Eyjafjallajokull and Eskom

Earth Day
Happy Earth Day to all! The Earth needs all the love and attention she can get this time round, and isn’t being helped by a sunken oil rig off the US coast spewing thousands of barrels of oil into the ocean.

Volcanos vs people
Faced with might of the Eyjafjallajokull volcanic eruption, what effect do humans have? After all, with the belching volcano spewing out thousands of tonnes of carbon dioxide and other gasses, what’s a few aeroplanes or coal power stations in comparison? At least, that’s another lie used by some industry lobbyists in their ongoing attempt to prevent any annoying legislation.

The volcano looks dramatic, all the smoke pouring from one crater, and it’s had a dramatic effect on European air travellers, but its effect on overall greenhouse gas emissions is quite small. It’s emits roughly one quarter of the greenhouse gasses of the European airline industry alone, an industry that runs all day, every day, not just a couple of times a century. Overall, it amounts to just less than a third of one percentage point of global emissions of greenhouse gases.

Volcanic activity has had marked impact on climate over the millenia. The airline industry, in Europe alone, is equivalent to four Eyjafjallajokull’s, running continuously.

Picture all those aeroplane fumes, all those car exhausts, all those coal power stations, all those smelters – all combined into one belching crater. Eyjafjallajokull pales into insignificance against the destruction we’re causing every day.

Eskom energy
I was in Darling this weekend, and drove past the 4 wind turbines there. Although there was only a light breeze, the turbines were turning. For years, this was the only wind generation capacity in the country. 4 turbines that produce a pitiful fraction of the total amount of electricity, and a fraction that’s due to fall further as South Africa becomes one of the world’s worst polluters. While most of the world at least crawls to roll out renewable energy, Eskom is obstructing any progress here.

Eskom’s secret pricing has long been a concern, but now it appears there’s a number to the speculation. A leaked document indicates that Eskom supplies electricity to the multinational mining company BHP Billiton at 12c a kilowatt hour, less than the cost of generating it. Eskom has a similar contract with Anglo American, and together, the two mining companies alone consume 10% of South Africa’s electricity. As a result of these huge losses, Eskom has had, to put it mildly, financial difficulties

So, what we thought of as “our” electricity company is in effect working for the World Bank and various mining multinationals, providing them with below cost electricity, all while using the most polluting form of generation possible, and blocking attempts to introduce renewable energy.

Micronesia vs ?
In an interesting legal development, the small island nation of Micronesia, one of the most threatened by rising sea levels, lodged a legal challenge against a huge Czech coal power plant, on the grounds that its chronic pollution threatens the island nation’s existence. It’s a tall order, a tiny, impoverished nation against the might of the world’s oil and coal corporations, but perhaps we’ll soon be seeing Eskom challenged on its disgraceful decision.

Tuesday pickings
Although we notice many orders are only placed on Tuesday, there are quite a few things unavailable by then. Milk, and many of the dairy and fresh lines are all unavailable by Tuesday morning, so place your order as soon as possible if you want the widest range. Remember, you can always change your order up until closing time on Tuesday.

To order, head on over to www.ethical.org.za.

Have a great week,
Ian and the Ethical Co-op team