Oil drilling in the Arctic

Norway is the leading country when it comes to technology for developing and operating oil and gas fields offshore. No wonder when you take the harsh weather conditions into account and how close we are to the Arctic.

BUT, we are also one of the biggest producer and exporter of fish. Our ocean is one of the most fertile biotope for fish. Before we found oil, our greatest asset was fish. Fish is still a major part of our export. We sell fish to 153 countries worldwide.

One of the richest area for the fisheries is the Barents Sea, but it is also the most vulnerable biotope. It is way up North, in the Arctic.

So, what do we do? We drill for oil and gas in an area with the harshest climate imaginable and with one of the most important source for fishing.

What is this government thinking ? Statoil, the biggest oil/gas company in Norway, has found several very promising oil/gas fields much further south, so we have more than enough produce. AND, we are probably the richest country in the world. The so called oil fund is approaching 4000 billion NOK, and we are around 4.500 people in this country. You do the math……………

So, WHY are we taking the risk of destroying huge parts of the Arctic, including our own fisheries, by developing oil/gas fields in the Barents Sea? ONE large oil spill will be an utter disaster in that area, and because it is so far north, it may take 30, 40 or maybe 60 years to reestablish the biotope to normality. As a fisherman said some years ago: “We can eat fish but not oil”. Simple but true. We must not forget that pumping oil/gas will come to an end one day, but we will always have the fish, and we will be dependent on that simple fact. So, why destroy the most sustainable source of income for our country?

The responsibility for this destructive policy lies wholly in our government. The government consist of three parties: The biggest, the Social Democrats (Arbeiderpartiet), and two very small parties; the Socialist Party (SV) and Senterpartiet, earlier called The Farmers Party. Both SV and Senterpartiet are very conscious and focused on the environment. It was therefore quite a shock when the minister for Petroleum and Energy, Ola Borten Moe from Senterpartiet (!!) stated that we (Norway), will drill for oil and gas up to the North Pole.

What one minister say may not be that important. My main concern is the policy of this government. Drilling after oil and gas in the Arctic is utter madness.

 

 

 

Palestinian children in Israeli jails

I have earlier written about the choking hold Israel is having on the Palestinians. Israel’s state terrorism against the Palestinians has now reached a level that is so appalling that even their most “loyal” supporter, the US, is trying to constrain Israels’ military aggression, the settlements of Israelis on Palestinian land and their destruction of Palestinian economy.

While all this is going on, there is something very sinister happening that does not make the big headlines: The way the Israeli army (IDF) is treating Palestinian children. Besides being vicious and cruel, it also violates International law., more precisely “Article 2 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child”,” the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child”.

An Israeli military prosecutor told the team of lawyers, “Every Palestinian child is a potential terrorist.” This stance, Davies says, leads to a spiral of injustice, which only Israel as the occupying power in the West Bank can reverse.

So, what exactly are the IDF doing to these children?

Common complaints and areas of concern – January 2008 January 2012

Number of Cases Percentage of Children
Hand ties 296 95%
Blindfolds 281 90%
Physical violence 234 75%
Detention inside Israel in violation of Article 76 196 63%
Arrested between midnight and 5:00 am 188 60%
Confession during interrogation 180 58%
Threats 178 57%
Verbal abuse and/or humiliation 169 54%
Strip searched 102 33%
Transferred on floor of vehicle 98 32%
Signed/shown documents written in Hebrew 91 29%
Solitary confinement 38 12%

Hard facts     Behind these numbers are the suffering of children, their traumas, angst and horrors of being treated like terrorists. Most of these children threw rocks at Israeli armed vehicles and tanks, not doing any damage. But again: the Israeli retaliation is grossly out of proportion. The IDF arrests, blindfold, beat and place these kids in solitary confinement (which by International law is torture) for weeks and months and then brought into the court room shackled and chained, like armed convicts. If over 14 years of age, they can be sentences to 20 years in jail

Again. They are CHILDREN! How can we sit still and do NOTHING? This must be a dilemma especially for the US, who are so quick to accuse for example China of abusing Human Rights, while at the same time supporting Israel, who so blatantly break all International Laws.

Israel and USA

These days the situation in Israel and “Palestine” is shadowed by the revolution in Syria, but the facts remains. The main fact is that Israel is committing State terrorism on a people that can not defend themselves. Yes, I know, some rockets are being fired into Israeli territory ..wait. IS it Israeli territory, or has it been occupied by the Israeli army? These puny rockets hardly do any damage.

But the retaliation from Israel is so harsh, brutal and excessive that it is hard to imagine. The most haunted people in the history, the Jews, are killing innocent women and children for example by using fighter jets firing missiles into narrow streets to take out ONE person, but in the process killing and injuring the innocents. Collateral damage??

They also keep building houses, settling Jews on Palestinian land. They destroy or steal Palestinian orchards of olives. They shut down water and electricity….. I could go on, but there is no need. Israel is slowly choking the Palestinians, depriving them of a minimum of a normal, decent life.

20-30 years ago, Israel had a basic sympathy from most of the Western world. Not so now. An extensive survey by BBC shows that “favorable” to Israel is down to 21 %.

And now Mitt Romney is in Israel and of course he can’t keep his mouth shut. I always wonder if most Americans even bother to even try to understand the effects some of his statements have. He says that “Jerusalem is the Capital of Israel”.

THAT is one of the most difficult issues in the conflict, and even the US has never accepted that as a solution. Then he goes on and somewhat implying that if he was elected President, and Israels attacks Iran, the US would stand by them. Israeli attack on Iran?  —- In that region there are close to 500 million Muslims, and although Iran is not the most popular country in that area, Israel is hated. So, if Israel really attacked Iran, the consequences would be a major disaster, including the involvement of the US troops in Iraq.

Just the idea that Mitt Romney should be elected President of the US frightens me.

America and pollution

I recently read a blog post about global warming by Archie Richards. This is my response to his ridicule of everybody who is worried about the way we destroy this planet.

The Vikings never grew grapes in Greenland or in Newfoundland. The temperature in the year 1000 was just slightly higher than 50 years ago. The ice in the Arctic is receding in a much higher speed then expected, which leaves the polar bears in that area in a dire situation. The ice on Greenland is also receding at a very dangerous speed. The ozone layer is getting thinner and even has holes in it, especially where I live. I could go on, but there is no doubt that man made pollution is the cause if these changes. —-

The worst polluters are the US and China, but despite this, they refuse to sign any international agreement to reduce the pollution. Many Americans argue that the effects of the pollution are NOT man made, but a “natural” part of a cycle. This has been disproved again and again, but America and China are continuing to spew out all the destructive gases that are so dangerous to all of us.

Why F-35?

Why should Norway buy the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II? — We have enough money, but three factors speak against this deal. We do not know when the planes can be delivered, they still have technical issues to solve and, of all things, nobody has any idea about what the cost will be.

In addition we have the fact that in this country we cannot just buy a plane. It has to be custom made for our topography and weather. The F-16s we have are nowhere near what, for example, the US version of them is.

Then there are the promises of all the contracts the Norwegian industry will get. Yes, we are supposed to manufacture the missiles for the F-35 (Norwegian Naval Strike Missile), but it will only create around 400 jobs.

I am old enough to remember when we bought the F-16s. Same story – the promised contracts for the Norwegian high tech industry never materialized.

So, why are we so naive and loyal to the US? Yes, we are one of America’s oldest and most loyal allies, but this transaction seems quite unwise. The number of unknown variables is just too many.

I do not have the answer. I do not understand my own Government. There has of course been a heated debate in Norway about this issue, and this year the government is supposed to make the final decision. For an extensive overview of events: Norway and the F-35

There are several alternatives that are fully developed and operational, and they are much more inexpensive both to buy, but not the least, to operate. Two that I can mention are the Eurofighter and the Jas Gripen.

Several of the original group of countries that helped with the funding of this project (Britain, Australia, Turkey, Canada, Denmark, Norway, Italy and the Netherlands), have sent strong signals that they may cancel or at least reduce the order. An example is Japan (Japan cancelling order?) and Canada, US and Australia (Cancelling order?)

I could go on and write about the F-22 and it’s demise and the Russians developing their Sukhoi PAK FA and the Chinese with their Chengdu J-20 or Snow Owl Jet.

But that is not my point. I am just wondering why so many countries are willing to spend so much money on this very shaky project called F-35.

The American Economy in a Global Perspective

Economy is a complicated issue; a mixture of hard facts, politics, fluctuations, trade agreements and psychology.

The world economy is today in a state of nervous insecurity and there is a tendency to blame the other players in the market. Like when the US is demanding (!) that Europe “straighten up their act and solve the financial crisis, because it effects the US economy”. The latest is that US companies are complaining about business is slow because of less demand from Europe. —- Well, that goes for everybody, not only the US.

To write about these issues in a simple way is almost impossible, but let us have a look at the situation:

  • Lack of, or declining, demand for goods and services worldwide.
  • A distinct nervousness among investors, that is lack of risk capital.
  • High rate of unemployment
  • Crisis in the Banks, again, worldwide

Well, let us have a look at what happened.

Two obvious events happened.

The EU grew too fast and some of the new member states could not and can not uphold the economic standard necessary to be a sustainable member of the EU.

President Bush launched the war on Iraq. There is a lot to say about that, but a major problem was that the US could not afford it. They had a double budget deficit to struggle with: The budget deficit and the trade deficit with other countries. That is a dangerous situation, not only for the US, but for the world, because the US economy is the most substantial economy in the world. The bank scandals, the unemployment and the recession as such was and is a major problem for the US.

So, now the US and Europe are in a dire economic situation. —- So why this bickering about who’s fault it is? Why not work together? The US and Europe together is a powerful economic force, so why not utilize that?

The Norwegian Government and our money: The oil fund

Before we, the Norwegians, found oil in the Norwegian sea and the North sea, we were one of the poorest countries in Europe.

That changed fairly quickly. We were quite clever, so 85 % of the profit remains in the coffers of the Norwegian state; as direct money earned through ownership in the oil and gas companies or through the tax system.

So, what do we do with all this money?

We put it in a fund ( the “oil fund”) so that we can care for the elderly that is a growing group in Norway. What an empathic and noble reasoning. BUT, is it necessary?? Let’s do the math. We are only just above 5 million people and we are actually growing fast. But, the oil fund is growing faster.

The government has a rule, called “handlingsregel”, which means “rule for action”. It states that the Norwegian state cannot use more than 4 % of the oil fund every year.

BUT, as the oil fund is growing (passing 3.500 billion NOK despite the crisis in the world economy),

I will spell it so there is no misunderstanding: The oil fund is now three thousand five hundred billion NOK.

Norway has a number of serious challenges that the state do very little about. The key word is the economy of the Communes (Municipal areas). The state has more than enough money, but the Communes are almost all struggling. The main reason is that the state is giving them more responsibilities, but to not follow up with the necessary funds. This, of course is a simplification of the situation, but is at the hart of the matter.

So, Norway, one of the richest countries in the world, has a long and difficult backlog when it comes to maintenance of public buildings (most important schools), caring for the elderly sick that cannot care for themselves, the road system, public transport, innovation, land based industry (in a long term perspective), the quality of our school system…………..the list is long.

Don’t misunderstand me. We are quite well off and I do understand that we cannot overuse money, but we are on the positive side when it comes to the state’s budget and foreign trade, and substantially so.

We have MORE than enough money, and we are underusing them. — An example. Last year, 2011, the states budget showed that we had an added profit of 29 billion NOK. Money that was not in the government’s calculations. So, what do we do? We put them in the oil fund.

Why don’t we use this money to fix our schools, take care of those who need it, upgrade our road system, expand and streamline public transport and all the other major tasks that has been neglected for so long.