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What's 'Energy Security'?

by Jerome a Paris Tue Jul 4th, 2006 at 05:13:14 AM EST

Jonathan Stern, director of gas research at the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies (...) suggests at least four different definitions of the problem:

  • Inadequate investment in energy supply and infrastructure to meet future demand;

  • Developed countries becoming increasingly dependent on imported energy from unstable countries or regions (such as Middle East oil or Russian gas);

  • China and India needing such a huge volume of energy for future industrialisation that it puts an intolerable strain on resources;

  • Rising oil and gas prices threatening to deprive the poorest countries of affordable energy.

To those might well be added the fear of terrorist attacks on energy installations, or natural disasters such as Hurricane Katrina, in a market with very little margin of spare capacity.

The debate over global warming also adds an extra dimension, with fears that those countries seeking to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions will make themselves uncompetitive, or be forced to turn back to nuclear energy, in spite of its uncertain financing and costs of waste disposal.

That's a fair summary of the issues - as the article, while not giving it full credence, at least mentions elsewhere that Gazprom worries about security of demand.

Of course, that summary has one major, unsaid, hypothesis, which is actually the core of the problem: it takes demand growth as a given, or worse, as an necessity, accepting the link we've discussed previously between 'growth' and energy consumption.

When will we realize that energy security is, first of all, an energy demand problem, and as such, entirely within our own control. If we waste less; if we consume in smarter ways; if we accept that energy is a precious resource that we can no longer take for granted, then we'll have a chance to have energy security. Otherwise we'll just be pushing the final reckoning a few years further each time we open up a new country to investment, find a new way to drill oil or gas or coal. Maybe a few years more is good enough for us. But will it be good enough for our children? Why can't we be a bit smarter?

The solution is in our own hands.

Is it really easier to compromise with the Saudis, spark a new cold war with Putin, spar with the Chinese and the Indians all over the planet while enriching countless corrupt regimes (including suppsoed awoved enemies) than to make a small effort at home to need these imports less by using them less - as we know is possible?!

It looks cheaper, but is it?

The solution is in our own hands.


Display:
Should I send this as an LTE to the FT?

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Tue Jul 4th, 2006 at 05:14:29 AM EST

In today's article by Quentin Peel and Carola Hoyos, "Eyeing energy supplies from opposite ends of a telescope", you provide an excellent summary of the issues associated with the catch phrase of "energy security", even including the mention of the "security of demand" worries of the Russians as well as that of global warming.

However, that article has one major, unsaid, hypothesis, which is actually the core of the problem: it takes demand growth as a given, or worse, as an necessity, accepting the hypothesis or an unbreakable link between GDP growth and energy consumption.

When will we realize that energy security is, first of all, an energy demand problem, and as such, entirely within our own control? If we waste less; if we consume in smarter ways; if we accept that energy is a precious resource that we can no longer take for granted, then we'll have a chance to reach energy security. Otherwise we'll just be pushing the final reckoning a few years further each time we open up a new country to investment or find a new way to extract a bit more oil or gas or coal. Maybe a few years more is good enough for us. But will it be good enough for our children? Why can't we be a bit smarter?

The solution is in our own hands.

Is it really easier to compromise with the Saudis, spark a new cold war with Putin, spar with the Chinese and the Indians all over the planet while enriching countless corrupt regimes (including supposed awoved enemies) than to make a small effort at home to avoid these imports by not needing them - simply by using less energy, as we know is possible?!

The ways we measure our economies make it looks cheaper or more effective to work on boosting production , but is it really?

The solution is in our own hands.

Should I shorten it?

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Tue Jul 4th, 2006 at 05:22:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think the last three paragraphs after the first "solution is in our own hands" are superfluous to your principal point.

Other than that, yea go for it.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Tue Jul 4th, 2006 at 05:34:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It's great.

The Editors reserve the right to edit your letter for lenght, so let them do it. I have seen much longer letters published.

Nothing is 'mere'. — Richard P. Feynman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jul 4th, 2006 at 05:34:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]

In today's article by Quentin Peel and Carola Hoyos, "Eyeing energy supplies from opposite ends of a telescope", you provide an excellent summary of the issues associated with the catch phrase of "energy security", including  the "security of demand" worries of the Russians and  global warming.

However, that article makes one major unsaid assumption: it takes demand growth as a given, or worse, as an necessity, accepting the hypothesis of an unbreakable link between GDP growth and growth in energy consumption.

Energy security is an energy demand problem and is  entirely within our own control. If we waste less; if we consume in smarter ways; if we accept that energy is a precious resource that we can no longer take for granted, then we will have a chance to reach energy security. Otherwise we'll just be pushing the problem a few years further each time we open up a new country to investment or find a new way to extract a bit more oil or gas or coal. Maybe a few years more is good enough for us. But will it be good enough for our children?

Is it really easier to compromise with the Saudis, spark a new cold war with Putin, spar with the Chinese and the Indians  while enriching countless corrupt regimes (including avowed enemies) than to make a small effort at home to avoid these imports by not needing them - simply by using less energy, as we know is possible?

The ways we measure our economies make it looks cheaper or more effective to work on boosting production but it is not clear that measurements would accurately reflect reality in a restructured economy.

The solution is in our own hands.

Some typo clean-up and a bit of editing down...

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Jul 4th, 2006 at 05:35:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Editing mostly for clarity and force rather than length...
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Jul 4th, 2006 at 05:36:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
This is unclear, though:
The ways we measure our economies make it looks cheaper or more effective to work on boosting production but it is not clear that measurements would accurately reflect reality in a restructured economy.
Do you mean "it is not clear that (measurements would...)"? Which measurement(s)? Or do you mean "it is not clear [that] (that measurement/those measurements would..." I'm confused.
Jerome's is clearer
The ways we measure our economies make it looks cheaper or more effective to work on boosting production , but is it really?
though it is still just hinting at what the problem is.

Maybe explicitly mentioning that it is "maybe" wrong to count resource extraction as production rather than depletion of natural wealth...

Nothing is 'mere'. — Richard P. Feynman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jul 4th, 2006 at 05:40:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You're right. I meant to revisit that bit and got distracted by the phone.

Both the original and my version leave way too much open to the reader.

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Jul 4th, 2006 at 05:44:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Plus your version is agrammatical where I bolded it.

Nothing is 'mere'. — Richard P. Feynman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jul 4th, 2006 at 05:53:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
And I'm ugly. And you never liked my mother.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Jul 4th, 2006 at 05:54:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Let's not go there, or there.

Nothing is 'mere'. — Richard P. Feynman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jul 4th, 2006 at 05:55:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
This paragraph opens a completely different can of worms - what is the relationship between GDP and GDP growth and whatever is your favorite concept - quality of life? I guess you are pushing towards the Wold Bank concept which also measures depreciation of human and natural capital related to the value added which is counted in GDP. But frankly, I don't think it's possible to be clear and concise on this point in one short paragraph, and would recommend just dropping it.
by Sargon on Tue Jul 4th, 2006 at 06:04:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I agree it might be best to just drop it, but let me take one last stab at it:

The way we count resource extraction as production rather than depletion of natural capital makes it look cheaper or more effective to work on boosting production than on reducing consumption, but is it really?

Nothing is 'mere'. — Richard P. Feynman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jul 4th, 2006 at 06:09:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I like this better, but it's still an obvious point for a hypothetical "referee" to jump on, which will easily justify rejection (sorry for sounding so professional here).
by Sargon on Tue Jul 4th, 2006 at 06:15:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I know exactly where you're coming from, and I agree. ;-)

Nothing is 'mere'. — Richard P. Feynman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jul 4th, 2006 at 06:18:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Physics is better, I agree :-)
by Sargon on Tue Jul 4th, 2006 at 06:24:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Let's say it's no worse.

Nothing is 'mere'. — Richard P. Feynman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jul 4th, 2006 at 06:31:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I like your editing, but the last sentence is not clear enough yet. Let's work on this in priority.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Tue Jul 4th, 2006 at 05:48:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
What was the point you were trying to make with it?
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Jul 4th, 2006 at 05:52:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The usual: that resource extraction makes it look like we are "creating" wealth when we are just grabbing it from a finite source on the planet.

I like Migeru's version above. Let me summarise below.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Tue Jul 4th, 2006 at 06:30:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I've changed the order of paragraphs. what do you think?

I'm off for lunch and will send somethign when I get back, using your latest input.


In today's article by Quentin Peel and Carola Hoyos, "Eyeing energy supplies from opposite ends of a telescope", you provide an excellent summary of the issues associated with the catch phrase of "energy security", including the "security of demand" worries of the Russians and global warming.

However, that article makes one major unsaid assumption: it takes demand growth as a given, or worse, as an necessity, accepting the hypothesis of an unbreakable link between progress, GDP growth and growth in energy consumption.

The way we count resource extraction as wealth creation rather than depletion of natural capital makes it look cheaper or more effective to work on boosting production than on reducing consumption, but is it?

Is it really easier to compromise with the Saudis, spark a new cold war with Putin, spar with the Chinese and the Indians  while enriching countless corrupt regimes (including avowed enemies) than to make a small effort at home to avoid these imports by not needing them - simply by using less energy, as we know is possible?

Energy security is actually an energy demand problem and is  entirely within our own control. If we waste less; if we consume in smarter ways; if we accept that energy is a precious resource that we can no longer take for granted, then we will have a chance to reach energy security. Otherwise we'll just be pushing the problem a few years further each time we open up a new country to investment or find a new way to extract a bit more oil or gas or coal. Maybe a few years more is good enough for us. But will it be good enough for our children?

The solution is in our own hands.

Should I delete that last sentence altogether?

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Tue Jul 4th, 2006 at 06:38:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It may be overdramatic and you have already say "energy security is entirely within our own control". So I say yes.

Nothing is 'mere'. — Richard P. Feynman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jul 4th, 2006 at 06:45:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
i see the problem as what to do?

people will read your article, and pat themselves on the back for buying the eco lightbulbs.

obviously, this can scale up to real energy savings, and will if enough letters get written, and people pay attention.

but it seems so pitiful, compared to the paradigm shift we're navigating here.

the system is set up against doing more, and governements are colluding with folks behind the curtain who have them in a half-nelson.

i fear helen is right, and the corruption so deep and endemic it will take aeons to change anything serious one bulb at a time, or even a prius at a time.

lots of lilliputian levers can lift great weight, but not very far, and gulliver is strapped by unpublicised commitments to the military-industrial/security/arms trade/corporate food, farming, distribution, and pharma lobbies.

in my enforced 10 day break from et, i read 'the piano tuner' by daniel mason, an excellent book about british colonial burma.

there is a great character in it who actually succeds in doing what the colonists purport to want to do, and he is feared by them, because they need discord and strife to get their medals and fat-contract wars.

actually succeeding in realising the ideals we discuss here would mean the end of the fat-cat lifestyle for many, and they have seen this energy crisis coming a lot longer than we have, buying up the media so we are discussing football while they drive humanity off a cliff.

under the scaly hide, the rampaging elephant of stupid world governance, there beats a corrupt and dying heart.

we bloggers are like mosquitoes trying to find ways to stop an elephant...fucking hopeless, but better, much better than nothing, or holding all the pain and frustration inside.

what i hope will emerge from this blog is a new, big, funky lever that can actually lift public awareness to the vicious scamming that's going on, and provide fuel for serious outrage.

better than inrage, i reckon.

jerome, you write really well, and your cause is a noble one. amassing information is essential, otherwise we don't know why there is a terrible malaise in the air, and how the more we make ourselves part of the solutions, the less we add to the problems.

buzz away, and we all join in...

but the elephant is standing on the edge of a deep ditch, and it will need one hell of a buzz to make it change direction!

knowledge is the stone in david's sling.

thanks for sharing.

"We can all be prosperous but we can't all be rich." Ian Welsh

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Tue Jul 4th, 2006 at 09:03:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That seems fine: there's no point over-editing it to the point were it loses all passion.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Jul 4th, 2006 at 06:46:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Should I delete that last sentence altogether?

No.

by the stormy present (stormypresent aaaaaaat gmail etc) on Tue Jul 4th, 2006 at 06:51:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I like the rhythm of the text now, so please don't cut anything. One last comment on the third paragraph - you talk about "wealth creation", which sounds like investment, and then go on to "reducing consumption", which is, er, consumption. Wouldn't it be better to talk about "creation of value" instead?
by Sargon on Tue Jul 4th, 2006 at 07:00:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
value creation is good, thanks.

Will send it out now.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Tue Jul 4th, 2006 at 07:23:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]

The way we count resource extraction as wealth creation rather than depletion of natural capital makes it look cheaper or more effective to work on boosting production than on reducing consumption.

Is this an assumption in the article? In that case there are two major unsaid assumptions.


However, that article makes two major unsaid assumption. It takes demand growth as a given, or worse, as a necessity, accepting the hypothesis of an unbreakable link between progress, GDP growth and growth in energy consumption. It also counts resource extraction as wealth creation rather than depletion of natural capital which makes it look cheaper or more effective to boost production than to reduce consumption.

I would say loose the "but is it?" as it is redundant. I very much dislike excessive use of the gerand and edited a few of them out. (It has its place, but is in my opinion overused.)


Is it really easier to compromise with the Saudis, spark a new cold war with Putin, spar with the Chinese and the Indians while enriching countless corrupt regimes (including avowed enemies) than to make a small effort at home to reduce these imports - simply by using less energy, as we know is possible?

"to avoid these imports by not needing them" is a bit awkward (to my eyes), and advocating reduction rather than elimination of imports seems more reasonable.

"oil or gas or coal. " --too many or's!

by someone (s0me1smail(a)gmail(d)com) on Tue Jul 4th, 2006 at 07:24:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Good work, fast and useful input. Impressive stuff.

Please drop a note when it is printed!!

by Nomad on Tue Jul 4th, 2006 at 10:44:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You are asking for a rational energy policy which, however sensible in the long term, would be electorally unpopular in the short-term. Politicians, who live or die by the polls, are only likely to do that which wins the next election.

Securing the future of the nation is the least of their concerns.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Tue Jul 4th, 2006 at 05:36:14 AM EST
Securing the future of the nation is the least of their concerns.

This has been made abundantly clear by the Tories using the West Lothian question to try to prevent Brown from becoming Prime Minister. Their unabashed English nationalism is going to destroy the UK if they're not careful.

Nothing is 'mere'. — Richard P. Feynman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jul 4th, 2006 at 05:42:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I've seen you mention this a few times Migeru, and I have no way of knowing how serious an issue it is, as it is not mentioned much in the media I read. Any chance you can do a diary on this? Or any one else in the UK contingent?

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Tue Jul 4th, 2006 at 05:48:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
From what I have been gleaning from diaries here, and from the press, I think the UK has a real problem with not understanding what devolution is all about.

The Tories are graspong at straws to get back to power and are making lots of irresponsible statements which, on closer inspection, have some basis in reality and the potential to grow into big issues (another example: quitting the EPP/CD group in the European parliament, or the noises Cameron has made about human rights).

I keep flagging the issue because I want some Brit to tell me it's just inconsequential headline-grabbing, but so far they haven't.

I can only write a diary from the Spanish perspective of what devolution means, which is not necessarily relevant.

Nothing is 'mere'. — Richard P. Feynman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jul 4th, 2006 at 05:52:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
There was a good article in the independent about it this morning. I'll dig it out and diarise.

and it is a serious constitutional issue.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Tue Jul 4th, 2006 at 06:35:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
See the breakfast.

I can't diarise from work at all any longer.

Nothing is 'mere'. — Richard P. Feynman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jul 4th, 2006 at 06:43:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
too late, it's done now.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Tue Jul 4th, 2006 at 06:59:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Good.

Just one thing. Economic growth does not need mean growing energy use. Or maybe that's what you meant by

it takes demand growth as a given, or worse, as an necessity, accepting the link we've discussed previously between 'growth' and energy consumption.

Compare this and this. And those graphs are without outsourcing energy intensive industry abroad.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Tue Jul 4th, 2006 at 07:15:45 AM EST
There's actually a strong parallel between global oil production and US median wages.

Nothing is 'mere'. — Richard P. Feynman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jul 4th, 2006 at 07:20:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I know. That's why I wrote increased GDP does not need mean increased energy consumption. But that link might exist if one does not keep energy consumption closely checked. And the stagnating American median wages might partly be a result of reaganomics. After all, Swedish median wages have been constantly increasing, albeit at a slower rate after '73.

Nor is there any easy connection between oil consumption and GDP. Though there might be a pretty strong (but not linear!) connection between liquid fuel use for transportation (or just cheap transportation in general) and GDP.  Note how the consumption reduction in the above linked graph occurs mainly in the non-transportation* heavy fuel oil segment.

* Except for ships.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Tue Jul 4th, 2006 at 11:15:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It's not Reaganomics, the slump dates back to the 1970's oil shocks. You must remember this diary of Jerome's, where we encountered these two charts:


Nothing is 'mere'. — Richard P. Feynman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jul 4th, 2006 at 11:29:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
http://www.dailykos.com/story/2006/7/4/104324/1008

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Tue Jul 4th, 2006 at 11:04:02 AM EST
Congratulations, Jerome, your letter published in FT about energy security was translated into Russian on site: www.inosmi.ru.
by FarEasterner on Thu Jul 6th, 2006 at 08:43:43 AM EST


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