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

36 thoughts on “Monday Message Board

  1. Malcolm Fraser resigned from the Liberal Party due to conservative stance. Would Gough Whitlam resign from the current Labor Party?

    “Business whispers: how Treasurer Josh Frydenberg squandered $40bn on JobKeeper
    . ..
    “Labor has closed ranks with the Coalition, rejecting the idea of a clawback despite it being now known that almost $40 billion was given to profitable businesses. That leaves clawback dead, the only remedy to retrieve the billions granted to those which did not deserve it as … shame.

    “Once revered for its independence and the intellectual rigor of its work, now Australia’s Federal Treasury seems but a lapdog for the business lobby.”

  2. Ozone Tax?

    1. Carbon Dioxide
    2. Methane 
    3. Ozone 

    “Ground-Level Ozone Is a Creeping Threat to Biodiversity

    “Scientists are learning how this pollutant damages plants and trees, setting off a cascade of effects that harms everything from soil microbes to wildlife.

    “In a paper published last year, 20 researchers in Europe and Asia, including Agathakleous, modeled what could happen to ecosystems in coming decades as a result of ozone pollution.   They concluded that ozone will affect “the composition and diversity of plant communities by affecting key physiological traits” and can cause a cascade of changes that diminish biodiversity. In their paper, the researchers urged officials to take ozone into account in efforts to protect and restore biodiversity and said its effects should be included in assessments of atmospheric pollution and climate change.”…

    Several linked papers in Wired article. Here is one:

    “Ozone affects plant, insect, and soil microbial communities: A threat to terrestrial ecosystems and biodiversity

    “Elevated tropospheric ozone concentrations induce adverse effects in plants. We reviewed how ozone affects (i) the composition and diversity of plant communities by affecting key physiological traits; (ii) foliar chemistry and the emission of volatiles, thereby affecting plant-plant competition, plant-insect interactions, and the composition of insect communities; and (iii) plant-soil-microbe interactions and the composition of soil communities by disrupting plant litterfall and altering root exudation, soil enzymatic activities, decomposition, and nutrient cycling. The community composition of soil microbes is consequently changed, and alpha diversity is often reduced. The effects depend on the environment and vary across space and time. We suggest that Atlantic islands in the Northern Hemisphere, the Mediterranean Basin, equatorial Africa, Ethiopia, the Indian coastline, the Himalayan region, southern Asia, and Japan have high endemic richness at high ozone risk by 2100.”

  3. “Would Gough Whitlam resign from the current Labor Party?”

    No. If he was ever going to resign from fake labour he would have done so in the 1980s when it became a neoliberal shill for the chicago school. Whitlam would also certainly have known then that Hawke was a shill for the CIA that earlier had him removed and that was itself a shill for the chicago school.

    So what does that say about Whitlam? Perhaps only that old Whitlam could happily go to pasture with absolutely no need to make amends or young Whitlam, let alone be seen publicly to do so – quite unlike the penitent old Fraser seeking to redeem the younger.

  4. Zali Steggall is pressing ahead with her Climate Change Bill and today presented to Parliament an updated draft of ready-to-go, fit-for-purpose legislation, with heavyweight support from the Australian business community.

    The main revision to the Bill is the addition of an impactful short-term target, to increase Australia’s 2030 emissions reductions on 2005 from 26-28% to 60%. This doubling of effort would put Australia back on track with the guidance from the IPCC of what’s required to deliver the Paris Agreement goals, something that the US, UK and Eu all committed to back in July.

    Watch it:
    Show advanced controls and download options
    Jump to timecode 10:21:36
    Mark in 10:21:36 Mark out 10:54:46

    Tabled by Zali Steggall OAM, Member for Warringah, NSW
    Seconded by Rebekha Sharkie, Member for Mayo, SA
    Seconded by Dr Helen Haines, Member for Indi, VIC

    BTW, note that the Bill concerning the superannuation guarantee tabled with a side of antivaxxing by Craig Kelly, Member for Hughes, NSW, immediately prior to Steggall’s improved climate change Bill was seconded by Milton Dick, Member for Oxley QLD!

    Recall that a few years ago Dick was ahead of most of the federal ALP coal gang, only second out of the blocks after Joel Fitzgibbon, in joining Craig Kelly’s then new parliamentary friends of coal group. Fitzgibbon is retiring but may still do plenty for coal before the coming election is called, but the AWU owned number crunching Dick is set to be a real time-serving safe ALP seat lifer who has not given any hint that he has a new position on being friends with Kelly nor with being a tool for king coal. How Queensland ALP Inc it is. Follow the money.

    Yep, vote the big four parties last and any sitting member dead last.

  5. The Pope has been ranting like a drunken socialist again .I wonder if our current crop of overtly religious political leaders were listening.

  6. Svante,

    Zali Steggall is a sitting member. I suspect you didn’t mean to advise people to put her last on her ticket.


    I tend to think that God-botherers are the ones most likely to be in trouble if a punitive OT style God actually exists. After all, they are the ones who are so consistently highly materialistic, Machiavellian and malevolent. The rest of us muddle along, a bit selfish one day but decent enough the next. It takes a rigid fundamentalist to be inflexibly mean non-stop.

  7. Too right , Ikonoclast. Yep, vote for the better small parties and independents while putting the big four parties last, and any sitting big four member dead last. No need at all to give the big four even one vote on the Senate ballot paper. There one can limit one’s selection to only the few one wants. What was it the electoral commission recommended last time… numbering a minimum of just thirteen candidates is enough to effectively have the quota system work well? Easy. If enough voters started doing this it will change everything about the political, electoral, and governance systems of the country. The big four, the cozy duopoly, would have to change their game to be responsive to voters wishes and concerns rather than to those of home grown and foreign plutocratic oligarchs pretty quickly, or die.

    I suppose I should also have mentioned how one shouldn’t also see connections between Clive Palmers’ big Minerology coal mine wins recently in Queensland, the ALP, Kelly, and Dick.

    What use is it to the ALP to keep Kelly onside? They could have rolled the government a month ago with TNL’s deal for three floor crossing votes, So it must be Palmer they want to keep onside. What has Palmer offered to do for them?

  8. Sabine Hossenfelder on;
    “How close is nuclear fusion power?

    “The confusion which you find in pretty much all popular science writing about nuclear fusion is that the energy gain which they quote is that for the energy that goes into the plasma and comes out of the plasma. 

    “In the technical literature, this quantity is normally not just called Q but more specifically Q-plasma. This is not the ratio of the entire energy that comes out of the fusion reactor over that which goes into the reactor, which we can call Q-total. If you want to build a power plant, and that’s what we’re after in the end, it’s the Q-total that matters, not the Q-plasma. 

    “Here’s the problem. Fusion reactors take a lot of energy to run, and most of that energy never goes into the plasma. If you keep the plasma confined with a magnetic field in a vacuum, you need to run giant magnets and cool them and maintain that. And pumping a laser isn’t energy efficient either. These energies never appear in the energy gain that is normally quoted. 

    “The Q-plasma also doesn’t take into account that if you want to operate a power plant, the heat that is created by the plasma would still have to be converted into electric energy, and that can only be done with a limited efficiency, optimistically maybe fifty percent. As a consequence, the Q total is much lower than the Q plasma. 

    “If you didn’t know this, you’re not alone
    “There seem to be a lot of people in fusion research who want you to remain confused about just what the total energy gain is. I only recently read a new book about nuclear fusion “The Star Builders” which does the same thing again (review here). Only briefly mentions the total energy gain, and never gives you a number. This misinformation has to stop. 

    “If you come across any popular science article or interview or video that does not clearly spell out what the total energy gain is, please call them out on it. ”

  9. From S&P Global Platts, dated Oct 7, headlined Beijing likely to continue gasoline, gasoil and jet fuel exports cut: sources, began with:

    Beijing is likely to continue to cut gasoline, gasoil and jet fuel exports and eliminate them altogether by 2025 to ensure that the country meets its carbon emission peak target, said several sources with knowledge about the matter in the week to Oct. 6.

    Australia is significantly dependent China for diesel fuel imports – see the tweet by CrudeOilPeak on Sep 14:

    In response to Labor’s 2019 election plan to accelerate Australia’s uptake of electric vehicles by introducing a target of 50 per cent of new car sales being electric by 2030, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said: ““Bill Shorten wants to end the weekend”

    I think a lack of petroleum fuel, particularly diesel, or more expensive fuel, will exert a greater risk to “end the weekend” than EVs ever will.

  10. How to correlate via a dog whistle blind trusts & GerUp! Dangerous ‘Broader Issue’ Dutton.

    “The leader of the house, Peter Dutton, in opposing the reference, told the house there was a much broader issue because there were “a number of other cases which are of a similar ilk”.

    “Dutton has written to privileges committee chairman Russell Broadbent asking the committee to clarify what the MPs’ register requires when members receive third party contributions or assistance, including from crowd funding and political parties, for personal legal matters, or any other matters.”

  11. ICAC was all over Mike Baird on this yesterday. Which fund? Like surplus / deficit not as per a household, why is NSW Govt playing the investor for and of itself? Crypto next. Love to hear JQ et all opinions and potential outcomes.

    “NSW government fund investing hundreds of millions in tax havens and authoritarian countries

    “Unusual government fund has investments placed in countries including Vladimir Putin’s Russia and Cayman Islands

    “Mr Perrottet is racking up even more debt and lending it to Vladimir Putin’s Russia, instead of using it to build schools and hospitals in places like Parramatta and Penrith,” Mookhey said, referring to suburbs of Sydney.

    “Mr Perrottet might think the Cayman Islands is a premier investment destination, but NSW taxpayers would be loathe to take on that risk.”

    “As the Guardian reported on Wednesday, NSW’s ballooning debt is on track to reach $171bn by 2025. Concerns about the state’s finances, including how it was planning to run the Generations Fund, worried investors earlier this year.”…

  12. The Facebook moderators ***************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************** idiots ***************************************************** ************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************,

  13. KT2 – fusion looks so difficult to do at all that doing so with high reliability and low cost seems very optimistic. Whether it will get over the line before low cost modular nuclear fission reactors do is hard to know – neither are really standing out as success stories. And if they don’t get the low cost part they aren’t going to the party.

  14. Just (re)reading accelerando by Charles Stross*. There is this hilarious part where he describes another step of in the past unexpected high speed technological development, kids getting super smart with chip implants or something like that and then throws in that nuclear fusion is still 50 years in the future. Can´t be many people left who are still prone to negative surprises regarding fusion development. Has been a running joke for quite some time. Usually would not matter all that much. Stupid thing is, those research reactors are insane expensive.

    *One of the author reccommendations from that lockdown book recommendation topic on crookedtimber. Already done with his complete output unfortunately.

  15. Paul Norton says:
    “The Facebook moderators **********************************”
    A classic!

    mrkenfabian “And if they don’t get the low cost part they aren’t going to the party.”
    Yes, and as hix says 50+yrs.
    Must read “accelerando by Charles Stross”

    Svante – Bob Hawke and Paul Keating came to mind, but I nearly fell of my chair laughing. So I went with Geoff Whitlam.

  16. Dirty Australia. Trying to hide in plain sight. Scomo will be seen as the emperor with no clothes at COP26. With #ozfail as new green & gold nuclear / ccs lobby for Matt C & K Pitt.

    BBC, AFR & even McKinsey out the wreckers. The poorly worded questions from Labor in Question time do not out the LibNat et al wreckers.

    I didn’t vote for us to be wreckers, and “delete a reference to analysis of the role played by fossil fuel lobbyists in watering down action on climate in Australia and the US.”

    “Australia asks IPCC scientists to delete a reference to analysis of the role played by fossil fuel lobbyists in watering down action on climate in Australia and the US. Opec also asks the IPCC to “delete ‘lobby activism, protecting rent extracting business models, prevent political action’.”

    “COP26: Document leak reveals nations lobbying to change key climate report

    “The leak reveals Saudi Arabia, Japan and Australia are among countries asking the UN to play down the need to move rapidly away from fossil fuels.
    “An adviser to the Saudi oil ministry demands “phrases like ‘the need for urgent and accelerated mitigation actions at all scales…’ should be eliminated from the report”.

    “One senior Australian government official rejects the conclusion that closing coal-fired power plants is necessary, even though ending the use of coal is one of the stated objectives the COP26 conference.

    “Saudi Arabia is the one of the largest oil producers in the world and Australia is a major coal exporter.

    “A number of countries argue in favour of emerging and currently expensive technologies designed to capture and permanently store carbon dioxide underground. Saudi Arabia, China, Australia and Japan – all big producers or users of fossil fuels – as well as the organisation of oil producing nations, Opec, all support carbon capture and storage (CCS).”

    I don’t suppose Keith Pitt reads JQ, and ignores McKenzie & Co (as do I usually)… ““No matter what happens, we need to find a way to fund the resources sector and provide insurance,” he told The Australian Financial Review.

    KPitt “If we want to look after 300,000 jobs, provide power to 70 per cent of homes the Australian government will have to become the lender of last resort.

    “Why should we be dictated to by a bunch of financiers.”

    “He suggested a $250bn loan and insurance facility would be required. Mr Pitt said the problem was not just with big projects trying to secure finance, but family businesses as well.

    “He described a recent conversation with a mortgage broker who was unable to secure long-term finance for a business that provided vehicles to a company mining metallurgical coal used for steel production.

    “Just ridiculous,” he said.

    “Mr Pitt noted the estimated transition costs for the European Union to reach net zero was €1 trillion ($1.6 trillion).

    “You could throw $100bn at it here and it wouldn’t even touch the sides,” he said.”

    KEITH – here are some numbers on “How the European Union could achieve net-zero emissions at net-zero cost”

    December 3, 2020 | Report

    “For example, countries with more abundant solar resources or natural carbon sinks could help other countries offset their emissions at a lower cost than if they had to reduce emissions locally using CCS. If member states pursued reduction targets individually rather than in aggregate, the transition cost would increase by roughly €25 per tCO2e.”

    Today, the European Union meets 75 percent of its primary energy demand with fossil fuels. On the cost-optimal pathway, most coal consumption would be eliminated by 2030, and oil and gas consumption would drop to less than 10 percent by 2050. Renewable power would satisfy more than 80 percent of primary energy demand by 2050. Seventy-five percent of renewable energy would be used directly as electricity. Another 25 percent would be converted into green hydrogen to replace fossil fuels in subsectors such as steel production, long-haul trucking, aviation, and shipping. The power sector would become the central switchboard of the EU energy system, creating and channeling renewable power into other sectors. Meeting this renewable power demand would require increasing solar capacity from 20 gigawatts (GW) a year to 50 GW by 2050, and wind from 15 GW a year to 30 GW a year by 2050. The EU would also need to triple the interconnections among its power grids by 2030 and increase its battery storage capacity to 25 GW by 2030, and to more than 150 GW by 2050.

    “The socioeconomic implications of decarbonizing Europe

    “Reaching net-zero would require investing an estimated €28 trillion in clean technologies and techniques over the next 30 years. About €23 trillion of this investment—an average of €800 billion a year—would come from redirecting investments that would otherwise have funded carbon-intensive technologies. This amounts to roughly 25 percent of the annual capital investments now made in the European Union, or 4 percent of the current EU GDP. Stakeholders in the European Union would also have to allocate an additional €5.4 trillion (an average of €180 billion a year) to clean technologies and techniques.

    “Of that €5.4 trillion, about €1.5 trillion would be invested in the buildings sector (29 percent), €1.8 trillion would be used for power (33 percent), €410 billion for industry (8 percent), €76 billion for agriculture (about 1 percent), and €32 billion in transportation (less than 1 percent). About €1.5 trillion (28 percent) would fund infrastructure to improve energy transmission and distribution in all sectors.

    “Although implementing clean technology would require additional investment (Exhibit 5), it would ultimately lower operating costs. From 2021 to 2050, the EU would save an average of €130 billion annually in total system operating costs. By 2050, these measures would reduce total system operating expenditures by €260 billion per year, more than 1.5 percent of the current EU GDP. Most of these savings would be in transportation.”…

    McKinsey How the European Union could achieve net-zero emissions at net-zero cost Report – link at above page.

  17. Deloitte Access Economics published a report in Nov 2020, titled A new choice: Australia’s climate for growth. It includes:

    By 2070…
    -$3.4 trillion
    and over
    880,000 jobs lost

    in Australia’s economy
    from unchecked
    climate change


    By 2070…
    +$680 billion
    and over
    250,000 jobs added
    to Australia’s economy
    from choosing a new
    growth pathway

    There is no free ride for Australia – while doing nothing is a choice, it is not costless

    I suspect the jobs lost is way underestimated, considering a +3 °C global mean warming threshold would be likely reached by 2070 in a business-as-usual GHG emissions trajectory scenario, and that means the northern third of Australia would likely experience “almost every day will be a heat stress day, affecting livestock and the people who manage them.” – see page 46 in the Australian Academy of Science’s report titled The risks to Australia of a 3°C Warmer World

  18. EV?

    Citroen have just put out a nifty little conversion unit for one of the ugliest small cars in the world (theirs).

    converting petrol to EV is a coming industry, i surmise.

    and i also surmise the hold-up of transition is cause by a sh*tfight over who gets to own what.

    i didn’t know that either.

  19. Statkraft’s glass is half-full

    The Norwegian state-owned and all-renewable utility has published a fairly optimistic transition forecast :

    “One of the biggest predictions made in the 2021 report, published this week, is that the falling costs of renewable energy technologies, combined with stronger climate policies, “will result in carbon emissions in line with a 2°C pathway. Stopping global warming at 1.5°C, however, will require a substantial increase in both political ambition and pace of global action.” ”

    Other professional forecasters are more pessimistic. The American EIA even thinks that global burn of fossil fuels will be higher in 2050 than now.

    The EIA has a long track record of getting renewables quite wrong. Points in favour of Statkraft: it’s an actual utility run by engineers that builds green power plants of different types, so may be presumed to understand the costs; it’s a public corporation, with few institutional incentives for boosterism; and it has enough international experience to get informed while not big enough to grow rosy spectacles.

    The report supports my prejudice that (a) 2 deg C is actually a likely outcome on current policies and technology/business trends, (b) the policy fight is now about 1.5 degrees. Mind you, 2 deg looks much less liveable than it did, with for instance almost all corals dying.

    Nifty chart from Statkraft showing the complementarity of wind and solar in temperate latitudes:

    Lazards have issued an analysis of green hydrogen costs
    The range of prices considered is so wide that it’s a DIY scenario builder not a forecast, with alkaline electrolysers from $145 per kw to $710. If you plug in the lowball number and 2c/kwh for electricity, you get the $1 per kg for hydrogen that obsoletes grey and blue hydrogen. Henrik Stiesdal (guy with a track record) plans to build electrolysers for $200 per kw and has convinced Asia’s richest billionaire, Mukesh Ambani, to invest serious money, so it’s not an impossible dream. Electrolysrs (first demonstration in 1800) are far simpler machines than solar panels or wind turbine, so we can firmly expect large economies of scale.

  20. With regard to hydrogen, as renewable generation continues to increase periods of low and zero electricity prices will also increases. Low cost hydrogen of around $1 per kilogram seems certain. But that’s not cheap enough for the “hydrogen economy” some imagine. But cheap hydrogen is still a good thing as it can be used for fertilizer production and other uses. It’s just not likely to ever be competitive for road transport.

  21. Hydrogen won’t live up to the hype. First, hydrogen has serious problems as an energy store and energy transmitter. Yes, you read right. Hydrogen is an energy store and energy transmitter BUT it is NOT an energy source in whole-of-cycle terms, on earth. On earth, hydrogen is not an an energy source for us. There are no large natural stores of free hydrogen on earth. There are in the sun of course but that’s another matter. This means we first have to make free hydrogen on earth from electrolyses driven by what? Well, they can be driven by solar panel or wind-generated electricity sources. This commits us to a multi-stage process of making free hydrogen and then using it with the implied and real energy losses along this long-ish generation chain.

    No less a site than physics dot org shows why a hydrogen economy does not make (physics) sense. Look at the flow chart (and text) in this article:

    The hydrogen economy is extremely wasteful in energy terms. It’s a boondoggle just like carbon capture and storage was a boondoggle.

    “In a recent study, fuel cell expert Ulf Bossel explains that a hydrogen economy is a wasteful economy. The large amount of energy required to isolate hydrogen from natural compounds (water, natural gas, biomass), package the light gas by compression or liquefaction, transfer the energy carrier to the user, plus the energy lost when it is converted to useful electricity with fuel cells, leaves around 25% for practical use — an unacceptable value to run an economy in a sustainable future. Only niche applications like submarines and spacecraft might use hydrogen.” – Physics dot org.

    As well as being energy-wasteful, the hydrogen economy has several other serious practical which also render the whole exercise an expensive and dangerous boondoggle:

    1. Hydrogen has a low energy density on the metric that matters, energy per unit volume at STP (standard temperature and pressure). It is very difficult and very expensive to squeeze a sufficient mass of hydrogen into a reasonable volume, requiring unique materials, high pressures, and/or supercooled temperatures for proper storage. That’s a huge obstacle for hydrogen power.

    2. Hydrogen has unique safety concerns. It escapes containment easily, even corroding all but the very best metal alloys, it is hard to detect leaks and it blows up with the slightest spark at surprisingly low concentrations.

    3 Significant investment in new infrastructure would be required.

    The above numbered points were cribbed from “3 Reasons Hydrogen Fuels Won’t Live Up to the Hype” – Motley Fool.

    Hydrogen power is a complete boondoggle except for special applications like submarines and spacecraft with fuel cells. It is highly energy inefficient, highly dangerous and very difficult to store, transport and utilize. Hydrogen is being used to deliberately delay the progress of technologies which already work well (solar and wind) and to boondoggle grants out of credulous or Machiavellian neoliberal governments). It’s a complete money wasting, resource wasting, time wasting boondoggle except for a few niche applications. This can be demonstrated solely by recourse to the established basic science.

  22. I suspect (as some others here do) that much of the Hydrogen hype is about the sectors of the economy affected choosing something that won’t make any real difference any time soon, because it won’t make any real difference any time soon, in place of something we can do now, like eg substantial increase in support for storage that would greatly increase the volumes of solar and wind that can be added. Also there is a lot of money looking for clean energy to invest in – super funds spring to mind – and companies want a slice. I hope the fund managers do their homework.

    Mixed in is fossil fuel hydrogen schemes, with the differences not always clear to the uninformed. When the CCS part fails – as it inevitably must – I imagine the dirty H2 production is expected to live on and, with a pro fossil fuels regulator, potentially undercut clean H2 enough to stymie it.

    I think that whilst iron smelting and chemical feedstocks look like crucial uses for H2 I also think the demand for those, whilst significant, isn’t likely to be anything like what the projections based around H2 as transport fuel are saying. It is the expectations for transport and transportable Hydrogen that look a bit overoptimistic. I suspect one more halving of EV battery costs would be enough to mean battery electric will dominate – with Hydrogen still struggling to establish infrastructure.

    For Hydrogen to be a long term energy storage option the electricity to make it has to be very cheap and the plants for doing it have to be very cheap – too much inefficiency and loss energy otherwise. I had previously thought that an existing gas power plant could add on H2 production using periods of excess solar and wind, and local (low pressure) storage, to shift to zero emissions backup roles, but I’ve come to doubt we will see that; I don’t think the technology is up to the task yet, much as I would like to be wrong, whilst I think batteries will improve a lot, and on that I would like to be right.

  23. TROY PRIDEAUX: – “From my (naive) understanding, the efficiency of the electrolysis isn’t so much an issue as the capital investment in the plant

    It depends on what you want to do with the hydrogen.

    Green hydrogen will be useful for the manufacture of steel and other metals and chemicals, and in other industrial processes. It may be useful for some heavy transport applications, like shipping and aviation, and perhaps rail.

    For lighter road transport, BEVs win hands down for energy efficiency and costs compared with hydrogen-fuel-cell-electric & power-to-liquid synthetic fuels.

    Burning hydrogen in the home for heating can’t compete for energy efficiency and costs with (air-sourced, or ground-sourced for ambient air temperatures below about -15 °C) electric heat-pumps, and can’t compete with electric induction cooktops and electric ovens.

  24. Troy, the cost of ~80% efficient PEM electrolyzers have fallen a long way and I expect that to continue. The one in South Australia is about $1,100 a kilowatt but not every electrolyzer project will be that wasteful with — in this case — tax payers’ money.

    South Australia’s wholesale electricity price was under 1 cent per kilowatt-hour for 9.5 hours today. We can make hydrogen pretty cheaply even if electrolyzers are run at 50-80% capacity.

    Of course, using hydrogen in Australia for electricity generation is stupid. We have cheaper options. In Hokkaido options aren’t as good and we could ship it there. Of course, we could also connect Australia, Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam, China, Korea, Japan, and other places with HVDC cables. This doesn’t mean hydrogen for electricity generation won’t be used overseas, but it is competition.

  25. Renewable Energy Could Pay the Price for Fuel Crisis
    Consumers’ discomfort with rising oil and gas prices doesn’t bode well for what might be a costly shift to solar and wind power.

    …The federal government’s strategy seems clear. It is discouraging fossil-fuel capacity in the U.S. and Canada, but to keep energy prices low it will tolerate and indeed encourage high fossil-fuel spending in other, more distant nations. That would give the U.S. some domestic “trophies” in the fight to limit fossil fuels, yet without higher energy prices for the world at large.

    The problem is that the same mix of policies won’t do much to limit overall carbon emissions. It will hurt American industry, by penalizing domestic energy production, and also damage U.S. energy independence.

    The optimistic take is that the political desire for lower oil prices is temporary and will vanish in a year or two. But I am worried that the opposite scenario is unfolding. If there is any time to introduce higher energy prices, it is during the chaos of a pandemic, when there is an easy scapegoat. If America flinches from accepting higher fossil-fuel prices now, politicians might learn the lesson that such prices never will be popular. That, in turn, will encourage continuing investments in fossil fuels around the world. It could be that we end up with both more renewable energy and more fossil-fuel energy, which hardly will solve climate change problems.

  26. I suggest people here are overthinking hydrogen. We know green hydrogen is needed for fertiliser production (ca. 4% of global CO2 emissions), and it offers the only proven route to decarbonising steel (9%). Beyond that, it looks quite promising for shipping (2%), probably upgraded to ammonia, and could replace fossil gas in strategic reserves for power generation, if you have salt caverns handy (the spare gas turbine generators are mostly built). That’s quite enough to make cheap hydrogen very desirable. For the rest, I’m with the sceptics; but it doesn’t matter much unless you are a hydrogen investor. Over-investment for uses that don’t pan out (heating, trucks, planes …) will just create a glut that speeds up the transition in the sectors where hydrogen is useful.

    It certainly matters less than the likelihood of holding global heating to 2 degrees C, on which nobody commented.

  27. Watching a sweeping SBS doco about the history human life on Earth I was left wondering how it must feel to be a child today with this as your lifes starting point .Amongst a raft of other depressing stats – we have to grow as much food in the next 40 years as we have in the last 8000 . On current trends that will be done in a destructive unsustainable way . When I was young it was ” only ” nuclear war we had to worry about .Then the Berlin wall came down and the celebration began ,we had arrived .

    We arent going to be able to consume our way out of this mess. Switching energy sources from fossil to renewable must only be the start .Conservative ruling elites know this in their bones and that is what terrifies them. They are hoping to leave Earth . Elon Musk has plans for the less wealthy to be able to go to Mars with him and his pioneers as indentured servants (slaves). What a guy ,just like the rest of them. He should be amongst the first dragged up to the scaffold. American style extractive capitalism must go.

    8% of UK school children are covid positive right now. Thats what happens with freedumb day and no masks or other measures .The two countries we are most like ,the UK and US ,are fouling things up badly .

  28. J.W., I’ve annoyed people on this site for at least 15 years, IIRC, pushing the view (nay the knowledge from scientific sources) that climate change was real, extremely dangerous and that we weren’t doing nearly enough to prevent it. On this site at least, every discussion on energy and feed-stocks is understood to happen within this framing. These days, I mostly leave it to Geoff Miell to point out the details of the facts that climate change is real, extremely dangerous and that we weren’t doing nearly enough to prevent it. One can only write the same thing so many times.

    These days, I focus more specifically on red herring “solutions”, delaying tactics and so on. If green hydrogen is being spruiked as an energy source then it needs debunking. It may be useful for fertilizer production and the route to decarbonising steel. Over-investment in, and over subsidization of, hygrogen production will be a problem. This follows from a consideration of opportunity costs. The more real resources we waste in pursuing boondoggles (projects where energy science and other sciences can tell us fundamentally that it won’t work or it will be less efficient than another solution) the less real resources we will have to implement the projects which will work best.

    Delaying tactics and diversions, all deliberate, have been the go-to strategy of the neolioberal denialists, along with FUD (fear, uncertainty, doubt) and of course boondoggles designed to reap government subsidies to get profits from energetically unsound and generally physics-unsound projects. I guess my trust level in businesses and corporations utilizing science to help the people and the plant (rather than the interests of plutocrats alone) is at zero. That is why I am permanently suspicious of their motives. I think history has borne out all of my suspicions thus far. Any solution proposed anywhere by even one billionaire (even if other more sensible people are proposing it too) is immediately cause of serious suspicion and needs investigation with initial serious scepticism. You see, we have “Twiggy” Forrest here in Australia proposing hydrogen power and the NSW government flagging $3 billion in government subsidies for hydrogen. Connect the dots. No prizes for guessing the pockets where most of the subsidy monies will end up. No prizes for guessing this will result in a further waste of resources, richer billionaires and little progress in sustainable energy development.

  29. James Wimberley: – “It certainly matters less than the likelihood of holding global heating to 2 degrees C, on which nobody commented.

    I’d think it’s best to see/hear what some climate scientists have been stating. Here are some examples:

    Example 1: On 17 October 2018, Professor H. J. Schellnhuber CBE, then Director Emeritus, Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research; Member, Pontifical Academy of Sciences; and Member, German Advisory Council on Global Change, presented his Aurelio Peccei Lecture titled Climate, Complexity, Conversion, that can be viewed in the YouTube video titled Keynote Debate Can the Climate Emergency Action Plan lead to Collective Action_ (50 Years CoR). From time intervals:

    0:20:56 So, some people have speculated the next ice age will be next week. I can tell you: It’s not true! Don’t believe that! [audience chuckles] It will happen… I blow it up… Actually, never again! That’s why we are in the Anthropocene. Remember, if the blue line is crossing or cutting the black line, from the left, there will be another glacial inception. Now this is a hundred-thousand years into the future, and if you look where, in fifty-thousand years, there would be another ice age, but only if the CO2 would not be influenced by human intervention. Actually now, the atmospheric content is, according to the orange line, and you see, the lines are not crossing anymore, but we will add another billion, and hundred-billions of tonnes CO2, where rather we will have to use the brown line, so there will be no ice age anymore. The human impact is so powerful already – that’s why we talk about the Anthropocene – that we have suppressed the Quaternary planetary dynamics already.

    0:22:15 This is a fact… but let’s see what will happen in the future beyond that. So, just for you to remember, the Holocene… Holocene mode of operation, the last twelve-thousand years where human civilisation was created, will not come back, not for the next millions of years. It’s just… done! What will happen instead? And we have in this paper, Steffen et. al., which I mentioned in the beginning, we have discussed fourteen feedback loops, actually, ja? You have so-called tipping elements – give you an example: Greenland is melting. That means there will be a huge freshwater impulse into the Atlantic Ocean. That will suppress the Thermohaline Circulation, so-called Gulf Stream. If the Gulf Stream will be shut down, this has a major impact on the Southern Atlantic, in particular, on the algae production there, and so on. So that’s one of the possible cascades. Looked at fourteen of these cascades.

    0:23:23 And it turns out that there are two alternatives left, namely… either… if we… tried to park the Earth’s system, and it’s now very important… In spite of the dimming of the light, this is a moment where you should not sleep. So if your neighbour has fallen asleep now, just give him a sort of… [indicating elbowing motion] Ja? Try to be cruel. Because this is the very moment which you have to take home.

    0:23:55 So, when we try, according to the Paris Agreement, to park the planet safely between one-point-five and two degrees – that seems to be the right option – but will the planet just stay put there?

    0:24:12 [Where on Earth are We Heading: Pliocene or Miocene? slide displayed] If you just push it, according to some atmospheric calculation, by two degrees or one-point-five degrees, or will it just spin out of control and just… go down a slippery slope? If you look back in Earth’s history, there are two alternatives. So, what I’m talking about is of course based on computer simulations and everything, but in particular, it’s based on empirical evidence because we can reconstruct the fate of the planet and the climate system for millions and millions of years. So if you look back, there are two… er… alternatives, actually… Let me see… [switch slides, then back] Yes, we go back to that…

    0:24:51 [Where on Earth are We Heading: Pliocene or Miocene? slide displayed] You either end up with say, 500 ppm – we have now 410 and we are on the course of towards 500 ppm – you either end up in the so-called Mid-Pliocene, that was three million years ago, where the Earth in fact was two or three degrees warmer, and sea level was at least ten metres higher. But under the same condition, more or less, you could also go back to the Mid-Miocene, fifteen million years ago, where the Earth was five degrees warmer and sea level was sixty metres higher. So with the same boundary condition, you could either have a situation where human civilisation could simply not exist, or something – forget the Holocene – if we would go into the Pliocene, we might… we might somehow adapt to it, we might manage it, just so! But this is what the paper said. The jury is still out on that. And what is the knack here, what is the real secret here, ja? Its path dependence. If the boundary conditions are the same, but you could end up in two different states, it depends on the path you have taken for this trajectory, ja? And we simply don’t know yet, whether the current path will lead us fifteen million years back, or just three million years back. So, look up the paper. It is… the summary of what… thousands of scientists have put together. It’s a meta study. But… it is posing the most important questions of all, actually: Do we still have a chance to preserve civilisation on Earth? And I think this is well within the context of a Peccei Lecture.

    Example 2: On 1 January 2020, a podcast was published in Sweden of a talk by Johan Rockström, Professor of Earth Systems Sciences, Director – Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research Potsdam Germany, and rebroadcast on the ABC Radio National’s The Science Show on 29 August 2020 titled Window closing for action to stabilise the Earth’s climate – Johan Rockström part 1

    02:58 The fact is that the planet is in a state of emergency. What we do this year and the following one to two years will probably affect the living conditions of all future generations. It is about the future of our children, mine and yours, and their children. And don’t forget, we live in a world with 7.7 billion inhabitants, all with the same right to a decent life. The world’s population will grow to around 10 billion people in just 30 years. We have close to 1 billion people living in absolute poverty, poverty that we have agreed to eradicate by 2030. We have a world economy of almost US$90 trillion per year, forecast to more than double over the coming 30 years. It is this rapidly growing world that we must keep within Earth’s safe operating space.

    03:59 To stop global warming, all countries in the world need to reduce their emissions by approximately 6% to 7% per year. If we delay, emission reductions need to be even faster and that is simply not possible. 6% to 7% per year is already incredibly fast. It is a pace of revolution.

    Example 3: Broadcast on ABC TV 7:30 on 28 January 2020 was an interview by Laura Tingle with Professor Will Steffen, climate scientist and lead author of a report by the Climate Council. The transcript of the 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.

    Example 4: Climate scientists James Dyke, Robert Watson and Wolfgang Knorr, in The Conversation on Apr 22 headlined Climate scientists: concept of net zero is a dangerous trap, stated (bold text my emphasis):

    We have arrived at the painful realisation that the idea of net zero has licensed a recklessly cavalier ‘burn now, pay later’ approach which has seen carbon emissions continue to soar…

    The time has come to voice our fears and be honest with wider society. Current net zero policies will not keep warming to within 1.5°C because they were never intended to. They were and still are driven by a need to protect business as usual, not the climate. If we want to keep people safe then large and sustained cuts to carbon emissions need to happen now.

    The size of the task can be gleaned from the interactive pie chart by the World Resources Institute:

    Yet governments continue to encourage and approve more oil, gas and coal projects.

    IMO, there’s a dangerous disconnect between what the climate science and the more vocal climate scientists are presenting, and the ongoing deeds of governments and business.

    And the willing media continue to push the false narrative that the Earth System can still be held at or below +1.5 °C global mean warming threshold. Crossing the +1.5 °C warming threshold is now likely BEFORE 2030 – per the Earth System Dynamics (ESD) paper titled Climate model projections from the Scenario Model Intercomparison Project (ScenarioMIP) of CMIP6. We/humanity will be very lucky to avoid crossing the +2 °C global mean warming threshold.

  30. rjbrown said ” We arent going to be able to consume our way out of this mess.”. 

    Ikon said “These days, I focus more specifically on red herring “solutions”, delaying tactics and so on.” – I think you will like this one Ikon.

    Here is an anthropological anthropomorphic growth / overshoot justification for “that is, to value free time over money.”

       “The principal purpose” of his undertaking, Suzman explains, is “to loosen the claw-like grasp that scarcity economics has held” over our lives and thereby “diminish our corresponding and unsustainable preoccupation with economic growth.”

    By James Suzman

    “Making a Living
    The history of what we call work.

    “We have named the era of runaway climate change the “Anthropocene,” which tells you everything you need to know about how we understand our tragic nature. Human beings are apparently insatiable consuming machines; we are eating our way right through the biosphere. The term seems to suggest that the relentless expansion of the world economy, which the extraction and burning of fossil fuels has made possible, is hard-wired into our DNA. Seen from this perspective, attempting to reverse course on global warming is likely to be a fool’s errand. But is unending economic growth really a defining feature of what it means to be human?

    “For the longest part of our history, humans lived as hunter-gatherers who neither experienced economic growth nor worried about its absence. Instead of working many hours each day in order to acquire as much as possible, our nature—insofar as we have one—has been to do the minimum amount of work necessary to underwrite a good life.

    “This is the central claim of the South African anthropologist James Suzman’s new book, Work: A Deep History, From the Stone Age to the Age of Robots, in which he asks whether we might learn to live like our ancestors did—that is, to value free time over money. Answering that question takes him on a 300-millennium journey through humanity’s existence.”

  31. Following from above David Graeber reminds us that;
    “Another factor that bears consideration is that both archaeology and anthropology are disciplines that are notoriously vulnerable to subjective interpretation.” 😊

    “The Dawn of Everything: A New History of Humanity by David Graeber and David Wengrow review – have we got our ancestors wrong?

    “According to Graeber and Wengrow’s reading of up-to-date archeological and anthropological research, that story, too, is nonsense. Humanity was not restricted to small bands of hunter-gatherers, agriculture did not lead inexorably to hierarchies and conflicts and there was not one mode of social organisation that prevailed, at least until thousands of years after the introduction of agriculture.

    “On the contrary, they maintain, prehistory was a time of diverse social experimentation, in which people lived in a variety of settings, from small travelling bands to large (perhaps seasonally occupied) cities and were wont to change their social identities depending on the time of year.

    “The strength of the book is the manner in which it asks us to rethink our assumptions

    “The author of Debt: The First 5,000 Yearsand Bullshit Jobs, Graeber, it’s worth bearing in mind, was a committed anarchist who was instrumental in setting up the Occupy Wall Street protest. Another factor that bears consideration is that both archaeology and anthropology are disciplines that are notoriously vulnerable to subjective interpretation.

  32. On Oct 21, the US White House published a document titled Fact Sheet: Prioritizing Climate in Foreign Policy and National Security. It announced the release of unclassified findings of four US government entities (with links):

    1. National Intelligence Council’s National Intelligence Estimate on Climate Change;
    2. Department of Defense Climate Risk Analysis;
    3. Department of Homeland Security Strategic Framework to Address Climate Change;
    4. White House Report on the Impact of Climate Change on Migration.

  33. Australia likely faces a COVID-19 pandemic for the whole of 2022 if or rather when we open up according to the plan(s) of the NSW and Federal Government (with Victoria and Queensland at least also appearing ready to toe the line shortly after).

    Excerpt from abstract:

    “Conclusions: If highly transmissible SARS‐CoV‐2 variants are circulating locally or overseas, large and disruptive COVID‐19 outbreaks will still be possible in Australia after 80% of people aged 16 years or more have been vaccinated. Continuing public health measures to restrict the spread of disease are likely to be necessary throughout 2022.”

    The known: Current national plans foresee relaxation of international border controls and other restrictions once 80% of people aged 16 years or more (64% of the total population) have been vaccinated against COVID‐19.

    The new: If Australia re‐opens to international travellers while local risk‐mitigating restrictions are limited to masks and social distancing, highly disruptive outbreaks will be possible even with 80% vaccination coverage for people aged 16 years or more.

    The implications: Population vaccination alone will not be sufficient for suppressing the risk of COVID‐19 outbreaks in Australia once international travel is resumed. An ongoing pandemic response will be required of political and health systems throughout 2022.”

    My personal opinion below.

    So, expect a grim 2022 with an epidemic of the unvaccinated and a sub-epidemic of the vulnerable vaccinated. Allowing for vaccination rates reaching 90% of eligible populations and for the eligible group being expanded but also then allowing for the remaining unvaccinated and the vulnerable vaccinated, it is easily possible that 20% of Australians could still be in the firing line for serious morbidity and death from covid-19. That would be about 5 million Australians. If all of these catch it (and most likely sooner or later they will they will) and 1% suffer death then that will mean 50,000 COVID019 deaths over the next few years. Add in hospitalizations and morbidity including long-covid, and we will have a crisis which collapses the bulk of our health system. Except for the super rich, most people will be unable to get treatments, even critical treatments, most of the time. Add in climate change, bush-fires and floods and this means total collapse, since and as long as our Federal govt. refuses to take any actions on any of these disasters.

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