Wednesday 20th of June 2018

perfect logic from a man whose hat is too tight around the ankles...



Australia’s deputy prime minister, Barnaby Joyce, has warned of a summer of blackouts unless politicians embrace coal power solutions.

Energy policy was front and centre at the Nationals federal conference in Canberra, which Joyce addressed on Saturday.

“Somewhere between floor 13 and 14 the lift will stop with you in it – an uncomfortable experience if you need to go to the bathroom,” the Nationals leader said.

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at the edge of possibility...

I met University of New Hampshire paleoclimatologist Matthew Huber at a diner near his campus in Durham, New Hampshire. Huber has spent a sizable portion of his research career studying the hothouse of the early mammals and he thinks that in the coming centuries we might be heading back to the Eocene climate of 50 million years ago, when there were Alaskan palm trees and alligators splashed in the Arctic Circle.

“The modern world will be much more of a killing field,” he said. “Habitat fragmentation today will make it much more difficult to migrate. But if we limit it below 10C of warming, at least you don’t have widespread heat death.”

In 2010, Huber and his co-author, Steven Sherwood, published one of the most ominous science papers in recent memory, An Adaptability Limit to Climate Change Due to Heat Stress.

“Lizards will be fine, birds will be fine,” Huber said, noting that life has thrived in hotter climates than even the most catastrophic projections for anthropogenic global warming. This is one reason to suspect that the collapse of civilisation might come long before we reach a proper biological mass extinction. Life has endured conditions that would be unthinkable for a highly networked global society partitioned by political borders. Of course we’re understandably concerned about the fate of civilisation and Huber says that, mass extinction or not, it’s our tenuous reliance on an ageing and inadequate infrastructure, perhaps, most ominously, on power grids, coupled with the limits of human physiology that may well bring down our world.

In 1977, when power went out for only one summer day in New York, swaths of the city devolved into something like Hobbes’s man in a state of nature. Riots swept across the city, thousands of businesses were destroyed by looters and arsonists lit more than 1,000 fires.

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denialistic boots...



Three decades ago when serious debate on human-induced climate change began globally, a great deal of statesmanship was on display. A preparedness to recognise that this was an issue which transcended nation states, ideologies and political parties. An issue which had to be addressed proactively in the long-term interests of humanity, even if the existential nature of climate risk was far less clear cut than it is today.


Then, as global institutions were put in place to take up this challenge and the extent of change this would impose on the fossil-fuel dominated world became more obvious, the forces of resistance mobilised. Today, despite the diplomatic triumph of the Paris climate agreement, debate around climate change policy has never been more dysfunctional, indeed Orwellian, particularly in Australia.

In his book Nineteen Eighty-Four, George Orwell describes a double-speak totalitarian state where most of the population accepts “the most flagrant violations of reality, because they never fully grasped the enormity of what was demanded of them, and were not sufficiently interested in public events to notice what was happening. By lack of understanding they remained sane.”

Orwell could have been writing about climate change and policymaking.

International agreements talk of limiting global warming to 1.5–2°C, but in reality they set the world on a path of 3–5°C. Goals are reaffirmed, only to be abandoned. Coal, by definition, is “clean”. Just 1°C of warming is already dangerous, but this cannot be said. The planetary future is hostage to myopic, national self-interest. Action is delayed on the assumption that as yet unproven technologies will save the day, decades hence. The risks are existential, but it is “alarmist” to say so. A one-in-two chance of missing a goal is normalised as reasonable.

Climate policymaking for years now has been cognitively dissonant, “a flagrant violation of reality”. So the lack of understanding among the public and elites of the full measure of the climate challenge is unsurprising. Yet most Australians sense where we are heading: three-quarters of people see climate change as a catastrophic risk and half see our way of life ending within the next 100 years.

The previous norms of statesmanship and long-term thinking have long since disappeared, replaced by an obsession with short-term political and commercial advantage, particularly where climate and energy policy is concerned.

An emergency-scale transition to a post-fossil fuel world is essential to address climate change. But this is considered to be too disruptive. The orthodoxy is that there is time for an orderly economic transition within the current short-termist political paradigm. Discussion of what would be safe – less warming that we presently experience – is non-existent. And so we have a policy failure of epic proportions.

In the magical thinking of Australian policymakers, a pathway of gradual change, constructed over many decades in a growing, prosperous, coal-fired world stretches enticingly before us. The world not imagined is the one that now exists: of looming financial instability; of a global crisis of political legitimacy; of a sustainability crisis that extends far beyond climate change to include all the fundamentals of human existence, and of severe global energy sector dislocation.

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too easy...



For the sake of keeping things manageable, let’s confine the discussion to a single continent and a single week: North America over the last seven days.


In Houston they got down to the hard and unromantic work of recovery from what economists announced was probably the most expensive storm in US history, and which weather analysts confirmed was certainly the greatest rainfall event ever measured in the country – across much of its spread it was a once-in-25,000-years storm, meaning 12 times past the birth of Christ; in isolated spots it was a once-in-500,000-years storm, which means back when we lived in trees. Meanwhile, San Francisco not only beat its all-time high temperature record, it crushed it by 3C, which should be pretty much statistically impossible in a place with 150 years (that’s 55,000 

That same hot weather broke records up and down the west coast, except in those places where a pall of smoke from immense forest fires kept the sun shaded – after a forest fire somehow managed to jump the mighty Columbia river from Oregon into Washington, residents of the Pacific Northwest reported that the ash was falling so thickly from the skies that it reminded them of the day Mount St Helens erupted in 1980.

That same heat, just a little farther inland, was causing a “flash drought” across the country’s wheat belt of North Dakota and Montana – the evaporation from record temperatures had shrivelled grain on the stalk to the point where some farmers weren’t bothering to harvest at all. In the Atlantic, of course, Irma was barrelling across the islands of the Caribbean (“It’s like someone with a lawnmower from the sky has gone over the island,” said one astounded resident of St Maarten). The storm, the first category five to hit Cuba in a hundred years, is currently battering the west coast of Florida after setting a record for the lowest barometric pressure ever measured in the Keys, and could easily break the 10-day-old record for economic catastrophe set by Harvey; it’s definitely changed the psychology of life in Florida for decades to come.

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The main problem is not so much accepting there is "global warming" but to accept its origin. Read:


aircon failure...


HOLLYWOOD, Fla. — The first evacuee was rushed into the emergency room of Memorial Regional Hospital around 3 a.m. on Wednesday, escaping a nursing home that had lost air-conditioning in the muggy days after Hurricane Irma splintered power lines across the state.

Another arrived at 4 a.m. After a third rescue call, at 5 a.m., hospital staff members were concerned enough to walk down the street to see the facility for themselves.

What they found was an oven.

The Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills needed to be evacuated immediately. Fire and rescue units were hurrying the nursing home’s more than 100 residents out. Dozens of hospital workers converged on the area, establishing a command center outside with equipment designed for a multi-casualty episode like a bus crash. Red wristbands went to patients with life-threatening conditions, yellow and green for those in better shape.

Checking the nursing home room by room, hospital workers found three people who were already dead and nearly 40 others who needed red wristbands, many of whom were having trouble breathing. The workers rushed them to the emergency room, where they were given oxygen. The rest went to other hospitals nearby.

Four were so ill that they died soon after arriving at those hospitals. In the afternoon, the authorities learned that another person had died early in the morning and was initially uncounted because the person had been taken directly to a funeral home.

In all, eight were dead.

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see toon at top...



coal kills people...

Coal kills people. This isn’t even slightly scientifically controversial.
From the mines to the trains to the climate disruption; from black lung to asthma, heat stress to hunger, fires to floods: coal is killing people in Australia and around the world right now.

Yet we are once again having what passes for political debate about extending the life of coal-fired power stations and, extraordinarily, building new ones. The conversation is completely disconnected from the fact that two thirds of Bangladesh was reported to be underwater, record-breaking hurricanes were battering the US, and wildfires were roaring in both the northern and southern hemispheres at the same time.

Even the Greens only talk coyly about the impact of climate change on our “way of life”. It’s time we put it clearly: If Malcolm Turnbull, Barnaby Joyce and their colleagues succeed in extending the life of the Liddell power station, let alone building new coal, they will kill people. Burning more coal, knowing what we know, is a deliberate act of arson, lighting a match in dry bushland, with homes just around the bend and a hot wind blowing in their direction.
It’s hard to say that. It’s hard to read it. But we must come to grips with this connection urgently.

And it is connection – and disconnection – which is at the heart of the problem, and which points the way to the only hope for a solution.

How is it that our politicians can be so drastically disconnected from the consequences of their actions? How can citizens not be out on the streets? How can corporate executives be continuing business as usual (a business as usual that is moving away from coal, but still nowhere near fast enough to avoid catastrophic climate disruption)? How can journalists and editors report on the politics of coal on one page and bushfires around Sydney in September on another without making the connection?

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the ministries of silly coal-ition...


It's been another big week for exciting renewable energy technology developments and dismal energy politics. Here is a wrap of how conservative politicians and commentators continue to ignore the reality and how business is finally embracing it.

Tony Abbott has a great sense of timing

It was only on Tuesday (19 September) that Tony Abbott – the former prime minister and leader of the opposition within the governing Coalition – boldly claimed:

"You can’t run a steel plant on renewables, you can’t run an aluminium smelter on renewables and if we want to keep all of these heavy industries we have got to have reliable baseload power, and the only way you can do that is with coal, or with a gas."

Cue the owner of the biggest steel plants both in the UK and now in Australia, the billionaire businessman Sanjeev Gupta, who declared the very next day that you can run a steel plant on renewables and that is exactly what he intends to do, with solar, wind, pumped hydro, battery storage and some co-generation.

What’s more, it will probably cost him one-third less to do it that way.

excellent idea: Steelmaker Sanjeev Gupta teams with Ross Garnaut to run factories using renewable energy

— Kate Carruthers (@kcarruthers) September 24, 2017
Gupta, having bought the ageing steel plant in Whyalla – the city that Abbott said would be turned into a ghost town by carbon pricing and renewables – has now struck a joint venture with Ross Garnaut’s Zen Energy. The venture is a bold vision to build renewables all over the place – particularly for large industrial users – and usher in a green energy industrial revolution, that Abbott says he will cross the floor of the house to try to stop.


And other big energy users are following suit. Zinc refiner Sun Metals and Telstra are investing in large-scale solar, and Nectar Farms is going to use wind and battery storage to power what will be Australia’s biggest greenhouse for vegetables. Even Brisbane Airport is putting in 6MW of mostly rooftop solar.

Abbott’s views are still very much Coalition policy

But for all Abbott’s ignorance and stubbornness about energy – and his determination to stop the future – there is actually no discernible difference between what he says about energy and that of the remainder of the Coalition, which hasn’t touched his climate and energy policies since he was turfed from office two years ago.

In Victoria, Leader of the Opposition Matthew Guy vows to tear down Labor’s 40 per cent renewable energy target — the legislation for which passed the lower house this week.

Victoria renewable target passes lower house – but Coalition vows to kill it via @renew_economy

— Francis (@B1francis) September 24, 2017


In Queensland, Tim Nicholls, the head of the Liberal National Party (LNP), says if he wins power in the State poll next year he will also tear up Labor’s renewables plan and vows to directly fund a new coal-fired generator in north Queensland.

That idea got the full support of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, who says such a plan could probably get funding from the Federal Government’s $5 billionNorthern Australian Infrastructure Facility.

Turnbull said on radio 4BC:

I’ve been talking to Tim Nicholls, who I hope will be the next premier of Queensland, about the potential for a new advanced high-efficient low-emission power station.

Obviously there is a substantial amount of funds in our Northern Australia Infrastructure Fund, that is available for infrastructure. A power station ticks that box. It is definitely infrastructure.

What did Barnaby Joyce just say?

And there was Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce, also up in Queensland calling for a “coal-fired” worker’s utopia, and – not for the first time in the past week – seemingly very upset at the prospect of being stuck in a lift, busting for a pee.

He was on the Sunshine Coast predicting “absolute chaos” in Queensland this January, forgetting maybe that the State has no large-scale renewables in place yet (a lot are being built) and this summer will rely almost entirely on coal-fired generation, of which it has plenty.

Barnaby says:

It will work like this. Round about January, end of January mum and dad are going to come back from being up the beach with the kids. Mum will turn on the air conditioner and get ready to go back to her work and dad will get ready to go back to his work.

The schools will fire up and businesses will start and all turn on their air conditioners and the traffic will build up. And if we don’t get this equation right, the power goes off. It will trip and the power goes off.

That means the lifts stop and if you’re in a lift you’ll be stuck there for a while. The operations at the hospital will stop. That means the traffic will go into total gridlock. There will be absolute chaos.

.@Barnaby_Joyce rails against the 'religion of renewables'. #abc730#auspol

— abc730 (@abc730) September 13, 2017


So many questions to ask, particularly about the traffic and its links to electricity. But anyway, Barnaby, if you can’t rely on the youngest fleet of coal-fired generators in the country, with excess capacity, what can you rely on? Better carry an empty bottle.

The Australian’s war on renewables is just silly and misinformed

There is no doubt that the Coalition politicians seem to rely upon – and are egged on by – the horrible misinformation in the Murdoch press.

The Australian has been running up a head of steam in the past few weeks, provoking those howls of outrage from Abbott and his mates in the right wing don’t-think tanks, through a series of articles that grossly inflate the level of subsidies to large-scale wind and solar farms.

Economics writer Adam Creighton got the ball rolling, with a figure of $45 billion of subsidies from the renewable energy target, ignoring or unaware that nearly all wind and solar farms are signing contracts that attribute no value to the certificates they will own. Hence, little or no subsidy.

He followed it up a week later with a similar story about a solar farm in Moree owned by a Saudi billionaire. But it wasn’t until David Crowe repeated the same story – and linked the billionaire’s son with the singer, Rihanna – that it got to be the front page lead.

Alas, both stories were hopelessly wrong, because Crowe was also unaware that Moree had signed a contract with Origin Energy that has given away the certificates for free.

Crowe has tried to row back on the story in several attempts – including an effort to turn this error into yet another “exclusive” and announce that the solar farm had, in fact, signed a PPA – an event reported in his own paper 18 months earlier.

Classic e.g. of how Murdoch agenda setting #lies pervade @abcnews & commentary. PatK's got foot in 2 camps. #auspol

— Joe2 (@eatatjoe2) September 23, 2017


But the fundamental point was ignored. The Moree solar farm – like nearly every other new wind and solar farm – will deliver electricity to consumers at a far lower price than the average cost of the coal-dominated grid.

So yes, the RET mechanism is essential to get this and other similar projects built but the actual subsidy is minimal. (Even though that doesn’t stop big energy retailers charging for it, but that is another story we will address next week).

The Australian's war on climate is also misinformed

It was revealing to see how the newspaper’s former editor-in-chief Chris Mitchell got in a muddle over climate change — and more specifically the recent hurricanes in the Caribbean.

Mitchell was full of praise in his Monday media column – titled 'Climate hysteria hits peak stupid in hurricane season– for the paper’s environment editor Graham Lloyd, who Mitchell said was the only person who had “gotten the facts right” about Hurricane Irma:

'This paper’s environment editor, Graham Lloyd, stuck to the facts in a lengthy piece last Monday. Lloyd pointed out Irma had formed in a part of the Atlantic with unusually cool ocean surface temperature averaging 26.5C, about two degrees less than usual for such an intense storm.'

So let’s check that claim. It only takes about five minutes of research to discover this is total bunkum and we invite readers to go to the U.S. Hurricane Centre website and look at its advisory notices for Hurricane Irma to check for themselves. Readers will see that the centre caught sight of the storm on August 30, when it had formed in the comparatively cooler waters described by Lloyd – just like many other tropical storms – as Irma was classified then.

But then look at the entries from the next day and the following days; that’s when it saw the Hurricane change direction and move over unusually warm waters of 29°C — the sort of temperatures that would, and did, create a hurricane of enormous intensity.

This is a typical technique for climate deniers and renewable objectors too: take one point of data and invent a fake narrative. Talk about hysteria.

For good measure, Mitchell then rehashed all the usual right-wing talking points against renewables, getting the target of the current policy wrong, declaring that the Tesla battery was only good for a few minutes and swallowing coal lobby myths about the number of coal-fired generators being built around the world.


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read from top. Barnaby Joyce is an idiot.

Meanwhile "Turbnall tells NSW to start farting" (Turnbull tells NSW to get fracking) says the Sydney Morning Herald. He wants more gas, more gas, more gas from NSW... because the exporters of gas (which he has sold the rights to them to export for a song) prefer to sell the gas overseas than use it in our backyards...

I believe someone called ALAN JONES is not going to be happy about fracking in his country estate(s) and he (the god of the radio) has said so in the past...


turn on the aircon...

Temperature records set on Saturday may not last long, as eastern Australia braces for another heatwave.

Key points:
  • Queensland and NSW are expected to hit a new September temperature record on Wednesday
  • Forecasters say the heatwave is an unusual early-season event
  • The extreme heat is the result of a low pressure system dragging heat down from north-west Australia


Northern New South Wales and Queensland will bear the brunt of the extreme heat, with Brisbane and Ipswich expected to set new September records on Thursday.

Outback regions will be even hotter.

The Bureau of Meteorology predicts Queensland will hit a new September record on Wednesday, with Birdsville in the far west Channel Country expected to reach 43 degrees.

That would equal the hottest September day ever recorded anywhere in Australia.

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Read about the idiots like Joyce from top

kiwi joyce's pilliga pillage...


Malcolm Turnbull's push to open up gas fields in NSW has again drawn into question Barnaby Joyce's odd purchase of "mongrel" country in the Pilliga, writes Ingrid Matthews.

IS THERE anything less edifying in the Australian political landscape than pointless prime ministerial press conferences? Flanked by men as hapless and hopeless as he, oozing pompous paternalism, gravely pronouncing on respectful debate, or successful multiculturalism, on terrorism and more terrorism, or energy "security" (by which he means – or ought to mean – energy supply).

Many in the parliamentary press corps insist that Turnbull is, deep down, better than his Blackout Bill bullshit. But there is no real evidence to support this claim. In contrast, there is ample footage – and policy failures – to conclude that the Prime Minister really is as petty and inept as he appears. Presumably, those who cling to the notion that Turnbull is smart and able, while masquerading as weak and compromised, know him in some capacity other than his public persona. But so what? Political leadership, by definition, occurs in the public sphere.

Turnbull apologists may measure him against some private standard to which we are not privy, but Private Malcolm is irrelevant, because Public Malcolm is Prime Minister Malcolm. That is how the Fourth Estate works in a democracy and public interest obligations require journalists be alert to these basic of institutional arrangements.

Anyway, where were we?

Ah yes, the mess of Australian energy policy in a climate-catastrophe world. Turnbull kicked off this week by conceding that his ill-conceived adventurism into the state and territory policy jurisdiction of power supply has failed. This concession came by way of calling for Victoria to reverse its fracking ban and for NSW to expedite fracking approvals.

Turns out – hold on to your hats – that asking energy CEOs to stop maximising profits is a completely ineffective energy policy.

Malcolm Turnbull says the gas crisis has been averted, but consumers will pay more …

— Rowan (@FightingTories) September 27, 2017


Whether Turnbull intended to get a result, or was merely going through the motions, is not entirely clear. What is increasingly clear, however, is that the position of his deputy is manifestly untenable.

The many conflicts of Barnaby Joyce

At this latest energy policy presser, the Prime Minister specifically referred to a coal seam gas project in the Pilliga region of Gamilaraay Gomeroi country. This was a typically ill-judged Turnbullism, unless he is trolling the Nationals leader, which is possible. Turnbull has long had form on trolling women and, just last week, he trolled the whole scientific community by following more CSIRO funding cuts with a space agency announcement.

Either way, his reference to the Narrabri gas project opened up media space (again) for Barnaby Joyce’s 1,000 hectares in the Narrabri Shire to be reported as news. These land purchases go back to at least 2006, as detailed by Independent Australia here:

Here's one we prepared earlier: 'Barnaby Joyce's Pilliga pillage'.

— IndependentAustralia (@independentaus) September 27, 2017

It should go without saying – but never can – that the lands to which Joyce has obtained title are sacred ground. Like every inch of this country, it is home and life source to many thousands of generations, to ancestors, traditional custodians, and descendants, to First Peoples who never ceded territory or sovereignty.

The coal seam gas protest in the Pilliga is a continuation of Gamilaraay Gomeroi resistance to colonisation, to defend country from (further) toxic destruction. Mainstream messages tend to focus more on farmers’ and food bowls, but the local Pilliga Push is led by local First Peoples for the protection of land and waters, for the good of all, on a continuum of time, sovereign rights and ongoing ancestral obligations to country.

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