Are we heading for a new winter of discontent?
The Independent 
By Jonathan Brown, Jeremy Laurance and Barrie Clement 
22 October 2005

In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.

Britain could be left paralysed by energy shortages, a health crisis and gridlock on the roads if the predicted Arctic winter strikes with severity.
Prolonged sub-zero temperatures after nearly a decade of mild winters could result in the death of tens of thousands of people, with fears that the National Health Service faces the prospect of a full-blown winter bed shortage for the first time since Labour came to power in 1997.
The Confederation of British Industry warned that power shortfalls caused by the rising domestic demand to keep warm and Britain's dwindling strategic stockpiles could lead to factory shutdowns and a return to the three-day week. At present, only 11 days' supply of gas is being held in reserve, compared with 55 days' worth elsewhere in Europe. Consumer groups fear that hardest hit will be members of the two million poor households already struggling to cope with the 40 per cent rise in energy prices since 2003.
Transport specialists also warn that the authorities have not acted fast enough to keep motorways and other routes open in the event of heavy snowfalls. The situation would be worse in Scotland.
Concern has been mounting since the Meteorological Office took the unprecedented step of issuing a long-range forecast predicting the likelihood of a much harsher-than-average winter. The "amber alert" was based on lower-than-average sea temperatures recorded near Iceland and off the Azores this spring. The findings are a typical precursor for a phenomenon known as the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) which has resulted in some of the harshest winters on record. The effects of the NAO were felt most spectacularly in 1963, when temperatures dropped as low as minus 22C, the Thames iced over and large swaths of southern England were blanketed more than a foot of snow for weeks on end.
Forecasters say they are 67 per cent confident that this winter will be among the coldest on record, and are urgently working on models predicting exactly how cold it will be and for how long Britain will freeze. A spokesman said the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, John Prescott,had been informed immediately, as had the NHS, the Highways Agency and other relevant departments. "We told them to go back and look at their plans. We have had nearly 10 years of warm winters and society has changed in that time," the Met Office spokesman said.
The Arctic temperatures could not come at a worse time for Britain's energy consumers. All six power companies have relentlessly increased prices in the past two years in the midst of worsening volatility in the global energy markets. Average customers can now expect to pay £750 a year on fuel costs. Already two million households are spending 10 per cent of their income on gas and electricity bills. Three-quarters of these are classified as vulnerable - among them the elderly, sick or very poor. "When it is really cold at a time when prices have already gone up dramatically, will people make the decision to keep warm? We pray to God that they do," said Adam Scorer, head of campaigns at Energywatch.
An extra 8,000 deaths are anticipated for every one degree centigrade that the temperature falls below the winter average. When home temperatures drop below 16C, resistance to respiratory diseases falls. Cold air temperatures lead to a rapid rise in the number of strokes and heart attacks.
A DoH spokeswoman said plans were being made to clear beds and cancel operations should the worst-case scenario unfold. A spokesman for the department said: "We are aware of the Met Office's severe weather forecast for this winter but we always prepare for the worst anyway." Concerns are growing that the Government has seriously underestimated the impact of an exceptionally cold winter on business. Sir Digby Jones, the director general of the CBI, said this week that "businesses will shut down" and that the biggest energy users will be forced to "throw the switch".
Demand peaked in the relatively mild January of 2003, when 449 million cubic metres (mcm) of gas were used. This year, total availability will be lower than in previous years at 476mcm - allowing a margin of error of just 6 per cent. Lord Woolmer of Leeds, chairman of the House of Lords European Union Committee, warned that the situation had deteriorated since he submitted a report on the supply situation last year.
North Sea supplies have been run down faster than envisaged over the summer to exploit high prices on the Continent. Meanwhile the European energy market, from which Britain must now import much of its supplies, remains unreformed, and serious doubts have been expressed that it can meet the extra demand.
The severe hurricane season in the Gulf of Mexico means that production of liquefied natural gas (LNG) has been badly disrupted. Consignments destined for Britain have been diverted to the United States. Big industrial energy users, such as steel and chemical companies, may have to halt production on very cold days to allow domestic suppliers to take precedence. "The Government said that voluntary agreements will be sufficient. But the real danger is that they may not be enough," Sir Digby said.
The Energy minister, Malcolm Wicks, dismissed the talk of a three-day week as "scaremongering". A Department of Trade and Industry spokesman said: "The market is likely to correct itself in the event of any shortfall of supplies. A mechanism is in place to restrict supplies to some parts of industry should the situation require it."

Plants and animals are in danger from behaving as if winter is already over


MOTHER Nature is suffering a nervous breakdown. Bizarre and wildly fluctuating weather patterns have confused - and could yet kill - plants and animals across the country.
Botanists, twitchers and wildlife-watchers in Scotland say last week's record-breaking heatwave fooled numerous species into believing winter had already passed.
They now fear animals and plants will perish in their tens of thousands if, as predicted by some experts, the UK suffers its coldest winter for years with temperatures as low as minus 27°C.
Concerns about heavy snowfalls and sub-zero temperatures have been mounting since the Meteorological Office took the unprecedented step of issuing a long-range weather warning for the winter.
Wildlife experts fear hibernating animals may be caught out by the dramatic change in the weather after halting their preparations for the winter because of the late warm spell.
Plants are already showing signs of bursting into bloom too early at a time when there are no insects around to pollinate their flowers. At the Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh, some trees have already started flowering as much as four months early.
"For some of the plants spring has come in autumn, it seems," said Dr Stephan Helfer, a phenologist at the garden. "We have a hazel bush here that normally flowers in February but is already starting to produce flowers in October.
"Flowering is usually triggered by changes in the weather but also the internal clock of the plants themselves.
"The previously mild winters in the past few years has meant the plant has been flowering progressively earlier, but this time it has advanced 32 days on the last year.
"It is possible weather has reset the plant's internal rhythms."
Helfer says a number of other species have also shown unusual activity this year. Wych hazel bushes, which normally flower in early winter, are already bursting with catkins several weeks early.
Rhododendron bushes are also still blooming in the unseasonably warm autumn, nearly two months after they should have lost their flowers at the end of summer.
Helfer fears some plants will be hit hard in the coming winter freeze.
He said: "Up until now it has been business as usual as the weather has been fairly similar to previous years and so the plants will expect it to be the same during the winter.
"If their triggers have been altered over the last few years then a severe winter could be devastating for these plants as they will be flowering at the wrong time and they could be damaged by the cold."
Other species have been displaying baffling behaviour that even scientists are struggling to understand.
Bird-watchers have spotted strange behaviour in migrating geese arriving in Scotland after flying south from Iceland for the winter.
The pink-footed geese have been leaving their roosts beside estuaries in south-east Scotland much later in the day than usual, even going out to search for food at night.
Colin Sheddon, director of the British Association for Shooting and Conservation in Scotland, said: "This is the first season we have had reports of the pink-footed geese moving in such a strange way. They are leaving their roosts in the evening and going inland, which is completely the opposite to what they usually do as they return to their roosts in the evening.
"They normally only do this when there is a full moon but there hasn't been one, so it is difficult to understand what is causing this."
Last week Scotland was hit by the hottest October 27 on record with the mercury soaring to 21.2°C in the north-west of the country.
Many animal experts believe the unusually warm weather over recent years has helped rare and tropical species appear in Scotland. Basking sharks now spend their entire time cruising in the once cold waters of the North Sea.
And last month, a rare butterfly that has not been seen in Scotland for nearly 150 years was spotted by wildlife enthusiasts at Traprain Law in East Lothian.
The Wall Butterfly was killed off in Scotland after a series of cold summers in the 1860s. Experts fear the insect could once again disappear north of the Border if extreme cold weather strikes.
Earlier this month the Met Office predicted the coldest winter since 1995 with temperatures dropping nearly 2°C below the average in Scotland. Other predictions suggest Scotland will be hit by some of the coldest weather on record, beating the 1989 low of -27.2°C in Aberdeenshire.
Animal welfare experts now fear Scottish wildlife such as deer, hedgehogs and frogs could also suffer as their young are killed off in the freezing temperatures.
A spokeswoman for the Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, said: "Deer feed on the young shoots of plants and in cold conditions they can starve to death as the shoots don't grow.
"Hedgehogs produce two sets of young and the latest set will not have had time to put on enough weight to hibernate. If people see hedgehogs running around during daylight hours then they are looking for food.
"People can help by putting out non-fish-based cat and dog food to help them."
Experts at Scottish Natural Heritage claim that while the cold weather could help control pest species such as midges and caterpillars that have boomed following recent mild winters, rare bird species could be hit hard. A spokeswoman said: "Although the colder conditions will have an impact on wildlife it is not likely to be long term.
"The effect can be particularly noticeable in some bird species. In the past the wren and heron populations have suffered declines after a cold snap, while migrating birds will tend to fly further south."
Barry Gromett, a spokesman for the Met office, said: "The historical pattern suggests it is going to be a cold winter as the cold, dry easterly winds come across the continent from Siberia instead of the milder wet winds from the Atlantic."
But Professor Robert Furness, an expert on climate change at Glasgow University, said cold weather was more likely to be a short-lived "blip".
"There is no doubt that the overall trend has been a gradual warming up of the climate."

This article:


Climate change:


  Scottish forecast

  Friends of the Earth Scotland

  UK Met Office Hadley Centre for Climate Prediction

  UN Framework Convention on Climate Change

  US Environmental Protection Agency

pxlEarth Changes TV - Radio Hour
Every Tuesday and Thursday from 9 PM to 10 PM (Pacific). Go to the ECTV home page and click on "Listen Live" which sits at the top right of the page.
Tuesday October 4th Dr. Peter Olson, Geophysicist (John Hopkins University) What Dr. Olson has to say will “blow your socks off”. The pole shift may have begun. The Earth’s magnetic field is “weakening” substantially. Consequences are uncertain, and will be the target of our discussion. “The focus of my research is to understand the dynamics of Earth\'s interior, including both the mantle and the core. I am especially interested in how these two major parts of the Earth interact to produce plate tectonics, deep mantle plumes, and the geomagnetic field. My approach is to combine theory, numerical models, and laboratory fluid dynamics models, and to use these to interpret global geophysical data pertaining to the deep interior”  Website:
Thursday October 6
th Dr. Nicola Scafetta, Physicist from Duke University. We will be discussing his latest research paper outlining the Sun as a dominate role in climate change.  Website:

From :

Hurricanes destroyed 109 oil platforms: US government
Oct 04 3:30 PM US/Eastern

Hurricanes Katrina and Rita destroyed 109 oil platforms and five drilling rigs in the Gulf of Mexico, but only a small portion of production will be lost for good, the US government said.
Rita accounted for most of the damage in a region that ordinarily produces nearly one-third of US crude oil imports, Interior Secretary Gale Norton said in presenting a preliminary assessment report.
Rita destroyed 63 platforms and one drilling rig when it tore through the region on September 24, she said. Katrina destroyed 46 platforms and four drilling rigs when it hit the Gulf at the end of August.
Katrina also caused extensive damage to another 20 platforms and nine drilling rigs. Rita seriously damaged 30 platforms and 10 drilling rigs.
"The two hurricanes coming so close together really illustrate how much of our offshore production was affected," Norton told the CNBC network.
"We had altogether, with both of the hurricanes, about 2,900 platforms that were in the path of the hurricanes," she said.
"We have no official estimate of the dollar value of the damage and the amount that it will cost to repair those facilities, but it will clearly be in the billions of dollars."
In advance of the hurricanes, crude oil production ground to a halt as Gulf sites were evacuated.
A total of 342 platforms remain evacuated, roughly 40 percent of the manned sites in the Gulf, Norton said.
As a result, 90 percent of crude production and 72 percent of natural gas output is paralysed, she said.
But Norton also stressed that only one of the damaged platforms was built after federal construction standards were tightened in 1988.
The ones that were destroyed were nearing the end of their lives. "As a result, only a very small percentage of production is expected to be permanently lost," she said in a statement.
"Despite such intense winds and powerful waves offshore, we experienced no loss of life or significant spills from any offshore well on the outer continental shelf," Norton added.
From the New York Times -

President Calls for Less Driving to Conserve Gas
Published: September 27, 2005
With fears mounting that high energy costs will crimp economic growth, President Bush called on Americans yesterday to conserve gasoline by driving less. He also issued a directive for all federal agencies to cut their own energy use and to encourage employees to use public transportation.
"We can all pitch in," Mr. Bush said. "People just need to recognize that the storms have caused disruption," he added, and that if Americans are able to avoid going "on a trip that's not essential, that would be helpful."
From The Scotsman -
Britain set to run out of fuel warns CBI boss 


Key points CBI boss says fuel shortages could force staff lay-offs and business closures
 Energy Minister admits Britain has only 11 days-worth of gas reserves
 Met Office issues 'amber alert' to government contingency planners
Key quote"If we have a cold winter, we are going to throw the switch, businesses will shut down, people will lose their jobs" - Sir Digby Jones, director-general of the Confederation of British Industry
From Mother Jones
An Occupation Floating on a Sea of Oil
It has long been an article of faith among America's senior policymakers -- Democrats and Republicans alike -- that military force is an effective tool for ensuring control over foreign sources of oil. Franklin D. Roosevelt was the first president to embrace this view, in February 1945, when he promised King Abdul Aziz of Saudi Arabia that the United States would establish a military protectorate over his country in return for privileged access to Saudi oil -- a promise that continues to govern U.S. policy today. Every president since Roosevelt has endorsed this basic proposition, and has contributed in one way or another to the buildup of American military power in the greater Persian Gulf region.
American presidents have never hesitated to use this power when deemed necessary to protect U.S. oil interests in the Gulf. When, following the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, the first President Bush sent hundreds of thousands of U.S. troops to Saudi Arabia in August 1990, he did so with absolute confidence that the application of American military power would eventually result in the safe delivery of ever-increasing quantities of Middle Eastern oil to the United States. This presumption was clearly a critical factor in the younger Bush's decision to invade Iraq in March 2003.
Now, more than two years after that invasion, the growing Iraqi quagmire has demonstrated that the application of military force can have the very opposite effect: It can diminish -- rather than enhance -- America's access to foreign oil.
The revenge of Saddam
The secret history of US mistakes that let former Iraqi dictator and his allies unleash an insurgency
By : Joe Klein - From Time Magazine

September 25, 2005  

FIVE men met in an automobile in a Baghdad park a few weeks after the fall of Saddam Hussein’s Baathist regime in April 2003, according to US intelligence sources. One of the five was Saddam. The other four were among his closest advisers.
The agenda: how to fight back against the US-led occupation of Iraq. A representative of Saddam’s former No 2, Izzat Ibrahim al-Duri, was there. But the most intriguing man in the car may have been a retired general named Muhammad Yunis al-Ahmed, who had been a senior member of the Military Bureau, a secret Baath Party spy service. The bureau's job had been to keep an eye on the Iraqi military – and to organise Baathist resistance in the event of a coup. Now a US coup had taken place, and Saddam turned to al-Ahmed and the others and told them to start “rebuilding your networks”.
OK you say... this is all a bit doom mongering and depressing! But I thought I should pass on the info at the very least as I for one believe we are on the verge of a General Economic Collapse caused by the convergance of rampant US/UK Capitalism and Militarism, Peak Oil and Climate Change. We have had it pretty cosy in our sheltered 'western' nations and economies but this whole thing has been effecting the rest of the world for years and is in my humble opinion coming to a climax now and will effect us all radically, very soon.

It's like we have reached the peak of the roller coaster and are in for a very scary descent... so hang on tight and pray we don't come tottally off the rails when we hit the bottom.

There's a whole bunch of good articles posted today on the FTW site , one of my favorite sites for info from global media sources. FTW has certainly been predicting global financial collapse and Peak Oil for the last year or so and I personally believe he is right. We'll see, certainly looks like crunch time is rapidly approaching so by early next year we should know for sure.

Just bear in mind if all these predictions and warnings are right.... where you are now is where your going to be when our oil based global capitalist 'civilisation' falls apart. 

Are you prepared? Would you rather be somewhere else? What are you going to do?

Here are a couple more extracts and the links if your interested. I recommend signing up for the email alerts from the site.

Me? I'm heading for the hills to watch and wait this out... your welcome to join me :-)

Cheers, Tom Raven

[According to the governing myth of Capitalism, the “invisible hand” of the market quietly adjusts the cosmos to suit mankind’s needs – it’s an appendage of the invisible God of the British 18th Century, still hanging around in Economics 101, presiding over the clock whose eternal springs He wound up all those years ago.
Unfortunately, there is a magic word this deity does not know, a word scarier than “Big Bang,” “Evolution,” “Plutonium,” even “Socialism.” That word is “scarcity.” This time around, when we get thrown out of the abundant zone of Eden to till the Earth in the sweat of our brows, our false God will be thrown out, too – and the world outside will not be so arable.
Now picture Dan Yergin holding a pitchfork and feeding the horses.
– JAH]

High prices not only at the pump

By Nate Jenkins
Lincoln Journal Star

In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.

High gas prices can burn up more than your transportation budget, and it doesn’t take an economics degree to understand why. Not all crude oil is converted into gasoline.
Much of the oil that doesn’t wind up in engines goes to everything from the tires on your gas-eating car to the plastic bags that line trash cans — and the plastic trash cans themselves.
Some nonfuel uses of petroleum, according to the National Energy Information Center, include:
* Solvents used in paints and printing inks.
* Lubricating oils for machinery.
* Wax used in candles, polishes and candy making.
* Asphalt used for everything from road-building to making shingles.
* Synthetic rubber.
Of course, there are myriad services for sale that rely heavily on gasoline; when transportation costs rise, so too can the price of the goods being moved.

Open letter to Daniel Yergin on optimism and addressing Peak Oil seriously

By Clyde Simkins
Energy Bulletin
September 29, 2005

In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.

In the interview of Daniel Yergin by Tom Ashbrook, on Point Radio, one of the giants of the opposition to the Peak Oil theory stood forward.

Arctic Could Be Ice-Free By Century's End... 500,000 Extra Square Miles Melted This Year
In a Melting Trend, Less Arctic Ice to Go Around

The New York Times
September 29, 2005

In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.

The floating cap of sea ice on the Arctic Ocean shrank this summer to what is probably its smallest size in at least a century of record keeping, continuing a trend toward less summer ice, a team of climate experts reported yesterday.
That shift is hard to explain without attributing it in part to human-caused global warming, the team's members and other experts on the region said.

[The DOE releases a plan to address climate change using nuclear energy and other non-renewable technologies to sustain over-consumption. Avoiding all talk of POWERDOWN , the plan is doomed from the beginning. – MK]

DOE report available here:

DOE Releases Climate Change Plan
September 28, 2005

In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.

Washington , DC . Even though the Bush Administration is known for being skeptical of climate change and its causes, the Department of Energy has released for public review a plan for accelerating the development and reducing the cost of new and advanced technologies that avoid, reduce, or capture and store greenhouse gas emissions. The DOE called the effort the technology component of a comprehensive U.S. approach to climate change.

Saudis warn region is on brink of war
Crisis Threatening A Regional War

By Joel Brinkley
The Age (Australia)

In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.

SAUDI Arabia 's Foreign Minister has warned the Bush Administration Iraq is hurtling towards disintegration — a development that he says could drag the region into war.