Saturday 23rd of October 2021

how dare you?...





















The technology roadmap sketched by Morrison and Taylor is a con. It is in fact a statement of support for the fossil fuel industry which is heavily subsidised by and a significant donor to the Liberal and National Parties.

Wake up calls, final warnings, tipping points – these are some of the cliches that accompany public announcements of increasing climate chaos. The Doomsday clock is often evoked as the very final indicator of imminent disaster that should goad governments into urgent action. It hasn’t, and it won’t. Greta Thunberg, the courageous and outspoken climate activist, has taken the global schoolkids climate campaign right up to heads of corporations, governments, the UN – you name it. She too utters grave warnings and wake up calls, and she’s right to do so. “How dare you?” she thunders against the powerful, and again, she’s right to call them out for climate inaction.

Thunberg, and those like her, are on one side of a parallel universe, while on the other, the deniers and techno-saviours think that there is no mess, or that we can escape the worst. Alarmingly however, all the portents point in the opposite direction. Climate scientists are tearing their hair out as one international conference after another sets non-binding targets, and countries around the world continue to build coal-fired power stations, clear massive tracts of forests, and dodge accountability mechanisms. Meanwhile, global greenhouse gas emissions are rising, the Arctic’s methane burp is more like a foghorn, and extreme weather events are there for all to see.

And there’s more to come, according to another carefully crafted IPCC report, warning that we’re heading recklessly and wilfully in the wrong direction. Reflecting on the report alongside the Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction, Angus Taylor, Scott Morrison – certainly not a figure admired by his peers when it comes to climate action – says Australia is doing its bit, but that the problem is global in nature and scale. If the US cut its emissions to zero and China remained at current emission levels, Morrison asserted, then nothing would change. This sort of rhetoric is, of course, all about dodging the truth about Australia’s dalliance with fossil fuels. It has absolutely nothing to do with leadership.

The technology road map sketched by Morrison and colleagues, is in fact a statement of support for the fossil fuel industry which is heavily subsidized by, and a significant donor to, the Liberal and National parties. Morrison knows this. During the Canberra press conference, he puffed out his chest, smirked and lauded Australia’s commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.  The gathered press simply let him get away with it. No one called him out for the blatant distortions. No one asked why Australia has the most emission-intensive energy system among the OECD nations. No one asked if his government would eventually phase out fossil fuels, or come up with a transition plan away from coal, along the lines of Germany. No-one pressed him on the total lack of a plan to reduce emissions across various sectors.

Instead, they obsessed with the government’s trickery around targets. No one in the press gallery pointed to the accumulated evidence showing that fossil fuels are integral to Australia’s future energy plans, offset apparently by the miracle of carbon capture and allied technologies.

Yet while Morrison’s boastful display may have reassured his supporters, the fact is that his government’s record of climate inaction is now the stuff of infamy. This is made clear in the 2020 Climate Transparency Report based on research by over a dozen think tanks and non-government organisations. Australia’s performance on climate action when compared to other members of the G20 is woeful. At best, it’s a piecemeal, half-baked and paltry catalogue of missed opportunities, avoidance and sheer dishonesty. The government’s ongoing commitment to the fossil fuel industry is however, abundantly clear. For instance, of the G20 nations, Australia has some of the highest rates of subsidies to the fossil fuel industry. And the industry is delivering. The proportion of coal, oil and natural gas as sources for energy has, over recent years, increased at a higher rate than China, while carbon emissions per unit of power remain higher than most G20 nations.

And despite the efforts of various state and territory governments, more than three quarters of electricity supply is generated through fossil fuels (renewables are still proportionally smaller than the G20 average). Far from shutting down coal-fired power stations, the government is actively extending their life. The federal government’s love affair with coal is there for all to see in its world beating coal exports, and its conspicuous lack of a transition plan. Equally concerning, the government has no comprehensive plan to reduce emissions in public and freight transport, and no firm commitment to boost sales of electric vehicles. It has some of the highest building emissions of all G20 nations and is among the world’s worst when it comes to deforestation and destruction of biodiversity. The list goes on – and so does the rhetoric.

While state and territory governments and Australian businesses are making great strides in transitioning to renewables, they do so against the grain of much federal policy.  The bipartisan commitment to coal is particularly galling in the wake of the IPCC report. Instead of exercising leadership at the federal level we have two parties committed to dangerous, antiquated technologies that are only likely to make a bad situation worse.

What is required now – if only to rescue Australia’s tarnished international reputation when it comes to climate action – is leadership and not go-it-alone techno triumphalism. Technology is not the miraculous cure for climate chaos, if indeed a cure is possible given where we’re at. Leadership may mean not simply having a comprehensive national policy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions – including a rapid transition away from fossil fuels – but also a genuine appraisal of how we all live. We may, as George Monbiot noted some time ago, need to consider a more modest way of life, with less consumption and lofty expectations of what constitutes the ‘good life’.

We may also have to consider our place in nature, in the web of life – working within its complex adaptive ecological systems, encouraging cooperation rather than dominion, regeneration rather than exploitation and destruction.  Leadership may also involve preparing citizens for a very different future which at worst may involve huge social disruption, chaos and even collapse. This is no idle speculation; even the US military has considered such future scenarios.  To duck and dive in this context, to boast when humility is needed, to assert action only when others take the first step is the very opposite of the courage, honesty and leadership that we now require.

Greta Thunberg is right: how dare you?


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too many of us idiots...


The recent report by the IPCC (the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) is ‘code red for humanity’ according to the UN Secretary-General. This warning is a timely reminder to review the role of humans in global warming due to rising greenhouse gas pollution.


The role played by GHGs (greenhouse gases) in trapping solar energy in the atmosphere has been increasingly understood since the 19th century.

Carbon dioxide (CO2) has recently reached a concentration of 417 ppm, a 50% increase on the pre-industrial level of 278 ppm. Current, and projected future concentrations are higher than anything experienced on Earth for many millions of years, well before humans were present. Although our species survived recent ice ages, those climatic changes occurred gradually over many thousands of years, and human societies, being hunter-gatherers, were free to move and adapt, enabling them to survive.

Without strong action to reduce the levels of GHGs in the atmosphere, we would be facing an average temperature rise of around 4 degrees over pre-industrial levels by the end of this century, an unprecedented rate of change. The world for humans and our flora and fauna is rapidly becoming a different place.

Following are useful graphs that clearly illustrate the role of humans in creating the catastrophe of global warming, notably over a period of only 270 years.

Population growth – the underlying problem

Since the industrial revolution began around 1750, the world’s population has grown dramatically. There has been steady increase in wealth, largely due to significant productivity improvements from industrial and technological change and the harnessing of energy from fossil fuels. At the same time there has been a steady improvement in health and life expectancy, corresponding with progress in science and medicine. This means we all have more and we have more people wanting more and more.

The Our World in Data website explains that the world population today is 1,860 times the size of what it was 12 millennia ago. The world population then was around 4 million, just twice that of Perth. Almost all of this growth happened just very recently. The world population in 1750 is estimated at about 800 million. It was about 1 billion in 1800 and has increased more than 7-fold since then, reaching 7.79 billion in 2020. It has grown by 1 billion about every 12 years since 1960. It is forecast to reach 9.74 billion by 2050.

This link takes you to an interactive graph displaying the growth of the world’s population over those 12 millennia, since 10,000 BC. The following graph illustrates the section showing the world population growth from the start of industrialisation in 1750 and includes extrapolations to the end of the 21st century.


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“Australia is a lucky country run mainly by second rate people who share its luck. It lives on other people’s ideas, and, although its ordinary people are adaptable, most of its leaders (in all fields) so lack curiosity about the events that surround them that they are often taken by surprise.”


That is a quote taken directly from Donald Horne’s The Lucky Country. It was published in 1964.


BY Mark Buckley


Is it still true? The short answer is of course yes. Let me count the ways our lucky country is led by second rate people, and some of their signature ‘tunes’.

Morrison is like a bull in a china shop

In December 2010, the shadow cabinet were asked to bring three ideas each, to a tactics meeting, for attacking the Gillard Government. One of Mr Morrison’s ideas was to use an anti-Muslim campaign, as he thought it might be effective, and popular. He was dissuaded by colleagues, who thought it a step too far.

In February 2011, he objected to the cost of flying grieving relatives to Sydney, for the funerals of their loved ones, who had died in the Christmas Island boat disaster. After much criticism, he apologised for the timing of the statement, but not the substance. He made the statement on the actual day of the funerals.

He repeatedly referred to “illegal arrivals” and “illegal boats,” when discussing asylum seekers. He was eventually elevated to Immigration Minister in 2013, when Abbott came to power. He takes particular pride in having ‘stopped the boats’. He was widely criticised for his refusal to discuss “on water matters”. He has a basic disregard towards the public’s right to know what the Government does, on our behalf.

In November 2014 the Australian Human Rights Commission found that he had violated the rights of children in his care, and of breaching Australia’s international obligations. Tony Abbott was concerned that the report was politically motivated. No remorse, from either of them.

In the five years to 2019, more than 95,000 asylum seekers arrived in Australia by plane, causing a huge backlog of unsuccessful applicants, all waiting to be deported. Critics say that many are the victims of people smugglers, using the other, acceptable gateway, the airport. Many are vulnerable to exploitation, and possibly slavery. It is possible that Morrison has thought about this, but I wouldn’t bet on it.

In 2019 he went to Hawaii while Sydney was on fire because he had promised his kids. He doesn’t hold a hose, because he is more of an office type of guy. He was busy, he said, and he deserved a holiday, like every other husband and father. This was the beginning of the ‘daggy dad’ routine. Beers at the footy, visits to Bunnings, silly hats. All part of a campaign to humanise him, to try and remove the ‘big end of town’ focus of his policies. Tax cuts for the rich, Robodebt for the poor. He has a mortgage, like everybody else, except he gets paid over half a million dollars a year.

The pandemic saved him because he has so little regard for following process that he, and his Government, were in danger of being hounded out of office. It is still amazing how little he expected to be found out, with firstly his sports rorts affair, and now the supercharged car-parks scheme. He is like a burglar who thinks no one can see him, as he breaks and enters, misusing taxpayers’ funds as if they were his own.

The vaccine rollout has been a disaster because the daggy leader didn’t understand that he had only done the first part of his job. He was happy to coast on our low deaths and infection rates, without any curiosity as to what might come next. Second and third waves have been a part of pandemics since at least 1919 and the Spanish flu, but it was, in his mind, definitely not a race! More of a victory lap.

If we were to study Morrison’s response to gender issues this year, his calling in of his wife to advise him on an appropriate response to Brittany Higgins was a particular lowlight. He seems to be afraid of those pesky women, and their demands for, at the very least, a safe place to work. Again, his tone-deaf support of Christian Porter highlighted his inability to read the signs of change.

Ditto for global warming. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) delivered its Sixth Assessment Report this week, and the usual suspects fronted up to gaslight the Australian public. Morrison again stated that he supported the science, and his Emissions Reduction Minister, Angus Taylor, repeated the line that we are on target to “meet and beat” the Paris target. The climate crisis, for it really is one, was visible to scientists thirty years ago, and yet the Liberals think they can still fob us off with tales of “technology not taxes”.

In this instance, we are going it alone. We are not even borrowing ideas from overseas; the rest of the world knows Climate Change is happening, but our leaders have stuck their heads in the sand. Like ostriches, or was that emus? How embarrassing, and ultimately dangerous.

Clearly, we are led by second rate politicians, who hope their luck never ends.





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meanwhile, despite scomo...

The national electricity market reached a new milestone on Sunday, with solar power outstripping energy generation from coal for the first time since the market was set up two decades ago.

The crossover point lasted for only a few minutes, as low demand and sunny skies on Sunday meant the contribution from coal dropped to a record low of 9,315MW just after noon, while solar provided the dominant share with 9,427MW.


Dylan McConnell, a research fellow at the University of Melbourne’s climate and energy college, said that for a brief moment renewable energy represented 57% of national electricity generation.

“This is what I unofficially call ‘record season’,” McConnell said. “It’s actually still pretty early in the season [to get these numbers] but in spring or the shoulder seasons you have the combination of low demand, because there’s no heating or cooling, and then nice weather on the weekend.

“Those factors combine, and you get these giant shares of renewable energy that generally push out coal.”

While McConnell said it was only “fleeting” and that “Australia was a long way from peak renewable energy”, energy prices also went negative on Sunday from 8.30am through to 5pm.

Though the exact price differed by jurisdiction, it means producers were getting paid to consume, or energy producers were paying to keep running.

Unlike more nimble solar and wind producers, coal generators are particularly hurt when prices turn negative. The costs associated with shutting down and restarting coal generators are prohibitive, meaning operators will choose to keep running even at a loss.


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