Tag: oil

Oil, corruption and public money.

Nothing at all to do with dogs, or with integrity if it comes to that!

Regular followers of this place know that I am a tremendous fan of George Monbiot, the Englishman who so regularly exposes stuff that needs to be aired and discussed. As his About page explains:

Here are some of the things I love: my family and friends, salt marshes, arguments, chalk streams, Russian literature, kayaking among dolphins, diversity of all kinds, rockpools, heritage apples, woods, fishing, swimming in the sea, gazpacho, ponds and ditches, growing vegetables, insects, pruning, forgotten corners, fossils, goldfinches, etymology, Bill Hicks, ruins, Shakespeare, landscape history, palaeoecology, Gavin and Stacey and Father Ted.

Here are some of the things I try to fight: undemocratic power, corruption, deception of the public, environmental destruction, injustice, inequality and the misallocation of resources, waste, denial, the libertarianism which grants freedom to the powerful at the expense of the powerless, undisclosed interests, complacency.

Here is what I fear: other people’s cowardice.

I still see my life as a slightly unhinged adventure whose perpetuation is something of a mystery. I have no idea where it will take me, and no ambitions other than to keep doing what I do. So far it’s been gripping.

Way back in the early days of Learning from Dogs, the blog that is, not the book, George was very gracious in giving me blanket permission to republish his posts, and many of them have appeared in this place.

So now read George Monbiot’s latest Rigging the Market. It is yet another example of what is going wrong in these times.


Rigging the Market

The Oil Spill

A rather different view point.

This may not be very Politically Correct but I am getting a bit fed up for the following reasons with Obama’s constant bad-mouthing of BP :

  • If the regulatory procedures were not strong enough then that is the USA’s fault, not BP’s.
  • The USA is glad enough to extract oil from ecologically-dangerous places because it is hooked on oil. That isn’t BP’s fault either.
  • It is bleedin’ obvious that SOONER OR LATER (see previous comments on statistics) there was going to be an accident of this type, yet NO PROPER CONTINGENCY PLAN was in place. That is partly BP’s fault (over-confidence) but also the USA’s fault for not insisting on one.
  • BP is clearly doing all it can to put things right; constantly rubbishing it seems fairly pointless.
  • Nobody knows how much BP was to blame; there were other companies involved, including US ones.
The burning BP Oil Rig

In general, the USA has long been too soft on oil companies because it needs the oil.

Now of course we are going to have a pendulum swing the other way, but rather than knee-jerk reactions why not consult and put in place an effective “doomsday scenario” plan? For example, a 20,000 ton concrete dome that could be lowered right over a fractured well to seal it off?

Of course, Obama’s ranting is political. He does NOT want this to be his “Katrina”. However, nobody in their right mind would blame him personally for this accident and now that it has happened it is pretty pathetic to rant about how evil BP is.

What’s done is done. Statistically, there was BOUND to be an accident of this kind one day. By allowing deep-sea drilling the USA MUST HAVE ACCEPTED the risk. If proper and regulatory contingency plans had been in place then the environmental damage might have been minimised.

In general one must say of the Human Race that we aren’t brilliant at anticipating risks and preparing for the worst. Witness carbon emissions and climate change. As a man-in-the-street, the ONLY change in long-held habits that I have seen to combat global warming is that you can no longer in Europe buy old-fashioned light bulbs. Otherwise life seems to go on pretty much as ever, with all governments desperately wishing for growth because of their idiotic over-spending.

STOP PRESS: Above all a President needs to stay calm and rational. There was no reason to stop all off-shore drilling pending the result of an enquiry. This has put thousands of Americans out of work. No, I am NOT minimising the damage; it is tragic and disastrous, but 80% of Louisiana’s economy depends on the oil business.

And we badly need perspective. This is – as I already said – a terrible disaster, but the record of off-shore drilling is in fact extremely good in ecological terms. One bad experience should not lead to the knee-jerk shut-down of the entire industry. Fascinating article in the UK Guardian newspaper.  That article concludes thus:

In an open letter to Obama published in Louisiana’s Thibodaux Daily Comet newspaper, local resident Stephen Morris vented fury at the drilling freeze: “If it was a knee-jerk response to everyone’s anger about the continued leak and possible annihilation of southern Louisiana’s way of life, you didn’t think it through or your advisers are smoking way too much crack.”

And this article in the UK Independent brilliantly sums up the way Obama is getting this all wrong for superficial, popularist reasons.  Here’s how that article starts:

The evidence is overwhelming. Any fair-minded person who examines the Gulf of Mexico oil spillage is compelled to two conclusions. First, that there is no evidence of wrongdoing by BP. Second, that the President of the United States has behaved disgracefully.

The vessels of the Los Angeles class, the pride of the US nuclear submarine fleet, will not operate below 950ft. If they were to dive to 1450ft, their hulls would implode. The Americans do have three subs which could function at 2,000ft. They cost $3bn each. It follows that drilling for oil below a 5,000ft seabed is a difficult business which involves risks. But it is essential.

By Chris Snuggs

News on a Sunday

A round up of this strange world that we all live in.

[In fact Chris wrote this on Sunday, 13th but due to the backlog of LfD posts to be published, it has been held until today, the 20th. The points are still as valid. Ed.]


From the UK newspaper, The Daily Mail.

Judges in charge of Britain’s controversial new Supreme Court have been provided with robes they will hardly ever wear at a cost of £137,956 to the taxpayer.

The hand-crafted black brocade robes – embroidered with real gold thread – will not be worn by the 12 Supreme Court Justices in normal session.

They will be donned only perhaps twice a year for ceremonies such as the State Opening of Parliament or the beginning of the legal year. The rest of the time, the judges will wear everyday suits.

A snip at £140,000 ($224,000) Photographer – Ron Coello

It’s only money …. plenty more where that came from…

BRITISH POLITICS: Few things are more pathetic than the Liberals‘ current poll rating of 17%, with Labour on 26% That the worst government in the history of the world is still way ahead of the Liberals is of course a tribute to the lunacy of Labour voters, who seem not to understand the terrible damage this govt has done. Still, some of them have done very well under Labour: doctors, judges, high-ranking civil servants, consultants …. all more or less bribed with the people’s money.

Lib-Dems must be very depressed; if you can’t get a decent poll-rating when up against this motley bunch of venal, pompous, pretentious and incompetent misfits then you wonder really what the point of their party is.


Still, you get the government you deserve, so they say. Except that the British voting system is hopelessly undemocratic. In the next election a vote for the Lib-Dems is probably going to be wasted, risking the danger of letting Brown sneak in despite everything.

As for UKIP, it is a perfectly tenable position to want to get out of the EU. I’d guess that 30% of the electorate would want this, and that’s a very conservative estimate. Yet they have NO CHANCE WHATSOEVER of getting ANY representation in parliament.

This is not democracy, but of course it suits the two dinosaur parties very well indeed.

TIGER WOODS: what a pathetic, sordid saga this is. Not his bedroom antics, but the media obsession with it. People are dying all over the world of treatable diseases, of inhuman treatment at the hands of the North Koreans or others. Democracy is destroyed by religious nutters in Iran, millions more tons of ice melt, while politicians bleat uselessly (and expensively) in Copenhagen (I note they didn’t choose Scunthorpe! Might not have got such a good turnout!)

OIL: Oh, and on the climate front and the importance of reducing emissions I note that the Iraqi government is predicting oil output to rise to 12 million barrels a day within a few years – the same as Saudi Arabia.

That IS good news!!!!! … the British Labour government will hit us with every stealth and non-stealth tax you can imagine “to save carbon” and pay for yet more consultants and managers while the rest of the world greedily sups up billions more tons of oil.

Apparently, this has been a bumper year for oil discoveries …. you couldn’t make it up! An extra-terrestrial observer must be scratching his head wondering how the universe could have spawned up such a bizarre species.

Yet the press is full of Woods ….. and because he is good at golf … hitting a ball into a hole, a skill of such nanoscopically-sized irrelevance to the world’s problems. What sort of mentality is it that is even interested in yet another, crass, boring superstar who has failed to resist the temptations that money brings?

JFK was the great hero who would save the world but turned out to be just another, faithless, lying philanderer. Who can have any illusions since the days of Marilyn Monroe and the extinguished candle?

OBAMA PEACE PRIZE: The surreality of this obsession with over-sexed but hyper-boring celebrities is matched only by that involved in the award of the Nobel Peace Prize to Obama. What exactly has Obama actually DONE?

Nobel prize winner

Crucially, there is practically NO change in the Middle East (except the major change for the good brought by the reviled George Bush and Tony Blair! the world is nothing if not full of irony); the USA still cravenly supports Israel, which CONTINUES to build and/or enlarge settlements, which denies any possibility of ever putting right some of the wrongs of the past (Palestinian exiles, appropriation of their land, stealing of their capital and so on – even the West Bank roadblocks are mostly still in place.)

Yet even in the pathetic there can be humour, as when he said that to bring peace the USA had to make war, or words to that effect.

Yes, he is of course right, but it was still funny. I wonder what Mother Theresa would have said? And Nelson Mandela? He had to sweat out decades in prison preaching non-violence to earn his NPP, while Obama only had to get elected to get his. Truly the triumph of hope over reality.

Perhaps hope is all there is left. I nearly said “we have left”, but then I realized that I haven’t actually got much myself.

By Chris Snuggs

Son of Gaddhafi …..

Does international politics have to be this obtuse, to put it kindly?

Those that don’t follow the British Press closely may have missed the news that Peter Mandelson, the unelected Lord appointed to run Britain’s Trade and Industry Department, was guest at  a shooting party with the son of Muammar Gaddhafi .  Here’s how the Guardian Newspaper ran the start of the article:

Peter MandelsonThe Spectator has reported that Peter Mandelson joined Colonel Muammar Gaddafi’s son at a country house shooting party. Photograph: Shaun Curry/AFP/Getty ImagesHe [Mandelson] talked of being “intensely relaxed” about the filthy rich, and no one could say that Lord Mandelson doesn’t like their company. After twice facing criticism for consorting with billionaires in Corfu, it emerged tonight that the business secretary joined Colonel Muammar Gaddafi‘s son at a country house shooting party.

Mandelson and Saif al-Islam al-Gaddafi were guests at Lord Rothschild’s Waddesdon Manor in Buckinghamshire, the Spectator said. The magazine reported that Cherie Blair was also in attendance, although neither she nor Mandelson are reported to have taken part in the shoot.

Let us be clear about this. The Gaddhafi regime is the antithesis of what the free world believes in, namely a dictatorship that has ruled by iron fist for decades and was indeed part of the axis of evil.

Of course, it suddenly became non-evil overnight, mostly because it gave up (or appeared to give up) trying to develop a nuclear bomb.

Leaving aside the fact that making a bomb does not per se make you evil, (unless we are to consider that the US, France, Britain, Russia, Israel are “evil”, too) the point is that the regime has not changed in its fundamentals since the old black and white days of George Bush.

So once again, the question arises, why are western leaders cosying up to these scum?  This  is a strong word, but do we or do we not agree that dictators are scum? Evil people who deny basic freedoms to their peoples?

Do you know any benevolent dictators? White-bearded philosophers out of the Plato/ Solomon mould? I sure don’t …..

Of course, these scum regimes are all in the UN, even though I had thought that all members had to sign up to the Universal Charter of Human Rights. Apparently not, however, another piece of humungous hypocrisy.

The Gaddhafi regime is the same one that is guilty of numerous terrorist offences, including Lockerbie (though there is distinct murkiness surrounding the whole saga) and in Britain the shooting by a Libyan Embassy staff member of Yvonne Fletcher, a British policewoman, for which nobody has been brought to justice even though the British police are said to know who was responsible.

However, leaving aside the question of how to deal with nasty dictatorships (and is joining shooting parties with the heir apparent really the right way?) I am fascinated by the apparent idiocy of Lord Mandelson in associating with these people.

Exactly which segment of the British population – let alone American – is he going to try to sell this to? America may not interest him overmuch, but one imagines that he wishes to prolong his career in British politics. If so, he has a funny way of going about it.

His image will take an enormous bashing, and Mandelson is, or used to be, totally focused on image, spin, PR and “the message”. What message does the thought of him jollying along with the son of the dictator of an evil regime convey to us? Has the spin guru of the British Labour Party lost his rudder?

Of course, there could be a hidden (or rather obvious) agenda. It could all be to do with sshhhhh ……MONEY. Is he therefore working tirelessly against his conscience (and knowing this will do him great personal damage) in the  financial if not moral interests of the British people (who weren’t of course asked if they want their country cosying up to dictators) or could it be – oh Dear, are we being too cynical? – that he has a more personal interest in mind?

Does he deep down seek to become as rich as the man he helped to sell to the British public, Tony Blair himself, who incidentally is about to be embroiled in a potentially-devastating enquiry into the Iraq war?

And unfortunately, the news broke on the day after we discovered that Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi, found guilty of the Lockerbie bombing and released because he was dying, has in fact survived for three months with no apparent end in sight. Yes, only three months ago Gaddhafi bambino was helping to arrange the hero’s welcome that Megrahi received in Libya. As is well-known, Mandelson met Gaddhafi’s son one week before the alleged deal was done for Megrahi’s release, so they are old jet-set mates.

We believe in “freedom” and “democracy”, don’t we? We may have to share the planet with dictatorial scum, but do our representatives really have to grovel and sup with them?

It doesn’t feel good to be honest ….

By Chris Snuggs

Save the planet – eat a carrot!

Another political masterpiece!

British Health Minister Andy Burnham is urging us to give up meat; this will apparently help to save the planet.

Andy Burnham! (Seriously)

Now, it is very noble of the Minister to try to help save the planet. However, his efforts do raise some questions.

  • The thing is, if it is essential to stop eating meat then shouldn’t the government put its money where its mouth is and DO something about it? Such as tax it? (usually the first instinct!) Or do they only do things that are electorally favourable? (this is a rhetorical question, by the way – feel free not to answer it …)
  • Or is this perhaps a long process of “educating the electorate”? Well, there are plenty who leave school hardly literate already, so he’s being a bit optimistic, isn’t he? And why start with poor, little Britain? There are tens if not hundreds of millions of our American buddies to convince ….

And at the same time as we are being sermonised about our meat-eating the the USA is edging towards the opening-up to oil-exploration of previously off-limit areas.

In our quaint British lingo this is known as “not singing from the same song-sheet”.  And as for oil, I wish they would make up their minds once and for all; either we have to reduce its use or we don’t.

At the moment, all they seem to be doing is organising conferences (at vast carbon footprint) where they promise to reduce emissions. This is schizophrenia, isn’t it?

Re the British sermon, one wonders whether the noble minister is himself a vegetarian, and of course whether he is among the vast government contingent attending the international climate conference. And does he drive the car 50 metres to the baker’s on Sunday mornings?

Personally, I’d be prepared to give up meat if: A) I were convinced it would do any good and B) I thought that the great and good (and rich) would make a similar sacrifice.

These are two VERY big “ifs” ………

Must go – got some burgers in the pan …..

By Chris Snuggs