Carbon Rangers/Ecozoic Times
Volume 11 No. 3
March , 2018
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Greetings Friends,  

Energy Complacency. I am writing from New Rochelle, NY in the USA as always.  What is different today has to do with my new temporary condition of being without electric power.  This March issue looks at energy. I began assembling the material in February.   Suddenly, our brothers' residence has been without power for the past 9 days due to a series of storms.  The special experience of this part of the developed world losing electric power has sharpened some of the understanding about life without electricity.  Many readers have no doubt endured similar episodes. Friends in the New York region suffered lengthy outages during superstorm Sandy in 2012.  Many other readers may not have reliable energy supply at all.  Carbon Rangers is read in more than 25 countries so  I know some subscribers do not have regular access to electric service.

Externalities Not Assessed.  And yet, we must be mindful of the massive external costs of our dependence on burning fossil fuels to supply our electricity.  Increasing pollution, the impact of carbon on the warming of the planet, rising sea levels and the world wide impact on weather and food production. The extraction of coal is especially damaging to the people who do the mining.   The report below notes the rise of disease in USA workers; many more suffer across the globe. We can all be more prudent in our use of electricity.  Many brothers and sisters suffer much for our heat, light, refrigeration, air conditioning and related creature comforts.  

Moving to Renewables. We all depend on electric power in various forms.   We continue to pray for the many millions who lack this extraordinary technology.  And we work and pray for the day when all our electric power is sourced via renewable energy and we can leave the fossil fuels in the ground where they can do no further damage. 

Technology: Two-Edged Sword.  Some good news comes to us from the technology world where battery efficiencies  have been progressing.  The words of caution from Andrew Nikiforuk of Canada will still be important to keep in mind whenever we read about a "tech" breakthrough around energy.   We read below about the push for more nuclear power in China.  Some may recall an earlier Carbon Rangers in September of 2016,  describing various features of the push for nuclear energy in the face of the fossil fuel challenge. Here is a link.

Maxima in Court.  You have read  before about Maxima Acuna.   Maxima won the Goldman Environmental Prize in 2016 for standing up for her rights in Peru against Newmont Mining Corporation. Her story continues now in US Federal District Court and she is hopeful for a good outcome. Her story is below.

Berta Anniversary. Very sad to be reporting again on the "Earth Martyrs".  We just passed the second anniversary of the murder of Berta Caceres in Honduras.  The authorities in Honduras have finally announced the arrest of the intellectual author of that crime along with some co-conspirators.  Last year almost 200 nature protectors were killed across the world, 60% of them in Latin America. A new treaty, signed on the second anniversary of Berta's death,  obliges the 24 signing states of Latin America and the Caribbean to “guarantee a safe and enabling environment for persons, groups and organisations that promote and defend human rights in environmental matters.”

Let me hear from you if you have ideas for improving the Carbon Rangers.

Br. Kevin

Edmund Rice International

Thomas Berry Forum for Ecological Dialogue at Iona

The World Is Mostly Run On Fossil Fuels (81%)

Bjorn Lomborg
President at Copenhagen Consensus Center


Goal 7: Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all

Energy is central to nearly every major challenge and opportunity the world faces today. Be it for jobs, security, climate change, food production or increasing incomes, access to energy for all is essential.

Sustainable energy is opportunity – it transforms lives, economies and the planet.

The UN Secretary-General is leading a Sustainable Energy for All initiative to ensure universal access to modern energy services, improve efficiency and increase use of renewable sources.  Read More.

The Curse of Energy Efficiency

The more ‘efficient’ our technology, the more resources we consume in a downward spiral of catastrophe.
 Andrew Nikiforuk Yesterday |

Andrew Nikiforuk has been writing about the oil and gas industry for nearly 20 years and cares deeply about accuracy, government accountability, and cumulative impacts. He has won seven National Magazine Awards for his journalism since 1989 and top honours for investigative writing from the Association of Canadian Journalists.
"History shows that every technical application from its beginnings presents certain unforeseeable secondary effects which are more disastrous than the lack of the technique would have been".- Jacques Ellul
 …Energy efficiency, the celebrated cornerstone of the Paris Climate Agreement, probably explains why countries around the world are failing to reach their modest climate targets because efficiencies provoke more and unexpected energy spending.  The idea that using fuels and resources more efficiently leads to greater environmental ruin became known as Jevons Paradox. Oil-fired and electrical driven technologies have honoured the paradox with panache.

Jevons Paradox ? Modern economists don’t talk much about Jevons Paradox, but they do admit that the problem exists and refer it to “rebound.” When energy efficiency wipes out 100 per cent of the energy savings, economists call the rebound a total “backfire.”
Although most economists describe rebound as a modest problem, they admit that energy efficiencies can wipe out between 20 and 50 per cent of energy savings.

Consuming Light. Now if consumers used the technology of LED to actually use less light and energy, there would be energy savings. Given the numerous applications of LED and how many more spaces can now be colonized by engineered light, researchers at Rutgers University recently concluded that the transition from incandescent to LED lights won’t result in any lasting savings: “there is a massive potential for growth in the consumption of light if new lighting technologies are developed with higher luminous efficacies and lower cost of light.” In other words LED have unleashed “new and unforeseen ways of consuming light.” 
Limitations. Improving efficiency will not reduce consumption and therefore won’t reduce CO2 emissions. The only way to reduce total energy consumption levels, say in the aviation industry or any other sector, is to limit the number of planes, travellers and airports. Higher energy prices and higher taxes will do that. But that means a shrinking economy and a radical rethink about the dominant role of technology in our decision-making. As long as we define environmental, political and economic problems as essentially technical in nature, then we will proscribe energy efficiency as the solution.

Spiritual and Political. But if we were to admit that our problems were spiritual and political in nature and bedeviled by population and affluence, then we would endorse reductions in energy consumption and the inequalities that feed such appetites.  Read More.


It’s 2018, and Black Lung Disease Is On the Rise in Appalachia, USA. 
Researchers from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) looked at three federally funded clinics between 2013 and 2017 and documented the largest cluster of advanced black lung disease — ever. In that time period, the clinics treated 416 coal miners primarily from Virginia and Kentucky with complicated black lung, the most advanced stage of the disease.

Not only are coal miners experiencing an uptick in the most fatal form of black lung, they’re also being diagnosed at a younger age.  “There’s an unacceptably large number of younger miners who have end-stage disease,” lead researcher David J. Blackley told the New York Times. “The only choice is to get a lung transplant or wait it out and die.”

This new study follows a 2016 NPR investigation revealing that the number of cases of black lung in central Appalachia was likely much higher than NIOSH’s official count.  The disease declined throughout the 1990s, but now the clinics’ black lung specialist says that within two weeks, he’s seeing the same number of cases he used to see in an entire year.

Why? After exhausting thicker seams, today’s miners have to dig more deeply into rock to unearth coal. The combination of coal dust and silica dust from cutting into rock is a deadlier concoction than what plagued miners in the past.  -  Justine Calma Feb 22, 2018

Good News on Batteries
Look, no lithium! First rechargeable proton battery created
Researchers say it’s a crucial step towards cheaper and more environmentally-friendly energy storage

Proton Battery.  Scientists have created the world’s first rechargeable proton battery, a crucial step towards cheaper and more environmentally-friendly energy storage. While the battery is just a small-scale prototype, it has the potential to be competitive with currently available lithium-ion batteries. The rechargeable battery, created by researchers at RMIT university in Melbourne, uses carbon and water instead of lithium.

Cheap Storage.  The lead researcher Professor John Andrews said that as the world moved towards renewables, there would be a significant need for storage technologies that relied on cheap and abundant materials.
Asian Development Bank
and Climate Outreach 

Global South. When it comes to providing people around the world and particularly the Global South with reliable, affordable and clean energy, locally produced renewable energy is a key part of the solution.    However, most civil society organisations working in this sector have found that although many of their stakeholders - in particular financiers and senior policymakers - show interest in Decentralised Renewable Energy (DRE), this interest doesn’t turn into ambition or action.  The report
 by Hivos,  the Dutch development NGO,  includes guidance on narratives around opportunity, scale and climate change as well as recommendations for new stories and new communicators, tips to address the major challenges facing investors, and language to avoid.

Keystone XL Pipeline  Back in Court

Keystone Still a Threat.  Recently  a federal judge in Montana gave the US administration until March 21 to release the documents it used to support approval of the controversial Keystone XL crude oil pipeline last year, after it was rejected on environmental grounds by the Obama administration. According to The Associated Press, the U.S. Department of Justice had claimed that gathering the documents for public release could take years and cost millions of dollars, but the judge didn't buy it. "The US administration's approval of the Keystone XL pipeline has been nothing but smoke and mirrors," May Boeve, executive director of 350.orgsaid in a statement following the ruling. "The truth is undeniable. Every shred of scientific evidence shows this pipeline is a threat to our climate and to the lands, waters and lives in its path."   - Morning Climate 2/24/18
U.S. Energy Drilling Boom Could Mean $6 Billion in Federal Well Cleanups
Valerie Volcovici WASHINGTON (Reuters)
Cost of Cleanup.  Cleaning up the tens of thousands oil and gas wells on U.S. federal land after they stop producing could cost over $6 billion, and taxpayers may need to pitch in, according to an analysis of state and federal data commissioned by a conservation watchdog group.
PHOTO: An oil well pump jack REUTERS/Rick Wilking/File Photo

Reclamation Costs. The study released in March reflects one of the downsides to a years-long drilling boom that has made the United States a top world oil and gas producer. The analysis by consultancy ECONorthwest on behalf of the Center for Western Priorities, estimates the potential reclamation costs for the 94,096 oil and gas wells now producing on federal lands at $6.1 billion.

Deeper Wells More Costly to Clean Up. The study pointed out the figure is likely several times higher than the amount the government has collected from oil and gas companies for the purposes of well reclamation - and taxpayers could be liable for some of the difference. The Interior Department requires oil and gas companies to post reclamation bonds of $10,000 per well when they drill on federal land, to ensure that wells are cleaned up once they are retired or if a company goes bankrupt. The report estimated, however, that the average cost of a well reclamation is now $65,200, with deeper wells that are becoming more common due to improved drilling technology costing around $100,000 to clean up.

Bad Management of Idle Wells Expensive. Typically, if a company does not reclaim a well site, its bond is forfeited. If the bond is not enough to cover the cleanup, the government pays the difference. "The current system leaves taxpayers holding the bag while oil and gas companies can walk away from their reclamation responsibilities," said Jennifer Rokala, executive director at the Center for Western Priorities. A spokeswoman for the Interior Department, Heather Swift, did not respond to requests for comment. "Improperly managed idle wells can cost taxpayers millions of dollars," according to the report.

China, Moving Away from Coal,  More Dependent on Natural Gas

China Aims for Renewable Advantage. China's surge in natural gas consumption bodes well for the US  administration's goal of global "energy dominance." However, as Amy Myers Jaffe—director of the Energy Security and Climate Change program at the Council on Foreign Relations—warned in Foreign Affairs on Thursday, 2/22/18, China "could position itself to challenge U.S. energy dominance and even U.S. strategic preeminence" through greening the world's energy supplies. "China is banking on clean energy technologies as major industrial exports that will compete with U.S. and Russian oil and gas and make China the renewable energy and electric vehicle superpower of a future energy world," Jaffe wrote. "It hopes to use its clean energy exports to challenge the United States' leading role in many regional alliances and trading relationships as well as to fashion an international order more to its interests."

China Moving to Triple Nuclear Capacity Within Twenty Years

China Learning by Doing.  China is on track to triple its nuclear energy capacity within two decades, according to Fatih Birol, executive director of the International Energy Agency. "What is happening is the same story as we've seen in solar," Birol told the International Petroleum Week conference in London. "[China] is learning by doing, bringing costs down and, therefore, [the Chinese] are now ready to export [their] technology and are much more cost-effective than others, [challenging] established exporters such as the U.S., Japan, Korea and European countries." Birol deemed China's crusade for blue skies one of four "major upheavals" in the world's energy markets.

"Future Crunch" Good News

Cities and Renewable Energy. There are now more than 100 cities around the world that get at least 70% of their electricity from renewable sources such as hydro, geothermal, solar and wind.  Rome, one of Europe's most traffic-clogged cities, has announced plans to ban all diesel cars from its center by 2024, following similar, recent announcements from Milan and Turin.

For your Earth Day viewing-  Visual and Audio impact: Orbit:  A Journey Around Earth in Real Time (NASA images).  A film by Sean Dolan. Link.  

March 3, Berta Caceres- Two Years
Remembering Berta Cáceres

Cries for Justice.  Saturday, March 3, marks the second anniversary of the murder of Prize winner Berta Cáceres. Below is a statement from her nephew, Silvio Carrillo, reflecting on his aunt's legacy, and the ongoing struggle to secure justice in Honduras:

Statement:  "Two years on from Berta's assassination we continue to wait for justice. It certainly feels like the odds for justice and true democracy are against us, but that was—and is—the beauty of Berta. My family, myself, and those who followed her work and fought alongside her think of her and what she said: 'I firmly believe that we as Hondurans have a right to have a country with equality, with transparency, with liberty—and we have to build it today or never.' She is what keeps us going, she is our ray of moonlight in a country obscured by darkness."  — Silvio Carrillo

USA  Advocacy. How you can help in USA: Learn about H.R. 1299, the Berta Cáceres Human Rights in Honduras Act. The bill is supported by her family both in the US and Honduras.  Photo at left  of 
 Bertha Zúniga Cáceres, daughter of Berta Caceres.
Honduras: Authorities charge DESA executive as an "intellectual author" of Berta Cáceres murder
Washington Post; Guardian (UK); Reuters- March 2, 2018
Former military intelligence officer & executive president of dam company, David Castillo Mejía, is ninth person arrested in connection with the murder.  Castillo Mejía is accused of providing logistical support & resources to hitman.  Berta Cáceres led decade-long fight against DESA dam project & was shot dead in her home two years ago
Company says its employees are innocent & "totally unconnected" to the murder.  See also: On 2nd anniversary of Berta Cáceres' death, Latin American & Caribbean countries sign treaty to protect land defenders

Latin American & Caribbean Countries Agree to Protect Land Defenders

Author: Arthur Neslen, The Guardian (UK), Published on: 7 March 2018

"Latin American countries sign legally binding pact to protect land defenders", 05 Mar 2018

Twenty Four Nations Sign.  Officials from 24 Latin American and Caribbean states have signed a legally binding environmental rights pact containing measures to protect land defenders, almost two years to the day since environmental leader Berta Cáceres was killed in her home in Honduras. Last year almost 200 nature protectors were killed across the world, 60% of them in Latin America. The new treaty obliges states to “guarantee a safe and enabling environment for persons, groups and organisations that promote and defend human rights in environmental matters”. It compels strong measures to protect national environmental defenders from threats or attack – and investigate and punish these whenever they occur. And it codifies the rights of environmental defenders “to life, personal integrity, freedom of opinion and expression, peaceful assembly and association, and free movement.”

Turning Point... Costa Rica’s president, Luis Guillermo Solís, described the treaty as “a turning point” in the fight against poverty, inequality and hate. “It is also crucial for the very survival of our species,” he said. “The right to a healthy environment is a human right.”... Carole Excell [of the] World Resources Institute, described the new protocol as “a historic stand to safeguard the backbone of environmental protection”... The agreement is formally called the Latin American and Caribbean countries declaration on Principle 10 (LAC-P10).

Maxima Acuna, 2016 Goldman Prize Winner, Continues Her Struggle

Farmers vs. Mining Corporation. For those of you who don’t know the story, the Chaupes are subsistence farmers who reside in the rural highlands of Cajamarca, Peru. They have cultivated crops and raised livestock on a plot of land known as Tragadero Grande for over 20 years.

Harassment Campaign.  In August 2011, agents of Newmont Mining Corporation attempted to forcibly oust the plaintiffs from their farm so that Newmont could expand their gold mining operations. Since then, the Chaupes complain that Newmont’s agents have used harassment and violence to try to evict the plaintiffs from their farm. The Chaupes have submitted videos and declarations showing that they have been physically attacked and threatened, and Newmont’s agents have destroyed their property and possessions, and killed or attacked their pets and livestock. They allege that Newmont has the power to cease these abuses but has declined to do so because the Chaupes stand in the way of Newmont’s plans to construct a massive gold mine.

Goldman Prize. Máxima, the family matriarch, is a Goldman Environmental Prize winner. She was honored in 2016 for the struggle she has experienced defending her home and family. 

Legal Battle.  In September 2017, EarthRights Internationa filed a lawsuit against Newmont to stop a pattern of harassment and physical and psychological abuse that the Chaupe family has suffered.  EarthRights argued to keep the case in the United States. Newmont argued that the case should be sent to Peru. But the Chaupes have presented evidence that Newmont and its local subsidiary, Minera Yanacocha, have corrupted the local courts so that a fair trial for Máxima and her family would be almost impossible.  The oral argument in Federal District Court in Philadelphia in February was one of the first hurdles to overcome to assure justice for the Chaupe family.  Maxima is pictured here with the legal team from EarthRights.

Hope.  “My hope is that this court will look at all the evidence and that there will be justice. Newmont is in this country (United States) and here is where they have control from. I want to live in peace. Of course I will keep fighting.” – Máxima Acuña de Chaupe, Plaintiff
Laudato Si': On Care For Our Common Home   

"The natural environment is a collective good, the patrimony of all humanity and the responsibility of everyone. If we make something our own, it is only to administer it for the good of all. If we do not, we burden our consciences with the weight of having denied the existence of others. "(95) . Read More.

Message from Thomas Berry

“Here we might observe that the basic mood of the future might well be one of confidence in the continuing revelation that takes place in and through the earth. If the dynamics of the universe from the beginning shaped the course of the heavens, lighted the sun, and formed the earth, if this same dynamism brought forth the continents and seas and atmosphere, if it awakened life in the primordial cell and then brought into being the unnumbered variety of living beings, and finally brought us into being and guided us safely through the turbulent centuries, there is reason to believe that this same guiding process is precisely what has awakened in us our present understanding of ourselves and our relation to this stupendous process. Sensitized to such guidance from the very structure and functioning of the universe, we can have confidence in the future that awaits the human venture.” (Thomas Berry, “The New Story,” in The Dream of the Earth, 137).
Photo by Lou Niznik 10–6–1999
Copyright © 2018 Edmund Rice International, All rights reserved.

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