Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Do The Oil and Coal Industries Finance The Greens?

 From an ideological point of view the title of this article doesn’t make any sense, but from a financial point of view it good business for both the oil and coal industries, to finance certain green groups.

It is an open secret that fossil fuel industry finance climate change denier groups.  This is off course understandable, as scientists who say we need to eliminate fossil fuels to prevent climate change, threaten the future of both the oil and coal industries.  Now in theory Green activists are also concerned about global warming and so we would assume they would be on the side of the scientists who are predicting climate change and say we should stop burning fossil fuels. But as the old saying goes, “actions speak louder than words”.  So although the Green movement seem to be concerned about global warming, on the whole, their actions tell a completely different story.

It is estimated that about 80% of the world’s energy is produced by oil, coal and gas, all fossil fuels.  The other 20% is mostly produced by nuclear energy and hydro electric, both in which produce far less carbon emissions than either oil or coal. Yet, the green movement will protest against both nuclear energy and hydro electric but hardly ever against coal or oil burning power stations.  This is a bit strange, when you think about it, because the major cause of global warming is the burning of oil and coal for power.

Hydro electric is a very green energy, because once a dam and power station is built, it give off very little carbon emissions. Yet green movements all over the world protest whenever a dam is built.  Now, it is true that governments can be very insensitive in the way they build hydro electric schemes.  As many will build dams with little concern about the villages and towns they flood.  And even when governments try to give compensation to the people, corruption means that they do not receive what is due to them.  The problem is that the green activists seem to be more concern about getting the whole project stopped, than making sure the people who are displaced, are properly compensated.  So even though hydro electric is a green energy, we have the paradoxical situation where green organizations are protesting against it.

Nuclear energy like hydro electric also gives off very little carbon emissions.  Yet it would be fair to say nuclear power seems to be the green movement’s number one target.  Off course what frightens the greens and the general public about nuclear energy is that it give off radiation, but just how dangerous is atom radiation from nuclear power stations?  We can get some idea from this from the 1986 accident at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Ukraine.

This was the worse nuclear accident that ever happened, and it was predicted then, that thousands if not millions of people would die of radiation poisoning.  Yet over 25 years after the accident there is little proof that many people have died through this.  After the accident governments all over the world closed down their nuclear programs but with so few people since dying of radiation from the Chernobyl accident, governments today are having second thoughts about this.  The Chernobyl accident has shown that a nuclear power accident is not as dangerous as once thought. 

Unfortunately, people fear nuclear radiation because of the many people who died of this in the A-bombs attack on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1946.  What tends to be forgotten, is that the levels of radiation coming from a nuclear explosion, is nothing like what comes from a nuclear power plant.  Studies have shown that workers in nuclear power stations, or seamen in nuclear powered submarines or aircraft carriers, do not suffer bad health.  It has to be remembered that the first nuclear submarines and power stations were first developed back in 1950s, this is over 50 years ago.  So it seems that the long term exposure to the radiation that nuclear generators produce, do not have a long term effect on humans.  It seems that workers in coal fired power stations, suffer worse health problems.  Not only that, the pollution given off from a burning coal is far worse, for the general population, than the radiation from nuclear generation.

If that is the case, why are not green activists protesting against coal fired power stations?  After all both coal and oil power stations are burning fossil fuel and are the major contribution to global warming. The answer could be, that it is unprofitable to do this.

Major green organizations like Greenpeace claim they will never receive donations from corporations.  The problem is, that it is so easy to get around a rule like this. If any corporation wants to fund a green organization, all it has to do is pay individuals, not directly connected to them, to do this for them.  So if a green organization was to protest against a hydro electric scheme, or a nuclear power station, and receive big donations when they do this.  Then they are greatly encouraged to continue to do this. They also find that they also receive a lot of publicity in the media as well.   But, on the other hand, if they was to protest against a coal or oil fired power station and do not get any financial support, or publicity from the media.  Then they will be discouraged from continuing with this. 

It must be remembered that media companies like TV and newspapers depend on advertisers for their finance, for this reason they cannot afford to upset very large clients like the oil or coal industries.  So if the fossil fuel companies want the media to make a big story out of a protest against nuclear energy but not say anything about a protest against a coal or oil burning power station, they will do their best to please their advertiser clients. 

This is how major oil and coal companies, can easy use their financial muscle to manipulate the media and green organizations.  From the point of view of any fossil fuel company, it is good business to help and support any green organization that protests against hydro electric or nuclear power, because they are in direct competition against these forms of power.  If governments all over the world started to replace their coal and oil fired power stations with nuclear and hydro electric power stations, it would be a major blow to oil and coal industries.  It is true that green organizations do also support renewable energy like wind and solar power, but these are not a problem for the coal and oil industries, as they are too inefficient.

At first sight seeing so many wind farms and solar energy panels on roofs suggest that governments are serious about tackling climate change.  What the public is not told is that this is all a cynical public relations trick.

We are told that one windmill can power thousands of homes, but what we are not told is that the majority of the electricity generated by windmills and solar panels do not end up in the power grid.  So why is this?  The reason is that homes and industry want a reliable source of energy, and the electricity generated from the wind and sun is not dependable.

If we had a power grid run totally on wind farms, when the wind stops there will be no electricity, so we would be subjected to frequent power cuts.  So to counter this, the power companies have a back up gas generators that come online when the wind dies.  Unfortunately it takes some time to power up these generators, and so to make sure we don’t have power cuts, they keep these gas generators running all the time.  The result is that as the wind turbines, generate electricity the back up power needed is also burning fossil fuel.  So most of the benefits of wind farms are being lost, in keeping the back up generators going, so they can immediately cut in, when power is lost, so we do not get any power cuts.  The same is also true of solar generation, where again back up power has to be ready if cloud blocks out the sun.  Some green activists have suggested that we should put up with frequent power cuts, but if they did this, people and industry would begin to buy their own motors and generators, because this would be far more reliable than the power grid.  These motors will be using fossil fuels like gas and petrol.

The only way renewable energy can be used, is to store the electricity into gigantic batteries, or use the electricity they produce to turn water into hydrogen and oxygen and then burn that as a fuel.  This then allows renewable energy to be used when it is convenient to the electrical grid it is supplying.  The problem is that no-one seems to be interested in trying to store the power from any renewable source and for this reason it is useless.

So if renewable energy is very inefficient and there is little effort in trying to make it useful by storing it’s energy, why do we have so many wind farms and solar panels?  The reason seems to be that politicians and green activists can claim they are serious about green energy, while at the same time coal and oil fired power stations can continue to churn out greenhouse gases.  This means that renewable energy has become the fig-leaf that fossil fuel companies can hide behind.

This all means that the oil and coal industries can easy use their financial power to control, the media, public opinion, politicians, and green organizations.  So it is, business as usual, as the fossil fuel industry has a free ride to continue pump greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. While green activists, do their bidding and attack hydro electric and nuclear energy and champion ineffective renewable energy, and not look at the pollution given off by fossil fuels.

1 comment:

  1. The investment into alternative power generating technologies such as nuclear energy may need to be measured against the potential cost when things turn against you as unfortunately happened this year in Japan. Coal prices and coal statistics show developing economies are more likely to increase their investment into & their use of coal mining in coming years because of coal's affordability and ability to quickly meet increasing demands for electricity and steel. www.coalportal.com