In my latest podcast (MP3), I read my Globe and Mail editorial, Science fiction and the unforeseeable future: In the 2020s, let’s imagine better things, where I reflect on what science fiction can tell us about the 2020s for the Globe's end-of-the-decade package; I wrote about how science fiction can't predict the future, but might inspire it, and how the dystopian malaise of science fiction can be turned into a inspiring tale of "adversity met and overcome – hard work and commitment wrenching a limping victory from the jaws of defeat."
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Chevron said Monday it has evacuated all expatriate oil workers from Iraq, following last week's Trump airstrike in Baghdad that killed Iranian general Qasem Soleimani. Read the rest
Public companies are legally required to disclose their risks to investors, but it's a rare company that incorporates climate change into those mandatory disclosures; under a new presidential campaign platform proposal from Elizabeth Warren (disclosure: I am a donor to both Warren and Sanders's campaigns), the SEC would require public companies to incorporate two kinds of climate risk in their warnings: first, the risks of an out-of-control climate (fires, floods, etc); and second, the risks from the a transition to clean energy (collapsing fossil fuel prices). The idea is to accelerate divestiture from climate-destroying industries like oil and fracking, and to spur investors to favor companies with a plan to mitigate the effects of climate chaos on their operations.
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South Dakota governor Kristi Noem (R) is governor non grata at Pine Ridge after her support of new "riot boosting" laws that target indigenous people opposed to oil infrastructure on their land. Read the rest
In an absolutely epic Twitter thread (unrolled here) author CZ Edwards lays out an incredibly compelling explanation of spiralling real-estate prices: oligarchs need to launder a lot of oil money -- think Russia, Iran, ex-Soviet basket-case states, Saudi -- and so they plow the money into offshore Real Estate Investment Trust that then cleans it by outbidding any actual real-estate investors or would-be homeowners, bidding up and snapping up all the property in desirable cities, and then realizing the rental income-flows as legitimate, clean money.
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Saudi Arabia is known for its oil and sun-soaked deserts. In a move to secure the kingdom’s financial future, its name could soon become synonymous with renewable energy.
According to the New York Times, Prince Mohammed bin Salman decided that Saudi energy company ACWA Power would spearhead the creation of a $300 million solar farm capable of powering 200,000 homes. And that’s just a drop in the bucket compared to what the Saudi government plans to spend on renewables.
“All the big developers are watching Saudi,” said Jenny Chase, an analyst at Bloomberg New Energy Finance, a market research firm. ... The renewables strategy finally started to take real shape when Khaled al-Falih took over as energy minister in 2016. Mr. Falih made solar and wind a priority for the kingdom, and set up a new unit last year to expedite the work. Much of the staff was drawn from Aramco.
Mr. Shehri, who had worked at Aramco before leading the kingdom’s renewables program, said he faced an “extremely challenging” task. Meeting Saudi Arabia’s targets would require contracts for a series of new facilities to be awarded by the end of 2020. “The only way this was possible,” he said, “was because we have done previous work.”
Saudi Arabia, with its vast oil resources, would seem an unlikely champion for renewables. But the country’s location and climate mean it has plenty of promising sites for solar and wind farms.
By 2019, the Times writes, they’ll have thrown $7 billion at the creation of solar and wind farms. Read the rest
Canada's tar sands -- rebranded in this century as "oil sands" -- are the source of some of the world's filthiest and most expensive oil, which can only be extracted by burning tons of already-refined oil to boil tons of sand, producing a product that sells at a global discount because it is so adulterated. Read the rest
Former Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson will get a $180 million parting gift from his former employers when he takes the Secretary of State job, thanks in part to four Senate Democrats who voted with the GOP to confirm him for the job, despite his extensive ties to regimes hostile to the US. Read the rest
It's been a week since the Army Corps of Engineers announced that they would not grant a permit for the Dakota Access Pipeline to cross the river that the indigenous Sioux people relied upon for their drinking, farming and washing. Read the rest
Peruvian archaeologists and activists have joined with the indigenous Harakmbut people to find legendary Incan lost cities. If they find them soon enough, traditional Harakmbut lands leased to an American oil company might be designated off-limits to drilling. Read the rest
Amy Goodman, award-winning journalist and host of Democracy Now, has been facing an outrageous arrest warrant in North Dakota for “criminal trespass” since early September. The charges are a result of her merely doing her job as a reporter and covering police violence against oil pipeline protesters in North Dakota. Read the rest
Bloomberg News reports that the Chinese Science Ministry plans to build a laboratory on the sea floor at a depth of 3 kilometers. It's the latest salvo in its expansionist effort to take control of the South China Sea.
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So far there are few public details, including a specific time line, any blueprints or a cost estimate -- or where in the waterway it might be located. Still, China under President Xi Jinping has asserted itself more strenuously in the South China Sea, one of the world’s busiest shipping routes. Its claims to more than 80 percent of the waters and the creation of artificial islands covering 3,200 acres have inflamed tensions with nations including Vietnam and the Philippines...
"The deep sea contains treasures that remain undiscovered and undeveloped, and in order to obtain these treasures we have to control key technologies in getting into the deep sea, discovering the deep sea, and developing the deep sea," Xi said last month at a national science conference.
In California today, a grand jury indicted the Plains All-American Pipeline and one of the oil company's employees on criminal charges over the massive 2015 oil spill in Santa Barbara County. Read the rest
Almost all of Canada's tar sands production has been shut down by a raging wildfire in Alberta's Fort McMurray region. Read the rest
Reporters from Fairfax Media and The Huffington Post obtained a huge trove of email from Unaoil, a business run by a rich Monaco family, that reveal that the family ran a corrupt bribery empire that spanned the world's oil-producing states, and that they world with companies like Rolls-Royce, Halliburton, Leighton Holding, Samsung and Hyundai, to rig contracts through a system of bribes and kickbacks that looted the national treasuries of some of the world's poorest countries. Read the rest
For 13 years, Iraq's post-Saddam elites have run amok, looting the country's riches while creating a pervasive culture of corruption that spreads all the way down -- only the continuous injection of new money from the country's oil-fields kept the whole thing from collapsing. Read the rest
In a decision that environmental activists see as a hard-won victory, President Obama today announced he is rejecting the request from a Canadian company to build the Keystone XL oil pipeline. The news ends a seven-year review process that was a focal point in the debate over the Obama administration's climate policies.
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