Technically Recoverable Shale Oil and Shale Gas Resources: An Assessment of 137 Shale Formations in 41 Countries Outside the United States, June 2013.

63 Europe wants the energy, but not the fracking, July 15, 2014.

64The Washington Post, Climate Change Solutions, February 16, 2009. 65Australia’s carbon tax has been axed as repeal bills clear the Senate, July 17, 2014.

 

 

Mr. BREEN. Transitioning municipal truck fleets, garbage trucks, buses, things like that to natural gas might help alleviate our single-source dependence on oil to fuel our transportation sector, which I would argue is a strategic risk, being so dependent on oil for that purpose.

Admiral TITLEY. The way I take a look at this as a risk-based issue, so how do we mitigate the risks

 

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Emerging threats of resource wars. U.S. House hearing

Goh Chun Teck, Lim Xian You, Sum Qing Wei, Tong Huu Khiem. Resource Wars.2011. A hot-seat multiplayer game where players compete with each other for territories that generate resources such as coal, water, gold and gas. A Player can sell resources for money, which he can use to purchase even more territories to grow his empire, or fight with other players to attempt to conquer their territories. NatiOnal University of Singapore. CS2103 Projects AY10/11 Semester 1

Goh Chun Teck, Lim Xian You, Sum Qing Wei, Tong Huu Khiem. 2011. Resource Wars. Players compete with each other for territories that generate resources such as coal, water, gold and gas. A Player can sell resources for money, which he can use to purchase even more territories to grow his empire, or fight with other players to attempt to conquer their territories. National University of Singapore.

[ About half of the pages are images from Brigadier General John Adams “Remaking American security. Supply chain vulnerabilities & national security risks across the U.S. Defense Industrial Base”.  

Alice Friedemann   www.energyskeptic.com  author of “When Trucks Stop Running: Energy and the Future of Transportation, 2015, Springer]

House 113-63. July 25, 2013. The Emerging threat of Resource Wars.  U.S. House of Representatives,  88 pages.

DANA ROHRABACHER, CaliforniaWe import 750,000 tons of vital minerals and material every year.  An increasing global demand for supplies of energy and strategic minerals is sparking intense economic competition that could lead to a counterproductive conflict.

A ‘‘zero sum world’’ where no one can obtain the means to progress without taking them from someone else is inherently a world of conflict.

Additional problems arise when supplies are located in areas where production could be disrupted by political upheaval, terrorism or war.

When new sources of supply are opened up, as in the case of Central Asia, there is still fear that there is not enough to go around and thus conflict emerges.   The wealth that results from resource development and the expansion of industrial production increases power just as it uplifts economies and uplifts the standards of peoples.

This can feed international rivalry on issues that go well beyond economics. We too often think of economics as being merely about ‘‘business’’ but the distribution of industry, resources and technology across the globe is the foundation for the international balance of power and we need to pay more attention to the economic issues in our foreign policy and what will be the logical result of how we deal with those economic and those natural resource issues.

The control of access to resources can be used as political leverage, as we have seen with Russia and China. They both have demonstrated that. Indeed, China is engaged in an aggressive campaign to control global energy supply chains and to protect its monopoly in rare earth elements. This obviously indicates that Beijing is abandoning its ‘‘peaceful rise’’ policy. This is not an unexpected turn of events given the brutal nature of the Communist Chinese regime.

Who owns the resources, who has the right to develop them, where will they be sent and put to use, and who controls the transport routes from the fields to the final consumers are issues that must be addressed. Whether the outcomes result from competition or coercion; from market forces or state command, we will be determining how to achieve and if we will achieve a world of peace and an acceptable level of prosperity or we won’t achieve that noble goal.

My father joined the Marines to fight World War II and it is very clear that natural resources had a great deal to do with the Japanese strategies that led to the Second World War and so we have some of our witnesses may be talking to us and will be talking to us on issues that are of that significance.

WILLIAN KEATING, MASSACHUSETTS.  Today’s hearing topic provides us with an opportunity to look beyond Europe and Eurasia and examine the global impact of depleting resources, climate change and expanding world population and accompanying social rest.

In March, for the first time, the Director of National Intelligence, James R. Clapper, listed ‘‘competition and scarcity involving natural resources’’ as a national security threat on a path and on a par with global terrorism, cyber war, and nuclear proliferation.

He also noted that ‘‘terrorists, militants, and international crime groups are certain to use declining local food security to gain legitimacy and undermine government authority’’ in the future. I would add that the prospect of scarcities of vital resources including energy, water, land, food, and rare earth elements in itself would guarantee geopolitical friction.

Now add lone wolves and extremists who exploit these scenarios into the mix and the domestic relevance of today’s conversation and you can see the importance of this is clear.

Further, it is no secret that threats are more interconnected today than they were 15 years ago. Events which at first seem local and irrelevant have the potential to set off transnational disruptions and affect U.S. national interests. We saw this dynamic play out off the coast of Somalia where fishermen were growing frustrated from lack of government enforcement against vessels harming their stock and where they took up arms and transitioned into dangerous gangs of pirates. Now violent criminals threaten Americans in multinational vessels traveling through the Horn of Africa. Unfortunately, I don’t see a near term end to the coordinated international response that this situation requires. I agree with Mr. Clapper that the depletion of resources stemming from many factors which above all include climate change has potential to raise a host of issues for U.S. businesses worldwide.

PAUL COOK, CALIFORNIA.  In my former life besides being in the military for 26 years, I was a college professor and I have to admit I taught history and I always have got to give the old saw that people who do not understand history are bound to repeat it.

If you look at the history of conflicts and wars and everything else and whether you go back to that famous book, The Haves and Have-Nots, it is always about resources and who has it and who doesn’t have them and who wants them.

But I think we as a country, at least have not picked up on those lessons of history and we are very, very naive about the motivations of certain countries and why they do certain things. And obviously, there are things going on throughout the world right now in Eurasia which underscores some of the things that we are going to talk about today. So I applaud having a hearing on this. I think the title says it all, resource wars, and if we don’t have the war yet, we have had it in the past and we are going to have it in the future.

BRIGADIER GENERAL JOHN ADAMS, USA, RETIRED, PRESIDENT, GUARDIAN SIX CONSULTING, LLC

Remaking American Security” examines 14 defense industrial base nodes vital to U.S. national security. We investigated lower tier commodities and raw materials and subcomponents needed to build and operate the final systems. Based on our research, the current level of risk to our defense supply chains and to our advanced technological capacity is very concerning.

Figure 1. Brigadier General John Adams. May 2013. Military Equipment Chart: Selected defense uses of specialty metals. Remaking American security. Supply chain vulnerabilities & national security risks across the U.S. Defense Industrial Base. Alliance for American Manufacturing.

Figure 1. Brigadier General John Adams. May 2013. Military Equipment Chart: Selected defense uses of specialty metals. Remaking American security. Supply chain vulnerabilities & national security risks across the U.S. Defense Industrial Base. Alliance for American Manufacturing.

The bottom line is that foreign control over defense supply chains restricts U.S. access to critical resources and places American defense capabilities at risk in times of crisis. In the report, we devote a chapter to the importance of access to specialty metals and rare earth elements. Increasingly, these resources are central to modern life and central to modern defense preparedness. The United States has become dependent on imports of key materials from countries with unstable political systems, corrupt leadership, or opaque business environments.

Specialty metals are used in high-strength alloys, semiconductors, consumer electronics, batteries, armor plate, cell phones, and many more defense-specific and commercial applications. The United States lacks access to key minerals and materials that we need for our defense supply chains. There are concerns that corrupt business practices and manipulation of markets is one of the reasons that we have a lack of access to key raw materials, specifically rare earth elements.

China has a monopoly in the mining of key rare earth elements and minerals. China continues to not only involve themselves in the extraction industry, extraction of oxides, but the entire supply chain for rare earth elements and production of such things as advanced magnets which is essential in all modern defense electronics. Smart bombs, for example, have to have advanced magnets. China pulled that supply chain into China. Now is that corrupt? Certainly, there is manipulation. Is that something that we allowed to happen because we had our eye off the ball? I would argue that that is the case.

Compounding the tensions over access to specialty metals, many countries rich in natural resources take a stance of resource nationalism. Within the past decade, countries have attempted to leverage and manipulate extractive mining by threatening to impose extra taxes, reduce imports, reduce exports, nationalize mining operations and restrict licensing. Moreover, the countries themselves, notably China, have taken a more aggressive posture toward mineral resources and now compete aggressively with Western mining operators for extraction control.

We possess significant reserves of many specialty metals with an estimated value of $6.2 trillion. However, we currently import over $5 billion of minerals annually and are almost completely dependent on foreign sources for 19 key specialty metals.

Platinum is used in a wide variety of applications, but the commercial application we are all familiar with is the catalytic converter. But almost every modern engine has to have the platinum group of metals in it. Most of it is mined in South Africa. And I don’t want to go into a long, political discussion of the instability in South Africa, it is what it is. And we have to remember the role of the Chinese in that as well. The Chinese have established over the last 20, 30 years, excellent ties with countries in sub-Saharan Africa. Is that something that again we should note at this point, especially in this august committee?

We have to have a coherent strategic at the U.S. Government level to determine what those critical raw materials are. And then we need to act upon that to make sure that we have got secure access to them for our war fighters.

EDWARD C. CHOW, SENIOR FELLOW, ENERGY AND NATIONAL SECURITY PROGRAM, CENTER FOR STRATEGIC AND INTERNATIONAL STUDIES

With the help of Western investments, Central Asia and the Caucasus today produce around 3.5% of global oil supply and hold around 2.5% of the world’s known proven reserves in oil. For comparison, this is equivalent to four times that of Norway and the United Kingdom combined. Another way of looking at this is to say the region produces around 8.5% of non-OPEC oil and holds around 9.5% of non-OPEC oil reserves. In other words, oil production in Central Asia has added significantly to global supply and will continue to do so in the future. In many ways, the energy future of the region lies as much or more in natural gas than in oil. Central Asia is estimated to hold more than 11% of the world’s proven gas reserves, mostly concentrated in Turkmenistan which has lagged behind Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan in attracting outside investments. The region currently produces less than 5% of global gas supply, so there is tremendous potential for growth.

Given its landlocked geography, Central Asia has to rely on long haul pipelines to take its oil and gas to market. Previously Soviet pipelines in the region almost all head to European Russia either to feed the domestic Soviet market or for trans-shipment to European markets.

When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, China was just about to convert from a net oil exporter to net oil importer. It was slow off the mark in the race for Central Asian oil and gas. By the time it focused on this region, most of the large production opportunities have already been acquired by Western companies. From a Chinese point of view, they have been playing catch up ever since.

Today China is the second largest oil importer in the world and an increasingly important importer of gas. With stagnant Chinese domestic production and rapidly growing energy demand, China is destined to replace us as the world’s largest oil importer in a decade or so. Its companies have been investing in oil and gas around the world, including in neighboring Central Asia. Chinese companies now produce around 30% of Kazakhstan’s oil.

The next growing source of competition for Central Asia oil and gas is likely to come from India, which follows closely China in growth in oil and gas demand and consequently oil and gas imports. Indeed, as Chinese demographic growth slows and population ages, India’s energy demand is commonly forecasted to grow faster than China’s in a decade or so.

NEIL BROWN, NON-RESIDENT FELLOW, GERMAN MARSHALL FUND OF THE UNITED STATES

When I joined the Senate committee staff in 2005, we held a lot of hearings on these sorts of issues and at that time it was a lot of doom and gloom. Americans are doing what we do best which is changing the rules of the game through innovation in oil and gas and unconventional sources, efficiency, alternative energy, we are giving ourselves not only economic opportunities, but much more significant foreign policy flexibility and opportunities around the world, including in Central Asia which is important both for the issues that Ed mentioned in terms of the volume of oil and gas and other minerals the region has, but also for the strategic benefits and importance given that it sets above Iran, Pakistan, and Afghanistan.

The rising demand of emerging economies, particularly China, India, and in the Middle East, ironically, has over time really narrowed the margins in the global oil market which meant particularly in the mid-2000s that even small disruptions, attacks in the Niger Delta on Shell’s facilities could have an impact right here at home. I guess one good side of the recession is that demand slowed down so that we got a bit more of a window and also more recently the U.S. has boosted supply, again giving more flexibility. But that structural shift in markets has not changed. So we can expect more of the same, unfortunately, when the economy picks up.

JEFFREY MANKOFF, PH.D., DEPUTY DIRECTOR AND FELLOW, RUSSIA & EURASIAN PROGRAM, CENTER FOR STRATEGIC AND INTERNATIONAL STUDIES

The discovery of new offshore oil and gas deposits in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea is one of the most promising global energy developments of the last several years. Handled wisely, these deposits off Israel and Cyprus, as well as potentially Lebanon, Gaza, and Syria, can contribute to the development and security for countries in the Eastern Mediterranean, and across a wider swathe of Europe. Handled poorly, these resources could become the source of new conflicts in what is an already volatile region.

According to the United States Geological Survey, the Levant Basin in the Eastern Mediterranean holds around 122 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, along with 1.7 billion barrels of crude oil.

The oil and gas resources of the Eastern Mediterranean sit, however, at the heart of one of the most geopolitically complex regions of the world. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict, tensions between Israel and Lebanon, the frozen conflict on Cyprus, and difficult relations among Turkey, the Republic of Cyprus, and Greece all complicate efforts to develop and sell energy from the Eastern Mediterranean. The Syrian civil war has injected a new source of economic and geopolitical uncertainty, and standing in the background is Russia, which is seeking to enter the Eastern Mediterranean energy bonanza, and to maintain its position as the major supplier of oil and gas for European markets.

Israel’s transformation into a significant energy producer is not without its challenges. Most immediate perhaps is the question of how Israel will sell its surplus gas on international markets. The most economical option, at least in the short term, would be the construction of an undersea pipeline allowing Israeli gas to reach European markets through Turkey. Such a pipeline from Israel to Turkey pipeline would be less expensive to build than new Liquefied Natural Gas facilities, would reinforce the recently strained political ties between Turkey and Israel, and would contribute to the diversification of Europe’s energy supplies by bringing a new source of non-Russian gas to Europe. Such a pipeline, however, would likely either run off the coasts of Lebanon and Syria, or have to go to Turkey through Cyprus. Both options are fraught with peril. Though Lebanon and Israel have not demarcated their maritime border, Beirut argues that Israel’s gas fields cross into Lebanese waters, and Hezbollah has threatened to attack Israeli drilling operations. Syria, of course, is in a state of near anarchy. In this perilous environment, finding investors willing to build a pipeline will be challenging, and even if built, such a pipeline would be difficult to secure. Going through Cyprus is also difficult, largely because of the difficult relationship between the Republic of Cyprus and Turkey. However, Cyprus’s own gas fields represent another potential source of conflict. Turkey has not recognized the Republic of Cyprus’s exclusive economic zone and in fact has pressured companies seeking to do business there, and recently also began its own exploratory drilling off of the de facto Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus without permission from the government in Nicosia. The revenues from Cypriot energy could benefit communities on both sides of the island, but only if a political agreement can be worked out in advance. The major alternative to a pipeline from Israel to Turkey would be to build an LNG, a Liquefied Natural Gas facility to liquefy gas for sale to markets in Asia and the Middle East. Russia, in particular, backs this idea. The push to build new LNG facilities though is only one way in which Moscow and its energy companies are seeking a larger role in the Eastern Mediterranean.

Russian companies are also interested in Israel’s much larger Leviathan field, as well as in the offshore oil and gas off of Lebanon.

Russia will remain the principal supplier of Europe’s gas for many years. The potential volumes from the Eastern Mediterranean could bolster European energy security around the margins, but they are not sufficient not to change this fundamental reality. For that reason, Washington’s main objective in the Eastern Mediterranean should be less about Europe and more about ensuring that energy does not become a source of new resource conflicts, whether between Israel and its neighbors or over Cyprus.

 

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