Open thread for 2022

Write about your hopes, fears, predictions for the coming year.

Usual comment rules apply. I’m going to be cracking down hard on snark this year, so if you’re in any doubt about your response to another commenter, don’t post it.

17 thoughts on “Open thread for 2022

  1. I hope I’m proved wrong. I prefer being wrong to being right. But, I fear that best intent aside, Labor can’t get its message straight in time to overcome incumbency. We’re a 49/51 nation and very little shifts the dial. $20 a week extra can do it in one electorate, and if its the one which matters, Nothing Albo does will fix it. That said, I think 2 or maybe 3 of the “voices of” will get over the line and if they do, then its going to be a very interesting 22/23 period. I think they tend to weak-lib binding, I don’t think they’ll want to reward Morrison or the nats, but I think in the end they’ll find what Labor offers for minority rule too hard to swallow.

    I think, despite the coalition, the transition in energy will go smoother than people think because in the end “the market” wants it. Its a small segment of players who want to game it longterm, the bigger suppliers know that silly tricks won’t make good KPI outcomes. They’ve already hedged for more solar and wind. The offshore wind build out interests me, Harder for the NIMBY to be oppositional. I wonder if Barnaby and like will get behind it.

    Copperstring won’t happen in 2022. They’re already Late on their web page 2021 announced start.

    The Singapore HVDC cable will redirect to other markets like Indonesia to get + income early. Mike Cannon Brookes will be overtly rational about it.

    We won’t see US:AUD parity again for a long time.

    Rare earth and Lithium bounce will be big. I don’t own any direct, I’m not shilling. I just think supply chain nerves will send some money (late) to these plays.

    The queen will die. It won’t make Australia a republic.

    The NBN will get a huge cash injection but won’t be sold back to Telstra.

    John will cycle a lot further. either virtually or really, but he will. I am guessing 2x as far.

  2. Prediction – start of 10 year boom as economies reconfigure to new reality. Growing energy use, increased wealth.
    Hope – Bitcoin hits $200,000, alt coin craze fizzles.
    Fear – no really bad ones. Inappropriate government meddling mainly. Don’t think they can keep up with the changes.

  3. US will continue its slide away from democracy. Democrats will do badly in mid-terms due to effects of Republican gerrymandering and delays in Biden administration getting its much of its program through Congress.

  4. I hope that we survive another year and the year has some basic quality for us. I hope for little more. I fear and predict that the COVID-19 endemic-pandemic will worsen and be with us for many more years yet. Overall, I think the West is slowly but irreversibly collapsing unless neoliberal capitalism is repudiated. Australia had a chance to buck the general collapse trend but threw it away by succumbing to the “let it rip” lunacy on COVID-19.

    Money or “wealth” has clearly become more important to the possessors of large amount of it than are all other people and the environment. The West in that sense is now pretty much a self-destructive moral abyss ruled by fundamentalist capitalism. I make no comment on other regions of the world but I seriously doubt they are any better.

  5. I’ll have another bite at the cherry. I hope Scott Morrison and the LNP are politically destroyed at the next Federal Election. They are neoliberal wreckers, destoyers and traitors to the nation who have sabotaged the human and economic health of the whole nation. Their first instinct always is to spend nothing on social welfare and to perennially subsidize rich businesses in their money making ventures. They take their political donation-bribes from big business and act solely at the behest of big business.

    No social measure that assists ordinary people is ever put forward or enacted without strong democractic grass roots pressure across the nation or the desire to buy votes by selective compensation in targeted electorates. The Neoliberal’s first instinct to always spend zero money on people in need and to always give money for nothing and favors to their rich donors. They do not govern for the majority of Australians. They govern for a rich and powerful tiny minority who themselves care nothing about the majority of the people and show no signs of caring if people live or die or suffer long term morbidity from the necessary unleashing of the pandemic (or other disasters they facilitate). This is their latest masterpiece of confusion. They also care nothing for the environment, nothing about climate change and so on. All values are lost before the idol of money. Money has become the final value which destroys every other value. The fabric of the nation is being destroyed. The climate is being destroyed. These are plain facts. Climate change is measurable. The reduction in life spans and quality life years is already measurable in all nations which let the virus rip from the opening stages. These will very soon be measurable here.

    If the Australia people are so foolish and so supine as to vote for this Government again then may the gods help us because nothing else can or will. If the people tolerate this level of incompetence,stuff ups, moral corruption, electoral rorts and premeditated bad faith and betrayal one can only wonder what the people are thinking or if they are thinking at all.

    But I retain the hope that Morrison will be totally smashed at the polls. Anyone know if any polling is being done?

  6. Hoping for this obituary headline on you know who: “The Cringe that ate the world”

  7. I’d like to see some serious modelling and planning on extreme lockdowns being done to prepare the world better for the net virus plague. Covid-19 is active for about ten days IIRC. In theory, it could have been stopped in its tracks in December 2019 if we had all stayed at home for a fortnight.eating out of tins. The deal – 2 weeks world GDP forgone (4% of annual GPD) vs. hardly any deaths and a complete return to normality. – looks attractive Of course, 100% lockdown is not feasible: you need at least skeleton staffing of power stations, water supply and sewerage, hospital ERs, telecoms and policing. How close close can you get in practice? And do the minimal exceptions prevent eradication? Hazmat suits help, as does live ammunition. It would be good to know. A Plague World Dictator is not on the cards, but again, the thought experiment could help moves towards much stronger coordination and more decisive early action.

    IIRC the Black Death came to a complete end when the unstable chain of transmission was broken. The bacillus is endemic and mild in its natural hosts, prairie dog-like colonial rodents on the Eurasian steppes. It jumped to rats, rat fleas, and humans, all of whom it killed rapidly. So the chain was fragile. Covid’s looks fragile too, if we really try.

  8. James W.,

    I think thought experiments like yours are very useful. The case surrounding the original strain of COVID-19 is actually far less expensive than your thought experiment. If the methods of spread were shut down early, the spread to the globe would have been avoided. China handled its suppression of the domestic spread of the original virus very well, after some initial missteps where both Beijing officials and Wuhan officials made mistakes. The real problem was flights to the rest of the world. So, to refine your thought experiment, if global flights (and sea passenger movements) were shut down at the outset of the pandemic, at much less cost than 4% of annual global GDP, then the global pandemic spread could have been avoided.

    I won’t go into detail here but there is a long standing history, 25 years at least, of neoliberal nations, the USA in particular, pressuring the WHO against early lock-downs for pandemic diseases. This history affected responses and policies to and after the H1N1/09 flu pandemic (2009–2010). It is also clear from what we have seen during the COVID-19 pandemic that with neoliberal economic policy in the ascendancy, the pressure is strong to remain open and/or open up and let pandemics rip. It is a system which demands that everything remain open and run no matter the infections or human cost (or environmental cost for that matter). What we are seeing in reality is that humans have limits, of course. They don’t want too much health risk and they can’t keep keep working, consuming and functioning properly when they are sick, suffering long COVID, dead, mourning, traumatized or highly anxious. Neoliberalism shoots its own foot off to keep the economy running at unacceptable human costs which rapidly flow through as economic costs and tank the economy.

  9. +1 James “’Id like to see some serious modelling and planning on extreme lockdowns being done to prepare the world better for the net virus plague”.

    Prof Peter Doherty in his first – as I recall – interview on ABC in 2020 said in reply to a question re lockdowns said something like “immediate complete 100% lockdown” then chuckled and said “but that is not politically feasible”. So Doherty is on your side as well.

    And specifically ALL transport – especially air – from area of new infections, ceased immediatley with emergency priority only to industries and infrastructure you mention.

    As Scomo and dumb – National cabinet or government? – has ceased tele health for mental health and other health appointments causing more suicides. These meddling pennypinching politicians in your above scenario, need to be sidelined whilst dynamic plays out at earliest possible moment.

    I cannot understand why at every announced change in pandemic rules, funding for effective on ground data collection and analysis is not announced with every rule change.

    And fed into a model ala weather and climate models, to see where next storm will break out, where resources need to be, and when will it pass.

    In the US the CDC is an abomination for real time data with ? $8bn funding, is being put to shame by a dedicated website for Covid data. We are now the same with data due to omicron responses.

    And please monitor long Covid as this is where the virus makes itself better at continuing…
    …”Besides, the virus may have a shortcut. In most people, the immune system curbs the infection within days, but a few develop a chronic infection lasting months. That gives time for mutations to accumulate and become dominant, increasing their chances of transmission. In a short-lived acute infection, evolution is “more like roulette,” Kölle says, but in chronic cases, “you have the time needed to adapt to that environment.”
    https://www.science.org/content/article/new-sars-cov-2-variants-have-changed-pandemic-what-will-virus-do-next

    Pandemics seem harder than rocket science!

  10. It seems my eyes are ‘thread’ bare today.
    *

    Gob! Left over from coal used as fuel. How ignorant am I.

    I can’t vote Manchin out but I hope someone does.

    “Manchin-Connected Coal Plant Tries to Pivot to Crypto, Fails

    “Grant Town Power Plant, a small plant located in northeast West Virginia, is powered by what’s (hilariously) known as “gob,” a term for waste rock generated as a byproduct of coal mining. This waste is much lower-quality than coal — and burns dirtier — but can still be used for fuel. Almost all of the gob the Grant Town plant burns is purchased from Enersystems, a coal waste resale company owned by Manchin.

    “Grant Town is Enersystems’ top buyer. In fact, it was actually the only buyer for Enersystems’s coal waste between 2008 and 2019, and the plant is the last bastion for gob-burning in West Virginia. Manchin and his wife earned almost $US492,000 ($686,734) from Enersystems’ sales to the Grant Town plant in 2020 alone, according to federal disclosures. Since Manchin entered the Senate in 2010, they’ve raked in $US5 ($7) million.

    “Yet the plant is in financial trouble. Burning gob is much more expensive than using other forms of fuel because it’s labour-intensive and the waste is costly to dispose of. The plant said in 2017 that it had just enough cash to keep it running and pay its staff, and it couldn’t afford to shut down or pay for upgrades.

    “The plant’s owners’ grand plan to save Grant Town, first reported by E&E News last year, wasn’t switching to a cheaper fuel — but trying to attract crypto miners. Last year, Grant Town’s owners created a proposal put before West Virginia’s Public Service Commission to buy out the plant’s existing power purchase contract in order to potentially attract crypto miners. As crypto mining operations move into the U.S. at breakneck speed, they have sometimes acted as a customer of last resort for struggling power plants. ”

    https://www.gizmodo.com.au/2022/01/manchin-connected-coal-plant-tries-to-pivot-to-crypto-fails/

  11. On a more cheerful note, one hope that is pretty certain to be fulfilled is the continued rapid expansion of PV manufacturing capacity in China. Sample news report:
    “Solar manufacturer JinkoSolar announced on Wednesday that its 8 GW TOPCon cell factory in Anhui Province has started manufacturing activities. Construction on the facility began in September. ”
    https://www.pv-magazine.com/2022/01/07/chinese-pv-industry-brief-jinko-switches-on-8-gw-topcon-factor-tongwei-announces-skyrocketing-profits/

    Chinese PV companies seem to have a habit of announcing the ultimate capacity of new factories to grab headlines, and actually increasing production in stages. But getting even one production line up and running in four months, even if it’s only in test mode, is a remarkable achievement. TOPCon is a leading-edge technology, not the easiest.

    The scale is not unusual. From the same source in December:
    “Wafer manufacturer Fuxing New Energy has begun construction on a factory in Fuyao City, Anhui province. The manufacturing facility will have an annual capacity of 20 GW …..”

    A typical nuclear reactor has a capacity of 1 GW electrical, that translates to about 4 GW of installed PV. A now modest 4 GW PV plant, put up in about a year, is producing the equivalent of one new nuclear reactor every year.

  12. James said “A now modest 4 GW PV plant, put up in about a year, is producing the equivalent of one new nuclear reactor every year.”

    Luxury.

    Seeing as we let the LV IP go, via Zhou & Greene at UNSW, because – pahrochial government, capital requirements and “manufacturing cost factors”, we need to pay the ticket clipppers seemingly forever.

    As you seem to be across this James, do you have any productivity vs humans vs robot PV manufacturing data?

    Or, when will an autonomous PV manufaturing plant without humans be a reality?

    I’d like to order such a factory. And compensate “opportunity costed out” humans. With- Hypithication? No. A Robot tax or flesh & blood cabon on the scrapheap tax.

  13. I don’t have many optimistic thoughts on the year ahead.

    But one thing that I find reassuring is that the James Webb Space Telescope is going to work and advance our knowledge of astronomy and the universe – that in a sea of political mediocracy, science can still give us optimism that humans can work together and do great things.

    Also, and still related to the JWST, one of the project managers was talking about how excited she felt about the project and was talking about it to her wife. An example that, despite the terrible economic inequalities that exist, we have made progress in social acceptance of same sex relationships and other advances that push back on the hard right Christians who seek to chain people to their stereotypes. Hopefully those social advances will continue.

  14. I think Omicron will break the China bubble and that will have possibly big negative consequences depending on how many lockdowns China goes through in its attempts to control Omicron. If they give up on the elimination strategy fairly early there may not be too much damage done. I expect the omicron breakouts will start in Chinese New Year and continue to intensify until the end of the Olympics on 20 February and then it will spread like wildfire. The events in China will take attention away from Australia which will unfortunately probably be a good thing for the chances of a reelection of the Moronic Government. COVID wise I take Tony Blakely’s position that in Australia things will be looking pretty good by the end of March with everyone having had a booster, and half the kids having had a second dose and the Omicron wave well over. There might be another variant by then but we’ll be well equipped to deal with it.
    I hope the Coal Government will be out of power and think there is a very good chance there will be a minority Government – after all Morrison only needs to lose 1 seat in net terms to go into minority. But whether it will be a minority Labor or minority Coalition government is yet to be seen. Morrison is continuing to make misstep after misstep but as Peter Martin writes the Government has a very good chance of reelection when the economy is going well. For that reason I think there is almost a nil chance of a Labor majority Government.
    On the climate change front the momentum is there for rapid change and this will be accelerated if there is a Labor minority or majority government.

  15. KT2: I don’t have numbers for automation in pv. This video from 2010 indicates that leading manufacturers were already pretty automated a decade ago: https://youtu.be/fZ1SC-vUe_I
    It’s a very safe bet that the trend has continued. Robots are more reliable than humans. A hypothetical Australian pv manufacturer could find Meyer Burger etc in the phone book The equipment suppliers, mostly German or Swiss, would ask the same price as for Jinko. The difference is that Chinese companies can build factories in months not years, from lots of practice plus a very supportive government. Rare frogs? Aboriginal paintings? What frogs? What paintings?

    BTW, another hope and prediction for 2022. Regulators (American, Chinese, British, or European) will block Nvidia’s bid for ARM; for different reasons. They won’t do anything against the much greater threat posed by Facebook, Apple, Google. Microsoft and Amazon, nor secure diversity of chip supply away from the absurdly dominant TSMC. These are far bigger and more powerful companies than Nvidia, Softbank and ARM.

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