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Monday Message Board

February 23rd, 2015

Another Monday Message Board. Post comments on any topic. Civil discussion and no coarse language please. Side discussions and idees fixes to the sandpits, please.

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  1. Tim Macknay
    February 23rd, 2015 at 12:57 | #1

    Good news: climate change denying ‘scientist’ Willie Soon is in disgrace and is almost certain to be sacked by the Harvard-Smithsonian Astrophysics Centre, after revelations of his receipt of massive undisclosed payments from the fossil fuel industry.

  2. Newtownian
  3. Hermit
    February 23rd, 2015 at 13:33 | #3

    A few weeks a go there was a post saying China’s coal use had peaked and therefore there was reason for optimism about world emissions. I recall pointing out China was burning 3.2 bn tonnes a years but planned to go to 4 bn, a comment regarded as niggardly. Turns out China is burning more coal than ever
    http://theenergycollective.com/armondcohen/2196341/no-china-coal-peak-sight-carbon-capture-will-be-necessary-tame-emissions-century
    The chart in the link seems dead but read the text which also clarifies the distinction between power sector and other (eg steelmaking) emissions.

    The thing about being cynical is you’re often right. We’re all guilty of a clear conscience over unseen Chinese emissions; for example I buy $50 power tools expecting to throw them out after a year. The article author says CCS must be the answer but I think it has to be carbon tariffs. We get very excited in Australia about partial savings of say 10 million tonnes of emissions. If the West carbon taxed everything made in China maybe we could save 5 billion tonnes where 5B/10M = 500. Perhaps we’re not that serious after all.

  4. Donald Oats
    February 23rd, 2015 at 14:10 | #4

    @Tim Macknay
    Will they sack him? Or just wait for the dust to settle, and continue as before? Still, it lifts one more rock up, letting us see what crawls out from under it; that funding is so directly tied to the papers published is no surprise to me, just that it has taken so long for a fuss about it to reach the media.

  5. David Allen
    February 23rd, 2015 at 14:29 | #5

    Re: Submarines.

    These things are a complete waste of money. They serve no useful purpose. They can’t be re-purposed to another useful role. Nobody ever wants to use them in anger. As a deterrent any design is as good as another. Given that why build them overseas and waste all that money instead of at least getting some economic benefit by spending the money locally.

    Wouldn’t “Team Australia” let decent Aussie mates build true-blue Aussie subs for dinky die Aussie diggers. I thought being taken for mugs was over now? 😉

  6. John Quiggin
    February 23rd, 2015 at 14:35 | #6

    @Tim Macknay

    I saw this and have now posted on it. My guess is that there will be a number of retractions coming up, which will push Smithsonian to cut him loose.

  7. ianse
    February 23rd, 2015 at 15:31 | #7

    Another one for the Zombie collection: In SMH of 20/2/15 Sir David Nicholson, ex CEO of the British National Health System, says upfront GP fees is an ideological “zombie idea” that leads to higher costs and worse health outcomes. There is clear evidence that charging co-payments for GP visits is an ineffective measure for reducing health costs.

  8. Uncle Milton
    February 23rd, 2015 at 16:46 | #8

    According to the Australian (I know, I know) we are soon to get a counter-terrorism tsar. Sounds like just the job for the Queensland Premier’s father.

  9. Derrida derider
    February 23rd, 2015 at 18:45 | #9

    @David Allen
    Pretty simple, David – building it here will cost three times the price. Sure, build ’em here if they’re good enough to do the job (something that on ASC”s form is doubtful). But if Adelaide needs an extra $20b or so of other Aussie”s dough thrown at it I”d far rather it was spent in schools, units, pensioners and the environment. Get em cheap as we can & use the money saved elsewhere.

  10. Fran Barlow
    February 23rd, 2015 at 18:52 | #10

    @Derrida derider

    Or just forget the idea of subs and use the capital on something likely to prove useful.

  11. Donald Oats
    February 23rd, 2015 at 19:00 | #11

    PM Tony Abbott mocked the ALP in parliament, making extraordinary claims of subs being built in North Korea or Russia, should an open tender be pursued (as the ALP was pushing); he then fired both barrels at both feet by explaining that under the competitive evaluation process, the sub building would be limited to three countries, that being France, Germany, and Japan: the latter two were the enemy in WWII!!! At least the USSR fought the Germans in WWII. So, Abbott feels he can make some gratuitous link between the Reds and the ALP by saying that’s what the ALP’s open tender process would lead to, but he is completely oblivious to having two out of the three contenders under his government’s process being our enemies from World War II—WTF??

    Oddly enough, no journos seem to have picked up on this…why am I not surprised?

  12. sunshine
    February 23rd, 2015 at 19:20 | #12

    @Fran Barlow
    Good idea, my sentiment exactly Fran .
    You may call me a dreamer …..

  13. I am and will always be Not Trampis
    February 23rd, 2015 at 19:42 | #13

    Subs are always a sunken cost!

  14. TerjeP
    February 23rd, 2015 at 22:32 | #14

    I’m not comfortable with the notion of citzenship being something that can be cancelled. But if we are going to cancel peoples citizenship then surely it should be a punishment (exile) handed out by a court following a conviction for a crime. Not something decided on a whim by the executive branch. And before we start down the road of cancelling citzenship how about we tighten up the terms on which we grant it. For instance you should have to be a permanent resident for ten years before you are eligible for citizenship. Like in Switzerland.

  15. TerjeP
    February 23rd, 2015 at 22:37 | #15

    Fran Barlow :
    @Derrida derider
    Or just forget the idea of subs and use the capital on something likely to prove useful.

    Subs seem like one of the best means of front line defence. More useful than a lot of our other military expenditure.

  16. Ikonoclast
    February 24th, 2015 at 01:02 | #16

    @TerjeP

    I thought a minarchist libertarian would say we are all citizens of the globe and there should be no borders. Being “a permanent resident for ten years before you are eligible for citizenship” is tougher (I think) than the conditions I would set.

    The conditions I would set are;

    (a) be accepted as an immigrant or refugee.
    (b) be prepared to be bound by the laws and constitution of Australia.

    I don’t like allowing dual or multiple citizenship but maybe that just makes me old fashioned and parochial. In an uncertain world some people might feel safer with multiple citizenships. However, it can make them unsafe too; e.g. susceptible to military conscription in the “old country” if they go back even for a holiday.

  17. TerjeP
    February 24th, 2015 at 07:42 | #17

    I thought a minarchist libertarian would say we are all citizens of the globe and there should be no borders.

    I definitely think there should be borders. They are useful limit on the reach of any given government. I’m a strong advocate of limited government and borders are a pretty fundamental limit.

    What you may be thinking of is the idea that individual people should be free to cross borders. I’m very sympathetic towards moving in that direction but would prefer that we proceed incrementally. One way to open things up a little would be by establishing bilateral free immigration agreements with various nations similar to the arrangement we have with New Zealand. Singapore and the UK both seem to me to be good initial partners (Singapore in particular). Further more we should introduce new visas that allow people to buy residency for a flat fee somewhere north of $20k so long as they pass a criminal background check and don’t have any contagious diseases. This would be in addition to existing visa programs.

    However citizenship is a very separate issue to residency rights. You can be a permanent resident of Australia without being a citizen. My parents were residents for over 40 years before becoming citizens. They had all the civil rights available to a citizen such as the right to work, buy and sell property etc. They had four kids here without themselves being citizens. The only thing that they missed out on was the right to an Australian passport and the right to vote. I don’t see why we can’t be generous in offering people permant residency and also be more reserved in offering citizenship. I’d be liberalising immigration and tightening citizenship rules.

    As for cancelling citizenship it makes little sense unless you also cancel residency rights. In essence it’s the power to excile people from the rhelm. This seems extreme to me. But if we were to do this it should be as punishment for a specific crime and should be delivered as part of sentencing delivered by a judge in a court or law.

  18. TerjeP
    February 24th, 2015 at 07:49 | #18

    I don’t like allowing dual or multiple citizenship but maybe that just makes me old fashioned and parochial.

    I don’t oppose dual citizenship but I do oppose dual citizenship with certain nations. For instance if a Saudi wants Australian citizenship I think they should have to renounce Saudi citizenship. And if an Australian wants Saudi citizenship they should be prepared to renounce their Australian citizenship.

  19. Hermit
    February 24th, 2015 at 07:56 | #19

    The Japanese submarine on display at the War Memorial in Canberra is a composite of two mini subs that were destroyed in Sydney Harbour in 1942
    https://www.awm.gov.au/encyclopedia/midgetsub/
    Now decades later machines evolved from those earlier versions are supposed to protect us not attack us. It’s bizarre to some but evidently not to Colonel Blimp types. We could save a lot of money and grief if we knew hostile countries would be our friends later on. Less death all round from war avoided and more money spent on the health system.

  20. rog
    February 24th, 2015 at 09:56 | #20

    @Hermit Scaremongering is a powerful electoral weapon used by almost all politicians. The cost of domestic violence to our economy has been estimated at $13B yet domestic violence programs are to be cut to meet fiscal goals set by businessmen.

  21. Ikonoclast
    February 24th, 2015 at 10:02 | #21

    @TerjeP

    Yes, that brings up an interesting principle I had in mind. Namely, that dual citizenship of countries with fundamentally antithetical views on liberal and humanitarian values might be antithetical. Mind you, Australia’s liberal and humanitarian values are open to serious criticism right now re refugees and other issues.

  22. tony lynch
    February 24th, 2015 at 13:48 | #22

    ‘Mr Higginson wrote that he had raised $70 million since 2011 and recently “laid out my plans to the PM” to travel to the United States to raise “tens of millions” from donors.’

    What donors?

    Is this standard practice?

  23. February 24th, 2015 at 14:45 | #23

    Hermit, here is an article on coal use in China you may be interested in. The important points are coal use slightly declined last year and coal plant capacity factor is down to 54%, which is very low for an developing country. Australia, despite its massive overcapacity, still manages about 45%:

    http://reneweconomy.com.au/2015/new-coal-power-plants-in-china-a-bubble-waiting-to-burst-46927

  24. David Irving (no relation)
    February 24th, 2015 at 14:54 | #24

    @tony lynch
    I thought it was illegal for an Australian political party to accept donations from foreigners.

  25. Uncle Milton
    February 24th, 2015 at 15:41 | #25

    @David Irving (no relation)

    Are you kidding? Here is one example, among many. According to the AEC, a certain Zi Chung Wang of No 112, YuHua XiLu, Qiaoxi District, Shijiazhuang, Hebei, China gave $850,000 to the Labor Party on 8 August 2013.

    http://periodicdisclosures.aec.gov.au/Returns/55/SVNG9.pdf

  26. Hermit
    February 24th, 2015 at 21:12 | #26

    @Ronald Brak
    An article along similar lines has come out in The Energy Collective. In Australia there is a new twist to the overcapacity argument..the Tasmanian Greens want Lake Pedder drained to its original size since we have ‘too much’ generating capacity. This is since last year AEMO said eastern Australia (the NEM) could cut from about 48 GW to 38 GW.

    However what should be cut is either high carbon or non dispatchable but hydro is both low carbon and dispatchable. I think the primary driver of policy here, in China or anywhere else should be tough emissions targets. That should sort out what should stay and what should go.

  27. Fran Barlow
    February 24th, 2015 at 21:29 | #27

    @TerjeP

    They just aren’t the last defence white paper doesn’t even make a case for them. By the time they arrive, they will be expensive targets for any serious aggressor, but more likely, just more junk with a huge sunk cost — and the capex is just the sub total. (yes I am carrying on with the pun)

  28. Fran Barlow
    February 24th, 2015 at 21:30 | #28

    Oops … Insert ‘and’ after *aren’t* above.

  29. February 24th, 2015 at 21:33 | #29

    Hermit, one can always find people in favour of stupid things. When one goes searching for people saying stupid things, then the world can seem a stupid place. I’d even go as far as saying it’s a stupid activity. No one is going to drain Lake Pedder back to its orginal size. Not in a world of collapsing ice sheets, the highest global temperatures on record, and 45 degree Adelaide days. To remove a source of low emission hydroelectricity while Victoria is still burning brown coal would be really really stupid. So stupid in fact, that there is absolutely no chance what so ever that it would actually be done and the only time we will ever hear about it is when nutjobs want to distract attention from the desperate need to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

  30. February 25th, 2015 at 00:10 | #30

    @tony lynch
    It just occurred to me, what investor would punt on Tony Abbott, now he appears to be in a downward spiral of his own creation? I know the media propaganda system is partially broken, but what happens if the funding dries up? Perhaps the opportunity exists for the ALP to claim that they can do austerity better and receive the windfall?

  31. Ivor
    February 25th, 2015 at 08:50 | #31

    @Derrida derider

    What is the evidence for 3 times the cost?

  32. sunshine
    February 25th, 2015 at 09:25 | #32

    @TerjeP
    Apparently subs are good for denying sea control, but cant establish sea control. They are a bit like terrorists of the sea in that they are only good at disrupting things. That function may be useful to us one day but I’d still rather see the money spent on other projects. I favor the naive optimists small defence force (used primarily for humanitarian efforts) and neutral nation stance ,or perhaps a regional alliance of close neighbors .Lets stop sucking up to the USA before they suck us down the drain with them. I see in todays news that NZ is sending troops (‘trainers’) to Iraq now. Therefore it would not be surprising if they soon suffer a terror incident .

  33. Hermit
    February 25th, 2015 at 10:44 | #33

    You’d have to think the purpose of continually updating whizzbang military technology is to do the bidding of the US or sometimes just to please them without being asked. The military jets we sent to bomb Daesh were not the latest model but proved adequate against medievalists. However one could easily crash due to malfunction and the surviving pilot treated barbarously. In other words what happened to the Jordanian pilot could happen to an Aussie.

    Now I note we are to get US military attack drones presumably for top dollar. Perhaps they too will go to serve ‘our’ interests in the northern hemisphere. At least pilots will be spared.

  34. jungney
    February 25th, 2015 at 11:10 | #34

    @Ronald Brak
    I visited Lake Peddar in 1972. Walked in, walked out in its last year before flooding. It was the most stunning example of time I have ever experienced. A few days camping there were without time because each serene moment was indistinguishable from the moments that preceded and followed. It was unchanging, it was stunning and its loss still causes grief for those who knew it.

    While I agree that there appears to be a global scale case for maintaining it to supply renewable energy to the mainland I can’t agree that the desire to drain it is “stupid”. Who knows, had it been maintained in its natural state, how many more people might have got the message about the need to protect the Earth?

  35. Tim Macknay
    February 25th, 2015 at 11:21 | #35

    @jungney
    I don’t think Ronald is saying the desire to drain it is stupid. He’s saying that having a serious policy to drain it is stupid, at least in current circumstances. I’m envious that you got to see the place before the dam was built.

  36. Hermit
    February 25th, 2015 at 12:13 | #36

    They could easily drain a lot of Lake Pedder by opening the sluice gate on the canal connecting it to Gordon Dam. Pedder is a metre below full at the rockfill dams on the south eastern side whereas the concrete Gordon Dam is 34m below full. However boat ramps and picnic areas on Pedder would be stranded a long way from the waters edge which to some extent has already reproduced smaller versions of the white sand beaches.

    Therefore Pedder is a kind of spare tank for hydro in dry years which 2015 is shaping up to be. It’s on the cards national emissions will increase this year not due to an economic revival but higher gas prices, no serious carbon restrictions and reduced hydro, all of which favour coal.

  37. jungney
    February 25th, 2015 at 13:38 | #37

    Well, I’d love to see it drained and restored as an up you to the web toes who pushed ahead with it in the first instance. But maybe not yet 🙂

    Apparently the Gordon Hydro is the biggest in Tassie and the most significant power supply to Basslink. It should also be noted, though, that during times of drought, Basslink provides power to Tassie so it is not altogether clear cut that Tassie hydro is a fail safe option.

  38. February 25th, 2015 at 13:58 | #38

    It is perfectly reasonable to desire Lake Pedder be returned to its original beauty. But if it comes at the cost of increased brown coal burning in Victoria it is more than self defeating as an environmental goal. But it is something that could be done once greenhouse gas emissions have been halted. In the meantime, Lake Pedder isn’t going to get any more indunated.

  39. February 25th, 2015 at 14:15 | #39

    @jungney
    What Tasmania generally does is import brown coal electricity from Victoria when the price is low and export hydroelectricity when the price in Victoria is high. However, lately with its dams at a low level and wholesale prices of electricity being in general extremely low for summer, Tasmania has been holding onto more water and letting its dams fill up a bit. But it’s clear what will happen in the future. The spread of rooftop solar will mostly eliminate the need to use hydroelectricity in the day, leaving it all available to meet the evening peak or seaonal demand. And I’ll mention that Tasmania has excellet wind resources, so any time they want they can erect more wind turbines which will give them the option of using their hydroelectricity in an even more targeted way. On average I believe Tasmania already produces more renewable electricity than it consumes, although I guess it may not hold true this year.

  40. Hermit
    February 25th, 2015 at 15:09 | #40

    Tasmania has the luxury of balancing wind power with hydro rather than gas something done across borders in Denmark and Norway. They’ve let most of the water out of the Gordon Dam apparently because of the end of carbon tax. Trout fishers don’t expect it to completely refill for several years. The turbine hall has a vacant mounting slot for another generator so I guess the expected water flow never arrived.

    Conceivably solar now about 4 GW capacity nationwide could could end up much bigger than hydro which I think is over 8 GW if you include Ord River and new irrigation schemes. Roam Consulting did a report on potential new pumped hydro sites but I think none will eventuate. Solar will need some other form of energy storage for overnight and rainy weather. As I pointed out upthread AEMO thinks we need 36 GW generating capacity in the eastern states. I make the average use about 26 GW with the overnight minimum about 15 GW. I suggest most of that will come from coal burning for several more decades.

  41. jungney
    February 25th, 2015 at 17:40 | #41

    Ronald, Hermit et al. Thanks. I learned a lot there.

  42. Megan
    February 25th, 2015 at 22:56 | #42

    I have a conspiracy theory.

    The facts:

    1. Laura Poitras has made a documentary about the Snowden revelations called “Citizen Four”;

    2. “Citizen Four” won the Oscar for ‘Best Documentary’;

    3. In all the establishment media coverage of the Oscars I have not seen a single mention of the film;

    4. Despite repeated, unanswered, requests about screenings in Brisbane I only became aware that it is on at Dendy Portside by accident;

    5. Today I was one of only 3 people in the cinema watching the film!

    My conspiracy theory is that “they” would really prefer people not see this film.

    Even if you think you already know all you need to about the military/industrial/police state complex blanket spying and drone operations, you will learn something from seeing the film and I would recommend it to everyone. Especially everyone you know who isn’t worried about being mass-surveilled.

  43. jungney
    February 26th, 2015 at 11:54 | #43

    Jeremy Buckingham (Greens, NSW) provides a list 30 plus ministers or senior bureaucrats and staffers who are currently employed by the coal, oil, gas and minerals extraction industries:

    http://www.echo.net.au/2015/02/former-pollies-staffers-mine-rich-vein-new-jobs/#.VO0a-JbvV-U.twitter

    It is an impressive list.

  44. Megan
    February 27th, 2015 at 20:07 | #44

    The stupidity and arrogance of the ALP still amazes me.

    It shouldn’t, but it does – because it is so nonsensical.

    In Queensland they have just scraped together a government with the support of a single independent, Peter Wellington.

    Given the number of novice hacks making up their ranks, it is almost inevitable that they will lose a seat during their first term of government (through death, corruption, malfeasance or some other misadventure).

    And yet the premier has refused to even meet with the two non-LNP members of parliament upon who the ALP may need to rely to hold government.

    The ALP is not a political party, it’s a zombie cult.

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