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.

38 thoughts on “Monday Message Board

  1. Has anyone commented in this blog on Barry Humphries’ death? Is so I hadn’t noticed. Probably the best comedian and entertainer that Australia has produced – certainly the most internationally acclaimed. But Humphries disliked political correctness, self-righteousness and boring predictability within the left.

    I owe Barry a lot – he kept me entertained at regular intervals since the 1970s. When I heard on Saturday that his kids had returned to visit him at his bedside I feared the worst and it happened.

    One leftie who commented on Humphries was Phillip Adams who described him as the “most Intelligent” man he had ever met. Adams said he split with him after 3 successful films because of “political differences”. Fancy dumping someone socially over politics! And of course typical Adams – puts himself at the centre of the farewell. I recall Adams did the same with Kerry Packer.

  2. Harry Clarke you are right to praise Barry Humphries. He was the first comedian to break down the “culture cringe” Australians had over entertainment. I am old enough to remember the comedians we got in the 1960s. They were either British or American. There was nothing wrong with them but their cultural references were not Australian. So we laughed at parodies of British life or American insanities. But then along came Barry Humphries. Now we heard jokes about chundering and drinking cold beer. We began to laugh at our own cultural foibles. Even though I was more of an Aunty Jack fan, I did appreciate the humour of Barry Humphries. He busted down the door of our cultural cringe and deserves praise for that and for his many comedic performances. Thank you Barry Humphries R.I.P.

  3. Ditto. Barry Humphries was erudite in his plumbing the depths of (white Australia) arcana. There were a number of other good comedians who fleshed out the Humphrie-esque depiction of that earlier but modern Australia. I think it is worth a thought and a nod to the nascent Indigenous comedy and especially acting, something that copped short shrift in the 1970’s. Vale, BH.

  4. Don, and what about Cleverman (now on Stan)? How can we get a third series up?

  5. Capitalism is the public policy of letting private interests rule society.While we permit this we will always be in (worse and worse) trouble. The decision to put private interests ahead of public health (the C-19 “surrender-demic”) is just like the decision to put private interests ahead of preventing climate change. The private interests are exclusive (the super rich and their political enablers), inequitable and entirely unfocused on the real problems of real people in the great majority.

    The general public are gullible and manipulable, with the ruling elites using techniques known at least since Roman times: bread and circuses. The social collapse point occurs when the bread and circuses are no longer provision-able to a large enough portion of the gullible masses. The greedy elites first demand a huge slice of the pie. The shrinking pie (it *will* soon shrink) will no longer be able to meet the grossly inflated demands of the elites plus the bread and circus requirements for the masses. At that point, we will see if we take a new path or stay on the collapse path.

  6. Indeed, Iko, and when are we going to see a third season of Cleverman? (Seasons 1&2 on Stan, but..)

  7. Ikon, Capitalism (as you define it) exists nowhere. We live in a mixed economy where 2/3 of economic activity is carried out in markets on the basis of what consumers want and 1/3 is delivered by the public sector on the basis of what politicians think consumers want or what will buy them reelection. The private interests are not only the super rich but all consumers. All eligible adults vote in elections. The idea that the general public are “gullible and manipulable” is authoritarian snobbery. There are 500,000 disabled Australians drawing on the NDIS and many of these are not “super rich”. Many other examples could be given,

    If you want a communist society where consumer sovereignty has no role say it. But who will decide what is to be produced and who will get what? Is it an alarmist ideologue who will lay down the law for the rest of us? Moreover, you will invite ridicule since it would be such patent nonsense.

    Free markets have taken large sections of the world out of poverty – half a billion in China alone. By themselves they produce poor outcomes in terms of inequality and providing public goods. But don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. We live in an imperfect liberal democracy that, despite its inefficiencies, outperforms centralised systems where production and consumption decisions are taken by an “all-knowledgeable” state on the basis of the romantic ideological preferences of the few who believe they know it all and who believe their informed judgements should override the “gullible and manipulable” masses.

  8. Stop saying “free markets” Harry, there’s a serious risk that you’ll go blind!

    Whatever the definition is, China doesn’t make the grade as a free market economy.

    How can an autocracy have a free market economy?

  9. On Barry Humphries, he was a brilliant but cruel satirist and intrinsically an elitist.

    His politics was of the right and he was drawn to the powerful and gifted while disdaining the less so.

    He and Philip Adams did fallout, as many others did, but that hasn’t diminished their admiration of his theatrical qualities.

    Look, at the end of the day he lived a long, interesting and successful life, was admired by many and died with his boots on (so to speak).

    So what’s with all the hand wringing, possums?

  10. Harry,

    You have every free speech right to disagree with me and to do so vehemently. I have no problem with that.

    My attempt at a non-technical and witty definition of contemporary neoliberal capitalism was nonetheless intended to convey something I consider to be true and accurate about it. I think it is the case that the policy of our governments and oppositions is to fully support neoliberal capitalism. Further, I think that the form of neoliberal capitalism they support is very much that form which permits and enables large private private interests, corporate and oligarchic, to rule and direct our society in all the large things. Corporations and oligarchs get pretty much everything they want in broad brush policy. There are studies which show this.

    Click to access gilens_and_page_2014_-testing_theories_of_american_politics.doc.pdf

    Also of interest I think would be the book;

    “Affluence and Influence: Economic Inequality and Political Power in America –
    Why policymaking in the United States privileges the rich over the poor” – Martin Gilens

    Though I admit I have not read this book myself. I have read the paper linked above.

    Consumers only have free choice of what is put on the menu and then only free choice of those items that they can afford on the menu. If they can afford nothing, as the impoverished,, then they have no choices at all. Corporations, oligarchs and some smaller businesses determine the menu offerings and do so in a manner that is top-down. Corporations and businesses are autocratic and top-down command driven in their business decisions; decisions which never almost never pay any attention to the common or public good. They are certainly not democracies in the management sense. They are not even democracies in the shareholder voting sense. It is not one person, one vote. It is one rich person, one million votes. You know, that kind of thing.

    Consumer sovereignty (sic) is a kind of second-hand sovereignty of choices. One can choose what one want’s so long as it is on the menu of choices determined by the select and powerful groups which command-determine business decisions and which also determine government decisions by campaign donations, influence and “grey gifts”.

    Almost all eligible adults vote in Australian elections. They certainly don’t vote at that sort of level in US and UK elections, for example. But the issue is that no matter who we vote for we still get a neoliberal government making neoliberal policies. The Albanese government is a case in point. They have done almost nothing substantively different from the previous government. In all major essentials of political economy they remain the same.

    The statement that the current general public are “gullible and manipulable” is an accurate portrayal of their current state. Authoritarian snobbery or rather authoritarian rhetoric would be to advocate “take the vote off them”. I don’t advocate that. I advocate that they be properly educated in the sciences and humanities, broadly, and that misinformation and disinformation (on matters of verifiable fact) in the main stream media be called to account.

    I am not advocating that all production and consumption decisions be taken by an “all-knowing” state any more than I believe that many of the production decisions about what will be on our menu for consumption should be made by “all-knowing” CEOs, corporate boards and assorted oligarchs (the same ones putting campaign donations in the political parties’ pockets). These decisions need to come to the people in the form of workplace and community stakeholder democracy. Democracy is not voting once every 3 or 4 years for a parliamentary rep and then being dictated to by bosses for next 1,000 working days. That example shows how little democracy really exists in our system. Democracy would workers making the workplace production decisions every week, every quater etc. and also making profit distribution decisions in a workplace cooperative. I refer you to Richard D. Wolff’s ideas on workplace democracy.

    Of course, none of this will happen, so you needn’t be concerned. You will continue to get the system you want, for as long as it lasts. It won’t last. It’s completely unsustainable at all levels.

  11. This ABC article illustrates the travesty of the $243 billion of tax cuts over 10 years going to the rich and high-end earners.

    Meanwhile “Rental affordability worst ever seen for minimum wage earners, Anglicare says” – the Guardian.

    But hey, the markets work, right!? So say the doyens of neoliberal capitalism. What a joke! Nothing is working now for the bottom half of Australia. They are getting screwed. This will lead to social and national collapse if not addressed.

    We are now living in the “surrender-demic” where people have run up the white flag, given up and surrendered to elite interests. People are no longer interested in fighting climate change, fighting poverty, fighting disease, fighting social ills or caring about their fellow humans. It is now every selfish person for themselves and devil take the poor, the unfortunate, the struggling. We have become an extremely morally ugly society (or maybe we always were and it is now revealed). We will pay a heavy price, a very heavy price for all this and maybe the ultimate price of a collapse and disintegration of the national condition.

  12. Adams said he split with him after 3 successful films because of “political differences”. Fancy dumping someone socially over politics!

    I know nothing of the details of this case, and I can easily imagine Phillip Adams being hopelessly in the wrong. (I can also imagine Barry Humphries being hopelessly in the wrong. I can imagine anybody being hopelessly in the wrong.)

    As a question of general principle, the idea that nobody should ever break off a social relationship for political reasons is hopelessly in the wrong. Do I really need to give examples of the kind of politics which would justify social ostracism?

  13. J-D,

    Correct. There are clearly cases where some people’s politics are completely beyond the pale in moral, democratic and human rights terms. To remain socially connected with them indicates at best a complete lack of care about injustice, exploitation and oppression and at worst tacit and maybe even explicit support for such. Birds of a feather flock together.

  14. Ikon said “These decisions need to come to the people in the form of workplace and community stakeholder democracy.”

    Perhaps add a Future Generations Commissioner along with “workplace and community stakeholder democracy”.

    Wales, the first to situate the future into it’s Law, a “Future Generations Commissioner”, a legally bound Voice for the future.

    “Sophie Howe (born c. 1977) was the first Future Generations Commissioner for Wales from 2016 to January 2023.

    “The remit is a statutory obligation as “the guardian of the interests of future generations in Wales” to provide guidance and advice to the government and public bodies in Wales when they make decisions so that they think about effects on people in the future as well as now. Although formal powers are limited, the power to require justifications for decisions can influence policy. She promotes public involvement, preventative action and cross-government collaboration to improve decision making.[5][3]

    “Howe advised the Welsh government against building a bypass around Newport linked to the M4 motorway because it would result in financial debt for the future as well as destroy local biodiversity.[6]

    “In 2019 Howe introduced a policy of paid leave for staff in her office experiencing domestic abuse. This policy was later adopted by the Welsh government and also a local authority. In 2020 she went further to provide financial support for staff when leaving an abusive relationship in the form of a salary advance, loan or small grant.[7]

    “In October 2020 Howe initiated a Manifesto for the Future study into providing a basic income for all citizens in parallel with a shorter working week as a response to unemployment caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. These were already recommended in an earlier report she had published in March 2020.[8] She subsequently said that a universal basic income and a shorter working week should be piloted by the next Welsh Government. Her list of suggestions also recommends an emphasis on green policies. These recommendations came ahead of the 2021 Senedd election, to elect members of the Senedd, and the next Welsh Government.[9]

    Hear Sophie Howe;
    “And the Albanese government has made a commitment to place wellbeing at the heart of its budgets. In Wales, they went further and made it law. Sophie Howe, the inaugural Future Generations Commissioner for Wales, gives examples of where public bodies have to think about the long term impact of their decisions.

    Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015

  15. The World Health Organization (WHO) suggests we/humanity are heading for a mass disabling event.

    When will the new COVID-19 hospitalisations wave peak?

    When will people stop believing the propaganda lie that the pandemic is “over”?

  16. We are not just heading for a mass disablement event. We are already in it. No matter how much people live in denial, the reality is grinding on: the reality of letting a highly dangerous, highly contagious, mutating BSL 3 pathogen loose throughout our entire society.

    There is a clear conspiracy to pretend COVID-19 death and disablement is not happening and/or to minimise awareness of this as much as possible. There is a clear intent to misdirect peoples’ sense of concern. TV news reported with great alarm that this flu season has seen 6,000 odd cases (actually the official stat is 8,473 cases in Qld. this year) and 2 deaths. There was no mention of COVID-19 in that news. Now, every avoidable death is a concern of course so why are they ignoring, in that news, COVID-19 and selectively reporting only on seasonal flu which is far less dangerous?

    Qld. has just reported 3,561 new COVID-19 cases and 16 deaths for ONE WEEK, the week ending 28th April. Compare this to this year’s seasonal flu tally for four months. The COVID-19 situation is roughly ten times worse than the flu situation. So why are the Government, media and business interests ignoring the seriousness of COVID-19? [1] There’s a concerted, deliberate campaign to ignore COVID-19 and misdirect people’s sense of alarm.

    We can also note the number of people who have had C-19 in Qld., now at 1,678,982 cases cumulatively (and those are just the ones we have detected and counted). This number will be feeding in to our flu and RSV case load simply by the fact that C-19 leaves people with inflammatory problems and can also damage the human immune system. Part of the cause of the rise of other diseases will be from COVID-19 immune system damage.

    Speaking of other recent news, the scandal is not that the Qld. government had Wellcamp built. It’s that they had it built and then didn’t use it.

    Note 1: We can easily answer this question. They are ignoring COVID-19 because they have business models which depend on high people movements and high, unrestrained mixing of large masses of people. They simply do not care how many people their money making activities kill and disable. They simply do not care, full stop.

  17. Correction to above. On death rates, the COVID-19 situation in Qld. is over 100 times worse than the seasonal flu situation. Why are they(government, business, mainstream media) largely ignoring and minimizing something that is a 100 times worse than seasonal flu? As I said, their business models and population manipulation models depend on high people movements and high, unrestrained mixing of large masses of people in order to make money from meaningless self-destructive, environmentally destructive industries like travel, tourism, professional sport and entertainment. What a shallow nation, a shallow people we are that these activities should be our highest goals and we are willing to sacrifice tens of thousands to avoidable death and hundreds of thousands to avoidable disability for these shallow, meaningless, self-gratifying activities. And we are also willing to destroy the planet for them.

    All things in moderation of course. A little bit of those things is okay. But to consume so excessively and continuously while people are dying in great numbers and the world is going to climate hell is mass insanity.

  18. A star struck friend of Barry Humphreys was on the radio saying that Barry missed audience adulation so much during London’s lock-down that when ,once a week ,Londoners went to their windows and balconies to applaud health workers he would get dressed up and go onto his roof top space and pretend the applause was for him .

    Its in the category of unfair gossip but a freinds uncle who worked with him early on didnt have much nice to say about him .

  19. Nature published a News Feature on Apr 26 headlined Are repeat COVID infections dangerous? What the science says. It begins with:

    When the coronavirus pandemic began in early 2020, the SARS-CoV-2 virus was a strange and terrifying adversary that plunged the world into chaos. More than three years later, the infection’s symptoms are all too familiar and COVID-19 is here to stay — part of a long list of common diseases that infect humans. Experts estimate that the majority of the world’s population has been infected at least once; in the United States, some estimates suggest that as many as 65% of people have had multiple infections¹. And it’s likely that in the decades to come, we’re all destined to get COVID-19 many more times.

    The cumulative risks of health problems (i.e. hospitalisation, cardiovascular disease, pulmonary disease, fatigue, kidney disease, diabetes) increased the more often someone re-acquired COVID-19 infection. A graph of the excess burden indicating how many more people per 1,000 had each health problem after infection, compared with no infection is shown in the following tweet:

    Prof Kathy Eagar tweeted Apr 28:

    Last week there were 2,029 Australians in hospital with COVID. One week later there are 2,251. 11% increase in one week. $2.5 million in hospital costs each day. National Cabinet didn’t even bother to mention covid today @AlboMP @ChrisMinnsMP @DanielAndrewsMP @AnnastaciaMP

  20. Geoff Miell,

    Thanks for the reports. I mainly rely on you now for COVID-19 news. I quit my Twitter registration a while ago in protest at its takeover by you know who. I still search Twitter for a few I know like Dr David Berger and Karen Cutter: people who are still telling the truth and showing the data about what is happening.

    Overall, I don’t understand our nation’s direction any more. Everything is about money. Nothing is about actually caring for people or environment. That’s a bit of an exaggeration but substantially true now. We have enormous problems that need funding to meet the real needs of real people who are struggling but instead we get nuke powered submarines and more sports stadiums. These are not the things we need. We are in a crisis of a wholly sui generis nature because of its complex globally interconnected nature and the global natural limits being reached.

    People take the supporting environment and our supporting public services, social wage and safety nets for granted. But we are living on and running down both our natural capital and our legacy social systems. This process of cannibalizing our supports, natural and social, will end in disaster. I just don’t get how people can’t see that.

  21. Net Zero Australia
    The 2023 version of this is out:

    Canadian consultant Mike Barnard shreds it at CleanTechnica:

    His conclusion: “Pretending that energy exports are going to double does Australia and Australians exactly zero favors. Not even acknowledging a scenario when energy exports are going to go down is so unhelpful as to be harmful.”

    Barnard is opinionated and can go wrong, but not here. The proposition that the energy transition will slash primary energy demand per unit GDP, probably by half, is rock-solid. You can confirm it for yourself just by looking at a Sankey chart of energy flows and just removing the waste in power generation and land transport. Then throw in a guess about coming efficiency gains in heating and cooling buildings, variable-speed electric motors, smart home management, and AI in everything. It’s true that GDP in Australia’s Asian export markets will continue to grow, offsetting the massive efficiency gains, but probably not enough to invalidate the forecast of stagnant or declining primary energy demand. Recall that this GDP growth is certain to shift towards services with low material footprint (health, education, entertainment, social media, gaming, philosophy, pornography, etc.) – though energy-intensive travel and tourism will increase. It looks simply unprofessional Micawberism to ignore these trends.

  22. PS : Energy importers everywhere are busy re-assessing the value of energy security in the wake of Putin’s attempted blackmail of Europe over Russian gas. This will tilt the scales in many countries towards safe if costly domestic energy production, or energy trade with close regional allies, and against lower-cost arm’s-length imports from distant strangers. Add to this the unavoidable extra cost of inefficient two-step conversion of renewable electricity into a transportable energy carrier like ammonia, along with the stagnation or drop in national primary energy demand discussed above, and the high cost of long-distance subsea HVDC cables: then medium-term prospects for Australian energy exports in any form look dim. The stricture does not apply to upgrading mineral exports into semifinished products, where Australia’s cheap renewable electricity plus massive ore reserves will give it a structural cost advantage.

  23. Ikonoclast, Geoff Miell and other interested commenters, have you noticed there is a race on among several countries (eg Australia, Canada, Germany) to attract ‘skilled labour’ from other countries.

    I suggest an important reason for the alleged ‘skilled labour’ shortage (nurses, age care workers, hospitality staff) is due to ongoing sickness with Covid19, and Long Covid. A further reason in the area of trades people is the rush to catch up on meeting the Paris CO2 reduction targets, which in the case of Germany and some other EU countries has been magnified, if not caused, by the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

  24. James, I should think Andrew Forrest, an experienced and successful Australian businessman, would have done his sums before deciding to go into green hydrogen.

    While it is the case that Europe is far away from Australia, it is also the case that the Germans try to keep all their energy intensive heavy industry, irrespective of the loss of cheep and relatively low CO2 emission gas from Russia. They bet on hydrogen for the steal, cement, glass and ceramic industry as well as the chemical industry. As everybody else, they also see hydrogen as an energy source for shipping and e-fuels for aviation. Some (eg the FDP) even dream of e-fuel automobiles. Furthermore, in the longer term they hope (I assume this is the right word here) to also use hydrogen for residential heating systems.

    While Germany intends to produce a lot of green hydrogen locally, I would be surprised if enough could be produced locally in time to meet the demand. The latter depends on the dynamics of technological innovation. Then there is risk-diversification – political risk in this case. Australia looks like a low risk source of supply.

    France is not without heavy industry either. And there are another few locations in the EU.

    What will Japan do?

  25. Ernestine Gross,

    I agree. We are sailing into a perfect storm of problems. And we (Australia at least) are doing everything wrong. We failed and are failing to control COVID-19. Ongoing sickness with COVID-19 and Long Covid is causing a very significant part of our skilled labor shortage in health and other areas. Ongoing sickness with Long Covid is causing, or will be causing shortly, an exponential rise in the number of temporarily and permanently disabled people. Costs for caring for all these people will explode or if the costs are contained then the deaths and the disabled rates will rise even faster and higher.

    COVID-19 is already our third highest cause of death in Australia. It will climb the rankings further, and this will be seen especially clearly if all COVID-19 caused deaths (as sole cause or as contributing cause) are attributed accurately. Our climate change challenges and emissions goals pressing on us at the same time will necessitate even more skilled labor demand and further exacerbate our problems. Then we have our overall health system cracking under pressure and a major housing crisis. All this while we are trying to suck in overseas students and extra immigrants. We are going to split at the seams.

    I don’t know what “The Plan” of the elites is but it is hard to see that all this will work. If they have a cogent and totally unethical plan then the plan must be that all of the “dead wood” will be burned away. A public official who shall remain nameless for now actually used this term in a disturbing context. The calculation would seem to be that if enough old people and vulnerable people die this will free up the health and other systems and workers. If that’s the plan I think they overlooked that they will be creating many new disabled people *and* many with prematurely aged or exhausted immune systems and even possibly damaged telomeres. Studies have shown up these dangers. Telomeres protect the ends of the genes. As they degrade, genes degrade and cell replication degrades: hence we age. Damage the telomeres and people age faster.


    Ageing organisms accumulate senescent cells that are thought to contribute to body dysfunction. Telomere shortening and damage are recognized causes of cellular senescence and ageing. Several human conditions associated with normal ageing are precipitated by accelerated telomere dysfunction. Here, we systematize a large body of evidence and propose a coherent perspective to recognize the broad contribution of telomeric dysfunction to human pathologies.” – Telomere dysfunction in ageing and age-related diseases – Francesca Rossiello, Diana Jurk, João F. Passos & Fabrizio d’Adda di Fagagna – Nature Cell Biology volume 24.

    And this:

    Study links severe COVID-19 disease to short telomeres

    In the end, sooner or later we will have to stop COVID-19 just as we have to stop climate change. Otherwise…. well, I don’t have to spell it out of course.

  26. Ikonoclast, you may appreciate, I can’t comment on specific medical findings. However, as you may suspect, my suggestion wasn’t plucked from thin air but rather it is the more or less obvious implication of data on Covid19 cases (temporary and long term) in Australia, the UK, Germany and France primarily, knowledge of the series of public health measures in Australia, the UK and Germany, and the by now rather long series of medical experts’ opinions from these countries.

    International comparisons are difficult because the possibilities available for effective public health measures are vastly different. Similarly implementing effective green house gas emission reductions is more difficult in some countries than in others. Using a broad brush, Australia is still ‘the lucky country’ in a comparative sense.

    What is ‘the Plan’ is a question that has been asked by journalists in some EU countries during the pandemic as well as during the current energy crisis. I have observed in so-called talk shows that the moderators as well as most, but not all, of the journalists expect something that cannot be produced because of the complexity of the coincidence of several fundamental threats to societies.

    The good news, IMHO, undergraduate textbook economics of the last 30 or even 40 years and neo-liberalism are no longer in fashion. The ‘elites’ are thinking systems these days and some of them are making an effort to educate the public, bit by bit, in this area. There is an understanding that the idea of solving the CO2 emission problem via emission trading schemes cannot be implemented in the household sector because of the income and wealth concentration that has grown during the past 30 or 40 years. Hence no measure can be considered without simultaneously considering income redistribution. There is an understanding that CO2 emissions are not the only environmental problem. There is plenty to do for bright young and dedicated people in science and in economics. It is not going to be easy but problems are there to be solved, one step at a time. At least the silliness of believing only the profit (accounting) motif is relevant for resource allocation is dead.

  27. Ernestine: I’m surprised to see you using the wisdom of billionaires as an argument. In this case the billionaires are split, with the insufferable Elon Musk dismissing hydrogen. I prefer to go by humble experts like Barnard who provide details and numbers. They are divided too, but at least you can assess their case .

    Barnard’s argument against hydrogen is simple. Currently hydrogen has two big markets: oil refining and ammonia-based fertiliser. The fertiliser will continue. The oil refining will die. Looking forward, the one high-probability new market is DRI ironmaking, roughly balancing the loss of the oil (30 mt/yr). The baseline scenario for hydrogen is stagnation. Forrest will be all right as a low-cost green supplier.

    The other touted new markets range from dubious to ridiculous. At the
    latter end, you have hydrogen cars like Toyota’s failed Mirai (high cost , massive expense of the currently inexistent refueling network), and home heating (safety nightmare). For shipping and aviation, batteries are clearly going to be cheaper for short hauls, with a steadily increasing cutoff range. For long ones, hydrogen will have to compete with biofuels, which can be dropped in to current machinery. Aviation may grow but shipping will shrink from the disappearance of coal and oil tankers and the reduction in iron feedstock with the shift to DRI near the mines.

    For Australia, the problem with hydrogen is not only the limited scale of the likely global market but the high cost of carrier conversion and transport. Existing hydrogen plants are therefore built at the point of use. This won’t change. Kobe Steel will either build its own hydrogen and DRI plants in Japan, or will import Australian iron pellets from DRI plants in Australia run by Forrest or BHP. There won’t be fleets of hydrogen or ammonia tankers replacing the scrapped oil, gas and coal ships. Recall that green hydrogen will always be competing with the green electricity it depends on, hampered by the inevitable cost and losses of conversion – two conversions for ammonia.

  28. James, as a general point, without people having different information, including using different information sources, there would be less, possibly very much less, trading of shares of listed companies. Some might see this as a good thing and others not. There is a grain of truth to the argument that markets aggregate information. In short, from my perspective it is normal to observe reasoning people to base their expectations on different information sources.

    Elon Musk has achieved one useful change IMHO. With his Tesla production he provided a huge incentive for major car manufacturers to switch from lobbying governments to support their continuing reliance on fossil fuel motors to electric motors and to invest in battery production. This is an example of the good aspect of competition in a dynamic context.

    Andrew Forrest initiated investment in renewable energy (wind and solar) production, the production of green hydrogen and the production of electrolysers. IMHO, this investment strategy makes a lot of sense for Australia. It increases manufacturing capacity, which uses local supply of iron ore and other minerals and environmental ‘commodities’ such as wind and sun, makes available electrolysers that are very useful for non-metropolitan areas in Australia and elsewhere, and produces green hydrogen for local and potential export markets.

    Not long ago, I listened to an environmental engineer, specialising in building and construction in cold climates (ie where heating with electricity from the power point is extremely costly). Detached houses with solar PV and a small capacity electrolyser can use self-generated hydrogen for heating, add a battery and the house is self-sufficient for heating and electricity. According to this technical expert, the safety concern is at most equal to that of a gas heating system.

    Iron making is not the only industry where something stronger than electricity is required. Glass making, ceramic and cement are others, according to technical experts.

    Yes Andrew Forrest is a billionaire. However, I don’t believe in discrediting his actual investment strategy only because he is a billionaire.

  29. Ernestine: as I noted, Forrest’s actual investments in green hydrogen will probably do all right even in Mike Barnard’s stagnant global hydrogen market . Production was 78 mt in 2022, practically none of it green. The happy Davos talk is other matter.

    The expert consensus is clearly against hydrogen home heating. . Thought experiment. Imagine the same technology landscape as today, except that gas is used in homes. What are the chances of a proposal to introduce it passing regulatory tests for comparative health and safety?

  30. James,
    “First, hydrogen for heating is associated with higher energy system costs compared to alternative technologies that deliver decarbonized space and hot water heating such as heat pumps, district heating, and solar thermal.8 Much of this is driven by the higher electricity needs for green hydrogen compared to electrification via heat pumps.” [Source: Jan Rosenow’s article which you linked to].

    The above corresponds to my information as to the general advice, which is applicable for many local conditions in the EU or in Australia and elsewhere. But not for all. For example, in Sydney and further North on the coast, solar PV and a good battery is sufficient for heating and cooling for many detached houses. There are a few comparable places in the South of the EU, too, where winters are mild and short, relative to the UK or Germany.

    The case mentioned by the environmental engineer, which I wrote about, relates to the specific situation of detached houses with basically excess solar PV energy generation. Such cases do exist, in Australia but also in the EU and elsewhere.

    So, the point I was trying to make, the spectrum of conditions is so broad that hydrogen yes or no is not always helpful.

  31. Ernestine: the existence of outlying good use cases does not really help hydrogen promoters. As with hydrogen FCEVs, the use of hydrogen for residential heating requires a massive one-off investment in an essentially new distribution network. Since the overall economics are terrible in either case, the market will not deliver this. There is no case for public pump-priming either, as there is for electric highway superchargers. Australia is already going overboard on dubious hydrogen subsidies based on overdoses of hopium, please don’t encourage even more.

    I live in the “South of the EU” in southern Spain and indeed enjoy mild winters. I have installed solar panels and heat-pump air conditioners. The bottled gas water heater and kitchen stove have gone. There are rightly no plans in Spain to extend the limited piped gas network, and policy is to cut (Algerian) gas use, especially in peak electrical generation where it drives up wholesale and retail prices – though less than in Germany. The economy is doing well and inflation is down to 3.3% YOY.

  32. Mike Barnard on the safety problems with residential hydrogen:

    Ernestine G: “The case mentioned by the environmental engineer, which I wrote about, relates to the specific situation of detached houses with basically excess solar PV energy generation.” A DIY installation in a detached house with garage electrolyser and hydrogen boiler would attract
    the interest of the authorities, just after the lists of people who buy unexplained quantities of ammonium nitrate fertiliser and mechanical alarm clocks, buy mail-order American kits for making their own armour-piercing rifle ammunition, and download photos of naked teenagers. Any conceivable scheme for hydrogen residential heating would have to involve a quite large network of new pipes, burners, monitors, and storage. Economically it’s as hopeless as the new distribution network for hydrogen needed for FCEV cars, and would require a large and pointless subsidy. This is unlikely even in hydrogen-struck Australia.

  33. Hydrogen will have limited, specialized applications. It is too explosive, it corrodes metals and with its tiny atoms it leaks away through any seals and seams. Hydrogen is an energy carrier, not an energy source. It is so reactive there is almost no free hydrogen anywhere. We have to make it or “liberate” it. It has low energy density per unit volume as a gas and it is not feasible to liquefy it in industrial quantities for many applications. “Storage of hydrogen as a liquid requires cryogenic temperatures because the boiling point of hydrogen at one atmosphere pressure is −252.8°C.” Hydrogen is basically a poor energy carrier and energy store. And it is very risky.

    Solar power and an electrical energy grid beat everything else hands down for most applications. Add in wind power and energy storage with an ecletic mix of solutions for the integrated grid plus stand-alone solutions on a case-by-case basic for remote sites and we are good to go.

    Maybe hydrogen will be the deal for steel making and hydrogen fuel cells do work for a number of special applications. Hydrogen will always be niche, IMHO.

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