Posts Tagged ‘global warming’


The Mafia is Getting Into Green Energy? – Treehugger.com

JOIN THE CONVERSATION ON FACEBOOK

ROME — The seizure of a record 1.5 billion euros from a Sicilian businessman known as “Lord of the Wind” has put the spotlight on Mafia money-laundering through renewable energy ventures.
“The Mafia use clean energy to invest dirty money,” Sicilian journalist Lirio Abbate told AFP after police confiscated the assets from businessman Vito Nicastri on Tuesday.
The haul included no fewer than 43 wind and solar energy companies and around 100 properties including swank villas with swimming pools in Sicily’s western Trapani region, along with cars, a catamaran and bank accounts, the interior ministry said.

The infiltration of organised crime into the renewable energy sector is “a combination that is only now coming to light” in terms of legal action, said Abbate, a specialist in Mafia affairs who is under police protection.

“In the countryside it’s been apparent for longer because wind farms are springing up on land belonging to people with ties to the Mafia or obtained through violence,” he said.
Opposition Senator Giuseppe Lumia lamented: “The Cosa Nostra has managed to infiltrate the wind energy sector in the past few years by taking advantage of bad policies and bad bureaucracies.”

Nicastri, 54, is known nationally in the wind power sector, hence the nickname “Lord of the Wind”.
Anti-mafia investigators said Nicastri has links to Matteo Messina Denaro, considered the current supremo of the Sicilian Mafia, or Cosa Nostra.
Denaro has shifted from hypermarkets to wind energy, Abbate said.

“It’s obvious that these companies were tied to the Mafia because they have never been targeted, while construction sites in other sectors have been attacked,” he said.
This affair “confirms what we have been denouncing for a long time: infiltration in the new energy economy,” said the vice president of the national Anti-Mafia Commission, Fabio Granata.

Since Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi returned to power for a third time in 2008 elections, authorities have seized or sequestered some 16 billion euros (20 billion dollars) in assets belonging to suspected members of Italy’s crime syndicates.

The seizure of Nicastri’s assets “confims the interest that organised crime has in renewable energy, which several annual reports on environmental issues have already stressed,” said Beppe Ruggiero, an official with the anti-Mafia association Libera.

“It is very important for this sector to stay far from Mafia activities,” Ruggiero said, stressing the need for renewable energy to develop in Italy’s poorer south. “Investment in renewable energy should not be discouraged,” he said, adding that the nuclear alternative would be “a losing choice”.

The Berlusconi government in February began a process of restarting nuclear power, which was banned by a referendum held soon after the 1986 nuclear meltdown in Chernobyl, Ukraine, sent highly radioactive fallout over large areas of Europe.

Italy is ranked third in Europe, after Germany and Spain, for wind power, with a total power of nearly 5,000 megawatts at 294 farms as of the end of 2009, according to Gestore Servizi Energetici, a public company that manages incentive programmes for renewal energy.

Over the past decade, thanks to generous subsidies, wind farms have proliferated at a rate of 20 percent per year and the energy generated has risen by 34 percent per year, GSE said.
Most of that total — 98 percent — is generated in the south.

Last year wind power produced 6,543 gigawatt hours, 35 percent more than in 2008.

The Mafia interest in clean energy is explained by the fact that it is a “new sector where there is more public money and less control”, Ruggiero said.

“It allows the creation of new companies, and so the recycling of money. For organised crime, it’s a sector that was still unknown 15 years ago, but is becoming very important.
“They steal money from the state and in addition they sell them the energy they produce. They win twice,” Ruggiero said.

( read more )


Climate Change: Humor Me with a Game of Pretend

earth

For the moment, let’s assume that global climate change is real. I know, a lot of you have sent me E-mails and links to the contrary.  And yes, I’m well aware of Climategate and the E-mails from the scientists that popped up on the Internet and every other news site.

But humor me, play along and pretend for a moment that climate change is a truth (for those who believe that climate change is real, I ask no change your mindset).  Now that it’s real (remember, anti-climate change folks, we’re pretending) what does climate change really mean to us?  How does it make us feel  What does it make us do?

First, how does the idea of global warming — the idea that the globe is getting hotter and that catastrophic effects will occur — make us feel?  Primarily, it scares us.  No one wants the globe to heat, especially if it means that terrible things would happen — ice caps melting, Pacific islands disappearing, etc..  So where does that lead us?

This horrendous revelation leads us to an intense need to look at the reasons behind this phenomenon.  And this leads us to explore carbon in the atmosphere as one of the possible culprits.  In the United States, we start to break it down to fuel sources, and coal sticks out as a primary offender.  At this point, we put our heads together and try to find ways to mitigate the carbon problem.  If we can mitigate the carbon problem, then maybe — in this thought game that we are continuing to play — we have a chance to slow down climate change.

Because we are smart, and because we want to stop global warming, we start to look at cleaner fuel sources and start developing new ways to generate energy.  This developing of new energy technology takes time, so we need to buy ourselves a couple of decades.  We look at our available fuel sources and find that natural gas could be a good way to go.  It’s cleaner than coal and more available than oil.  Because we need the time, we start to replace coal with natural gas in electricity generation.  We even consider natural gas as a transportation fuel and build natural gas “filling stations” for truck fleets.  This give us the necessary leeway to build better, more affordable renewable sources of energy.

In the end, we look up (from this imaginary scenario) and realize this fear of global warming has done something really interesting.  It has set us on a path to avoid this doomsday scenario and, in the end, we have advanced civilization to next generation of power creation.  This drive to solve this huge problem has left us in a better place, a place where our air is cleaner, the world isn’t getting AS warm AS fast and we have an amazing shot at a bright energy future.

Now, you can stop pretending.

We’re back to the immediate present, and let’s say that these guys have totally lied about global warming and climate change.  Let’s say this was a huge conspiracy to sell more windmills or an ingenious marketing ploy to get ad rates up for histrionic cable news programs.  What does it really mean that we’ve sweated a phenomenon that we’re not sure about one way or the other?  Is it really that bad that we’re driving hard to create a cleaner and more sustainable energy future?  Is it terrible that we’re angered by coal and are now exploring natural gas and renewables as a major part of the future energy mix?  Because, in the end, from where I’m standing, this game of pretending has done some pretty amazing things.

( read more )