Crunch Time: Using and abusing Keynes to fight the twin crises of our era

Guest Post by Tony Kevin. Tony holds degrees in civil engineering, and in economics and political science. He retired from the Australian Foreign Service in 1998, after a 30-year career during which he served in the Foreign Affairs and Prime Minister’s departments, and was Australia’s ambassador to Poland and Cambodia. He is currently an honorary visiting fellow at the Australian National University’s Research School of Pacific and Asian Studies in Canberra. He has written extensively on Australian foreign, national security, and refugee policies in Australia’s national print media, and is the author of the award-winning books A Certain Maritime Incident: the sinking of SIEV X (Scribe 2004), and Walking the Camino: a modern pilgrimage to Santiago (Scribe 2007).

Crunch Time: Using and abusing Keynes to fight the twin crises of our era’, by Tony Kevin (Scribe Publications, Melbourne 2009, RRP $32.95).

I am pleased to introduce my new book on Australian climate change policy, ‘Crunch Time’ (Scribe Publications, Melbourne 2009) to readers of BraveNewClimate. I see BNC as a responsible public affairs website that is making a distinctive contribution to climate change discussion in Australia.

Crunch Time is the latest in a series of books written by Australian non-scientists (e.g., Clive Hamilton, Guy Pearse, David Spratt and Philip Sutton, Gareth Morgan and John McCrystal) who seek to communicate the scientific truth of Australia’s climate emergency to general Australian readers. The purpose of such books is to convince non-specialist readers – that is, those who have not yet surrendered their intelligence to the soothing seductions of denialist dogma – that the science of disruptive global warming is real; and that it is broadly accessible to all readers, even those with little or no scientific background.

This is an ambitiously wide-ranging book. It goes further than its predecessors into the current convoluted and deeply dishonest Australian political discussion of the issue, and into the possibility of real nationally funded fiscal and engineering solutions, which would apply a bold green Keynesian approach to achieve a comprehensive energy infrastructure transformation away from burning coal as Australia’s electricity source.

Running through the book is a documented case setting out the ways in which the Rudd government has failed dismally to live up to its own early rhetoric on the urgency of confronting the climate change challenge, thus betraying the high hopes that were placed in it by environmentalists. The book begins with a forensic account of how the government, under pressure from the coal lobby, abandoned its commitment to respecting the science set out in the Garnaut Review.

With great political skill, Rudd presented himself as the final arbiter above the ‘scientific argy-bargy’. He claimed the final responsibility as Prime Minister to strike a responsible balance between the climate science and the needs of the economy. In so doing, he betrayed the climate security of the coming generations of Australians.

His pathetically weak 5% minimum emissions reduction target both discredited Garnaut’s work, and undermined public understanding of the reality of the threat to Australia of disruptive climate change. Rudd was determined not to disturb Australia’s energy status quo. The 5% target would easily be met by dubious overseas carbon trading: the existing coal industry and its work force would be carefully protected by lavish subsidies and exemptions. Rudd gave Australia the appearance of climate change mitigation policy, but not the reality.

Rudd’s Machiavellian politics here played right into the hands of climate change deniers. By his own political arbitrage of the climate science, he gave deniers’ claims alleging the uncertainty of the science an undeserved degree of publicity and credibility: an advantage the deniers were quick to exploit, e.g. in pressing for ‘balanced’ access by their leaders to the ABC and to national major print media, and in the well-managed Fielding ‘fact-finding’ US tour and what followed from it.

Amazingly, even now, there has never been a clear, robust, Rudd government denunciation of denialism, because it suits the government politically that a strong denialist movement continues to flourish in Australia, in order that the government may position itself at the claimed ‘centre’ of the ‘national debate’. Indeed, there may be as many covert deniers in government parliamentary and trade union official ranks as in the coalition opposition.

Rudd made great political gains throughout 2008-09 by wedging both the coalition opposition parties on his right, and the environmental movement on his left, into political ineffectiveness. The coalition – already deeply infected with denialism from the Howard years – has irrevocably split apart on the issue. But also, the environmental movement was similarly wedged between its more ideologically rigorous elements – the Greens Party, Greenpeace, Climate Action, YCC etc, who were manouevred into an ineffective marginal political space where they could be shrugged off as ‘alarmists’ or ‘extremists’ – and the more mainstream environmental organisations like the Climate Institute, Australian Conservation Foundation and WWF Australia, which still hoped to be able to work usefully with the Rudd government from inside the tent, despite its betrayal of their best hopes.

With spin and false promises, the Rudd government in its two years in power has debased the coinage of the public debate on real climate change solutions, demoralising the environmental movement and manoeuvring it into political weakness. Responsibility for the steady decline in public concern about the truth of Australia’s climate crisis as measured by opinion polling, and the dangerous spread among otherwise intelligent people of denialist myths and factoids, can be laid directly at the door of the Rudd Government’s cynical policies, which put its present-day political advantage ahead of its ethical responsibility for the climate security of the next two generations of Australians – our own children and grandchildren.

Rudd’s false reassurance to Australians is – ‘don’t you worry about climate change, we have got it safely under control’. This is a deeply corrupted policy outcome that has no parallel in any other developed country, except perhaps in Canada and Russia where a similar cynical view prevails that short-term national economic interest as defined by government should prevail over global climate security.

Crunch Time sets out in documented detail how Obama is trying seriously to combat global climate change nationally and internationally, in ways that Rudd is not doing so. Yet ordinary Australians have been given the impression that our government is seriously tackling climate change and that it can even offer the US some helpful policy lessons!

Perhaps because my book carries this uncompromising critical evaluation of current Australian government climate policy, it has not yet caught the attention of the mainstream media: perhaps Crunch Time is seen as a subversive book, which it is safest to ignore. I hope however that in a Australia’s free society, knowledge of this book will spread, if necessary by word of mouth, and that it will eventually be widely read and discussed by many thoughtful Australians.

In the 1920s and 1930s, the radical British economist J M Keynes was similarly subversive of established economic thinking, which condemned millions of people to needless years of unemployment. In the end, his bold ideas prevailed over conservative vested interests. We need such intellectual boldness now.

My book advocates that the currently divided and demoralised environmental movement should unite around one single priority policy goal – ending coal burning for power in Australia by 2030. It advocates serious professional study of the possibilities for adapting the present two coal-based national power grids to two new geographically dispersed and technically diversified grids across eastern and western Australia, using a balanced mix of all available renewable energy generation and energy storage technologies now technically available, but not yet integrated at full scale in any country. I argue that the inherent variability of wind and solar energy can be fully compensated by a mix of geothermal energy which is potentially 24/7, and existing energy storage technologies like reverse hydroelectric pump/flow systems (the Snowy Mountains scheme could be easily converted to serve such a purpose), and heat exchange cycle energy storage technologies e.g. using ammonia or liquid salt solutions, and by using smart grids and off-peak pricing. In such ways, supply and demand could be balanced without burning coal and emitting GHG. Gas power generation could be a useful transitional technology.

Serious national study, funded by government, of such technical possibilities should be a top priority: instead, the matter is being left to public interest websites to try to assemble necessary public information. This is no way to run a national energy policy! At government level, ignorance and intellectual laziness reign supreme. Techno-myths like ‘clean coal’ and CCS discourage serious consideration of how to wean Australia off burning coal for power.

Personally, I do not support nuclear energy in Australia. I believe we could manage a transition to mixed renewable energy more quickly and safely. But Crunch Time records Hansen’s advocacy of nuclear energy. I believe this a matter for calmly argued democratic public choice on a basis of full public information on all the options – which we are not getting now. The most important thing is to stop mining and burning steaming coal as soon as possible – which means, really soon!

I’d like to see an early referendum on this. Instead, the Rudd government pretends to be pursuing all energy options except nuclear – ‘not picking winners’. This is a deeply dishonest and irresponsible policy, because everything the Rudd government is doing in practice is favouring the expansion of coal and impeding energy alternatives to coal.

Crunch Time gives the general reader a broad scientific understanding of how manmade GGE are heating the global climate, and thus threatening our children’s climate security; and how Australia’s range of hot dry climates means we are on the front line of climate disruption. The book explains the reasons for the wide ranges of uncertainty in climate prediction, and for delayed positive feedbacks from GHG emissions over periods of up to several years. It sets out a prudent bottom-up risk-management approach to such ranges of uncertainty. It shows how paleo-climatology is a reliable predictor of the long term CO2- global average temperature correlation. It sets out how Homo sapiens cannot long escape the GAT, sea level rise, and climate-zone shift consequences of CO2 atmospheric concentrations climbing above 350 (based on the seminal Hansen 2008 paper). The climate science described in the book was checked by three leading Australian climate scientists: it is appropriate to the general audience for whom Crunch Time was written.

Market rationalist economics comes in for criticism, for the way it discounts our children’s future (drawing on the debate in UK generated by Stern) , and for its total faith in market trading or tax mechanisms to generate change to non-GGE energy. I argue that market mechanisms even with high targets are too slow to act by themselves. In what is a national climate emergency, Keynesian solutions must be driven by direct state-led allocation of resources to replacing coal-based energy.

Crunch Time suggests how this energy transition could be funded, by the sale to investors of Australian Government Renewable Energy Savings Bonds. Instead of spending economic stimulus money on peripheral things like pink batts and un-needed school halls, or big bucks on coal railways and ports infrastructure, or on broadband, the Rudd government had ideal opportunity in the recent recession (which may recur) to direct deficit funding to building renewable energy grids – or nuclear grids, if that is the public choice. (Hence the book title) .

The book’s final chapter explores a frightening but plausible climate change scenario for southern Australia in 2060. All the data are coming in now at the top of or above IPCC2007 projections. Global climate change effects eg polar ice melting, ocean warming and acidification, are happening earlier than foreseen. My 2060 projections are already within a 20%-30% range of possibility. We need soberly to visualise such concrete scenarios, if we are to find the political will to do what needs to be done as a society now if we are to avoid them. Scientists are mostly reluctant to spell out such scenarios – they say all such scenarios are ‘unimaginably bad’. But Crunch Time ‘imagines the real’, showing how fragile and harsh human life would be on a greenhouse earth.

However, Crunch Time is not a pessimistic tome: it offers strategies for solutions, in arguing (page 223 onwards) that:

The keys to a successful green-Keynesian strategy will be boldness, policy focus, and community inclusiveness. It will take boldness not to be intimidated by the apparently impregnable forces of conservative opposition: in a democratic society, they can be overcome by the power of public opinion. It will take policy focus to concentrate effort on the priority target of replacing Australia’s coal-fired electricity generation by renewable energy generation by 2020, by using the present recession as the opportunity to direct major public investment towards wind, solar, and geothermal electricity-generating plant and associated transmission infrastructure. And it will take community inclusiveness if the renewable-energy movement is to expand beyond the traditional alternative cultures where it has derived most of its strength so far, and instead position itself firmly in the centre ground of Australian politics, where neither major party will be able to marginalise it.

Please read Crunch Time: it could become an influential source of ideas for our times, as Keynes’s General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money was an important book in those times. The book is indexed and copiously referenced.

**

There are upcoming book discussion events in Perth on 10 November with Carmen Lawrence, at UWA IAS; and in Brisbane at the Avid Reader Bookshop on 18 November, with Paul Barclay, ABC presenter of ‘Australia Talks’ and Radio Fora.

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23 Comments

  1. Keynesianism is a framework of thinking which identified under consumption by the private sector as a key cause of macro economic problems. Given that greens typically regard our problems to be related to over consumption by the private sector it is a bit ridiculous to encounter these two ideologies tacked together. It is somewhat suggestive of fluffy thinking. Of course you somewhat redeem yourself by being clear that this is an abuse of language. Which is what I hate about Keynesianism, it is so open to abuse by every statist that comes along. Far more so than Keynes the man ever was.

    If you want to spend a lot of taxpayers money on what you personal see as being of priority it would be healthier to simply say so rather than dressing it up in drag.

  2. All the drama of impending doom aside, at least Tony recognises that leaving it to the “Free Market” is not the answer. Just watch as the billion$ flow from our shores and the Climate trundles along as it always has. If we are to put a price on carbon we should follow the Chinese and keep it local – it’s time we had a break from the philosophies Adam Smith.

  3. Any honest environmentalist recognises the absurdity of wind and solar for baseload. When you add the subsidies necessary to achieve this, you see the economical disconnect as well.
    Barry, you’ve made your point. NP is really the only game in town.

  4. ‘green-Keynesian strategy’ – is patent nonsense, based on the belief that decent jobs can be established through the pursuit of renewable energy. Most jobs in this sector are transient, and do little to establish an economic base.

    If jobs are the real issue consider that cheap energy is the foundation of job growth – the relationship of inexpensive coal to the rise of the Industrial Revolution in Great Britain cannot be lost on even the most doctrinaire Green.

  5. An accurate summation of the political shilly -shallying by all sides of politics on the problem of AGW. I agreed with everything the author said about the ways to solve the energy crisis and de-carbonise the economy, until I read of his opposition to NP. Unfortunately, I think he is badly off the mark in his belief that renewables will be able to supply baseload power. As an honest enviromentalist, and reformed anti-nuclear proponent, I agree with spangled drongo, and Barry of course :) Nuclear IS the only answer.

  6. I actually agree with most of TerjeP’s point here. Well put “fluffy thinking”.

    I like one aspect of Kenysianism in the most base, New Deal way: while it’s correct about their assumption (Kenysianists) about consumption, the most immediate result was the gov’t as an employer of last resort. Direct hiring (by our nice “statists”) help put millions back to work, including my own father at the time.

    The problem with stimulus packages a la Obama, is that it is really no such thing. When consumption went up in the 1930 (say, 1934-1936) you had factories reopen, workers had places to go. With this fake ‘service’ economy based on speculation…there simply is no place for workers to go back to as the factories have all be delocalized or bulldozed. That that is a problem that is not fixable.

    At any rate, the issue of jobs should be address as an issue of jobs. To argue that a “green” economy should be created to create jobs just shows how inefficient such an economy is going to be.

  7. The seven reactions so far to my guest essay on BNC have been disappointingly superficial, misdirected and discourteous. I expected better from a serious environmental website which believes in heeding the facts of what climate science is telling us about the global warming crisis the world has now reached, which rejects market-based decarbonisation solutions (carbon trade or tax), and which supports a state-sponsored move from coal-based energy to nuclear-based energy as the chosen electricity generator for Australia. I agree with BNC on the first two propositions but part company with it on the third. My reasoning here is partly on Garnaut’s lines: I believe nuclear would cost as much or more than renewable, has longer lead times, and carries public safety and arms control concerns that worry me.

    On the other hand, I believe a mixed-technologies and geographically diverse renewable energy-based grid system at scale under Australian conditions, using geothermal and reverse cycle energy exchange technologies, market incentives and smart meters to even out supply-demand imbalances which are inherent in wind and solar technologies, has yet to be professionally explored in Australia , even in theory, let alone designed and tested.

    We are in an unsatisfactory situation where unsupported claims and counterclaims fly around rival websites, while no work is being done in places where it should be done – i.e., in trustworthy government-supported professional scientific and engineering laboratories wedded to truth and not dependent on any particular industry’s or lobby group’s money – to work out which system or systems (yes, including nuclear) will work best for Australia as we move urgently to decarbonise our power industry.

    The Australian government is utterly failing that research and development responsibility, behind its empty pretence of supporting a so-called ‘level playing field’ to allow all energy technologies to compete equally in the marketplace. The Resources and Energy Minister is a climate denialist and a willing tool of the coal industry. Who knows how many in the Rudd Cabinet and Caucus agree with him?

    This is why I would like to see, in the national interest, a benevolent public-interest foundation pay for a major national professional engineering conference , with expert guest speakers flown in from countries like US and China and France, to address these questions expertly and accountably. I would have thought BNC acolytes and I could share that policy aim.

    Judging by the disparaging reactions my essay evoked, we see here yet another example of successful government climate policy wedging – here, it seems, the Greens and the nuclear supporters are too busy badmouthing each other, to stand back and ask what major policy interests they might have in common and how they might usefully work together on those goals ?

    James Hansen’s work as the world’s leading climate scientist and decarbonisation advocate is at the core of my book ‘Crunch Time’; there are nineteen supportive index references to his work. I note in my book that he advocates 4th generation nuclear, in my discussion of nuclear energy on pages 156-57. I don’t disparage him for taking that view.

    Perhaps those who are so ready to scorn my views as ‘Green extremist’ or ‘fluffy’ might take the time to wander into a bookstore and scan the chapter heads and pages of ‘Crunch Time’. They will see a conscientiously researched and referenced contribution to national debate on the decarbonisation challenge. Or are we so busy playing the national sport of putting one another down, that we cannot be bothered thinking about what might be our common policy goals in the national climate crisis?

  8. Tony Kevin,

    We know the cost of renewables. We know they are far more costly than nuclear. We know about the risks of the various energy systems. The problem is not that the figures are not known. The problem is the ‘belief’ that nuclear is evil and dangerous. We stopped nuclear in Australia 35 years ago and every attempt to include it as an option has been stopped by political scare campaigns. The arguments against nulcear are basically nonsense (other than the cost compared with coal fired generation).

    Have you looked at http://bravenewclimate.com/2009/09/10/solar-realities-and-transmission-costs-addendum/ and the preceding three papers listed on the Renewable Limits tab.

  9. Tony Kevin,

    I am concerned that we are following the same lines of discussion and policy dogma as we did back in the early 1990’s with the Ecologically Sustainable Development. At that time the government had a policy that nuclear was not an option and in effect should not be considered because it “is not govcernment policy”. We are in the same position again. We can’t evaluate it properly. The government departments use inflated costs and assumptions that make it unviable as an option. So I see your paper as more of the same. It does not help us move forward.

    Without low cost electricity generation, no options will be implemented quickly. The emphasis must be on supplying low cost electricity.

  10. Peter –

    Who is ”we” here? How do you propose to gain wider community acceptance for your views on nuclear energy, unless you learn to work politically with others who do not share them, but have other social/political goals – presumably, similar to yours? Or would you rather remain right ( as you see it), but ineffective?

    I probably won’t correspond further on BNC, as it’s clear what the majority climate of ideas is here.. But I am still curious – is there any reader of BNC who sees value in any of the thoughts I have put forward in my book, and/or here? Or are we doomed all to remain squabbling ineffectual minorities while the coal juggernaut rolls on, destroying our kids’ future climate security ?

  11. Tony, keep talking. We need to work through these ideas.

    The key is being ruthlessly pragmatic. We agree that a carbon price is not going to work (it might help, but it’s not the magic wand that we wave to make all the problems go away).

    So, we must develop the technologies that can do the job cheaply and completely, so that it is a sensible and business-oriented choice to invest in low-carbon tech. Indeed, I think the energy/climate problem is totally insoluable unless you can roll out technologies that are CHEAPER than coal, yet have the same favourable characteristics in terms of being a convenient, concentrated form of reliable 24/365 energy.

    Renewable energy probably cannot ever allow this to happen. But all we need to do is fairly open the field up to nuclear so that it can compete on a level playing field, and we will see the result.

    There is more to my argument than this, but it’s a decent starting point for further discussion.

  12. Tony, given this is a blog I’m afraid you just have to put up with all sorts. You will get a fair hearing from Prof Brook and a number of others who are clearly highly competent and passionate about decarbonisation.

    I mean Spangled Drongo pops up all over the blogosphere, and Terjep just calls it as he sees it in a charactaristically right wing fashion, and someone like me chimes in from time to time but am happy just to read and learn. It may not be to your liking but that is just the way of blogs – they are not moderated to ensure all comments are super polite and/or don’t strongly challenge other comments the poster thinks are flawed.

    It is true that this blog is unashamedly pro nuclear, but rather than complain about your reception here my personal opinion is that you take this opportunity to challenge this thought:

    “My reasoning here is partly on Garnaut’s lines: I believe nuclear would cost as much or more than renewable, has longer lead times, and carries public safety and arms control concerns that worry me.”

    This is exactly where I was a year ago, and I think it is clear Perps has been there too, even Prof Brook himself… but I now believe that such a stance is untenable. This site has all the information that nuclear is demonstrably cheaper than renewables at least on a grid scale (ie 100% renewables), the “longer lead times” appears to be an urban myth again precisely debunked on this site, almost the same for public safety, with arms control being something that is already out there as an issue with the hundreds of nuclear plants that already exist (and then with IFR eating the nuclear material we already worry about anyway).

    Personally I lean towards the hope that one day maybe renewables can be the 100% answer, but to be honest I simply no longer believe that there are any fundamental issues with Nuclear Power that should prevent it from replacing coal-fired power stations. Anti-nuclear “propaganda” is to me comparable to climate skepticism – it is simply a scientifically untenable position when we are facing a serious issue like climate change.

    Moving to the position of being a pro-nuclear (or pro at least giving nuclear a chance) green is indeed a tortuous process but I think it is a journey worth taking – you should open yourself up to the possibility of making the change, it is quite liberating.

  13. For Tony:

    I agree with something like what you say below (in brackets). and a suitable number of demonstration projects. meanwhile, you have to take one for the team and deal with some insults. I’ve found the arguments for nuclear power here to be very persuasive, arguments I was a year ago far from inclined to accept (I didn’t know enough). I’d be curious to see your objections to the arguments made here on the issues that concern you: nuclear costs, weapons proliferation etc., lead times, the challenges (with w and s) in overcoming the baseload problem, diffuse power, territorial requirements, etc., especially if we are trying basically to electrify nearly all power, 15 TW worth as it now stands.

    This is why I would like to see, in the national interest, a benevolent public-interest foundation pay for a major national professional engineering conference , with expert guest speakers flown in from countries like US and China and France, to address these questions expertly and accountably. I would have thought BNC acolytes and I could share that policy aim.
    Judging by the disparaging reactions my essay evoked, we see here yet another example of successful government climate policy wedging – here, it seems, the Greens and the nuclear supporters are too busy badmouthing each other, to stand back and ask what major policy interests they might have in common and how they might usefully work together on those goals ?

    My own view is that ordinary folks really need to push for good science around energy and climate to be made publicly understandable and to push the contradictions between what the science requires and what our corporations and politicians refuse to do due to their clashing short term material interests.

    I recently read a policy paper that desires to reach the Hansen target of 350 ppm by 2200–one hundred years behind Hansen. To do this requires according to plan a global cut in carbon emissions of 53% by 2020. Meanwhile, here in North Carolina, people get excited by Duke Power’s commitment to produce 12 percent of its power renewably by 2021.

    Dealing with this disconnect, figuring out what’s behind it is as important as figuring out the technological mix.

  14. Tony Kevin
    I am sorry if you think that we have been discourteous as there is so much about your post that I agree with wholeheartedly. As Matt surmised, I have followed this blog from the beginning and, like him and yourself, was ardently anti-nuclear and pro-renewable. However, I read the posts and comments regarding the possibility of going all renewable and was disappointed when it became clear that they would not provide consistent baseload power. I reluctantly turned to reading about IFR nuclear power. I really urge you to do the same and investigate this source of clean power. The posts here address the very problems that worry you (they worried me too) about nuclear power and have convinced me (a deep green environmentalist) that there is no other way to retain a liveable planet for my grandchildren, without lowering our living standards greatly or allowing Third World countries to raise theirs. Many on this blog, including its host, have followed the same path and reached the same conclusions. That is not to say that we don’t see a role for renewables or that we couldn’t be convinced if any other obvious candidate for baseload power became apparent. We are not nuclear ideologues but nuclear pragmatists.

  15. This correspondence has generated some useful areas of agreement and elucidation, thank you to all.

    I am perhaps too old a dog to learn the new tricks of robust internet blog discussion. My preferred medium is the traditional one of expressing ideas through writing books as well as I can, finding a publisher ready to risk his money on editing and printing and promoting them, and putting them out into the public arena in the hope they will do some public good.

    Like Keynes, I believe good new policy ideas in the long run triumph over powerful vested interests defending the status quo. Trouble is, the climate crisis does not leave us much time.

    I am not a deep-green econut or even a Green – the Greens’ agenda overload and failure to prioritise the climate crisis comes in for strong criticism in my book. At the same time I greatly respect the energy and integrity of Bob Brown’s and Christine Milne’s efforts to convey the critical climate crisis to Australians. It is partly, but not entirely, the Greens” own fault that they are marginalised as extremists and alarmists . It suits Rudd and Turnbull to keep the Greens out of play, while they pretend to tackle climate change. But a lot of Greens also prefer to remain pure but ineffectual.

    The best ideas that come out of this BNC correspondence – that we should now look for a deep-pockets philathropical foundation (Myer?Smorgon? Freilich? others? ) to fund a major national engineering and scientific conference, with expert overseas speakers from all/all non-coal energy sectors, to discuss practical blueprints for an Australian energy future that no longer relies on fossil fuels burning.

    If nuclear and non-nuclear alternative energy proponents could agree on terms of a proposal for such a conference, where they would argue out previously circulated and available on-line papers under professionally controlled discussion conditions, it is hard to see a major public interest foundation resisting the appeal of such an initiative . Why, George Soros might fund it; and James Hansen could be a keynote speaker !

    Over to you , guys. For me, it’s back to promoting my book Crunch Time : as I don’t want to see it in as few months’ time turning up in remainder bins.

  16. TerjeP sez: Heck I was being polite. I don’t know how I could disagree more politely. Maybe somebody needs thicker skin.

    The interpipes are not a place for those with thin skin, for sure.

  17. Tony and others,

    I am a civil engineer with a background in black coal power generation and mining, structural design and so forth. I am thus perhaps seen as being part of the problem.

    But wait a while… I follow the GHG debate closely at both technical and social levels, have ordered Tony’s book and generally agree with the thrust of this site and Tony’s contribution.

    However, I feel myself turning slowly towards the nuclear option, at least as a major component of base load power supply. This is primarily because I see roadblocks – show stoppers – in the development path for every other alternate energy proposal.

    Essentially, if we are to avoid the nuclear option, then a crystal clear and irrefutable case needs to be made for the green alternatives, because the black and brown path we are currently on scares the blazes out of me.

    References to Keynes, Adam Smith and others who lived in times when the carbon problems didn’t exist are distracting. Today’s actions will determine tomorrow’s climate. Last century’s thinkers are a side show.

  18. John Bennetts – Welcome to BNC
    If you read more of the blog you will see that it has evolved to a very pro-nuclear position. I was a former anti-nuke greenie but have been convinced, by the information I have found on Barry’s blog, that new nuclear is safe, reliable, cost-effective and most importantly renewable – Gen IV IFR technology burns nuclear waste as fuel and therefore the technology can be run millions of years. If humans have that long on the Earth that is. :) It will also do the job in providing baseload power 24/7 and power solutions for the developing world and the Third World countries and will solve the AGW/CC crisis.
    Do read the posts on “Sustainable Nuclear” and “Renewable Limits” (headings at the top of the page) and for a summary of how Prof Brook arrived at his position you should read

    http://bravenewclimate.com/2009/10/29/energy-dialogue-green-debate-blog-updates/

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