A new sandpit for long side discussions, idees fixes and so on. Unless directly responding to the OP, all discussions of nuclear power, MMT and conspiracy theories should be directed to sandpits (or, if none is open, message boards).
Month: January 2015
Predictions for 2015
Prediction is very difficult, especially about the future, as Niels Bohr is supposed to have said. I’ve certainly found it so. Apart from the obvious possibility of being wrong, there’s the risk that others will misrepresent you. But, as long as you don’t take it too seriously, it’s helpful to frame discussion around a sharp prediction. So here are three for 2015
1. Peak Oil: I predict that global oil production (conventional and shale etc) will decline in 2015 and will never again reach the peak level of 2014. My reasoning is that 2014 supply can’t be sustained at prices below, say, $75, and (given a downward underlying trend in the developed world), 2014 demand won’t be reached again at prices above $75.
2. The End of Bitcoin: I’ve written in the past that “Bitcoins will attain their true value of zero sooner or later, but it is impossible to say when.” However, I now think the necessary conditions are in place for most holders of Bitcoins to recognise that their asset consists of used-up computation cycles with zero value. In particular, because mainstream merchants now accept Bitcoin (which they immediately sell), it’s possible for hardcore believers to dispose of their holdings without explicitly betting that the price will fall. Of course, the price won’t fall precisely to zero, but it should be well below $100 by the end of the year, and below $10 not long after that.
3. The Paris conference on climate change, will produce a half-baked compromise, which nevertheless represents progress towards stabilization at 2 degrees of warming: OK, this is pretty much a no-brainer, given that this is what we’ve been seeing ever since Kyoto in 1997, but I want to be sure of getting at least one right.
After a long break,it’s time (well, a day early) for another weekend reflections, which makes space for longer than usual comments on any topic. Side discussions to sandpits, please.
Strong Choices or Weak Evasions
That’s the title of my review of the Queensland LNP proposal to privatise most of the state’s remaining public enterprises. There’s a report here from the Brisbane Times covering most of the main points. I also did an interview on Steve Austin’s ABC show, sandwiched between LNP Treasurer Tim Nicholls and pro-privatisation economist Judith Sloan.You can listen here
Only a mug punter would bet on carbon storage over renewables
That’s the title of my latest piece in The Conversation. The key point
To sum up, if investing in energy storage is like backing every horse on a race, investing in CCS is like a parlay bet, which pays off only if we can pick the winners of several races in succession.
When you think about it like that, it’s not surprising that the smart money is on storing energy, not carbon.
Anti-vaxxers: so friendless that free speech is enough to defeat them
That’s the headline the Guardian used for my latest piece on calls to deny a visa to pro-disease advocate Sherri Tenpenny. Discussion welcome, but I’d like to stress one particular point about the case for free speech
On considerations of equity alone, we should not be excluding people on the grounds that they advocate views that are wrong, dangerous and unpopular [antivaxers], while admitting those whose wrong and dangerous views have powerful backing[climate science deniers].
Australia: If you don’t love it, leave
I’ve seen this slogan, with an Australian flag, on bumper stickers, and Google reveals that it a similar T-shirt was the subject of controversy not so long ago.
I have a couple of thoughts on this
First, this supposedly patriotic slogan was imported from the US, where it has been around for decades. In this respect, it’s similar to the recent innovation of having a single performer sing the national anthem at sporting events (adopted in the US because The Star Spangled Banner is virtually unsingable). This has displaced the Australian tradition of either standing silently or singing as a group while the anthem was played.
Second, I’d encourage the slogan if those who spouted it were expected to act accordingly. That is, the moment they complained about any aspect of Australia (for example, Muslims, dole bludgers, greenies and so on) they would be issued with a deportation notice and told to find a country they could love as it is.
Watching TV last night, I was struck by the deluge of publicly funded government propaganda ads. Today, the reason was revealed as LNP Premier Campbell Newman called an election for 31 January, running several months short of a full term. Most insider comment seems to view this is a clever move, catching the Opposition off-guard and so on. My view would be that they are more likely to lose votes from people who expect a holiday from politics at this time of year.
Before the release of the Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook, there was a lot of talk that it would be the beginning of a concerted attempt by the Abbott government to reset the economic narrative. As it turned out, the release coincided with the Martin Place siege, and therefore received hardly any coverage on the day. More significantly, the government has done nothing with the MYEFO statement since its release. Treasurer Hockey issued a media release on the day, and nothing since. Finance Minister Cormann did a couple of media interviews on the day, then nothing. Tony Abbott has been completely silent.
The reason is obvious enough, and has been noted by quite a few commenters already (but I will restate the case anyway). The MYEFO report undermines the government’s policy narrative in several crucial respects. Key elements of that narrative are:
* Debt and deficits are always bad, are now at catastrophic levels and are the product of Labor profligacy
* More labour market reform is needed to prevent a wages explosion resulting in higher unemployment
* The mining sector is the key to Australian prosperity and was unfairly burdened by the carbon and mineral resource rent taxes
Monday Message Board
It’s time for 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.