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Open Thread 16

The Open Thread is a general discussion forum, where you can talk about whatever you like — there is nothing ‘off topic’ here — within reason. So get up on your soap box! The standard commenting rules of courtesy apply, and at the very least your chat should relate to the general content of this blog.

The sort of things that belong on this thread include general enquiries, soapbox philosophy, meandering trains of argument that move dynamically from one point of contention to another, and so on — as long as the comments adhere to the broad BNC themes of sustainable energy, climate change mitigation and policy, energy security, climate impacts, etc.

You can also find this thread by clicking on the Open Thread category on the cascading menu under the “Home” tab.

Note 1: For reference, the last general open thread (from 16 April 2011) was here.

Note 2: I’m currently inordinately busy (but also having a lot of fun!) at the Equinox Summit: Energy 2030 in Waterloo, Canada. Once I get a chance to draw breath, I’ll post more about the summit on BNC. But we’re currently working intense 14 hour days (I’m not kidding), so I’ve not got much physical or mental energy left in me by the time I get back to my hotel room at night!

However, if you want to follow some of the events, the Canadian television station TVO is covering the whole summit. I was on a panel session yesterday (Benchmarking our Energy Future: see the video here), which also featured four really interesting short animated videos on energy; I will also be part of a 1-hour episode of Steve Paikin’s The Agenda on Friday night (Canadian time — but also available on the TVO website — more details to follow).

More on the WGSI Equinox Summit: Energy 2030 in the next blog post.


By Barry Brook

Barry Brook is an ARC Laureate Fellow and Chair of Environmental Sustainability at the University of Tasmania. He researches global change, ecology and energy.

593 replies on “Open Thread 16”

I wonder if anyone has started to look at ways to prevent an earthquake from affecting a nuclear power plant (NPP)? What is seismic equivalent of a jet crashing into a NPP? Do we need to add flooding to the list of threats when evaluating seismic effect on a NPP? Places near bodies of water matter but so do places below dams and near sea level. I wanted to tackle the seismic issue because regulators are demanding standards be met. If seismic events happen infrequent then are regulators justified?


A friend of mine wrote this to me recently — I thought it was worth sharing:

There is an important piece in the Oz today:

Kaletzky is an influential commentator, I think. He argues that the subsidies and general abandonment of trust in the workings of the market that will follow Merkel’s decision to phase out nuclear power will eventually pay off by making Germany the world leader in replacing fossil fuels. To back this up he makes explicit a core assumption that is usually left unsaid. Here are his words:

And, by subsidising investment in renewable technologies, the German government will accelerate the reduction of costs through mass production, allowing renewables to displace fossil fuels more quickly around the world.

There is consistent evidence to show that most people believe this statement, which is the only rational justification for further public investment. On the other hand there is little evidence for its truth, other than wishful thinking and some self-serving tripe dished up by the usual suspect advocates.

Supporters of nuclear energy must start to convince the public that there is a greater rationale for subsidising the further development of nuclear power than renewables. That is, public investment in the remaining areas of public concern for nuclear power, like improving safety and waste disposal, would bring far greater returns than in renewable energy.

The predictable counter argument will be that ‘nuclear power can never be made safe’. In my view the proper retort should be ‘renewables can never be made cheap and reliable’. Of course, I can see that there is a degree of dogma in that statement that represents a departure from the usual (i.e. our) scientific standards of caution and balance. The end justifies the means.


Recently Dear Senator said that “The so-called Climate Commission is a Labor government-appointed committee of known climate alarmists, selectively appointed … to further the cause of global warming alarmism” (from

I wrote to him and said that I have yet to see a case why we should not be alarmed about the predicted effects of climate change. I asked him to direct me to resources that demonstrate that this risk is so minimal that it can be safely ignored.

He suggested I read a book by Professor Robert M Carter called Climate: The Counter Consensus, which he claims demolishes the theory of anthropogenic global warming!

I replied saying I have looked at the Australian Climate Science Coalition website ( in the past and didn’t notice a case that ‘demolishes the theory of anthropogenic global warming.’ I also wrote that I did not believe that it is possible to make this case and that it would need to point out fundamental flaws in the approach to the science used by climate scientists. Further, I wrote that if this case does exist, many of us would have reason to be relaxed and confident about the future of our planet. Indeed, there would be reason for optimism rather than alarm (provided we ignore other effects of burning fossil fuels such as pollution and acidification of the oceans).

Senator Minchin replied that he had read Carter’s book at found it persuasive.

I was wondering if any BNC readers were familiar with the case that ‘demolishes the theory of anthropogenic global warming’?


A couple of random thoughts without links. Treasury modelling suggests we are headed for renewables nirvana post carbon tax. I think their modelling implies that if a technology ‘needs’ $40 carbon tax then we’ll still get 50% uptake with $20 tax. I think we’ll get zero uptake because it’s a non-linear threshold effect, just like that other well known issue.

Until shown otherwise I have an open mind on seawater pumped hydro and ‘wind fuel’ synthetic hydrocarbons. Even if calculations are out by 100% ie true costs are double, they shouldn’t be dismissed. Any back of the envelope demolition job would need to be convincing.


The present German situation will probably last as long as the present German government which is probably not that long.
In any case the Russians are no doubt having a quiet giggle as the market for their NG appears to be assured for a while yet.Meanwhile they are continuing with their nuclear build.
I’ll back Ivan over Hans in the Common Sense Stakes any day.


John Newlands, I would hazzard a guess that Treasury modelling did NOT warn of the GFC which is more in their bailiwick than energy of any sort.

Even the Greens think that a carbon tax will not be sufficient and further measures will be required.Of course,their idea of further measures would be renewables only.

BTW,cloudy day here in SE QLD and my 5.4 kw PV system has generated 6.3 kwh for the day. This is about half of what I could reasonably expect for a fairly sunny day at this time of year.

It’s no problem for me but I wouldn’t like to be depending on this sort of performance for base load power.


Latest Roy Morgan Poll – Majority of Australians (53%) don’t want the carbon tax

It seems the Australian public is really starting to wake up to the fact the Carbon Tax will do nothing for the environment but will certainly damage the economy. I wonder if the Labor-Greens government will take notice.

The Federal Two Party Proffered chart, near the bottom of the page, shows a very clear trend.

I watched the Treasurer’s speech today to the Press Club. H accuses the Coalition of scaremongering. But the whole Labor-Greens approach is based on its own scaremongering – if we don’t tax carbon the Barrier Reef will die, Kakadu will die, The Murray-Darling will lose half its water and Australia will get no more tourists. What a load of codswallop. A carbon tax will have no effect on world emissions or on the climate. The Treasurer is scaremongering. Clearly people are beginning to recognise this.

He also dismissed nuclear again with “People have concerns about nuclear safety”. While Labor is intent on continuing its 50 year scare campaign about nuclear, why on earth would any rational person trust them to implement another of their devastatingly bad policies – a policy we cannot easily undo.


Another potential breakthrough for EV’s — “Cambridge Crude” — a thick black gooey battery fluid that might be as easy to ‘refill’ at a service station as petrol. I miss Better Place’s concept of just swapping out the whole battery on automated servos (faster than you could refill a petrol car!). But Better Place are being cautious because of all these quick charge batteries and now ‘quick fill’ batteries that are coming on the market.

How bizarre that one possible battery replacement for petroleum looks so much like petroleum!


EN the article doesn’t say what chemicals are in the flow battery electrolyte, The 4-valent vanadium used in the shed sized battery on King Island is supposed to be particularly toxic. The thing about synthetic hydrocarbons if they burn to CO2 and H2O those products get recycled within the biosphere.

On the other hand piston engines and gearboxes are inefficient compared to electric drive. I think flushing fresh electrolyte is going to be easier than a Better Place style battery swap, particularly if you can then drive out to the country for a few hours.

Re Germany I think they are confident right now since their economy grew in the last quarter, If they tank after ditching NP I think they will reconsider as early as next year.


According to this paper:

The catholyte composition consists of 20 vol% of a iron-containing olivine powder with 1 vol%, in an electrolyte consisting of 1.3M LiPF6 in alkyl carbonate blend. The anolyte contains 6 vol% Li4Ti5O12 and 1 vol% of a 70:30 mixture by mass of 1,3-dioxolane and LiBETI (lithium bis (pentafluorosulfonyl) imide.

However note too that the parasitic energy loss percentages as a function of flow rate are rather high when the system is pushed to provide higher currents.

This is many years away from a viable commercial product..


Kirk Sorensen is an engaging speaker. Various talks and excerpts from talks are available at The very long talk at Protospace includes a broad overview of nuclear power history and options, including a discussion of the technical issues with fast reactors. Comments welcome.

Also: I guess that 2050-2100 there won’t be a big mix of energy for electricity. Instead the cheapest will dominate, as coal does today, with small bits of other stuff. So I’m trying to get a feel for what that will mean for various options. The rules are: (a) Everything electric, (b) 10 billion people; (c) European level average energy use (80 kWh/d in MacKay SEWTHA units); (d) Assume that we are in a steady state. For your preferred energy source (e.g. IFR): (1) How many power stations for the whole world, and rough cost and how long do they last; (2) what fuel and other resources do they consume; (3) issues like preparing fuel, waste management. Suggest post as comments on this thread or send to


I see a tweet from our Premier:

‘One day last August SA had around 60% of it’s power from renewables!’

Unfortunately best case scenario type sentiments are enough to distort the real picture. It would be political suicide for someone to have a go at him for these comments though.



if germany goes on a big renewables build (I’m not convinced at all), wouldn’t it have to be connected to desertec, which involves monumental geopolitical hurdles, leaving out the technological and financial barriers?



I think the Germans are outsourcing their Nuclear Industries to Poland and France. Looking at the economic situation, Germany is ‘currently’ flying high and have taken thier eyes off the ball happy to pay more to let other take the risks.

Once again the Brits are probably on the money. Plans to build 14 new Nuclear stations and increase renewable capacity, eventually overtime if renewables prove cheaper then they will phase out nuclear in 50-60 years, and they don’t mind either way which technology proves the better. Sounds so completely reasonable it’s hard to believe.


Michael Klare is always interesting even though he’s REALLY BAD ON NUCLEAR.

what this article reveals is the pinch we face without nuclear.

and I would call attention to one area in particular. That France voted to ban fracking, the first country to do so. But of course, THEY ARE JUST ABOUT THE ONLY COUNTRY THAT CAN DO (assuming countries have anything to frack) SO BECAUSE OF THEIR NUCLEAR SUPPLY.

Klare does not realize this of course, which is infuriating.



In my view the proper retort should be “renewables can never be made cheap and reliable.

To play the devils advocate: nuclear power isn’t cheap either. Who pays for cleaning up Chernobyl and Fukushima? Ukraine
spends 5% of the national budget on Chernobyl-related issues.

Despite that, only big heartless companies earn money with nuclear because the profits are privatized and risks are socialized. But everybody can put some solar panels on his house and earn money while saving the planet.

(I know that nobody is going to save the planet just with solar panels on his house, but I’d like to hear what you say to such people.)

On the reliability topic, let me quote/translate a typical german TV “discussion”:

Jürgen Hambrecht [BASF]: “[You know as well as I, that] wind and solar alone can’t produce reliable base load. That’s not possible with current technology because we can’t store the energy.”

Renate Künast [Greens]: “Right. For that we will stop spending research money on nuclear power and genetic engineering instead we will develop storage technology; if we build something, it will be natural gas plants. That will solve your problem.”

And Künast received a huge applause from the audience.

Around 63:40 of this video:�hlt-und-abgeschaltet

Here in Italy the TV discussions are similarly funny/silly (quite entertaining actually :-) and many “commentators”, aka. journalists, consider the german strategy a reasonable model that we should follow.


Unfortunately the general understanding of Economics in many countries is so deficient that people can get away with comments like these.

For example, the lack of critique of the Coalition ‘Direct Action Plan’ seems an apt example. Many an ABC journo wants to take them to task but they just don’t understand free-exchange or what the actual costs of interventionist policies can are. Heck, they support one with regard to the MRET and see it as a ‘correction of the failings of the free market’ rather than being releated to the tragedy of the commons.

Nobody owns the ‘environment’, bar inept governments, so nobody has a real ‘economic’ interest in maintaining it. If you believe in the value of private property, as I do, then it follows that the best use of resources rationalises to those who use it most efficiently. Governments deal in votes and legacies and unknowingly/happily allow environmental degradation to certain degrees if it means taxation revenue, and the pure fact as Hayek put it ‘We can’t understand everything we know’ i.e. the spontaneous order of the market is beyond comprehension of any one individual.

Over fishing being a classic example. Exclusion zones are seen as the answer but they are completely inefficient. Let someone own the fish farm and those with the more economically viable plan will gradually expand their business. What is more viable, taking all the fish out quickly and losing the revenue overnight, or controlling the numbers taken to ensure repeat business and charging slightly more (I’m thinking premium would be = to the length of the fish reproduction cycle x interest rate pa) as the capitalist wears this cost to save you from delayed consumption and then reinvests it, or if you are a public intellectual, steals it from the worker. Nobody really wins in the government barrier case and in the latter case, bar a few anomalies the market sorts it out.

So with Nuclear, the more recent Libertarian arguments centre on a critique of ‘Limited Liability’ and how this distorts time preferences. The GFC being a key bone of contention. You can cost Nuclear; you just have to allow class actions for those impacted by an incident. If it’s economic then let the builder of a plant take out proper insurance before letting the project go ahead. If a company can cost the impact of an accident and calculate the premium then the builder must pay this before construction. This would reflect the true cost of Nuclear and perhaps even then it becomes too expensive. Governments and Big Business got together to produce this ‘out of jail clause’ as they themselves want nice positions at $100,000 a year as a retirement gift from lobbyists. If bankers lost all their belongings and not just their jobs and a few million, how much more risky averse would they actually be? Keynesians seem to believe in creative destruction being the answer, but any critique uncritical of the role of government seems a demarcation problem to me and we need to start challenging these assumption.
Similarly with Coal, until pollution becomes an economic question we are chasing shadows with ‘The Environmentalist Religion’ running rampant. It wouldn’t be such a big issue if these people weren’t so influential as to completely swamp the old left with new hopes of socialist planning and then feed this to politicians. This Clique determines who/what people read in the public press and thus they also frame the debate in the country. The ETS whilst good in theory breaks all the rules in the book, put in trade barriers, is deterministic and provides certainty to Governments who then pick winners and losers. Another one of their favourite things being, not just spending our current money, but also spending future earnings whilst on guaranteed incomes for life.


@Robert Smart – The Kirk Sorensen videos are great – I was at Protospace and his energy is amazing.

Barry – I look forward to seeing your presentation in the TVO coverage of Equinox. I note that they only seem to be dealing with electricity. Industrial heat should be in there as well – IIRC it’s the other half of our energy requirements.

I’ve only started watching the Plugging in the Planet: Building Capacity for the Future video, and am very impressed. The first speaker, Jay Apt, presents results from real studies of time variability of wind and solar electric power generation. This is the kind of ‘ground truth’ I’ve been wanting to see. I think renewables advocates won’t be happy with the research; he says the variability is non-Gaussian with uncomfortably high frequencies of extreme events. The variability also results in strongly diminishing returns when combining output from geographically separate facilities.

I know Barry will have a lot to report once he’s able, and I look forward to his posts.


Helmut Eller, on 7 June 2011 at 11:29 PM said:

Who pays for cleaning up Chernobyl and Fukushima? Ukraine spends 5% of the national budget on Chernobyl-related issues.

The 2011 National Budget for the Ukraine is about $40 billion.

The 2010 Operating revenue for the Tokyo Electric Power Company was $53.9 billion.

Click to access ar201003-e.pdf

At this point the cleanup costs estimates of the Fukushima accident are somewhat speculative. Tokyo Electric Power Company has as much financial resource as the Government of the Ukraine.


Robert Smart a global per person energy consumption of 80 kwh per day or 3.3 kw average times 10 billion people is 33 Tw. Current world energy use is 15 Tw. That’s where the Gen 4 vision starts to mist over; it’s hard to see that many reactors running in a world riven by conflict.

Sean De Boo SA premier Mike Rann is inordinately proud of the State’s 867 Mw of nameplate windpower. Shame it only contributes 80 Mw or so during runs of successive 40C days when electrical demand is highest. I note in Machiavellian fashion Rann has deposed some of his colleagues. His new minerals industry minister Koutsantonis advocates a uranium enrichment industry. This cannot happen nor can the mining industry expand without a major new dispatchable power source. Thus the major connection between Rann and the wind is that he’s whistling into it.


Treasurer’s slight of hand?

The Treasurer used two slights of hand in his Press Club speech yesterday:

1. He accused the Opposition of scaremongering about the economic consequences of the proposed carbon price. Meanwhile he used scaremongering to say if we don’t implement a carbon price the Great Barrier Reef and Kakadu will die and the Murray Darling Basin will lose half its water. This is scaremongering nonsense. The Carbon Tax will make no difference to world emissions and no difference to the climate. So the Treasurer is the one conducting the scare-mongering.

2. The Treasurer quoted selectively from Treasury modelling to support his argument that a Carbon Price will not do much damage to the economy. However, he did not say the figures he quoted do not apply to the case where Australia achieves the 2020 emissions targets it has committed to, unilaterally. But, not surprisingly, and as a slight of hand, he says the Coalition’s policy would cost more to achieve the 2020 emissions targets. The Treasurer is not comparing equivalent policies. His figures are not the costs of achieving the 2020 targets but he says the Coalitions costs for doing so are higher. This is misleading and dishonest.

My simple analysis persuades me that the Government’s carbon price would have to force Australia into a deep, 8-year recession if we are to achieve the 2020 emissions targets. The only way we can cute emissions sufficiently to achieve the targets is to cut GDP growth to negative.


I thought Mackay’s average for Europe was 125 kwh/person/day and not 80.

Perhaps the difference is that the electricity portion is final use, not thermal?

Peter Lang: the Jay Apt presentation linked above will interest you.


////However, he did not say the figures he quoted do not apply to the case where Australia achieves the 2020 emissions targets it has committed to, unilaterally////
You *know* it will be unilateral do you?


Households bear green scheme costs

Consumers are paying $128 a year for myriad federal and state climate-change programs that already cost more than Julia Gillard’s proposed carbon tax to cut greenhouse emissions.

New figures, … show that typical customers in NSW are paying $82 a year for federal green schemes and a further $46 a year for state schemes.

This comprises a cost of $55 a tonne of carbon reduced – far more than the $20 to $40 a tonne expected under a carbon tax.

Ah but …. The deceipt here is … ‘$20 to $40 a tonne is a “honeymoon rate”. That price cannot achieve the 2020 emissions targets. The carbon price would have t o increase to the point where it causes a deep recession, lasting to 2020, if we want to cut our emissions to achieve the 2020 target.

And remember, this is all pain for no gain. There is no benefit. An Australian carbon price, in the absence of an international agreement between the main emitting countries and in the absence of a strong bilateral resolve to implement nuclear at a LCOE less than coal, will have no effect on world emissions (it may actually increase them) and no effect on the climate.


Further to my previous comment about this:

This comprises a cost of $55 a tonne of carbon reduced – far more than the $20 to $40 a tonne expected under a carbon tax.

The statement is misleading. It implies that if we have a carbon price we will remove the Renewable Energy Targets, Renewable Energy Certificates, Feed in Tariffs, subsidies for solar and geothermal, pork barrelling for marginal electorates and independent Members of Parliament and the rest of the mess of subsidies, tax breaks etc for the political favourites. There is clearly no intention of doing any of this. In fact the Treasurer reiterated yesterday Labor’s 50 year opposition to nuclear power.


Peter as the OECD’s biggest per capita emitter and the world’s biggest coal exporter (possibly the biggest LNG exporter in future) I think Australia is morally obliged to set an example. It’s like a fat person getting on a bus and hoping all the other passengers are skinny so as not to be inconvenienced. The bus being a metaphor for global emissions.

At 20 tonnes of annual CO2 per man woman and child Australia can hardly ask other countries with 4-7t to cut back on our behalf. I agree that economic growth is highly correlated with primary energy use and major cuts imply recession. But fossil fuels are going to run out eventually and most of us believe climate costs will continue to escalate. If we don’t to force the process of decarbonising then we will have a worst of both worlds situation, namely energy shortages combined with climate chaos. Thus I agree with carbon pricing just not on the practical details.


John Newlands,

Peter as the OECD’s biggest per capita emitter and the world’s biggest coal exporter (possibly the biggest LNG exporter in future) I think Australia is morally obliged to set an example.

Now we are getting to the nub of the issue. When we have to resort to the “moral” argument, there is no case. Those who resort to the moral argument have no rational argument left. They’ve lost it.

What is morally right to you is morally wrong to me. You believe it is morally right to wreck the economy, or even risk wrecking the economy, for no gain. I see this as “stupid”. Damaging the economy has enormously serious consequences. We know what they are. We can look at the situation in the poor countries. We can look at what has happened in USA and EU as a result of the GFC. We can look back at the effects of Keating’s “Recession-We-Had-to-Have”. Many will recall the effects of 11% unemployed during Keating’s recession. If we are going to achieve the 2020 emissions targets, the recession will be much worse than Keating’s recession. And that is what you are arguing is morally justified are you? And for what benefit. For some ideological belief? But clearly, the carbon price will have no effect on word emissions and no effect on the climate, or Kakadu or the Great Barrier Reef or the Murray Darling Basin. It is just a moral argument.

As I said at the top. You’ve exposed the nub of the issue. It is a moral argument by some.

It is very interesting that no one wants to pursue the approach I posted here.

By the way, we are not the OECD’s largest emitter – not by a long shot – on a properly comparable basis.
But it does suit those with a ‘Progressive’ agenda to argue that Australia is the bad guy.


John Newlands,

Further to my previous comment, as long as the “Progressives” want to maintain the ban on nuclear, want to subsidise and mandate renewable energy, want to avoid a serious discussion about the economic consequences of the proposed Carbon Pricing need to achieve the 2020 emissions targets, and want to avoid having to admit that a Carbon Price in Australia will have no effect on world emissions or the climate, then clearly the “progressives” are arguing from an irrational point of view. They are, as always, trying to push their morals and beliefs on to those who clearly and correctly are not persuaded by their moralising.


@Barry Brooks:

I don’t understand what is wrong with the statement you cited.

There is clear evidence that the cost of solar per watt has dropped an average 7% per year over the last 30 years. (Scientific American)

And it makes only sense that a larger market caused in no small part by the German feed-in tariff subsidies has been one of the reasons for that decline in prices. There is no evidence for that, since we don’t know what would happened without the German programs, but it sure makes sense to me.

If you oppose subsidies for renewable energy (I don’t), then you can rejoice in the fact that the Germans actually decided to cut subsidies for solar and hope to cut deployment in half from last years’ world record 7.4 gigawatt, because they think the resulting 3.5 euro cents per kw/h are too burdensome.

Anyway, there certainly won’t be any large-scale subsidies for nuclear power from Germany in the next years.


Karl-Friedrich, thanks, interestingly, we’ve been discussing solar costs in great detail at the Equinox Summit today (Jay Apt and I had a lot to agree on – he’s an amazing bloke – has been in space 4 times for 35 days total!). Lots to report back on, once the event is over, and at that point perhaps I can address your point with some reasonable comprehensiveness.


As most people who have been following the international progress would realise, Australia committed unilaterally to a 5% reduction to its emisisons by 2020. No other country committed unilaterally as we did. All other countries made committments that had get out clause – their committment was dependent on the committment of others. I suspect no others shot themselves in the foot by continuing their 50 year ban on nuclear as well.

Here is another point of view it:
Unilaterla action creates costs without benefits


Just attended a talk by Tim Hartford at the LSE on the GFC, which unfortunately used Nuclear power as a metaphor for the financial crisis.
The general analogy being that ‘natural’ disasters are unavoidable and come about by two things: Complexity and Rigid Dependency. Hard to argue from control systems commissioning background about the issues with dependencies and unintended consequences. When things go wrong, tightly dependent systems generally aren’t easily recoverable. Just disappointed I didn’t get to make a comment on passive safety or the single mode of failure plans for Nuclear plants.

I don’t think he is anti-nuclear and he made a few of the following points: Engineers who research safety conclude that additional safety measures can often in fact increase the risk and lead to unforeseen consequences. Thus what Complex and Rigid Systems allow for the least is experimentation. He used the Fermi 1 reactor as the example of a safety system intended to prevent a meltdown causing one. This was an experimental reactor I thought. But it’s fair to suggest that you learn a lot from previous mistakes and the information share and regulatory standards in nuclear do allow for independent eyes to assess other plants.

(ps. for anyone also interested in his view on the Banks re safety, what occurred was a lot of smaller unrelated American banks purchased insurance for their asset portfolios thinking ‘why not it’s a good safety precaution’ and as such their assets were rated AAA in line with the insurer. Once AIG and others collapsed with massive insurance holdings, the small banks, with nothing to do with casino banking, found themselves rated lower than AAA because of the insurance company failures. Suddenly had to sell their assets to meet regulatory requirements at the same time as just about every other bank in the world was doing the same and we get a credit crunch. Thus -> unintended consequences of tinkering with safety in complex and rigidly dependent systems)


try dropping the ‘market is God — don’t hassle him or he’ll get angry’ routine for a moment and think about the long term. We need *something* to create more discussion about energy in this country. We need *something* to get Australian’s asking *how* we are going to realistically move off coal. Maybe a carbon price is it?

Because it is coming, one way or another.

Based on current industry growth and production rates of about 3.2 per cent a year, the state’s 10,600 million tonnes of coal reserves would be exhausted by 2042, according to calculations done for the Hunter Community Environment Centre in Newcastle. Those figures, calculated by analyst Greg Hall using official resources figures, do not take into account faster production that may result from the expansion of coal-loading facilities at Newcastle.


////What is morally right to you is morally wrong to me. You believe it is morally right to wreck the economy, or even risk wrecking the economy, for no gain. I see this as “stupid”.////
I see not preparing for peak oil, gas, and coal as immoral and also extremely short sighted and ‘stupid’. It’s going to take decades to wean off the coal, and we might not have that long. So where does that leave us?


/////And that is what you are arguing is morally justified are you? And for what benefit. For some ideological belief?////
Peter, please don’t tell me your Denialism is on display *again*?


PL, EN etc I am following this OT and will be quick to delete any breach of the common courtesy rules. Please avoid name-calling and incivility even on the OT’s.


New paper in Nature GeoSciences (peer-review) points out that a 6 degree rise in temperature happened as a result of less CO2 emissions than we are currently adding to the atmosphere and at a far greater rate – 10 times higher than the highest rate during the Palaeocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM).

But will the deniers of anthropogenic GW listen.


@ Moderator — thank you! (Phew! One of those days).
@ Ms Perps — absolutely!!! When the laws of physics tell us what we will do to the climate AND we know that we are not far off world peak coal, well, it seems strange to constantly whine against a fairly reasonable starting point in the transition off coal! The irony here is that raising the price of coal allows a market based solution set. It’s just sad our *main* tool is still illegal in this country.

I’ve found a great demonstration for the less-informed Denialists, the type that don’t even acknowledge what Co2 can do as a Radiative Forcing.

If you want to *see* the Radiative Forcing (heat capturing and retention) of Co2 with your own eyes, please watch the following video. A thermal camera watches a candle and watches the candle in heat mode, much like the Predator off the classic Arnie movie. It doesn’t see light, but heat. A tube of Co2 is filled between the camera and candle. The Co2 traps the heat and eventually the candle becomes invisible to the thermal camera, even though we can still see the *light* through the tube! This mimics the way sunlight penetrates through our atmosphere but the heat bouncing off the earth can’t escape out (as quickly) through the layer of greenhouse gases.

However, I doubt confusion over Co2 spectrometry is Peter’s rationale for sneering at the consensus of every scientific organisation on the planet!


Barry, I’ve been watching the Equinox Summit on TVO. Maybe that is what inspired me to come back to bravenewclimate, which I haven’t been to in a while. Good to hear you are involved. I will watch the panel discussion on Friday’s The Agenda.


This article seems to contain both some familiar porkies but also some frank admissions
The Germans seem to have convinced themselves that gas is no more carbon intensive than nuclear and in any case fracking will unleash new supplies nearby.

I guesstimate that Germany’s 17% renewable is say 8% 20th century hydro and 9% more recent wind and solar. Merkel wants 35% renewable by 2020, call it 27% wind and solar. Thus Germans want to get from 9% to 27% wind and solar in just 9 years. Assuming total generation is static that’s an astonishing growth rate if feed-in tariffs are to be phased out. Wind and solar would need to double between now and 2016 to be on track. Best of luck to them.


Nature News Blog:
Equinox Summit: From organic chemistry to rural electrification – June 08, 2011
Harvard University chemist Alán Aspuru-Guzik has spent more than two years building up a powerful network of volunteer computers in order to screen some 3.5 million organic molecules for a new generation of cheap solar photovoltaic cells. His team has now gone through 1.9 million of those candidates and has an initial list of roughly 1,000 molecules that could be competitive with today’s silicon panels at collecting photons from the sun.

“What the pharma people do for drug development we want to do for materials,” Aspuru-Guzik said during the Equinox Summit in Waterloo this week. “We’re really trying to help the experimentalists.”

He is one of various scientists who have been briefing policy experts and a forum of young leaders at this week’s summit (more coverage here and here). Others have focused on everything from renewables and geothermal energy to superconductors and accelerator-driven thorium nuclear reactors. Organizers’ goal is to start with science and then think about the bigger picture and policy recommendations that could help humanity initiate a viable clean energy economy over the next two decades.

Aspuru-Guzik’s Clean Energy Project is a crowd-computing partnership with IBM Corporation’s World Community Grid. People can download software developed by Aspuru-Guzik that will crank through a few molecules each day whenever their computers are idle (statistics here). The software characterizes the basic physical properties of candidate molecules in order to identify the best opportunities for subsequent synthesis and research. In a proof of concept that is currently undergoing peer review for publication, the group has identified and worked with other researchers to synthesize one molecule that is even better than originally predicted.

The vision is to produce flexible, lightweight plastics, fabrics and paints that can be easily applied to provide minimal electric services. They might not last more than five years, but the materials themselves would be cheap enough that the short lifetime wouldn’t necessarily be a barrier. The cost then shifts to the other components of the solar panel system, which must distribute electrons where they need to go.

Although these solar cells could begin to hit the market within several years, they are likely to remain too expensive to compete with grid power in western markets for some time. But participants in the Equinox summit saw a major role for such technologies in providing basic electric services to the more than two billion people in developing countries who go without today. “We’re talking about first penetration into those markets that have little or no electricity,” says Barry Brook, director of the Environment Institute at the University of Adelaide in Australia. “That would be transformational.”

Aspuru-Guzik says the screening process continues to identify interesting families of molecules in unexpected places. He expects to complete the first phase of his project in the coming months and already has plans to expand his search. The database won’t provide answers, he says, “but it’s a place to start.”


@Sean De Boo

I don’t that anybody is likely to find argument that excessive complexity is very often the enemy of correct system operation and safety is one of the critical parts of correct system operation.

I think it’s also true to say that this has long been recognized in reactor design and there has been a trend to passive safety over the years which depends neither on complex control systems nor on operator actions. In Gen IV reactors such as IFR or LFTR this is further simplified by making safety more passive still and an integral part of the physics of the reactor core. Though it is also true somewhat of PWRs by virtue of negative void coefficient.

Perhaps one of the core principles underlying the UNIX operating system is widely relevant:

“As simple as possible, and no simpler”

It may be the most important reason UNIX has been so enduring and staggeringly successful.


So, BNC Moderator, how about this:

But will the deniers of anthropogenic GW listen -Peter Lang etc?

I’ve found a great demonstration for the less-informed Denialists,

Aren’t these the sort of comments that are made continuously, one way or another, on BNC and allowed to pass by the Moderator? Doesn’t this show a “Progressive” bias?

Look back of the comments by a few of the BNC contributors and note how they respond to rational arguments. The response is frequently to resort to name calling and jibes.

There is a continual stream of anti-Conservative comments, but when a Conservative responds the Moderator names (sometimes bans) the conservative contributor while the ‘Progressives’ comments are allowed through – unless or until they attract a response. You may not see it, but I do and I’d suggest that explains why BNC attracts largely a “Progressive” audience. There are few Conservative contributors. The result is that BNC is devoid of balance and unable to understand why Conservatives find much of the “Progressive” arguments not persuasive. The moralising and name calling, like “Deniers”, is seen by many as simply the call of the ignorant who are devoid of rational argument. Their opinion is seen as religious, ideological and political dogma. Most of them haven’t a clue wah tthey are talking about. They’ve read stuff, learnt it parrot fashion and then assume they understand and anyone who doesn’tr swallow the tripe and dogma they accept they consider to be uninformed.

I interpret the recent stream of antagonistic comments by some of the BNCers as a response to not having any rational arguments to support their belief in a Carbon Tax.
Peter – I have deleted your name from Ms Perps comment but I see no problem with leaving generalisations about various “camps” in the AGW debate. Please point out where people have in your words “resort(ed) to name calling and jibes.” if this was directed at individuals.
As to “The moralising and name calling, like “Deniers”” I believe you have, yourself, used similar terminolgy (e.g alarmist) against those who have differing opinions. Indeed, previously you have attacked the blog host in this manner. Have a good look at some of your own comments, including this one- there is considerable bias in them and yet they stand. In response to this from you “while the ‘Progressives’ comments are allowed through – unless or until they attract a response.” I have told you before that I am not constantly on-line(being a part-time volunteer) and may not see comments for some hours – so moderation will be delayed. Naturally, if someone complains that I have missed something, I will immediately check that out first and respond with action if deemed necessary.


I’m not a scientist just a concerned global citizen. I’m just curious if anyone could point me in the direction of information on the financial situation regarding nuclear power plants. My uncle has told me that every nuclear power plant on the planet is subsidized by the government of the country it is in. I’m just curious if this is true and if so, what people are suggesting to remedy it/the future financial situation of nuclear power. Thanks!


That’s the thing about green groups. As Tony Blair wrote in his memoir, moderation is not in the lexicon of the NGO culture. Its raison d’etre depends on a continual crisis.

Nothing the Prime Minister does will satisfy the green groups momentarily supporting her carbon tax. Conversely, anything Gillard does with her tax – short of dumping it – will attract from voters deep scepticism about policy outcomes, not to mention political motives. If the overwhelming majority of people who fly are refusing to pay less than $2 for a carbon offset, you can see why Labor backbenchers are nervous about Gillard’s determination to appease the Greens and press on with a carbon tax. After all, the PM who promised there would be no carbon tax under a Gillard government cannot even claim to have the bad poet’s genuine feeling.

This might help to explain the Progressives’ vitreole when their irrationality and avoidance of the substance of the discussion becomes obvious, as has happened in the series of comments about the proposed carbon Tax – e.g. here:


I submit this for education purposes. I urge those with open mind about the consequences of a carbon price – before my two precursors are implemented – to read it. There are many points worth noting, especially towards the end.

they simply cannot understand why the government would risk shutting down a steel plant or two in the name of reforms that will not result in anything like a net reduction in the regional contribution to carbon emissions.

Yes, Europe has held carbon emissions over the past decade, but over that period it has effectively increased imports of CO2 by 47 per cent.
The Third World, it seems, is carrying the burden of Europe’s increasing carbon footprint.

Of course, it is within our power to stop that. Indeed, as Kraehe noted recently, the biggest single contribution we could make as a nation to reducing our national carbon footprint would be to ban the export of coal. But we won’t because such an idea would be economic and political suicide.

Kraehe’s point here is that we want to keep exporting coal but, in the name of carbon politics, we are getting ready to sacrifice all or part of our small but world-class steel industry.


Here’s one for you, Peter Lang.

Geologists and climate change denial

No one has left a comment yet, you could be the first.

I disagree with the way John Cook attempts to characterise the type of person who holds a certain belief, in much the same way I disagree with your (recently re-emerged) barrage of comments assigning political motives to people here.


Not sure where to start with comments and so will make just one. I had a meeting with the local Liberal MP last Friday to talk about nuclear power for SA. I told him lots of truths about the growing world nuclear power industry [despite Fukushima]. He was impressed and especially when I told him that Olympic Dam uranium could power the entire planet, using the coming [10? 20? years] IFR’s for hundreds of thousands of years. The upshot? He’s going to try to organize for his parliamentary colleagues to meet me so that I can educate them on the huge potential for SA when we finally wake up and go nuclear. Failing that, he said he thought he could get a one on one with Isobel Redmond, their leader who is apparently “on side” I’ll keep you posted. I also told him that SA was backing the wrong horse with Rann’s fetish for wind. He agreed. As John Newlands noted, Rann’s whistling in it. Cheers everyone


Hi Peter,
when I said ////I’ve found a great demonstration for the less-informed Denialists,/// I was actually trying to distinguish between YOU and the average footy-watching, non-blogging, non-thought-leader average Aussie. So you’re a sceptic — but you at least strike me as a more informed sceptic than the ‘average Aussies’ that I had in mind, the kind who say “But I breathe out Co2, it’s NATURAL so it can’t HURT anybody!” To which I reply… watch the candle.

So in a way I was paying you a compliment and distinguishing you from the dummie crowd.

////while the ‘Progressives’ comments are allowed through ////
You mean that comments that are sympathetic to climate science are ALLOWED on a climate scientist’s own blog? I’m SHOCKED! ;-)


Hi Tom, that’s a great article!

So climate scepticism seems strongest among geologists closely linked to the mining and fossil fuel industries. Perhaps the words of Upton Sinclair shine some understanding on the forces at play here: “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.”


@ Peter,
there are Conservatives that accept climate science. I hope you weren’t implying otherwise, or insinuating that a Climate Scientist’s blog had some sort of duty to cater to “Conservative” Denialism as well. Genuine questions of course should always be welcome. But note: the genuine inquirer is usually satisfied with the scientific answer.


I come from a small town in South Australia (though I don’t live there anymore). Like most rural communities its composition is, as a generalisation, very conservative. That said, I know first hand that many farmers there are extremely worried about climate change – their entire livelihood (and that of their children and grandchildren who will inherit their properties) depends upon being able to grow food or run stock on productive land. How do they feel about a carbon tax? I have no idea – probably mixed opinions, much the same as the rest of the population.

Trying to boil these questions down to one’s supposed political position is simply lazy argument, by subscribing to an artificial dichotomy which itself was born largely out of lazy journalism and lazy work from political operatives.


Hi all, check this out! Next Big Future seems to be claiming — if I have done my maths right and I’m very tired — that the ‘sulfur gun’ idea is now 50 to 100 times cheaper than older estimates. Apparently instead of shooting or flying the sulfur up into the air they plan to use a 10 to 50 km long hose held in place by blimps! Then they pump fluid sulfur up the pipe and spray it into the air. 20 to 50 of these ‘sulfur hoses’ would do the trick.


@Zach Wegner, Your uncle is categorically wrong, Bruce Power, who owns and operates the largest nuclear power station in the world in Ontario, Canada, is a for profit company that does not depend on subsidies in the least. Nor as a mater of fact are most of the nuclear power stations U.S. dependent on government help, unless you chose to believe that the politically motivated, and highly unnecessary Price-Anderson Act constitutes government support.

I will remind you that as a matter of policy here, statements like the one you made are expected to be referenced by something more substantial than ‘my uncle says.’


Thanks for the info, DV82XL. That will help me.

As for referencing, I’m not sure how I’d reference my statement as the whole point of my statement was that as a lay person I was having trouble finding references.

Thanks again, though. You’ve given me a good starting point.
The need for refs is relaxed on the Open Threads.


Except DV* hasn’t given you a reference! ;-) I looked up the wiki and it just didn’t comment on whether or not there were any government subsidies.

Hey, DV8, maybe something bigger has been built in China because the wiki says it’s the 2nd largest now?

The wiki did say this about the costs though.

////Construction Costs
Bruce A was projected to cost $0.9 billion (1969), and actually cost $1.8 billion (1978). Bruce B was projected to cost $3.9 billion (1976), and actually cost $6 billion (1989) in “dollars of the year”. [18]/////


Peter said:
////Their opinion is seen as religious, ideological and political dogma. Most of them haven’t a clue wah tthey are talking about. They’ve read stuff, learnt it parrot fashion and then assume they understand and anyone who doesn’tr swallow the tripe and dogma they accept they consider to be uninformed.////

In the one paragraph you appear to have called climate science “religious”, “ideological”, “political dogma”, “tripe”, “dogma”.

Please don’t ever complain about the term “Denialist” ever again if you wish to maintain a shred of consistency.

Even if you’re talking about the Carbon Tax here, it is a policy that Barry seems to support and — as much as you’re about to bust a gut over it and feel it is the end of western civilization as we know it — many others do to. With peak resources on the way we’re going to see the same effects anyway. We’d better get used to it.

9deleted imflammatory response)I was part of a team that briefed the NSW Legislative Council Cross-Benchers that oil would double. This was way back in 2005. How did I go on that one? How does MY prediction compare to your precious ABARE? Where’s that $40 oil we were all so assured of? Huh?

So old chum; the people I know called oil better than ABARE and I’m expecting their call on coal will be more accurate than some of the boosters out there. And if you can’t see the relevance of an eventual limited supply of coal and the cost, then who’s pushing ideology and religious dogma (of the free market wins over everything, every time, no matter WHAT resource might be about to vanish!)


////I was part of a team that briefed the NSW Legislative Council Cross-Benchers that oil would double. This was way back in 2005.////
I meant — of course — that the COST would double, not the oil! But you knew that. Just spelling it out for any visitors. Oil had just hit $60 a barrel for the first time the day our team visited the Cross-Benchers.


2 issues vis-a-vis the Carbon Tax (CT) and misc issues.

While Peter Lang may not like my comparison, I find the CT to be a very *capitalist* answer to climate change and promoting of non-carbon/low-carbon alternatives. It’s capitalist because it uses a capitalist method, taxation, to ensure social policy and *accepting*, not challenging, the existence of capitalist corporations and *control* over energy resources.

But I actually agree with Peter about the problem of the CT and I oppose it outright as something that will generally *increase* the cost of energy, and thus slow down general development since the history of human civilization is based on the development of ever abundant, denser and CHEAPER energy.

I also think it’s irresponsible on one level as well. It avoids something I know Peter and other would oppose (who have libertarian/free trade perspectives) which is to make carbon effluent *illegal*. I’m for direct gov’t intervention to *mandate* the use of nuclear energy in the same way that government was used to 100% finance most of the worlds hydro units (98% I believe), using eminent domain to acquire right-of-way for rail roads and highways, and to generally be the the general contractor and credit banker for all large civil engineering projects. Capitalism *economically* really didn’t play much of a role in terms of financing civil engineering programs and projects, they simply held the credit and cashed paychecks. Albeit it was *FOR* the capitalist system that the state intervened to save it and provide the needed credit for it’s expansion.

This is why I think any gov’t should follow China’s example and “just build the f*ckers*. If it’s *that* important, and that reliable, and fulfills the ‘abundent, denser and cheapers’ criteria, then ideological precepts need to be shoved and true national programs need to be discussed and proposed. Of course I’m against the totalitarian Chinese approach in terms of the complete lack of democratic input, but the national will, backed up by state credit and expertise, is simply superior when it comes to great projects like nuclear and hydro. One has to wonder how the Snowy Mountains hydro system could ever of been built using “libertarian” thinking.

I said all this to to point out that I believe the CT is sort of the “cowards way out” of the climate change debate. If we believe climate change is real (I do…we’ve just experienced, locally in No. Cal rains in June that we’ve never had since 1884, and it’s going to ruin our wine crop if it continues – avoid 2011 Cabs and Syrahs, please) then we need to confront it *directly* and dovetail it with direct national programs around energy.


Terry Krieg, on 8 June 2011 at 4:37 PM,
Great idea to try to educate policy makers! With a bit of luck you will find some that have not been brainwashed by the Renewables lobby.


Robert Lawrence, on 7 June 2011 at 1:18 PM said:
“…. I read a book by Professor Robert M Carter called Climate: The Counter Consensus, which he claims demolishes the theory of anthropogenic global warming!….”

I have not read Bob Carter’s book and I doubt I will. His published comments in Quadrant and elsewhere are quite sufficient to show that he has nothing to offer regarding scientific insight. In-fact, all he does IMHO is cherry-pick the evidence, use flawed logic and repeat debunked myths and cast around false accusations. He is a disgrace to his University and should be ignored.

Bad signs litter his articles:
References cited that are misrepresented.
Look at his references: Watts; CO2Science; GW Beck; Soon, McKitrick; Chris deFreitas the list is long on a peculiar restricted subset favoured by the fossil-fuel industry. But avoids mainstream science, except to misrepresent them.

Here is a review of Bob Carter’s book. It tells everyone all they need to know about the book.

‘This book is a curious read, full of misinformation, straw-man arguments, and poorly-documented assertions. To become immersed in it, we must enter the through-the-looking-glass world of the “independent” scientist, where those such as myself are the ones “…who have dissembled, told half-truths, cherry-picked their data, fantastically exaggerated, and suppressed the circulation of better science” (Prefatory Essay, p. 19). Meanwhile, the ideas put forward by Prof. Carter are portrayed as representing a balanced appraisal of the issues. From where I sit, that’s the opposite of reality….’

For more about Bob Carter:


I agree with David Walters. Except that in addition, I don’t think carbon taxes will work on a global scale because competing capitalists will not be able to agree on a “fair” carbon price.

if they did, the agreement would likely be merely nominal, and there would be cheating commensurate with competing class interests. It’s no accident that competing nations (national capitals) have not been able to reach an accord. Liberals think we just need to try harder. But I don’t think “political will” can overcome fundamentally contradictory interests. and our unfortunately vague common interests in a liveable planet don’t seem to be sufficiently material to make much of a difference.

of course, getting all states to make carbon emissions illegal and build nuclear power (and other clean, reliable energies that may develop) would involve mighty struggles, class and otherwise (“We” all won’t just do it, “build the fu**er*, that is). These struggles would be the kind of moral struggles, interfering with the market, that Peter abhors. Though, I would say that the market is always interfered with. there is no interference-free market. which is to say there is no free market.

One might wonder why it is that scientists from competing nations can genuinely collaborate (and they do, thus leading perhaps to a non sequiter that nations can cooperate in the same way). Because they share many interests in a safer world. But the closer they get to power and policy, the more those antagonistic interests make themselves felt.

other than that, I agree with Peter Lang.

(tongue in cheek).

btw, I think that doing the right thing (at the right scale) on energy given the way things are WILL HURT THE ECONOMY. What if that’s true? What then? Of course, it’s nice to think that all our social and political contradictions can be solved by the right technologies.


Zach Wegner, on 8 June 2011 at 2:19 PM said:

My uncle has told me that every nuclear power plant on the planet is subsidized by the government of the country it is in

Here’s the annual operating budget for Columbia Generating Station is Washington State.

Click to access Final%202011%20Columbia%20Generating%20Station.pdf

It indeed will receive about $1 million this year in bond subsidies(part of the economic stimulus package) out of it’s $600 million budget Including capital improvements.


Some nuclear power stations receive subsidies does not prove the original statement that ALL nuclear power stations in the world receive subsidies.

This is also a subject that has been done to death on these pages before, and it has been shown that all energy sectors receive some form of subsidies, ether direct or indirect, and the argument will eventually boil down to definitions.

Direct financial subsidies; preferential tax treatments; trade restrictions; energy-related services provided by government at less than full cost; direct investment in energy infrastructure; research and development funds; demand guarantees and price controls; preferential access to resources; failure to impose external costs; depletion allowance, and the list could go on I’m sure if I had more time, all can be considered subsidies, or not depending on where one draws the line.
Ultimately the debate become sterile, and is not likely to yield any new insights.


The nuclear future out of Japan right now is very nasty:

There is a Reuters report today that Japan’s nuclear fleet is running at 37% of capacity and that opposition in the country to re-start of reactors in cold shutdown might keep them that way for some time. Currently, provincial government’s have veto power over reactor re-starts.


I still can’t find where they say containment is breached…none of this is good.


DV82XL, I just want to make it clear that I was never arguing that all power plants receive subsidies and I think the point of the subsidies in WA was that the subsidies are minuscule/unnecessary. I was just pointing to an argument I was having trouble finding information on and was asking for some links. Sorry to have bothered you so much.


@Zach Wegner – No bother at all Zach, but I think you can see that it is not an easy subject, and there are no simple answers to the general question. Of course the real problem is that those that oppose nuclear energy are quick to select those factors that support their contention that nuclear is subsidised and debates on the subject tend to spiral down into ‘ how many angels can dance on the head of a pin’ sophistry rather quickly.

The real issue (I think) is not so much that of how much public support any given mode gets, as much as one of are taxpayers getting value for this support. Here I think it is clear that modes like wind, solar and fossil-fuels are not providing a good return, while nuclear, and hydro are.


@ David Walters,
Great post!

I especially loved…
////I also think it’s irresponsible on one level as well. It avoids something I know Peter and other would oppose (who have libertarian/free trade perspectives) which is to make carbon effluent *illegal*. I’m for direct gov’t intervention to *mandate* the use of nuclear energy in the same way that government was used to 100% finance most of the worlds hydro units (98% I believe), using eminent domain to acquire right-of-way for rail roads and highways, and to generally be the the general contractor and credit banker for all large civil engineering projects. Capitalism *economically* really didn’t play much of a role in terms of financing civil engineering programs and projects, they simply held the credit and cashed paychecks. Albeit it was *FOR* the capitalist system that the state intervened to save it and provide the needed credit for it’s expansion.////

When we’re facing climate change and peak oil, gas, and eventually peak coal, then it is time the State intervened to GET THE JOB DONE! I totally agree that all this wishy-washing Carbon Price stuff is just to avoid having the difficult conversation; which energy sources are going to WORK!?

The State avoiding that discussion and hiding behind a Carbon Price is just cowardly. Imagine Nazi Panzer tank divisions rolling down the streets of London and Winston Churchhill just stands there shouting, “Don’t worry, let the marketplace deal with it!”


@ David Walters,
There’s just one thing I would add to your post though, and that is a Carbon Price would keep up the impetus for energy efficient devices and programs. As I’ve said a million times over, suburbia itself is one of the most energy inefficient city layouts. New Urbanism builds Dense and Diverse and attractive walkable cities, and prevents the energy used in building and maintaining as many long highways and arterial roads, saves thousands of km’s of plumbing and wiring and gutters and footpaths and carparks, and instead puts that money into promenades and parks and playgrounds and public transit. The goal here would be the gradual transition to a society with *less* cars. (Not *no* cars, but giving people the free-market option to at least try a life without a car).


Here’s what Mackay has to say on carbon taxes (see par three where he agrees with D. Walters on mandates):

“Solving climate change is a complex topic, but in a single crude brush-
stroke, here is the solution: the price of carbon dioxide must be such that
people stop burning coal without capture. Most of the solution is captured in
this one brush-stroke because, in the long term, coal is the big fossil fuel.
(Trying to reduce emissions from oil and gas is of secondary importance
because supplies of both oil and gas are expected to decline over the next
50 years. [umm: this might be an error–at least on gas])

So what do politicians need to do? They need to ensure that all coal
power stations have carbon capture fitted. The first step towards this goal
is for government to finance a large-scale demonstration project to sort out
the technology for carbon capture and storage; second, politicians need to change the long-term regulations for power stations so that the perfected
technology is adopted everywhere.

My simple-minded suggestion for this second step is to pass a law that says that –from some date–all coal power stations must use carbon capture. However,most democratic politicians seem to think that the way to close a stable door is to create a market in permits-to-leave-doors-open. So, if we conform to the dogma that climate change should be solved through markets, what’s the market-based way
to ensure we achieve our simple goal –all coal power stations to have
carbon capture?” [p. 223]

Then we get the usual.

The problem is that the law needs to be enforced and generalized, and that requires ultimately global cooperation.

Carbon trading on the other hand retains the view that competition will motivate people to act first and make big profits, but this takes for granted the regulatory environment is in place–and that’s been the problem; and it retains the view that profit making differentials due to clean technologies would not be guarded, to keep profits from pollution differentials rolling in (and thus to retain pollution differentials). but why would they not be guarded? if a company is making a hefty profit by selling credits to dirtier companies, would it not want to keep these profits alive?


Thanks for quoting Mackay on this Gregory!

Meanwhile, check this ‘alarmist’ piece on global warming that Bill McKibben seems to have helped produce. Is it ‘alarmist’ or statistical? Either way, it’s brilliant!


Dear Moderator<

Peter – I have deleted your name from Ms Perps comment but I see no problem with leaving generalisations about various “camps” in the AGW debate.

Fine. Now the rules are clear. Since derogatory use of terms like “Denier”, “Denialist”, “Conservatives”, “Liberal Nationals” and many other are acceptable, you should have no trouble with:

Looney Left
Green-Labor Alliance Government
Or any others that are appropriate to describe, in a word or two, “generalisations about various “camps” in the AGW”.

That should certainly raise the level of the deabte on BNC. We can return to the level of the debate set by some of some of BNC’s protected species. (grin)
Peter – go for it! But keep it on the Open Thread and restrict your pejoratives to groups not individuals .However, I don’t see words such as Conservatives, Liberal National, Progressives etc as derogatory terms


European pissants, humbug hypocrisy

Australians should kowtow to the Europeans on carbon? Not bloody likely.

SO that’s decided, then, is it? Australia is a pissant nation of tossers, too afraid to throw in its lot with European carbon traders and open its borders to boatpeople.

Australia’s critics – among them the BBC, The Economist, Ross Garnaut, Julian Burnside QC and Michael Grubb of Cambridge – have really had a field day in the past fortnight.

Apparently, we are pissants because we are in the middle of deciding public policy responses to two particularly tough issues: climate change and boatpeople.
Our elders and betters worry we may be coming down on the “wrong side” of those issues.

By the way, pissant is an offensive term meaning regarded as being of no importance, significance or consequence. And tosser is an offensive term meaning a person (usually male) regarded as unintelligent or contemptible.

Well, let this pissant tosser explain what is happening in Australia.

Read on the article …

Seems our progressive media outlets (ABC, Fairfax press, Crickey, Get up! And many more) have similar views to their UK equivalents. I’d suggest it would be wise to be aware of the agenda of the “Progressives” and at least be open to hearing what the Conservatives have to say, and why they are not swallowing the “Progressives” beliefs.


@Eclipse Now, on 9 June 2011 at 7:44 AM said:

. New Urbanism builds Dense and Diverse and attractive walkable cities, and prevents the energy used in building and maintaining as many long highways and arterial roads

Attractive to some…..I suspect other people work hard and save every penny so they can afford a house in the suburbs because they view suburban living as being a higher quality lifestyle then high density ‘new urban-ism’ living.


John Morgan, I mentioned Barry’s name to my local MP and he thought it would be good to get him along as well when we speak to the Liberal pollies. Ben Heard would be another useful voice.But we don’t want to swamp the poor b——ers.


This article I linked in my previous coment is interesting. It illustrates the enormous gulf between what is influencing the thinking ot the “Progressives” and the Conservatives (if I may use those two simplifying terms to label two camps that approach the important policy issues from very different perspecitves).

For those who didn’t look at the link, I’ll post a bit more, because I suggest it is worth the “Progressives” trying to understand why the “Conservatives” are cautious and not persuaded by the policy solutions the “Progressives” argue for. Continuing from previous comment:

Well, let this pissant tosser explain what is happening in Australia. Many Australians question the benefit of being part of a nonexistent global carbon-trading scheme and almost all want to control their borders to deter illegal immigration.

These are perfectly intelligent positions and are of great significance to Australians.

Australians are aware of the consequences of their actions on both issues. Australia does not want to be at the negotiating table with the important European Union or UN forums when the table involves trading its freedom for few benefits. Australians prize sovereignty. In every conceivable sense of the term Australia is a successful liberal democracy.

Australians are great joiners but they do not regard themselves as being at the arse-end of the world and therefore desperate to please important forums.

Many Australians have not been impressed by Europe’s heroic climate change response of far-fetched targets for the reduction of greenhouse gases. Australians know the only way Europe meets its target is through the displacement of manufactures to Asia.

Europeans may produce less carbon dioxide, allegedly a result of their carbon trading scheme, but Europeans consume increasing amounts of embedded carbon in their goods and services.

Indeed, it was reported in The Economist last year that emissions made on their citizens’ behalf elsewhere in the world add a third or more to most European countries’ emissions.

Pissant is Britain, by subsuming the greatest common law jurisdiction in the world under European human rights law.

Pissant is a Germany that has vowed to close its nuclear power stations – talk about a failure of nerve.

Pissant is Britain which, while announcing ever-more heroic targets to decarbonise its economy, cannot collectively boil a kettle after the evening episode of East Enders because its own power stations cannot cope. It draws on French nuclear power to fill the load. Swapping power across borders is clever; pretending the source of power is part of decarbonisation is not.

These are just some selections from an article I’d suggest the “Progressives” could gain from taking note of.


@ Harrywr2,
///Attractive to some…..I suspect other people work hard and save every penny so they can afford a house in the suburbs because they view suburban living as being a higher quality lifestyle then high density ‘new urban-ism’ living.///
I understand. The idea of living in the burbs has been sold as *the* most family friendly mode of habitation. The meme that the city is ‘bad’ to live in comes from the industrial revolution and the fact that cities *were* disgusting, dangerous, polluted, bad places to be. Everyone wanted to live in a country manor. So suburbia was sold as a country manor for everyone. But what we end up with is a isolated hybrid existence which is neither truly rural with some sort of relationship with the land economy, nor truly city in that everything is so stinking far away! In suburbia, you simply MUST own a car and drive, drive, and drive to everything.

It’s the Nazism of the car!

When even right wing bloggers like the Mormon Sci-Fi author, Orson Scott Card, can see that we’ve been HAD by the real estate development package, then there’s hope that the anti-city meme can be changed. Sydney is mixing it up — probably not with the best of New Urban planning, but it is getting there. This is more of a journey than a destination. But there ARE goals.

Please watch my favourite New Urbanism video “Built to last” which is more like a music video than lecture. (4 minutes)


@ Peter,
///Australians know the only way Europe meets its target is through the displacement of manufactures to Asia.///
this kind of line ignores the Co2 reduction of France’s nukes..

It also ignores the FACT that higher EU petroleum taxes have resulted in the average European burning HALF the oil of the average American. (Their historical “Old Urbanism” is also a factor — they have far more walkability than Americans).

EU = HALF as oil dependent as America. There’s a carbon tax statistic you can bank on! Europeans are twice as prepared as Americans for peak oil. (Which is not much, but is better than not at all).j

(deleted personal attack)
Try a calmer, more rationally argued data-driven approach and you might have more influence!


@Peter Lang

This kind of stuff is just a political rant. eg

Pissant is Britain which, while announcing ever-more heroic targets to decarbonise its economy, cannot collectively boil a kettle after the evening episode of East Enders because its own power stations cannot cope. It draws on French nuclear power to fill the load. Swapping power across borders is clever; pretending the source of power is part of decarbonisation is not.

Here’s the numbers – in 2010 the UK had a net import of electricity of 2.67 TWh of 367 TWh of electricity supplied. It is no doubt true that the UK needs to get on with matters to keeps the lights on, but the kind of hyperbole peddled in this piece adds a big fat nothing to debate or understanding. Throw in some ranting about purported “freedom” and EU law and it becomes abundantly clear that the piece is just ideological tosh.

I can read this stuff any day of the week in the The Australian, why do I want to read it here? This whole thread is right off the rails.
This is an Open Thread – there are no rails. It is the BNC equivalent of a soapbox. Expect rants on ideology – without incivility or direct attacks upon a person, which will be deleted.


Peter, just to confirm do you actually think that climate change is a concern? I can’t tell if you just think that The carbon tax is poor, or Australia acting alone is poor, or acting in any way is poor policy (as AGW is bunkum). I get (and agree) that regardless nuclear power is a great way to produce baseload power, but if AGW was codswallop then there are a lot of valid arguments for just continuing to use the coal we have in abundance.

I just want to add that actually no one is claiming that reducing Australia’s emissions by 5% will have any noticeable impact on global temperatures. So it is useless to argue that here. Maybe it is a useful anti-tax tool to use on some random on the street in Tony’s big scare campaign but give folks here a tad more credit.

The 5% is a strategy to prime our economy for potentially greater emissions cuts at a time when the whole world is acting. It would be fairly reckless to lock our economy in to a carbon-intensive scenario IMO when it is pretty clear that such an international agreement is at least a possibility.

Now I personally think that our aversion to nuclear locks us in to a high carbon price where a more sensible step may well be “direct action” but not the kind Tony is talking about which is pretty much a joke, but direct action in terms of a conversion to nuclear power. Maybe it will just have to be the next cycle in the debate as the carbon price rises and pretty soon someone will be brave enough to do (or politically back) some modelling that shows just how nuclear power will reduce demand for CO2 “rights”.

p.s. – Mod – the reply/comment box is wierd today? has something changed?
It isn’t anything we have done at BNC. I suspect WordPress has changed it but I will check with Barry.


Hi MattB,
Peter has attempted to spank Barry for daring to be so ‘alarmist’. What he thinks he is going to achieve against the Sir Hubert Wilkins Chair of Climate Change I *don’t* know, but that’s Peter for you.


It is a conundrum Eclipse Now… If there is one thing that nuclear power needs to get a foothold in Australia it is for alarmists to convince the population that AGW is real. The counter-conundrum is that to get a real solution to AGW alarmists need to embrace nuclear power. Unfortunately most alarmists are passionately anti-nuke and most advocates of nuclear power think AGW is codswallop:)

One may have thought that Peter had noticed that this blog has moved well beyond debating climate science. There are plenty of other blogs to do that on.


Arguing against AGW is so passe, I am sorry there are people out there that cannot accept the sheer evidence behind it but they are not the people that need convincing, but rather the sheer mass of people that do not understand why.

Still I would like this expounded

“. On the other hand there is little evidence for its truth, other than wishful thinking and some self-serving tripe dished up by the usual suspect advocates.”

Come on as already mentioned few things drop in price like solar panels, only electronics do and there is similar wafer mass production. I will await the clarification though.


The counter-conundrum is that to get a real solution to AGW alarmists need to embrace nuclear power. Unfortunately most alarmists are passionately anti-nuke and most advocates of nuclear power think AGW is codswallop

Perhaps we’re just wired that way. :)


@ David B. Benson,

Thanks for the link to that article. It’s hard not to scream “I told you so!” at those who have pushed for the abandonment of nuclear power post-Fukushima. Madness.


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