More news from the apocalypse (crosspost from Crooked Timber)

I’m still writing furiously (in both senses of the word) about climate change, the fire disaster in Australia and the responsibility the entire political right bears for this catastrophe, along with those of the centre and left who have shirked the struggle. Australian writer Richard Flanagan, in the New York Times, has compared our leaders to famous traitors like Benedict Arnold, Vidkun Quisling and Mir Jafar, and that’s a pretty good summary of how large numbers of Australians feel.

Over the fold, links to some of my latest commentary

An Open Letter on Australian Bushfires and Climate: Urgent Need for Deep Cuts in Carbon Emissions from 80 current and former Australian Laureate Fellows (our most prestigious research award, across natural and social sciences and humanities).

Humans are good at thinking their way out of problems – but climate change is outfoxing us (The Conversation)

Invest with the best, Inside Story (the case for divestment)

Neoliberalism is declining, but the Right wing refuses to die

24 thoughts on “More news from the apocalypse (crosspost from Crooked Timber)

  1. “Neoliberalism is declining, but the Right wing refuses to die”

    There is an article in today’s FT on how Boris Johnson is about to repudiate Thatcherism. That in itself is not remarkable, since he doesn’t believe in anything except himself. But the article quotes Patrick Minford, a professor of economics who provided much of the intellectual support for Thatcherism in the 1980s, and who was more Thatcherite than Thatcher, as saying the government should borrow to spend not just on infrastructure but day to day activities. Minford even wants the government to rescue Flybe, a regional airline that has just gone bust. The article also quotes Jim O’Neill, a former Goldman Sachs economist and Treasury Minister in David Cameron’s government as saying “Economic liberalism is supposed to be the best way to deliver productivity gains and in the last decade it has not done that. Across the G7 countries since the financial crisis it has not worked.”

    And, of course, Trump is no small government economic liberal, more the opposite. It can only be a matter of time before the Liberal Party becomes a party of big government (the National Party always has been). The bushfire clean up and rebuild, which will cost a bucket load, could give them all the pretext they need.

  2. It is all very puzzling to me. Despite the harm being created for the next generation – people are remaining incredibly relaxed. Maybe the disenchantment is temporarily hidden – I hope so.

    It also puzzles me that the recent events would change anyones mind – are people really so stupid that they could have ignored the steadily mounting evidence of the last 30 years. Why would you need to be convinced before taking prudent precautionary measures given what is at stake?

  3. Mr Flanagan is a nice man, but does a grievous harm to Benedict Arnold, Vidkun Quisling and Mir Jafar.
    It cannot be allowed to pass unremarked.

    Here is an interesting set of comments.

    I see the very latest in a series of (three?) four is out just now at “Pearls and Irritations” but will allow the reader the pleasure of self navigation to the site if it so pleases them

  4. Regarding CCS in you Inside Story article, John, I was part of the commissioning team at Boundary Dam We did the sulphuric acid part of the CCS project -SO2 is removed from the power plant offgas before the CO2 is removed. The CCS is on one power train of 4 as recall so, at best, it may get 1/4 of the emissions captured. Only a pilot project.

  5. Today’s juxtaposition & ‘transition’ … to be fair $960m interconnections, but Santos and water and methane and coal seem gas. NSW with be dry – below subsoil.

    Salt / wound… the Chinese investment below is from “China General Nuclear ”

    “NSW strikes ‘landmark’ energy deal with Federal Government

    “A “landmark” agreement between the Morrison and Berejiklian governments will see more than $2 billion invested into a new energy deal that will substantially increase gas use in New South Wales.

    “Coal seam gas is a heavily polluting industry that leaks vast amounts of methane and won’t do anything to bring down carbon emissions.

    “As much as Prime Minister Morrison wants it to be so, it is not a transition fuel.”

    “The NSW energy deal is the first of many Mr Morrison hopes to sign with state and territory governments across Australia.”…

    “China General Nuclear To Invest $2.5 Billion In Wind & Solar In Mongolia
    November 16th, 2019 by Steve Hanley 
    “There are some places on Earth that just lend themselves naturally to wind and solar power. Inner Mongolia, with its abundant sunshine and steady breezes, is one of them. This week, China General Nuclear Group announced it is investing almost $2.5 billion to build a 1 gigawatt solar power plant there, as well as a 2 gigawatt (GW) wind farm.”

    The abc article also has Scotty from marketing saying;
    ” “There is no credible plan to lower emissions and keep electricity prices down that does not involve the greater use of gas as an important transition fuel,” he said.”

    Except maybe this one:
    “The Greens’ plan for 90% renewables by 2030 sounds hard, but it stacks up”

    Here for detail…
    “100% renewable electricity in Australia February 2017
    Andrew Blakers, Bin Lu and Matthew Stocks
    “We present an energy balance analysis of the Australian National Electricity Market (NEM) in a 100% renewable energy scenario in which wind and photovoltaics (PV) provides 90% of the annual electricity. The key outcome of our modelling is that the additional cost of balancing renewable energy supply with demand on an hourly basis throughout the year is modest: AU$25-30/MWh (US$19-23/MWh)…”

    And And thanks James Wimberley 3:15 am (early bird!)

    “Things not seen” in 2020
    Seven reasons for hope on our climate.

    “Ever better economics and technology
    “As Jacobson, Blakers, Breyer etc (and yours truly) keep saying, we already have the technology we need for almost all the energy transition. The key three technologies are affordable already. The LCOE of wind and solar is at or below US 2c/kwh in prime locations, half the price of coal and gas, and competitive with them in a widening range of countries. Battery cars and buses are widely competitive with ICE rivals on a TCO basis”…

  6. JQ and others who have credibility (as opposed to me).

    I urge you to put in a paper to:

    “In its seventh edition, Global Fact will run four tracks:
    ● Academic Track
    A call for papers will be announced in partnership with Oslo Metropolitan University. Global Fact 7 will host presentations by scholars on misinformation, online trust and information integrity.

    Also Editors, Executives and Developer ‘tracks’.

    Pass it around.

    Fed 14th cut off for submissions.

  7. Handing out support with a smirk to coal seam gas in the guise of climate action – making climate change a marketing slogan for coal by other means – has to be PM Morrison taking the piss. Surely.

    I gather there were some measures that might actually make sense in there as well – improving transmission in ways that solar and wind can use, but it did seem to be put together within a pro-fossil fuels group think bubble. Left out of the bubble are the actual agencies and experts who are telling us the networks need storage – of the sorts that ARE already up and operational and close to if not already cost effective.

    I don’t think Morrison is capable of treating climate change as his great challenge even if he wanted to – and I don’t think he wants to. Limiting climate and emissions ambition still appears to be threaded through every choice.

  8. As Mungo MacCallum wrote;

    “The prime minster now insists that his government fully accepts that climate change is happening. But it is patently evident that many of his back-benchers and a large chunk of his ministers accept nothing of the kind, and there is lingering suspicion that Morrison strongly sympathises with them – that he is even denying his denialism.”

  9. Richard Flanagan’s article is over the top and plays into the hands of climate denialists. He is not writing a chapter in a dramatic novel.

  10. Richard Flanagan’s article is over the top and plays into the hands of climate denialists. He is not writing a chapter in a dramatic novel.

    I haven’t read it, so for all I know it’s possible that you’re right, but I notice that you have given no examples of:
    either (A) statements made in the article which are false;
    or (B) ways in which true statements in the article could have been better expressed.

  11. I notice that before taking office MPs are required to swear an oath of allegiance; “ I will be faithful and bear true allegiance..” and this oath to only to HRH et al.

    Before giving testimony a person has to swear an oath that “the evidence I shall give will be the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.”

    So it would seem that lawmakers are not required to be truthful, only to be faithful.

    The onus of truthfulness lies with the subjects of the Crown.

    If MPs were required to tell the truth, and to not bear false witness, we might have a better government.

  12. From the OP link – – “That means leaving a great deal of carbon in the ground, which will reduce the profitability of extracting coal, oil and gas. Ultimately, the value of fossil fuel resources and the companies that exploit them must fall to zero.”

    Negative not zero. Damage/destruction to aquifers, poisoning of water below and above ground and at sea, and ghg emissions due to oil extraction (fracking) continues long after the extraction of oil ceases. Likewise for coal and for gas extraction. So, ultimately, the value of fossil fuel resources and the companies that exploit them must fall to below zero. Bills for rectifying ongoing damage continue to accrue after extraction ceases. The prior operators of such fossil fuel extraction sites including governments, individuals, companies, and company directors will be held liable to pay the ongoing damages bills. The known future bills being ignored now amount to an enormous negative value, enough to render many of those operators insolvent. Company directors will be prosecuted, fined, and gaoled for trading while insolvent. And they will be better off with lengthy gaol sentences than being on the street.

  13. Ikonoclast says 9:41 am
    …”that Morrison strongly sympathises with them – that he is even denying his denialism.”

    “Habitual Denialist Denies Existence Of Climate Deniers Inside His Climate Denying Media Organisation

    “The world’s most powerful media mogul, who has spent decades denying climate science and sabotaging climate action worldwide, has taking his denial to the next level by denying the existence of climate deniers within his climate denying organisation.

    “Stepping up his denialism to some Olympic level bullshit, Rupert Murdoch has said “there are no climate change deniers around I can assure you”, referring to some kind of alternative universe in which News Corp hasn’t destroyed the world’s attempts to avoid climate catastrophe every day for the last 30 years.

    “Answering the question, “what do you believe is the global role of News Corp in the geopolitical climate?” Mr Murdoch averted the truthful answer “to be the worst plague the world has ever seen”.

    “Then asked, “If you do believe in climate change… why (does) News Corp give climate deniers like Andrew Bolt and Terry McCrann so much airtime in Australia?”.

    “Again, rather than going through his full history of all the times he denied climate change and all the times his newspapers or TV stations sent us all further down the path of mass extinction, he reminded everyone of the more important fact that sometimes his company sources paper from certified sustainable sources.

    “Welcome to Situation Theatre, home of creative and analytical work in search of a socialist utopia. Pretty sure we’ll get there any day now.

    “Here at ST we’re still deciding which idea is more profound: Karl Marx’s “It is not the consciousness of men that determines their existence, but their social existence that determines their consciousness” or Stewart Lee’s “David Cameron and Ed Milliband are about as different as two rats fighting over a courgette that has fallen into a urinal. The main difference being that the David Cameron rat is wearing chinos, in an attempt to win over the youth voter”.

  14. Blackrock/climate finance update
    The Bank for International Settlements (BIS), the club of the world’s central banks, has joined the chorus on climate risk:
    This is all the more notable as IIRC the BIS was a cheerleader for austerity for the last decade. At least it recognizes that belt-tightening is not the answer to a climatic disaster like the Australian bushfires,

  15. More from the BIS;

    “Naturally, the first-best solution to address climate change and reduce greenhouse gas emissions is Pigovian carbon taxation. This policy suggests that fundamental responsibility for addressing issues related to climate change lies with governments.”

    Click to access othp31.pdf

  16. Very often when a climate science denier says “I accept climate change” what they mean is the “but the climate is always changing” sort – (oh, you were talking about anthropogenic!); I haven’t managed to force myself to go through what Rupert Murdoch actually said and attempt to parse it. Not that some people don’t lie outright as well; when being misleading and deceptive that line between disingenuous ambiguity and lying tends to blur.

    I strongly suspect their delusional belief in “the global climate cult” and ecofascist censorship is their justification for their use of this kind of lying; ie greenies force them to lie by their relentless criticism of their (post-modernist whatever I believe is true is the truth) beliefs. Inside the climate science denial group think bubble the climate war really is War; framing the issue within that bubble as extremist idelogues attacking the underpinnings of modern Australian prosperity make winning matter more than civilised rules. It ought not be surprising they believe that – since they made up that explanation for what is REALLY going on themselves.

    The only really good news in it all is that renewables have crossed below crucial price points – and still getting cheaper – and nothing is going to ever be the same because of that. My thinking that a lot of the early support renewables got, that paved the way to their success, was the “give em enough rope” sort (by Morrison’s sort) does provide a small and petty bit of amusement.

  17. mrkenfabian at 8:53 am

    Yes. …” as extremist idelogues attacking the underpinnings of modern Australian prosperity make winning matter more than civilised rules.”

    Utes rules – ev’s will kill your fun
    $100 leg of lamb – beetrooter scare
    And just to name the current “more than civilised rules” the RH Bridgette.

    mrkenfabian … “The only really good news in it all is that renewables have crossed below crucial price points” …

    … and JQ writes, and David Williamson is such a good playwright! 

    Busting to see this after reading…

    “Williamson’s rallying cry to the privileged in funny, poignant new play

    …”The arguments repeat and overlap, becoming a melee of voices shouting to be heard.

    “While the sibling rivalries and knee-jerk ideologies are instantly recognisable, the laughs generated by this rich soup of stereotypes aren’t free. We flinch at the petty outbursts and childish behaviour. We laugh at jibes against the Minister for Home Affairs even as runaway detainee Saba (Sabryna Walters) sits silently, trying her best to be invisible. It is only when she speaks, describing her treatment in Iran and Nauru in a devastating monologue, that we reach the heart, the driving purpose of the play. Comedy becomes tragedy.

    “Finally Sue, the family matriarch, played with crisp energy by Belinda Giblin, cuts through the political posturing and comes up with a plan to use Roger’s public profile as a magic bullet.”…

    If you want to watch a great movie with a big kid, I at first dismissed this, yet Isle of Dogs explains dirty politics to 12 yr olds or anyone who thinks it is clean. Substitute any topic of choice …

    Isle of Dogs
    …” Meanwhile, Watanabe finally develops a successful serum and shows the results to Kobayashi, who dismisses the results and refuses to lift the dog ban. The professor objects, only to be put under house arrest and killed by a piece of poisoned sushi by orders of the mayor’s hatchet man, Major Domo. Tracy Walker, an American exchange student [ or Greta Thunburg ] and member of a pro-dog activist group, suspects a conspiracy and begins to investigate. It is revealed that Mayor Kobayashi and his political party are actually responsible for the dog flu outbreak, seeking to eliminate the dogs as Kobayashi’s cat-loving ancestors tried to do 1,000 years ago, who were foiled by a legendary samurai boy that closely resembled Atari.”…

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