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by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Oct 13th, 2010 at 03:40:48 PM EST
Berlin Takes on Brussels: Merkel's Ongoing Fight to Extend Coal Subsidies - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International

The European Commission has decided to end coal subsidies by 2014, a decision which does not sit well with Chancellor Angela Merkel. She wants Europe to revisit the decision, but support is lacking. Even her own economics minister is standing in the way. By SPIEGEL Staff

When Chancellor Angela Merkel sees Economics Minister Rainer Brüderle at her weekly cabinet meetings on Wednesdays, it quickly becomes clear that the relationship between the two politicians is marked by distrust. Some time ago Brüderle, a member of the pro-business Free Democratic Party (FDP), ignored an important call from the chancellor on his mobile phone, a move which didn't exactly improve an already frosty relationship.

The relationship is likely to sink to a new low in the coming weeks. Once again, there are disagreements over energy policy. In the wake of the debate over the future of nuclear power, the government must now address what is to become of Germany's coal industry. There are no indications that the wrangling will produce an outcome that the government will be able to portray as a victory.

Merkel is fighting to keep German coal mines alive, with government subsidies, until 2018, and she is doing so against the wishes of the European Union. In mid-July, the European Commission decided that coal subsidies were to be phased out by 2014. Günther Oettinger, the former governor of the southern German state of Baden-Württemberg, who Merkel had installed as energy commissioner in Brussels, had unfortunately skipped an important meeting in the negotiations.

by Nomad on Wed Oct 13th, 2010 at 03:48:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
What strikes me is how this discussions appears to be treated as unrelated to the recent flap on nuclear plants and renewables, or to other discussions on the "cost" of renewable energy support mechanisms. Renewable energy appears costlier, and in need of subsidies, precisely because basic power generation is subsidized through other means, like payments to coal mines.

Wind power
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Thu Oct 14th, 2010 at 03:36:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
So true, as Germany's energy policies begin to be schizophrenic.

The good news, if i recall correctly, is that germany is now down to 20,000 in the mining industry from a peak of 600,000, and just 4 mines.

the bad news is politicians in both major parties, but particularly the SPD, remain committed to what was once their base (at least in NRW and Saarland.)

for comparison, windpower alone has some 110,000 (est.) working here.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Ana´s Nin

by Crazy Horse on Thu Oct 14th, 2010 at 03:48:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Of course. And in the same vein, back on this side of the Rhine river: Sakozy's pal Henri Proglio wants to jam yet another electricity rate increase down the French people, all in the name of "subsidizing the renewable energies":

Solar power may cause French electricity price rise | RFI

Renewable energy is a budget burden for France's energy company EDF, and the industry's rapid-fire growth is only adding to the strain.

EDF's mission has long been to support sustainable producers by buying at prices set by the government. But the industry's success has seen costs skyrocket - and the government in turn has cut subsidies.

Les Echos on Tuesday reported that EDF chief Henri Proglio wrote a letter to French Energy Minister Jean-Louis Borloo warning that EDF's 2009 budget gap of 1.6 billion euros stands to increase to 2.6 billion by the end 2010.

He added that this could exceed 15 billion after 2015.

Somebody has to cover the costs of renewable industry development - and the National Assembly's Finance Commission is proposing that private power bills should bear the shortfall.

by Bernard on Thu Oct 14th, 2010 at 11:08:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
EUobserver / EU to define positions ahead of Nagoya and Cancun

European Union environment ministers meeting in Luxembourg on Thursday (14 October) are set to agree the bloc's main negotiating positions ahead of two key international conferences on biodiversity and climate change in the coming weeks.

MEPs last week urged the EU to play a leading role at the UN conference on biodiversity - due to start in Nagoya, Japan in a few days time - voicing their concern at an apparent lack of urgency among nations to protect habitats and species, estimated to be disappearing at up to 1000 times the normal rate.

 Officials preparing the environment ministers' meeting said the EU had three broad goals for the two-week gathering in Japan (18-29 October) - cumbersomely known as the Convention on Biological Diversity's (CBD) 10th Conference of the Parties (COP 10).

These include the definition of a new strategic plan to protect the world's biodiversity after earlier targets to significantly reduce the rate of biodiversity loss by 2010 were missed. A current draft of the strategy contains 20 new targets for 2020, such as halving the loss and degradation of forests and other natural habitats, and ensuring that agriculture and aquaculture are sustainably managed.

by Nomad on Wed Oct 13th, 2010 at 03:58:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Dutch export success story: vaccines hidden in meaty bones | Radio Netherlands Worldwide

Looking at the plant of the veterinary pharmaceutical giant Intervet on the outskirts of the Brabant town of Boxmeer, it would be easy to delude yourself into believing you have just arrived at Charlie's chocolate factory from Roald Dahl's famous children's book. The merger with a French competitor, which is to be finalised soon, will make Intervet one of the world's largest producers of veterinary medicines. In the tranquil environment of Intervet's laboratories, young scientists are at work developing cures for viral infections affecting both humans and animals.

A sign warns visitors in no uncertain terms to "Make sure to use the correct entrance". The sign is testimony to the size of the sprawling plant, which covers an area equal to no less than 17 football fields. Two flags are fluttering in the wind outside the main office building. The US Stars and Stripes - parent company Merck has its headquarters in the United States - and the Dutch national flag. Soon, the plant will have to add another flagpole.

Collaboration
The French flag will probably be first raised at the site in 2011. Intervet, leader in animal vaccines is to merge with the French company Merial, the proud producers of a leading remedy against fleas and of anti-parasitical drugs for farm animals. The two businesses appear to be complimentary, but the merger has yet to be approved by the European and US competition authorities.

Giant cauldrons
Hidden behind the main gate on the outskirts of Boxmeer lies Charlie's magical world. White-clad Umpa Lumpas are performing their incomprehensible duties; huge cylindrical cauldrons can make you disappear forever and, to perfect the image, here and there coloured liquids can be seen bubbling away. The fantasy is cruelly disrupted by research director René Aerts, who provides crystal-clear explanations off what his associates are up to.

by Nomad on Wed Oct 13th, 2010 at 04:03:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Google's Reicher Aims at Another Fledgling Industry: Wind Farms - Bloomberg

Google Inc., the Web company that a decade ago used engineering prowess to conquer the nascent online advertising market, is now aiming technology and its cash pile at another fledgling industry: offshore wind farming.

The company said yesterday that it's investing in a $5 billion underwater network that can channel electricity from wind turbines scattered off the Atlantic coast, enough to light up 1.9 million homes from New York to Virginia.

"This project is Google's signal that we want to have some real impact as we are also making serious financial returns in our energy project investing," Dan Reicher, who directs Google's energy and climate projects, said in an interview. "We couldn't be in a better place at a better moment to be making an investment like this."

Google is betting that its support will encourage other investors to back wind farming, which the Global Wind Energy Council says will generate more than 22 percent of the world's electricity in two decades. The investment also may help the U.S. narrow a lead held by China, which is installing more than twice the wind-generating power of the U.S.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Oct 13th, 2010 at 04:03:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
1) the Google plan is rather confusing for now,and bad journalism doesn't help. They made an announcement to invest in an offshore transmission line, which seems more like a gambit to do onshore transmission via a simpler (easier to permit) route than anything else; and they vaguely talked about investing in offshore wind farms.

The two are not really related as offshore windfarms need individual cables to shore anyway (because of their size and the typical carrying power of cables) and I fail to see how an offshore "superhighway" would help them (or would be paid by them).

But journalists have happily conflated the two and mixed up investments numbers, demonstrating once more than they do not understand what they are talking about.

But Google gets a lot of publicity, I guess.

Wind power

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Thu Oct 14th, 2010 at 03:39:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Here's Peter Asmus's take.

Interesting to learn that the Goog invested in kite turbine technology, which is about a sensible as investing in harnessing jet wash at airports.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Ana´s Nin

by Crazy Horse on Thu Oct 14th, 2010 at 04:27:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
What Monsanto's fall from grace reveals about the GMO seed industry | Grist

take note of Andrew Pollack's Oct. 4 New York Times story on the recent plight of genetically modified (GM) seed giant Monsanto, long-time Wall Street darling and bête noire of the sustainable food movement.

Pollack summed up Monsanto's woes like this:

As recently as late December, Monsanto was named "company of the year" by Forbes magazine. Last week, the company earned a different accolade from Jim Cramer, the television stock market commentator. "This may be the worst stock of 2010," he proclaimed.     

On Tuesday, Forbes publicly lamented its decision to deem Monsanto "company of the year." The headline was cutting: "Forbes was wrong about Monsanto. Really wrong." How did Monsanto go from the from Wall Street hero to Wall Street doormat?

According to The Times' Pollack, Monsanto's troubles are two-fold: 1) the patent on Roundup, Monsanto's market-dominating herbicide, has run out, exposing the company to competition from cheap Chinese imports; and 2) its target audience -- large-scale commodity farmers in the south and Midwest -- are turning against its core offerings in genetically modified corn, soy, and cotton seed traits.

I agree with Pollack's diagnosis, but I want to add a third and even more fundamental problem to the mix: Monsanto's once-celebrated product pipeline is looking empty.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Oct 13th, 2010 at 04:15:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
that's a real shame ;-))

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Thu Oct 14th, 2010 at 10:41:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Dogs can be optimistic or pessimistic? - Yahoo! News

If your dog destroys the furniture when you are away, it could be a pessimist, researchers have concluded.

A study has found that some dogs are natural gloom-mongers while others have sunnier dispositions.

"We know that people's emotional states affect their judgments and that happy people are more likely to judge an ambiguous situation positively," said professor Mike Mendl, an author of the study and head of animal welfare and behavior at Bristol University.

"What our study has shown is that this applies similarly to dogs."

To measure canine psychology, researchers trained dogs to recognize that bowls on one side of a room contained food, while bowls on the other side were empty. They then placed the bowls in "neutral" locations between the two sides.

Just as happy people tend to see the positive in any situation, so optimistic dogs sprinted toward the bowl, expecting to find food, while pessimistic dogs hesitated or ran more slowly.

by Nomad on Wed Oct 13th, 2010 at 04:22:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Isn't science wonderful?
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Oct 14th, 2010 at 05:01:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I was kinda wondering if the experiment used dogs of the same breed, identical age, similar life experiences, and at the same stage of hunger.

Article in Current Biology (pdf) :

The subjects were 24 dogs (50% male; estimated age range: 9-108
months) at two UK animal re-homing centres.

The experiment in fact concerned behaviour in circumstances of separation from usual human companions (no evidence offered on the dogs' affect wrt those humans). It proved, the authors say, that "pessimism" is caused by underlying mood.

Science is even more wonderful than I thought. Journalism too.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Oct 14th, 2010 at 05:25:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I wonder how many were psychology students.
by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Thu Oct 14th, 2010 at 08:12:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
But maybe it destroys the furniture hoping to find food inside. Shouldn't that make it an optimist? More research is needed.
by gk (gk) on Thu Oct 14th, 2010 at 05:32:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
More research is always needed. It's the scientific equivalent of economic growth.
by Nomad on Thu Oct 14th, 2010 at 06:52:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]

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