16 thoughts on “Monday Message Board

  1. Continuing on the EROEI theme/discussion any possibility of extending it beyond PV/renewables > electricity issue.

    What is the ultimate target for CO2 emission reductions and is that really achieveable (my understanding is the target per capita is about 2.5% of current Australian rates by 2100. That is a way off but this is also a big ask and much of low hanging fruit has been plucked.

    Even if coal is dealt a death blow that still leaves the powerful fossil fuel industry with all its unburnable oil and gas. To some extent like fuel oil for heating in the US this can also be replaced by renewables. But transport and cement manufacture are much harder. There are many suggestions proposed but which are viable and which are another biofuel nightmare?

    Then there is the matter of growth – better technology is emerging but also many nations are growing offsetting the carbon reduction gains in terms of energy:CO2 ratio. Remember I=PAT or at least its energy equivalent.

    There is the conflict between needing to make technologies much longer lived, but this building more resistance to replacement. Who pays.

    There is the problem of market forces favoring the short term fix – e.g. LED lights with cheap and nasty components but which sell well and have to be replaced v. long lived bulbs where the manufacturers drive themselves out of business.

    The problem of winter in the industrial north seems in part solved in Denmark. Is this really solved or are both sides using selective statistics?

  2. The election campaign for the UK labour leader is hotting up. The overwhelming favourite is Jeremy Corbyn of the Left, a backbencher of 30 years. He is opposed by three others on the Right, Yvette Cooper, Andy Burnham and Liz Kendall. All three are denounced, with varying degrees of justification, as neoliberals by the Guardianistas. Corbyn appears to have little support among his colleagues but a lot from Labour Party members and it is they who decide.

    A clear point of difference between Corbyn and the other three is over coal mining. He wants to reopen the coal mines closed by Margaret Thatcher. They want to keep them shut.

  3. @Newtownian

    The target should be negative (CO2 take-up) so we can get back to pre-industrial revolution CO2 levels. Admittedly this might take a few centuries to achieve but it should be the final target.

    All the other challenges you mention… Maybe neoliberal capitalism is not the best way to meet these challenges.

  4. Uncle Milty, Jeremy Corbyn really thinks that Britain should reopen its coal mines? Pits that have been sitting unworked for decades? With today’s coal prices? With the cost of renewables on their current trajectory? With onshore wind cheaper than new coal? With off-shore wind now competitive with natural gas? With underground coal mining in developed countries now operating with such a high degree of mechanisation it will provide little in the way of employment? Clearly, I am not selling enough bridges in the UK at the moment. I suspect he looked at the cost of the Hinkley C nuclear reactors and spluttered, “Coal is cheaper than that!” and no one has clued him in yet that there are ways of generating electricity other than coal or nuclear. But then, if he’s been a backbencher for 30 years he can’t be expected to know about these things. After all, they do spend most of their time with old people.

  5. The great thing about the internet is that where once we would have had some factoid blurted at us by the establishment media and simply said – “Did he really say that? Well he must have, it was in the paper/on the TV/on the radio” – now we can track it down to its source and see what he actually said:

    “The last deep mine coal mines in South Wales have gone but it’s quite possible that in future years coal prices will start to go up again around the world and maybe they’ll be a case for what is actually very high quality coal, particularly in South Wales, being mined again.”

    So it’s kind of completely bogus and no true to say “he wants to reopen the coal mines closed by Margaret Thatcher”, but it is very revealing about the credulity of people who believe he said that just because their confirmation-bias outlet of choice said so.

    The establishment is absolutely terrified of Corbyn. Their howling hysterics are supposed to be driving people away from him, but because the establishment’s credibility is zero in most countries (sadly, not quite zero yet in Australia) the hysterics are making even more people realize there is the possibility of an anti-austerity anti-neoliberal alternative.

  6. @Megan

    Well, Corbyn certainly isn’t saying the global coal industry is finished, for climate change reasons.

    I hope he wins. Of course the second he is elected leader he will be subject to a vicious campaign of destabilisation, leaks and smears – from within his own party – and so probably won’t last long, but it will be fun to watch him make the Serious People squirm.

  7. i hope he wins, too, he’s a breath of fresh air. and to see the establishment’s reaction is so good. those who told us year after year that socialism was finished, had zero credibility, history had proven … &c., &c., &c. this is music to my ears. for my money whether he wins or not the powers that be will be all be carrying on about changing the party selection rules. for the sake they’ll say of “modernisation” or some such post-modern cant word. -a.v.

  8. Ikonoclast :
    The target should be negative (CO2 take-up) so we can get back to pre-industrial revolution CO2 levels. Admittedly this might take a few centuries to achieve but it should be the final target.
    All the other challenges you mention… Maybe neoliberal capitalism is not the best way to meet these challenges.

    Ha! what’s this maybe business? Neoliberal capitalism has got to be the most brilliant system invented for planetary destruction. And if its as much a set of laws of the universe as its proponents would have us believe it provides a nice explanation for the Fermi Paradox.

    Regarding the negative target, agreed, though one hopes zero emissions would tend to lead to CO2 reduction and reequilibration via oceanic sequestration.

    Alternatively there is geoengineering. Though most forms would be hideous megalomania I guess I could live with biochar even though it feels like just filling in the holes dug to extract coal or rewilding the planet and rebuilding the standing biomass to something like its original levels – geoengineering to be sure but the latter I could definitely live with.

  9. After literally years of decent people trying to convince the ALP connected HESTA fund that torturing children isn’t a good way to make money for their members, they have finally relented:

    Evidence that sexual assaults, child abuse, and other human rights violations inside the Australian government’s offshore asylum seeker processing and detention centres are being covered up has led one of the country’s biggest superannuation funds to dump contractor Transfield Services.

    Industry super fund HESTA has sold its stake in Transfield Services citing evidence of human rights violations inside the offshore detention centres run by the sharemarket-listed company.

    The $32 billion fund said the risks associated with Transfield Services, the $597 million company that operates the federal government’s detention centres on Manus Island and Nauru, were too high. …


    It only took them about three years to realize they were profiting from concentration camps. They probably thought they were investing in holiday camps.

    BDS type actions are the only way to get these people to behave as if they are human beings.

    Kudos to everyone who kept up the pressure, and no kudos to the ALP-linked HESTA for taking so long.

  10. @Ikonoclast

    I thought you might be humming and haahing – because at the moment I am not seeing a coherent alternative economic model and you might have been wondering outloud – if not capitalism then what? Which is a fair question.

    I confess to emphatically not having/seeing a clear answer myself here. And conversely the more I look at capitalism the more I see elegance and many useful insights. Though overall current practice is primarily destructive to the natural world and its externalities will likely be the death of us I fear in the long term.

    Along these lines you might be interested in this from the SMH.

    Ross Gittins

    I thought Gittins was a conventional economist but he seems to clearly have more time for Herman Daly than I realized – which is somewhat comforting.

    This surprise (to me at least) begs the question of what other progressive economists make of Daly. Overall it seems to be concern about the natural world but a lack of recognition that they are a major part of the problem in the way they frame the world – which at least Gittins and Dick Smith seem to have got right.

    As to what our honored blog host John thinks of Daly and ecological economics I am still in the dark. I think we have been both prodding him to clarify his current position and his uncertainties as someone with clearly a progressive perspective but who still seems wedded to the mainstream of the economics profession (perhaps he has but I havent seen the article).

  11. @J-D


    “Amongst all the commentary, perhaps the most astute and incisive analysis has come not from Blairites or the Labour left but from a Tory. A couple of weeks ago, Matthew D’Ancona explained why the Conservatives should not celebrate the rise of the ‘unelectable’ Corbyn, but should be deeply fearful. Whatever Corbyn might achieve in government is a distant question, but what he might achieve in opposition is a different prospect.”

    I agree, there are good things that come from the philosophies that have developed from the musings of the right wing personality type; their assumptions about human nature and their preferences for ‘their’ civilization, that they think they know and love cannot just be suppressed.

    These authoritarian impulses that come from a hierarchical individualistic viewpoint are part of the human condition and any economic political or social organisation that will be stable has to include mechanisms or institutions through which these people – or as many as possible – develop the ability to conceptualise without prejudice, and empathise with, ‘the others’.

    Thanks for the link.

  12. Ally Fogg has it correct.

    “As I see it, our so-called parliamentary democracy is a fraud. It is not a system that allows the populace to control the mechanisms of multinational capitalism, it is a system that allows the mechanisms of multinational capitalism to control the populace. Any illusions to the contrary should have been blown away by the ideological triumph of neoliberalism in the 1980s and 90s.”

    Of course, it is hard to predict if and when any of this will change. It could only change if there was a radical extension of democracy into all areas of our economy and society.

  13. I went out into the backyard this morning, and began pegging up the washing. In the background was a dreadful but dull whine, reminiscent of nothing so much as multiple synchronised lawnmowers or chain saws. Yet it was nothing as useful as that. Rather, it was almost certainly the cacophony created by the running of the ‘V8 supercars’ at Eastern Creek, about 6km away as the crow flies.

    In a world where rational folk are increasingly looking to avoid wasting scarce resources, and to reduce the human footprint on the ecosystem, I genuinely wonder what the argument from public interest would look like for permitting an event such as this. The carbon footprint for this event would be utterly horrendous. The resources expended would be scarce. The waste, would be huge. And if my experience was any indication, everyone within 1km of the race track not wearing ear protection would be suffering damage to their ears, not to speak of the serious loss of amenity.

    In this country, we have a senate that concerns itself with that most elusive of irritants associated with wind-farms: ‘infrasound’. Wind-farms have been described by the leaders of the regime as ‘visually awful’. Yet there’s no interest in the Senate or any other organisation close to government for an inquiry into motor racing, which is clearly prejudicing the health and amenity of humans, and trashing the environment.

    Abating emissions of CO2 is urgent,but in some settings: steel and concrete making, commercial agriculture, refrigeration, petrochemicals and air travel — technically challenging and expensive. Yet here we are burning rubber and petrol and casting steel and annoying and hurting folk as if there’s no tomorrow. The crazies are in charge.

    What a weird world!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s