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Archive for the 'New Scientist' category

The Oracle of Oil, book review

This article was first published in New Scientist, 1 June 2016.

THIS is a curious time to publish a biography of M. King Hubbert. The story of how this brilliant but irascible Shell geologist accurately forecast in 1956 that US oil production would peak and go into terminal decline by 1970 is by now well worn.

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Reasons to be fearful

This article was first published in New Scientist, 27 July 2013.

DOOM-MONGERS of the climate variety might want to look away now – we apparently have more time to save the planet. A recent study published in Nature Geoscience suggests it will warm more slowly than feared, perhaps buying an extra decade for action.

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Europe’s carbon price is down but not out

This article was first published in New Scientist, 27 June 2013.

THE world’s biggest carbon market, the European Union Emissions Trading Scheme, is now widely regarded as a basket case.

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Peakonomics: no country for old men

This article was first published in New Scientist, 16 August 2012.

In 2007 James Schlesinger claimed the intellectual arguments around peak oil had all been won. With global oil production flat-lining and prices surging towards their all-time high of $147 per barrel, the former US Energy Secretary declared “we are all peakists now”.

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Dump the pump: could peak oil be voluntary?

First published at New Scientist, 17 May 2012.

People have fretted about when the world’s oil will start to run out ever since M. King Hubbert came up with the idea of “peak oil” back in the 1950s.

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Climate cost of Total’s North Sea leak

First published at New Scientist, 30 March 2012.

Coverage of the gas leak at Total’s Elgin platform in the North Sea, off the UK coast, has so far focused on the potential for an explosion, and damage to sea life from hydrogen sulphide contamination – the latter now discounted. But methane is a powerful greenhouse gas, so what about the global warming impact? Here’s what emerged from the back of my envelope.

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Gas galore?

This article was first published in the New Scientist print edition of 21 January 2012, and will appear online at energyrealities.org.

It may come as news to hard-pressed European households, but the world is enjoying a glut of natural gas.

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Has the world reached economic peak oil?

This article was first published in the 3 December print edition of New Scientist and online at energyrealities.org.

Whisper it. Oil production in the US is increasing. The country where output peaked in 1970 and then shrank by 40 per cent over four decades, has turned some kind of corner.

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The real Greek tragedy

First published in New Scientist, 12 October 2011.

Greece is going to default, one way or another, that much is clear. The bigger question is whether it will also leave the Euro and what that would mean. What is so far underappreciated is that a Greek exit would have appalling consequences not only for the world economy, but also the climate.

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Europe pays for Germany’s nuclear ‘Nein danke!’

First published in the New Scientist, 29 July 2011.

Europe’s energy consumers will find themselves paying a high price for Germany’s decision to get out of nuclear power.

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Coal and gas to plug German nuclear gap

First published in the New Scientist, 7 July 2011.

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government claimed to be “ushering in the age of renewables” as German MPs passed legislation this week to phase out nuclear power by 2022 – but the basic arithmetic of the energy-switch policy suggests the country will struggle to fill the hole left by nuclear power – and emissions may rise in the interim.

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Can non-conventional oil fill the gap?

A version of this article was published in New Scientist on 3 December 2009.

The oil crisis is not dead, only sleeping, according to an emerging consensus. The price may have collapsed from last year’s all-time high of $147 per barrel to around $75 today, as the recession grinds away at demand for crude, but nobody expects that to last when the economy recovers.

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Green grid

A version of this article was published in New Scientist on 12 March 2009.

Thomas Edison might have relished the irony. Just as his most famous legacy, the incandescent light bulb, heads for extinction, his other great passion, direct current, is set to boom.

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The end of the road for hydrogen?

A shorter version of this article appeared in New Scientist magazine on 26 November 2008.

Whatever happened to the hydrogen economy? At the turn of the century it was the next big thing, promising a Jetsons-style future of infinite clean energy and deliverance from climate change.

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Green fuel for the airline industry?

Published in New Scientist on 13 August 2008

IF YOU have become addicted to the fly-cheap philosophy espoused by budget airlines over the last decade, it could be time to rethink your travel plans.

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The great coal hole

First published in New Scientist, 17 January 2008

There used to be a joke about taking coal to Newcastle but these days the laughing stock is getting the stuff out.

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