Skip to main content

Oil price fall not so good

What is good news for the consumer is bad news for the environment. The fall in the price of oil is probably bad news for the market in renewable energy.  Higher crude prices make biofuels more viable, then the converse is true, lower crude prices make biofuels less viable. Most biofuels are produced from crops that can also be used for food production. Biofuels are not without environmental impact. As demand grows so more land is likely to be devoted to production with impact on forests and biodiversity.  But at leat it is renewable.

The market in biofuels increased in recent years primarily to meet demand from the transport sector, especially road vehicles, which use biofuels either in pure form or as blend into conventional fossil fuels.  With rising crude prices the biofuels industry became more or less self sustainable and less reliant on subsidies to promote green energy production.  The falling price of crude may put that in jeopardy.  This may in turn have debilitating impact in developing economies where production of biofuels is the greatest. Nevertheless, Brazil and the US still account for the majority of global bioethanool production. 

The growth of alternative energy sources to replace fossil fuels may be halted by price constraints. Alternative sources still account for a very limited share of primary energy demand.  They have not been regarded as a replacement for fossil fuels but more as a supplement.  There was a time when it was estimated that the source of fossil fuels would run dry. It is after all finite. It is estimated that 970 billion barrels of oil have been consumed so far, while around 1 669 billion barrels at the end of 2012 are still to be extracted, which should take not more than 35 years at the current rate of production. 

That is a sobering thought.  We have 35 years to develop alternatives. Time is precious.  Falling crude prices may give us false optimism, a 'feel good' factor as we fill our tanks.  But it is a false prospectus.  


Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Ian Duncan-Smith says he wants to make those on benefits 'better people'!

By any account, the government's austerity strategy is utilitarian. It justifies its approach by the presumed potential ends. It's objective is to cut the deficit, but it has also adopted another objective which is specifically targeted. It seeks to drive people off benefits and 'back to work'.  The two together are toxic to the poorest in society. Those least able to cope are the most affected by the cuts in benefits and the loss of services.

It is the coupling of these two strategic aims that make their policies ethically questionable. For, by combining the two, slashing the value of benefits to make budget savings while also changing the benefits system, the highest burden falls on a specific group, those dependent on benefits. For the greater good of the majority, a minority group, those on benefits, are being sacrificed; sacrificed on the altar of austerity. And they are being sacrificed in part so that others may be spared.

Utilitarian ethics considers the balan…

Keir Starmer has a lot to offer

The Labour Party is in the process of making a decision that will decide whether it can recover from the defeat in 2019 General Election.  All the candidates have much to offer and are making their case well.

No doubt for some the decision will be difficult.  Others may well have made up their minds on the simple binary of Left-wing-Right-wing.

The choice should be whoever is best placed to pull the party together.  Someone who can form a front bench of all talents and across the spectrum in the party.

That is what Harold Wilson did in the 1960s.  His government included Roy Jenkins on the right and Barbar Castle on the left; it included Crossman and Crossland, and Tony Benn with Jim Callaghan.  It presented a formidable team.

Keir Starmer brings to the top table a formidable career outside politics, having been a human rights lawyer and then Director of Public Prosecutions.   He is a man of integrity and commitment who believes in a fairer society where opportunities are more widel…

No evidence for vaccine link with autism

Public health bodies are worried that an alarming drop in childhood vaccinations is leading to a resurgence of diseases in childhood that we had all but eradicated.  Misinformation and scare stories about the harmful effects of vaccines abound on the internet and in social media.  Where they are based on 'science', it is highly selective, and often reliance is placed on falsehoods. 
Conspiracy theories also abound - cover-ups, deception, lies. As a result, too many parents are shunning vaccinations for their children.  So, what does the published, peer-reviewed literature tell us about vaccincations? Are they safe and effective, or are there long term harmful effects? 
A new report now provides some of the answers.

New evidence published in the Cochrane Library today finds MMR, MMRV, and MMR+V vaccines are effective and that they are not associated with increased risk of autism.

Measles, mumps, rubella, and varicella (also known as chickenpox) are infectious diseases caused by …