World: Extreme cold weather affects Canada and USA; extreme hot weather affects Australia; Iraq continues descent towards civil war.
The only way Britain can benefit from US-style low energy prices is by creating a totally integrated power market across Europe, the Energy minister Ed Davey has claimed…
..he said there was an urgent need to build a giant network of electricity interconnectors across Europe, allowing vast amounts of energy to be moved between countries, driving down prices.
17 more stories below the fold.
World: To clean up coal, Obama pushes more oil production
America’s newest, most expensive coal-fired power plant is hailed as one of the cleanest on the planet, thanks to government-backed technology that removes carbon dioxide and keeps it out of the atmosphere. But once the carbon is stripped away, it will be used to do something that is not so green at all. It will extract oil.
For the fourth time in less than six months, a train carrying crude oil across North America has derailed, triggering a massive explosion. A small town in North Dakota just west of Fargo was evacuated after two trains collided on Monday, one carrying thousands of barrels of crude, the other filled with soybeans. Despite a huge fireball captured on video, no one was killed.
Rescuers in Antarctica have safely transferred all 52 passengers stranded on the ice-bound research vessel Akademik Shokalskiy.
UK: Rueing the waves
Britain gets more electricity from offshore wind farms than all other countries combined. In 2012 it added nearly five times more offshore capacity than Belgium, the next keenest nation, and ten times more than Germany. Its waters already contain more than 1,000 turbines, and the government thinks capacity could triple in six years. Boosters think Britain a global pioneer. Critics say ministers are flogging a costly boondoggle.
Forestry Commission statistics reveal that about five million trees – almost one for every person in Scotland – have been cut down to clear space for turbines in the past six years but less than a third of them have been replaced.
The European Commission is to order Britain to end wind farm subsidies. Officials have told ministers that the current level of state support for renewable energy sources must be phased out by the end of the decade. Taxpayer support for solar energy must also be cut, the commission will say.
A winter storm has blanketed parts of Canada and the north-eastern US with up to 2ft (61cm) of snow. The storm has been blamed for 11 deaths and forced the cancellation of more than 4,000 flights since Wednesday. With the wind chill, the temperature dropped as low as -29C (-20F) in Toronto and -38C in Quebec City, the lowest seen in two decades.
Should Fairfax — or other media publishers — give a platform for climate change denialist opinion pieces?
The most recent example is Fairfax publishing a piece by John McLean, a member of the International Climate Science Coalition.
In the opinion piece, McLean repeats various lines designed to create uncertainty about the recent report by Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and to impute a sinister motive on IPCC members of political and scientific deception.
The last 24 hours have been sobering. I am sitting in the comfort of a cabin on board the Australian icebreaker the Aurora Australis, one day after evacuating the Australasian Antarctic Expedition from our Russian-crewed vessel, the MV Akademik Shokalskiy. After sleepless nights thinking about keeping everyone safe, it is a relief to know everyone is on board the Aurora and well. [that is everyone apart from the crew]
The weather warnings are dire: Life threatening wind chills. Historic cold outbreak.
Winter is normally cold, but starting Sunday tundra-like temperatures are poised to deliver a rare and potentially dangerous sledgehammer blow to much of the Midwest, driving temperatures so far below zero that records will shatter.
Parts of the US are braced for potentially record-breaking low temperatures as an Arctic chill brings more freezing weather.
A winter storm has already blanketed areas of Canada and the north-eastern US with up to 2ft (60 cm) of snow.
It has been blamed for 16 deaths and the cancellation of more than 5,000 flights since Wednesday.
Experts are predicting a return to average temperatures in inland areas by the weekend, bringing relief to regions that have been sweltering in record-breaking temperatures.
My selection of stories posted by Luis de Sousa At The Edge of Time
During a televised news conference on Monday, more than 40 Iraqi Members of Parliament announced their immediate resignation, citing rising tensions between security forces and the country’s Sunni Muslim minority.
Iraq’s volatile western region was on the verge of all-out rebellion against the central government on Monday. It followed the weekend arrest of a prominent lawmaker and the dispersal of a largely peaceful protest in the city of Ramadi that left at least 13 dead, according to news agencies.
Two Iraqi cities that were strongholds of Sunni insurgents during the U.S. war in the country are battlegrounds once more after Al Qaeda militants largely took them over, fending off government forces that have been besieging them for days.
The attacks on the main police station in Fallujah on Wednesday, followed by the takeover of other police stations there and Ramadi on the following day, are part of the escalation in the Sunni-Shia sectarian conflict that has long plagued Iraq and reached its worst point in 2006-2007.
But the violence is also part of the broader malaise affecting all Iraqi provinces, including some of the major Shia ones, as Prime Minister Nouri Maliki seeks to tighten his own political control and power, and in the process to impose a highly centralised system of control, which most provinces are beginning to resent.
Libyan oil production failed to make the grade for much of the year and there are few signs of improvement on the horizon. High on the market radar, post-revolution Libya ranks low in terms of prospects for medium-term recovery.
Libya’s National Oil Corp. said it expected “good news” from the eastern Hariga port by Monday though the facility remains shuttered nearly five months after protestors closed it down. Two fields south of the port, Sarir and Messla, were open but output was curtailed because Hariga wasn’t able to rotate its daily 110,000 barrel inventory.