Unmitigated failure

That’s been the response of Australia’s political class, politicians, pundits and journalists alike to the arrival of catastrophic climate change in the form of ubiquitous and semi-permanent bushfires. The failure has been so comprehensive, encompassing nearly everyone in Labor and the LNP, and most of the commentariat, that there is not much point in naming names.

I can’t motivate myself to write a proper analysis of this, so I’ve been reduced to writing a series of snarky tweets.

Update: Sean Kelly spells out the same point in the SMH.

Australia failure, while a significant contribution to the destruction of the planet, is far less significant than China’s apparent reversal of its shift away from coal. I’ll try to write something about this soon if I can manage it.

21 thoughts on “Unmitigated failure

  1. I got my “Welcome to the Neighbourhood” letter from Ed Husic (MP for Blacktown area in Sydney, safe Labour) recently, complete with reply-paid card asking me to rate the 10 items in order of importance… climate wasn’t on the list, nor was environment. Fortunately there was a blank to fill in. When I filled it out and returned it there was no reply. His internet presence is better, the email auto-reply says no-one reads email sent to him.

    There’s nothing useful on his website either, it almost looks as though climate has been carefully curated out of existance. The enviro issues are limited to opposing nuclear power and a ban on the ivory trade.

  2. I make an assumption that the leaders of the Chinese government can not be complete idiots.
    Maybe they are complete idiots along the lines of Jesus in the TV series Preacher, which I imagine is known in Australia. But if that is not the case I have to wonder what drives their decision.
    Is it that the Chinese leaders know that climate change is a fake because they have been behind a (diabolical) plan that has managed to hack weather gathering information world wide and to make glaciers across the planet disappear at an alarming rate to convince the rest of the world’s populations to beat their tanks and armored personnel carriers and air craft carriers in to solar collecting panels so that the Chinese military than then become the world’s pre eminant military super power?

    Or have chinese leaders decided that even if they make an all out effort to avoid climate collapse it is unlikely that the rest of the planet will make a enough of an effort to avoid climate disaster therefore any sacrifices that they make will be for nothing. Therefore they have decided to step on the gas and send us over a cliff faster.

    The problem of international coordination could be seen and identified decades ago. The US military has a motto. What can be seen can be hit. What can be hit will be killed. Yet this motto was not applied by the actual rulers of the USA to this problem. Why did these people choose to subject their own children and grandchildren to the situation that they now face. That has finally become clear to me.

    They did what they did because to fix the problem would have required an international framework of eco socialist societies of some kind coordinating their actiivities to avoid disaster. But such an ending was totally unacceptable for them. They chose to live by the motto Better dead than red. That would have been fine if they would have made that decision just for themselves. But they decided that they had to bring down everyone else with them.

    They will probably try to defend themselves by saying that they are defending us from disaster because socialism will be a disaster and therefore the death of everyone will cause less suffering than people living under socialist conditions.
    Warped shepards° leading fooled trusting sheep.
    (° lepards in shepards clothing?)

  3. The most favourable reading of Chinese policy is incompetence and drift. Electricity demand will moderate, wind and solar (plus the slowly fading nuclear programme) will continue to get built, and the coal plants will lose money on a scale that makes the implosion of the US coal industry look like pennies.

    Either way, the fiasco tells us something about Xi’s strongman posture. He wants the unchallenged power, but as with Hong Kong has no idea what to do with it.

  4. Last year we camped our way through western NSW, QLD and into NT. Weve been this way before but this time it was just so devastated with the ever present smell of roadkill as a reminder of the desperate plight if stock and wildlife. And now it is worse, with fire leading the desertification of country reaching over the heavily forested ranges and onto the once lush coast. The scale of drought and fire has been monumental.

    People are now accepting the fact of climate change.

  5. Scott Morrison is certainly pretending that the bush-fires never happened, while they are still happening, which is quite a feat – of rank stupidity. He has moved onto other “initiatives” – with irony quotes because his actions show no initiative at all. New funding for roads blah, blah, blah. Money that was going to be spent anyway is brought forward slightly and all this is for cars! You know the things we should have less of if we are going to fight climate change.

    Catastrophic climate change is all but locked in now. The planning and finance for the extra fossil fuel production needed to fully wreck the climate IS locked in. See the Scientific American “Planned Fossil Fuel Extraction Would Blow Past Warming Limits – As governments discuss how to keep warming below 2 degree Celsius, they continue to plan for coal, oil and natural gas production.”

    So it’s all over, red rover. Why is our system so incapable of responding? This is an interesting, albeit fruitless question now. The simple answer is that a tiny number of people own/manage most of the capital and capital in our system is power. Those who hold money and power always prefer the status quo. Any change is a risk to them as it would lessen their money and power. They will bunker down or bunker up (high country getaways – cooler and well above sea level rise). They will be relatively safe and live long and luxurious lives… or maybe not. Meanwhile all over the world the poor will die. Then the middle class will begin, if not dying, then suffering severely compared to their previous comfortable existence.

    Make enough of the working and middlese class mad and then watch out! They actually run everything at the practical level. The bunkers might not be so safe then.

  6. Au contraire re Xi, BRI, and the shi*. Check Tanner Greer’s 2nd take and uptake of Jones’ and Zeng’s reading of that situation.


    “At this point one is tempted to ask: how do we square all of this with Xi Jinping’s centralization drive? Is not Secretary Xi the most powerful man to rule China since Deng and Mao? Why can’t he put things in order?
    Zeng and Jones have an answer for this as well…”

    Towards the end “I am not ready, however, to declare that the Belt and Road fiasco is evidence that Xi Jinping is incapable of controlling the Party, or that the Party is incapable of long term policy. This is what Jones and Zeng argue we should take away from their research … My final guess is institutional. The People’s Liberation Army is a very old institution. In many ways, Secretary Xi tamed the PLA by following tactics from the Communist playbook of the ’40s and ’50s … The tools for managing this sort of problem are a part of the institutional and ideological heritage Xi has inherited from his fathers. This same heritage has little useful to tell him about how to reform Local Government Financing Vehicles. Nor are there any easy leverage points for reform … Which bureaucracy must be torn apart before Xi can unleash his will on China’s economy? …”

    Greer leaves it kinda hanging and without an answer is just going to stick to his new harder hard line on Xi’s China for other spooky reasons. One of those expressly is:

    “A reader recently remarked that I seem to be taking a harder line against the Party than I did two or three years back. More than anything else it is knowledge of operations like these that have informed this shift in my thinking.”- 20 September, 2017

  7. “China’s apparent reversal of its shift away from coal”

    It’s just shocking that the Chinese government would say one thing and do another.

  8. “It’s just shocking that the Chinese government would say one thing and do another.”

    For me, the real shock is there appeared to be genuine political pressure from the Chinese society to clean up the air quality in parts of China ie. these targets/objectives/aspirations weren’t just a progressive nicety or a product of pressure to tow some multilateral obligation.

  9. “genuine political pressure from the Chinese society”

    The only political pressure applied in China is by the government, not on the government.

  10. That Jericho article… see Swan’s past and future koolaid ‘centre-left’ party dispensary: https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2019/nov/25/wayne-swan-says-queensland-labor-is-no-bjelke-petersen-throwback

    Not buying it. Cf. Swan’s delusional koolaid crowd; and Qld/Fed ALP’s electoral fifth column CFMMEU downfall; and the CFMMEU’s LNP mate; and a flush Adani:

    (per https://endcoal.org/2019/11/coalwire-300-november-21-2019/ )

  11. JQ, seems like as a side project or proof of concept to “Epistemically Feasible Choice project”, you may enter this competition.

    Crowdsource was I thought, just tuning algorithms for image and locality (on users time) , but now it is spreading to “predictive algorithms for different subjective aspects of question-answering.”. So defining ” am I socialist / democratic” or ” am I a capitalist” or “what effect will gw have on me” will be answered by – el goog – who are going to get datasets with bias as per previously “wierd”, will be trained now to answer some of the most fundamental questions a human may ask – trained by another biased set.

    N Gruen – any comment?

    Why don’t we leave some humans in the loop instead of ” future intelligent Q&A systems will get built, hopefully contributing to them becoming more human-like”.

    “In this competition, you’re challenged to use a dataset provided by CrowdSource, a team at Google Research to build predictive algorithms for different subjective aspects of question-answering. Results from this competition will inform the way future intelligent Q&A systems will get built, hopefully contributing to them becoming more human-like.”

    Prizes: $25,000 Total prize pool

    “Epistemically Feasible Choice project to consider how to make choices in situations where standard decision theoretic problems may fail, either because of unforeseeable surprises or because choices will lead to transformative experiences that change our valuation of outcomes in ways we cannot anticipate.”

  12. Troy Pridesux: the Chinesr government has been very serious about cleaning uo air pollution in big cities. Climate change is a big second. Some of the policies overlap, like support for EVs. Othes don’t, like switching winter heating for gas.

  13. “Weve been this way before but this time it was just so devastated with the ever present smell of roadkill as a reminder of the desperate plight of stock and wildlife. And now it is worse, with fire leading the desertification of country reaching over the heavily forested ranges and onto the once lush coast. The scale of drought and fire has been monumental.”

    Right. So its a disaster and very strong measures must be taken. Rehydrating the land with swales, check dams, ponds, dams, terracing. All those kind of land rehydrating strategies that the Ethiopians (or example) are using. That somehow they can do but we cannot……… And year round fuel control.

    So are we going to fix the problem or just close down another coal station? You see there is a scintilla of truth to what the right wingers are saying when they blame Greenies for inaction. Do Greenies want to take action? Or just bitch and moan about the hydro-carbon industry? I am not hearing a call for rational action. All I’m hearing, in the face of serious problems, problems that go right back to soil loss from modern agriculture …. Nothing actually. Mostly crickets. But there is a kind of background assumption towards destroying hydrocarbon energy that can barely be voiced. Where is the call for action? I mean rational action that will fix the problem with some despatch?

    If you are sneering at real solutions than surely Barnaby and the others were quite correct? We are getting no serious support for anything that can actually work in the wake of this catastrophe.

    Its like real solutions are a social faux pas. Like someone made a bad smell in mixed company. Like you are all embarrassed to take real action. Or to advocate real action. You all want to moan about the problem but you are all against any solution. Thats what I’m getting.

  14. If humanity shuts down the fossil fuels industries and it turns out that the costs of such a decision actually outweigh the benifits it would be a very easy thing to do to reverse course. All of that coal that we do not burn will be available for future generations.

    AND IF WE Regreen the deserts and put in lots of ponds there will be even more carbon for future generations to burn if they so desire. Peat is a renewable resource. Peat becomes ignite and ignite becomes coal.

    If it turns out that the climate warming scare was all a hoax the following question might arrise.
    Did “innocent” people die on a “funeral pyre” because of their support for coal and oil?
    If people end up dying because of their support for coal and oil the rest of us do not have to feel any guilt at all. After all everyone dies.* It is true that not every dies in the manor of Joanne of Arc.
    But even if there are people who wiil die bravely, without complaint, like Joann of Arc and these people turn out to be innocent of the charges of supporting ecocide, they have clearly not been innocent of the charges of waging wars of aggression.

    *Duh. The people who might face accountability got to live lives much longer and more comfortably than they deserved anyways. Oops. Hey the deaths of such people could have been worse and it could have come much much sooner. If accountability can even be arrainged.

  15. Admiral Stearney was either murdered by desperate dissident officers within the US military trying to avert of war with Iran, or he was murdered by the leadership of the US military because they rightly or wrongly identified him as a leading member of a dissident movement. Another possible motive for the leadership of the US military to murder him is to create the false impression that there is a dissident movement in the US military when there actually is none so that possible targets of US aggression will be complacent in their response to indicators that the US military is preparing to attack them.
    A theoretical possibilty is that Admiral Stearney committed suicide to send a message. The reason is that this possibiltiy is very unlikely is because it would take an idiot to commit suicide to send a highly ambiguous message.
    If he was murdered GBH certianly was used. Who ever did it would certianly have to be confident that they could prevent that from comming to light.
    For the JCS to murder another officer is not unprecedented. Humanity can see with near absolute certianty that they conspired to have the USS Liberty attacked in 1967. The murder of one Admiral is simple childs play in compairison with the attack on the USS Liberty.

  16. I am having huge difficulty in reading today’s comments and making any sense of most of them.

  17. “If humanity shuts down the fossil fuels industries and it turns out that the costs of such a decision actually outweigh the benifits it would be a very easy thing to do to reverse course.”

    Not even close. We know about the costs already and that doesn’t phase people. The oligarchy knows the costs of this decision and they don’t care. Its not about controlling climate its about controlling us. Its true that these bushfires are “the new normal.” But without this CO2-warming fraud we could fix it in about two and a half years, in terms of fuel control. But of course we need many decades to hydrate the land and produce rich, black soil everywhere. But its not a big problem unless we decide to whine about coal rather than knuckling down and solving the problem.

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