92 thoughts on “Sandpit

  1. @Jim Rose

    You’ll need to better than conjure lame strawmen, Jim. You’re the one citing as exemplary the appeal of the cognitively unaccomplished to the ethically and intellectually indolent.

    Warrant that if you can. Test your own ability to trigger ‘resonance’.

  2. For anyone who wants to wade through it, some interesting data about “peak fossil fuels”.


    The exponential (indeed near vertical now) rise in the cost of exploratory wells is interesting. Not only is solar becoming a lot cheaper, finding oil is becoming a lot dearer.

    That said, can we replace all fossil fuels with solar and wind power in a workable timeframe without economic disruptions? Also, will the lower EROEI of solar/wind, maybe 10:1 compared to the heyday of oil (100:1) be any kind of noticeable drag on the economy? Could we expect energy to cost roughly ten times as much in real terms with this feeding through in some proportion to the cost of all other goods and services?

  3. @Ikonoclast
    I think the answer is it takes decades and a small rich population to adjust to very high energy prices. Some have argued a mixed economy needs energy primary sources with an EROEI >8. Below that is the ‘cliff’ that takes us back to pre-industrial times.

    Tim Flannery and others are confident that difficult problems like large scale energy storage will be solved. What if it isn’t? If world population was say 1 billion and we had trillions in spare cash we could cope with existing limitations. AGW would not yet be a major problem so we could cope. Since more and more of us want all mod cons in a fast shrinking window to make the necessary changes I think things will be crook. This will be crystal clear by 2020 or so.

  4. @Hermit

    Below that is the ‘cliff’ that takes us back to pre-industrial times.

    Spot on.

    In the future it is almost certain that there will be all imaginable creature comforts – high quality gourmet foods, luxurious homes & transport, fine artworks & music, doctors & medicines, sport & entertainment and all the energy necessary to run those things (for the people who have them).

    Of course “we” probably won’t be the ones who have those things and “our” lives will likely be far more comparable to the feudal peasants than it is to today’s middle-class.

    When the going gets tough the 1% get what they want and the rest…. well, they’ll get by, or not.

  5. @Jim Rose

    No idea m8. I have a defined benefit scheme and no investments other than a house to live in. I know as much about investment portfolios as I know about string theory. Anway, I already have too much to eat, too many rooms to vacuum and more classics than I can ever read. Why would I need more of anything?

  6. The ALP is rotten to the core, what with the CIA ‘Protect’ stooges and the real white-anter neo-liberals.

    This Fairfax piece may be part of Abetz’s drive to destroy unions altogether, but as I’ve said many times before – they brought this upon themselves.

    The Fairfax investigation found that in 2010 the TWU orchestrated a covert campaign against its own Queensland branch then led by veteran left-wing leader Hughie Williams.

    The Queensland push resulted in the transfer of the TWU’s factional support in the ALP from the Left to Bill Shorten’s AWU-dominated Right faction.

    Insiders have detailed how the campaign was orchestrated by the office of national secretary and ALP deputy president Tony Sheldon, and the union’s NSW branch, with the support of then HSU leader Michael Williamson.

    The campaign was overseen in Brisbane by a team – described as a ”hit squad” by a senior Labor MP – of interstate union and Labor operatives, including from the offices of Labor MPs, among them federal opposition frontbencher David Feeney.

    Can’t see anything but good coming from the collapse of the faux-left stranglehold of the ‘Right Wing” unions on the ALP.

  7. @Megan

    I agree, the ALP is indeed rotten to the core. The Union Movement also appears to have gone totally rotten. I used to be a strong unionist. Even in my day it was becoming clear that “professional” union officials were poisoning the union movement, manipulating members and votes. They were (and still are) operating in a manner where power games looking upwards were the issue and adherence to genuine worker issues and interests was the last order of the day.

    LNP are blatantly the party for the big end of town (the rich 1%) and Labor are covertly the party for the big end of town. Some choice!

  8. Jim, perhaps you should wonder who is going to look after you when you get so demented and doddery that you cannot wipe your own arse.

    Will you need a charity or will you be able to pay for a nurse who won’t spit in your meals because you are a nasty old sod?

    Where will the nice caring nurses come from when the poor people are totally dis-empowered through the war on the poor? When everyone is indoctrinated with your selfish greedy ideology, how much will you pay for a greedy selfish nurse?

  9. @Jim Rose

    My designated charities, under strict orders from the good wife, are our tertiary student children. We had children very late. In particular, I will be paying off a good proportion of their HECs debts so they don’t start adult working life already burdened with debt because of the lunatic neoliberal ideology which so infests our nation and economy. My first duty is to see my children aren’t screwed by this system which is so adept at screwing 95% of the population.

  10. Ikonoclast, as far as the welfare of your family is concerned, don’t pay off your children’s HECs debt. The reason why you shouldn’t is because the interest rate on a HECs loan is equal to the CPI and so is quite low. This means that any investment that gives a better return than CPI is better than paying off HECs. Instead of paying paying your children’s HECs debt off directly you could put the money in a term deposit, use the interest and principle from that to meet a child’s minimum HECs repayment and then when the HECs debt is paid off you could give that child a gift of thousands of dollars that would still be left. But much better than a term deposit would be an index share fund as it will average much better return than a term deposit. A share market fund is variable, but that’s okay, your children are young. If the market falls, as does now and then, they will have plenty of time for it to rise again. Now you might say that you don’t know anything about indexed stockmarket fun and so don’t want to try that, but I think one of the best things parents can financially do for their children (and perhaps themselves) is give them a $5,000 indexed Australian share fund so they can get a feel for how the stock market works and become comfortable with it and use the experience they gain to make better investment decisions in the future. I now wish I had done this for my parents. It probably would have saved them thousands of dollars in fees from shyster investment advisors.

    Of course, rather than just straight out investing in index funds, you can use investment-fu to help your children make good financial decisions and encourage them to make purchases and do things that will save them and their families money. For example you could offer to pay for half the cost of a rooftop solar system and all the cost of an isolation switch for it, as this will save them money on their electricity bills and give them power during grid failures. Paying for something like insulation is also a gift that keeps on giving.

  11. HT LarvatusProdeo.net

    A German company is developing relatively large scale battery storage (up to 10MW-sized battery parks) which could “stabilise the grid faster, cheaper and with greater precision that conventional generation.”

    It says that these systems can substitute 10 times the capacity from conventional generation – coal, nuclear and gas – and at a fraction of the cost. According to Younicos spokesman Philip Hiersemenzel, each battery park can be installed at around € 15 million, which means that for an investment of €3 billion, conventional generation in Germany’s 80GW would no longer be needed – at least for frequency and stability purposes.

  12. This is interesting:


    As someone from Salon pointed out, in the US corporations assert the right to personhood, but chimpanzees are mere chattel.

    Indeed, I’d add that a corporation can own a chimpanzee, but a chimpanzee can’t own a corporation. Well a guy in a monkey suit might, but he’d be a fake

    Apparently the idea of personhood for chimpanzees is incipiently hazardous to humans but personhood for corporations — not so much.

    Ah mass culture — the lack of introspection is breathtaking.

    The proponents of the suit for chimpanzees argue for imprisoned primates to be accommodated in a primate sanctuary. It sounds fair to me.

  13. Over at LP, the question has been posed about whether the pope is a communist. It’s laughable of course and it was pure clickbait, but there are some christianised social democratic claims in Evangelli Gaudium (Joy of the Gospel).

    Pope Francis said this political and economic system was inherently sinful because it violated the biblical prohibition against killing.

    “Such an economy kills,” he wrote. “How can it be that it is not a news item when an elderly homeless person dies of exposure, but it is news when the stock market loses two points?”

    So if I read this correctly, then it follows that those who defend “this political and economic system” are supporters of sin and ought, in practice, to repent of their sin and do penance and seek absolution.

    This remark could have been directed at Abbott:

    “The thirst for power and possessions knows no limits,” Pope Francis wrote. “In this system, which tends to devour everything which stands in the way of increased profits, whatever is fragile, like the environment, is defenceless before the interests of a deified market, which become the only rule.”

    I recall Abbott asking the ALP to “repent” but perhaps Abbott ought to be repenting in relation to his thirst for power and willingness to sacrifice the environment in pursuit of profits and possessions, assuming his spiritual leader is to be believed.

    Someone needs to put this to him and invite him to declare where he stands on Pope Francis’s views.

  14. I attended a forum on Australia at 4 degrees of global warming last night. Very sobering information, and some gallows humour. There’s a paper and an e-book available, published by Routledge I think.

    The forum was based on the concept that current discussions should be based on the best available science. If all current global policies were fully implemented the de facto warming target would be 4 degrees rather than the 2 degrees nominal target. The models suggest 4 degrees of warming would be reached between 60 and 70 years time from now unless following current policies.

    The multimillenial sea level rise associated with 4 degrees of warming would be 15m.

    An average of 4 degrees of warming for Australua would mean some areas inland would warm by up to 7 degrees. Analogues were given for the transformations, with an analogue for Northern Australia being impossible to find currently on the planet – meaning paleo climates would give the best examples.

    According to one of the speakers there has been little economic modelling undertaken for Australia at either 2 degrees or 4 degrees warmer, most being in the 2008 Garnaut report which has had some but not many updated modelling.

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