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Seeking a fair GHG reduction target:part 6- Equitable Reduction Targets

This is the 6th sixth post in the series: " Seeking a consensus on GHG reduction targets ". In earlier posts we suggested 4 prop...

Thursday, 14 December 2017

Chiina's all seeing eyes

Given recent Aussie predilections about China's attempts at political influence this short BBC video exposing China's all-seeing surveillance of its own citizens is worth a look.

It is hard not to feel uncomfortable with such a powerful tool for monitoring citizens. In the service of a benevolent state no doubt it can provide significant benefits, especially for crime prevention. However not all states are benevolent, and China's stance particularly towards its dissidents has been far from benevolent.  With such tools the modern autocratic state can have unprecedented control of its citizens. A nightmarish scenario.

Monday, 11 December 2017

Trump is the first president fighting the culture wars

Admittedly this article was penned some months ago, but the grapevine is sometimes a bit slow. Nevertheless Evan Sayet's - exposure of the Left's no-holds-barred culture war published by Townhall in the article titled "He Fights" is the best defense of Trump's 'coarseness' I have come across!
Sayet sees "Donald Trump (as) America’s first wartime president in the Culture War"  and since wars are won by leaders with sometimes unsavory personal attributes he forgives Trump his shortcomings in the interest of victory. With more than just a few home truths it is a must read!

Thursday, 7 December 2017

Capital Brouhaha

With the simple pronouncement that the US recognizes Jerusalem as the Capital of Israel, Trump has invited world opprobrium, again!

No doubt this simple act is controversial, given the history and the passions on both sides. It is likely that there will be some immediate consequences. Hopefully minimal violence.

Yes Trump had been warned by all the doves in his administration, by the media, by the international community and indeed the Arab allies, that this act flies in the face of previous policy by US presidents. So it is indeed a brave step. Trump is however doing no more and no less than he said he would do. I guess it makes no difference that you are keeping your promises if it is contrary to what others want. (We have seen this in Aussie politics vis-a-vis the SSM plebiscite, Turnbull received widespread criticism for pursuing the people's vote option despite the mandate given at last election.)

The pronouncement is relatively fresh so there will, no doubt, be a lot written about this in the coming weeks. Yet some commentary seems extreme. Consider the claim, reported coming from Macron of France, that this is 'contrary to international law'. Israel declared Jerusalem as its capital in 1948. Under the UN partition plan Jerusalem was to be the capital of both the Jewish and Arab states. (It was at the time to be administered by the UN.) Was the UN's recognition against International Law? If not then how could the US's recognition of this be against International Law? Recognition of Jerusalem does not preclude it, or part of it, being the capital of a future Palestinian state, along the lines proposed in the UN Partition plan.

Of course a lot of water has gone under the bridge since that time. Especially with the Oslo peace accords in which a decision on Jerusalem was deferred till late in the negotiations. However peace 'negotiations' have  also been stalled for a long time.

By this simple act Trump is signalling that he will not be held hostage to Palestinian threats, and that their negotiating position will only deteriorate if they persist.  Who knows, it may even encourage them to return to real peace negotiations rather than constantly threatening to walk away virtual ones.

From the world reaction one would think that the US was the first country to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital. Not so in April this year Russia formally recognised West Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and became the first country in the world to recognize any part of Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

You hadn't heard about that? Neither had I till today. The world press it seems targets its political indignation towards the West and towards the US and certainly towards Trump.

Who will be next I wonder?

Thursday, 23 November 2017

Safe nuclear passes first hurdle!

For a long time nuclear energy has had a bad wrap. This is not surprising given the wide coverage received by disasters such as Chernobyl and Fukushima, their association with nuclear weapons and the problems with the disposal of long-lived radioactive waste. So despite their outstanding 'green' credentials, nuclear is the only scale-able base-load power source that has zero emissions, you will not find nuclear an acceptable renewables option in any Western environmental group handbook. Yet that may change.

As reported recently in Word Nuclear News (Integrated Molten Salt Reactor passes pre-licensing milestone);
The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) has completed the first phase of a vendor design review of Terrestrial Energy Inc's Integrated Molten Salt Reactor (IMSR). The design is the first advanced reactor to complete the first phase of the CNSC's regulatory pre-licensing review.
The integrated molten salt reactor (IMSR) design promises unprecedented safety, with a fail-safe auto shut off mechanism protection against any unforeseen events. The molten salt reactor design design was conceived in the 1960's but was discarded in favor of the light water reactors in common use today. Why? The LWR breeder reactors produce plutonium for nuclear weapons! But all that is another story.

Addressing safety concerns removes one of the main arguments against the use of nuclear energy.  By switching to Thorium as the reactor fuel (see What the Heck is Thorium, Thorium nuclear update, Thorium nuclear experiments in Europe) the remaining concerns re nuclear proliferation and, nuclear waste can also be addressed.

Thorium nuclear is one to watch in the future!

Thursday, 16 November 2017

Don't be evil!

In the latest fight against Google's social engineering practices Prager U is suing Google.  For some time Google has been effectively 'censoring' videos posted by Prager U by giving them a 'restricted' classification. To any unbiased observer the restricted videos do not in themselves justify such a restriction. ( see Prager University (PragerU) Takes Legal Action Against Google and YouTube for Discrimination.)

They include titles such as; -

Why America Must Lead
Why Did America Fight the Korean War?
The World's Most Persecuted Minority: Christians
Why America's Military Must Be Strong
Are the Police Racist?
Gender Identity: Why All the Confusion 
Did Bush Lie About Iraq?
What's Wrong with E-Cigarettes?
Why Isn't Communism as Hated as Nazism?
The Least Diverse Place in America
Ami Horowitz - What's Wrong with Socialism?

YouTube's (Google's) classifies videos as Age Restricted if they contain; -

  • Vulgar language
  • Violence and disturbing imagery
  • Nudity and sexually sggestive content
  • Portrayal of harmful or dangerous activities

Go ahead, follow the links and spend the few minutes watching some. Do you think they are vulgar? Do they contain violence or disturbing imagery? As there any sexual and suggestive content? Or do they portray harmful or dangerous activities? No, no , no and no!

So why is this happening? Google seems to be trying to limit Prager U's influence as it provides a different world view. A recent Prager video by ex Google employee James Damore provides an insight into Google's monochromatic mind-set.

Prager U needs our support!

Right minded individuals, not matter their views on the many topics covered, should be troubled by this contemptible abuse of power by one of the world's largest and most influential companies.

Google today serves as the single most significant global conduit to information. With such power comes great responsibility.  With the motto "Don't be evil" , Google started life with relatively low aspirations and has failed to meet them.

The litigation has a long way to go and given Google's deep pockets it is stacked against Prager U. So we must all support Prager in its fight.

The simplest way is to provide widespread exposure. To use social media to call Google out for such an abuse of power and remind Google of its own motto; - "Google, don't be evil!"

Friday, 10 November 2017

The enemy of my enemy

"So two months after his 32nd birthday, the Crown Prince (Mohammad bin Salman) has established himself as a despot, albeit one hailed by the West as an enlightened visionary. He has tightened a military alliance with Israel, all but declared war on Iran and prepared Lebanon as the first scene of this war — with Hezbollah as the first target."

In the final words of his essay "Saudi Arabia has united with Israel against Iran – and a desert storm is brewing" John Bradley of The Spectator summarizes the most recent, but potent, moves by the many protagonists of the Middle East.

The everchanging landscape of allegiances has once again yielded strange bedfellows. The enmity between the Saudi and Iranian factions is greater than that with Israel, or so it seems, for now. But who can tell? A single bullet could change the course of this story.

Well worth a full read. 

Tuesday, 7 November 2017

Why no one trusts the media

Once respected as the final bastion of a free society, our media has fallen far. It is hard to find any, ANY, media outlet that always takes the ethical high road on journalism. Our ABC, the Murdoch Press, Sky News, our Free to Air television stations, all present facts intermixed with the political biases of the outlet. This makes it impossible for a viewer/listener to glean the un-tainted 'facts' of a story.

While it is sometimes difficult for even the most ethical journalists to filter their own prejudices, this is not the cause of the bias. Journalists today insert their opinions intentionally to try to sway their readership to their views. Journalism has evolved into advocacy.

A recent Prager video titled "Why no one trusts Main Stream Media" presented by Sheryl Atkinsson covers the problem admirably. Well worth the few minutes.

The consequences for our society are dire. A free society require a vibrant free press. The media's role is to gather and report facts without fear or favour, without bias and free of personal opinion. While there is room for personal opinion and debate, it must be clearly delineated from the factual foundations. This allows the audience to critically review the information presented and form their own views. It generates a 'marketplace of ideas' allowing the survival of the fittest.

Alas it seems our media has caught the twitter/facebook disease whereby like minded audiences listen to like-minded journalists entrenching the same ideas in an endless loop. Advocates of an idea become so entrenched they cannot even consider an alternative view and will even resort to violence to prevent it being presented.

In 1839 Edward Bulwer-Lytton noted "The Pen is mightier than the sword" recognizing that the written word had more power than direct violence. How ironic that in today's world those who wield the pen have created a society that is willing to use the "sword" to control the "pen".

Thursday, 26 October 2017

Turning NEGative to Positive

The reactions to the National Energy Guarantee (NEG) have been wild and predictable. Criticism from both sides would have you believe that this balance of condemnation indicates a good compromise. Not so! Being half right and half wrong is not a winner. Especially in today's milieu. Positive comments by many in the commentariat may make Turnbull feel good in the short term, but the ultimate question is - "is it good for the people?" While in the first instance the electorate take their cues from the media and their hangers' on, ultimately it is the hip-pocket. Unfortunately, in all probability the hip-pocket barometer predicts this policy failing, as the NEG by itself will not provide any immediate increase in supply, the only way that prices will come down.

It seems Mr Turnbull has missed a golden opportunity to force a clear wedge between the LNP and Labour/Greens. By trying to please everyone he has washed away the potential policy differentiator that could have reversed the slide in his governments poll numbers. This is lamentable.

But the game is not yet done!
The ALP are in a quandary. Should they take opportunity to abandon their ridiculous 50% renewables target, and agree to the NEG, softening the blow by claiming it is some sort of 'carbon tax'? Or should they, as the Green-Left would have it, persist with their 50% target insisting it is not only achievable but is the only responsible course of action in a heating planet?

In today's vernacular the Gov's reaction should be "whatever". Let the ALP/Greens vacillate.
If they don't accept the NEG the Gov. can argue they have tried to provide a sensible middle-of-the-road policy targeting both 'despatchable' power and meeting emissions targets, while the ALP is driven by an ideological emissions policy responsible for world-leading electricity prices and intermittent supply. How would that play out in electorates that are likely to have power shedding or even blackouts this summer! Even if the ALP accept the NEG to try to wrong-foot Turnbull and escape their own terrible renewables position, the government has options. Indeed very good options. In either case the NEG has brought a sensible foundation into the energy debate. If you want continuous supply and to meet the emissions targets you need to have constraints/incentives to cover both components of this equation. It allows the government to put targets aside for the time being and to up the ante by launching a campaign to drive down electricity prices. It can do this by focusing on  increasing supply.

There are many ways the government can approach this, but here are a few; -
  • The government could directly enter the gas market through a newly established Gas Bank. The Gas Bank would purchase gas reserves from the market when prices are low and sell them when spot prices are high. This would work to smooth price spikes and put downward pressure on prices. It would have the indirect effect of energy suppliers also purchasing reserves to ensure their prices are optimal. All in all raising competition in an otherwise stalled market.
  • The government could build several gas fired power generation plants. This again would re-introduce a differentiator between ALP who would naturally reject such a proposition. Such a rejection would be ideal for the next election. With Labor you are stuck with high and increasing prices while the LNP we would ensure prices would go down.
  • Use a nationwide media campaign to name-and-shame those state governments that have banned gas exploration. The ads should highlight the consequences of such bans on supply and prices. In short, put the blame where it belongs on short sighted thinking by state governments. The Victorian ALP government should be singled out for its ridiculous ban on conventional gas. The same pressure should also be applied to NSW gov. where projects are being held up.  The masters of blame-shifting, the State governments, would be forced to justify their roles in limiting supply. It is easy to blame the Feds for everything but a bit more difficult when indisputable facts are flashing on TV screens. No doubt the ALP would attack the gov about wasteful advertising, but once again the LNP would be seen to be working to decrease electricity prices while the ALP was trying to prevent such measures.
  • As a separate media campaign the government should try to shed some light on the use of fracking to generate gas. Despite widespread evidence to the contrary there seems to be a widespread belief, only in Australia mind you, that fracking is dangerous to the environment. The same environmentalists who use scientific consensus as a rationale for their climate change policies are unwilling to accept scientific consensus on the safety of fracking.  The government could go some way to redress these beliefs by simply presenting just the facts. Yes the ABC our public broadcaster should do this, but alas I hold out no hope for objectivity and balance there.
  • Finally, the government should try to redress the problem that farmers do not own the rights to minerals under their land. This makes farmers natural enemies of miners. How else could the environmentalists have sold the idea that fracking is dangerous to your farm land. In the US where land owners' rights extend underground there is widespread fracking without significant ecological problems. This last strategy would entail changes to laws that may be difficult to get through the senate. But just imagine the support from farmers for such a move. It may be sufficient to pressure the intransigent senate into acquiescence.
No doubt any of the above would cause instant and loud opposition from the ALP/Greens. That is expected and welcome. It serves to differentiate the ALP/Greens' policies from the LNP. It demonstrates that the LNP is on the voters' side in trying to lower electricity costs while the ALP/Greens are preventing this from happening. Nor does it matter if some of the policies require legislative action that does not pass the senate. Those proposals can become issues for the next election.

Now that NEG has been released it is tempting for the government to sit back and let it percolate. However since NEG does not really address soaring electricity prices, sitting back is not an option. It is now time for action.There are many winning strategies available if Turnbull has the will and the cojones.

Alas history says no, but one lives in hope.

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Energy common sense... at last!

It has not yet been officially released but the media have already jumped the gun, heralding the new LNP energy policy (see "Power ‘guarantee’ to fix crisis" , "Malcolm Turnbull's new energy policy aims to cut costs and mandate minimum 'reliable' coal, gas production"

Despite the predictable bias in these reports, the policy sounds good to me! I guess it should, since I touted a similar proposition in an my post titled "Baseload Equivalence Test".

Under the plan, energy retailers will be required to buy a minimum amount of baseload power from coal, gas or hydro for every megawatt of renewable energy,  and the RET will not be renewed after its expiry in 2020.

Here is a summary of the state of play (courtesy The Australian ); -

  • Energy retailers will be forced to buy a minimum amount of baseload power from coal, gas or hydro for every megawatt of renewable energy
  • No taxpayer subsidies for renewable energy from 2020
  • No clean energy target
  • A reliability guarantee and a separate emissions guarantee that will force retailers to buy a minimum amount of dispatchable power to reliably deliver baseload supply
  • A 0.2 per cent reliability regulation on retailers to inoculate the system from blackouts and give a lifeline to coal power.
  • Estimated to cut retail energy bills of between $100 and $115 a year.

These sound like sensible measures, nevertheless they will receive widespread condemnation from  climate change advocates and indeed the many vested interests who would very much like to continue their subsidies.

I am sure it will be loud and long! Hopefully the LNP will hold its ground. 

Thursday, 5 October 2017

Gender Bender

Given the debate about safe schools and the general gender madness pervading our air waves the most recent video from Prager U is most timely. Titled "Gender Identity:why  all the confusion" the video is narrated by Ashley McGuire, author of "Sex Scandal: The Drive to Abolish Male and Female".  It presents the unadorned sobering facts. Human beings have two genders; Male and Female and they are different. While this has been taken for granted by all societies for millennia it is only in this post-thinking, 1984-ish-double-think world that it has become an issue.  Watch the video yourself and you be the judge.

It is true that there are individuals who suffer from Gender Dysphoria (GD) where an individual does not identify with their biological gender. This has been actively used as an argument against biological gender. However GD is in fact a very rare condition afflicting less than 1/10000 of the population. Indeed this very low incidence puts a lie to the idea that gender is simply a matter of choice.

Sunday, 1 October 2017

What do "eyeball", "addiction" and "gossip" have in common?

In what is perhaps one of the silliest things I have come across in recent times, and given the state of lunacy  pervading our times there are many candidates, is the move to ban Shakespeare from school education. Ban Shakespeare I hear you scream, what is going on? At least that was my reaction. Yep it is another example of Western culture at war with itself.  The recent moves are coming from Canada, I learnt of it when a friend sent me a video from the The Rebel media on Ezra Levant's reaction to this new wave of Shakespeare rejection-ism. It is well worth the few minutes, not only as an insight into the crazy notions that are pervading our communities but for some insights into Shakespeare's genius. 

The move on Shakespeare is not really new, a change in attitude has been building over time.  Last year Furey of the Toronto Sun reported on the results of a survey of 18,000 people in 15 countries on their attitudes to Shakespeare as follows ; -

When asked if they liked the author of Romeo & Juliet, India (89%), Mexico (88%), and Brazil (87%) were the biggest fans. He’s highly popular in Turkey (79%), South Africa (73%) and China (68%) too.
In America, often teased for being uncultured, only 63% are fans. But they’re at least higher than the big shocker: Only 59% of folks in the U.K. like Shakespeare. The numbers in France (51%) and Germany (44%) are lower still.
When asked the question from another angle, 34% of Brits said they didn't like Shakespeare, whereas the average dislike among non-U.K. countries was 19% ( Source Europeans rejecting Shakespeare a sign of cultural decline)
His conclusion ;

"There is perhaps no greater evidence of Europe's cultural decline than new data on worldwide attitudes towards Shakespeare."

It is hard to disagree. And now it has spread to Canada. So the decline of Western culture continues. Wither next, Australia?

Post script; -

Ok I guess you are wondering what do eyeball, addiction and gossip have in common? They are just three of the over 1000 words and phrases the great bard added to the English language, including "for goodness sake", "unreal", "majestic", "hurried", "madcap", "amazement", "monumental" and so on and so on. If you are curious see Words Shakespeare Invented .

Thursday, 28 September 2017

Renewable Energy from evaporation!

What will they think of next? I guess I could start a never-ending series with those few words. Yes, we are an inventive species, and you know how hot I am on novelty. So here is another new renewable energy technology. Touted as energy from 'evaporation', really it exploits the natural expansion and contraction of the size of bacterial spores as the humidity around them varies, so I guess it is using variations in humidity. But I am being pedantic, the following video explains this much better than I.

How much energy could you get from this technology? Quite a lot it seems.
"Researchers investigating the potential for evaporation to be used as a source of renewable energy have found that the United States’ reservoirs and lakes could produce 325 gigawatts of power. That’s equivalent to almost 70 percent of the energy that the country currently generates." 
That's one helluva lot of bacterial spores!

What will they think of next.

Wednesday, 27 September 2017

The science is NOT settled

The headline "It's worse than they thought: Warming is slower than predicted" (by Christopher Monckton) was enough to perk my curiosity.
Great headline, good story, though admittedly awash with technical details that make it hard to follow. Still I waded through to the end. In case you don't have the patience a potted summary goes like this; -

  • Monckton uses the figures in that paper together with IPCC models to demonstrate that the models are not only slightly out, but way out.  For example he cites that the measured global warming since 1850 is ~ 1 C(degree) whereas models predict this to be 2.75 C
  • The current rate of warming is ~ 0.45C per century and with predicted increases in CO2 over the period , with some assumptions that you will have to read through yourself, the 1.5C target increase in global temperature by 2100 may be achieved without any mitigation efforts.

 It all leads to a rather stunning conclusion;-

"Though the Millar paper serves to conceal the true extent of the official exaggerations on which demands for “climate action” have been unwisely based, it is at another level an early crack in the dam that indicates that the entire edifice of nonsense is about to fail. Have courage! The truth that global warming will be small, harmless and net-beneficial will soon prevail over the screeching extremists. The Millar paper is not the beginning of the end, but it is at least the end of the beginning."

Well we will see. But one thing is sure, "the science is NOT settled"!

Monday, 25 September 2017

Time to jettison 'multiculturalism'

Europe provides a sobering lesson for Western societies besotted by the concept of 'multiculturalism'. The concept that all the cultures of this earth are basically equally acceptable, and that peaceful coexistence in the world will somehow materialize when all cultures are treated equally.

But all cultures are not the same! Over the centuries some cultures have totally transformed the lives of not only people in their own communities but through their worldwide influence most of the people of the world. What is called the 'Western world' evolved from the Judaeo-Christian faiths and values forged over time. Values including respect for the law, tolerance of diversity, and recognition of individual freedoms.

Western culture has extended lifespans, decreased poverty, educated the population and improved the security and individual freedom's of its communities. While Europe was building the modern world, most of the inhabitants of Africa, South America, Australasia were living much the same as they had for thousands of years in a cultural stagnation.

A recent video by Dinesh D'Souza of for Prager U demonstrates most emphatically that all cultures are not the same.

So what were the Europeans thinking when they accepted large numbers of migrants from a greatly different culture as migrants? No doubt they convinced themselves that education, welfare, and general exposure to European culture and values would quickly imbue the newcomers with these Western values. Alas the reality is far from this.

In his article "Merkel signals Ruin for Europe" in the Australian, Greg Sheridan provides some statistics indicating the lack of integration of these new migrants into their new Western host culture. He notes; -
  • "in three million British households, no adult uses English as their main language.
  • last year, in France, 33 per cent of high school students identified as Christian, while 25 per cent identified as Muslim.
  • Only 22 per cent of Catholics say religion is important to them whereas more than 80 per cent of Muslims say ­religion is important to them.
  • In 2008 a poll of British Muslims found that zero per cent thought homosexuality morally acceptable. A survey last year found 52 per cent of British Muslims thought homosexuality should be made ­illegal."
These are not signs that the new migrants have imbibed the wine of Western culture.

Sheridan concludes;
"in Douglas Murray’s brilliant new book,"The Strange Death of Europe". Murray starts with this bold assertion, “Europe is committing suicide”, and by the end of his 350 withering pages it is hard to disagree."
Europe's experience should be a warning to the rest of the Western world!

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Meat of the Future

The quiet revolution to supply protein to the masses is making real waves. The article titled "China Signed a $300 Million Lab-Grown Meat Deal with Israel" demonstrates the significant investment in this technology. Once the dream of vegetarians, lab-grown meat eliminates the environmental and ethical issues associated with the meat industry. The promise is protein that is high quality, tasty, abundant, low cost and green.  Sounds too good to be true?  Watch this brief video to see the progress to date;-

Like many technologies today, development has been rapid but behind the scenes. If you consider that the cost of a lab-meat hamburger pattie today is just ~$11 compared to some $4 for a hamburger, you can see the progress that has already been made. It is very likely the cost gap will be eliminated in the coming years. Get ready!

Monday, 18 September 2017

Let the chickens come home to roost!

A rock and a hard place, so the saying goes. It is hard to see a more appropriate aphorism for the position the gov finds itself in the energy debate now raging.  To some extent it is problem of its own making, but completely so. Once a report is commissioned it is incumbent on the government to review and decide which parts it will accept.

It made a mistake by accepting 49 of the 50 recommendations. Leaving the CET out on its own meant it was going to receive increasing pressure to address it.

Yet the pressure is on. All the vested interests smell blood,. The pro renewables commentariat expect that government will be loathe to kibosh the key recommendation of their own report. So even if they compromise and put some coal-including limit on the target they will have won. So they are pushing for a quick decision

My advice to the government is to let the chickens come home to roost. If they can stand the pressure the coming summer with blackouts and  load-shedding will help to form a more objective assessment of the balance between intermittent renewables and base-load necessity. The real energy debate has really only just started, with many anti-RET only now putting their arguments. While the RET advocates are quick to blame the right wing of the LNP, the Nationals, the climate deniers, painting all opposers to renewables as troglodytes, this is not really biting. The electorate is painfully aware of high and rising energy prices and is fearful of load-shedding. Over time these factors will further move public opinion against tokenistic emissions targets. The government has time on its side.

I am sure Frydenberg is scrambling to find a solution that waters down the RET, or CET or whatever name you choose to give it, to what is acceptable to Turnbull. I guess there's the rub. On the one hand Tunbull must still have nightmares about his last energy policy fiasco that saw him sacked, but at the same time pride prevents him from acquiescing to Abbot-esque policies. As for this renaming option, with apologies to the great bard, a CET by any other name would still smell.

My advice to the government is to take their time. There is no reason for a quick decision on the CET. Let the debate continue to fester, let power shortages, black-outs, generate some realism into the energy debate. Energy policy could win the next election

The Bahrain declaration of religious tolerance

I shouldn't be surprised, but somehow still am, at how our media completely misses some significant world events, preferring to scream headlines at some topic-de-jour that is being covered by every other media outlet anyway.

The most recent such case is the Bahrain Declaration. Oh, you haven't heard of it? I guess that is the point.

It is almost three months ago now that the son of the King of Bahrain, HH Prince Nasser bin Hamad al Khalifa, on behalf of his father, signed the Kingdom of Bahrain Declaration, a declaration of religious tolerance, the first such document by an Arab leader.  In an era of widespread religious upheaval, where terrorists are randomly targeting civilians in the name of Islam, where any one not conforming to the strict tenets of Islam is the object of persecution in the Middle East and North Africa. In this era of intolerance, a declaration of religious tolerance by a Muslim leader, should be given wide recognition,. It should be heralded far and wide. Yet I came across it just the other by happenstance when a friend forwarded a link to an article on Simon Wiesenthal Center website . (see Bahraini King’s Declaration of Worldwide Religious Tolerance Unveiled at Historic Simon Wiesenthal Center Interfaith Event)

The Bahrain Declaration is reproduced below. It is certainly worthy of wide circulation, and the King of Bahrain should be lauded for taking this moral stand, especially given the personal risks he takes in doing so.

Yes I can hear the cynics; "What difference does this make?" Alone, isolated , unrecognized, nothing. But it is up to the free press to circulate and reiterate that the vast majority of people in the world are looking for a kinder, more tolerant world. By its focus on the problems of world, its drive to attract ears and eyes by dramatic appeal, our media megaphones discord and sows enmity. Good news rarely makes the headlines and events such as this declaration are relegated to the back pages. Yet I wonder, if it were the other way around. If stories of courage, success, hope were prominent, wouldn't the world be a kinder, more tolerant and happier place?

Saturday, 9 September 2017

Google turning to dark side!

Has Google turned to the "dark side"? Has it forsaken its much vaunted motto "Don't be Evil"?

Given recent evidence of its enforced "group think" and its filtering of search results to sustain a political agenda, it is hard to conclude otherwise.

In his article "When Google silences dissent it bodes badly for the rest of us", Haiwatha Bray highlights the collective mindset that ensures conformity of opinion. They recently fired James Damore for an internal memo that argued , contrary to accepted dogma within Gooogle, that the over-representation of males within Google may indeed be because of genetic differences between the sexes. It seems you cannot even voice an opinion contrary to company 'groupthink". So he was let go.

What does this mean for the society that relies on Google to serve up search results without fear or favour.
"After the firing of Damore, how can we trust them to be honest brokers of information when they won’t tolerate dissent in their own ranks?"
We can't. Moreover there is ample evidence that Google is already tampering with search results to improve the profile of organisations they favour and to reduce the profile of those they do not.

Several studies have proven this to be the case. (see "Does Google content degrade Google search results? and "Does Google tamper search results for its own benefit?" )

The ethos of an organisation that sacks a worker for having the wrong opinion, or one that manipulates the results of its search engines in its favor is corrupt. Given the economic and social power that Google wields through it extensive tentacles into the e-world we have a serious problem.

The old saying that "power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely" comes to mind. With regard to its search engine Google operates virtually as a monopoly. It is now exploiting this position enhance its power. What should a free enterprise economy do with a monopoly? Break it up into competing pieces. It has been done before and perhaps it is time to do it again.

Tuesday, 5 September 2017

Capitalism Rocks - time to say so!

Prager U's latest video, "If You Hate Poverty, You Should love Capitalism" should not be anything new. All those living in any Western society should be well aware of the enormous benefits to the world wrought by the Free enterprise, Innovation, open markets and competition.
Unfortunately this is far from true. Too many are unaware of the simple fact that it is capitalism that has created the modern world; increased the living standards for everyone and is rapidly eliminating poverty worldwide.

You won't hear this from much of the media, nor from academia. They focus on and amplify the problems of capitalism, and pontificate on options that solve this problem or that. However the simple fact is that all the alternatives that have been proposed and tried are abject failures.

We should always remember that Free Enterprise is the foundation of our prosperity and resist any attempts to undermine it.

Friday, 25 August 2017

Thorium nuclear experiments in Europe

Thorium nuclear power has been widely touted as the ultimate solution to our world's energy needs.  ( see my earlier posts What the Heck is Thorium, Thorium nuclear update). Although a very successful small scale Thorium reactor operated for a decade at Oak Ridge in the 60s, there has been virtually no further development on such reactors after the decision by the US to favour the Uranium Light Water reactors. Until now! In a first step to what is potentially the clean energy future Dutch Firm NRG has commenced a series of experiments to test various reactor design options, with the view to re-start industry. For details see "Finally, the World's First TMSR Experiment on over 45 Years has started".

Yes it is a small step, but a step it is. Watch this space...

Monday, 21 August 2017

Energy Frontiers: Meltdown proof nuclear!

China is leading the charge with novel nuclear technology promising unprecedented safety. South China Morning Post article "China pips the US in race to start the first melt-down proof power plant", highlights the significant steps China is taking to boost its clean nuclear power capacity

Firstly with a 1 GW AP1000 reactor being the commissioned in the next few weeks in Sanmen County in Zhejiang province. The Westinghouse designed AP1000 "is a simple , genius solution to reduce the risk of nuclear meltdown" according to Shan Jianqiang , professor and author of several university texts on reactor safety and operation.
"Compared with current technology, the AP1000 reactor is theoretically 100 times safer, requires 80 per cent less piping, 85 per cent fewer control cables, and need a third fewer pumps."
Two further reactors using Europe's Evolutionary Power Reactor (EPR) design, with similar safety parameters to the AP1000, in Taishan in Guandong province are under construction and due to be commissioned over the next 12 months. (This represents several years delay from their original implementation schedule (see EPR)

With the commissioning of the reactor in Zhejiang China will be the first to implement the AP1000 design. having overtaken the US's two construction projects that commenced construction earlier but experienced significant construction delays. The new AP1000 design has proved very popular with multiple projects in progress throughout the world. It has not been without problems however, Westinghouse filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy due to heavy cost overruns during its development.

EPR reactors have faced similar cost overruns and development delays. Again there are many projects in progress but none have been commissioned to date.

While solar and wind seem to take top media attention, nuclear is making a quiet resurgence and looks to become the backbone of clean energy supply in many parts of the world. As we have seen with the heavy reliance of South Australia on intermittent renewables, intermittency is a major drawback. Reliable baseload supply is an absolute must for any modern economy.

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Good news to share!

Forgive me. Most of my posts focus on many of the problems of this troubled world. I guess like many a commentator, I tend to go into writing on topics that have hit a chord of discontent.

Despite the many negative posts, I do believe we live in an era of unconstrained potential. We have the opportunity to make our world a paradise, providing wealth, health, prosperity and fulfilemnt to more of this planet's inhabitants than at any time in the past. It is up to us.

And it is happening. Good news doesn't bleed so it doesn't lead. So you won't often see it hit the front pages, but fit you listen out for it you will notice the regular stream of generally low-key announcements of  new technological or scientific breakthroughs.

In that vein here from Sciencealert are "15 Really Good Things That Are Happening in The World Right Now"

Now have a nice day!

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Obama lost the war Bush had won

A recent Prager U video titled "How Iraq Was Won and Lost" brings to mind Churchill's oft quoted adage "History is written by the victors".  However in the case of the Iraq war the popular view has been written by the loser.
Undoubtedly the US lost the war...in the end. It had however won the war and made real progress towards building a peace, when the presidency was transferred from Bush to Obama. Indeed in 2009 Joe Biden declared ;  
I am very optimistic about -- about Iraq. I mean, this could be one of the great achievements of this administration. You're going to see 90,000 American troops come marching home by the end of the summer. You're going to see a stable government in Iraq that is actually moving toward a representative government," said Biden.
Yet if you ask the average person today they will blame Bush for the disaster and declare the US should never have invaded Iraq in the first place.

So Obama lost the war that Bush had won and together with his supporters managed, at least to date, to write the history. A history where the blame has been shifted from the real culprit, a Democrat to a Republican.

You can see the video here;  -

While you could argue that seizing defeat from the jaws of victory is a one off and that history would be rewritten over time to attribute blame where it belongs, but you would be wrong. The Vietnam war, the other unexpected and significant defeat for the US seems to have been a forerunner setting the pattern for the situation in Iraq. It too highlights the weakness of the Democrats when required to stand up for principle, especially when by not doing so they can shift the blame.  Again the truth about the Vietnam war has only rarely surfaced and suffers widespread misconceptions about the defeat. Thanks go to the Prager U for trying to set the record straight, but to date, more than 40 years after the end of the war, it is not straight yet. So much for correcting popular misconceptions even after the "fullness of time".

This is a major failing of our popular culture, truth will not out, even over time.  Repeatedly the media has failed to protect the people from pernicious falsehood. Yes pernicious, for these untruths sap the moral strength of the nation and undermine its willingness to fight for what is right. 

If you are in doubt about any of this I encourage you to watch the two videos.

Sunday, 13 August 2017

Baseload Equivalence Test

Putting political issues to one side, consider the energy equation. The three critical factors are ; 
  • Energy security - electrical energy must be available whenever and in whatever quantity required on a continuous basis for both industry and for households.
  • Energy costs- must be as low as possible to ensure the quality of life of individuals and households and to make industry productive
  • Emissions - Energy generation should as much as possible ensure emissions of GHG are minimal.
Real energy security requires continuous supply. Anything less is not acceptable to Australia, or indeed any country worth its salt in the 21st century.

Hence all suppliers of energy should be required to meet a Base-load Equivalence Test, BET.

BET requires every energy supplier to provide continuous supply. For example for solar, in a region where daily sunshine can provide the equivalent of 6 hours of supply (averaged over normal climatic conditions) the supplier would have to source an additional 18 hours of base-load power per day. Only by adding this base-load power could the energy supply for intermittent energy sources be regarded as 'equivalent'  to continuous supply alternatives.

Suppliers of intermittent energy such as solar or wind could meet the BET by battery or pumped hydro, or by sourcing base-load power from other suppliers. Where such supply was externally sourced it would have to be backed by formally agreed long term supply contracts. No doubt this would add to the cost of intermittent renewables, but without BET any energy supply management process, such as Finkel's CET or the older RET, is flawed.

Friday, 11 August 2017

Inconvenient facts on Climate Change

Are Climate change advocates lying about temperature records? It seems they are fiddling the evidence to omit "inconvenient facts.  In a recent article title "US Climate Report Edits Out Highly Embarrassing Section" Paul Homewood details the changes in the  3rd and 5th draft reports of the US Global Change Research Program Climate Science Special Report (CSSR). You can follow the details from the full article but it really comes down to these diagrams that have been omitted from the most recent draft report.

The above map depicts the difference between the average for 1986-2015 and the average for 1901-1960. Orange dots indicate increasing average temperature in the more recent range, and blue dots indicate decreasing average temperature in the more recent range

The following graph of maximum temperatures is equally telling.

It shows the hottest temperatures averaged over the US in the respective years. It clearly highlights that the maximum temperatures were much higher in the 20s and 30s than recently.

These fly in the face of the alarmist dogma. 

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Who's the Fairest of them all?

I have written about 'fairness' or 'social equity' many times already ( see Inequality in Australia is NOT rising ,Inconvenient truth on FairnessThe fairness testA Wel-fairer system'Fairness' is in the eyes of the beholder ).  The Fairness mantra made quite a splash around the time of the 2014 Budget, and it was no doubt a success for the opposition. So it seems they are planning a re-run for the next election. All the signs are there with Shorten recently proclaiming that "inequality in Australia is at a 75 year high", a claim said to be 'patently false' by the way. This comes hot on the heels of similar claims of 'unfairness ' on penalty rates and even on education spending. No matter that the government, in a total capitulation to labor policies, proposed large increases in education spending, it was still not enough to prevent Shorten from unsheathing the unfairness dagger.  Most recently it is the inequity in the tax regime pertaining to discretionary trusts allowing the mega-rich to avoid paying their fair share.

So by now we can see the pattern. No matter what the government decides, Shorten sides with those who are in some way disadvantaged, then megaphones their concerns to the electorate painting the government as both heartless and favoring the rich. It has worked well for Shorten, at least as far as the polls show. Given a fickle self-centered electorate willing to identify with the disadvantaged, especially if they are to receive some benefits without their taxes being raised, and supported by a feeble media unwilling to present the counter side of what are such populist arguments, it seems this will continue to work.

I have been somewhat puzzled at both the electorate's and the media's acquiescence in this fallacious fairness dogma. How can memories be so short? Cannot people see where this fairness argument leads? Given that 20% of people already pay all the tax, that more than 50% of households pay no net tax at all, where does this stop? I can understand the naivety of youth. They have no memories of the socialist and communist experiments that have proven where the fairness dogma leads.

The idealized 'equitable' distribution of a society's wealth simply means that government takes money from those who earn more, and redistributes it those who earn less. This invariably removes incentive to earn more and by so doing the hard-working either coalesce in collective indolence or more likely, in today's world, simply move to countries that reward effort. This has a stultifying effect not only on the high earners but on all those who aspire to become so.
The inconvenient truth is that wealth creation is invariably linked with incentive and incentive goes hand in hand with some inequality.
The inconvenient truth is that wealth creation is invariably linked with incentive and incentive goes hand in hand with some inequality. I guess this has been written often enough, but certainly seems not to have sunk in. In today's society it seems we are always looking for shortcuts and those peddling magic elixirs are in the ascendant.

Perhaps it was Shorten's most recent calls of inequity that spurred me to be on the lookout, but I happened to come across a recent short YouTube video by Dinesh D'souza. I must confess I hadn't heard of him before, but given his forthright and sensible approach will look out for more of his commentary.

In his presentation he made a most compelling argument to counter Shorten's 'unfairness' mantra.

You can see the full video above, but the following is a trasncript of the core argument; -

" I am a great believer in social justice. The problem is that social justice can be argued about, its not self evident. It's not self evident how the rewards of a market should be allocated. It's not self evident what's fair,  in politics for example I've heard now 100 times Obama say 'you must pay your fair share ' my question to him is 'what is that fair share?'
 .."It is always reasonable to ask (any person who wants change); What level if change do they want? "'
'Ok you want taxes to be higher, ok, how much higher?'
At what point are you going to stop putting your hand into my pocket in the name of social justice.
You are taking 50 percent, will you be content at 60?
Can I be confident that if I give you 60, I will never hear from you again?
Or will you then decided you will want 70?
Why can't you tell me what's fair in advance, before you take it?
In other words we are having these debates about justice yet noone is saying what is 'just'.
Socrates starts and says what is justice? Define it . Don't talk about it like an idiot. Define it first. Second you tell me at what level the pie should be cut, then we can discuss your idea of justice, but if your idea of justice simply translates to give me more, that's not justice."

The Shorten Challenge

So here is my challenge to Mr Shorten. Tell us what is the fair level of tax any individual should have to pay, no matter where his income falls, battler to mega-rich. Tell us what level of personal tax should any individual have to pay for you to believe that it is fair? Then we can understand your view of social justice and we can make our decision whether to vote for you.

I challenge all the media to ask him this very reasonable question. You keep asserting what is unfair, so tell us what you think would be fair?

Whenever Mr Shorten cries "unfair' ask him, "what is fair"?

Friday, 28 July 2017

Energy Frontiers; A solar cell with 44.5% efficiency!

"George Washington University researchers have designed and constructed a prototype for a new solar cell that integrates multiple cells stacked into a single device capable of capturing nearly all of the energy in the solar spectrum.
The new design, which converts direct sunlight to electricity with 44.5 percent efficiency, has the potential to become the most efficient solar cell in the world."

Thursday, 27 July 2017

Energy Frontiers; Flow batteries coming into their own!

With the world gradually moving towards renewables the downside of intermittent power is proving a real problem. No country can afford to have its industry and population at the whim of the sun and the wind. So it is not surprising that energy storage is receiving increasing scrutiny. Indeed the purported solution to SA's blackout dilemma is, in part at least, a 100 MW Tesla battery bank, the largest in the world. While the jury is out on how such a small addition of back-up power can avoid blackouts in SA, inevitably energy storage will become a must-have adjunct for any viable renewable energy installation. 

Storage can take many forms; pumped hydro (as per the proposed Snowy 2.0), compressed air, flywheels and of course chemical storage in the form of batteries . While the high energy density and ready availability of Lithium- ion batteries has given them the lead in battery storage solutions, many novel technologies are under development.

One such technology the 'Flow battery' has taken a giant step with Germany installing a pilot plant on a grand scale. In the article titled  "German energy company wants to build flow batteries in old natural gas caverns", Megan Geuss of Ars Tecnica explained;

"A German energy company (EWE GASSPEICHER GmbH) recently announced that it’s partnering with a university to build a massive flow battery in underground salt caverns that are currently used to store natural gas. The grid-tied battery, the company says, would be able to power Berlin for an hour."
I don't want to get too technical here, but if you are interested in the science an earlier article A recipe for an affordable, safe, and scalable flow battery by Shalini Saxena, again in Ars Tecnica, gives a good background.
"RFBs (Redox Flow batteries) are composed of organic materials that are able to transport electrons (redox-active). Almost all RFBs are composed of two pools of liquid electrolyte separated by a membrane, which allows some ions to cross between the two liquids. In these systems, electrons then flow from the negatively charged liquid (anolyte) through to the positive charged liquid (catholyte). These electrons can either charge the system or be extracted for use. Since the key components of the batteries are liquid, things can be scaled up simply by making the holding tanks larger."

Flow batteries have some compelling advantages over solid batteries; they are readily scale-able. Simply add more liquid electrolyte to increase the storage capacity. The second great advantage, again because the charge carrier is liquid, is that it can the 'charged liquid electrolyte' can be transferred to discharge somewhere else. The most obvious application is in electric vehicles. Re-fueling of a flow battery is similar to the process with petrol or natural gas. Simply drive into a c'charge station., replace your discharged electrolyte by newly charged electrolyte and you're off again in no time. This contrasts with the very real range limit of Li-ion battery storage where re-charge is currently very time consuming.

The energy world is undergoing widespread massive research, so it is not surprising that there is a constant stream of announcements of the latest 'breakthroughs'. While many of these will not make it to every day use, some will. And they have the power to transform our lives. Many of the most common products of today would have been impossible to predict just a decade ago. Think of the impact of the iPhone, first released just a decade ago in 2007.

We live in interesting times!

Monday, 24 July 2017

Does battery storage help the environment?

Battery storage is widely touted as the all encompassing solution to the intermittency of renewable energy sources such as solar or wind. Given the many variables that influence the greenhouse credentials of these devices does installing a battery make sense economically and/or environmentally?

"Does battery storage help or hurt the environment?" from web site SolarQuotes, provides an in depth analysis that is well worth reading.

The short answer is generally not today, at least for domestic use.

Why governments always waste money!

A recent Prager video explained why every single government project heralded far and wide as  touted 'nation building' ends up as a fiasco, with uncontrolled cost overruns and not meeting its objectives. The focus of the video is the US healthcare system, Obamacare and its antecedents. But it is equally true for government projects everywhere. In Australia think Collins Class submarines, pink bats, or the NBN.

The underlying cause is quite simply that government is always spending someone else's money, ie ours, so it really doesn't care about cost. Sure the headline cost matters as it an issue for the electorate when the project is first announced, but after this the actual costs barely cause a ruckus. In any case, spin, blame-shifting and plain old bull-dust will get you over the occasional headlines, at least most of the time. As to the quality of the outcomes, it rarely takes any emphasis as those making the decision, will not be in office by the time "it hits the fan". Government sponsored projects are so-called "third party' transactions where the government is not really paying for it, nor are they using the service, resulting in ocst overruns and poor quality outcomes.

Watch the video. It explains the issue perfectly. Simply replace the American Healthcare system by "NBN" and it will apply equally.

We should never let governments take on such projects. Governments role is to create a free market where competing suppliers will ensure the needs of consumers will be met at the lowest price. Imagine if that had been done for the NBN. We would not be faced with the current nightmare with cost overrun more than $50B,  and counting. Nor would consumers face the prospect of being forced to relinquish faster speeds from their current suppliers and to have to pay more for this privilege.

What a fiasco!

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Can the LNP cracks be healed?

Malcolm , the usurper, has been trying to recast the party in his own image. In his recent article in Quadrant "The Liberals, Coming Apart at the Seams", Paul Collits argues "the party whose leadership Malcolm Turnbull schemed so assiduously to seize was once a big tent with seating for all, from old-school Tories to libertarians. Now, sacrificed on the altar of one man's egomaniacal ambition, there is nought but division, betrayal and disgust".

Today, unlike in the past when there was much common ground, 

"Liberals are actively hostile to the bedrock beliefs of conservatives. Now, liberals and conservatives are not merely not on the same page, they aren’t even in the same book. They might agree on a few things, but not many. And the things they disagree on, vehemently, are matters of core business to each, not things that can easily be parked."

Alas, if it is so, then the party may well split. It is a conclusion I have seen by many commentators. Perhaps the threat of a split is being amplified by conservatives to gain 'benefits' from the now wet-leaning party. But even unintentionally the fracture could lead to a split. For the sake of the country I hope not.

One of the strengths of Australia's political system over the past four decades was its ability to sustain two central parties that could each accommodate a range of views. Unlike the Italian-model of democracy the two party system gives choice to the electorate, but leaves the messy policy minutiae to the parties to work out. A split in the liberals would not only give a labor-greens alliance power for some time, it would make governing more difficult for everyone. 

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

SA renewables crisis goes viral

In his recent insightful article in Townhall, Paul Driessen calls it how it is "Insanity and Hypocrisy Down Under". Our energy chaos has made it to the world stage!

What do you call the willful destruction of the quality of life of your own citizens without any measurable benefit from your actions? Insanity! Our State, and to some extent our Federal, governments have sacrificed energy security and price in favor of tokenistic emissions targets. Targets that, even if met, will not make one iota of difference in the temperature of the planet in 85 years. Insanity. Shutting down coal fired power stations in Australia and exporting the coal to be burnt overseas. Insanity! State governments setting renewable energy targets so onerous that continuous supply is unlikely. Insanity! The very same state governments preventing further exploration for new natural gas resources that could provide low emission base-load energy. Insanity!

Yes Driessen called it - Insanity. It is hard to argue otherwise.

The best that can be said for our insane energy policies is that it has given some warning to the rest of the world. If you follow the same renewables-uber-alles policies you will end up with spiking energy prices and blackouts, with the consequent burden on citizens and industry.

You have been warned.

Saturday, 15 July 2017

Climate change debate heats up

With Finkel's energy report sitting on the shelf for weeks, the government is under increasing pressure to come to some sort of decision on the Clean Energy Target. Given the political fall-out whichever way they turn, it is no wonder they have been vacillating

Then there's South Australia's self-inflicted energy crisis, with intermittent electricity supplied at the highest prices in the world! The state is now receiving an injection of new-technology bravado with Elon Musk 's 100MW battery farm to be completed in 100 days or your money back. Great for headlines, and depending on your disposition, a great 'up-yours to coal' or simply 'lipstick on a pig'. I guess we will see.

If that was not enough, Mr Climate Change himself, Nobel laureate, almost POTUS, Big Al Gore landed in Aus last week to promote his latest Global Warming Disaster film. Naturally the climate skeptics came out in force to remind us of some inconvenient truths about his first film, that it was banned from British schools lest its blatant untruths corrupt the minds of minors.

Everywhere you turn it seems energy policy and Climate Change are once again taking centre stage.

Yes Climate Change is hot again, but not quite as hot as it has been. It seems to me the deniers are gaining traction. Even John Howard has been reported to say that he is "today more skeptical of the science". The news is not that he is more skeptical, but that he was reported widely to have said so. I note however that the ABC's AM program last Friday, despite reporting widely on his recent comments, selectively omitted his skepticism on Climate Change. In some ways this is flattering to elder statesman Howard, an implicit recognition by the doyens at the left-leaning public broadcaster that his very words may spread this denier-virus to listeners. Heaven-forbid, lets just leave it out. Fake news by omission?

While Gore's film no doubt will receive wide audiences and plaudits from the believers, what about the skeptics. Well it seems the skeptics have fought back with a documentary of their own, "Climate Swindle". It will be shown in some theaters, though my guess is that it will receive scant attention from mainstream movie outlets. Nevertheless another movie length documentary, perhaps an earlier version from 2011 called  "The great Global Warming Swindle" is available, free of charge on You-tube. It presents a compelling case against Anthropogenic Climate change.

In summary Climate Change believers claim; -

1. Global Warming is real
2. It is man-made caused by excessive emissions of greenhouse Gases primarily Carbon Dioxide.
3. It is dangerous, threatening life, living standards and potentially global catastrophe
4. If we act decisively and collectively we can do something about it.

In "the Great Global Warming Swindle" skeptics argue; -
1. Climate change is real with cyclical warming and cooling. The earth is currently in a warming cycle that started following the "little Ice Age" of the 17th century.
2. The warming is NOT caused by Carbon Dioxide, but by natural Solar cycles. They argue that increase in Carbon dioxide is dominated by release of Carbon Dioxide from the oceans and it occurs as a result of global warming rather than as its cause.
3. Given well documented history showing periods of much high global temperatures and much higher carbon dioxide than today with abundant life, such changes are not dangerous to life on earth on the contrary a greener warmer wetter world is more fertile.
4. Given there is no problem there is not reason to do anything about it. On the contrary the attempts to limit fossil fuels are doing enormous harm, especially in the developing world, by increasing energy costs.

Here is the film judge for yourself.

Monday, 10 July 2017

Put Energy Security first !

Once again the Turnbull government is in a mess largely of its own making. It needs to decide on how it will react to the Finkel report ( Blueprint for the future:Independent Review into the Future Security of the National Electricity Market), a report it commissioned. It can either accept the key recommendation to establish  CET (Clean energy target) of some 42.5% (much greater than the current 24% RET) and accept the already high an dlikely increasing energy costs as well as the instability in supply or it can reject the key recommendations reneging on its emission reduction commitments and renewable energy targets and in effect rejecting the recommendations of its own report. With passions high in both sides there is no doubt there are electoral consequences to this decision. 

However I can see no way of avoiding conflict and with vocal proponents of each side it is likely to be loud. 

Avoiding Finkel's poisoned chalice

So lets just put the political issues to one side and consider the energy equation. The three critical factors are ; 
  • Energy security - electrical energy must be available whenever and in whatever quantity required on a continuous basis for both industry and for households.
  • Energy costs- must be as low as possible to ensure the quality of life of individuals and households and to make industry productive
  • Emissions - Energy generation should as much as possible ensure emissions of GHG are minimal.
Finkel's report is grossly inadequate. By focusing on Emissions targets and how existing global commitments may be met, the report sacrifices the other two critical factors.

Finkel does recognize energy security as a key issue and sensibly proposes that suppliers of intermittent renewable energy be required to provide base-load power as a backup. However by limiting the backup power required to a mere 90 minutes his proposal does not provide anywhere near adequate cover. In effect he papers over this very real limitation of the most popular renewables, solar and wind. 90 minutes is totally inadequate should a South Australia style event recur.

Real energy security requires continuous supply. Anything less is not acceptable to Australia, or indeed any country worth its salt in the 21st century.

Hence all suppliers of energy should be required to meet a Base-load Equivalence Test, BET.

BET requires every energy supplier to provide continuous supply. For example for solar, in a region where daily sunshine can provide the equivalent of 6 hours of supply (averaged over normal climatic conditions) the supplier would have to source an additional 18 hours of base-load power per day. Only by adding this base-load power could the energy supply for intermittent energy sources be regarded as 'equivalent'  to continuous supply alternatives.

Suppliers of intermittent energy such as solar or wind could meet the BET by battery or pumped hydro, or by sourcing base-load power from other suppliers. Where such supply was externally sourced it would have to be backed by formally agreed long term supply contracts. No doubt this would add to the cost of intermittent renewables, but without BET any energy supply management process, such as Finkel's CET or the older RET, is flawed.

Frydenberg's get out of jail card...

Given the potential political consequences it is no wonder that the government has been vacillating on their response to Finkel.

By putting Energy security first there is a sensible path through this dilemma   

Step 1: Clearly state that of the 3 conflicting needs identified by Finkel, Energy security is the first priority.

Step 2: In order to ensure all energy supply alternatives are comparable when it comes to energy security, all new supply will have to meet the Base-load Equivalence Test to provide 100 percent continuous energy. Solar and wind will have to either purchase base-load power from other suppliers or add their own battery, pumped hydro or other base-load power solutions hydro.

Step 3: Reject CET, retain the RET, accept the possibility that the current emissions reductions and renewable energy targets may not be met, but argue that Australia cannot afford to jeopardize energy security.

While the above three address the immediate problem, they do not re-build the shortage of base-load power following closures of coal fired generators over the past decade. Nor is it likely, given the current political environment, that commercial operators will build new base-load power generators. So the government needs to step in with Step 4.

Step 4: Commit federal funds to building new base-load power stations to compensate for closures over the past decade. The government would supply this energy at commercial rates and in competition with other suppliers, and be willing to sell the asset once it was proven to be competitive. Given current electricity prices and the re-balancing of demand due for base-load power due to the need to meet BET, in all probability these power stations will be able to be sold off at a profit.

Look to the electorate

Any proposal that is willing to sacrifice Australia's commitments to GHG reduction or indeed the RET is likely to receive widespread condemnation by the Chatterati. However Australian Industry and households will accept it as a fair compromise. This is especially so given that Australia's contribution to global warming is minimal and any effort we could make is dwarfed by the increasing emissions by China and India.

Trump's Warsaw manifesto

Much criticized US president Trump has received uncharacteristic acclaim for his  recent Warsaw speech. While it is full of the usual 'Trump-isms', that do detract from the flow, at its core it identifies the very real challenges faced by 'our community of nations' and how we will address them. It is an inspirational proclamation in the style of Kennedy. Well worth a read. Here is a brief extract, but you can read it in full here.
"This continent no longer confronts the spectre of communism. But today we’re in the West, and we have to say there are dire threats to our security and to our way of life. You see what’s happening out there. They are threats. We will confront them. We will win. But they are threats.
We are confronted by another oppressive ideology — one that seeks to export terrorism and extremism all around the globe. America and Europe have suffered one terror attack after another. We’re going to get it to stop.
During a historic gathering in Saudi Arabia, I called on the leaders of more than 50 Muslim nations to join together to drive out this menace which threatens all of humanity. We must stand united against these shared enemies to strip them of their territory and their funding, and their networks, and any form of ideological support that they may have. While we will always welcome new citizens who share our values and love our people, our borders will always be closed to terrorism and extremism of any kind.
We are fighting hard against radical Islamic terrorism, and we will prevail. We cannot accept those who reject our values and who use hatred to justify violence against the innocent.
Today, the West is also confronted by the powers that seek to test our will, undermine our confidence, and challenge our interests. To meet new forms of aggression, including propaganda, financial crimes, and cyberwarfare, we must adapt our alliance to compete effectively in new ways and on all new battlefields.
We urge Russia to cease its destabilising activities in Ukraine and elsewhere, and its support for hostile regimes — including Syria and Iran — and to instead join the community of responsible nations in our fight against common enemies and in defence of civilisation itself.
Finally, on both sides of the Atlantic, our citizens are confronted by yet another danger — one firmly within our control. This danger is invisible to some but familiar to the Poles: the steady creep of government bureaucracy that drains the vitality and wealth of the people. The West became great not because of paperwork and regulations but because people were allowed to chase their dreams and pursue their destinies.
Americans, Poles, and the nations of Europe value individual freedom and sovereignty. We must work together to confront forces, whether they come from inside or out, from the South or the East, that threaten over time to undermine these values and to erase the bonds of culture, faith and tradition that make us who we are. If left unchecked, these forces will undermine our courage, sap our spirit, and weaken our will to defend ourselves and our societies.
But just as our adversaries and enemies of the past learned here in Poland, we know that these forces, too, are doomed to fail if we want them to fail. And we do, indeed, want them to fail. They are doomed not only because our alliance is strong, our countries are resilient, and our power is unmatched. Through all of that, you have to say everything is true. Our adversaries, however, are doomed because we will never forget who we are. And if we don’t forget who are, we just can’t be beaten. Americans will never forget. The nations of Europe will never forget. We are the fastest and the greatest community. There is nothing like our community of nations.
"The world has never known anything like our community of nations.
We write symphonies. We pursue innovation. We celebrate our ancient heroes, embrace our timeless traditions and customs, and always seek to explore and discover brand-new frontiers.
We reward brilliance. We strive for excellence, and cherish inspiring works of art that honour God. We treasure the rule of law and protect the right to free speech and free expression.
We empower women as pillars of our society and of our success. We put faith and family, not government and bureaucracy, at the centre of our lives. And we debate everything. We challenge everything. We seek to know everything so that we can better know ourselves.
And above all, we value the dignity of every human life, protect the rights of every person, and share the hope of every soul to live in freedom. That is who we are. Those are the priceless ties that bind us together as nations, as allies, and as a civilisation."