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Monday Message Board

March 28th, 2011

It’s time again for the Monday Message Board. Post comments on any topic. As usual, civilised discussion and no coarse language. Lengthy side discussions to the sandpit, please.

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  1. Band One
    March 28th, 2011 at 23:11 | #1

    The Fall Of Socialism in NSW

    “Senator Arbib, are you part of the disease infecting NSW Labor?”

    In other news, banned troll Tony G is an idiot who thinks Arbib is a socialist. I swear I didn’t make this guy up, and I will try to block him properly in future – JQ

  2. iain
    March 28th, 2011 at 23:14 | #2

    Japan copes with 21st-century dark age
    http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/nationworld/2014616863_quakenergy28.html

    Perhaps a precursor for the rest of the developed world.

    Complex societies that are both overreached, and, reducing in societal resilience – meeting up with – the reality of a world with increasing disaster costs (eg Ilan Noy).

  3. David Collyer
    March 28th, 2011 at 23:16 | #3

    What do you and your commentariat think of Prosper Australia’s Buyers Strike?

    http://www.prosper.org.au/2011/03/15/prosper-calls-for-buyers-strike/

    GetUp’s membership loves it, ranking it 1/100 in only12 days:
    http://suggest.getup.org.au/forums/60819-campaign-ideas/topics/61385-i-suggest-a-campaign-about-/filter/top

  4. Michael
    March 29th, 2011 at 00:16 | #4

    Band One – There hasn’t been much Socialism in Australia for over a generation, so its a bit late to be calling time of death now.

    David Collyer – I love it, but then I dont have my wealth tied up in a house unlike, apparently, the vast majority of us. If this strike has its intended result, it might cause the housing bubble to burst and I might actually be able to buy in. I’m sure I would feel differently if I were already a home owner though.

  5. BilB
    March 29th, 2011 at 01:43 | #5

    Here is an article from he Wall street Journal via TOD on oil price and recession

    http://www.theoildrum.com/pdf/theoildrum_7562.pdf

    which tells a very different story about the consequences of energy price increases.

  6. TerjeP (say tay-a)
    March 29th, 2011 at 06:01 | #6

    Most people oppose the carbon tax.

    http://www.essentialmedia.com.au/carbon-pricing-2/

    The proponents of a carbon tax have perhaps wrongly assumed that the general public has been fully engaged in the arguments over recent years about such a proposition. I suspect that large sections of the public have been largely indifferent to the debate and are now playing catch up.

    However some of the proponents of a carbon tax (or price on carbon) don’t seem to have polished their answers very well. Tim Flannery being a notable example. Asked a very basic question he seems to have been quite honest in his answer but also quite unprepared to deal with the logical consequences of his answer.

    Personally I think the case that a carbon tax makes little sense and it is a bad policy.

    http://blog.libertarian.org.au/2011/03/29/a-carbon-tax-makes-no-sense/

    However I would like to see the other side of the debate get their crap together in the public debate. Currently they are not selling their arguments well at all. For a number of advocates I suspect that this is because they don’t even understand their own arguments. Hopefully some superior proponents will enter the fray sometime soon to make a more sensible case for this reform.

  7. BilB
    March 29th, 2011 at 06:51 | #7

    Well, Terje, let’s start with recognising that the free release of CO2 has been immoral for decades and, as you like to argue in defence of Nuclear Power, the burning of most fossil fuels has uncosted externalities which cause great environmental damage. Global Warming aside this Carbon “Tax”, as you like to call it, is finally the world catching up with applying an environmental restitution charge on the burning of fossil fuels and CO2 release.

    This is good policy for that reason alone. Just as we no longer dump sewerage into the streets, it is now no longer acceptable to dump the wastes from the burning of fossil fuels into the atmosphere.

    If you do not want to pay the Carbon Price charge then you are free to buy a renewable energy solution and pay it off with the money that you save from not paying the Carbon Price. Alternatively you can become innovative and develop a non fossil fuel energy system of your own and take that to the market. You have lots of options before you, let’s not hear any more whining about it.

  8. Jeepers Creepers
    March 29th, 2011 at 07:30 | #8

    Terje ,

    That support changes when compensation is mentioned.

    without a price on carbon your nuclear industry won’t radiate at all

  9. TerjeP
    March 29th, 2011 at 08:02 | #9

    Jeepers – I’m not advocating that we switch to nuclear irrespective of price. I merely advocate that we have a balanced assessment of nuclear and that we remove nuclear prohibition. If nuclear can’t compete with gas or coal then people should focus on lowering the cost not beefing up the cost of competitors.

  10. TerjeP
    March 29th, 2011 at 08:10 | #10

    BilB – your point is fair enough. However that is not the basis on which this tax is being sold. If you want to include those health benefits then fine by me so long as the benefit of the policy in this regard is properly quantified. The point is that the public has a reasonable right to have good estimates of the cost and good estimates of the benefits for any given policy. To date the advocates for this policy have focused their argument on the costs of business as usual, but that is the wrong metric.

  11. TerjeP
    March 29th, 2011 at 08:18 | #11

    Jeepers – regarding your claim that support shifts when compensation is discussed do you have any evidence?

    Regarding compensation it won’t work. You can’t move society to a more expensive form of energy and compensate society from societies pool of resources. Moving to more expensive energy makes our society poorer.

  12. Jeepers Creepers
    March 29th, 2011 at 08:46 | #12

    I have no problems with the nuclear option however I do realise it will not work without a price on carbon.

    I would suggest that a society which does nothing to address AGW will not just be poorer.

  13. Alex
    March 29th, 2011 at 09:03 | #13

    Band One :The Fall Of Socialism in NSW
    “Senator Arbib, are you part of the disease infecting NSW Labor?”
    “These people who’ve been involved in this are all part of the same brand and the same organisation, that is, federal Labor. How then do we trust that federal Labor is not of the same ilk?”
    http://www.abc.net.au/7.30/content/2011/s3175998.htm
    There are cracks forming in the socialist walls of Cambericho and they will be down shortly.

    Mark Arbib a socialist? Really? You are either clueless or a troll or both.

  14. Alice
    March 29th, 2011 at 09:30 | #14

    @Alex
    Agree Alex – Mark Arbib a socialist? Hardly but he is part of the disease of Labor alright. He is exactly the sort of person once labor voters cant stand the sight of. So is Eddie Obeid who manages to get his two cents worth inb right hand side column of page 13 (where he belongs).
    cant beleive he has the temerity to write ” the blame game is now underway with various leaders of NSW trying to rewrite history”.
    The reality is, Obeids opinion isnt fit to be printed on toilet paper and he was part of the problem.
    So now we have Iemma blaming Roberston, Obeid blaming Iemma, Roberston doing deals over Currawong with friends of Costas, Arbid blaming boring branch meeting agendas for deterring labor voters.
    The problem with NSW labor is the labor right and the idiot labor right bullies who took their right views down to a darwinian survival for the mates club and its perks and its power and its dirty dealing, and stuff the rest of the people in the state and the finances.
    A more incompetent deceitful lot you couldnt come across. Welcome to the real denialists in NSW Labor some of whom have managed to march straight up to federal labor and keep on denying why they people in NSW cant stand the sight of them. That goes for Arbib.
    If I was a genuine Labor politician Id think very carefully about letting these people in the media with their two bit opinions. Its not a good look right now.

    Better still Fed Labor would be best muzzling the labor right.

  15. Alice
    March 29th, 2011 at 09:38 | #15

    @Alex
    Oh and Alex, you are dreaming – people voted for Barry OFarrell, not the right. People voted for a government that just wants to get on and fix the problems in infrastructure and energy and health and do the job. The people are sick to death of factionalism and that includes trolls like youself who want to keep the left right extremist positions alive and well.
    Its not cracks in socialism that got Barry the vote. Its not a swing to the right. Its a swing to a work ethic that is clean. Barry got the votes of ordinary people everywhere who just want the bloody job done in NSW without the extremism and without the dirty dealings of the incompetent protected mates club and that NSW labor became.

  16. Alice
    March 29th, 2011 at 09:39 | #16

    sorry – its Band one who is dreaming – damn troll.

  17. Band One
    March 29th, 2011 at 09:45 | #17

    Troll comment deleted – anything more will be replaced by a comment of my choosing – JQ

  18. Donald Oats
    March 29th, 2011 at 10:13 | #18

    I saw Frank Sartor on TV last night, explaining what was wrong with Labor in NSW, yet politely exempting himself from the “politically incorrect” people he was talking about. Did April Fool’s Day come early this year?

  19. sam
    March 29th, 2011 at 10:14 | #19

    What do people think of the trial of Andrew Bolt? Personally I have no time for the man on climate change; I think he’s often a very dishonest commentator. However, this legal process is really too much. Firstly, I think it should be perfectly legal for someone to express an openly racist view, so long as they don’t call for violence. Secondly, I don’t think his “white aboriginal” columns were racist or slandering at all, and that in fact he made a useful contribution to the debate (though I don’t entirely endorse his view).

    The opportunity for rationalist, liberal progressives to show true impartiality of principle over personality is now. Let’s stand up for a man who is often our ideological enemy, not to make him feel better, but so we can feel better about ourselves.

  20. Alice
    March 29th, 2011 at 10:25 | #20

    @Donald Oats
    Don,
    Richo, Carr, Obeid, Iemma, Arbib, Sartor – lets see who has missed the rolll call of dumb and dumber opinions (“twasnt me that done it) by part of the boys club? Oh thats right – Tripodi and Costa should be due to point their bones next.
    Well – must be off to join my place the traffic congestion now…

  21. jakerman
    March 29th, 2011 at 10:41 | #21

    “The Fall Of Socialism in NSW [...] There are cracks forming in the socialist walls of Cambericho and they will be down shortly.”

    Don’t know what Cambericho is, but socialism is not under threat in NSW. We just had a government elected with a record majority with the key promise of expanding socialist transport.

    That sits strongly with socialised health, education, and social security.

  22. jakerman
    March 29th, 2011 at 11:00 | #22

    Australia’s $10 billion in socialised support for fossil fuels is not under threat in NSW either!

    http://www.greenpeace.org.au/blog/?p=2946

  23. paul walter
    March 29th, 2011 at 11:44 | #23

    Please Band one, naff off with your silly McCarthyite gibber!
    Alice, elsewhere, the problem of Arbib’s connection with a foreign power, as with others of the ALP Right, I think stemming from wikileaks, has been raised again.
    Hang the traitors!

  24. paul walter
    March 29th, 2011 at 11:46 | #24

    Jakerman, with the coalition in in NSW, expect a quick rise in “agrarian socialism”, if nothing else..

  25. jakerman
    March 29th, 2011 at 11:48 | #25

    Band One

    >*Adam, were the National Socialists “socialists”? They also got into power calling themselves ‘socialists’ and like Arbib and Obeid, who call themselves social democrats, enacted the politburo agenda of their pecu-liar ‘social’ club.*

    They were no more socialists than than the Liberal Party of today. Nor were they more socialist than the FDR-Truman socialsit that defeated them. They were skilled propagandist like the (German Democartic Republic who were no more democratic than the NAZI’s were socialist) and called themselves a name that mached the mood of the their day.

    The National Socialst might have called themselves socialsit but they were on the opposite spectrum to the (Marxist) Social Democratic Party (SDP) and the Communities who they battled in the streets.

    http://www.marxists.org/archive/trotsky/germany/elect.htm

    Hitler came to power in a familiar right wing route, finaced and backed by a media mogul (Alfred Hugenberg) and Hjalmar Schacht, Fritz Thyssen and other leading German businessmen and international bankers.

    Hilter’s evental rise to Chancellor was in the Conservative and centre right Coalition opposed by the left wing parties.

  26. Donald Oats
    March 29th, 2011 at 11:55 | #26

    Dad and I were betting that at some point Barry O’Farrell would roll out the “Budget $X-billion Dollar Blackhole” gambit to screw the NSW voters out of some of his Liberal party election promises. Didn’t even make it past Monday – today – before the gambit is tried. Only thing is, according to the Noon news on the ABC, he is going on about a projected deficit 5 years into the future! The reporter helpfully explained that there is another whole election before then. Sheesh! Couldn’t even lie straight in bed; all the NSW people have done is replace one bunch of low-down phonies with another bunch…I’d be even more disappointed if I still lived in NSW.

  27. Joe K
    March 29th, 2011 at 12:53 | #27

    Terje,
    I assume you insure your property? Most people do. That makes you poorer. The chances of your house being destroyed are pretty low. The insurance company (aims) to make a profit from it’s policy-holders. The chances of carbon dioxide making us poorer by an unrequested and uncalibrated climate adjustment are, it seems likely, greater than your house burning down. Yet you don’t want to insure -against a high probabability high impact event. Perhaps because its too far away in time. Lets make a calibrated adjustment ourselves that we can (hopefully) control.
    Forget the rubbish about the temperature adjustment that a carbon tax will make now. It’s an irrelevant red herring. The adjustment now is an investment in the future.

  28. jakerman
    March 29th, 2011 at 13:25 | #28

    TerjeP:

    Regarding compensation it won’t work. You can’t move society to a more expensive form of energy and compensate society from societies pool of resources. Moving to more expensive energy makes our society poorer.

    TerjeP narrow view of cost works the same as arguing for continued externalising of costs. TerjeP’s failing to internalise costs makes his calculations unfair. We lose assets when we lose biodiversity, we lose assets when our air is polluted with irritants and carcinogens. We lose assets when we ship off non-renewable resources. We lose assets when sea levels rises. We lose assets when we lose ecosystem services, we lose assets when Hadley cells expand to change the climate in formally arable land.

    We lose assets when storm intensity increases, when scale of floods increase, when scales of droughts increase. We loses assets when intensity of fires increase and when range of disease increase.

    We loses assets when civil conflict increases dues to depletion of assets (including assets lost to externalising costs).

  29. may
    March 29th, 2011 at 13:29 | #29

    y’know,if any body/group put together a plan to gut the community contribution to effective local political participation,they couldn’t have done a better job.

    all politics is local.

    every body has heard of the glass ceiling but what happens locally seems to be glass walls(sometimes frosted)

    you can see where you want go and can’t see any reason not to get there

    but

    you spend an awful lot of energy and get no where.

  30. jakerman
    March 29th, 2011 at 13:30 | #30

    TerjeP, We also lose wealth when we invest limited resorces in unsustainable Ponzi scheme bubble economies such as expansion of expensive infrastructure (i.e. more and more freeways, and carparks at the cost of more sustainble growth) that only makes economic sense if we can depeand on contiued access to cheap oil.

  31. savemejeebus
    March 29th, 2011 at 14:02 | #31

    @TerjeP (say tay-a)

    You can’t quote one poll without quoting the other. On 29th March, essential media asked: “If the Government compensated households by cutting income tax and increasing welfare payments, would you be more likely or less likely to support the proposed carbon tax?” to which 38% of respondents said that they would be more likely to support a carbon tax.

  32. Nick R
    March 29th, 2011 at 14:10 | #32

    I was thinking something similar about Bolt myself. Again I can’t stand the man, but I cannot help getting the feeling that the court case looks a little like political point-scoring.

    However I have little sympathy for him. I looked over his blog today and found a post about rises in global sea levels that I think represents the man pretty well. He cites a single paper from the Journal of Coastal Research (not exactly Nature or Science) which he uses to cast doubt on certain aspects of the AGW hypothesis. That Bolt would accept this particular result without scrutiny and fail to acknowledge that the overwhelming majority of scientific evidence leads to the opposite conclusion says a great deal about his integrity. Furthermore he often criticizes the scientific community of cherry-picking but appears to indulge in it greatly himself.

  33. Fran Barlow
    March 29th, 2011 at 14:43 | #33

    @sam

    What do people think of the trial of Andrew Bolt? Personally I have no time for the man on climate change; I think he’s often {by default and at first impulse} a very dishonest commentator. [...] Firstly, I think it should be perfectly legal for someone to express an openly racist view, so long as they don’t call for violence.

    The trouble here is that the distinction between an openly racist view and calling for violence can be a subtle one. Alan Jones, you will recall, dogwhistled day in and day out in the run up to Cronulla and created an atmosphere in which callers could spread nonsnesense and people whyo saw violence as desirable could piggyback on it. There’s no doubt that the demagoguery of Blot has authored an audience of existentially angst-ridden reactionaries some of whom read between the lines exactly what their fantasies tell them is there. The distinction between crying “Fire!” in a crowded cinema and wondering loudly if that smell isn’t smoke, when there’s nothing there at all is not something that one wants to give test in real time.

    I remain opposed to laws restraining vilification, it seems to me that those with significant public celebrity ought to be compelled to assume that others may rely on their words when acting, and may interpret them in ways that the author would disavow, either sincerely or disingenuously. If someone is hurt as a consequence of such a reliance, and a defendent demonstrate that the intepretation of the words was unreasonable, or at the very least unconnected with the harm-causing acts, then the person ought to be held liable in part for any harm that ensues. In the absence of clear direction to act or obvious malice, the liability might be a civil and tortious one — one purely involving restitution rather than criminal sanctions. In the former case, (one where, as in Rwanda at the time of the gen*cide, there was an invitation to breach the civil rights of others) one could be made an accessory to the crimes.

    It seems to me though that the courts are an appropriate place to test these claims. In the particular case of Blot at issue, it seems to me that the case has little merit. The comments, while obnoxious and ignorant, could not reasonably be interpreted by any person as an invitation to infringe the rights of the said persons or similar persons, nor is it clear how one might rely on these remarks to go about this. At worst, it might create space for others to repeat these tropes and offend others, which, while regrettable, is something that predated Blot’s commentary by a very long way. He is, after all, merely repeating longstanding attitudes in this. I’m happy enough for these matters to be explored in detail by the courts, because one way or another, a precedent will be set. If the precedent is indeed an unhealthy one, then it’s at that point one ought to be critical, rather than now. It is not as if the Blot lacks the resources to secure his interests.

    Bernard Keane made some remarks in passing on this over at Crikey, complaining of the prosecutor “Godwinning” the case and saying that he hadn’t heard the Blot attacking people in this way over their words. It seems implausible, as there is scarcely a week in which Blot doesn’t bracket Greens with f*scism and mass murder, based on one trope or another. In one case he took exception to a crematorium returning energy to the grid and of course his lonstanding lie about the Greens “banning” DDT is a constant feature of his claim that Greens are mass-murdering psychopaths. If anyone has less room to complain of being Godwinned, it’s hard to know who that would be.

    So I won’t at this stage be raising my voice in protest at Blot’s legal vicissitudes. Let him be a test case and let us see if anything undesirable emerges from it. If it does, then perhaps I’ll change my mind, but in the interim, this lying for the culture war-style commentator can work it out without my help. he did after all once ban me from his blog for pointing out the stupidities he and his fan base were disgorging.

  34. Fran Barlow
    March 29th, 2011 at 14:56 | #34

    @jakerman

    And of course we also lose when working days are lost to ill-health. Apparently, about 150,000 people’s lives are shortened in the US each year by airborne pollutants derived from coal, gas and oil combustion, and before they die, they demand service from the health system, take days off work, are attended to by their families. We lose when people spend too long and too much commuting or hundreds of extra kilometers of water and gas pipes and data and power cables have to be installed and serviced because the city is set up to give everyone 700-1000m2 blocks. We will lose when the coal and oil becomes economically unviable and we have to switch in a hurry to something else and when the things that are harder to do without these things apart from energy production go up at the same time.

    People rightly make a fuss about the CO2e-driven externalities but they forget that Co2 is merely part of a package which also includes all of the other harvest, transport and combustion waste from fossil HC and the perverse incentives attached to the use of this nominally “cheap” fuel source. Western societies ought to have been configuring to minimise usage of fossil HC from the 1950s on grounds that had nothing whatever to do with elevated atmospheric CO2. Certainty on the pernicious consequences of CO2 augmentation, which we had achieved at least by the late 1970s was merely a new and even more compelling reason to take action for which there was already a strongly persuasive case.

  35. Ernestine Gross
    March 29th, 2011 at 15:03 | #35

    Martin Feil has an article in today’s smh on the Productivity Commission’s report on a carbon tax.

    Feil writes:

    “The commission’s conclusion is that comparable measurements are problematic. It also concludes that any tax or ETS implicitly subsidises one product or less-carbon-intensive sector at the expense of another. This type of policy has been anathema to the commission since it discovered economic rationalism and fervently adopted free market economics”

    http://www.smh.com.au/opinion/politics/the-truth-is-you-cant-put-a-price-on-carbon–no-one-can-20110328-1cdei.html

    Something seems to be wrong here. Surely everybody who knows anything about economics (post 1900) would know that the idea of internalising externalities is a) desirable on allocative efficiency grounds and b) the internalisation of externalities manifests itself in changes in relative prices.

    I wonder what the terms of reference were for the Productivity Commission or, alternatively, I wonder whether Feil read correctly.

  36. Ernestine Gross
    March 29th, 2011 at 15:36 | #36

    Having said that, I’d like to add there is a problem in the usage of terminology which has become particularly noticeable since Mr Rudd and Mr Turnbull have been replaced. It seems to me some politicians and commentators want to find catch phrases*, on the apparent assumption that the public wouldn’t understand anything else. What if the public gets the impression that those who sell phrases don’t understand what they are talking about?

    Regarding allocative efficiency, obviously, if ghg emissions had been taxed for the past 100 or more years then peak oil would lie in the more distant future. This is obvious for all except those who don’t believe that market prices are relevant for anything except superfluous cost accountants.

    *The expression ‘putting a price on carbon’ is one of these phrases. A ‘carbon tax’ does not put a price on carbon but merely on new carbon emissions and only to the extent that emissions from production of physical marketable commodities are to be reduced but well bounded away from zero.

  37. Jim Birch
    March 29th, 2011 at 15:38 | #37

    @Joe K
    You might find that Terje isn’t big on insurance. At it’s psychological core, libertarianism is based on a something like a “tough man” myth. (Not surprisingly, they are virtually all men.) They’d rather enjoy the spoils and tough out the downsides of their actions than mess with anything as like communal responsibilites. Most people have tendencies in this direction but libertarians are gathered at one end of the bell curve with a high moral philosophy to keep from being distracted. For good evolutionary reasons this same type of behaviour also characterises young male chimpanzees, but they haven’t converted it into a psychologically robust political narrative.

  38. Jeepers Creepers
    March 29th, 2011 at 16:06 | #38

    hey one might disagree with Terje but there is no need for that.

    I have seen nothing in what he has written to suggest he deserves such snide comments.

    I do wonder about how he calculates external diseconomies.

  39. Ernestine Gross
    March 29th, 2011 at 16:31 | #39

    @Jeepers Creepers
    Agree with your #38

  40. Freelander
    March 29th, 2011 at 17:05 | #40

    @Ernestine Gross

    It doesn’t come as a surprise to many that the Productivity Commission was unable to do the research called for in the terms of reference. The research capacity of the Commission has become poorer and poorer over the years. Over the last ten years there has been a massive exodus of researchers.

    As it is now, there is no real research culture in the place and no reward for good research. The upper levels of management have no interest and no capacity for research. What is worse is that when they get an important reference, like that one, the upper levels of management will not let any of the real researchers near it, least they come to a conclusion, based on data and evidence, different to the immediate conclusion those managers came to based on their ideological prejudices.

    All this is not to say, that there aren’t some good, even excellent, researchers left in the place, even at the branch head level. But these individuals have no organisational support and they owe their skills, their training and knowledge to where ever else they have worked and not to the commission. The organisation is vastly degraded from the days when it was the IAC or IC. A lot of great talent has come and gone, underutilised, and it was a long road to where it is today.

    Quality control, when it comes to research, is another issue at the Commission. The greatest danger the institution faces is an audit of their research. After the results of an audit, I am sure their would be enough material to fill several volumes of a “Journal of Irreproducible Results”. Amazingly, although that emperor has no clothes, the institution still is held in such high regard. That they were unable to do what ought not to have been so difficult, and may have already have been done elsewhere may start people wondering about their nakedness.

    As they often do in these sorts of cases, the Productivity Commission appears to have randomly sprayed money at consultants. Problem is, that if you don’t really know what you are after, or you are not sufficiently knowledgeable about research, you are not really capable of spending money on consultants wisely. The sort of asymmetric information problem many have if they go to their mechanic to get their car fixed. If you know little, it is very easy for the mechanic to rip you off. If you don’t even know that for cars you need a mechanic, you might go to a ‘car faith-healer’.

  41. TerjeP
    March 29th, 2011 at 17:11 | #41

    Snide remarks have become pretty common on this site.

    I do have house insurance. However I think much that goes by the name “insurance” is a waste of money. A bit like poker machines but less entertaining.

    The externalities of CO2 emissions are real. But in evaluating a policy such as the carbon tax it is the wrong metric. The correct measure of benefit is the amount the policy reduces those externality by. If a global 5% cut in emissions by 2020 only delivers a temperature reduction of 0.004 degrees Celcius then the case for such a policy isn’t that compelling.

  42. Freelander
    March 29th, 2011 at 17:15 | #42

    Ernestine Gross :
    Martin Feil has an article in today’s smh on the Productivity Commission’s report on a carbon tax.
    Feil writes:
    “The commission’s conclusion is that comparable measurements are problematic. It also concludes that any tax or ETS implicitly subsidises one product or less-carbon-intensive sector at the expense of another. This type of policy has been anathema to the commission since it discovered economic rationalism and fervently adopted free market economics”
    http://www.smh.com.au/opinion/politics/the-truth-is-you-cant-put-a-price-on-carbon–no-one-can-20110328-1cdei.html
    Something seems to be wrong here. Surely everybody who knows anything about economics (post 1900) would know that the idea of internalising externalities is a) desirable on allocative efficiency grounds and b) the internalisation of externalities manifests itself in changes in relative prices.
    I wonder what the terms of reference were for the Productivity Commission or, alternatively, I wonder whether Feil read correctly.

    Could be worth considering, do one or more in the upper levels of the Commission believe that anthropogenic Climate Change is, to use Tony Abbott’s words, “Crap”?

    If they do believe it is crap then throwing a spoke in the wheels whenever possible becomes completely rational.

    Another question worth asking is: How many of other senior bureaucrats in the public service also believe its ‘crap’?

  43. paul walter
    March 29th, 2011 at 17:33 | #43

    And enough of this rubbish about pity for Bolt, also.
    He is a deliberate, vicious and premeditated serial liar, sadist and lunatic and ought to be kept in irons on Norfolk
    Island, until it can be proven whether he tells the truth ever, except by accident andif only be accident.
    I could go further and call him out for a psychopath, but it seems that’s what they look or in politicians and columnists.

  44. Sam
    March 29th, 2011 at 18:02 | #44

    @Nick R

    I’ll do another take on Godwin’s law here.

    Even if Adolph Hitler himself had written these “white aboriginal” columns, I’d still be defending him against this legal challenge. Of course, for other reasons I would like to see him tortured to death as painfully as possible, but for these columns he would blameless. Have you read them? Here are the main ones, I trawled through Andrew Bolt’s nonsense so you don’t have to.

    http://blogs.news.com.au/heraldsun/andrewbolt/index.php/heraldsun/comments/column_white_is_the_new_black

    http://www.heraldsun.com.au/opinion-old/white-fellas-in-the-black/story-e6frfifo-1225764532947

    @Fran Barlow

    I don’t think Bolt’s comments here were particularly ignorant. Some of the people he cited indeed seemed to have no genuine cultural attachment to aboriginality, and simply be gaming a grants system. Perhaps this wasn’t true of all the individuals he cited, but his point still has merit, and is worth debating. He isn’t guilty of defamation either, since he didn’t lie about anyone’s actions, and only offered a cynical interpretation of their motives.

    My own view is that freedom to speak unless it offends is no freedom at all. The only time
    freedom of speech matters is when it’s controversial. There was a slightly similar case to this in Canada where a conservative magazine editor named Ezra Levant was hauled before the Human Rights Commission. He was made to answer charges after a radical Muslim imam decided to get offended over a republishing of the Danish cartoons. You can watch his “government interrogation” (his words) here.

    I agree with Levant on very few things, but those clips still send a libertarian shiver down my spine.

  45. Sam
    March 29th, 2011 at 18:06 | #45

    @Nick R
    I’ll do another take on Godwin’s law here.
    Even if Adolph Hitler himself had written these “white aboriginal” columns, I’d still be defending him against this legal challenge. Of course, for other reasons I would like to see him tortured to death as painfully as possible, but for these columns he would blameless. Have you read them? Here are the main ones, I trawled through Andrew Bolt’s nonsense so you don’t have to.

    hwords added so asnottotripupJQ’smoderationblockerttp://blogs.news.com.au/heraldsun/andrewbolt/index.php/heraldsun/comments/column_white_is_the_new_black

    hmorewordsttp://www.heraldsun.com.au/opinion-old/white-fellas-in-the-black/story-e6frfifo-1225764532947

  46. Alice
    March 29th, 2011 at 18:54 | #46

    @paul walter
    Paul – no need to hang the traitors – the electorate just decapitated them. If Federal labor had any sense it would clean out the sum like Arbib as well…..the only thing saving Federal labor is the madness that is Tony Abbott!!

  47. Alice
    March 29th, 2011 at 19:11 | #47

    Sorry – thats “scum like Arbib” above and as for Bolt – he is the same sort of scum.

    These people with their extreme views wanting to kick up a fight between the left and the right are just so damn boring and predictable and petty and a pain in the bum.

    I pay my taxes so whoever is in power can get their act together and deliver sound infrastructure and decent policies that keep people employed and the economy turning over without people once middle class ending uo in the ranks of the poor or homeless or a huge traffic jam or unable to be seen to when they are desperately ill.

    I dont pay my taxes so Labor can bicker with liberals about the left and the right and idiots like Arbib or Costa can get into power and throw their weight around and pull out the knives and stick them into their colleagues.

    The bottom line is they have a job to do and how many do we have to throw out before its done?

    Enough with the spin and the bellyaching about who does the job better – the private sector or the public sector? Enough with the tippy toeing around big business. No one minds big business as long as it isnt running government and getting away without paying taxes etc like it has been or gouging us.

    The majority of the people – remember us while you are fighting? (I mean really whether you are left or right – people like Abbott dont cut an appealing image – maybe he should go to the OFarrell school of etiquette because I for one am sick to death of seeing parliament debates like snide sneering schoolboy bullies – unfortunately Abbott was trained by the trifecta of sneering bullies – Howard, Costello and Abbott..and did they train up NSW Labor (Sartor, Costa, Tripodi ?)

    No one wins let alone from this garbage let alone the voters.

  48. Freelander
    March 29th, 2011 at 20:14 | #48

    I don’t know that I support the legislation that is being used against Bolt but have great difficulty feeling sorry if he becomes the victim of it.

    On the best interpretation of Bolt, he would be a very highly paid performance artist. However, his are performances we could do without, because too many take his performances seriously, and hence they continue to have a corrosive effect on public opinion.

    What has happened in Australia to Labor has happened to labour parties around the world, where an initial focus on justice and the betterment of the so-called ‘working class’, has, after the struggle generations, been replaced by too many labour aristocracies and apparatchiks who have a “what’s in it for me, my mates and relatives” view of politics and policy. Rather than looking after the ‘working class’ too many of them simply are after looking after themselves and their mates and those they tend to identify with, the so-called “aspirational class”. As a consequence, there are few if any left to speak for their natural constituency. Not surprising that that natural constituency would eventual and suddenly leave them in such large numbers. You can’t full all the people all the time.

  49. jakerman
    March 29th, 2011 at 20:47 | #49

    @Fran Barlow

    TerjeP:

    The correct measure of benefit is the amount the policy reduces those externality by. If a global 5% cut in emissions by 2020 only delivers a temperature reduction of 0.004 degrees Celcius then the case for such a policy isn’t that compelling.

    TerjeP you’ve not showed how you calculate your 0.004 degrees figure. Also you’ve got to cut emission by 5% before you cut them by 50%. And Australia’s recalcitrance needs to be overcome to permit a global agreement. Hence Australia’s 5% then 50% carries with it far more emissions cuts than just our own.

    Then we need to look at all the externalities that you’ve excised from the equation by looking at temperature alone. See @Fran Barlow’s points And @jakerman @ 30.

  50. Donald Oats
    March 29th, 2011 at 21:30 | #50

    Imagine if we had gone to Copenhagen with the same pitch by the Rudd-led government, but with say a working ETS or a reasonable Carbon Tax already in place. It would have added some merit to our jawboning, and may even have swung a few more countries to put weight to a global action plan. The more we do our bit, the more currency our word is worth; on the other hand, failure to do anything at all provides other countries with the excuse to do nothing as well – they simply point to our hypocrisy and snigger behind our backs (bit like Copenhagen).

    Okay, I’m painting the picture in overly brilliant colours, but I hope it makes the point that a positive feedback is possible in the way other countries decide whether to take action or not; seeing other countries choosing to take action establishes the baseline needed to convince other countries to do something substantial too. Many things need to go right for this to happen, but it is an obvious path to avoiding the more serious consequences of not reducing (in absolute terms) our global carbon emissions. We aren’t just investing in a 0.004C or whatever the inconsistently defined figure is, we are investing in the right to lecture, cajole and convert other countries to doing something as well.

    PS: The radioactive water releases are much more signficant than previously described (in Japan at the Fukushima nuclear reactors). I still haven’t heard anything about whether nuclear waste has been dispersed by the original tsunami or not. The tsunami washed away entire multistorey commercial offices several kilometres inland, and chucked cars, buses, trucks around like matchbox toys. A few drums of nuclear waste wouldn’t have been too difficult to chuck around either…or some disposed-off fuel rods still ponded in the cooling ponds, perhaps? It would be nice to get some assurance that it wasn’t so, and news on whether there will be some land areas cordoned off for all time. [And yes I know the natural disaster is responsible for huge loss of life; I'm not making that comparison. And anyway, that's why I donate.]

  51. jakerman
    March 29th, 2011 at 22:25 | #51

    Donald, now is not the time to be discussing nuclear radiation problems:

    http://climateprogress.org/2011/03/28/colbert-video-nuclear-reactors-safe-bank-robbing-windmills/#more-45550

  52. Donald Oats
    March 30th, 2011 at 02:26 | #52

    @jakerman
    Oops, my bad! Anyhow, the caravan has moved on, to discussing Obama’s lack of exit plan from a war he hasn’t begun yet (in Libya). A lack of exit plan, like, you know, that Cheney, Bush, et al had for Iraq…
    Anyway, Colbert nailed it (again).

    To finish the night, I read of Bolt’s boils in court, what’s he got to be angry about, he gets paid substantially for all of his guided-missile opinion pieces. A day or so in court is hardly an imposition for one so skilled in barbed comment. I wish the plaintiffs well.

  53. TerjeP
    March 30th, 2011 at 04:12 | #53

    Jakerman – nice to see you engage politely for a change.

    TerjeP you’ve not showed how you calculate your 0.004 degrees figure.

    It is in the links. It is based on an average reduction in emissions of 2.5% over the period 2011 to 2020 and the IPCC temperature sensitivity to CO2.

    Also you’ve got to cut emission by 5% before you cut them by 50%.

    Sure. But if your policy is to cut emissions by 50% the public has a right to know the best estimate of what this will cost and what the benefit will be. Not tricked into signing up for 5% cuts at a low cost and then finding they are paying for a 50% cut. That’s like signing up for a $5 per month service and then getting a monthly bill for $500 because the suplier decided off their own bat to delivered a higher quality service.

    And Australia’s recalcitrance needs to be overcome to permit a global agreement.

    People in 7:30 land may not understand this but Rudd tried really hard to get one of those and it wasn’t Australia that blocked it. Something about rat f&@ckers apparently.

    Hence Australia’s 5% then 50% carries with it far more emissions cuts than just our own.

    No it doesn’t. However if Gillard is going to cut emissions by 50% she should be up front about it and let us know the cost. The first 5% cut will involve low hanging fruit and extremely little benefit, after that it gets even more expensive.

  54. TerjeP
    March 30th, 2011 at 04:13 | #54

    Oops – formatting failure.

  55. jakerman
    March 30th, 2011 at 07:41 | #55

    Jakerman – nice to see you engage politely for a change.
    TerjeP you’ve not showed how you calculate your 0.004 degrees figure.

    Nice reversal there TerjeP: http://johnquiggin.com/index.php/archives/2011/03/23/one-nation-resurgent/#comment-276674

    TerjeP you’ve not showed how you calculate your 0.004 degrees figure.

    It is in the links. It is based on an average reduction in emissions of 2.5% over the period 2011 to 2020 and the IPCC temperature sensitivity to CO2.

    Lets be clear before we critique this, are you citing Monckton as your source?

    http://blog.libertarian.org.au/2011/03/29/a-carbon-tax-makes-no-sense/

  56. jakerman
    March 30th, 2011 at 07:42 | #56

    Jakerman – nice to see you engage politely for a change.
    TerjeP you’ve not showed how you calculate your 0.004 degrees figure.

    Nice reversal there TerjeP: http://johnquiggin.com/index.php/archives/2011/03/23/one-nation-resurgent/#comment-276674

    TerjeP you’ve not showed how you calculate your 0.004 degrees figure.

    It is in the links. It is based on an average reduction in emissions of 2.5% over the period 2011 to 2020 and the IPCC temperature sensitivity to CO2.

    Lets be clear before we critique this, are you citing Monckton as your source?

    http://blog.libertarian.org.au/2011/03/29/a-carbon-tax-makes-no-sense/

  57. Hermit
    March 30th, 2011 at 07:50 | #57

    Assuming carbon tax is full coverage with few escape clauses I think the gains will come in the first year then peter out. The initial price shock should lead to some energy belt tightening. However the really big carbon cuts must come from technology shifts, not taking shorter showers. Countries like Spain and Germany have failed to show that wind and solar can make a dent in coal, nuclear or gas, a least an affordable price. Even if a country does achieve 20% renewables penetration what about the other 80%? Coal, oil and gas will be largely depleted by mid century so 5% CO2 cuts by 2020 are almost trivial given the need to keep powering the economy.

    The mid term effect of a $25 carbon tax is that ageing coal stations will be replaced with combined cycle gas. Then we will be perched on a ledge because further large CO2 cuts will be hard to find. Gas will go up in price due to export competition and other new demands. If the tax is replaced by a declining cap system eventually the gas economy won’t be low carbon enough. They’ll have to think of something else.

  58. jakerman
    March 30th, 2011 at 07:55 | #58

    But if your policy is to cut emissions by 50% the public has a right to know the best estimate of what this will cost and what the benefit will be.

    They been provided with that estimate:

    http://www.aph.gov.au/library/pubs/climatechange/governance/foreign/stern.htm

    And the fine work of Garnaut

    And Australia’s recalcitrance needs to be overcome to permit a global agreement.

    People in 7:30 land may not understand this but Rudd tried really hard to get one of those and it wasn’t Australia that blocked it. Something about rat f&@ckers apparently.

    No, Australia and need to actually do something to end the lose lose spiral. Playing Chicken with China is a prescription for failure given our emissions per capia is 4 times higher. And our wealth and access to clean energy is so great.

    Hence Australia’s 5% then 50% carries with it far more emissions cuts than just our own.

    No it doesn’t….

    Back to your empty words again I see. I take it you’ve once more got nothing sensible to contribute.

  59. jakerman
    March 30th, 2011 at 08:31 | #59

    Assuming carbon tax is full coverage with few escape clauses I think the gains will come in the first year then peter out.

    You don’t believe the market will adapt to the price signal? Investors seeing price on carbon, and the telegraphing of continuing rises to reach an eventual emissions target will be forced to look for long term change.

    Countries like Spain and Germany have failed to show that wind and solar can make a dent in coal, nuclear or gas, a least an affordable price.

    The subsidies to fossil fuels are orders of magnitude larger than for renewables. And with tech like PV the costs drop with increasing production. The early steps are the hardest.

    eventually the gas economy won’t be low carbon enough. They’ll have to think of something else.

    Yep, and planners and investors will be doing those sums right now and thinking of “something else”.

  60. jakerman
    March 30th, 2011 at 08:59 | #60

    BTW, I see the need for more than a carbon tax. Clean energy generation requires assistance to compete with cheep offsets and efficiency gains. These are the gains that peter out. Clean energy must be supported to pickup the slack in the future after efficiency gains are harder to make.

  61. Ernestine Gross
    March 30th, 2011 at 11:13 | #61

    @Hermit

    “Countries like Spain and Germany have failed to show that wind and solar can make a dent in coal, nuclear or gas, a least an affordable price. Even if a country does achieve 20% renewables penetration what about the other 80%? ”

    Sentence 1: Evidence, Hermit, rather than assertions by means of emotive words.
    Sentence 2: May I remind again and again and again that the goal is to reduce ghg emissions to a rate that is considered satisfactory by scientists . The goal is not to replace coal, gas, at a specified time per se.
    Sentence 2: Germany has recently (in the past week) taken off a further 2 nuclear plants from the grid.

    .

  62. Donald Oats
    March 30th, 2011 at 14:54 | #62

    The latest transcript from Fran Kelly on ABC Radio National is not very comforting, concerning radiation doses of the emergency/nuclear workers at Fukushima, etc. Risk management culture is being sheeted with the blame for the unfolding slow motion trainwreck.

  63. paul walter
    March 30th, 2011 at 15:16 | #63

    Yes Donald Oats, the BBC reckons reactor2 has definitely gone past melt down, if my memory is right.

  64. Alice
    March 30th, 2011 at 18:06 | #64

    I hate to say I told you so but …I wonder how bravenewblunders and Barry the bozo is going now….still talking about kws/per hours $cost?????

    The worst of Japans problems is hideous when we look into the future and we start to tally up how many nuclear reactors there are in the world and we start to count down up the years of their age and their ageing equipment and we start to factor in the number of pathetic governments still trying to keep their budgets in surplus year after year (oh just let that reactor go another decade boys), and we factor in the companies who run them (mostly electricity companies) who dont like safety precautions and unnecessary regulation..and the whole lot look like future Fukupshimas.

    Well its one way to reduce the population. Im sure the Koch brothers would approve.

    I wasnt sure why they werent pouring the concrete yet. It will come – shouldnt it come faster? The I realised they have two swimming pools worth of highly radioactive water in the bottom from the incessant dowsing, that they cant get near.

    Oh great. Nuclear. The Aborigines were right to leave it in the ground and know enough to stay away from it. Whitefella has a lot to learn

  65. Ikonoclast
    March 31st, 2011 at 08:37 | #65

    I predicted in a post in an earlier thread that radioactive pollution of the seas around Fukishima would become an issue. Does anyone wonder how I make my brilliant and prescient predictions? ;)

    Well, my reasoning went like this;

    - They are pouring lots of water onto the reactors and containment pools.
    - Water runs downhill.
    - The reactors are right next to the sea.
    - Ergo, the water will run into the sea and pollute it.

    There, you see what a complicated chain of reasoning is needed to make these kind of prescient iconoclastic predictions. No wonder I did it before any of the “expert” media commentators.

  66. Ikonoclast
    March 31st, 2011 at 08:42 | #66

    @Donald Oats

    Corporate Managerialist Risk Management = World’s Cheapest Practice.

  67. Alice
    March 31st, 2011 at 19:16 | #67

    <a href="#comment- a stream of good news from the media (or better than expected news, which gets unwound the day after) we dont believe, the smoke is still pouring out despite the dowsings which yes has to run downhill. Blind Freddy can see this is a concrete job ie a Chernobyl, and will be a concrete job – and they are just not getting the concrete job done fast enough are they?

    Poor Barry the bozo has taken to fragmenting his threads in an effort to contain the fallout ie technical discussion, philosophical discussion and an open thread…post in the wrong one and you are eliminated.

    Despite that – Ive now made four very reasonable and polite posts (one today asking when they think the concrete pouring will commence at Fukushima – note I said this on this date)….that never see the light of day and I always enter moderation straight up. I guarantee I could post "good morning Barry – did you enjoy your weetbix?" and still be moderated. I must be on a blacklist of people who have upset Barry.

    Wow – such censorship from a supposed academic????

  68. Alice
    March 31st, 2011 at 20:56 | #68

    Confirmed at 9.51pm. I posted in Bravenewclimate “Good morning Barry – did you enjoy your weetbix?”

    I was moderated and my post will never see the light of day. Im clearly radioactive waste to Barry and his bravenewclimate pro nuclear site.

    Calls himself an objective scientific academic? Only allows posts from people who agree with nuclear development? Pathetic. Whats he doing earning a salary paid for by taxpayers?

    What a joke.

  69. Ikonoclast
    April 1st, 2011 at 07:55 | #69

    I wouldn’t worry about it Alice. Barry Brook continues to make himself look completely foolish with every post he writes supporting nuclear power. (He reminds me of a National Rifle Association spokesman in the USA supporting private gun ownership on the day after another High School massacre.) Meanwhile, the real world nuclear crisis in Japan just goes from bad to worse. Nuclear power is destined to expire. Unfortunately, it will die a long lingering death like all the people poisoned by it.

    Barry says;

    “I welcome comments, posts, suggestions and informed debate, from a wide range of perspectives. However, personal attacks, insulting/vulgar posts, or repetitious/false tirades will not be tolerated and can result in moderation or banning. Trolls will be warned, and then banned.”

    He could save some space by saying, “I welcome posts that agree with me.”

    Alice, you have sorely tempted me to go over and troll Barry but I better resist temptation.

  70. rog
    April 1st, 2011 at 08:22 | #70

    @Donald Oats
    You mean lack of risk management? This has to be another black mark against deregulation and privatisation. For whatever reason TEPCO has failed to maintain standards and the consequences of its failure are enormous.

  71. Ikonoclast
    April 1st, 2011 at 08:25 | #71

    The Gen IV fast spectrum reactors that Brook is spruiking have numerous obstacles and dangers. I name a few from Wikipedia;

    1. They are currently (2010) uneconomic.

    2. The reactor’s criticality responds literally within the flight time of the neutrons across the core. Design of a fast reactor is therefore more demanding, because there is no moderator whose thermal or mechanical behavior can adjust the reactor. Fast reactors cannot be reliably stabilized with control rods, which are too slow. Most designs are stabilized either by doppler broadening or by thermal expansion of the fuel, a neutron poison or a neutron reflector.

    3. Sodium is often used as a coolant in fast reactors, because it does not moderate neutron speeds much and has a high heat capacity. However, it burns in air, and is very corrosive. It has caused difficulties in reactors (e.g. USS Seawolf (SSN-575), Monju). Although some sodium-cooled fast reactors have operated safely (notably the Superphénix), sodium problems can be prevented by using lead or molten chloride salts as a coolant.

    4. Although the Superphénix operated safely in broad terms, it was uneconomic and never ran at a more than a fraction of rated capacity because it would have become unsafe if pushed anywhere near its envisaged design rating.

    The technical problems of Gen IV fast spectrum reactors are unsolved because they are intrinsically unsolvable. The naive view of scientific and technical progress is that anything can be made to work with enough science and technical progress. The empirical reality of scientific and technical progress is that it is littered with many deadly experiments, impractical disasters and dead-ends. Empirical reality itself places real limits on what we can do.

    Boosters like Barry Brooks actually seem to think science is magic. Science is not magic. The real world imposes real limits.

  72. Ikonoclast
    April 1st, 2011 at 08:34 | #72

    Correction. Above post relates to Gen III fast breeder reactors.

    “Generation IV reactors (Gen IV) are a set of theoretical nuclear reactor designs currently being researched. Most of these designs are generally not expected to be available for commercial construction before 2030, with the exception of a version of the Very High Temperature Reactor (VHTR) called the Next Generation Nuclear Plant (NGNP). The NGNP is to be completed by 2021.”

    So Barry Brook’s “silver bullet” solution is a pipe dream still on the drawing board or perhaps already on the way to the wastepaper basket.

    “The planned construction of the first VHTR, the South African PBMR (pebble bed modular reactor), lost government funding in February, 2010.[1] A pronounced increase of costs and concerns about possible unexpected technical problems had discouraged potential investors and customers.”

    All other designs are just unproven concept designs. B.B. is living in fantasy land.

  73. Ernestine Gross
    April 1st, 2011 at 19:06 | #73

    The Superphenix is dead – decommissioning commenced last century.

    There were technical problems. One of them was ‘critical’.

    My best guess is that not even a ’00s Wall Street banker would issue securities to raise money to put into something like that.

  74. Ken Fabos
    April 1st, 2011 at 20:07 | #74

    I don’t think anyone can predict precisely what a 5% reduction will cost or how it will be achieved but I don’t see that’s a reason to make no attempt. 5% is a starting point not a final result and we can’t know in advance how we’ll get from 5% to 50% and onwards to reductions capable of halting and reversing the rise in atmospheric CO2. Australian politics may not be looking beyond that 2020 / 5% plan, showing itself remarkably incapable of coming to grips with the problem and see to still be seeing it in terms of preserving a strong, growing fossil fuel export industry whilst giving the appearance of basing policy on science based reality. Or in tandem with encouraging denial of science based reality.

    Expecting the necessary emissions reductions can be achieved without rising energy costs is unrealistic but not as unrealistic as refusing to commit to reductions unless they don’t. The science is more than strong enough to count failure to slow, halt and reduce the rise in CO2 as choosing near certain catastrophic consequences that are effectively irreversible. And hideously and unpredictably expensive.

    I suspect that until there is widespread understanding of that last, we won’t even see success at reaching 5% reductions.

  75. BilB
    April 1st, 2011 at 20:40 | #75

    Ike,

    Is BB’s nuclear symbol still grinning like a Cheshire cat?

  76. Freelander
    April 1st, 2011 at 21:10 | #76

    I like that Barry Brook is now speculating that the plutonium that has been detected is probably a remnant of nuclear bomb tests. I’m not a nuclear scientist, but I thought things like plutonium were fuel for a nuclear explosion rather than an important by-product? Is evidence of a successful nuclear test left in the form of plutonium concentrations? Other than two impromptu and unauthorized tests conducted toward the end of WWII, I wasn’t aware that Japan had been a significant testing ground for nuclear weapons? If it had been depleted uranium found, then the explanation would be that some tanks had been doing target practice.

    That said, I am sure everything at the nuclear plant in Japan is still totally under control, and that there is absolutely no cause for concern, following yet another hysterical media beat up.

  77. Alice
    April 1st, 2011 at 22:06 | #77

    @Freelander
    We txpayers are paying Barry’s salary? Why? You can see why some people cant stand academics and think they are a waste of time and money. Barry gives the whole academic profession a bad reputation because he is obviously politically and ideologically biased and that infects his research but he is getting away with it.

  78. Freelander
    April 2nd, 2011 at 02:19 | #78

    @Alice

    Are they busy trying to out crazy each other at the University of Adelaide, is it something in the water, or does dementia come early over there?

  79. paul walter
    April 2nd, 2011 at 02:50 | #79

    Freelander, we don’t “do” fluoride over here, at least as an issue, like in certain other parts.
    And there are one or two nice social libs in the arts/ humanites faculty.

  80. paul walter
    April 2nd, 2011 at 02:51 | #80

    “Sub Cruce Lumen”.

  81. Freelander
    April 2nd, 2011 at 08:02 | #81

    So you don’t subscribe to the theory that the push to ‘fluoridation’ was really driven by the needs of the nuclear industry to get rid of an otherwise troublesome by-product?

    “Cro Magnon Lumen”

  82. Freelander
    April 2nd, 2011 at 08:11 | #82

    If they had waited until they came up with the great idea of depleted uranium tipped shells, they could have put the put the fluoride in as well, and had shells that pierce tank armour and protect your teeth from cavities at the same time?

    What a breakthrough that would have been!

  83. jakerman
    April 2nd, 2011 at 09:34 | #83

    Freelander :
    I like that Barry Brook is now speculating that the plutonium that has been detected is probably a remnant of nuclear bomb tests.

    Brook’s claim (as reported by Freelander) would appear to be contradicted by statements such as this:

    WASHINGTON, March 29 (Reuters) – The discovery of plutonium in the soil near Japan’s damaged nuclear reactors should not be a major surprise, unless the levels are higher than normal, a U.S. Energy Department official said on Tuesday.

    “All operating reactors … build up plutonium during the course of operation, so finding plutonium that is derived in the operating reactors or the spent fuel pools would not be regarded as a major surprise,” Peter Lyons, of the Energy Department’s nuclear energy office, at a hearing for the Senate Energy and Natural Resources committee.

    Does Brooks propose the plutonium levels have not increased due to the accident?

    Given that both bombs were dropped in the South West of Japan, and the reactor accident is in the North East it require quite a coincidence for the Plutonium levels to be raised near the reactor and not elsewhere widely across the country.

    Freelander, does Brooks make a serious effort at pushing this proposal?

    So why have they taken so long to detect it? They have had safety surveys before now right?

  84. Freelander
    April 2nd, 2011 at 09:48 | #84

    @jakerman

    Hypothesis: Barry Brook is an idiot.

    This hypothesis seems to provide satisfactory answers to all of your questions.

  85. jakerman
    April 2nd, 2011 at 10:33 | #85

    @Freelander

    But other facts contradict this hypothesis. Brooks started out much more balanced in his assessment to nuclear, now he’s saying stuff that seemingly will hurt his credibility.

    Brooks doesn’t fall easily into a simple narrative for me. He’s smart, convincing, and now wrecking his cred.

  86. Ikonoclast
    April 2nd, 2011 at 11:42 | #86

    Why do otherwise intelligent people get suckered into absurd beliefs? I think a fair bit of it has to do with early intellectual training. If early intellectual training includes indoctrination in any of the received religious belief systems then the person is psychologically set up to accept, as truth, assertions without empirical evidence, especially from cultural authority figures.

    Concomittantly, logical thinking and rigorous assessment of empirical evidence are de-emphasised. In layman’s terms, people trained to accept received relgions are trained with an inbuilt bias to believe bulldust. They also tend to lack an effective bulldust detector which is built around logic, scientific literacy, quantitative analysis skills, respect for empirical evidence and a broad philosophical understanding with backing in comparative religous and cultural studies.

    The problem is the acute hold that religion and superstition (are they any different?) still have on much of the human race.

  87. Chris Warren
    April 2nd, 2011 at 11:55 | #87

    Given the onsided censorship raging through BraveNewClimate I thought I’d cross-post here – from BNC’s open threads:

    Nuclear Corrosion of Standards
    Nuclear Toxicity

    Typically, commercial competition opposes regulation and has an inherent tendency to ‘cut costs’.

    As more and more nuclear concentrate, fuel, and waste are introduced into the environment, policy makers will be forced to derogate their own standards. We see this in recent commercial pressures to export uranium to a non-Nuclear Proliferation Treaty nation (India). Unfortunately, allowing India to breakout of NPT structures has led to North Korea seeking the same treatment.

    In the United States, the Department of Energy awards contracts to manufacture plutonium-based (P-MOX) fuel for nuclear reactors, even though;

    …the increase in risk to the public … exceeds recently established Nuclear regulatory Commissoin (NRC) guidelines

    See: Edwin S. Lyman (2000), “Public Health Risks of Substituting Mixed-Oxide For Uranium Fuel in Pressurized-Water Reactors”, Science & Global Security, 2000, Volume 9, pp.1–47

    The key issue, for Lyman, is that spent P-MOX fuel contains large inventories of long-lived alpha-emitters with relatively high radiotoxicity.

    Lyman’s paper also provides a good illustration how bureaucrats corrode their own standards. Risk increase from nukes can be permitted in America given that:

    …when proposed changes result in an increase in … risk, the increases should be small …

    [see: Lyman p21]

    If the increase in (internal) risk in Large Release Frequency (LERF) is less than 10^-7 per reactor/year, an application is waved-on through.

    For higher increments of increased risk, only those that result in a gross risk of 10^-5 R/Y, are blocked.

    If continued, this is a recipe for disaster particularly if the number of reactor years increases as fossils are phased out.

    The world has between 400 – 500 reactors and is on a path to achieve 1000 in due course.

    If American-accepted risk of LERF is 10^5 R/Y this is 10^2 per year assuming 1,000 reactors. This is internal risk only.

    Of course this will multiply enormously if fossil fuels are not phased-out in favour of renewables.

    Of course earthquakes, military attacks (eg Israel), and sabotage are not included – these are external risks.

  88. Freelander
    April 2nd, 2011 at 14:08 | #88

    @jakerman

    Intellect has never been a barrier to being a complete idiot; in fact, if anything a decent intellect can give one the capacity to believe absurdities that lesser mortal would reject out of hand.

    Brook is an idiot, albeit a clever one, but still an idiot. An idiot but definitely not a savant.

  89. Chris Warren
    April 2nd, 2011 at 23:09 | #89

    Of course if we assume that the world needs around 10,000 GW [@2060] a huge radiation risk emerges for humanity.

    From Table 6.4 at: http://www.eia.doe.gov/iea/elec.html it is clear that world electric capacity has soared from 2,000GW (million Kw) in 1982 to 4,000GW in 2006 – a doubling period of 24 years.

    Our pro-nuclear proponents expect that by 2060 there will be 10,000 GW nuclear capacity.

    See: http://bravenewclimate.com/2010/10/25/2060-nuclear-scenarios-p4/

    However the 2000 Probabilistic Risk Analysis for a large release of high radio toxicity is bench-marked at an event risk of 10^-5 per reactor year [http://www.nci.org/PDF/lyman-mox-sgs.pdf].

    As the number of reactor years increases the likelihood of such a large release increases.

    In fact it appears that a large release can be expected every 10 years after 2060.

    *********

    Obviously building near 200 reactors a year to achieve 10,000 GW [2010] will result in any probability for one (1GW) reactor/year blowing out.

    Probability is tricky. The probability of anyone else having your birthdate is 1/365.
    But the probability of any person having the same birthdate as someone else (given 20 people) is around 10 times greater.

    So a probabilistic risk analysis for a single specific plant is not relevant for “any-of-many” scenario.

    LERF of 10^-5 per Reactor Year [a 24 hrs measurement] is inadequate over 10,000 reactors over 100 years.

    This signals a possible large radiation release around every 10 years. Future population growth will worsen this picture.

    This will ratchet the global background radiation in a continuous trend that will continue to increase forever.

    Naturally, Third World countries will have lower standards, and it is not clear what the LERF for Japan should be placed at now.

    Anyway it seems clear that the nuclear case is FUBAR in the interests of humanity from this risk alone.

    Any continuous trend for increasing background radiation eventually destroys all life on the planet.

    ******************

    Posted on Barry Brooks site but it was censored by 50%

  90. Chris Warren
    April 3rd, 2011 at 08:01 | #90

    Latest New Perspective on Fukushima

    I think you will find the Washington Post report by y David Nakamura and Michael Alison Chandler, [Saturday, April 2, 5:07 AM] has an interesting ‘new perspective’

    TEPCO officials revealed Thursday:

    … that most of their dosimeters had been destroyed by the tsunami. Sometimes only group leaders were given a badge. Tepco officials on Friday said they had obtained more badges and that all workers would wear one.

    So these nuclear engineers could not get a proper distribution of dosimeters to all workers until when? If emergency workers do not have dosimeters then how can anyone monitor their radiation exposure?

    But this is not all ….

    The same report indicates there are several areas continuing to radiate at over 1 sievert. Obviously TEPCO knows which areas, but somehow the information is not in the Washington Post.

    Is there any official reports on these areas with ongoing over 1 sievert radiation?

    If it is 1 sievert now; is this a recent increase or the results of a decrease?

    See: Washington Post

  91. Alice
    April 3rd, 2011 at 08:36 | #91

    @Freelander
    Brook is dangerously obsessed fanatic. The censorship that is going on at his site is pathetic now. Under the guise of “moderation” he is insisting on tranches of brand new posting rules.

    Insert Barry’s respone to Chris Warrens full post at 39 above immediately after where CHris says “is inadequate over 10,000 reactors over 100 years. Thats as far as Chris got. The rest of the above post was deleted with the comment by Brooks

    “DELETED unsubstantiated extrapolations – Chris, if you want to make your remaining points, please justify them appropriately]”

    Good on you Chris and a few others that bat away in BNC including a Japanese person who lives 75K from the plant and is watching every day for information on radiation levels who suggested that BNC site was understating the danger levels and playing lightly with the truth.
    Anyway – I didnt have to wait for his response to my question that was censored re “when they thought the concrete trucks were coming” (and it did occur to me that perhaps Barry didnt want to consider the obvious that the concrete trucks will ultimately be pumping concrete instead of water – selective intelligence reigns supreme at BNC).

    The concrete trucks are coming.

    http://edition.cnn.com/2011/WORLD/asiapcf/04/02/japan.nuclear.megafloat/

    http://edition.cnn.com/2011/WORLD/asiapcf/04/02/japan.nuclear.cement.pumper/

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