Monday Message Board

Back again with 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. If you would like to receive my (hopefully) regular email news, please sign up using the following link You can also follow me on Twitter @JohnQuiggin, at my Facebook public page   and at my Economics in Two Lessons page

11 thoughts on “Monday Message Board

  1. In my next life I am going to be a constitutional expert… Anne Twomey shows BM actually had zero wiggle room. But the marketing department gets in the way.

    “Ministers like Bridget McKenzie have no discretion to break the rules

    “Proper” is defined as meaning “efficient, effective, economical and ethical”

    Four constraints on ministers

    First, section 71 of the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013 says that a Minister must not approve expenditure of public money unless satisfied, after making reasonable inquiries, that the expenditure would be a “proper use” of the money. “Proper” is defined as meaning “efficient, effective, economical and ethical”.

  2. Thiis bill is the latest – smart yet cynical – deniers / investors move to prop up coal with the phrase “promote coal innovation” – from the only democrat with coal investments. Parallels abound.

    By linking coal to “commercial deployment for technologies like graphene and carbon fiber”, they are using this furphy of coal as a feedstock for graphene and carbon fibre, ev [40kg graphite in 1 ev? James W?], filter, sensors etc, as bau for entrenched power, and jobs for votes. 

    As can be seen in links below, coal is irrelevant to our future. 

    The Coal TeCC Act “…unlimited applications for coal as a carbon-based product used in automobile frames, airplanes, electronic devices, and plastics. The unique composition of coal has the potential to create stronger, lighter, and less expensive carbon-based materials, providing coal communities in Wyoming with an important source of jobs and revenue. Investing in carbon-based technology and research strengthens the reality of coal as one of America’s most versatile and valuable natural resources.”

    “The Coal TeCC Act will help promote coal innovation in the industrial, defense, agriculture, medical and pharmaceutical industries. Coal will continue to play an important role in the economy and this important research will ensure we are getting the most value from this important natural resource. As the Ranking Member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, I look forward to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to ensure it becomes law,” Senator Manchin said. [ see below for Sen. Manchin priorities]

    “Coal-to-materials manufacturing is a growing high-tech market for coal and its byproducts,” Senator Capito said. “This legislation will advance research and development, as well as commercial deployment for technologies like graphene and carbon fiber’. …

    “The Creating Opportunities And Leveraging Technologies for Coal Carbon Act, or COAL TeCC Act, establishes a dedicated program within the Department of Energy”…

    Minor budget, BIG new ploy.

    “H.R.5704 – To amend the Energy Policy Act of 2005 to require the Secretary of Energy to establish a carbon technologies program, and for other purposes.116th Congress (2019-2020)

    This bill mentions;
    – carbon fibre. Able to be produced now via “Various green chemistry routes are being developed for the synthesis of acrylonitrile from renewable feedstocks, such as lignocellulosic biomass, glycerol (from biodiesel production), or glutamic acid (which can itself be produced from renewable feedstocks). The lignocellulosic route involves fermentation of the biomass …[13]

    * biodiesel production hopefully soon via “spintech” – unboils eggs – as vortex less energy intensive. Love this invention/inovation!

    Continuous flow vortex fluidic production of biodiesel
    And graphene – able to be produced now by; “… placed two electrodes, one made of platinum and the other of graphite, which is essentially a conglomeration of many layers of graphene. When they ran 10 V of direct current through the graphite electrode, it began to shed layers into the solution, a process called exfoliation. They kept the current running for three to five minutes, separated the exfoliated flakes from the solution, and washed away excess salt with water.

    “The process turned more than 75% of the graphite electrode into graphene flakes. Approximately 85% of the flakes consisted of one to three layers of graphene—the most desirable electrical properties come from single and double layers of graphene.”

    Used / fresh sunflower / vegetable oil sounds sustainable compared to coal / renewables, but I don’t have the knowledge or citation…

    – Heated vegetable oil
    “Researchers heated soybean oil in a furnace for ≈30 minutes. The heat decomposed the oil into elemental carbon that deposited on nickel foil as single/few-layer graphene.[111]

    – Bacteria processing of graphene oxide
    “Graphene oxide can be converted to graphene using the bacteria Shewanella oneidensis[112][113]

    – Flash joule heating
    “(Waste) food, plastics, wood, paper, clothes and other carbon materialscan be converted to graphene by rapidly heating it to 3,000 K (2,730 °C; 4,940 °F) for 10 milliseconds”

    Fun fact “Graphite may be the second or third oldest mineral in the Universe”…
    “Graphite is not mined in the United States, but U.S. production of synthetic graphite in 2010 was 134,000 t valued at $1.07 billion.[45]”

    “It is estimated that the world reserves of graphite exceed 800 million tonnes. China is the most significant graphite-producing nation, providing more than 70 per cent of world production, and nearly one-half of the United States’ annual graphite demand (the U.S. produces no graphite).”

    “a supply squeeze for all flake sizes is expected over the next decade.”…

    ** Fun fact; china dumped graphite on to the market in the 1990’s and killed US production. No date on article.
    Here is an overview of the 110 manufacturers and suppliers of graphene(in alphabetical order) that are in our Nanowerk database as of February 2020. For individual graphene product details, please refer to our Nanomaterial Database.
    Introducing ” Senator Joe Manchin, the ranking member on the Senate energy and natural resources committee, owns between $1m and $5m worth of non-public stock in his family coal business, Enersystems, making him the only Democratic senator who is directly profiting from the environmentally devastating coal business.”

    – “Legislatively, job creation is Senator Manchin’s top priority, and he believes that government should act as a partner, not an adversary, in helping to create the environment that produces good American jobs.”…

    – “Senator Manchin is strongly committed to developing a balanced national energy plan that utilizes all of our resources and recognizes that fossil fuels will be a vital part of our energy mix for decades to come.”…

    Had Senator Manchin said “I will divest my coal stocks and instead develop new graphene production hubs” instead of “growing high-tech market for coal and its byproducts” he could evolve instead of enhancing “Human Induced Global Warming”. We need to spell it out.

    Coal. Is. Dead. Only zombies hanging on.

  3. KT2
    Most of us know she was the patsy, but there is little to suggest anything but enjoyment with or of the complicity.

    We also can’t say she hasn’t gained financially through her association with the Nats, given her enthusiasms for their schemes and that the rest seem bent.

    If her integrity meant that much to her, she always could have resigned, especially after the PM’s dept. cooption.

    My guess is that in the fullness of time
    (at the end of the day, wearing her party hat),
    her timely silences will reap a rich harvest for her by way of others who might currently shy away from disclosing their role in certain proceedings at dates presently unknown in the past

    After all, “Hell knoweth no fury like a woman scorned”, it would be in the interests of some to maintain a friendly relationship with BM.

  4. One of the consolations of old age is that you stop worrying about being a bore.
    Solar/storage update from India (

    India concludes world’s largest renewables-plus-storage tender at $0.0566595/kWh
    […] The procurement exercise was held to contract 1.2 GW of capacity in the form of assured supply of 600 MW of clean power for six hours daily during peak demand hours – 5.30-9.30am and 5.30pm-12.30am – on a day-ahead, on-demand basis. The successful bids comprised at least 3 GWh of energy storage capacity – pumped hydro or battery storage – plus associated clean energy generation assets.”
    The awards were 400 MW more than planned.

    The Indian site of the magazine adds this comment from a solar spokesman:
    “The most recent thermal power tenders in the country have yielded levelized tariffs in the range of Rs5-7/kWh ($0.0694-0.0972) at 85% annual plant load factor.”
    So solar plus storage is now significantly cheaper than coal for a representative daily load. The gap is wider if you lower the utilization rate of coal to a more realistic 65%.

  5. The Guardian piece below on the risky state of health insurance happened to link to APRA raising issues of global heating financial risk and warning of the risk to companies and board members of being prosecuted under corporations law… APRA apparently have been considering things for a while. How much more than in 2017 has the bushfire crisis this summer sharpened their focus on these risks? Are the banks, insurers and super funds about to get a proper nudge from APRA anytime soon?

    “In what he described as a “blunt message” to the troubled industry, Australian Prudential Regulation Authority member Geoff Summerhayes warned the regulator might force underperforming funds to merge if they did not control their costs or arrange their own merger.

    Summerhayes also said that Apra would soon have more to say on the impact of global heating on the banks, insurers and super funds it regulated.

    He has previously warned that directors may be in breach of their legal duties if they fail to consider climate risk.”

    “So what can you expect to see from us? Firstly, something you would already be aware of is a greater emphasis on stress testing for organisational and systemic resilience in the face of adverse shocks. It could be the case that, just as we would expect to see more sophisticated scenario-based analysis of climate risks at the firm level, we look at these risks as part of our system-wide stress testing.

    To be clear, this does not mean suddenly elevating climate-related issues to the top of our priority list. But it does mean joining the wider conversation that is already going on around this issue – and being explicit that climate change is likely to have material, financial implications that should be carefully considered.

    Now, it is absolutely the case that entities we regulate have many risks and regulatory issues to manage. We understand the challenges this poses for capabilities and skills, especially on unconventional or emerging issues. Frankly, it is a challenge for us, just as it is for regulated entities, to manage a long list of issues, often in areas where expectations are rising, test traditional thinking and require diverse expertise.

    However, we make no apologies for expecting regulated entities to rise to this challenge with us. These are shared responsibilities. When things go wrong, it reflects badly on all of us – regulators, entities, governments, and the entire financial ecosystem. For our part, we know that when regulators are slow-moving, or equivocal, it makes problems even worse.

    So, if you will allow me to finish with a sporting metaphor, you can expect to see us on the front foot on climate risks, so as to make the challenges on the horizon a little clearer.”

  6. James Wimberley,

    That is good news but our problems are not limited to atmospheric and oceanic CO2 increases. Micro-plastics, phthalates, toxins and hormones in the general environment are also a serious concern. Then there is the overall issue of the reduction in complexity of the web of life of the biosphere. Extinctions are a rough proxy measurement for this issue. The size and complexity of the human economy increases not only at the cost of burning fossil fuels (which is now in principle avoidable after a thorough energy system conversion). The size and complexity of the human economy also increases at the cost of reducing the size and complexity of the entire web of life in the biosphere: that is at the cost of increasing entropy or disorder in the natural environment.

    It is not only fossil fuels we are burning. We are also consuming the complexity of the web of life of the biosphere. Just as the fossil fuels in the ground were originally created by the input of incoming solar energy so the complexity of the web of life was created by the input of incoming solar energy. In both cases it took a time-span of the order of hundreds of millions of years (if not more) to generate this order.

    With energy we can now “skip the middleman”. The middleman being fossil fuels or more precisely the time it took to make them and render them into deposits. We can now take the energy directly from incoming solar energy. With the complex web of life we cannot “”skip the middleman”. We cannot skip the eras of time it took to generate a complex, interactively seff-balancing and resilient web of life throughout the biosphere. The damage we do, the destabilization we generate, can and very likely will result in wild perturbations and gyrations (plagues and die-offs) which again will take millions to 100s of millions of years to re-stabilize, albeit in a new form, most likely in the years A.H. (After Humans).

  7. I am aways astounded at the amount of reading I would need to do, and the time needed to absorb history and concepts. Noah Smith at noahpinion…

    “Book Review: The Revolt of the Public, by Martin Gurri

    “If you do not read “The Revolt of the Public and the Crisis of Authority in the New Millennium,” by Martin Gurri, you will not be sufficiently prepared for the world to come.

    “Well, you probably won’t be anyway. No one will! But this book brings together a startling number of important threads of contemporary politics, geopolitics, public affairs, and media, and weaves them into a coherent, comprehensible, and very plausible narrative. And it does so far better than any other book, blog post, or Twitter thread that I have seen attempt to deal with these issues (including my own modest foray). So buy this book and read it.

    “Why This Book Is Great
    The basic thesis of the book is that social media has empowered the public, and that the public is using its newfound power to attack – but not to replace – the dominant institutions of society.”…

    Noah compares to history with: – “Phantom Terror: Political Paranoia and the Creation of the Modern State, 1789-1848”

    – “Nixonland: The Rise of a President and the Fracturing of America” and
    – “Days of Rage: America’s Radical Underground, the FBI, and the Forgotten Age of Revolutionary Violence”. 

    “In Conclusion
    These omissions in the book should only emphasize how thought-provoking it was, and how interesting and useful of a framework Gurri has created for evaluating the modern world.”…

    Then Martin Gurri’s response;

    “Has modern government failed?
    I want to point readers of this blog to Noah Smith’s generous review of The Revolt of the Public (ROTP), posted a couple of weeks ago.  I would characterize the piece as “critical engagement” – for an analyst, the ideal treatment of your work.”

  8. More early writings of why culture ” a half-century ago are nothing short of eerie” re trumpism.

    “It Was Never About Economic Anxiety: On the Book That Foresaw the Rise of Trump

    Samuel Freedman Rereads 1975’s Blue-Collar Aristocrats

    …” reading Blue-Collar Aristocrats in 2019 is like solving an equation by removing one of its variables: materialism. What remains are the cultural factors felt and acted upon by LeMasters’s men then and the Trump base now. And the echoes of those voices from the Club Tavern a half-century ago are nothing short of eerie.

    “Though LeMasters’s academic specialty was the sociology of marriage, a subject he does treat at length in the book, his acute ears tuned in to the troubling mixture of nostalgia and nihilism that animates the Trump movement today.

    “Because he conducted his research between 1967 and 1972, he implicitly answers one of the persistent questions about Trump’s white proletariat: How much of their aggrievement with the Democratic Party and liberalism itself can be ascribed to materialist causes, meaning primarily the demise of industry and the explosion of income inequality? ”

    Note to Self: must get help for my “Tsundoku (Japanese: 積ん読) is acquiring reading materials but letting them pile up in one’s home without reading them.”

  9. Further to mention above, February 5, 2020 at 1:36am, on APRA’s Geoff Summerhayes 2017 speech, I saw a clip yesterday somewhere on ABC of RBA Lowe delivering a speech. He said, likely clipped from an answer to a question as it isn’t in the transcript, that RBA and APRA, after recent climate disaster events had been and would more so look into financial and economic risks posed by global climate destruction. My impression was that he was saying they were sooner rather than later going to start issuing catch up demands to the entities they regulate. Too hopeful?

    The clip I saw may be drawn from here toward the end h t t p s ://

    Lowe’s address to the National Press Club, 5 February 2020, on “The Year Ahead”. In the body of his speech Lowe at least mentioned climate concerns twice: (see page 14 of 16 under sub-headers: “The Fires, the Drought and the Coronavirus Outbreak” and “The Importance of Continuing to Invest in our Future”)

    Geoff Summerhayes, APRA, speech from 2017 again: – “So, if you will allow me to finish with a sporting metaphor, you can expect to see us on the front foot on climate risks, so as to make the challenges on the horizon a little clearer.”

  10. Lowe looking into climate change risks. And he also needs this;

    Mental health being being spriuked by govt and tonnes of money, toward a workforce too small and, I post this with a heavy heart as I know of ptsd and and eminent retired solicitor who devoted retirement to councelling firies… yet…

    “The Primary Prevention of PTSD in Firefighters: Preliminary Results of an RCT with 12-Month Follow-Up

    We found no evidence that the intervention was effective in the primary prevention of mental health issues, nor did we find any significant impact of MAPS training on social support or coping strategies. A significant difference across conditions in trauma knowledge is indicative of some impact of the MAPS program.

    While the key hypotheses were not supported, this study is the first randomised control trial investigating the primary prevention of PTSD. Practical barriers around the implementation of this program, including constraints within the recruit school, may inform the design and implementation of similar programs in the future.”

    The new “rolling” royal commish into veterans suicides will also imo, in ten years, come to a similar conclusion. This commission is not going to assist the innumerable people w ptsd, more so after the fires and rates will only be apparent in 5 yrs – ptsd has a long hidden gestation period. While the rate of veterans suiciding is larger than general population, at 3-4,000 suicides a year, is going to leave a big hole in generalnsociety, costing us a fortune in forgone mental health, productivity and suicides.

    A lost opportunity. And costly. With minimal productivity.

  11. File under “helpful”. Always nice to know when potential extincrions will occur.

    “University of Ottawa researchers develop technique to predict impact of climate change on species extinction risk

    “We have created a new way to predict local extinctions that tells us, for each species individually, whether climate change is creating temperatures that exceed what the bumble bees can handle,” Dr. Tim Newbold explained.

    “Perhaps the most exciting element is that we developed a method to predict extinction risk that works very well for bumble bees and could in theory be applied universally to other organisms,” Peter Soroye indicated. “With a predictive tool like this, we hope to identify areas where conservation actions would be critical to stopping declines.”

    “Predicting why bumble bees and other species are going extinct in a time of rapid, human-caused climate change could help us prevent extinction in the 21st century.” – Dr. Jeremy Kerr”

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