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

37 thoughts on “Monday Message Board

  1. Oceans Break Heat Record for Third Year in a Row”

    “2021 broke the record from 2020 by about 14 zettajoules, or 20 times the world’s annual energy consumption”.

    Imagine a 2 kg mass traveling at 1 m/s times 10 to the power of 21.

    Say we pull carbon out of the atmosphere to pre industrial levels, how long before the ocean regains pre industrial temperature?  Long climate change.

    I can’t make sense of this statement. Anyone care to enlighten me? 14ZJ ÷ 2.2ZJ = 6.36deg warming????

    Wikipedia;  “ZettajouleThe zettajoule (ZJ) is equal to one sextillion (1021) joules. Human annual world energy consumption is approximately 0.5 ZJ. The energy to raise the temperature of Earth’s atmosphere 1 °C is approximately 2.2 ZJ”.
    14,000,000,000,000,000,000,000joules.”Driven almost entirely by human-caused climate change”. Not happy Jack!Please check my powers.*

    “Oceans Break Heat Record for Third Year in a Row

    “2021 broke the record from 2020 by about 14 zettajoules, or 20 times the world’s annual energy consumption

    “The world’s oceans reached their hottest levels on record in 2021. It’s the third year in a row it’s happened, and it’s driven almost entirely by human-caused climate change, scientists announced yesterday.

    “The study finds that the amount of heat in the oceans last year broke the previous 2020 record by around 14 zettajoules. That’s equivalent to at least 20 times the entire world’s annual energy consumption.

    “It’s an ongoing pattern. All five of the world’s hottest ocean levels have occurred in the last five years. The record-breaker in 2017 is still a bit higher than 2018. But each of the last three years, from 2019 to 2021, have all broken the previous record.

    “That’s on top of a decades long pattern of warming. Every decade since 1958 has been warmer than the previous decade. And the rate of warming has sped up significantly since the 1980s.

    “The ocean heat content is relentlessly increasing, globally, and this is a primary indicator of human-induced climate change,” said study co-author Kevin Trenberth, a scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, in a statement.

    “The consequences of the warming oceans are diverse and widespread”

    “Another Record: Ocean Warming Continues through 2021 despite La Niña Conditions

    The increased concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere from human activities traps heat within the climate system and increases ocean heat content (OHC). Here, we provide the first analysis of recent OHC changes through 2021 from two international groups. The world ocean, in 2021, was the hottest ever recorded by humans, and the 2021 annual OHC value is even higher than last year’s record value by 14 ± 11 ZJ (1 zetta J = 1021 J) using the IAP/CAS dataset and by 16 ± 10 ZJ using NCEI/NOAA dataset. The long-term ocean warming is larger in the Atlantic and Southern Oceans than in other regions and is mainly attributed, via climate model simulations, to an increase in anthropogenic greenhouse gas concentrations. The year-to-year variation of OHC is primarily tied to the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO). In the seven maritime domains of the Indian, Tropical Atlantic, North Atlantic, Northwest Pacific, North Pacific, Southern oceans, and the Mediterranean Sea, robust warming is observed but with distinct inter-annual to decadal variability. Four out of seven domains showed record-high heat content in 2021. The anomalous global and regional ocean warming established in this study should be incorporated into climate risk assessments, adaptation, and mitigation.”

    Imagine any of these examples times 

    “Practical examples
    One joule represents (approximately):
    ☆ The amount of electricity required to run a1 W device for 1 s.
    ☆ The energy required to accelerate a 1 kg mass at 1 m/s2 through a distance of 1 m.
    ☆ The kinetic energy of a 2 kg mass traveling at 1 m/s.
    ☆ The energy required to lift a medium-sized tomato up 1 metre (3 ft 3 in), assuming the tomato has a mass of 101.97 grams (3.597 oz).
    ☆ The heat required to raise the temperature 0.239 g of water from 0 °C to 1 °C, or from 32 °F to 33.8 °F.[12
    ☆ ]The typical energy released as heat by a person at rest every 1/60 s (17 ms).[note 1]
    ☆ The kinetic energy of a 50 kg human moving very slowly (0.2 m/s or 0.72 km/h).
    ☆ The kinetic energy of a 56 g tennis ball moving at 6 m/s (22 km/h).[13]
    ☆ The food energy (kcal) in slightly more than half of a sugar crystal (0.102 mg/crystal).

  2. Don’t Look Up! Don’t measure the oceans! If you don’t look and don’t measure, it isn’t real and it’s not happening.

  3. The Hunga-Tonga-Hunga-Ha’apai volcanic eruption will do very little to lower global temperatures. With only a small percentage of the Sulphur dioxide emissions seen in the 1991 Mount Pinatubo eruption in the Philippines, this latest eruption is of little help in the search for ways to lower ocean temperatures. Volcanic sulphates may be good at impacting on global climate but you would need over 20 miiilion tonnes of it to even lower global temperatures by one degree for just one year. Besides such a large injection of Sulphur dioxide would impact adversely with the ozone layer. And it would all eventually fall back to earth as acid rain.
    On the whole volcanic eruptions are no easy fix to global warming. Any global temperature reductions are more than countered by damage to the ozone layer and damage caused by acid rain.
    Looks like ocean temperatures are going to go up again once another El Nino event occurs. This is likely to occur regardless of volcanic activity along the Pacific “ring of fire”.
    Only a super volcano, Earth has about twenty, can erupt with enough discharge of Sulphur dioxide to lower global temperatures for a significant period of time. The last one may have been 76 000 years ago. But the damage to the ozone layer may cause such eruptions to largely wipe out many species on our planet. The Acid rain could fall for an extended period of time. All in all its best that such an eruption does not happen in our life time.
    (Sources: Brenton Alexander January 16, 2020 and Associate Professor Martin Danisk September 3

  4. It’s not as if humans have any choice about whether volcanoes erupt. If eruptions would have harmful effects, humans can do nothing to prevent them, and if they would have beneficial effects, humans can do nothing to bring them about.

  5. Novak a no-show. George Christianson, Craig Kelly, Matt Carnavan, etc., have been railing at the government “overreach” of public health measures…and now, apparently a lone tennis player who has some vaccination concerns (that I don’t agree with) is a threat to the realm? I don’t have the nitty-gritty on Djokovic’s evidence or its veracity, but having heard some of the rantings and ravings of federal LNP members against pretty much any public health measure, the limpid response by the PM on those pollies is just another version of the Howard-Wolf-Whistle, i.e. let somebody else say what you, as PM, can’t really say, but probably think. Or, just see political value in giving a limpid opposition to those pollies spoiling for some kind of inner turmoil like what America is convulsing from.

    As for the PM saying that Novak vs “citizens of Aus” being completely different situations, it is worth noting that we deport people of Maori descent, simply for serving a year or longer prison sentence; despite the fact that some of these people were in nappies when they arrived in Australia, were believed to have been made citizens—or citizens by virtue of their parents being made citizens, or from having an Australian citizen as one of their parents; no, we have *conditional* citizenship, the kind that far too many pre-WWII European countries were inflicting upon the Jews, the Armenians, the Gypsies, and the rest of it. The use of bad character as a reason for deportation is akin to refoulment, except for these people they are going to a country they have never known, have no roots in, no friends. They are not the only ones.

    Statistically, the overwhelming majority of people who are granted citizenship are good behaving individuals. A few fall afoul of the legal system, and a few are truly criminals in their attitude and behaviour. No different to the rest of us, actually.

    My personal view is that we should be reasonable, in that once we accept someone as a citizen of Australia, it is enduring. If the blighter commits a crime, they should *only* receive the sentence that any birth-Aus-Citizen would receive, and that should be the end of it; to then deport them, is in my view an abrogation of our part of the deal. Conditional citizenship for some, but not others, is a very dangerous and slippery slope. Since those of us of many generations of roots would hope not to be deported to a country we never lived in, just for commission of a break and enter, or a fight, we need to consider how to rein in this nefarious government over-reach. Do I hear Matt? George, Craig? No, just crickets chirping. And crickets they are.

  6. @ J-D January 17, 2022 at 1:20 pm

    Have you considered a sacrifice to the volcano god? Surely Australia could spare a politician or two.

  7. We really need to sort out our laws with respect to asylum seekers. While I don’t think the let ‘er rip policy at the start of Kevin 07 was a good idea, the final political act by Kevin was to brutalise a small group of asylum seekers, who were in transit at the time Kevin Rudd change the rules. The changes were counter to any sense of humanitarian perspective, and clearly were a political calculation, hoping to blunt the LNP attack on this front. Sometimes, you have to risk losing on an issue, if you are to remain on the right side of the issue. Otherwise, are you a party that stands for anything, or simply a party that wishes to govern, no matter the price?

  8. This anecdatum caught my eye:
    “Right now, because of supply chain issues, the lead time to get delivery of an electric [truck in the USA] is about half that of a diesel-powered truck.” – Steve Hanley at CleanTechnica
    This is unlikely to last, but still. From a distant armchair, you would expect a very small but fast-growing market to be more vulnerable to supply chain shocks than a flattish legacy one, not less. I can see two forces pushing in the opposite direction here. They are not mutually exclusive.
    1. Electric vehicle powertrains have orders of magnitude fewer parts than diesel ones, ergo fewer suppliers. Since it only takes problems at one supplier to hold up production, the overall risk is lower for electrics.
    2. Young engineering and managerial talent flows into new, fast-growing sectors and away from stagnant or declining ones. Bright young things went into cars round 1910, aviation round 1930, computing round 1960, etc. Conversely declining sectors like coal and nuclear power find it ever harder to attract good workers. ESKOM has even had major difficulties building run-of-the-mill col power stations in South Africa. (Perhaps we should be worrying more about staffing quality in the ageing nuclear power fleet.) If the electric truck engineers and managers are the pick of the crop as I suspect, they just may be better at anticipating and fixing supply chain problems.

  9. Unemployed with a rather good MA, i got a hard time believing in that any industry lacks talent thing….
    Granted, standard candidates usually do get jobs, but even those never get scarcity prices no matter how much companies cry we get no X and when jobs got no appropiate candiate at all it´s usually because they want someone that has magically learned some obscure specialisation to perfection on the job that is only usuefull in a handfull of jobs somewhere else already. Maintaining nuclear facilities just requires reliability, not genius. Job security decent pay and decent hours will ensure that a vast majority of people is able to fulfill that need.

  10. Have you considered a sacrifice to the volcano god? Surely Australia could spare a politician or two.

    No thanks. It would be sure to be one of the politicians I like who would get the short straw.

  11. @ Don January 17, 2022 at 8:57 pm
    My personal view is that we should be reasonable, in that once we accept someone as a citizen of Australia,
    This is the Canadian policy, at least at the moment. The only way one can lose citizenship is if as an immigrant you made deliberate false statements on your application.

  12. Hix: Both the Chernobyl and the Fukushima reactor disasters involved complex design mistakes interacting with human error and unusual circumstances. They don’t look to me like failures of routine competence. The higher risk surely is failure to react correctly in unexpected crises.

    Much of the current global reactor fleet is nearing 40 years and facing shutdown in the coming decade, meaning planned or forced retirement for their elderly operating staff. The life extensions have been approved by regulators on the basis of intensified maintenance and vigilance, which has to cm from these old guys counting the days left. We shall be lucky if the terminal phase of nuclear power comes without another disaster or two.

  13. The modern majority global economic system (neoliberal or market fundamentalist capitalism) is incapable of dealing with existential crises. Climate change – no effective action. Bush-fires and natural disasters – no effective action. COVID-19 pandemic – no effective action. While palliative and ameliorative actions are taken, mainly for privileged population segments, the underlying crisis rolls on in each case. Globally, each of these problems is getting worse with no sign that the system can do more than slow the trend towards complete disaster. This system has no future. While we persist with it we continue collapsing.

  14. I think we can safely say that capitalism almost inexorably leads to a compression of risk, as if it doesn’t exist, until the fat tail of the risk distribution thwacks us hard. Capitalism is unable to accommodate long range risks in a manner compatible with how humans assess risk in time. Pandemic is merely one example. GFC, that’s another.

  15. A great idea. If Australia were negotiating this, we’d want and increase ala carbon! And this seems too simplistic due to imbalance against US defence spending.

    “Global Peace Dividend

    “Redirect world military spending towards climate, health, and prosperity

    “50+ Nobelists make a simple proposal to humankind

    “Over 50 Nobel laureates, the presidents of several Academies of Sciences, and other leading intellectuals launched an appeal to all peoples and their governments. 

    “Reduce military spending by 2%/year in all countries.

    “In 2020, the year the world economy collapsed due to COVID,100 million people were affected by floods, storms and other climate-related disasters, and rich countries fell short of their climate finance pledge, world military spending rose to 2 trillion USD—2.6% more than in 2019 and twice higher than in 2000. These massive investments in weapons are a colossal waste.

    “Save over 1 trillion USD by 2030 to address planetary emergencies.

    “If all countries reduce their military spending by 2%/year starting in 2025, a “global peace dividend” of 1.3 trillion USD will be liberated by 2030, at no cost to any nation. These are immense resources, comparable to total investments in renewable energy during this period, and far greater than the funds available to research and treat cancer, AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria combined. 

    “Cooperate to end the arms race.

    “Nations increase military spending simply because others are doing it as well. To escape this vicious circle the only path is through international negotiations. Past arms reduction treaties, e.g. between the USA and USSR, demonstrate that cooperation is possible—even between adversaries. 

    “All countries should reduce their military spending to address humanity’s grave common problems: pandemics, climate change, and extreme poverty.”


  16. Mostly these sports stars seem to be just saying that they are young and fit so covid is no threat to them .I guess they are usually full of self made individual confidence and see themselves as winners in a dog eat dog world. Fox news is saying that the vaccine doesnt work because vaccinated people get infected and spread the virus too. Meanwhile the Left worries that they went wrong when they dismissed Rightists as selfish and stupid. That might be a tactical error but gee some of them look stupid and there is absolutly no evidence of the Right feeling the need to understand or empathise with the Left – quite the opposite.

  17. sunshine: – “Mostly these sports stars seem to be just saying that they are young and fit so covid is no threat to them .

    And yet the accumulating COVID-related evidence/data says the risks for debilitating, long-duration and potentially career-ending disease for top athletes are real and significant.

    From Aus Gov Department of Health:

    Just because you’re fit and healthy doesn’t mean you won’t experience long-standing consequences from infection. You might have heard the term ‘Long COVID’ or ‘Long Haulers’. We are seeing a growing number of COVID patients in Australia and overseas who are still struggling with symptoms after the infection has passed. This includes fatigue, breathlessness and chest pain.

    Per British Journal of Sports Medicine research paper titled Clinical patterns, recovery time and prolonged impact of COVID-19 illness in international athletes: the UK experience:

    Results Between 24 February 2020 and 18 January 2021, 147 athletes (25 Paralympic (17%)) with mean (SD) age 24.7 (5.2) years, 37% female, were diagnosed with COVID-19 (76 probable, 71 confirmed). Fatigue was the most prevalent symptom (57%), followed by dry cough (50%) and headache (46%). The median (IQR) symptom duration was 10 (6–17) days but 14% reported symptoms >28 days. Median time loss was 18 (12–30) days, with 27% not fully available >28 days from initial date of infection. This was greater than our historical non-COVID respiratory illness comparator; 6 days, 0–7 days (p<0.001) and 4% unavailable at 28 days. A lower respiratory phenotype (ie, including dyspnoea±chest pain±cough±fever) was present in 18% and associated with a higher relative risk of prolonged symptoms risk ratio 3.0 (95% CI: 1.4 to 6.5) and time loss 2.1 (95% CI: 1.2 to 3.5).

  18. This tweet from Sara Gibbs caught my eye:

    “We need to learn to live with car crashes!” the prime minister announced, calling an end to driving tests, seatbelts, road signs, air bags, crumple zones, traffic lights, drink driving limits, speed limits, steering wheels…

    Meanwhile, WA Premier Mark McGowan said yesterday:

    “If we proceeded with the original plan, we would be deliberately seeding thousands upon thousands of COVID cases into WA and at this point in time that is not what I am going to do.

    “Especially when the science says we need to boost third doses and so many young children still need to get their vaccine.

    “It would be reckless and irresponsible to open up now, I can’t do it.”

    IMO, good on Premier McGowan for listening to the science and still endeavouring to protect fellow WA citizens, while other state Premiers ignore the science and fail to protect their citizens.

    We have parallel social, economic and public health experiments running in Australia with different operating conditions to compare outcomes.

  19. Problem with McGowan delaying the reopening of WA is that winter is coming. New Zealand is having the same issue and at least they have realised it – sorry no link.

  20. Yep – it seems to be about 4 weeks to peak and then 4 weeks on the other side. That was the basis of my – correct – calculation that I made on 3rd jan – to the howls of some here.
    So WA has until, maybe April to decide to open or not – or leave it to spring. Not sure Omicron can wait that long, but we’ll see.

  21. And supposedly, we will have Omicron-specific boosters and new treatments by March, not to mention boosters, 5-12 immunisation and RAT tests. Waiting a few weeks, if they can keep Omicron out that long, seems like a very good idea.

    Dropping all restrictions just as the new variant (predictably by then) arrived, maybe not such a good idea. But, Freedom.

  22. @Geoff Bear in mind, you’re not obligated to speed or drive drunk, or even try to cross the road. You just need to respect the choices of those who don’t care if they kill you.

  23. Did Anthony Albanese just endorse WA’s decision not to reopen? Brave if you ask me. By the time the elections happen VERY few Aussies will be wanting even the suggestion of another lockdown and the Libs will play on that.

  24. I guess I would take ‘numbers in hospital in NSW/Australia have gone down over the last week’ as a sign of ‘current covid wave has peaked’ (linear fit or even just difference over 7 days).

    What do people like as a measure? I guess at that point you can at least compare projections for the peak in hospital numbers that various people made.

  25. Omicron is unlikely to be the last wave. The very fact that Omicron has spread so widely, in both vaccinated and unvaccinated countries means new mutations are MORE likely to arise. These new mutations will face different selection pressures in more vaccinated and less vaccinated countries. SARS-CoV-2 (mostly Omicron variant) will possibly tailor itself, via selection pressures, to take advantage of different vaccination profiles around the world.

    “The more Omicron spreads, the more it transmits and the more it replicates, the more likely it is to throw out a new variant. Now, Omicron is lethal, it can cause death … maybe a little bit less than Delta, but who’s to say what the next variant might throw out.” – WHO senior emergencies officer, Catherine Smallwood.

    “@UKHSA has designated a #Omicron sub-lineage, known as BA.2, as a new “variant under investigation”. 53 in Flag of United Kingdom but 2,093 sequences of BA.2 recorded from 22 countries. Unclear yet—but “possibility it could be more transmissible.” – Eric Feigl-Ding

    “Consistent growth across multiple countries is evidence BA.2 may be some degree more transmissible than BA.1,” – tweeted Tom Peacock, a virologist from Imperial College London.

    “The subvariant BA.2 accounted for 20% of all covid-19-cases in Denmark in week 52 increasing to approximately 45% in week 2. During the same period, the relative frequency of BA.1 has dropped.

    Other countries also experience an increase in BA.2 cases: E.g. Great Britain, Norway and Sweden – but seemingly their increase in numbers are so far not on the same level as in Denmark.
    Different mutations

    BA.1 and BA.2 have many differences in their mutations in the most important areas. In fact, the difference between BA.1 and BA.2 is greater than the difference between the original variant and the Alpha variant.

    Such differences can lead to different properties for instance concerning infectiousness, vaccine efficiency or severity. So far, there is no information as to whether BA.1 and BA.2 have different properties, but Statens Serum Institut (SSI) is continually working to investigate this matter.” – Statens Serum Institut (SSI)

    This is not to say Omicron BA.2 is likely to be the next dangerous variant. It does say that mutation of COVID-19 is ongoing and very rapid. It is showing no signs of slowing down. Indeed it may be accelerating. This would make sense as it spreads to billions of new hosts who all become incubation vessels for potential new variants. At this relatively early point in SARS-CoV-2’s evolution as a zoonotic pathogen there is no particular evolutionary pressure for it to become milder.

    More waves with greater contagion and greater lethality are possible, even more likely than not. It’s pointless pointing to a decline in the Omicron wave as more than a temporarily good sign. Experts are already thinking that we face more mutations, more waves and annual or six-monthly booster needs indefinitely. My guess is that three-monthly boosters could even become necessary. This will be untenable. Finally, only suppression and eradication will get us out of this pandemic. The destruction of the health of great swathes of the population will become too costly to bear.

  26. Joe Blow, if Albanese has made a statement, it can’t have been a brave one. You’ve conflated lockdowns and border closures. There’s no evidence that border closures have been unpopular anywhere. We thought we could safely reopen in December but when Omicron changed our leaders pushed ahead anyway. The NSW by-elections will give an indication of how that played out.

  27. John Quiggin,

    That’s odd. I don’t recall making a response but maybe I’m forgetting things in my old age.

  28. Ben McMillan: – “I guess I would take ‘numbers in hospital in NSW/Australia have gone down over the last week’ as a sign of ‘current covid wave has peaked’ (linear fit or even just difference over 7 days).

    It seems NSW official hospitalisations may have peaked at 2,863 (2¼ times higher than the ‘Delta Wave’ peak in Sep 2021) on 18 Jan 2022, ICU occupancy peaked at 217 (90% of the ‘Delta Wave’ peak in Sep 2021) on 19 Jan 2022, and ventilator occupancy possibly still rising at 72 (so far 59% of the ‘Delta Wave’ peak in Sep 2021).

    NSW COVID-19 Vaccinations (at end-Jan 21):
    Aged 16+ years: 95.3% (1-dose); 93.9% (2-dose); 32.8% (3-dose, aged 18+ years)
    Aged 12-15 y: 82.7% (1-dose); 78.4% (2-dose); N/A (3-dose)
    Aged 5-11 y: 26.5% (1-dose); 0% (2-dose); N/A (3-dose)
    Aged under 5 y: Ineligible for vaccination

    NSW schools reopen next Friday (Jan 28).

    What are the chances of a secondary peak in NSW infections, hospitalisations, etc., within a few weeks, following schools reopening next week, and with teenagers and particularly young children still with low primary vaccination rates?

  29. Geoff Miell,
    If we take the UK as an example there is likely to be a short pause in the decline, or a small rise but highly unlikely to be anything like the last one – which did indeed happen early last week in NSW 🙂
    Every country is different though, different rules, weather, population density etc. – so difficult to judge.

  30. Not a particular helpfull peak that. At this point, 8% of the population had a known infection. Almost all within a single month. Testing coul not catch up with such a fast rise, so the actual infection rate must be a multitude. Or to put it another way: Australia had more infections within a month than many nations after two years of virus circulation. The expert also seem to say modeling gets a bit more complicated at such point, so the hope that the downward trend will keep being as fast as the upward one seems premature. Stay healthy everyone.

  31. The schools reopening is one issue. Another issue is that OmIcron is getting into the staff and now the residents of aged care homes. We could possibly see kids cases and old person cases drive a second peak to this wave in February or at least slow the decline so we have an asymmetrical wave and more cases after the peak than before.

    Another point is that we should not just obsess about this Omicron wave as if it will be the last wave. The behavior of the pandemic thus far has been of successive waves and new mutations which escape TTIMQ and vaccine resistance unless ALL of these policies and factors are implemented very stringently in a coordinated fashions. Without such combined efforts, the chances of this being the last serious wave are very low. The chances, of new and very dangerous variants emerging, continue to increase. The progress to disease mildness (which is far from certain in the short to medium term and not fully certain even in the long term) will likely be a random walk of less and more dangerous variants. There is still a wide scope for more dangerous variants to arise and “target” various demographics. Children are in real danger from Omicron.

  32. One misstep that the UK made, in my opinion, is not rolling out vaccines to the young a bit quicker. There are still relatively few school-age kids in hospital, compared to the adult population, and considering how large a fraction of the population just had an omicron infection, but kids being put in hospital is a bad thing, obviously.

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