Tuesday, 27 January 2009

Remember those gloom-monger environmentalists on the Senatorial Hustings trail? Remember us talking about financial meltdown while Phil O and Alan M were still trying to talk things up? Things have moved on apace financially since then, no? We also talked about Peak Oil, climate change and overpopulation. We were and still are ahead of the game click on this link

This story is published on CBS Marketwatch's financial pages, hardly a hang-out of greenies. Read it and stop listening to those "Annies" who claim that the "sun'll come out tomorra, bet your bottom dollar"!

Wednesday, 21 January 2009

This is taken from today's New York Times. I am posting it because I believe that we are at a turning point in history and that the consumer society greed-is-good era is fatally wounded, although most of it doesn't realise it yet. The multiple threats from climate change, Peak Oil, global financial meltdown and global overpopulation are all linked in the exponential growth ideologies of the past. Our sustainability imperative, which will be launched under the banner of "Real Future 2035" or similar will be repudiating past policies and beliefs dear to many in Jersey. "There is a tide in the affairs of men, which taken at the flood, leads on to fortune..."

NY Times
Rejecting Bush Era, Reclaiming Values

Published: January 20, 2009

WASHINGTON — Barack Obama's Inaugural Address on Tuesday was a stark repudiation of the era of George W. Bush and the ideological certainties that surrounded it, wrapped in his pledge to drive the United States into "a new age" by reclaiming the values of an older one.

It was a delicate task, with Mr. Bush and Dick Cheney sitting feet from him as Mr. Obama, only minutes into his term as president, described the false turns and the roads not taken.

To read his words literally, Mr. Obama blamed no one other than the country itself, critiquing "our collective failure to make hard choices" and a willingness to suspend national ideals "for expedience's sake" — a clear reference to the cascade of decisions ranging from interrogation policies to wiretapping to the invasion of Iraq.

Yet not since 1933, when Franklin D. Roosevelt called for a "restoration" of American ethics and "action, and action now" as Herbert Hoover sat and seethed, has a new president so publicly rejected the essence of his predecessor's path.

When Mr. Obama looked forward, however, he was far less specific about how he would combine his lofty vision and his passion for pragmatism into urgently needed solutions.

Mr. Obama spoke eloquently of the need to "restore science to its rightful place" and to "harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories." But he never acknowledged that his agenda would eventually have to be reconciled with towering budget deficits or spelled out what "unpleasant decisions" he would be willing to make in the service of a renewed America.

At times, Mr. Obama seemed to chastise the nation, quoting Scripture to caution that "the time has come to set aside childish things." It seemed a call to end an age of overconsumption and the presumption that America had a right to lead the world, a right that he reminded "must be earned."

The chiding, if most resonant of the last eight years, also harked back to an argument he advanced early in his run for the White House: that the nation had been ill-served by the social, cultural and political divisions of the generation that included Bill Clinton as well as Mr. Bush.

Every time Mr. Obama urged Americans to "choose our better history," to reject a "false choice" between safety and American ideals and to recognize that American military power does not "entitle us to do as we please," he was clearly signaling a commitment to remake America's approach to the world and to embrace pragmatism, not just as a governing strategy but also as a basic value.

It was, in many ways, exactly what one might have expected from a man who propelled himself to the highest office in the land by denouncing how an excess of ideological zeal had taken the nation on a disastrous detour. But what was surprising about the speech was how much he dwelled on the choices America faces, rather than the momentousness of his ascension to the presidency.

Following the course Mr. Obama set during his campaign, he barely mentioned his race. He did not need to. The surroundings said it all as he stood on the steps of a Capitol built by the hands of slaves, and as he placed his own hand on the Bible last used by Abraham Lincoln.

Mr. Obama talked, with echoes of Churchill, of the challenges of taking command of a nation beset by what he called "gathering clouds and raging storms." As a student of past Inaugural Addresses, he knew what he needed to accomplish. He had to evoke the clarion call for national unity that Lincoln made the centerpiece of his second Inaugural Address, in 1865, married with Franklin Roosevelt's warning that the market had been allowed to go haywire thanks to the "stubbornness" and "incompetence" of business leaders. And he needed to recall the combination of national inspiration and resoluteness against new enemies that John F. Kennedy delivered in his Inaugural Address, just over six months before Mr. Obama was born.

As his voice and image resonated down the Mall, Mr. Obama spoke across many generations stretching to the Washington Monument and beyond.

Mixed in the crowd were the last remnants of the World War II generation, led by the all-black Tuskegee Airmen for whom Jim Crow was such a daily presence that the arrival of this day seemed unimaginable.

There were middle-aged veterans of the civil rights movement for whom this seemed the crowning achievement of a lifetime of struggles. And there were young Americans — and an overwhelming number of young African-Americans — with no memory of the civil rights movement or of the cold war, for whom Mr. Obama was a symbol of an age of instant messaging, constant networking and integration in every new meaning of the word.

For those three generations, for the veterans who arrived in wheelchairs and the teenagers wearing earphones and tapping on their iPhones, Mr. Obama's speech was far less important than the moment itself. Many of those who braved the 17 degree chill to swarm onto the Mall at daybreak had said they would not believe America would install a black president until they witnessed him taking the oath of office, even if they had to see it on a Jumbotron a mile from the event.

By the time Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. administered that oath (and stumbling on a few of the words, leading the new president to do the same), Mr. Obama's ascendance was so historic that the address became larger than its own language, more imbued with meaning than anything he could say.

And yet what he did say must have come as a bit of a shock to Mr. Bush. No stranger to criticism, over the past eight years he had rarely been forced to sit in silence listening to a speech about how America had gone off the rails on his watch.

Mr. Obama's recitation of how much had gone wrong was particularly striking to anyone who had followed Mr. Bush around the country, especially during the re-election campaign of 2004, when he said it was his job "to confront problems, not to pass them on to future presidents and future generations."

Yet Mr. Obama blamed America's economic peril on an era "of greed and irresponsibility on the part of some," and talked of how "the ways we use energy strengthen our adversaries and threaten our planet." It was an explicit critique of an administration that went to war in the Middle East but rejected the shared sacrifice of conservation, and reluctantly embraced the scientific evidence around global warming.

When Mr. Obama turned to foreign policy, he had a more difficult task: to signal to the world that America's approach would change without appearing to acknowledge that America's military was dangerously overstretched or that its will for victory would wane after Mr. Bush departed for Texas.

Mr. Obama never rose to the heights of Kennedy's "pay any price, bear any burden." Instead, he harked back to the concept that gave birth to the Peace Corps, noting that the cold war was won "not just with missiles and tanks," but by leaders who understood "that our power alone cannot protect us, nor does it entitle us to do as we please."

The new president skirted past the questions of how he would remake American detention policy, how he would set the rules for interrogation and how he would engage Iran and North Korea, beyond promising to "extend a hand" to those willing "to unclench your fist." He simply promised to strike the balance differently, as America tries to hew to its ideals while pursuing a strategy of silent strength.

Whether he can execute that change is a test that begins Wednesday morning.

Saturday, 17 January 2009

The new incinerator is hotting up - errr - cooling down

Things are afoot on the incinerator front - it looked like the thing was done and dusted but some people never say die. Starting any minute now, new members of the House will be asking questions as to why TTS and Deputy De Faye signed a contract for a new incinerator, which is likely to cost us at least £120 million, when alternatives exist that are much smaller, cleaner, much cheaper, more flexible and which could be in place much earlier.

Click this link for a montage showing TTS's planned incinerator from Havre des Pas pool

I have been quoted only 52 weeks from start to finish to install a thermal pyrolysis/gasification system (which includes a front end separation-of-recyclables plant) at a cost of only - wait for it!! - around £30 million - in sterling!!

TTS's planned incinerator wouldn't be functional for at least 3 years during which the existing incinerator at Bellozanne will continue to pollute the neighbourhood in a way that everyone agrees is unacceptable.

Being modular, the alternative systems I favour do not suffer from the maintenance and reliability problems that forced the States, with a gun to their head, to vote for a huge all-or-nothing incinerator. A system which would probably be the right size for Jersey has 16 individual tubes (or streams) so catastrophic break down is virtually impossible and maintenance is easy because only a fraction of the plant can be shut down, as opposed to the proposed two stream incinerator... if TTS's second stream breaks down while the first is down for maintenance it would be a real problem in just the same way that if one is running a taxi service with a couple of large coaches and both are down at the same time, you no longer have a business - if you have a fleet of 16 taxis then it is effectively impossible for total breakdown and planned maintenance is far easier too as only 1/16 of the fleet has to be down at any one time. The "proven reliability" issue which turned the heads of too many of the old House simply does not apply to the alternative technology.

If waste drops in future, the main part of our favoured plant can actually be sold back to the manufacturers as they are relatively portable. The tubes can also replace the clinical waste plant and act as biofuel generators and create biochar (terra preta) and other fancy tricks. If waste increases it would be easy to add extra modules at very little extra cost. As this system is almost a no-brainer, we have to speculate that the previous States Assembly had less than no brains - negatively intelligent!