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Drill, baby, drill: North Sea energy, 1970s-style

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On this day in 1970, British Petroleum announced that it had struck oil in the North Sea. While it took just over five years for the black stuff to start to flow, it had a profound positive effect on our economy. Simon Leadbetter considers how the heroes of 1970 became the villains of 2012.

What would have happened to the UK economy had we not struck oil in the North Sea?

After the 1973 oil crisis, the oil price had quadrupled. The 1979 oil crisis caused another tripling. The giant Argyll oilfield (now Ardmore), Forties oilfield and, a year later, Brent changed our destiny. At its peak, Forties produced half a million barrels a day, equivalent to 25% of the UK’s daily oil needs.

Being able to pump our own oil, rather than importing from OPEC countries, allowed us to go from being a net importer of energy (peaking at just over 51% of demand between 1972 and 1974) to a net exporter for the long period from 1981 to 2004 (World Bank). Regardless of current views on the use and impact of fossil fuels, geologists and oil companies were rightly hailed as heroes.

It also transformed the lives of people in north east Scotland, with Aberdeen becoming the centre of Europe’s petroleum industry. Economic disaster and terminal decline would have been the outcome of not finding oil when we did.

However, all good things, from a solely economic perspective, must end and production peaked in 1999. The UK suffered the largest decrease of any oil-producing nation between that year and 2007. In addition, as environmental awareness grew and climate science evolved, we began to understand the catastrophic impact burning fossil fuels was having on our environment.

A declining domestic supply does not bode well for our economic prospects. Importing and burning more fossil fuels doesn’t bode well for our environmental future either.  If we embrace the emerging investment opportunities and technology of clean energy, it doesn’t have to be this way.

Positioned as it is on the coast of one of the world’s most violent seas, Aberdeen is now looking to transform from being the ‘Oil Capital of Europe’ to the ‘Energy Capital of Europe’.

As the excellent and thorough report available at Offshore Evaluation illustrates, exploiting just under one third of our offshore renewable energy potential could turn the UK from a net importer of energy back into a net exporter of energy. At the same time it would deliver 145,000 new UK jobs when we need them most, reduce our pollution and create a world-beating industry.

Going further, the European Wind Energy Association, which admittedly does have an obvious vested interest, suggests that offshore wind could meet Europe’s demand seven times over.

Blow, baby, blow: North Sea energy, 21st century-style

The geological and commercial pioneers of North Sea oil were rightly feted as heroes in the economic and scientific context of the time.

As we reach peak oil globally, and oil can only be found in harder to reach, far more vulnerable places, maybe it’s time we embraced the huge domestic offshore renewable opportunity, as we did the fossil fuel one. The UK could then create both the economic and ecological heroes of this century.

Economic and environmental disasters await us if we don’t grasp this opportunity with both hands.

If you would like to know more about alternative energy sources, read our Guide to Limitless Clean Energy and for insight into the world of ethical investment, download our Guide to Sustainable Investment (National Ethical Investment Week edition)You can also sign up to our weekly newsletter here.

Further reading:

Total boss condemns Arctic oil drilling

Simon Leadbetter is the founder and publisher of Blue & Green Tomorrow. He has held senior roles at Northcliffe, The Daily Telegraph, Santander, Barclaycard, AXA, Prudential and Fidelity. In 2004, he founded a marketing agency that worked amongst others with The Guardian, Vodafone, E.On and Liverpool Victoria. He sold this agency in 2006 and as Chief Marketing Officer for two VC-backed start-ups launched the online platform Cleantech Intelligence (which underpinned the The Guardian’s Cleantech 100) and StrategyEye Cleantech. Most recently, he was Marketing Director of Emap, the UK’s largest B2B publisher, and the founder of Blue & Green Communications Limited.

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Ways Green Preppers Are Trying to Protect their Privacy

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Environmental activists are not given the admiration that they deserve. A recent poll by Gallup found that a whopping 32% of Americans still doubt the existence of global warming. The government’s attitude is even worse.

Many global warming activists and green preppers have raised the alarm bell on climate change over the past few years. Government officials have taken notice and begun tracking their activity online. Even former National Guard officers have admitted that green preppers and climate activists are being targeted for terrorist watchlists.

Of course, the extent of their surveillance depends on the context of activism. People that make benign claims about climate change are unlikely to end up on a watchlist, although it is possible if they make allusions to their disdain of the government. However, even the most pacifistic and well intentioned environmental activists may unwittingly trigger some algorithm and be on the wrong side of a criminal investigation.

How could something like this happen? Here are some possibilities:

  • They could share a post on social media from a climate extremist group or another individual on the climate watchlist.
  • They could overly politicize their social media content, such as being highly critical of the president.
  • They could use figures of speech that may be misinterpreted as threats.
  • They might praise the goals of a climate change extremist organization that as previously resorted to violence, even if they don’t condone the actual means.

Preppers and environmental activists must do everything in their power to protect their privacy. Failing to do so could cost them their reputation, future career opportunities or even their freedom. Here are some ways that they are contacting themselves.

Living Off the Grid and Only Venturing to Civilization for Online Use

The more digital footprints you leave behind, the greater attention you draw. People that hold controversial views on environmentalism or doomsday prepping must minimize their digital paper trail.

Living off the grid is probably the best way to protect your privacy. You can make occasional trips to town to use the Wi-Fi and stock up on supplies.

Know the Surveillance Policies of Public Wi-Fi Providers

Using Wi-Fi away from your home can be a good way to protect your privacy.However, choosing the right public Wi-Fi providers is going to be very important.

Keep in mind that some corporate coffee shops such a Starbucks can store tapes for up to 60 days. Mom and pop businesses don’t have the technology nor the interest to store them that long. They generally store tips for only 24 hours and delete them afterwards. This gives you a good window of opportunity to post your thoughts on climate change without being detected.

Always use a VPN with a No Logging Policy

Using a VPN is one of the best ways to protect your online privacy. However, some of these providers do a much better job than others. What is a VPN and what should you look for when choosing one? Here are some things to look for when making a selection:

  • Make sure they are based in a country that has strict laws on protecting user privacy. VPNs that are based out of Switzerland, Panama for the British Virgin Islands are always good bets.
  • Look for VPN that has a strict no logging policy. Some VPNs will actually track the websites that you visit, which almost entirely defeats the purpose. Most obviously much better than this, but many also track Your connections and logging data. You want to use a VPN that doesn’t keep any logs at all.
  • Try to choose a VPN that has an Internet kill switch. This means that all content will stop serving if your VPN connection drops, which prevents your personal data from leaking out of the VPN tunnel.

You will be much safer if you use a high-quality VPN consistently, especially if you have controversial views on climate related issues or doomsday prepping.

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How Going Green Can Save Your Business Thousands

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Running a company isn’t easy. From reporting wages in an efficient way to meeting deadlines and targets, there’s always something to think about – with green business ideas giving entrepreneurs something extra to ponder. While environmental issues may not be at the forefront of your mind right now, it could save your business thousands, so let’s delve deeper into this issue.

Small waste adds up over time

A computer left on overnight might not seem like the end of the world, right? Sure, it’s a rather minor issue compared to losing a client or being refused a loan – but small waste adds up over time. Conserving energy is an effective money saver, so to hold onto that hard-earned cash, try to:

  • Turn all electrical gadgets off at the socket rather than leaving them on standby as the latter can crank up your energy bill without you even realizing.
  • Switch all lights off when you exit a room and try switching to halogen incandescent light bulbs, compact fluorescent lamps or light emitting diodes as these can use up to 80 per cent less energy than traditional incandescent and are therefore more efficient.
  • Replace outdated appliances with their greener counterparts. Energy Star appliances have labels which help you to understand their energy requirements over time.
  • Draught-proof your premises as sealing up leaks could slash your energy bills by 30 per cent.

Going electronic has significant benefits

If you don’t want to be buried under a mountain of paperwork, why not opt for digital documents instead of printing everything out? Not only will this save a lot of money on paper and ink but it will also conserve energy and help protect the planet. You may even be entitled to one of the many tax breaks and grants issued to organizations committed to achieving their environmental goals. This is particularly good news for start-ups with limited funds as the Environment Protection Agency (EPA) is keen to support companies opening up their company in a green manner.

Of course, if you’re used to handing out brochures and leaflets at every company meeting or printing out newsletters whenever you get the chance, going electronic may be a challenge – but here are some things you can try:

  • Using PowerPoint presentations not printouts
  • Communicating via instant messenger apps or email
  • Using financial software to manage your books
  • Downloading accounting software to keep track of figures
  • Arranging digital feedback and review forms
  • Making the most of Google Docs

Going green can help you to make money too

Going green and environmental stability is big news at the moment with many companies doing their bit for the environment. While implementing eco-friendly strategies will certainly save you money, reducing your carbon footprint could also make you a few bucks too. How? Well, consumers care about what brands are doing more than ever before, with many deliberately siding with those who are implementing green policies. Essentially, doing your bit for the environment is a PR dream as it allows you to talk about what everyone wants to hear.

Going green can certainly save your money but it should also improve your reputation too and give you a platform to promote your business.

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