Monday Message Board

Another Message Board

Post comments on any topic. Civil discussion and no coarse language please. Side discussions and idees fixes to the sandpits, please.

I’ve moved my irregular email news from Mailchimp to Substack. You can read it here. You can also follow me on Mastodon here

I’m also trying out Substack as a blogging platform. For the moment, I’ll post both at this blog and on Substack.

22 thoughts on “Monday Message Board

  1. European emissions fall

    Reputable analyst Lauri Myllyvirta has good news for the New Year on European emissions, especially from falling gas use:

    “Power sector CO2 emissions and coal use fell [in November 2022] for the third month in a row. Total CO2 emissions have been falling since July, pulled by dramatic reductions in fossil gas use in industry and buildings. […] The main driver of the fall in emissions are reductions in electricity and gas consumption prompted by the high prices.

    Mild weather is not a major explanation for the fall in emissions, as it contributed a 10% reduction in gas demand outside the power sector while actual demand fell 26%. In the power sector, milder temperatures can account for 4%-points of the 12% drop in demand. In other words, approximately one third of the reduction in gas demand and power demand was due to milder weather than in 2021. […] Temperature-controlled gas demand fell by 20%, while temperature-controlled power demand fell 10% on year in November. The high energy prices are driving reductions in demand, both through energy-saving measures, such as lower indoor temperatures, and outright reductions in activity.”

    European countries have not of course gone over to full war economies, apart from Ukraine itself. But they have embraced serious and muscular policies – including not protecting households fully from the price rises. They have managed to cut both gas demand and emissions by about 10% in a single year. European consumers outside Ukraine have suffered inconvenience, for many of the poorest real hardship, but not dramatic shortages. Protests have been muted.

    The story is usually framed as a failure of Putin’s geopolitical blackmail. The guns and ammo keep flowing to the Dnieper. True enough. It is also a remarkable demonstration of what can be achieved in the energy transition by tough but politically feasible policies for aims enjoying popular support. A pity that it needed a war to get there.

    Another piece of good news is that Europe installed about 42 GW of solar in 2022, with 48 GW expected in 2023, according to Bloomberg NEF. Solar panel prices in China have started to fall again, as new production capacity all along the supply chain outpaces booming global demand.

    I can’t find an estimate for new European wind in 2022, but one trade site expects 18 GW a year in the EU on average over the next 5 years, against 11 GW in 2021. Good numbers in the UK and Turkey drive up the totals for wider Europe. Wind farms, especially offshore, take much longer to plan and build than solar ones, and still face supply chain and permitting problems. It is not clear if the needed policy changes are happening.

    A significant contribution to European emissions in 2022 came from ongoing operational problems with the large but now quite ancient French reactor fleet, with record low output in November. So much for 90% reliability. It’s an inherent feature of the complex nuclear technology that maintenance issues will grow larger as reactors age, and their timing and scale unpredictable.

    For a less cheery take on German emissions, Agora reports no overall progress in 2022. Part of this is the delay in the coal phaseout, which is strictly temporary. But another large chunk is rising oil burn in transport. The growth rate in the electric transition is good – 55% of new car sales in December – but the electric share of the fleet is still too small to be bending the total. The transport minister in the coalition government is an FDP ordoliberal dragging his feet. No massive purchase of electric city buses, say.

    Heidegger? Life’s too short. Napoleon’s alleged jibe to Talleyrand seems apt: “Monsieur, vous n’êtes que de la merde dans un bas de soie.”

  2. House prices are declining. Unfortunately, the natural reaction of several politicians is to increase the deposit size of first home buyers by cutting out the stamp duty, or by extremely damaging massive immigration as a way to temporarily prop up house prices, but at great social cost to all of us. Immigration is not the issue per se, it is the rate of immigration that’s the issue. We need policy that ensures most people can own a home, without a capital gains race going on, and rental accommodation that isn’t predicated on leveraged capital gain, as with negative gearing.

  3. A recent ABC TV report indicated that there were plenty of first nations job seekers to fill some of the job vacancies in Australia today. See
    “First Nations workers still overlooked despite nationwide employment shortage”
    By political reporter Dana Morse
    Posted Sat 27 Aug 2022 at 5:04am

    Don’s point about “extremely damaging massive immigration…………(incurring) great social costs to all of us”” is well made. By utilising the job skills of first nations peoples, Australian can moderate its immigration intake were appropriate.

    One other possible action is to place a “Zombie Tax” on landlords who leave residential properties unoccupied for long periods of time, by not renting them into the residential rental market. A recent report found that
    ” As per the report, 11.2 percent of the properties are unoccupied. This is one in ten new dwellings is (sic) found vacant. In the last two decades, it is found that Australia has 300,000 vacant homes.”
    Source: “The story of unoccupied homes in Australia”
    By Timothy Evans,is%20found%20that%20Australia%20has%203%2C00%2C000%20vacant%20homes.

    According to the last census (2020) there were over one million homes unoccupied on Census night.

    Now there are many reasons for homes not been occupied for short periods of time. But if, as the report suggests, about 300, 000 residential properties are vacant for long periods of time, then something must be done to get some of these properties at least listed onto the real estate market.

    I suggest either, a form of Zombie Tax, or, a special impost on existing land tax similar to that which is placed on foreign resident homeowners. This gives a disincentive to any hoarding of real estate. It may then lead to an increase in housing supply.

  4. Joined the social democrats (germany) about six weeks ago. So far i received about 10 standard mails or letters, asking me to donate, standard talking points and such. One letter was supposed to encourage me to join “work groups”. The work groups officially available at the lowest possible level were, youth, old people, women and employees. Not one category i fit in. Yes employees has indirect relevance and by party standards, the youth group might take me, still. So i asked if they also had a work group for issues surrounding disability, chronical illness and/or unemployment at some higher regional level. The answer was “we have no such work group within the entire party no matter which regional level”. There would be a work group for healthcare workers (read doctors lobby) maybe i could join that one as an alternative. At least that was an answer by the paid local admin person.

    The designated go to person directly at my village, which according to the standard letter i received would have the task to help me with all things surrounding new membership could answer no mail for 6 weeks, neither could the official instagram account of the village branch. The head of the employees work-group at the district level is approaching 3 weeks no response now. Yes, there probably would be easy ways for me to circumvent all that ridiculousness, including just walking into the local mps or meps office or annoying people that studied with me that made a bit of a party career, but that does not really fit my personality and it would involve pulling the little, or actually not so little, just combined with other aspects of the opposite privilege. God knows what someone with a genuine working class background is supposed to do.

    The last standard mail from the party central for new members is a feedbackform about how happy one is with the party membership, how one likes the work-groups etc.. Now i can give a standardized response saying “you actually got no one interested in people participating in the party or any work group representing issues of what is supposed to be one of your core electorates”. The left party is no real alternative based on its significant share of conspiratory racist cranks alone. So there you go. Greens? …

  5. Addition: It is not like the social democrats do not exist here in the village. The actual party boss is 75 or sth like that, has no mail (but a personal instagram account with lots of followers, if hes able to use it, hmmm…..) and is far far to cozy with conservatives doing local village politics things for my taste. No, not going to call him.

  6. It is good news about added solar and wind. And I agree that lower emissions are good, except, why is it necessary for poor people to suffer? And, why *not* protect people from the higher prices? I thought the currently preferred policy was carbon-tax-with-refund? I mean, if people don’t have anything else to switch to, reasonably, in the short term, then I have trouble feeling glad about this. To me, that is bad policy. (Of course, ours are *much* much worse!! That is generally true. Yet, somehow it doesn’t shut me up … ) I would think just straight rationing would be more fair.

    Hix, maybe you should start your own committee? It sounds like there is space for more volunteering. And, just my two cents, I don’t think that all conservatives are bad (unless they’re actually haters – and maybe yours are, I couldn’t say).

  7. Conservatives are not so bad here and that term involves some 80% of the vote split between two a half parties competing for the major, village (read rich smallish suburb 6000 people with own jurisdiction) politics just is very uh special in general. Which farmer is allowed to make how much money from new residential construction and which person was allowed to build his one family home 50 cm higher than was legal 20 years ago…. and who dared to cycle through cimetary anyway. The suburb level is more relevant as formal entrance point than as a level where there is anything serious to do, or more precise where there is a chance in hell anything serious will find support.

  8. By engaging with Ukraine Russia has disproved its threats, it’s promises and it’s propaganda.

    Slowly the West is coming around to the fact that Putin never delivers on what he says – he’s just another chicken hiding in the Kremlin chook house.

    The fear that Putin’s removal will only usher in a worse dictator is just that – by committing to the needless destruction of so many innocent Russian and Ukrainian lives Putin has proved to be their worst dictator.

    The sooner he goes the better – for all of us.

  9. US Senators Jack Reed of Rhode Island and Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma (two leaders of the Senate Armed Services Committee) wrote a letter to President Biden, dated 21 Dec 2022, that flagged concerns about the building capacity for the Virginia-class programme, noting “just 1.2 Virginia-class SSNs have delivered, on average, per year over the past five years.”

    A look at the current schedule for the builders of the Virginia-class nuclear submarines suggests to me they could be fully occupied to meet the US Navy’s requirements until the late-2030s.

    The Block IV build programme includes the:

    * Vermont (SSN-792), laid down circa Feb 2017, launched 29 Mar 2019, commissioned 18 Apr 2020, in service;
    * Oregon (SSN-793), laid down 8 Jul 202017, launched 25 Jun 2020, commissioned 28 May 2022, in service;
    * Montana (SSN-794), laid down 16 May 2018, launched 8 Feb 2021, commissioned 25 Jun 2022, in service;
    * Hyman G. Rickover (SSN-795), laid down 11 May 2018, launched 26 Aug 2021, working towards commissioning;
    * New Jersey (SSN-796), laid down 25 Mar 2019, launched 14 Apr 2022, working towards commissioning;
    * Iowa (SSN-797), laid down 20 Aug 2019, under construction;
    * Massachusetts (SSN-798), laid down 11 Dec 2020, under construction;
    * Idaho (SSN-799), laid down 24 Aug 2020, under construction;
    * Arkansas (SSN-800), laid down 19 Nov 2022, under construction;
    * Utah (SSN-801), laid down 1 Sep 2021, under construction.

    The Block V programme includes:
    * Oklahoma (SSN-802), under construction;
    * Arizona (SNN-803), laid down 7 Dec 2022, under construction;
    * Barb (SSN-804), under construction;
    * Tang (SSN-805), under construction;
    * Wahoo (SSN-806), under construction;
    * Silversides (SSN-807), under construction;

    There’s an expectation that up to ten Block V boats could be built, with the possibility of another five in the so-called Block VI and another five in Block VII for the US Navy.

    Meanwhile, the UK’s Astute-class build programme of seven boats for the Royal Navy is due to be completed circa 2026. The completion time, from being laid down to operational status, for each of the first four boats apparently took around a decade on average.

    I’d suggest either the construction capacities of the submarine builder(s) are substantially improved to significantly reduce the durations of construction, or Australia will likely be waiting until at least the late-2030s, or more likely into the 2040s, for its first operational AUKUS boat.

    Australian defense minister, Richard Marles, suggests: “I mean this is a really exciting opportunity for Australia to develop the industrial capacity to build a nuclear powered submarine for our nation. And one of the things we are really clear, as I said earlier, is that we will need to develop that capability in order to contribute to the net industrial base of the three countries of the United States, the United Kingdom and ourselves.”

    IMO, it will be interesting to see how that can be done.

  10. Studies and evidence have proven that gas appliances in the home, in particular gas cookers, are a significant health hazard. Agencies in the US are recommending the banning of gas in the home. This has to be a major blow to the gas industry.

  11. eholds-are-largely-protected-from-soaring-costs-while-british-families-struggle-188417

    Rog: Another downside to gas is the non-trivial risk of explosions. Badly maintained electrical systems can also cause fires, but it must be very rare for these to wreck whole buildings as at Ronan Point. The explosion risk is enough to rule out any plans for switching home heating to hydrogen.

  12. Very interesting, James. I wish I could say I understood it better – but, I think I got the idea. (Or, maybe not.)

    We are getting to the same point here in California, with the added factor that our prices seem to be going up at least partly because of increased exports. (I don’t know if that is a factor in the UK or France. Or if they are importing the gas, then I guess they just take the hit from that direction. Also I seem to recall that a pipeline to Germany was shut down.)

    Is it just me, or does it take chutzpah for a producer to complain about the “wholesale” price going up? (Fun fact – Cali has no extraction tax. This is another reason I keep calling the Cali Dems fakers. They no longer do big problems. Term limits stink, if anyone wants to know.)

    I assume that part of the reason this is happening is that the international prices aren’t capped?

  13. While the risk of gas explosion may be minimal it exists and modern buildings that have gas installed are required to be designed to withstand an explosion caused by gas leakage.

  14. ExxonMobil.
    Liars. Star Chamber. Reparations. No NDC’s – non disclosure clauses.

    “ExxonMobil Predicted The Climate Crisis 5 Decades Ago, Leaks Show

    13 January 2023

    ” In 2015, investigative journalists from the Los Angeles Times and The Guardian made a shocking discovery. They found dozens of internal documents from Exxon and ExxonMobil scientists that clearly detailed how fossil fuel products contributed to the global climate crisis – one that could have “dramatic environmental effects before the year 2050”.

    “Assessing ExxonMobil’s global warming projections

    G. SUPRAN 
    Authors Info & Affiliations

    13 Jan 2023
    Vol 379, Issue 6628
    DOI: 10.1126/science.abk0063

    What constitutes a lie? Tricky question. I’m on the – if no context and selective quoting without balance – it is a lie. Or propaganda.
    Very sensitive to conditions.

    “Highlights From The Comments On The Media Very Rarely Lying

  15. From the Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S), dated 9 Jan 2023, summary begins:

    New data from the European Union’s Copernicus Climate Change Service reveals another year of climate extremes with many high temperature records and rising atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations. Summer 2022 was the hottest on record for Europe and each boreal summer month was at least the third warmest globally. Overall, 2022 was the second warmest year on record for Europe, while globally it was the 5th warmest year according to the ERA5 dataset.


    ● 2022 was the 5th warmest year – however, the 4th-8th warmest years are very close together
    ● The last eight years have been the eight warmest on record
    ● The annual average temperature was 0.3°C above the reference period of 1991-2020, which equates to approximately 1.2°C higher than the period 1850-1900
    ● Atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations increased by approximately 2.1 ppm, similar to the rates of recent years. Methane concentrations in the atmosphere increased by close to 12 ppb, higher than average, but below the last two years’ record highs
    ● La Niña conditions persisted during much of the year, for the third year in a row

    ICYMI, James Hansen & colleagues at the Columbia University’s Earth Institute published their latest communication, dated 12 Jan 2023, beginning with:

    Global surface temperature in 2022 was +1.16°C (2.1°F) in the GISS (Goddard Institute for Space Studies) analysis¹,²,³ relative to 1880-1920, tied for 5th warmest year in the instrumental record. The current La Nina cool phase of the El Nino/La Nina cycle – which dominates year-to-year global temperature fluctuation – had maximum annual cooling effect in 2022 (Fig. 1). Nevertheless, 2022 was ~0.04°C warmer than 2021, likely because of the unprecedented planetary energy imbalance (more energy coming in than going out). The already long La Nina is unlikely to continue, tropical neutral conditions are expected by Northern Hemisphere spring, with continued warming as the year progresses. Thus, 2023 should be notably warmer than 2022 and global temperature in 2024 is likely to reach +1.4-1.5°C, as our first Faustian payment of approximately +0.15°C is due.

    Hansen et. al. rank the tenth warmest years in the instrumental record, based on GISS temperature analysis, as follows:

    #_1 _ 2020 _ +1.29 °C (relative to 1880-1920 global mean)
    #_2 _ 2016 _ +1.28 °C
    #_3 _ 2019 _ +1.24 °C
    #_4 _ 2017 _ +1.19 °C
    #_5 _ 2015 _ +1.165 °C
    #_5 _ 2022 _ +1.162 °C (essentially equal with 2015)
    #_7 _ 2021 _ +1.12 °C
    #_7 _ 2018 _ +1.12 °C (equal with 2021)
    #_9 _ 2014 _ +1.01 °C
    #10 _ 2010 _ +0.99 °C

    Will this year, 2023, be around equal warmest on record?
    Will next year, 2024, be “off the charts”?
    We’ll see soon!

    Glaciologist Prof Jason Box tweeted 29 Dec 2022:

    25 m (82 feet) of sea level rise is very likely committed at current CO2 level (sound on)

    The only way to reverse this process is for ‘negative’ GHG emissions, reducing atmospheric GHG concentrations (CO₂ + CH₂ + NOₓ, etc.) to well below 350 ppm (CO₂-equivalent, NOT just CO₂) ASAP. This needs to happen before the Earth System breaches the +2 °C warming threshold, otherwise the ocean heat content build-up is likely too much to prevent complete ice sheet loss.

  16. The gas stove issue is proving to be more than just a diversion, it seems that Big Gas is just as bad as all the other Bigs in covering their tracks with misinformation while gaining political power thru investments.

    “Cooking with gas” is clever and it diverts attention away from the many harmful effects of this fossil fuel.

  17. KT2: – “What constitutes a lie?

    Nicholas Kusnetz, reporter for Inside Climate News, tweeted Jan 13:

    In 1982, ExxonMobil scientists accurately predicted the coming rise in CO2 levels and how much warming that would cause. New research shows that was just one of many such projections the company made, even as it publicly questioned climate science.

    IMO, based on the available evidence, ExxonMobil knowingly lied.

  18. Pursuing my aesthetic bias:
    “Swiss startup Sun-Ways has developed a patented solution under which it directly rolls out solar modules between railway tracks like a carpet..”

    Not very relevant to Australia, which has a very thin railway network, but many countries have much denser ones. Switzerland alone has nearly 7,000 km of track. Railways are completely standardised and usually fenced off for safety to keep out humans and large animals. The carpet idea should be much cheaper, more flexible and easier to maintain than overhead canopies.

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