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.

Ever wondered why there seems to be so many conflicting or varying views about what might be going on with the climate and why many people are confused about what is REALLY happening? Well, this week we take a look at what might be contributing to this.

First up, it appears that as home sapiens we really don’t like to know about complex things that might disturb or threaten us. This trait is known as “motivated avoidance” and apparently climate change is one of these complex issues that the majority of us would rather not know too much about. As after all, if we admitted to ourselves that global warming might be real and it is anthropogenic in nature, then we might start to feel guilty about not changing our behaviour. Much better to avoid the issue altogether and remain blissfully ignorant.

Of course things aren’t made much clearer when many weathercasters are of the opinion that there is no such thing as human induced global warming. And are happy to be vocal about sharing their views, when giving the daily weather forecast. This is in despite of 98% of the world’s climatologists being convinced that anthropogenic global warming is real and happening. I know who I would have more faith in when it comes to the climate. It is also worth considering the difference in science between climate and weather. As many climate experts like to say “Weather tells you what to wear on the day and climate tells you what wardrobe to buy”. Indeed, not that I am a fashion guru.

And when the media itself starts wilfully distorting the truth, then it is very easy to see why this confusion reigns and is even increasing. It is very much the same tactics that were successfully used by the tobacco industry for many years, except that they never had the luxury of owning the media itself, like Rupert Murdoch does in News Corporation. Just out of interest, News Corporation has a controlling stake in over 100 companies world-wide which includes the likes of The Sun, The Times and BskyB in the UK, The Australian, The Sunday Times, Daily Telegraph and Fox Sports in Australia, New York Post, Fox News Channel and Wall Street Journal in the USA. It truly is a media empire.

Our next couple of articles examines how Rupert Murdoch, who has very close personal ties with many right wing thinking individuals like the Koch Brothers with interests in oil and mining, uses his media empire to wilfully distort the truth, even stooping to the spread of outright lies. And not to be content with existing right wing media penetration, there is now a push to increase this still further. In many ways this is the public face of everything the Occupy Movement protesters are fighting against.

And no, NZ hasn’t escaped either, with the news that kiwi climate sceptics also received funding – to the tune of $84,000 in 2007 from the Chicago-based Heartland Institute, which is funded by the Koch Brothers, each of whom are worth an estimated $20 billion with interests in mining, chemicals and oil.

So why would the Koch Brothers and the Heartland Institute want to spread disinformation and cause confusion about climate change? Quit simple really, as the next article – ‘The Great Carbon Bubble’ addresses, and concludes that it is all about money and power. The oil industry has never had it so good as it has it right now and it simply doesn’t want the world to wean itself off of oil, even if all the climate models predict it will lead to massive and devastating warming. It is like we are speeding towards the edge of the cliff and the oil industry is doing everything they can to stop us getting to the brake pedal…

At least it is not all gloom as our final four stories discuss. The first up is how Walmart, which is the world’s largest retailer, has revolutionised itself and its supply chain to put sustainability to the forefront. It is an encouraging and positive tale and one that could easily be replicated by other businesses.

And it makes great business sense to head down the path of sustainability. A sustainable business is a good business. Our next article highlights how companies that report on their greenhouse gas emissions have higher stock valuations than those that don’t. Not that collecting the data in support of such reporting regimes is always an easy task. It is something we are grappling with here at ETSL as we are extending the ability of our e-Bench™ energy and utility management software system to be able to track and report on the full range of Scope 3 emissions.

We wrap up this week with a look at the opportunities for New Zealand from growing its cleantech sector. Despite the optimism back in 2007 when the former prime minister Helen Clark declared NZ’s target was to become the world’s first truly sustainable nation and a NZTE commissioned report predicted the sector would be worth $1.3 trillion in 2017, we now appear to be peddling backwards. It is understood that a forthcoming NZ government report into green business is likely to take a disappointing conservative tone and relegate cleantech’s economic significance to be behind agriculture, tourism and, most controversially, new oil and gas exploration. But then why should we expect anything else when your prime minister is an ex currency trader at Merrill Lynch and believes derivatives and leveraged investments are a good thing…

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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