A recent Greenpeace “protest” included the installment of individuals on a oil drilling ship in the UK.�� The initial intention was to block the ship from going to sea for more than a month, however, the organization has now stated it will remove them because of a court order which would have held Greenpeace accountable.
A petition for removal and interdict was approved by the Court of Session in Edinburgh, effectively ordering the Greenpeace demonstrators be removed and imposing the possibility of heavy fines and jail time if they are not.
This was, at least in part, due to concerns that the vessel needed to be moved due to rough seas.� Still, it’s amazing that a court order would be needed to make fines and jail time a possibility.� One would assume that such actions would already be illegal as is.
Latest Greenpeace protest could cost oil company �8m
The environmental protest against deepwater oil drilling off Shetland could cost an estimated �8 million if demonstrators are able to carry out their threat and live on the anchor chain of a drilling boat for 30 days.
Activists from Greenpeace are now concealed in a yellow fibreglass pod suspended 20ft above sea level from the Stena Carron vessel, which was brought to a halt by protesters about one mile from Lerwick Harbour on Monday.
The boat was hired by oil giant Chevron to drill in the Lagavulin field, and vessels of this size cost an average of �266,937 a day, according to oil industry monitor Rigzone.
Demonstrators have pledged to stay in the pod for 30 days with a supply of activists on standby in the Greenpeace boat Esperanza, now stationed one mile from the Stena Carron.
The pod has a radius of eight metres and includes a food storage area, a technological area for IT and a corner where demonstrators can use the make-shift toilet facilities.
Chevron has called for an immediate end to the â€œfoolhardyâ€� protest amid safety fears, but those hanging from the Stena Carron said they were perfectly safe and had no intention of leaving.
Leila Deen, from Brighton, speaking to The Herald from the pod, said: â€œWe are very warm, dry and comfortable. The pod is weatherproof and it also floats so we can be pulled along in the sea. It has a solar panel and a sun roof, although this has now been closed as the rain has started.
â€œWe are safe and the police know that we are as we are in regular contact with them. We have expert climbers on board and the pod is rigged on steel struts on the anchor chain.
â€œWe know that we are able to stay as long as we like. Chevron will make it look as if we are in danger, but we are not. They obviously want us to leave, but we are able to stay for a very long time.â€�
Police said there were no plans to try to stop the protest at the moment. A spokesman for Northern Constabulary said: â€œPolice and partner agencies continue to monitor the situation aboard the Stena Carron.
â€œPolice and representatives from the vesselâ€™s owners Stena are continuing discussions with Greenpeace in an attempt to resolve the incident as quickly and safely as possible.
â€œThere are currently no plans being made to extricate the protesters from the anchor. The main priority for police is to ensure the safety of the protesters, those aboard the vessel, police officers and personnel from other agencies.â€�
Clearly what we have here is a criminal action. If nothing else, this ship does not belong to Greenpeace and therefore they don’t have the right to set up camp on it. That’s simple trespassing at its root. It goes further than that, of course. Greenpeace is endangering their own volunteers as well as those who may be called into rescue them should things take a turn for the worse. The ships owners and crew are both getting the short end and the possibility exists of dangers to the ship and crew due to its inability to move and to the measures that must be taken to try to avert this from ending disastrously.
All of this is being sponsored by a centralized group, making it a case of organized crime.
Hopefully I should not need to stop and explain that I do not like oil spills and that I’m totally opposed to any kind of offshore drilling that does not, at the very least, implement some very robust and comprehensive measures to reduce the ecological impact and potential risks. I’d rather see our society start to move away from a dependence on oil. I think most would agree with those sentiments. However, these actions are still inexcusable.
A lesson in civics for the likes of Greenpeace:
Groups like Greenpeace, however much I disagree with their message, have every right to make that message public.� They can put it on their website, they can buy advertising time on radio and television, they can erect billboards, they can hold rallies and demonstrations and they can petition the government directly through lobbying or political action groups.��� They can enlist whoever is willing to join in their efforts to publicize their stand either by action or donating money.� All groups and interests have these rights as well they should.
If the government does not enact the policies they want, then they have the right to attempt to change elected leadership by supporting candidates that will do so in the next election.�� They can support any candidate who supports these policies by contributing money to the campaign and by encouraging their members to vote for the candidate, running ads, holding rallies and so on.�� They can also put up their own political candidates, if no other supports the policies they want.�� They may sponsor one of their own to campaign for office. � In many European countries, the “Green Party” is a viable political party which has managed to gain a stake in several national coalition governments.� The party is very much in line with the views of Greenpeace and other extreme environmental groups.
Ultimately, it is the voting public who decides who makes it to office and thus what policies the government enacts.�� Therefore, they cannot actually install officials in office, no matter how much they may want to.�� They can, however, make every effort to persuade the voting public to support their policies and candidates.�� They can advertise, hand out information, make stump speeches and anything else they want to do to get the message out – staying within the bounds of the law, of course.
If this does not work and the policies that they are backing do not get enacted because their candidates are not elected, then this simply means that the voting public was not moved by their message.�� Part of living in a democracy is accepting that while you can appeal to the voters all you want, you can’t hold a gun to their head and therefore, you will not always win.�� Ultimately, nobody has the right to force something on an unwilling society.
Of course, failure to get the policies enacted that you may want does not mean it is time to give up.�� You can continue to appeal to the public and raise awareness.� You can continue to lobby and campaign.�� There will always be more elections, both national and local, and in the mean time you can also organize writing campaigns, petitions and other activities to attempt to influence the government.
Part of living in a civil free society is accepting the fact that you will not always get your way when it comes to matters of public policy.�� When you do not, you have the right to protest this and to appeal to the voters and politicians.� However, you do not have the right to destroy or deface the property of others and endanger the lives of others by breaking the law.
A lesson in economics for the likes of Greenpeace:
To end the dependence on oil, you can’t go after the producers of oil and just make their job as difficult as possible.�� This will not work.�� The producers exist because there is a demand – not just a demand but a need.�� Oil will continue to flow because it is needed by end users.�� Attacking suppliers will only serve to force the supply to come from elsewhere or possibly cause short term shortages, which will make the consumer, especially those of the lowest income suffer.
In order to reduce the amount of oil being extracted you must reduce the demand – the need for oil.�� In practice this means you must find a viable alternative that satisfies the needs of a society for high density, easily transported energy, primarily for transportation.�� You can whine, you can scream, you can protest and call the big oil companies names, but it won’t do any good at all unless there is a reduction in the need for petroleum.
Simply making transportation more efficient is not going to do the job.�� Efficiency does not necessarily reduce consumption and given the maturity of modern internal combustion engines there is little room for major improvement.� People already want cars that use less gasoline per mile.� Airlines already want airplanes with lower fuel consumption.� Construction companies already want more efficient heavy movers.�� Your stunts don’t increase the pressure for this to happen.
Even given better technology, the fact of the matter is that demand will continue to grow because more and more of the world is being industrialized and more people are now able to afford mechanized transport.�� No, you can’t make everyone give it up and start walking, that’s not a realistic goal and would be economically disastrous.
The only way to reduce oil consumption is to displace the energy that comes from oil with some other type of energy.� This form of energy must be viable for a large portion of the end uses of petroleum and must have reasonable economics, utility, safety and availability.�� It could be synthetic fuels or battery electric vehicles or electrified railroads or possibly even something else.
This is already happening.�� It is an extraordinarily difficult engineering challenge to come up with an economical way of replacing hydrocarbon fuels for things like road transportation.�� The fact of the matter is that hydrocarbon fuels are extraordinary good energy carriers.� We are already seeing a shift to vehicles which can rely on electric batteries for at least local travel.�� All major auto makers have plans to expand their production.�� However, the retooling, design and testing is not a simple or fast process.
In the mean time, I’d advise advocating the following policies in order to put some dent in the demand for oil:
- Increased railroad electrification - Since this directly replaces petroleum with electricity and has lower long-term operating costs, it’s a win-win.�� Many countries have national rail systems, so it’s already an issue for the government and in those with private rail systems, it can be achieved by changes in the tax code to encourage expenditure on infrastructure improvements rather than penalize them.
- Expansion of Refineries - Such a proposal may sound blasphemy to a group like Greenpeace, but it actually makes sense as a way of reducing consumption of petroleum.�� Refining crude oil into end product takes large amounts of energy, and much of this energy actually comes from burning of gas and oil to power the processes of cracking and distillation.�� Newer systems for refining can get the job done while consuming less fuel and can economically turn more of the petroleum into fuels.�� Most of the industrial world has not seen any major building or upgrading of refineries since the 1940′s.�� Ideally, new refineries could be driven by nuclear reactors, but that’s asking a bit much from Greenpeace.
- Pave Roads With Concrete, Not Asphalt – Most roads are paved with asphalt.�� Asphalt is a petroleum-based product that uses heavy tars and oil mixed with aggregate.�� Concrete does not directly use petroleum.�� Concrete is more expensive than asphalt and also is reasonably energy intensive to produce, but it’s also far more durable.� An asphalt highway will start to show major signs of wear after just a few years.�� It will need to be repaved at regular intervals.� Each time it is repaved, petroleum is used to make new pavement and to operate the machinery that does the paving.�� This also causes traffic delays which lead to huge amounts of fuel being burned while vehicles are idling or in stop and go traffic.� A well poured concrete road can last decades.
- Keep electricity costs as low as possible – This is absolutely critical!� Electricity should be produced from clean sources like nuclear fission when possible and should be provided at a low market price with as few taxes, tariffs, artificially high prices and other expenses as possible.�� The cheaper electricity is the more it encourages its adoption to replace petroleum, even if that transition has initial capital costs.�� If electricity is cheap, railroads will be more encouraged to use electric locomotives rather than diesel, heating from electric heat or heat pumps will become more economical, construction and mining companies will be more encouraged to invest in electrically-driven heavy equipment and plug-in hybrids will become an even more attractive option.
- Reduce natural gas usage by ending the gas-fired power plant boom - Natural gas and oil have a lot in common.� In many industries, the two can be used interchangeably as chemical feedstock for things like plastics or other organic chemicals.�� Natural gas can also be converted into liquid fuels with processes that are already used at some refineries.�� If natural gas consumption is cut this will free up gas supply and reduce the price of natural gas, making it a more attractive alternative to oil for industries as well as heating.�� Total fossil fuel consumption will drop as well as oil consumption due to the displacement from gas.�� The fastest growing user of natural gas is power generation.�� This trend needs to be stopped and ideally, reversed.�� Some gas generating capacity may be necessary for load following, but most of it can be replaced with nuclear fission of comparable or better economics.
None of these will have any substantive effect overnight, but all are capable of producing significant petroleum consumption in the near future.�� The key is replacing petroleum usage with some other alternative that provides at least a much utility.� This is best achieved not by making petroleum exceedingly expensive or difficult but by making the alternative more attractive.
Yes, it can and will work.
This entry was posted on Saturday, September 25th, 2010 at 3:05 pm and is filed under Bad Science, Culture, Enviornment, Politics. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.
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