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34 responses to “Climate clippings 76”

  1. BilB

    I will be discussing item 7 as this is very much my interest area. Any dirty tricks campaign is ultimately good news for Rooftop Solar. Very quickly despite John Davidson’s best hopes the electricity retail sector would fragment with smaller distribution operators entering the market. By maximising the harm to solar the established distributors also maximise the incentive for new competition.

    “Greed Breeds Competition”.

    I am actively getting ready to apply Solar Energy systems to my roof. In the so doing I will not be exporting any energy to the grid. The aim will be to use on site every thing that I generate, and if anything is left over it will be running the pool pump or heating a spa (I don’t have one of those,..yet) until I can acquire an electric vehicle to absorb the remainder.
    So this is going to take some planning to get the washing machine working during the high solar period and the fridge working on the fringe to cool eutectic plates for 24 hour solar powered operation. Fran Barlow’s fridge buying need got me thinking about how to make that work fairly easily with a regular fridge.

    This is all a very interesting and exciting challenge, and the outcome is all win, win, win.

  2. Terry

    The much lauded James Hansen reckons that the answer is nuclear power. This will of course be predictably pooh-poohed by noted scientific experts such as Christine Milne and Adam Bandt.

    To quote:

    In our paper, we provide an objective, long-term, quantitative analysis of the effects of nuclear power on human health (mortality) and the environment (climate).

    It demonstrates that without nuclear power, it would have been even harder to mitigate human-caused climate change and air pollution. This is fundamentally because historical energy production data reveal that if nuclear power never existed, the energy it supplied almost certainly would have been supplied by fossil fuels instead (overwhelmingly coal), which cause much higher air pollution-related mortality and GHG emissions per unit energy produced.

  3. BilB

    Speaking of science and practicality, Brian, did you see Sean Carrol’s “big Ideas” talk on the Higgs Field on the weekend? If you didn’t and you get the chance take the time, it is brilliant.

  4. David Irving (no relation)

    The thing is, Terry, some people are enthusiastic about (or at least accepting of) nuclear as part of the solution (James Hansen, Barry Brookes), some, but not all, Greens are opposed to it (for a variety of reasons, some of which are certainly ideological), and some (like me) are prepared to concede that it’s safe enough but would like to see a rigorous cost-benefit analysis which includes decommissioning costs before accepting that it’s worth the effort.

  5. Ootz

    Interesting finding by Essential Research reported in todays Crikey:
    “And as conspiracy theorists prepare to descend on Canberra for an anti-wind farm rally on June 18, led by radio entertainer Alan Jones, there’s little evidence Australians share their concerns about the alleged array of diseases caused by wind turbines. In fact, 76% of voters want to see more wind farms built, including 71% of Liberal voters and, unsurprisingly, 89% of Greens voters.
    There is also speculation the Coalition will abandon the 20% Renewable Energy Target once in government: 40% of voters believe the target is not high enough; 11% believe it is too high, while 33% believe it is about right. Liberal voters are least enthusiastic — only 31% believe the RET should be higher, and 19% lower; 67% of Greens voters want the target to be higher.”

    Re Nuclear energy, I am not against it, but (and I’ll say it until I am blue in the face) The recent Fukushima incident has once again highlighted that:
    1. There is no adequate regulatory power to ensure appropriate safety checks, measures and controls are adhered to and enforced. The IAEA is a toothless paper tiger, national Governments act in short term self interest and contractors primarily focus on return on investment. Which leaves more then enough room for cascading catastrophic failures to reoccur in that industry.

    2. The nuclear industry has no credibility what soever until it finds and implements an effective long term solution for their waste and decommissioned plants. Storing spent MOX fuel on top of critically exposed reactors and assorted dumping grounds with leaking drums is not a solution.

  6. Doug

    The economist John Quiggin has canvassed the economics of nuclear power recently and thinks that given the time involved in implementation in Australia the economics of it are not going to be a relevant option given the current trajectory of cost reductions in solar and wind. Check his blog for recent discussions on this topic.

  7. indigo

    The reports on China implementing a carbon cap are premature, based on a passing comment from a delegate to the National Development and Reform Commission. But no formal proposal has gone forward. The reduction in coal usage is a different issue, however.

  8. faustusnotes

    I think it would be great if this thread didn’t get into a stoush on nuclear, but I’ll put in my 2 yen worth anyway … I basically agree with Doug (and thus I guess JQ) that by the time nuclear gets off the ground in most nations renewable energy will already have become so cheap that it’s irrelevant. It could still have a role as baseload in countries with high industrial output (Japan, Germany, China, USA) but not somewhere like Australia, and not in time to make a meaningful difference to AGW.

    As some of you know, I’m doing research on radiation exposure in Fukushima. I am quite convinced that it is possible to live in areas of high radiation exposure (like Minamisoma) without suffering elevated health risks due to radiation. The primary exposure risks are from food, and easily controlled. There are issues connected with non-communicable diseases (possibly due to lifestyle changes and stress) but we haven’t teased them out yet. But there is not really much identifiable ill health as a result of radiation exposure (i.e. not really any).

    This isn’t to say that more can’t be done to improve management of nuclear, but if you look at the global burden of disease results for China, outdoor air pollution has increased as a cause of death and is now ranked as the number 4 risk factor for disability-adjusted life years lost. Almost all of that is due to fossil fuels. Nuclear is a good bet for China, even in a poor regulatory framework with occasional disasters. Coal and diesel between them are really, really bad for human health, and now that the epidemiological community is beginning to be able to quantify their effects on a global scale we are seeing just how terrible they are.

    But a good mixture of renewables and a robust grid is probably much better.

  9. Moz is supposed to be working

    Thanks [email protected] for the reminder that it’s not only nuclear that kills people. I’m not even slightly in favour of nukes for Australia or NZ, but for places like China they make a lot of sense. And I’m reminded of the “other” pollution every morning when I ride to work – it’s quite confronting riding out of Rookwood Cemetery onto the side of a multilane road that’s choked with traffic – the smell alone is eye-watering some days.

    I’m worried that electricity/renewable price wars are going to be savagely regressive. Those who own their home can look at the numbers and put PV on their roof, even if it means battling through their strata committee, but for renters it’s not an option. As the connection fees go up they’re going to really cop it. “They” meaning me.

    The renting crossover will come when you start seeing plug-in panels on apartment balconies, I think. They’re still pricey and marginally legal, but as a way of driving the power bill down they’re one of the few things renters can do.

    BTW, http://www.greenrenters.org is worth a look if you are renting (they’re in Melbun). There are things you can do to make a rented place less awful.

  10. Golly Gosh

    In Campbell Newman right?

    “The solar tariff feed-in situation is one that sees those with the financial means to pay for panels win at the expense of poorer households and disadvantaged people,” he said.

    “I’m just making the point today.

    “I’m not saying we have anything in particular in mind, but I’m saying firstly I want people to understand why we have high power prices.”

    If he is correct then solar panels are a regressive form of middle class welfare.

    ps. whatever happened to your brother, Mark? Hope he’s alright.

  11. Paul Norton

    The denialists have been caught out making stuff up.

  12. Helen

    GG, Campbell Newman rarely appears to be right.
    In this case, somebody answered this accusation on another thread. Solar panel subsidies aren’t supposed to be a poverty mitigation policy, they’re supposed to be a migrating-away-from-fossil-fuels policy.
    But I think that in the long term, poorer people will benefit anyway:
    1) Because tech is usually purchased first by early adopters with money, or the will to buy, then the bugs are ironed out and the tech gets cheaper and more stable. Look at sound systems, personal computers, just about everything really.
    2) Climate mitigation policy will benefit poorer people because they are the ones that bear the brunt of climate change.

  13. Paul Norton

    Here’s a rebuttal of the paper ascribing the cause of global warming to CFCs.

    This paper has predictably enough led the denialists to bark vindication, with the silliest example being a letter in today’s OO that states ‘That recent climate history can be well explained by “CFCs conspiring with cosmic rays” is significant’ yet goes on on the next paragraph to state that ‘Whether the CFCs explanation proves to be correct is largely irrelevant’.

  14. Chodorov

    [Comment content deleted (also further comments from same nym). Morphing/sockpuppeting is a breach of our comments policy. ~ mods]

  15. Paul Norton
  16. David Irving (no relation)

    You didn’t read Paul’s reference, did you Chodorov?

  17. Ootz

    Came across the following comment on the businessspectator post on McKibben two days ago and confirmed it. Still not sure wether to laugh or cry?

    The Australian Parliament recently debated Rob Oakeshott’s motion “That this House expresses full confidence in the work of Australia’s science community and confirms that it believes that man-made climate change is not a conspiracy or a con, but a real and serious threat to Australia if left unaddressed”.

    It was passed unanimously.

    As Oakeshott then said– “positions the deniers and the conspiracy theorists where they should be – on the fringe,”

  18. Ambigulous

    Chodorov @26

    Get thee to a priory.

  19. faustusnotes

    There has to be three converging lines of evidence minimum, and this to be matched up with an excellent a-priory case

    You don’t know anything do you, Chodorov?

    Can we bin the bird?

  20. nottrampis

    Brian,please look at the categories!!!

  21. Moz is supposed to be working

    Ootz, it will be interesting to see whether that vote becomes a feature of the debate after the election. It suggests that the business council presser today saying that we should reconsider our 80% cut by 2050 in light of slow global reductions comes from realising that the other coalition is unlikely to resile from the commitment. Which is good news.

    FWIW, I agree wholeheartedly with the business council on this – global emissions are rising far too fast and if other countries will not act Australia needs to step to and cut faster to compensate.

  22. Jumpy

    Brian
    I stumbled across an article about a new Parliamentary Library paper about
    Countries trading greenhouse gas emissions” you may not have seen.
    It’s fairly condensed and summarises each scheme.
    Nothing in it you wouldn’t already know, but more of an ” easy reference ” kind of thing.
    ( link to the full paper in 2nd para )

  23. BilB

    The VW XL1 is getting closer. Here is the best expose to date.

    http://www.wired.com/autopia/2013/05/volkswagen-xl1-driven/#slideid-58028

    We don’t have a definitive price yet, and production will be limited for a time, but formula is certain to reshape commuter vehicles of the future.