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Why can't everyone condemn Hamas?

Following Hamas' atrocities in Israel, the media are awash with commentary, so I will keep my comments short. I am shocked by the willin...

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"?