Weekend reflections

It’s time again for weekend reflections, which makes space for longer than usual comments on any topic. As always, civilised discussion and no coarse language.

44 thoughts on “Weekend reflections

  1. Alice – I’m not your messenger boy. If I as a libertarian can fathom the courage to comment on a socialist blog such as this one then I’m sure you can pass comment at a libertarian blog without it killing you. You obviously managed to read the article without getting libertarian germs.

  2. Does anyone besides me seriously wonder about the motives for the strong commitment to ‘clean coal’? Surely Rudd and co can do the arithmetic; 3 times as much CO2 as coal burned to make it, much more difficult (ie expensive) than coal was to dig up to separate, transport and dispose of. There is no way it can ever be low cost even for the first plants which would be the ones with the right geology underneath suitable for pumping it deep into and expecting it to stay there forever. After that it gets ever more difficult and expensive. Seriously, can anyone reasonably expect even a significant portion of the gigatons of CO2 to be successfully disposed of at any kind of reasonable cost?

    So if it’s so clearly an ultimate dead end why the unequivocal support for it? Why the allocation of more R&D funding than any renewables? If the money is tight, how can it be justified to pour more money into something that can’t work than money on things that have an existing track record, that can only be improved by economies of scale, in a nation richer in renewable potential than most?

    After some consideration I can only conclude this is a message, firstly to the fossil fuel industry, of undying support and secondly to the public, who might suspect that ongoing expansion of coal mining and export is against our global interests in the new climate reality. So if ‘clean coal’ gets anything less than full support it might look like it doesn’t deserve it!

    Honestly I can only think we are seeing shades of The Hollowmen; renewables getting more than ‘clean coal’ would give the impression that ‘clean coal’ isn’t a viable clean energy alternative and the pressure to begin cutting back our reliance on coal would grow. So allocate more to ‘clean coal’ than renewables, giving the impression it’s an achievable option and at the same time giving a good excuse to ignore the inconvenient fact that, as the world’s No.1 exporter of coal we are a big part of the problem, and of course, justify the continued massive expansion of coal mining and export.

    And I thought Hollowmen was satire!

  3. @Ken

    For the record, Ken, I’m against spending one red cent on CC&S, in part, on the grounds you suggest. Essentially, the talk of “clean coal” is an expensive and counterproductive (from the public interest POV) bit of political theatre, created and played so as to mollify industry opposition to CO2 abatement and to deflect the idea that green intitiatives are antithetic to job protection.

  4. Ken, you are oblivious as to what is happening in the real world. You only need to read up on other areas of the economy to realise Australia is not standing still when it comes to R & D and greenhouse gas. Today Dr Beverley Henry provides some evidence that, “The emissions from both beef cattle and sheep have dropped by about 10 percent overall since 1990. And if you look at the amount of beef, where production has gone up, there’s been a 9pc reduction in the amount of emissions per kilogram of product’. And whilst we are heading in the wright direction, the high social costs of rewarding bad behaviour and of handing out free permits to the worst polluters in this country is in my opinion ‘bad policy’.

  5. @TerjeP (say tay-a)
    LOl Terje – I get enough libertarian germs in here…is there a vaccination? I support individual freedoms too but not to the extreme of disorder..as some libertarians appear to endorse. Terje – would you support individual freedoms and no regulation in a 7 year old’s classroom? Just wondering.

  6. For the record I am in agreement with Ken on this as well…clean coal supports coal exports and ignores Australia’s nasty role as a major supplier to GW.

  7. Crikey John, now the biggest neo-conservative free-marketeer has put his mitts in the cookie jar raking up $1.04 million from the public purse between May last year and May 8 this year.

  8. @Crispin Bennett
    In agreement with you on that one; page after page of trying to make Labor look bad, instead of reporting the news. It’s a shocker, which is why I don’t pay money for such low quality toilet paper anymore.

  9. Most assuredly, the CPRS is the Continue Polluting Regardless Scheme. Clean coal is a dirty lie. Joke question: How do you get clean coal? Joke answer: You whitewash it.

    Carbon dioxide sequestration will never work. Not a chance. The technical and scale problems are immense. The energy cost to liquify, transport or pipe, pump at pressure and so on will be so high that it will likely take 50% of the energy produced to sequester the CO2. Add that to all the other inefficiencies and energy losses and one can see what a hopeless proposition it is.

    Carbon dioxide sequestration is a bait and switch. Bait people in into clean coal and then get them to switch (perforce accept) the only real possible outcome which is diirty coal use for another 50 years.

  10. Michael, I’m not oblivious to the genuine efforts going on in Oz, just astonished and appalled by the disconnections – between the arms of gov’t dedicated to emissions reduction and the ones dedicated to the expansion of coal mining and exports, between the short term financial benefit to Oz by maximising coal mining revenues and the long term consequences to our agriculture and our national treasures like the Great Barrier Reef, between the illusory belief that our country is a minor player in this, whose decisions will have little effect and the reality of our place as a major player who’s decisions have enormous consequences.

    The allocation of greater funding for ‘clean coal’ (which can’t be a real solution to emissions) than funding for technologies that show genuine promise is apalling mismanagement of our nation’s money at best. It’s use as a propaganda tool to give ‘clean coal’ an image of being a real choice and as an excuse to entrench the continuing growth of the use of coal – in the face of the abundance of quality scientific advice of the real costs and consequences – leaves me grasping for words.

    All the local emissions reductions proposed for Australia are overwhelmed many times over by the increased global emissions from the coal we sell. This is Australia’s true, real ongoing contribution to climate change and without dealing with coal exports the efforts to make a positive difference locally pale to insignificance. Make no mistake, the international community won’t fall for a carbon accounting scam that ignores what we export.

  11. Ken, I have been arguing against Labor’s ETS policy for quite a long time on the basis it is bad policy and irresponsible rewarding bad behaviour and of handing out free permits to the worst polluters in this country by encouraging them to carry on business as usual. And whilst I’m all for renewables we have to face reality.

  12. Michael, I agree the rewarding of bad behaviour is the wrong way to deal with any issue. I’m not sure what you mean by ‘we have to face reality’; climate change is the serious reality we need to face and I don’t believe it’s beyond our capabilities to deal with it but it needs genuine appreciation of it’s seriousness and urgency. Unfortunately, the very real efforts and achievements will be overwhelmed by ongoing bipartisan support for the expansion of coal mining and exports. Only by disbelieving there will be serious economic impacts of climate change can this be justified. Use of coal is at the heart of this issue and policy that not only allows it to be ongoing, but to massively expand it defies logic.

  13. Ken, the reality is governments around the world lack the political will to go one step further and fingers crossed Copenhagen will force Federal Labor to see the light of day and do the wright thing rather than just mouth off about how green it is.

  14. JQ regurgitates this repeatedly;

    ““you have strongly held views rejected by nearly all mainstream scientists in the field makes you considerably worse than a dummy in my book.

    Stolen from Gordon Robertson @JM’s blog;

    “What experts, what fields? Generalizations like yours are what drive alarmist dogma. I was debating (one sided) with an AGW advocate the other day and asked him to name an objective poll that showed the majority of climate scientists agreed with the AGW theory. I asked him 4 times and each time he came back with no answer and more rhetoric.

    I agree that you would get unanimity if you polled all climate modelers. The mistake you alarmists make is thinking modelers represent climate science. They do not, they represent climate modeling, and there may be a lot of them because anyone can run a climate model. Most of you speak as if climate modeling is climate science and that climate scientists like Richard Lindzen, with 40 years in the non-modeling, direct observation school are skeptics not worth bothering with.

    The IPCC represents climate modelers and they are well represented by the IPCC. The IPCC admitted in TAR that they were going to use models exclusively to ‘guess’ at future climate states. They do not predict future climate states because the IPCC made it clear that is not possible, and Kevin Trenberth concurred. Out of the 4000 reviewers on the IPCC, only about 250 are degreed climate scientists or meteorologists. The rest are scientists from all disciplines.

    Among the skeptics you might get partial agreement on AGW. John Christy of UAH claims CO2 ’should’ warm the atmosphere and Patrick Micahels feels ACO2 contributes to the warming. The latter simply does not think the amount of warming contributed is worth the bother. Therefore a straight yes/no poll would reveal nothing.

    Can you answer this question please JQ

    Let me put it to you this way. Among all climate scientists with a degree in the discipline, or among meteorologists, or among physicists, what percentage of those people agree with the AGW theory? How many of them just don’t know?”

    Produce the poll so we can have a look at it.

  15. Michael, I expect we will come to see serious action but not from our current crop of politicians. I doubt Copenhagen will do it, but it will come; the big coal suppliers will be as much pariahs as the big coal users. Soon enough to save the Great Barrier Reef? It’s looking very unlikely to me.

  16. Ken, my understanding is that come next December in Copenhagen countries will agree to a target of between 25-40% in an effort to stabilise global temperatures from rising above 2 degrees and that this position is non negotiable. Time will tell.

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