Issue 13 January 2011

Geoff Bennett - Editor

Welcome to another two weekly review of energy and environmental events and developments from both here in New Zealand and around the world.  As always, we hope you find our collection of stories to be of interest in what continues to be a rapidly evolving area.

Firstly, I would like to wish you all the best for 2011 and hope this year has lots of positive news to share with you.

In this issue we examine a number of predictions for 2011 as well as looking at the state of the global economic market, which continues to blindly see things only in terms of GDP growth and financial profits rather than how values and lifestyle needs to reflect our species co-dependency on the health of the planet and its ability to nourish life.

First we start with the predictions for 2011.  They are mostly positive, pointing to improvements in indoor air quality, greater energy efficiency, smarter buildings, an increased awareness in green issues and for carbon emission tracking to expand to encompass supply chains.  Other predictions include consolidation amongst energy management software providers.  As ETSL with e-Bench™, is an energy management software provider in the New Zealand, North American and shortly Australian markets, we look forward to 2011 with eager eyes.

The market is certainly set to expand, with predictions that the smart building management business sector is to increase from US$900 million in 2010 to US$2.4 billion by 2016.  An outstanding example of this is in Abu Dhabi where they are positioning their nation to maximise the opportunities of renewable energy and sustainable living.  Even though it is a nation where the average wealth of its 420,000 citizens is a staggering US$17 million, considerations of a life after oil must be looming large to make such a commitment.

And with all these other positive developments, we look at one of the most eagerly awaited ISO International Standards of recent years, ISO 26000:2010, ‘Guidance on Social Responsibility’.  This aims to bring together the current multitude of CR/sustainability standards and should in our opinion be one of the most widely used ISO Standards for the foreseeable future.

Which is all much overdue, as our global society very much needs guidance for change.  The economic model that has been in place much this century is no longer appropriate.  Any model that is built on continuous GDP growth is simply flawed and unsustainable.  Any model that rewards elements of society for creating zero wealth or no tangible value is just plain wrong.  And yet this is what is happening,  For example, the top ten Wall Street fund managers earned over US$ 1 billion in 2010 and 40 percent of all US corporate profits were from the financial sector – a sector, that creates no wealth but simply redistributes it.  At the same time society is crumbling through an inability to invest in the things that bind it such as infrastructure.

Our next couple of articles provide examples of this.  The first is how many US and European cities could face financial collapse in 2011 and in turn default on trillions of dollars of loans.  The next is how the price of oil, which is nearing US$ 100 is likely to threaten the fragile global recovery, which in part is sending world food prices to record highs and in turn likely to lead to riots and unrest.

And yet some in our society are able to afford a staggering US$400k for a single Bluefin Tuna.  That’s over NZ$1,600 a kilogram!  It makes Bluff Oysters and whitebait seem undervalued…  Furthermore, this is for a fish that is on the brink of extinction.  Yet our society seems to be in a quagmire of apathy or unwilling to do anything about it.  Such is the disconnect between those who have financial wealth and the true value that the majority of society probably hold dear.  How is it we allow financial values to far outweigh all other values?

Our next article reviews the raft of occurrences where dead birds have fallen from the sky or where shoals of fish have been washed up ashore.  Natural events or something more sinister?  In the USA, one group has claimed it is because of the repeal of the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Bill see here … yeah right.

Our last article looks at the devastating flooding in Queensland and how it is the result of Australia being in the grip of an unusually strong "La Niña".  This is a periodic climate phenomenon that brings more rain to the western Pacific, and less to South America along the eastern Pacific.  "The Queensland floods are caused by what is one of the strongest – if not the strongest – La Niña events since records began in the late 19th century," said Prof Neville Nicholls at Monash University and president of the Australian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society.  Given that 2010 saw record equal ocean temperatures with every 1C increase in water temperature translating into another 6-8% in air moisture, it looks like we are all going to need a good raincoat... and a dingy.

Thanks for taking the time to read this issue and look forward to catching up with you again.  If you have any items of interest you would like to submit, then please feel free to forward them.

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