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


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39 thoughts on “Monday Message Board

  1. “Breakthrough” is as over-used as “disruptive”, but both may apply to an allegedly cheap and simple new way of synthesizing green ammonia – and all Aussie no less (Emma Lovell et al, UNSW/USYD). https://www.pv-magazine.com/2021/01/21/green-ammonia-breakthrough-a-potential-boon-for-solar-powered-exports/

    The scheme has the small-boy plus point of using high-energy plasma, as with lightning bolts, to oxidise nitrogen. it has the bean-counter plus point of being a direct substitute for existing Haber-Bosch reactors used at scale in the supply chain for fertiliser, so the technology does not need the ifffy development of green hydrogen to get started.

    But that is coming, and upgrading hydrogen to ammonia as an energy carrier has just got a much more attractive option. Its boiling point of -33 deg C (halfway between butane and propane, compare hydrogen’s -253 deg C) makes transport comparatively simple; you can burn it as is in marine diesels, with a simple add-on to capture the NOX in the exhaust; at ambient temperature and pressure it’s a gas, so can be dropped into existing pipelines.

  2. In other good news – i”ll leave the bad to Iko – the cost of hydrogen electrolysers is crashing. Recharge reports that British company ITM expects prices to fall by 40% in three years; the Norwegian NEL, 75% by mid-decade. There is some hype here, but both companies have large new factories under construction and are betting real money. And why shouldn’t it be true? An electrolyser is a much simpler device than a solar panel, and the process was first demonstrated in 1800.
    https://www.rechargenews.com/transition/bidens-green-tonic-after-trump-mainstream-mega-deal-and-electrolyser-price-wars/2-1-950090

  3. James Wimberley,

    Good news bad news is, if in time you act. Yes, hrrmm. Technology like trinkets you use. Fear for humans I do.

  4. A future Nobel, and a big Thanks! to –

    “The hero biochemist who pioneered COVID vaccine tech was professionally spurned for years prior

    “Dr Karikó was demoted and fired for believing in mRNA vaccine technology. Her work may yet save the world

    “As Dr. Derrick Rossi, who helped found Moderna, told STAT News, Karikó and her colleague Weissman both deserve the Nobel Prize in chemistry. “If anyone asks me whom to vote for some day down the line, I would put them front and center,” Rossi said. “That fundamental discovery is going to go into medicines that help the world.”

    https://www.salon.com/2021/01/24/the-hero-biochemist-who-pioneered-covid-vaccine-tech-was-professionally-spurned-for-years-prior/

  5. KT2,

    Even the people who rejected Karikó and Weissman did not have a crystal ball. They were making opportunity cost decisions themselves. The answer is to increase total vaccine R&D expenditure, by statist means if necessary.

    Each of us might like to think we would recognize the most deserving research in a research administration job. But how could we? We would have to be smarter than all the researchers combined.

    “A Truth is permitted only a brief victory celebration between the two long periods where it is first condemned as paradoxical and later disparaged as trivial.” – Arthur Schopenhauer.

    The mRNA vaccine was first condemned as paradoxical, now some may think it is obvious.

    There is still a chance that one of these vaccines could run off the rails and do more harm than good. None of them are fully tested. The bad chanceis low I think but it does exist.

    It would have been so much easier and cheaper to lock the whole world down at the start of this pandemic and eradicate SARS-CoV2 early, as the smartest epidemiologists and smartest economists suggested circa a year ago. Leaving things open and letting the virus rip has been a disaster. Two million dead and counting. I predict 20 million to 200 million dead from this globally before it is dealt with, id it is ever dealt with. I hope I am wrong.

  6. The politics of vaccine delivery get more and more absurd. Both Pfizer/Biontech and Oxford/AstraZeneca seem to prioritize deliveries to non EU countries. The part I do not get is this: The nations that get priority did pay more, but they paid only a fraction of a possible unregulated “free market price” as well.

    It seems to me the early high scale vaccines are relatively equally distributed among rich nations with urgent demand if you count the EU as one player, The EU even got a bit of an edge. Somehow, the EU still gets the worst end of it among those nations. Never mind the poor, they get the crums after the rich world got their part anyway. And how the hell is Israel getting away with just soaking up that many vaccines? I mean I get why Germany is keeping up with it, but why isn’t the rest of the EU at least screaming bloody murder.

  7. Addition: There are rumours that the AstraZeneca/Oxord one is essentially useless for over 65-year-olds. The Russian one does not look so bad despite the early overoptimistic marketing stunt, at least as far as one can tell regarding Russia, but they seem to have serious problems scaling up production. There are also a quadrillion of other products under development, some of them also in less well off nations. They just take time. Time in which many people will die.

  8. The COVID related economic slowdown has dropped natural gas prices by 45%+ in eastern Australia. With low cost renewable electricity and low cost storage causing natural gas demand destruction, I think gas prices are going to remain low. For this reason, I don’t see a huge demand for hydrogen even with a $50 US carbon price and a $1 a kilogram price for electrolyzed hydrogen. But hey, cleaner ammonia for fertilizer production is great.

  9. Over 65 year olds! We’ve had our day… and the 1960s were the best. I had older brothers so I was into the Beatles from about 8 years old. Nostalgia is the one thing left that actually IS what it used to be.

    I’m officially living in the past now. 😉

  10. Ikon said “They were making opportunity cost decisions themselves.” But we aren’t, just accepting vaccines from elsewhere. No need of opportunity cost, I think manufacturing Vaccines or precursors or both a smart investment, good protection and geopolitical tool for good. Which we are currently leaving to door open to China at present.

    hix said “The politics of vaccine delivery get more and more absurd.”. Yes. And if our pmo approved more than 20% request for foi, we’d know the answers.
    ****

    Why is Australia not developing vaccine infrastructure?

    Moderna -1 x factory + ingredients about $70m = 100m doses in a year.

    Pfizer – 1 x factory $cost??? Producing 1.3bn doses in a year

    Why doesnt Australia afford one? Because? – discuss. Hint (^2.) below – Australian politics rife w mini t’rumps.
    ***

    “Inside one of the new, quick-build factories making the Moderna vaccine

    …” particularly quickly after it signed a 10-year contract in the spring to produce ingredients for Moderna’s at-the-time unproven vaccine. Even with the head start, the process was still a sprint, with a team working around the clock to get three new production lines ready, at a cost of $210 million, along with a single production line at the company’s U.S. facility in New Hampshire.”

    …”Pfizer, the manufacturer of the other vaccine approved for COVID-19 in the U.S., recently said that it’s on track to produce 1.3 billion doses of its vaccine next year; because the vaccine requires two doses, it will be enough for 650 million people. Each of Lonza’s production lines will be able to make ingredients for 100 million doses of Moderna’s vaccine in a year, or 400 million in total. Along with its other manufacturing partners, Moderna expects to make 500 million doses next year, enough for 250 million people.”
    https://www.msn.com/en-us/health/medical/inside-one-of-the-new-quick-build-factories-making-the-moderna-vaccine/ar-BB1c6Bz6
    ****

    Why aren’t we making precursors – raw materials? Or driving price down by – gee – making a company ala CSL and NOT selling it!

    “10 pounds of VCE needed to generate 100 million mRNA vaccine doses … and cost $1.4 billion” $140m per 10m doses (soon you talking real money ).

    “But each step in the manufacturing process requires raw materials that, before COVID, were only produced in the amounts needed for clinical research—“not sustained production of billions of doses,” says Patrick Boyle, an executive responsible for research and development at the Boston-based synthetic biology company Ginkgo Bioworks.

    …” manufacturing plant personnel described challenges in obtaining reagents and certain chemicals, as well as glass vials, syringes and other hardware. They also cited a shortage of “fill and finish” facilities where vaccine doses are loaded into sterile containers and a dearth of workers with the specialized skills needed to run mRNA production processes. Such resource scarcities, GAO** concluded, could lead to production backlogs.

    …” Boyle’s team has calculated that making the 10 pounds of VCE needed to generate 100 million mRNA vaccine doses would overwhelm the limited capacity of bioreactors (containers used to carry out biochemical reactions) and cost $1.4 billion. VCE prices should fall as manufacturing processes and efforts to increase production improve, however, Boyle says.”

    “New COVID Vaccines Need Absurd Amounts of Material and Labor

    “Companies are scrambling to obtain supplies for hundreds of millions of doses of a type of vaccine that has never been made at this scale before”
    https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/new-covid-vaccines-need-absurd-amounts-of-material-and-labor1/

    ** https://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-21-207

    ^2.
    “Pfizer Nears Deal With Trump Administration to Provide More Vaccine Doses

    “The company could provide at least tens of millions of additional doses of a coronavirus vaccine under an agreement that would give it better access to the supplies it needs to expand manufacturing.
    [Insert . ]
    nytimes com/2020/12/22/us/politics/pfizer-vaccine-doses.html

  11. Ha, so, James, let me see if I grasped the point … this new green ammonia would be a gas-substitute? And its emissions could be more easily captured? That *does* sound like good news. I would buy you a beer if I could! I totally missed this in the news.

  12. N: Ammonia is NH3. Irs combustion products are inert molecular nitrogen (N2) and H2O, water vapour. The latter is an amplifier greenhouse gas, but the volumes evaporated from the oceans dwarf any possible direct human contribution. As I mentioned, ammonia combustion also generates traces of nitrous oxides, but IIRC these are fairly easy to trap.

  13. Hix: Please do NOT repeat unsourced rumours about vaccines. Anti-vaxxers and short-sellers are unscrupulous and do not get the benefit of the doubt. Your rumour probably comes from an anonymous Berlin source for Handelsblatt. The claim that efficacy for over-65s is as low as 8% has been flatly denied by the German health ministry as well as by AZ. It is true that the AZ trials stopped at age 55, but lab tests indicate that the immune response holds up at higher ages, and the regulator approved the vaccine without an upper age limit. I don’t think that any of the vaccines were trialled on the over-80s, who are a high priority group for rollout eveywhere.

  14. The AstraZeneca/Oxord is an effective vaccine. It will prevent symptoms appearing around 90% of the time. In addition, it will result in less serious symptoms in the large majority of cases, dropping deaths and ICU visits by much more than a 90% efficiency figures suggests.

    Vaccines of all types are less effective in the elderly compared to the young, but they still offer substantial protection. No vaccine made so far that works for the young does not also work for the old. It would be a huge surprise if one developed for COVID-19 is different.

  15. Sure the Handelsblatt. I wouln´t bother writing it if it was just Bild. Maybe someone overworked really was just too dumb to read as Jens Spahn suggests. Not something entirely implausible since the type of source the handelsblatt hints at might well be grumpy overworked lawyers with no formal statistical training that probably had to deal with an untranslated text. The PPE graduates in London can then do another victory dance if it makes them happy.* The rest of the world will be mainly happy that another vaccine works better than feared.

    Things are getting ugly now in verbal terms. Unsurprising. As far as my preference is concerned, the EU should have resorted to friendlier words and meaner actions a month ago.
    https://www.tagesspiegel.de/wissen/verwunderung-aerger-und-viele-offene-fragen-verdammte-trottel-astrazeneca-streit-wird-zur-schlammschlacht/26851916.html

    Anti Vaxers do not care about efficiency. They care about getting turned into crocodiles or chipped by Bill Gates. The more or less more sane ones also care about long term effects (a first in the history of vaccines) of those horrible new (only 30 year old the horror!) mrna Vaccines etc. Overall they are more inclined to take the Astra Zeneca Vaccine than the alternative products.

    Astra Zeneca will be able to sell more than they can produce, no matter if they get approval for higher age groups in the EU which has been suggested long before that Handelsblatt article. Personally I would be more than happy to take the Oxford/Astra Zeneca Vaccine in that case.

    *On a more serious note, no really no – there are far more trustworthy indications than this Handelsblatt article, that the utterly unnecessary own goal with the half dose during the trials had quite a bit to do with British elite’s overconfidence that they got it right and the others, in particular the foreigners got it wrong.

  16. Hix: “…the utterly unnecessary own goal with the half dose during the trials had quite a bit to do with British elite’s overconfidence that they got it right and the others, in particular the foreigners got it wrong.” The board of AZ is thoroughly multicultural, and its CEO is French. The Oxford University researchers did not run the trials. The Occam’s Razor explanation is that AZ is not a traditional vaccine supplier, and partially screwed up the trial from inexperience. (Why did Oxford pick them? Did more experienced companies refuse to offer no-profit distribution?) It worked out all right, as the greater efficacy of the half-dose points to a mechanism – immune response against the carrier vaccine virus – that can be fixed with mix-and-match, now being tested with the Sputnik vaccine.

    BTW, it’s unlikely that Edward Jenner and Louis Pasteur secured informed consent bu our standards before giving their smallpox and rabies vaccines to their juvenile Patient Zeroes, probably saving their lives, and those of many others.

  17. “Quantifying “Political Islands” with Persistent Homology

    By Michelle Feng and Mason A. Porter

    …”Moreover, cities and metropolitan areas have long been described as “islands of blue in a sea of red,” prompting lively discussions of the potential implications of such political geography. Does something about urban living cause people to shift their political views? Are Democrats self-segregating into cities? Or is there another explanation? Additional concerns arise, as one may wonder whether the concentration of blue (Democratic) voters in dense urban areas makes it harder to avoid gerrymandering. How can we locate these political “islands” to better study them and identify trends in their formation?”

    “As an illustration of our methods in the context of real data, consider Tulare County in California. This county is home to Sequoia National Park and is known for the historical black farming community of Allensworth. Tulare is a strongly Republican (red) county, with a few blue and purple cities dispersed throughout. It also houses Visalia, a very large red city. Our adjacency method (see Figure 3a) captures many loops—mostly around blue and light red islands—whereas the level-set approach (see Figure 3b) successfully captures blue islands. The bar length of a given feature in the “barcodes” [4, 5] in Figure 3 corresponds to polarization strength in the adjacency construction and to hole size in the level-set construction.”
    [graphic]
    …”Our adjacency and level-set constructions will be useful for applications beyond the analysis of voting islands, and we are currently utilizing them to study additional spatial systems, such as urban and biological structures. We hope that our work will inspire other researchers to begin or continue using topological tools to pursue problems in spatial networks and other spatial systems [2, 3]”
    https://sinews.siam.org/Details-Page/quantifying-political-islands-with-persistent-homology

    Slides + audio:
    A Topological Approach to Detecting Neighborhood Segregation

    Michelle Feng, University of California, Los Angeles, US
    https://www.pathlms.com/siam/courses/11697/sections/14898/video_presentations/129689

    PDF:
    https://cdn.fs.pathlms.com/Y7o7flmGRHyIdyHU7jkh
    ****

    Topology / Homology basics;
    https://www.quantamagazine.org/topology-101-how-mathematicians-study-holes-20210126/

  18. Unbelievable but true, I also placed “estimates into a “sandbox” version of the software”,  in a software development proposal in early 90’s. And it set in train, “When those numbers didn’t pan out in reality, there was confusion and anger.”. It was a sand box number, everyone knew it, but the expectations were embedded. I’d have delivered an ‘enviro’ sandbox, with full dispersion of gas and liquid thru an environment, had I not used a  “dummy’ [tishboom] number. Huge lesson about ‘smart’ humans, never forgotten.

    “This is how America gets its vaccines

    “The Biden administration has inherited a web of tech systems and policies that it must navigate to meet its goal of administering 100 million doses in the first 100 days.

    “Operation Warp Speed entered those inflated estimates into a “sandbox” version of the software so states could model different distribution strategies for planning purposes. When those numbers didn’t pan out in reality, there was confusion and anger.

    “At the end of December, people were saying, ‘We were told we were going to get this and they cut it back.’ That was all because we put notional numbers into the exercise side, and folks assumed that was what they were going to get,” says Maddox. “Allocation numbers are highly charged. People get very emotional.”

    https://www.technologyreview.com/2021/01/27/1016790/covid-vaccine-distribution-us/

  19. More on AstraZeneca/Oxord vaccine: Apparently one shot gives 100 percent protection against severe disease and hospitalisation, and 71-73 percent of efficacy overall.
    clearly, for as long as supply is limited, we should be looking at giving everybody one shot before giving people a second shot — unless perhaps they are particularly vulnerable.

  20. Efficacy is the clinical response, efficiency is dependant on the % of the population that are successfully vaccinated.

    A vaccine might be 98% efficacious but if there is a marked adverse response eg allergic reaction the efficiency would be reduced.

    Similarly, if for whatever reason sufficient numbers of people refuse to be vaccinated, COVID will have an opportunity to establish and spread thereby frustrating efforts to eliminate the disease.

  21. Racing, and especially this off road remote series, will make hydrogen and electric for remote or stationary power become acceptable to the ford / holden / chev / gm / diesel petrol heads. And many others.

    “First for motorsport: Extreme E unveils hydrogen fuel cell generator

    “Extreme E has today (28th Jan) unveiled the hydrogen fuel cell generator which will allow the off-road all-electric series to remotely charge its race fleet using zero emission energy, marking a first in the world of motorsport.

    “The brainchild of the people behind the Formula E racing series, Extreme E will see teams racing bespoke off-road electric SUVs in some of the remote corners of the planet, powered by AFC Energy’s hydrogen-fuelled H-Power Charger.

    https://www.h2-view.com/story/first-for-motorsport-extreme-e-unveils-hydrogen-fuel-cell-generator/
    ****

    Specs below this article for the FC generator which Extreme E uses. Looks like Toyota will be first for this type of renew / battery / hydrogen generator. James may correct this?

    Toyota Installs Stationary Fuel Cell Generator Based on the Mirai FC System at its Honsha Plant in Japan

    Verification tests begin, with the aim of verifying the generator’s applicability in offices, plants, and other commercial scenarios

    https://global.toyota/en/newsroom/corporate/29246629.html

  22. A rejoinder to Iko’s nice Yoda comment above. i plead guilty to techno-optimism, but not to techno-naivety. Techology is doingjut fine – but it’s the least of our problems. My two examples. one from academic research, the other from capitalist investment, illustrate a public-private n ecosystem that continues to generate and spread the technology we need – actually better than we need: stop innovation tomorow, and the energy transition will still happen. I’d go further and say that modern capitalism (with its crucial governmental enabling) is delivering a Schumpeterian creative destruction of the fossil fuels industries. Morrison will no more be able to save Australian coal that Trump could its American cousin.

    But, and here I’m with you, today’s capitalism exacerbates a raft of other failures: the loss of biodiversity and wilderness; inequality; racism and discrimination; demagogy, propaganda and corruption in politics; overpopulation; monopolies; unsustainable production and consumption. It won’t deliver the energy transition fast enough – which would have been yesterday. Massive carbon sequestration can’t be profitable without a politically generated carbon price or equivalent regulation, which legacy capital does its very best to thwart. It’s very hard to imagine *political* pathways to meeting these challenges. That holds for socialism as well as capitalism.

  23. For whatever reason, I am a pessimism outlier (very pessimistic). It has now been shown that outliers in populations can serve an evolutionary purpose. This can sometimes have something to do with the options of clumping for survival versus outlying (spatially for example) for survival. If the entire population are “clumpers” and something happens to wipe out clumpers then the species goes extinct. But if there are some outliers the species may survive and evolve. It could be a long bow to compare positions on the optimism-pessimism spectrum to real spaces but I feel more than a little tempted to do so.

    Optimism is majoritarian, conservative and even populist, in the main. I would suggest it works best when the social world has nothing to fear from the real world (physical and biological world). Pessimism is contrarian, radical, anti-populist (and let us say it) just another form of narcissistic elitism. “Because I am worse I am better. Because I don’t follow the majority I am better”, that is what the narcissistic pessimist says. Leaving aside that self-aggrandizing narcissism, there may be cases where the pessimist counsels better. We pessimists have gotten a bad rap, have been termed doomsters, ostracized and marginalized. It turns out we were right. Our bias is the correct bias for situations and eras where the social and civilizational world has much to fear from the real world. Perhaps the “opti-boosters” should have listened to us a little more.

    We don’t say “Don’t use technology.” We say “Use it a lot more carefully and reduce consumption to essentials including the proper needs for health, welfare and education. Stop using resources wastefully for tourism, sports, games and over-consumption of all kinds.” Consumer capitalism has to go or we are all dead.

  24. Ikonoclast,
    Pessimism (noun): emphasizing or thinking of the bad part of a situation rather than the good part, or the feeling that bad things are more likely to happen than good things.

    Optimism (noun): the quality of being full of hope and emphasizing the good parts of a situation, or a belief that something good will happen.

    Plan for the worst, hope for the best.

    If you were an optimist then insurance would seem superfluous and an unnecessary expense. There must be many pessimists in the world, or the insurance industry wouldn’t be so significant.

    You state: “We pessimists have gotten a bad rap, have been termed doomsters, ostracized and marginalized. It turns out we were right.”

    Perhaps that’s because you had a curiosity for knowledge/data and an imagination to recognise the approaching dangers, ‘joining the dots’ sooner to fill in the bigger picture than most people?

    Perhaps optimism is a cognitive coping mechanism for many people too lazy to fill in the blanks of the unknowns? “She’ll be right, mate” – takes far less effort. What could possibly go wrong? – until it does.

  25. Meanwhile, broadcast on ABC TV 7:30 programme last Thursday night (Jan 28) was an interview by Laura Tingle with Earth System scientist Professor Will Steffen. The transcript of this interview included:

    “LAURA TINGLE: It does suggest we’re going to have to take drastic steps faster, exactly as we were warned 10 years ago?

    WILL STEFFEN: That’s absolutely right. We were warned 10 years ago that, if we wanted to meet what turned out to be the lower Paris target of 1.5, we had to start getting emissions down during this past decade. We didn’t do that. That means that it is virtually impossible now to hold temperature rise to 1.5.

    That brings the 2-degree target into question already. A 2-degrees is going to be a pretty difficult climate to live in. Even that means that we cannot afford any more delay.

    LAURA TINGLE: How does that compare with the targets that the Government and the Opposition are talking about? It’s basically a doubling of the reduction task, isn’t it?

    WILL STEFFEN: That’s correct. The present targets are 26 to 28 per cent emission reduction by 2030 on 2005 levels. That is far, far too weak when we’ve just now analysed what the targets ought to be, given the Paris Agreement.

    At the very minimum, we need to cut our emissions by 50 per cent, not 26 to 28 per cent, by 2030 and that means we need to get them headed down quite strongly by 2025.

    Now COVID has given us a bit of a boost here in 2020, as emissions have gone down by some 6 per cent or so but that was because of the pandemic, not because of climate action.

    So we need to build on this and keep reducing our emissions as we go through this decade and beyond.”
    https://www.abc.net.au/7.30/more-extreme-weather-expected-as-atmosphere/13100714

    The Australian Parliament House of Representatives Standing Committee on the Environment and Energy inquiry into Zali Steggall’s Climate Change Bill 2020 held its first public hearing in Canberra yesterday (Jan 29).

    The second hearing is scheduled on Monday (Feb 1) in Canberra and includes notable witnesses:
    * from 11:00am: Professor Penny Sackett for ACT Climate Change Council;
    * from 1:45pm: Richie Merzian for The Australia Institute;
    * from 2:45pm: Professor John Quiggin, Professor Tim Flannery, Professor Will Steffen, Professor Rosemary Lyster
    https://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/House/Environment_and_Energy/ClimateBills2020/Public_Hearings

    To watch live proceedings: https://www.aph.gov.au/news_and_events/watch_parliament

  26. For what its worth regarding those Astra Zeneca Vaccine rumours:
    – At this point, with EMA giving the ok, also for the over 65 age groups it is almost certain the rumours about a very low over 65 year old efficiency had no basis whatsoever.
    -The most likely explanation is that some people were misreading the tables outright. The alternatives would have been for example that they took the bottom end of a large confidence interval in a small sample (addition: i got no expertise in statistics whatsoever, even less so in medicine)
    -Yes it was a mistake to mention rumours about such a sensitive topic.

  27. Geoff Miell,

    The central problem is that modern people, in the main, are still actuated by belief and not by knowledge. We have not thrown off our primitive attachment to magical and wish-fulfillment thinking. Beliefs and passions are still accorded great importance in our culture, often greater importance than empirical knowledge. If a person “believes something strongly” or has a “passion” for something, then this is taken as a justificatory warrant sufficient in itself. We are all supposed to genuflect to the believer (and the belief). “Oh, you believe something strongly. Gee, it must be right for that very reason alone. I must accede to your every wish and directive forthwith because you BELIEVE it.”

    The statement “I believe strongly in X”, where X is some big idea which is neither properly definable nor provable is accorded great respect or at least great fear (fear often for good reason as people kill for beliefs), even today in a “modern” society. Simpler statements, of knowledge likely true to a degree of probability, about some “smaller” idea or existent are swept aside as being of lesser importance.

    A central issue here is that capitalism, especially as endless growth capitalism is a faith. In escaping religion and its form of faith fundamentalism, we did not escape faith fundamentalism itself. The belief in God, gods or spirits was transferred to human reason itself; to rationalism and instrumental reason. Man left the gods to make a god of himself and his reason.

    Capitalism is founded on fond beliefs, not science. indeed, as is being demonstrating today it is founded on empirically refutable ideas. Endless growth is not possible. Endlessly destroying the environment and still surviving is not possible. Breaking the laws of thermodynamics within a dissipative system within an earth system is not possible. The current belief in endless growth capitalism, in its extant form, is tantamount to a belief in a perpetual motion machine. It’s a belief in magic and the viability of human wish-fulfillment while ignoring the thus-far discovered fundamental laws of physics and biology.

    If humans still do exist in a hundred years time, capitalism will be obsolete; excoriated and reviled as the most egregious way possible to run a political economy if one is concerned about sustainability and human and ecological values.

  28. Geoff Miell (thanks) quotes WILL STEFFEN:
    “At the very minimum, we need to cut our emissions by 50 per cent, not 26 to 28 per cent, by 2030 and that means we need to get them headed down quite strongly by 2025.”

    DO NOT do this! A financial, vested interests & environmental ghg boondoggle.

    “The Nhulunbuy Primary source said the school council had late last year planned to ask for a waiver to the [ $300k ] bill, but both the department and Rio denied any knowledge of this request going ahead.” [ willfull deafness ]

    “Arnhem Land primary school paying back $300k bill to Rio Tinto
    ….
    “The bill was expected to be repaid to the mining company by May 2022.

    “Rio Tinto provides power to the township of Nhulunbuy, where it has a 40-year mining lease agreement with Yolngu traditional owners and continues to operate a bauxite mine.

    “Over the past 12 months, the company has faced increased complaints and scrutinyover long, ongoing power outages and its poor communication with the township in explaining their causes.
    [ we funded Gove refinery to replace oil with DEISEL! ]

    https://abc.net.au/news/2021-01-30/remote-school-nhulunbuy-rio-tinto-electricity-bill/13102782
    ****

    Just do this….
    The Kennedy Energy Park consist of 15MW solar photovoltaic (PV), 43.2MW wind and a 2MW/4MWh lithium ion battery storage facility.
    ($100m /30 yrs) / 4,000 users = $833 per year per user * 1.4 admin interest = $1,166 + $250 per user maintain = $1,500 approx. Per user per year. Feel free to correct my back of envelope!

    Or $28/week or $4/day.

    Kennedy Energy Park
    $18m Funded by ARENA
    $99.32m Total project cost

    “Summary
    The Kennedy Energy Park is a hybrid renewable energy facility situated in Hughenden in North Queensland developed in a partnership between Windlab and Eurus. This project will consist of 15MW solar photovoltaic (PV), 43.2MW wind and a 2MW/4MWh lithium ion battery storage facility.”
    https://arena.gov.au/projects/kennedy-energy-park/
    *****

    Last word to JQ – No bills? 
    https://johnquiggin.com/2020/10/19/too-cheap-to-meter-2/

    Nhulunbuy, loved the place. I hope you are listening.

  29. Iko/Geoff: As cognitive biases, optimism and pessimism are transparent and simple for third parties to decode and allow for. Both are necessary for democratic debate, with different weights in different professions. You want your epidemiologists, air accident investigators and and bank regulators to be pessimists, your virologists and startup entrepreneurs to be optimists. I don’t expect or even hope my congenital optimism to wash off. The value I can IMHO add is that I’m on the lookout for good news, and post it here when I find it – not Tesla fanboy trivia but stuff that really could make a difference, like cheap ammonia and hydrogen.

  30. I offer hope. Develop a better system than capitalism and possibly we can survive this mess. That’s hope too. 🙂

  31. Ikonoclast,
    You state: “The central problem is that modern people, in the main, are still actuated by belief and not by knowledge.”

    I’d suggest “belief” doesn’t require the same level of cognitive effort and dedication that evidence-based knowledge requires. Working through evidence/data requires competent effort, understanding and time that most people don’t have the skills or inclination to deal with. Most people will take cognitive short cuts, that for the most part gets them by. We all do it to some degree – life’s too short.

    You state: “We have not thrown off our primitive attachment to magical and wish-fulfillment thinking.”

    Through the age of humanity, it can be injurious and/or fatal for people (and their associates) expressing non-conformist views in theocracies and authoritarian regimes. It’s still happening today within various regimes around the world.

    You state: “Beliefs and passions are still accorded great importance in our culture, often greater importance than empirical knowledge.”

    I’d suggest most people don’t like confrontation, and would normally just try to ‘live and let live’. I’d suggest most people don’t have the sufficient skills, knowledge, confidence and motivation to counterargue, so they likely keep quite in public and perhaps keep their own council among only trusted friends.

    It requires bravery and commitment to stand up and highlight reality and in doing so be noticed, particularly if it threatens the status quo and conventional paradigms.

  32. Ikon, an Einstein quote in sympatico with you, I feel. ymmv?

    “Everyone is aware of the difficult and menacing situation in which human society, shrunk into one community with a common fate, finds itself, but only a few act accordingly.” Albert Einstein.

  33. Geoff and KT2,

    I should restrain my criticism of people. After all, for wars like the Vietnam war and the second Iraq war, the majority of the people in the US, UK and Oz were against them. And yet the elites still rammed those wars through. Same thing for the refusal to act on climate change. Perhaps instead of criticizing the people, I should be asking why can’t the will of the majority of the people actually get enacted? That is the key problem of our “democracies”. This key problem occurs precisely because of the mass acceptance of the myths of capitalism. That is the source of our systemic problems. The power lies with money not with the people. Money votes on the capitol hills of the world, not people. Of course, I refer to those who possess a lot of money as financial capital and real capital measured by the processes of capitalization.

    When was the last time a President or P.M. listened to me, thee or Turrey dog [1]? I mean listened, not took or failed to take a vote. We don’t get the ears of power, ever, not under this system.

    [1] Seen on a camper van once – “Everyone one is mad except me, thee and Turrey dog. And sometimes I suspect me and thee.”

  34. -_-_-_-_-. There are many types of madness, both individual and collective. Sometimes we just differ in the type. Either way, dear Australians, you are allowed to hug people right now, enjoy the privilege and do it please.

  35. Hug each other? Ew! We’re not Canadian, you know. Despite all this modern humanitarian nonsense you see in the papers these days, spread by shady oriental types such as Confucius and Jesus of Nazareth, some of us are still dead inside and jolly well proud of it. When I was a lad and growing up in Queensland, if you wanted a hug you had to taunt a python.

  36. Won’t get fooled again? Nah, we always get fooled again. But then again, nothing changes… until it does.

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