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

39 thoughts on “Monday Message Board

  1. With a GP print-out that said nothing other than that I wanted Pfizer I got the two Pfizer jabs 3 weeks apart. All legal, open, and honest, but the vaccination situation changed so much the afternoon I got the first jab that if I had been booked for the following day instead I believe the vaccination centre would have read the referral closely and would have refused me getting Pfizer. I was very lucky, and on several counts! Things have changed again, and I certainly want the Delta strain gone (and then kept out) before I need a Pfizer or better booster that given the rate of flux in global and local covid related change may yet not become available.

    Delta outbreaks have changed the game yet again in Australia. Delta Plus, and Lambda are certainly coming. What should be any changed response? IMHO Professor Mary-Louise McLaws, infection control expert at UNSW and member of the WHO’s COVID-19 advisory committee has from early on correctly and sensibly called covid developments in Australia on the science.

    Infection control expert Professor Mary-Louise McLaws says that Pfizer doses should go to NSW and Victoria because their outbreaks represent more than half of all Australian cases to date, and says this would also benefit other states and territories.

    To paraphrase from Prof Mclaws interview this morning,

    the way to break the Sydney Delta cycle, but not immediately, is to vaccinate 20 to 39 year olds. They are being infected 40% more than any other age group. But it won’t work if the timing between doses is extended. It’s got to be Pfizer, not AZ. Both reduce risks of severe illness and death, but Pfizer gives much better protection against Delta symptomatic infection. That is the cycle that needs to be broken! Pfizer gives 88% protection, but not if time between doses is extended. Keep Pfizer dosing at 3 weeks between first and second vaccinations! Send all Pfizer vaccine to Victoria and NSW! From an epidemiological perspective this is good for the other States!

    The problem with AZ for this younger cohort, who are spreading Delta without realizing it, is that AZ does not protect them from symptomatic infection at the same level as Pfizer does. Any 20 to 39 year old needs the greatest protection, and that is Pfizer.

  2. I agree it probably makes sense to vaccinate the 20-39 year olds in plague zones as rapidly as possible using the fastest acting vaccines available. Slower acting vaccines can be reserved for sub-plague zones.

  3. Svante

    This AZ vs Pfizer tussle is just so counter productive.

    The reason to favour Pfizer in the Syd/Melb outbreaks is because Pfizer has a lesser delay between doses than AZ – it’s a time issue.

    For remote locations AZ may prove to be superior as it doesn’t have the extreme storage requirements of Pfizer.

    The trial data of these vaccines can’t be compared as they used different cohorts – time was against the researchers. Further studies suggest that both vaccines are excellent in both preventing the disease and in moderating any symptoms should a vaccinated person become infected. .

    The latest study printed in the NEJM confirm that both vaccines are effective against Delta with only moderate differences between the two.

    The only priority is that you get full doses of the vaccine that you can get.

  4. James, I looked “Saline Water-Based Mineralization Pathway for Gigatonne-Scale CO2 Management” you linked to a week ago:

    And it appears to be about 10 times more expensive than just sequestering biomass or possibly the lowest cost rock weathering methods. Maybe there are edge cases where it will be a little less expensive, such as before desalination, but I don’t think that will help nearly enough.

  5. akarog, the “long and short” of it from the conclusions drawn in your link is 88.0% for Pfizer vs 67.0% for AZ effectiveness against Delta after second doses. Size matters and it matters a lot here, ie., Pfizer effectiveness is 131% of that of AZ!

    Also for Delta with R0 5 outbreaks there is the “long and short” of the time taken to reach effectiveness. That is long for AZ and short for Pfizer where doses are spaced per recommendation for each. A startling hole in the paper (or is it in my reading) is that they do not specify how they account for time between first and second doses. I, and perhaps they, assume doses were given at the recommended spacings. Other studies have shown that if double dosing is at the recommended spacings then Pfizer is highly effective by 7 weeks, but for AZ it is some 16 weeks. ie., Pfizer gets there in just 43% of the time taken by AZ!

    Pfizer being 131% more effective and 57% faster acting does not amount to idle chat.

  6. akarog, I should also say that paper reads like a marketing exercise for AZ. My browser advises “ redirected you too many times”, so I can’t see the disclosure forms, but the author affiliations being “all in the United Kingdom” could be suggestive.

  7. Many cannot get vaccinated no matter how much they want to. In my case, I find this bleakly ironic. I was one of the first on this blog (and one or two others) to warn early and long about the dangers of COVID-19 and the public health and economic need to lock down to eradication. Yet, I still have no vaccinations. To say why in too much detail would over-share my tale.

    Suffice it to say a series of eye operations with long one-side prone recovery positions for (up to two weeks day and night) and full recovery times of 6 weeks leave little chance to attend vaccination hubs safely. I have had to cancel two appointments for first AstraZeneca jabs having faced long time windows after the operations where going to a vaccine center was essentially impossible: far too much risk to the recovering eye.

    There is also the issue of how close before or after a major eye operation it is safe to have a COVID-19 vaccination. It turns out nobody knows. The empirical situation is too new to have been researched and my specialist and GP alike have ducked giving any opinion. Thus my situation is I can’t get a medical opinion. And the authorities tell you to get a medical opinion for your particular situation! LOL. Same old one-size-fits-all advice.

    Agreed, I am lucky to have the means and opportunity to have had these eye operations, and at least one still to come since I need them to save sight in that eye. Without going into further detail, there is some evidence already that COVID-19 spike protein, capillary network repairs and retinas are not a good mix. This is real, though early and tentative, evidence from Nature dot com and the Royal College of Ophthalmologists, not vaccine denialist stuff.

    So thanks, Scott Morrison, for messing up the vaccine rollout so badly you gave me no viable options in the time windows I actually had. I know my story is only one of many hundreds of thousands or more in this country.

  8. Why dont they cancel Sydneys new airport plans as punishment and use the money to make a huge quarantine facility somewhere in the far north west . build a couple of runways near fresh water and build a hospital there too. Connect it to the adelaide to darwin rail line. Keep viruses out for ever. It would eventually become the fabled northern city close to asian markets .Powered by wind and solar with a port nearby would be ideal. China might donate money and some workers as part of its belt and road plans or we could just tell the Yanks to build it or we will partner with China to do it. Maybe we could get Uncle Sam to chuck in a few nukes for good measure as well, not much need for our own defence force then . NSW should pay reparations to other states. These things can be built pretty quick in times of war so why not now.

    Vic has now beaten Delta twice in less than the time it has taken bumbling Conservatives to go from one unvaxinated mask-less flight crew driver to a mess that has imperiled the whole nation .Its gong to be hard to see my parents and brother in Albury for a while now. Hopefully Albury will get in a Vic bubble sometime.

  9. In contrast to Melbourne, Sydney has its current international airport in town at least until 2026 when the second international airport at Badgerys Creek is commissioned, if all goes like planned. Road transport to this airport is well advanced. So stopping this project now, as Sunshine suggests, would entail huge losses.

    For reasons I don’t understand, Sydney has taken most overseas arrival since the outbreak of the pandemic.

    Quarantine facilities should be close to an airport and to a hospital that is capable of dealing with Covid patients.

    Since international air traffic is not expected to bounce back to the 2019 level for quite some time, Sydney Airport may have a spare runway – known as the Third Runway. Could one use this constructed peninsular that reaches into Botany Bay to build a quarantine facility with water views as well as opportunities to watch big and small aircraft departing and landing. Some kind of airtight enclosure would need to be built to allow travellers together with their luggage to move directly from the arrival lounge to the quarantine facility, reducing the risk of spreading the virus to drivers (Bondi, Hoxton Park and then all over the West and South West primarily). Moreover, there are two teaching hospitals within reach. The Prince of Wales Hospital in Randwick can be reached via a kind of city highway that is less blocked by traffic than others and the St Vincent Hospital is also in close proximity. Depending on how such a quarantine centre is designed, there is potentially an opportunity to regularly air the facility since this place is rather windy. With windows open, it would be very noisy at time, giving air travellers the opportunity to learn first hand about one negative externality they create when travelling by air because they can.

    Sydney Airport has been privatised. Macquarie Bank is a major shareholder. Would it not be better to gain revenue from a quarantine facility on the Third Runway than accumulating losses?

  10. Ronald: At this very early stage in the sequestration game, it’s pointless and premature to worry overmuch about costs. Whatever is chosen for rollout will enjoy large economies of scale. What we need just now is a menu of options that work, and we need more of them.

  11. How Facebook is destroying the world

    Let me go out on a limb here.
    1. There’s a popular misconception that he problem is extreme speech: white supremacy, election, vaccine and climate denialism and so on. This frames the issue as one of speech regulation The blood libel is clearly out, but how far should social media companies go in denying a platform to propagandists and nutters? Zuckerberg welcomes this framing. He reasonably objects to becoming a crnsor wihout a mandate. But it’s wrong.

    My basis for asserting this is the golden age of blogs, roughly 2000 to 2015. The blogosphere was divided between left and right, but in a way that continued earlier patterns of the age of print. The sniping was most intense in the centre, with the Volokh Conspiracy trading barbs with Balkinization. There no doubt were extreme blogs, but their posts didn’t go viral. It took a lot of money and effort to sustain climate denialism for so long.

    If it wasn’t the existence of extreme speech, what changed with the arrival of Facebook and other social media? We should concentrate on the mechanisms of transmission, not the content.
    1. Sharing did become easier. To share a blog post, readers had to copy the URL, paste it into an email in another app, select recipients, and write something to explain the share. Social media posts can be shared with two clicks, and there is no convention of explanation. There is something in this, but it looks too small a change to explain the upheaval.
    2. Emojis. It became much easier to express an emotional reaction – and only emotional. There is no emoji for “This is a logical fallacy, viz, petitio principii” or “this is factually wrong, see Wikipedia”.
    3. The emotionalization of electronic discourse was supercharged by recommendation algorithms for news and affinity groups. Notice the incentives here for Facebook in particular. It wants to maximise advertising revenue driven by clicks. So FB’s interest is to maximise engagement with the platform. What gets people to share and write stuff? Emotions, positive and negative. Cuddly kittens and a nice row over a fiction called “critical race theory” will both do the job. Facebook’s busy AI algorithms learn what pushes you buttons, so if you respond once, you will get more kittens or CRT. If you have a leaning to harder stuff, Facebook will seek it out like a skilled pusher and supply your darkest psychic needs.

    The kittens are harmless, the CRT rows emphatically not. Zuckerberg, a bland nonentity who had one good idea, has without meaning to become a powerful Loki or Iago, fomenting discord across the globe. The mechanisms and common rituals that keep us from violence in disputes – some quaint, like referring to other members of Parliament in the third person – have been neatly sidelined. He can kill us all if he isn’t stopped.

  12. Sunshine says “Keep viruses out for ever.” Make that for all COVID-19 virus particles and variants and I agree. We should have kept the damn virus out of Australia from the start and for ever. It was doable. Indeed, it is still doable in the sense that we are in a position where could still functionally eradicate the virus from community circulation for ever in Australia. It would take some strong but completely feasible measures.

    (1) Make all major safe and effective vaccines fully available and permit people to choose type.
    (2) Make vaccination compulsory except for medical exemptions and require full vaccination and boosters for O/S travel except where medical exemptions apply.
    (3) Build quarantine stations.
    (4) Reduce journeys into Australia to at or below the purpose-built quarantine station capacity.
    (5) Reduce journeys out of Australia to the return capacity of quarantine stations.
    (6) Levy, upon departure, a quarantine return fee at full cost of quarantine.
    (7) Increase COVID-19 quarantine to three weeks.
    (8) Mandate masks in all public indoor areas until national case count in-community is zero.
    (9) Implement a UBI and/or JG to back necessary lock-downs.
    (10) Remove casualisation in the care professions.

    Keep these measures in place indefinitely. It is standard practice to require a duty of care when your activities could harm other people. Duty of care in the face of a dangerous pandemic disease is no different.

  13. James, I’m willing to attempt carbon sequestration here in South Australia for the current EU carbon price of 53 Euro quid per tonne. It’s not early days, it’s “Oh god, what do you mean I need approval for this?” days.

  14. Labor has now abolished (i) the reduction of franking benefits; (ii) the discounts on capital gains tax and (iii) its opposition the “high” income tax cuts. I agree with all 3 of these policy revisions but, more importantly, Albanese is now seeking to raise Labor’s primary vote to the point where Labor can secure government. As Paul Kelly remarked in a recent podcast, given the current governments problems with vaccination and virus control, the icing on the cake for Labor’s electoral prospects would now be a weakening economy.

    Labor could then present itself as a party of recovery and reconstruction. It would no longer need to cripple itself by being a party of radical reform – a position that a substantial majority Australians do not want. As Albanese is from the left of the party the tax policy collapse is an interesting strategic policy move. The main problem is for Labor that it may induce a self-destructive internal squabble inside the Labor Party.

    It is time for a change nationally but pensioners who bought fully-franked shares when employed, aspirationals who negatively gear a few properties to accumulate some wealth and well-paid tradies will no longer, it seems, come under the Labor gun. Labor can win.

  15. Ernestine Gross: – “In contrast to Melbourne, Sydney has its current international airport in town at least until 2026 when the second international airport at Badgerys Creek is commissioned, if all goes like planned. Road transport to this airport is well advanced. So stopping this project now, as Sunshine suggests, would entail huge losses.”

    Why throw good money after bad on the second international airport at Badgerys Creek which, based on compelling evidence I see, will only ever be a white elephant?

    Globally, almost all incremental oil supply growth since 2011 was from the United States. See Art Berman’s tweet posted on Feb 16, that includes a world crude + condensate production graph from Jan 2000 to Jan 2021:

    Almost all US oil supply growth since 2008 was from ‘unconventional’ tight oil. See Art Berman’s tweet posted on Feb 12, that includes US oil production from 1900 through to 2020, plus Berman’s suggested outlook to 2050:

    But has that paradigm ended for ever?

    “Shale oil’s era of growth appears to be over. The reason is that even as global oil demand and prices rise, the economics of the shale oil business model continue to not work.”

    Where are the adequate aviation fuel supplies coming from in future to sustain the aviation industry longer-term? But I’d suggest many people still haven’t got their heads around that we/humanity need to stop burning petroleum fuels ASAP too – it’s not just coal and fossil gas.

    Alternatively, where are the affordable, rapidly deployable medium- to long-range zero GHG emissions aviation technologies needed for international flights to/from Australia that justify building Badgerys Creek airport? I don’t see any; do you Ernestine?

  16. The fossil fuels issue is a major part of the whole crisis. Fossil fueled mass aviation travel has to be phased out rapidly. We are in the final global emergency which will decide the fate of the human race and hundreds of thousands or millions of other existing species.

    We are seeing nothing less than the final failure of capitalism, specifically in the confluence of climate change as dangerous anthropogenic global warming and novel zoonotic disease pandemics of which COVID-19 is the latest and worst. Capitalism has been failing, is failing and will continue to fail to deal with these crises. This is so long as extensive capitalism, market fundamentalism and corporate globalization continue. [1}

    It has been said: “It is easier to imagine the end of the world than the end of capitalism.” But we don’t need to imagine either any more. Both processes have begun and will continue to the complete destruction of both; the world as a livable environment and the extant political economy as a livable physis and nomos space.

    This will occur with near 100% certainty unless people rebel (in various possible ways) against fundamentalist capitalism and all of its prescriptions. A revolutionary overthrow of capitalism might save us. I emphasize might. It might already be too late with too much damage having been done to the carrying capacity of the earth and all its systems. Humans might also not be capable of the levels of genuine reason and morality necessary to chart such a path; at least not after having become so intellectually and morally debased by capitalism. The way back may be too far. Socialism or barbarism await us, perhaps even near-term extinction.

    [1] “… in what-I-call capitalism” – Miranda’s Mum.
    ” it’s not what you call capitalism, mum. It IS capitalism.” – Miranda.
    (Apologies to Miranda Hart.)

  17. Limits to Growth on schedule.

    “MIT Predicted in 1972 That Society Will Collapse This Century. New Research Shows We’re on Schedule.

    “The study itself is not affiliated or conducted on behalf of KPMG, and does not necessarily reflect the views of KPMG. Herrington performed the research as an extension of her Masters thesis at Harvard University in her capacity as an advisor to the Club of Rome. However, she is quoted explaining her project on the KPMG website as follows: 

    “Given the unappealing prospect of collapse, I was curious to see which scenarios were aligning most closely with empirical data today. After all, the book that featured this world model was a bestseller in the 70s, and by now we’d have several decades of empirical data which would make a comparison meaningful. But to my surprise I could not find recent attempts for this. So I decided to do it myself.””

    At KPMG, by a director of KPMG named – Gaya Herrington.

    “Limits to Growth
    …”What is the balance of the pursuit of economic growth and its effects on environmental and social factors?

    “With ESG top of mind for companies and stakeholders around the world these days, KPMG Director Gaya Herrington published research in the Yale’s Journal of Industrial Ecology comparing the World3 model created in the ‘70’s by MIT scientists with empirical data. What happens if humanity keeps pursuing economic growth without regard for environmental and social costs?”…

    Click to access yale-publication.pdf


    “Yep, it’s bleak, says expert who tested 1970s end-of-the-world prediction

    “Herrington, a Dutch sustainability researcher and adviser to the Club of Rome, a Swiss thinktank, has made headlines in recent days after she authored a report that appeared to show a controversial 1970s study predicting the collapse of civilization was – apparently – right on time.”…

    “Update to limits to growth: Comparing the World3 model with empirical data

    In the 1972 bestseller Limits to Growth (LtG), the authors concluded that, if global society kept pursuing economic growth, it would experience a decline in food production, industrial output, and ultimately population, within this century. The LtG authors used a system dynamics model to study interactions between global variables, varying model assumptions to generate different scenarios. Previous empirical‐data comparisons since then by Turner showed closest alignment with a scenario that ended in collapse. This research constitutes a data update to LtG, by examining to what extent empirical data aligned with four LtG scenarios spanning a range of technological, resource, and societal assumptions. The research benefited from improved data availability since the previous updates and included a scenario and two variables that had not been part of previous comparisons. The two scenarios aligning most closely with observed data indicate a halt in welfare, food, and industrial production over the next decade or so, which puts into question the suitability of continuous economic growth as humanity’s goal in the twenty‐first century. Both scenarios also indicate subsequent declines in these variables, but only one—where declines are caused by pollution—depicts a collapse. The scenario that aligned most closely in earlier comparisons was not amongst the two closest aligning scenarios in this research. The scenario with the smallest declines aligned least with empirical data; however, absolute differences were often not yet large. The four scenarios diverge significantly more after 2020, suggesting that the window to align with this last scenario is closing.

    November 2020
    Journal of Industrial Ecology 25(7)
    Authors: Gaya Herrington

  18. Ernestine classic;
    “With windows open, it would be very noisy at time, giving air travellers the opportunity to learn first hand about one negative externality they create when travelling by air because they can.”

    And the smell of kerosene in the morning.

  19. Labor has now crossed the stage 3 rubicon. Ala the Liberals turning into conservatives prompting Malcolm Fraser to resign, which ALP luminary / elder will resign? 

    Dejavu. When did this comment get posted? “Take this away and there will be precious little reason to vote ALP as compared to Liberal.”

    “The ALP has work to do in regaining middle (and to a certain extent) working-class Australia, but I think it is in the invidious position of also coming to rely on the vote of the so-called “chardonnay set”. You could run the argument that all the ALP has to do is stay a bit left of the Liberals (as Bill Shorten sort of has), given that the worst that the chardonnay set would probably do would be to vote Green and preference the ALP anyway.

    “However, selling out the morality that the ALP embodies is IMHO not really an option. One of the standout things that Labor has going for it today is that it offers a considered, quasi-social-democratic alternative to the Liberal Party. Take this away and there will be precious little reason to vote ALP as compared to Liberal.

    “Completely selling out principles for votes is not the Labor way. How the principles are sold to the electorate is key. The ALP needs to communicate its policy better – and certainly does not need fresh new policy in all instances.”

    Guy says:
    JUNE 28, 2005 AT 9:50 AM

    “Labor vows to keep stage 3 tax cuts for wealthy Australians

    “The “stage 3” tax cuts will see everyone earning between $45,000 and $200,000 paying 30 per cent in tax from 2024.

    “The changes scrap the 37 per cent tax bracket for those earning above $120,000, making those earners the biggest winners from the cuts. 

    “Costing around $19 billion a year, the third phase of the plan had previously been described by Shadow Treasurer Jim Chalmers as the “least affordable, least fair and least likely to be effective because higher-income earners aren’t as likely to spend in the economy as workers of more modest means”.

  20. Yep KT2, all we have now is the LNP and the real LNP – and to think I thought Shorten was on the fence too much and beholden to the awful AWU right! At least where I am with a few too many ALP rusted-on I never have to give a moment’s thought as to why I should not always put these rats last on the ballot.

    ”It is far better to be defeated while attempting to implement Labor policies than to be defeated after surrendering them. I do not believe we can win by surrendering these or, if by any chance we did win, that winning would be worthwhile.” – Dr Jim Cairns, Treasurer, Whitlam Government, 1975 Budget strategy paper.

  21. Geoff Miell,
    I have never studied the oil market, so I take your data and explanation as a given. My interest lies in negative externalities. The issue of real resource constraint (your point) and mine (negative externalities) are related, as outlined toward the end.

    Your argument comes more than 20 years too late for the decision makers. The time to avoid a lot of negative externalities (noise, air pollution over densely populated areas) was in the mid-1980s when a Commission for a second airport in Sydney recommended Wilton to the south of Sydney as the preferred location. Sydney Airport (KSA as it was known) could have served as a domestic airport and as an emergency airport for international large aircraft until such time when real resource constraints (your point) becomes binding and KSA could be shrunk to what it was in the say 1960s to cater for air services from the regions (hospitals, ….).

    We are now dealing with the consequences of the influential part of ‘economics’, known on this blogsite and widely internationally as ‘neoliberalism’. Instead of moving forward in chronological time as far as economic theory and empirical evidence is concerned, neoliberalism moved backward to the 19th century. As a consequence many societies (a growing number) have continued for another 40 or 50 years to measure the value of ‘economic activity’ with wrong prices and there is no end in sight in the foreseeable future. That is, if negative externalities (from soil erosion to noise and air pollution to CO2 emissions and loss of biodiversity) had been ‘priced’ and these costs had entered the production costs then all forms of transport (other than walking and riding a bike, maybe also some paddle boats) would have been more expensive and therefore less fossil fuel had been used up.

  22. “Research by the International Monetary Fund (IMF, 2014) and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (2017; 2018), amongst others, suggests that the social costs of pollution and non-renewable resource depletion are currently nowhere fully reflected in taxes. Fossil
    fuels alone still carry large government subsidies (Coady, Parry, Sears, & Shang, 2017),
    totaling 6.5% of global gross domestic product (GDP). ” – Branderhorst, Gaya. 2020. “Update to Limits to Growth: Comparing the World3 Model With Empirical Data. Master’s thesis, Harvard
    Extension School.

    I wonder if Gaya is pronounced the same as Gaia?[1] Of more practical interest here is the 6.5% of global gross domestic product (GDP) figure for global fossil fuel subsidies. Instead of taxing them as negative externalities we have, or the government and dominant capital elites have, subsidized them (meaning subsidized themselves) with massive perverse subsidies. With all this still happening when in 2021 we are are on the brink of the runaway climate crisis, almost defies belief. It indicated our very poor chances of turning these problems around. Will the current massive wildfires on the Northern American continent and in Russia and aross other parts of the northern hemisphere be the final warning signal that finally gets acted upon? Time will tell. Personally, I doubt it. I hope I am wrong.


    1. “In Greek mythology, Gaia, also spelled Gaea, is the personification of the Earth and one of the Greek primordial deities. Gaia is the ancestral mother—sometimes parthenogenic—of all life.” See Gaia hypothesis.

  23. The risk calculus for the Republicans is that their core base seem to consist of a solid group of vax holdouts; well, more so than for Democrats, and this means that it is directly impacting the Republican base, the many deaths of unvaccinated people, relative to that of vaccinated people (with a lot of statistical finangling to adjust for the population sizes of the groups: unvaxxed, partial-vaxxed, full-vaxxed). There comes a point when your own base is being hurt in an out-sized way, you gotta consider a quick pivot in political posture. Fact is, most of them knew well ahead of time how this would play out, once vaccination became possible; those Republicans had spent months and months on making the wearing of a mask a political shibboleth of the Left, and not wearing one a badge of the Right, the Trumpian Right; they did this for short term political gain, and now, at this point in the election cycle, it is less useful as a political weapon. Now that the world has changed, that the vaccine rollout has gone very rapidly, and the effectiveness of the vaccines has been field tested, these same Republicans know it is no longer of value to continue with the anti-vax rhetoric. Anti-mask rhetoric will continue, mainly because it was a Democrat President Biden who *mandated* it for all federal employees, a sore point with the Rethug base.

    Australians have, on the whole, been much better behaved. We don’t have to like it, but we get that it is a rare enough event (in human lifetime terms) to get smashed by a global pandemic. Even so, I believe that there are a few agitators who are wicked, behaving in a knowing fashion to instill some kind of Australian equivalent to the Confederate mentality in a civil war Australia never had. We aren’t the USA. We have a different history and a different kind of democracy. The agitators in the Morlock Media do us no favours. Unfortunately, several protests were organised, drawing in people from many different jurisdictions, and mingling in close quarters in the CBDs of several capital cities, and one smaller city in Queensland. The protest last Saturday in Sydney has real potential in the sense that once people dispersed and returned to their homes, who knows if they are now infectious? If there is a further dramatic rise in positive cases, and if there are some in new LGAs, it would be consistent with transmissions of the virus at the protest march.

    Some of our federal government failures in my opinion are:
    i) should have been building fit-for-purpose quarantine for all international travellers, the moment we saw the virus was the kind that would be with us for several years at a minimum;
    ii) should have aimed to have our own multiple facilities for producing at least three of the TGA-approved vaccines, ready for the moment they were approved;
    iii) should have had a public health officer explain the new ATAGI advice back at the time the Astra-Zeneca vaccine was under scrutiny, rather than having the PM mangle up the whole thing, scaring people away from using a very safe vaccine, for the actual advice and relative risks were sadly not explained in a clear and concise manner;
    iv) should have extended the duration of quarantine out to 16 or 17 days, in order to catch more of the cases that only become infectious and/or positive around day 15 or 16—the delta variant is so much more transmissible, those low probability long incubation time cases can nevertheless wreak utter havoc, if they are missed. The quarantine period should be re-examined, in my opinion, and the risk of late infectivity properly taken into account.

    I had hoped that the bushfires at the start of 2020 and the PM’s terrible handling of the disaster PR had so chastened the PM and the PMO, they made damn sure to handle the Covid-19 pandemic emergency with a basic level of competency. The illusion held, for a few months at least. There were stuff-ups, but people quickly rectified those and most of Australia avoided seriously tough conditions of the kind that many other countries have and are enduring now. We then went through a period of standing about, gazing out our navels, wondering why we didn’t have a mass vaccination program already operating, or why we continued to accept the economic hits of the randomly occurring fugitive cases escaping the quarantine hotels. Still wondering.

    Finally, at least twice now, the PM has claimed that NSW had done the good job of stopping exponential growth of the outbreak. With 239 cases in the past 24 hours, the data is looking like it is growing very rapidly, despite the past four weeks of lock down or some kind of restrictions in place. I can’t claim it is an exponential curve, but I doubt there are sufficient data to rule it out, not yet. It could be any one of a number of people’s favourite mathematical functions. Depends on how noisy the data are, what the probabilities are for an infected individual to kick off a super-spreader event, etc. I will say this: if children are the last cab off the rank to get access to vaccines, then that’ll be where the next major incursion of SARS-Cov-2 occurs, and it may well have evolved into another extremely successful variant for that significant niche demographic. Hope not, but a long enough, population-stratified, vax rollout really risks this as a prospect, IMHO.

  24. The champions of laissez faire, deregulation and all that jazz have thrown in the towel – the ADF are to be called in to ensure COVID compliance, patchy as it is.

  25. 1,000 words.
    Pope says Labor didn’t cross the rubicon, they set fire to their own trojan horse. D’oh!

  26. Labor are also wholly in the pockets of the fossil fuel and mining lobby. Labor gets party donation money from them. They are fully bought and suborned just like the COALition.

    Our system is corrupt. The major parties are corrupt. The concentration of ownership of large amounts of property and money in few hands has a very corrupting and corrosive influence on a society. A society configured in this way cannot deak properly with poverty, disadvantage or ecological unsustainability. Change it (the system) or lose it (the wolld).

  27. Ikon says “The concentration of ownership of large amounts of property and money in few hands has a very corrupting and corrosive influence on a society”.

    “Popular Corruption Pork – PCP, also known as the ‘concentration of wealth funnel’ or angel dust among other names, is a corrupt amoral methid used for its wealth-altering effects”(^1.)

    Terrorist / freedom fighter.

    Corruption one side, a pork barrel from the other side.

    What to call Labor stage 3 tax cut support?
    Popular Corruption Pork.
    PCP or Angel dust money – the reverse of helicopter money.
    (use PCP money somewhere JQ)

    It falls into a funnel (if you are wealthy enough to have a PCP funnel), not dispersed.

    “(PCP), also known as angel dust among other names, is a drug used for its mind-altering effects.[1] ”

    Is there an antonym of dirigisme?

  28. Time to edit Wikipedia:

    “Anchorage has a subarctic climate (Köppen climate classification: Dfc) but with strong maritime influences that lead to a relatively moderate climate.[32]  ”,_Alaska

    “Holy crow!” he said. “We can grow anything!”

    “He Wrote a Gardening Column. He Ended Up Documenting Climate Change.

    “Over 45 years, his advice to Alaskans has changed with the transformation of the planet

    “In the summer of 2019, Jeff Lowenfels told me, one of his friends successfully grew okra in Anchorage. Lowenfels could not believe it. The crop was shorthand for all the change he has witnessed since he moved to the city in the 1970s, a distance between past and present that he has measured in vegetables and fruits — from cabbage, snow peas and potatoes to tomatoes, pumpkins and now, incredibly, okra. “Holy crow!” he said. “We can grow anything!”


    Okra entry at Wikipedia also needs an edit:
    …” … The plant is cultivated in tropical, subtropical and warm temperate regions around the world …”

  29. Ernestine Gross: – “Your argument comes more than 20 years too late for the decision makers. The time to avoid a lot of negative externalities (noise, air pollution over densely populated areas) was in the mid-1980s when a Commission for a second airport in Sydney recommended Wilton to the south of Sydney as the preferred location.”

    On 30 Nov 2015, I lodged a submission in response to the Draft EIS and Draft Airport Plan for the proposed Western Sydney Airport, that was on exhibition for public comment by the Australian Government Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development. My submission included:

    “The “expected” growth in airline passenger numbers and air traffic movements, in the next decade and beyond, ignores the evidence of an approaching global ‘post-peak oil regime’ and is therefore baseless, and the prime justification for the proposed Western Sydney Airport is untenable.

    Beyond Zero Emissions’ April 2014 publication, Zero Carbon Australia High Speed Rail provides a detailed analysis and description of a rapid rail network proposal linking Melbourne, Canberra, Sydney, Brisbane and other regional centres along this transport corridor, which claims could be operational within ten years.

    In the shadow of a looming global ‘post-peak oil regime’ HSR has a far greater potential to thrive and prosper, whereas aviation, as it is currently configured, is likely to wither substantially unless new technologies are developed and deployed.”

    Later in my submission, sub-headed “Evidence indicates Western Sydney Airport will not succeed”:

    “The success of the proposed Western Sydney Airport is critically dependent upon the aviation industry continuing to access abundant and affordable aviation fuels. Evidence shown in this submission indicates this is unlikely to be maintained much beyond this decade, perhaps sooner, unless new,
    effective, affordable, abundant sources of compatible aviation fuels and/or alternate energy/fuel propulsion technologies are developed and deployed extensively before 2030. Time and scale-of-task constraints make it unlikely.”

    The final EIS was published in Sep 2016, including “Volume 5: Submissions Report”. The Executive Summary mentions that 4,975 submissions were received from 3,973 submitters.

    I am unable to find any reference in the Volume 5: Submissions Report to ‘peak oil’ or aviation fuel supply constraints likely in future. I would be very surprised if I was the only submitter that had mentioned these issues, yet it was IMO apparently entirely ignored in the report – an inconvenient truth for the Federal Government’s narrative of endless growth. And now it seems that what has been warned about (for at least several decades – Hubbert, et. al.), is now (per the data referred in my earlier comment) a reality, and yet governments are still apparently in denial, throwing more good money after bad.

    I have no doubt “the System” is incompetent. I’d suggest that apparent incompetence (wilful or inadvertent) is likely to harm many people soon.

  30. From the week I read the first Limits to Growth book soon after publication, I knew (to a high probability level) that we were doomed. “That’s it,” I said, closing the book. “The evidence is incontrovertible and I know most people, especially politicians and capitalists, will take no notice.” I was reading Das Kapital Vol. 1 at about that time too.

    A friend and I did an undergrad paper looking at cases where scientists had warned and people and governments ignored the scientists. Our prediction was that the LTG warning would be ignored. This was all in the 1970s, That prediction has been proven correct. Many people, influential and obscure, have tried to sound warnings and act for decades but they have all been pilloried and ignored.

    The extant systems (capitalism and state capitalism) were and are set up only to enhance the wealth and/or power of a small minority. They act to exploit most of the masses and destroy nature.

    I actually read an article once where a critic of the Green side of politics blamed the Greens for our current problems because “They didn’t sound the warnings early enough and well enough.” That’s like a home owner blaming fire crews for the loss of his house after he took time out to toast marshmallows on his blazing house before ringing the fire brigade. Everyone (almost) who warned and.or set a green example was pilloried, attacked shunned, marginalized or even suffered loss of career in some cases.

    Developments that could have helped (like an earlier push for electric cars – see “Who Killed the Electric Car?”) were smashed and shut down with extreme prejudice by the fossil fuel / gas auto industry and their corrupt mates in high places. Fossil fuel subsidies are still equal to 6.5% of global GDP.

    This globalized system is so corrupt, so destructive, so manipulative and so ruthless with opponents that it can only be stopped by nature and it will be. These systems will be smashed beyond recognition by nature by 2050. There is no intent by nature, of course. It will simply be the natural outworking of overshoot and feedback effects operating according to the fundamental laws of nature. Billions will die prematurely by 2050. It’s baked in now. Let us hope that a remnant civilization or nomadization of wiser people arises from these ashes and learns and remembers these lessons for the rest of human history.

  31. Geoff Miell,
    The decision to build Western Sydney airport was made much earlier. “More than 30 years after the Hawke Labor government bought the Badgerys Creek airport site. We are now within 10 years of opening a second airport.” [Source:, 2 May 2017]. I am not relying on this source only. It was during the Hawke government that the decision was made to expand KSA (commissioning of the third runway took place in 1994), reversing its earlier decision not to expand KSA. This goes toward explaining the delay.

    There were many hundreds of submissions at the EIS stage against expanding KSA. They fell on deaf ears.

    I don’t know why your submission cannot be found under ‘peak oil’. I could only guess that some people may have pointed out that oil export from Iran is constrained due to geo-political factors.

    Recently I listened to some experts discussing alternative aircraft fuel to oil. I am not qualified to voice an opinion on such projects. However, it was clear to me that the cost of CO2 emissions (and the scrapping of fuel tax concessions) is the driving force to find new technologies to power aircraft.

    PS: I also made a submission to the said EIS, arguing against repeating the problem with the expansion of KSA namely deciding on the construction of some the airport infrastructure without simultaneously determining the flight paths, among other points.

  32. Ernestine Gross: – “I don’t know why your submission cannot be found under ‘peak oil’. I could only guess that some people may have pointed out that oil export from Iran is constrained due to geo-political factors.”

    As far as I’m aware, none of the reportedly 4,975 submissions received in response to the Draft EIS and Draft Airport Plan for the proposed Western Sydney Airport were published by Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development on their website; only the “Volume 5: Submissions Report” supposedly summarizing them. The ‘peak oil’ issue I raised in my submission was not mentioned in the report. So I ask what else, that may have also been inconvenient, were also missed?

    IMO, Labor Federal Governments are no different when compared with Coalition Federal Governments in wilfully ignoring the critical energy security issue of ‘peak oil’. It seems the BITRE 117 report titled “Transport energy futures: long-term oil supply trends and projections”, prepared in 2009, was suppressed by Labor from being published, on the grounds that the report was not “up to scratch”, and apparently only saw the light of day in a leaked draft copy intended for peer-review. See Matt’s expositions at:

    It looks like the suppressed BITRE 117 report was not far off picking the global oil production peak (in 2016) – the actual global peak was in Nov 2018, prior to COVID-19.

  33. I consider that the world faces serious further dangers from the COVID-19 pandemic. These dangers are so great that in the future, and looking back, we will probably view the first two years of the COVID-19 pandemic 2020/21 as a mere prelude to the truly terrible years. Why do I say this?

    “Virologists call variations of a virus that slip past the immune defenses we’ve built “escape mutants.” If the virus continues to spread and mutate rapidly, such escape mutants could be around the corner, Ravindra Gupta, a microbiology professor at the University of Cambridge, previously told Insider.

    “Full vaccine escape viruses, we’re not necessarily that far away from them,” he said.” – Business Insider.

    This suggests that COVID-19 (SARSCov2) vaccine escape variants are likely, though not certain, to be a significant part of our future for several years to come at least. Vaccine technology will be playing catch-up in that case. Each COVID-19 season or major wave will be like each new influenza season with a new, dangerous flu. New vaccine escape variants will require new boosters, which because of the catch-up nature of the “game” will always be a bit behind. New variants will catch and kill new victims before vaccine technology can catch up.

    There is even more to be concerned about. New studies suggest that even 80% vaccination rates will not be sufficient to stop new major outbreaks. Indeed, a New Zealand study suggests a vaccination rate of 97% would be necessary to stop the delta variant without any other public health measures. This is both because of the danger of new variants and because the delta variant has already escaped the current vaccines to an influencing extent.

    “Recent Public Health England analyses found that two doses of Pfizer’s vaccine were 88% effective at preventing symptomatic COVID-19 from Delta, while a single shot was just 33% effective. That’s compared to 95% efficacy against the original strain, with 52% after one shot.” – Business Insider.

    These are still good results and will save a lot of lives but it is not good enough to stop new waves of continuing pandemic and further deaths. Nor is it good enough to stop further mutations.

    Beyond this there is still a further danger to global security, human health and economies. Paradoxically, those few developed or semi-developed nations which had great success in avoiding large early waves (Australia and China come to mind) are now prisoners of their own success. They continue to have very “COVID naive” populations immunologically speaking. This makes them very vulnerable in a world where COVID-19 is mostly pandemic and endemic. In Australia, this vulnerability is mediated by a very poor vaccine rollout for a developed country. Australia has only 18% of people vaccinated with two doses and most of these are with AstraZeneca which isn’t quite as efficacious as Pfizer. China has 40% of citizens fully vaccinated against COVID-19 but their vaccines are less effective.

    Indeed, it looks the Chinese vaccines, Sinopharm, Sinovac are considerably less effective in preventing symptomatic disease, hospitalisation and death. It’s hard to find figures. The Chinese authorities are certainly not forthcoming.

    “In Brazilian trials, Sinovac had about 50% efficacy against symptomatic Covid-19, and (a claimed) 100% effectiveness against severe disease, according to trial data submitted to the WHO. Sinopharm’s efficacy for both symptomatic and hospitalized disease was estimated at 79%, according to the WHO.” – CNN.

    Claims of 100% efficacy against severe disease, and by implication against death, are simply not credible.

    “The rise of severe cases in inoculated medical workers (in Indonesia) has raised questions about the China-produced Sinovac jab, which Indonesia is heavily relying on to vaccinate more than 180 million people by early next year.” – Business Insider.

    Fourteen fully vaccinated health workers (vaccinated with Sinovac) have died in Indonesia.

    China and Australia continue to be vulnerable to outbreaks, If delta outbreaks get going in either country (and one is starting up in Sydney right now) then these countries could suffer large and very damaging outbreaks. Australia is relatively irrelevant to the global economy except for providing some net food exports to the world, about enough to feed 50 million people over and above Australia’s 25 million population, and for providing iron ore to China and coal to some other Asian nations. Much as it might hurt Aussie pride we really are of little importance to the global economy.

    China is another matter entirely. If China has a delta or delta plus outbreak etc., the geopolitical and economic consequences will be severe from global depression to regional wars… or worse. The CCP (Communist Party of China) bases its legitimacy and support from its people on delivering a continuing economic miracle and rapid growth putting its economy (already) well ahead of its main competitor, the USA. If all of this falters under a large COVID-19 pandemic in China, then as stated above the economic and geopolitical consequences could be somewhere from dire to catastrophic. I think the world is in extreme trouble. Add in climate change (witness the global fires at the moment) and the global outlook becomes apocalyptic or as some term it, an anthropocalypse.

  34. Carbon farming has a problem as, “The magic molecule you can just stick in the soil and expect to stay there may not exist”.

    “A Soil-Science Revolution Upends Plans to Fight Climate Change

    “A centuries-old concept in soil science has recently been thrown out. Yet it remains a key ingredient in everything from climate models to advanced carbon-capture projects.

    “But over the past 10 years or so, soil science has undergone a quiet revolution, akin to what would happen if, in physics, relativity or quantum mechanics were overthrown. Except in this case, almost nobody has heard about it — including many who hope soils can rescue the climate. “There are a lot of people who are interested in sequestration who haven’t caught up yet,” said Margaret Torn, a soil scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

    “A new generation of soil studies powered by modern microscopes and imaging technologies has revealed that whatever humus is, it is not the long-lasting substance scientists believed it to be. Soil researchers have concluded that even the largest, most complex molecules can be quickly devoured by soil’s abundant and voracious microbes. The magic molecule you can just stick in the soil and expect to stay there may not exist.”

  35. Iko, it’s reported that China is near to completing a deal with Pfizer. It involves China soon becoming the largest producer, user, exporter, international donor and probably developer of Pfizer vaccines. There are sure to be ramifications for Oz, and likely they will be adverse at just about the same time that OZ iron ore exports crash…

  36. The response by the NSW govt to the threat can be best described as being wholly inadequate. The current health order could be compared with the Maginot line, it’s defensive properties next to useless.

    With the current rate of infections hospitals are filling up, once capacity is exceeded they will have to be farmed out to regional hospitals or temporary wards will have to be constructed.

    The cost to the economy of this so called gold standard infection control must far exceed the cost of a sharp hard lockdown.

    Tom Frieden warns that without effective health control, in particular vaccination, a vaccine resistant variant could emerge.

  37. Vaccine resistant variants have already emerged and are still emerging.

    The situation is very serious, globally and in Australia. The notion that we can “live with COVID-19… like the flu” is absurd. We can at best “co-exist” with it in a long struggle with much tragedy and no end in sight over many years.

    See “Why we can’t treat COVID-19 like the flu – The lasting health problems coronavirus can cause must be considered, writes UWA epidemiologist Dr Zoë Hyde.- RACGP.

    Permitting this virus to become pandemic around the world has been a dreadful and avoidable mistake. Australia must do everything to eradicate it in Australia even it it means cutting off non-essential travel with, and returns from, the rest of the world for many years; except for Australian citizens and long-term residents returning to Australia to 4 weeks minimum quarantine in purpose-built quarantine stations. This is how serious our situation and the global situation are now. Australia faces a potential huge COVID-19 delta wave because we were still letting people come in willy-nilly from all over the world and not just returning Australians. We now face untold human and economic damage from these frankly idiotic policies of the Morrison government. One delta-variant incursion or a handful can bring an entire nation to its knees. We are seeing these facts emerge on the ground.

    We may already have dropped the ball. The outbreaks in NSW and Qld look likely to spiral completely out of control. We may be the first COVID-19 naive and unvaccinated population to ever face the delta variant. This could lead to outcomes equal or worse to those seen in any other country so far. We could be facing an utter disaster, a massive, single-wave disaster. Again, I hope I am wrong, but this is a real danger now. Taking this virus lightly has been an enormous mistake. Why do we keep making this mistake?

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