'Exploring Changing Energy Sources' talk - 4-4-19
Planet Shaftesbury – 4 April, 2019
We are grateful to Charles Miller for delivering his talk ‘Changing Energy Sources – Our Options for Tomorrow’ at the Town Hall last Thursday night. With the knowledge and insight gained from his long career in the oil trade and a series of information-packed slides, he outlined the story behind the consequences we now face as a result of ill-considered choices in the energy industry. Many of us, like myself, have a superficial familiarity with aspects of this story, but it was valuable to have so many of the underlying facts and figures presented so coherently.
Having shown us the geological reasons behind the finite and ever-diminishing returns from conventional oil extraction, he dealt at length with ‘fracking’ (aka: high pressure hydraulic fracturing). He demonstrated to us how the industry presents its plans in terms of cleanliness, ease and efficiency. And then how, once undertaken, the consequences of its inevitably rapid proliferation include contamination of water and land, earthquakes, low level radioactivity, destruction of biodiversity etc. To that we can also add its consequences with regard to climate breakdown. He also outlined the inherent and far-reaching problems with nuclear energy – its vulnerability, the insoluble problem of what to do with radioactive waste and more. Yet fracking and nuclear energy generation appear to be preferred options of the UK government.
The alternative, to us, seems obvious – renewable and sustainable energy sources. Our speaker gave us examples from Germany, China and Scotland where solar, biomass and tidal power turbine sources have been set up to run efficiently and profitably, in some cases for the benefit of citizens’ co-ops. All of which emphasised the question: why does our government, and that of the USA and many other countries, not actively and enthusiastically adopt these alternatives as the only safe way forward?
The answer is termed by Mr Miller as ‘latency’. Citing past examples such as asbestos and tobacco, he outlined how through spreading misinformation at large and constant lobbying of politicians the exploiters and profiteers seek to delay change. Thus multi-national corporations continue to extract massive subsidies from governments. One quite staggering figure amongst the many presented: world-wide, fossil fuels are subsidised at 10million dollars a minute, day in, day out. The arms trade, Miller also pointed out, favours fossil fuels and nuclear. He concluded his talk with a look at the ownership of assets, the way in which they are moved out of national control to that of the multi-nationals, which are answerable to no one. He showed us a piece of work completed in 2015 and known as the ‘frackogram’, which graphically establishes the links between these corporations and the politicians then in power. Though such associations might not always indicate corruption, it’s a relatively safe assumption that there will often be some degree of influence. This can be viewed at:
If you are interested in finding out how ‘up to half of global offshore wealth is hidden in British jurisdictions and Britain and its dependencies are the largest global players in the world of international finance’ and have 80 minutes to spare, check out independent film ‘The Spider’s Web’ at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=np_ylvc8Zj8
Thanks are also due to Richard Ecclestone who lifted a good many of the spirits present with his short talk on the progress of Nadder Community Energy from its inception in 2015. As a community benefit society seeking to purchase, manage and generate energy, while encouraging the reduction of usage, it is exemplary. Check it out at: https://www.sharenergy.coop/project/nadder-community-energy-2/
When questioned as to how we might consider setting up a community energy enterprise in this area, it was Richard’s suggestion that, now the feed-in tariff is wound up, we might best contact Dorset Community Energy for a way forward. You can find them at: https://www.dorsetcommunityenergy.org.uk/
While I’m giving links, check this one out too:
And while you’re there go to the homepage and sign up for the Energy Saving Trust’s email newsletter – which contains many useful tips, links and other info to reduce energy consumption and locate greener sources.
The evening ended with a Q and A session conducted by Richard and Charles. Once again, thanks to both.