Episode 223 – Renewable Energy

In this episode we discuss the cost of renewable energy and whether Australia can have stable power supply relying 100% on renewable energy.

2:12 The Great Debate
14:45 Dean Stretton
17:30 Was the Climate Poll Too Binary?
19:30 Do we care?
30:41 Renewables or Coal
53:38 Lionel Shriver
1:04:59 Donald Trump threatens to ‘obliterate’ Turkish economy if it goes too far with Syria invasion
1:19:01 It’s not just Chomsky, John Menadue too.

2:12 The Great Debate

How did Fiona go?

Not great.

Fiona did not lay a glove on him and exposed a limited understanding of the whole topic. Martyn Iles the lawyer exposed her lack of legal skills and she did not counter with a solid philosophical argument or even just some simple examples. I don’t think she understands S.10 of the Bill.

14:45 Dean Stretton

An extract from his submission:

Clause 7 of the draft bill would prohibit direct discrimination on the basis of “religious belief or activity”, defined in clause 5 as follows:

religious belief or activity means:

(a)          holding a religious belief; or

(b)          engaging in lawful religious activity; or

(c)           not holding a religious belief; or

(d)          not engaging in, or refusing to engage in, lawful religious activity.

These provisions directly discriminate against non-believers by protecting beliefs held on religious grounds while failing to protect the same beliefs if held on non-religious grounds. Consider, for example, the following beliefs (or their denials):

  1. Abortion is morally wrong.
  2. Active voluntary euthanasia is morally wrong.
  3. There are only two genders, and a person cannot change their gender simply by identifying as a different gender.
  4. Marriage should only be between a man and a woman.
  5. Killing animals for food is morally permissible.

A person who holds any of these beliefs (or their denials) on religious grounds would be protected from discrimination under the draft bill, but a person who holds those beliefs (or their denials) on non-religious grounds would not be protected. In other words, the beliefs of religious people are protected (even if they are the product of mere dogma rather than reason, reflection or evidence), while the (philosophical) beliefs of non-religious people are not protected: for non-believers, only the absence of religious beliefs is protected (as opposed to protecting any positive beliefs they might hold). This differential treatment is itself a form of direct discrimination against non-believers. Anti-discrimination legislation should not introduce new forms of discrimination in this way.

If freedom of thought, conscience and religion applies equally to atheists and agnostics (as well as religious believers), then it is wrong to privilege belief over non-belief, or to prohibit discrimination based on religious beliefs without also prohibiting discrimination based on non-religious (philosophical) beliefs. The definition in clause 5 should be amended as follows:


religious belief or activity means:

(a)          holding a religious or philosophical belief; or

(b)          engaging in lawful religious or philosophical activity; or

(c)           not holding a religious or philosophical belief; or

(d)          not engaging in, or refusing to engage in, lawful religious or philosophical activity.


17:30 Was the Climate Poll Too Binary?

Remember the Climate Poll?

  1. Do you believe that there is fairly conclusive evidence that climate change is happening and caused by human activity or do you believe that the evidence is still not in and we may just be witnessing a normal fluctuation in the earth’s climate which happens from time to time?  

Waz was not happy with the Essential Poll. It should’ve included “both” and “neither” as options.

19:30 Do we care?

According to the ABC “Australia Talks National Survey” When confronted with a menu of 27 worry factors, ranging all the way from money to love to human survival, only four qualified as a matter of immediate personal concern to the majority of respondents.

Climate change was the leading worry; 72 per cent of respondents said it would affect their lives.

Saving for retirement was a problem for 62 per cent, health for 56 per cent, and 50 per cent of respondents (surprisingly low, considering) were darkly convinced ageing was definitely a thing that was going to happen to them.

Is there an emergency?

Think of it as risk management.

From Paul Gilding. Paul Gilding is a Fellow at the University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership. He has 45 years of history in sustainability and thought leadership on market-driven and business-led change, including 30 years on climate change.

Scientists warn that even if all of the Paris emissions commitments were met, temperatures would surpass 1.5°C warming (the target agreed to in Paris), and then increase by 3 to 5°C by 2100 — with additional warming beyond.

The last time the world was that hot (4°C warmer) was 15 million years ago in the Miocene.

Seas could rise by more than 2 metres this century (and greater beyond 2100). Between two-thirds and all of the glaciers that feed Asia and South America’s most important rivers will likely disappear. A combination of high temperature and humidity levels along the equatorial belt could see tropical regions in Asia, Africa, Australia and the Americas become “largely uninhabitable for much of the year”. A large proportion of humanity, including an estimated 2 billion refugees, would need to relocate — many to areas of higher latitude or the lower southern hemisphere, where agriculture will still be possible and temperatures tolerable.

Furthermore, there are countless unknowns in the climate system, as well as the economic and biophysical responses to it. Therefore, the question is not whether these scenarios are certain on our current path. They are not. The question is whether there is a reasonable likelihood of such an outcome. In considering that, we should remember our natural human tendency to err on assuming the more positive outcomes we hope for. Critically, we should also note that the unknowns go in both directions — it may not be as bad as such scenarios suggest. Or it could be much, much worse. What matters in all of the above is that any calm and measured review of the evidence of the work of the world’s very best experts in science, economics, risk and all other fields lead us to a simple conclusion.

The threat we are facing on our current path presents a high likelihood — close to certainty — of catastrophic impacts lasting centuries and making life on earth very difficult. There is, on top of that, a reasonable risk of the collapse of civilisation.

30:41 Renewables or Coal

An introduction and definitions.

From: An ABC Fact Check Report

Malcolm Turnbull says renewables plus storage are cheaper than coal and nuclear for new power generation. Is he correct?

Under current policy settings and economic conditions, it is generally cheaper to produce electricity from wind or solar sources than it would be using a new coal or nuclear plant, with or without “storage”.

However, the issue is complex.

As energy experts consulted by Fact Check said, the extent to which variable power generated from renewable sources requires back-up (or “firming” as it is technically known) to deal with intermittency depends on the proportion of our power being generated from such sources.

For most states, except South Australia, this is not yet an issue. It is, however, likely to become an issue if the rapid uptake of renewable energy continues.

Put simply, the greater the reliance on renewables, the greater the need to spend additional money providing back-up sources of energy to safeguard supply.

In turn, this would be expected to add to the cost of renewables over time.

With this in mind, Fact Check assessed Mr Turnbull’s claim on the basis of current policy, environmental and economic conditions.

Energy produced by power stations, whether from renewable or fossil fuel sources, is typically measured in megawatt hours (MWh).

A megawatt hour is roughly equivalent to the amount of electricity used by about 300 homes during one hour.

Comparing direct running costs can paint a misleading picture. Some technologies are more expensive to build, but cheaper to run.

Others involve lower capital costs, but higher running costs.

To deal with this issue, analysts use a measure referred to as the “levelised” cost of electricity, incorporating the cost of capital, among other things.

“The levelised cost of electricity (LCOE) is a measure of the average cost of producing electricity from a specific generating technology. It represents the cost per megawatt hour (MWh) of building and operating a generating plant in order to breakeven over an assumed financial life.

The Cost of Coal

The most up-to-date and comprehensive estimates come from the CSIRO and the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO).

The CSIRO and AEMO estimated that a new black coal-fired power station would produce power at a levelised cost of $82.10 to $111.00 per megawatt hour, or $96.60 as a mid-point.

Electricity from a brown coal-fired plant would be more expensive, costing between $93.70 and $121.00 per megawatt hour (mid-point $107.40).

There are cheaper estimates but they don’t assume a risk premium. Leading experts consulted by Fact Check pointed out that new coal-fired power plants would most likely be required to accept a “risk premium” when obtaining finance, reflecting uncertainty over international and domestic climate and energy policy, future clean-up costs, and higher construction risks. According to some estimates, interest rates faced by new coal projects as a consequence would be twice those applying to wind or solar projects.

The Cost of Renewables

According to an article by The Energy Change Institute at the Australian National University, Australia during 2018 and 2019 was likely to install about 10,400 megawatts of renewable energy (wind, large-scale solar and roof-top solar), representing about 30 per cent of Australia’s peak energy demand.

The levelised cost of wind and solar, as recently estimated by the CSIRO and AEMO, is between $51.20 and $64.40 per megawatt hour for wind, or $57.80 as a mid-point, and between $44.50 and $61.50 per megawatt hour for solar (mid-point $53).

These cost estimates are somewhat lower than other estimates. For example, the estimates contained in the Finkel Review produced by Jacobs Consultancy found a levelised cost for wind of $92 per megawatt hour, and $91 for large-scale solar.

According to experts, however, these cost estimates are excessive, given the current contract prices being entered into for wind and solar.

Professor Baldwin said when the assumptions for the electricity modelling in the Finkel review were finalised in February 2017 they were already out of date.

For example, in May 2017 the Victorian Government locked in a fixed price for wind of $50 to $60 per megawatt hour over 12 years in a deal with Origin Energy’s Stockyard Hill Wind Farm.

Also, the recently announced Golden Plains wind farm is expected to replace up to one-third of the power that was generated by the closed Hazelwood power station at less than $50 per megawatt hour.

According to experts, long-term renewable contracts are similar to the levelised cost because they covered a large part of the expected life of the asset.

What about storage?

Mr Turnbull specifically referred to “renewables plus storage”.

Fact Check assumes Mr Turnbull was referring either to battery storage or pumped-storage hydroelectricity, where excess renewable energy is used to pump water uphill into a reservoir so that it can be released to produce hydro-electricity during periods of high demand.

This effectively “stores” the excess renewable energy for later use when prices are higher.

The CSIRO has provided estimates for the cost of wind and solar power with two hours battery storage and with six hours of pumped hydro.

Wind energy, with two hours of battery storage is estimated to cost between $98.20 per megawatt hour and $124.70 per megawatt hour on a levelised basis, or $111.50 as a mid-point.

The cost of solar combined with battery storage is higher, estimated at between $108.70 and $157.60 per megawatt hour (mid-point $133.20).

Combining renewables with pumped hydro is somewhat cheaper, although, as experts noted, finding suitable locations for such an approach can be difficult. Wind combined with pumped hydro, it is estimated to cost between $83.40 and $106.10 per megawatt hour, (mid-point $94.80).

Solar combined with pumped hydro is estimated to cost between $88.80 and $129.30, (mid-point $109.10).

But it’s not that simple

Most states, apart from South Australia and Tasmania, which is mostly reliant on hydro-electricity, still produce the majority of their energy from fossil fuels.

The latest figures from the Department of Environment and Energy show NSW derives just 17.4 per cent of its power from renewables, while Victoria gets 17.3 per cent, followed by Queensland (8.8 per cent) and Western Australia (8.2 per cent).

Tasmania draws 94.6 per cent of its electricity from renewables, almost entirely through hydro power.

South Australia is the state most reliant on what analysts refer to as “variable” renewable energy, with a 51.2 per cent dependency.

As previously outlined, as the proportion of power generated from renewables continues to rise, so too will the amount of back-up power needed to ensure the stability of the national electricity grid.

Currently that grid allows for the transfer of electricity between the states, allowing some “smoothing” of supply.

Grattan’s Tony Wood said the system could cope with renewables “up to a point” because of flexibility built into the national electricity grid.

But he said beyond roughly 50 per cent reliance on renewables “you have to start thinking about alternatives and balancing”.

“As you get beyond that — as those other states and territories introduce more renewables, and you get coincident periods of low wind, particularly in summer unfortunately when the demand is highest — then you have got to start really seriously dealing with the balancing arrangements, which, right now, as best we know it, are a combination of pumped hydro and gas.

“The outlying thesis here is, once you get up into the very high numbers — 60, 70, 80 per cent — then you might have to put up with gas for a while yet, which is a problem for your emissions.”

CSIRO Chief Energy Economist Paul Graham said in states that had not yet reached 50 per cent renewables, it was not necessary to add storage because the system was flexible enough to cope.

How do different technologies stack up?

As can be seen in the following graph, if the mid-point is taken, both wind and solar without storage is cheaper than coal, whether a risk premium is applied or not.

According to experts, in most states except South Australia, additional renewables would currently not require backup, given the reliance on them is currently well below 50 per cent of power generation.

Nevertheless, Mr Turnbull referred to “backup” when making his claim. Wind and solar — with battery storage — are not cheaper than coal, assuming no risk premium is applied to the financing of coal.
Wind, backed up by pumped hydro, remains slightly cheaper than black coal with no risk premium applied. Solar, backed up by pumped hydro, is marginally more expensive.

However, as discussed, it is realistic to assume coal-fired power stations would be more costly to finance. If a risk premium is applied, wind and solar plus back-up remains unambiguously cheaper than coal as a source of energy.


The CSIRO and the Finkel review both predicted the cost of solar and wind energy would continue to fall into the future, while the cost of coal-fired power would remain relatively static.

CSIRO Chief Energy Economist Paul Graham said in states where variable renewables contributed less than 50 per cent of power needs, “that is, everywhere except South Australia”, it was not necessary to add storage to renewables because there was enough flexibility in the existing generation stock.

Grattan’s Mr Wood said under current conditions the system could cope with additional renewables in most states. However, the costs of backup could increase into the future.

“You have to be careful that you don’t claim the answer is either zero per cent renewables without a problem, or 100 per cent renewables without a problem,” he added. “Neither is true.”

Is 100% Renewable Feasible?

Here is a report by Blakers, Lu and Stocks of the ANU dated 20 May 2017


An hourly energy balance analysis is presented of the Australian National Electricity Market in a 100% renewable energy scenario, in which wind and photovoltaics (PV) provides about 90% of the annual electricity demand and existing hydroelectricity and biomass provides the balance. Heroic assumptions about future technology development are avoided by only including technology that is being deployed in large quantities (>10 Gigawatts per year), namely PV and wind.

Additional energy storage and stronger interconnection between regions was found to be necessary for stability. Pumped hydro energy storage (PHES) constitutes 97% of worldwide electricity storage, and is adopted in this work. Many sites for closed loop PHES storage have been found in Australia. Distribution of PV and wind over 10e100 million hectares, utilising high voltage transmission, accesses different weather systems and reduces storage requirements (and overall cost).

The additional cost of balancing renewable energy supply with demand on an hourly rather than annual basis is found to be modest: AU$25e30/MWh (US$19e23/MWh). Using 2016 prices prevailing in Australia, the levelised cost of renewable electricity (LCOE) with hourly balancing is estimated to be AU$93/MWh (US$70/MWh). LCOE is almost certain to decrease due to rapidly falling cost of wind and PV


It is interesting to consider the practicalities of supplying all of Australia’s electricity from renewable energy. In this study, a scenario is developed in which the National Electricity Market (NEM) is exclusively supplied by renewable energy. The focus is on hourly energy balance (meeting demand for every hour of the year).

Currently, two thirds of Australian electricity comes from coal fired power stations. However, by 2030, three quarters of these power stations will be more than 40 years old, and replacement of these generators by coal, gas or renewable energy will be a looming necessity. For instance, Wallerawang C 960 MW (NSW), Anglesea 150 MW (Victoria) and Northern 530 MW (South Australia) and Hazelwood 1640 MW (Victoria) were closed during 2013e17 [6,7]. It seems unlikely that more coal fired generators will be constructed in Australia due to public opposition and risk aversion of financiers. In contrast, there is strong financial support for wind and PV in Australia, as evidenced by the fact that about 9 GW of wind and PV will be constructed over the next 3 years [8] in an economy whose GDP is about one thirteenth that of the United States of America.

Australia has excellent wind and solar resources. If current deployment rates of PV and wind (approximately 1e2 GW per year of each) continue then about half of the electricity generated in Australia in 2030 will come from renewable energy sources. In the state of South Australia wind and PV already provide about half of the annual electricity generation. The nearly zero marginal cost of PV and wind generation means that PV and wind electricity (when available) are used in preference to electricity from coal and gas. This causes declining system capacity factors for coal and gas power stations, which causes economic pressure on their continued operation. However, closure of coal and gas power stations removes the ancillary benefits that they provide, including coping with periods of poor solar and wind availability and managing short term supply fluctuations over differing time periods via inertia, spinning reserve and dispatchability.


We model the Australian National Electricity Market (NEM) which services 19 million people [10], but exclude the much smaller systems that exist in Western Australia, the Northern Territory and remote regions in other states (which are not connected to the NEM).

NEM demand remains stable at 205 TWh per year (including roof-mounted PV). NEM demand has changed little since 2008 [11], with energy efficiency offsetting growth in demand (driven mostly by population growth). Electrification of land transport (which could add 30e35% to electricity demand in the future [12]) is excluded in order to focus on the current electricity system.

Batteries are excluded. Batteries located in homes and electric cars may contribute very substantially to future energy storage, either directly through bi-directional energy flow or indirectly through control of the timing of battery charging.

Existing hydroelectricity generation and pumped hydro stations are included but additional river-based hydroelectric deployment are excluded due to lack of significant further rivers to dam in Australia.

Our scenario is that wind and PV contribute about 90% of annual electricity consumption, while existing hydro and biomass contribute the balance.

Energy balance modelling is undertaken using historical data for wind, sun and demand for every hour of the years 2006e10 and ensuring that there is sufficient electricity to meet demand in every hour through utilization of sufficient PV, wind, PHES and HVDC/HVAC. The Levelised Cost of Energy (LCOE) for each solution is then calculated.

A modified and extended version of the National Electricity Market Optimiser (NEMO) model [14,15] is used to identify solutions which meet the energy balance requirement. NEMO is a chronological dispatch model. Several adjustments to the NEMO model have been made to better utilise the capability of synchronous, fast-ramping PHES to integrate fluctuating solar and wind energy. This includes pre-charging PHES facilities from existing bio and hydro plants to help ride through critical periods based on advanced weather forecasting; and changing the merit order of existing hydro ahead of PHES in critical periods to ensure PHES is not exhausted before the most difficult moments arrive.

Dynamical simulation for robustness under fault conditions is not included, such as unexpected transmission line breakdown, bushfires or widespread severe weather. However, we note that PHES provides significant inertia, spinning reserve and rapid response capability to help maintain a high level of dynamical grid stability. Although outside the scope of this study, dynamical stability will be included in future work.


Synthetic Google Earth image of hills east of Spencer Gulf (South Australia) with up to 600 m head showing hypothetical off-river upper reservoirs. The lower reservoirs would be at the western foot of the hills (bottom of the image).

Pumped hydro energy storage (PHES) entails using surplus energy to pump water uphill to a storage reservoir, which is later released through a turbine to recover around 80% of the stored energy. PHES constitutes 97% of electricity storage worldwide (159 GW [3]) because it is much cheaper and has much greater technological maturity than alternative sources, including batteries.

Australia already has river-based PHES facilities comprising Wivenhoe, Kangaroo Valley and Tumut 3. However, the on-river opportunities are limited. There are opportunities to pair existing reservoirs, although it would be difficult to procure approvals for penstocks and additional power lines in national parks.

Unlike conventional “on-river” hydro power, off-river (closed loop) PHES requires pairs of hectare-scale reservoirs, rather like oversized farm dams, located away from rivers in steep hilly country outside national parks, separated by an altitude difference (head) of 300-900 m, and joined by a pipe containing a pump and turbine. In these systems, water cycles in a closed loop between the upper and lower reservoir. They consume little water (evaporation minus rainfall) and have a much smaller environmental impact than river-based systems. Energy storage volume (i.e. reservoir size) is typically 5-20 h at maximum power. Shorter hours (5-12 h) of PHES work well in summer and for energy arbitrage while longer hours (>12 h) are primarily to cope with rare sequences of consecutive days of low wind and solar availability in winter.

The energy storage capability of a PHES system is the product of the mass of water stored in the upper reservoir, the gravitational constant, the head and system efficiency. For example, a PHES system comprising twin 10 ha reservoirs, each 20 m deep, separated by an altitude difference of 700 m, and operating with a round-trip efficiency of 80%, can operate at 500 MW of power generation for 6 h (3000 MWh).

Australia has hundreds of excellent potential sites for off-river PHES, outside national parks and other sensitive areas, in the extensive hills and mountains that exist close to population centres from North Queensland down the east coast to South Australia and Tasmania (Fig. 2). Heads of more than 500 m are commonly available (Figs. 3 and 4). Some old mining sites are also available, such as the proposed 250 MW Kidston PHES project in an old gold mine in north Queensland [16].

Off-river PHES differs significantly from conventional river based hydro:

  • the reservoirs are small (1e100 ha rather than thousands of hectares)
  • minimal flood control measures are needed (off-river) the heads are 2e5 times larger because the upper reservoir can be on top of a hill rather than in a river valley.
  • An increased head is advantageous because a doubled head allows doubling of energy stored and power developed, while the cost is generally much less than doubled.
  • Minimal environmental impacts as there is no dam to be built on river systems

High Voltage DC Transmission

Rapid improvements in high voltage DC transmission allows large amounts of power (GW) to be transmitted cheaply and efficiently over thousands of kilometres, meaning that adverse local weather can be accommodated using PV and wind power from elsewhere. An HVDC transmission line comprises two relatively expensive terminals, between which power is transferred at high voltage. There is more than 200 GW of HVDC installed worldwide, including powerlines carrying 6 GW at ±800 kV DC over 2000 km with energy loss of about 3% per thousand km [17,18].

In our modelling, we include an HVDC and HVAC “backbone” down the east coast of Australia and along the southern coast to South Australia. Terminals are located close to the major population centres (Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne) or near the most important renewable energy sources. This HVDC/HVAC backbone passes within 200 km of three-quarters of the Australian population (most of whom live within 50 km of the coast). The existing transmission and distribution system is connected to this HVDC/ HVAC system to distribute power to consumers, and to transmit power from PV and wind generators to the HVDC/HVAC interconnector.

Local generation and demand management

Local generation refers to small scale systems, usually on urban rooftops. Australia presently has 1.5 million domestic roofmounted PV systems (6 GW) from a housing stock of about 9 million dwellings (7.3 million in the NEM) [13]. Our modelling recognizes the likelihood of continued substantial growth in privately funded rooftop PV systems. We assume that, in the future, one-quarter of dwellings in the NEM are mounted with a fixed 5 kW PV system. Additionally, a similar capacity of solar panels is assumed on commercial building roofs. The total capacity of roof mounted systems is therefore assumed to be 17.3 GW, and based on simulation this yields 23 TWh of annual generation. This is about 11% of annual electricity consumption in the NEM (205 TWh per year).

The output of these PV systems is assumed to be preferentially consumed before contributions from any other generator. The hourly demand is reduced by the modelled rooftop generation.

Typically, the cost of meeting the last several percent of electricity demand (for example, the air conditioning load on a hot summer afternoon) is a large fraction of the total cost of electricity supply. Power demand management tools include interruptible industrial loads, adjusting air conditioning temperature settings, moving domestic and commercial water heating to times of abundant wind and sun, and in the future, managing the timing of household and electric car battery charging and discharging.

Most of the scenarios meet the NEM reliability standard of no more than 0.002% of the unmet load (4 GWh per year) without demand management. However, in some scenarios demand management is employed during critical periods, which are typically cold wet windless weeks in winter that occur once every few years. During these periods the PHES reservoirs run down to zero over a few days because there is insufficient wind and PV generation to recharge them, leading to a shortfall in supply. The amount of PV, wind and PHES storage could be increased to cover this shortfall. However, this substantial extra investment would be utilised only for a few days every few years.

In some scenarios, demand management during critical periods is modelled by relaxing the NEM reliability standard. For example, the allowable unmet load might be increased to 336 GWh per 5 year period through contractually agreed load shedding arrangements. In most years demand would be fully met, but every few years this additional shortfall allowance would be utilised. Modern techniques allow cloudy and windless periods to be forecast (thus providing ample warning), and the PHES storages represent a substantial buffer. A portion of the savings in investment in PV, wind and PHES would be available to compensate certain consumers for partial loss of supply for a few days every few years. For example, reducing the overall cost of electricity supply by $2/MWh by allowing an unmet load of 336 GWh per 5 years would save $2 billion per 5 years, which is equivalent to $6000 per unmet MWh

How does it look?

Example demand and supply curves over the course of 3 days from the 100% renewables modelling. PV energy (yellow and gold) is supplied during the day. Wind energy (green) is available at most times. PHES is utilised in generation mode when demand (red line) exceeds the supply of PV and wind energy, and in pumping mode at other times.

Philip Adams: If you torture data long enough it will confess to anything.

A UNSW report

An AEMO 2013 report

53:38 Lionel Shriver

Here is a disingenuous argument from Lionel Shriver writing in The Spectator.

Hmmm, once again The Fist agrees with the right on identity politics but little else.

As of 2017, of worldwide carbon emissions, the US accounted for 13.7 per cent, Canada 1.6 per cent, Down Under 1.1 per cent, and the entire EU 28 only 9.6 per cent. Ergo, ‘the West’ is responsible for a mere 26 per cent of emissions. … By contrast, China is responsible for 29.3 per cent, which is four and a half times its emissions in 1990. India may ‘only’ account for 6.6 per cent, but that figure has multiplied by four times in three decades.

So I hate to break it to you: the climate emergency is not now, in the main, accelerated by the West, and the solution, if there is one, is not in our hands. Western technological innovation in energy and transportation might help some if we export it. But cycling to work is good for your thighs; it won’t rescue any glaciers.

The biggest driver of climate change and every other global headache you care to name — species extinction, deforestation, desertification, ocean acidification, pollution, fresh water scarcity, oceanic plastic, soil erosion, ‘irregular’ migration — is people. Too many of them, and born too fast.

At least another 2.3 billion more neighbours are on their way by 2050, and they will all aspire — understandably — to a western lifestyle. So if you care about these issues, supporting organisations that provide people living in Africa and the Middle East with access to reliable contraception is more effective than gluing yourself to Waterloo Bridge.

A comment on the SPA page by Laura

Thing is, a huge amount of emissions in the developing world are manufacturing products FOR THE WEST. The fact we have such a consumerist lifestyle means that OUR demand leads to these kinds of issues.
Also, countries like China and India are going through what the West went through about 50 years ago. Our countries used to put out the most emissions but now we’ve become more efficient.
So trying to wash our hands of anything to do with climate change and saying “it’s not our fault” is counterproductive. It might not be ONLY our fault but we have a responsibility. And so does China. And so does India. And so does the Middle East. Etc.

1:04:59 Donald Trump threatens to ‘obliterate’ Turkish economy if it goes too far with Syria invasion

Trump demonstrates the true value of US loyalty.

President Donald Trump warned Turkey against going too far in Syria, after giving Ankara a green light to invade its southern neighbour.

“If Turkey does anything that I, in my great and unmatched wisdom, consider to be off limits, I will totally destroy and obliterate the Economy of Turkey (I’ve done before!),” Mr Trump tweeted.

With friends like these, who needs enemies?

Trump left isolated as Republican allies revolt over US withdrawal from Syria

Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell led a chorus of Republicans who, having defended the president on almost every other issue – including over impeachment – decided to draw a line in the sand.

“A precipitous withdrawal of US forces from Syria would only benefit Russia, Iran, and the Assad regime,” McConnell said. “And it would increase the risk that Isis and other terrorist groups regroup.”

Trump can do anything except get in the way of the military industrial complex.

And he asked China to investigate Biden.


1:19:01 It’s not just Chomsky, John Menadue too.

Who is John Menadue?

From 1960 to 1967 he was Private Secretary to Gough Whitlam, Leader of the Opposition. He then moved into the private sector for seven years as General Manager, News Limited, Sydney, publisher of ‘The Australian’.

John Menadue was head of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet from 1974 to 1976. He was closely involved in the events of November 11, 1975, and worked for Prime Ministers Gough Whitlam and Malcolm Fraser.

He was Australian Ambassador to Japan from 1976 to 1980.

He returned to Australia in 1980 to take up the position of Head, Department of Immigration and Ethnic Affairs.. He was appointed Head of the Department of Trade in December 1983.

He was Chief Executive Officer of Qantas from June 1986 to July 1989.

He was a Director of Telstra from December 1994 to October 1996, and Chairman of the Australia Japan Foundation from 1991 to 1998.

What does he think?

The US is the greatest threat to peace in the world. It is an aggressor across the globe. It is the most violent country both at home and abroad…

Apart from brief isolationist periods, the US has been almost perpetually at war; wars that we have been foolishly drawn into. The US has subverted and overthrown numerous governments over two centuries. It has a military and business complex,  a ‘hidden state’, that depends on war for influence and enrichment. It believes in its ‘manifest destiny’ which brings with it an assumed moral superiority which it denies to others. The problems did not start with Trump. They are long-standing and deep rooted.

Unfortunately, many of our political, bureaucratic, business and media ‘elites’ have been so long on an American drip feed that they find it hard to think of a world without an American focus. We had a similar and dependent view of the UK in the past. That ended in tears in Singapore.

Conservatives rail about Chinese influence but they and we are immersed and dominated by all things American, including the Murdoch media…

The US has never had a decade without war. Since its founding in 1776 the US has been at war 93% of the time. The ‘frontier’ which dominates so much of American historical thinking was grounded in violence and aggression including the occupation of large parts of  Spanish/Mexican lands. These wars then extended from its own hemisphere to the Pacific, to Europe and most recently to the Middle East. The US has launched 201 out of 248 armed conflicts since the end of WWII. In recent decades most of these wars have been unsuccessful. The US maintains 700 military bases or sites around the world including in Australia…

US fleets patrol in strength off the Chinese coast. The US would have mass hysteria if the Chinese fleet patrolled off the Californian coast or Florida Keys, as it is  legally entitled to do! …

The US has been meddling in other countries’ affairs and elections for a century. It tried to change other countries’ governments 72 times during the cold war. Many foreign leaders were assassinated. In the piece reproduced in this blog (The fatal expense of US Imperialism)Professor Jeffrey Sachs said

‘The scale of US military operations is remarkable. … The US has a long history of using covert and overt means to overthrow governments deemed to be unfriendly to the US. … Historian John Coatsworth counts 41 cases of successful US-led regime change for an average of one government overthrow by the US every 28 months for centuries”.

The overthrow, assasination or interference in foreign governments are diverse, including Honduras, Guatemala, Iran, Haiti, Congo, Indonesia, Japan, Vietnam, Chile, Iraq, Afghanistan and most recently, Syria.

There are several reasons why the American record of war and interference has not been challenged.

  1. Americans are ignorant of other countries and alternative cultures.
  2. The military-industrial complex is too powerful.

Our long-term future depends on cooperation in our region and not reliance on a dangerous and distant ally.

How long will Australian denial of US policies continue? When will some of us stand up? When will our humiliation end?

Are our political leaders right in their assessment that any questioning of the threats posed by our interpretation of the benefits and obligations of the US alliance will lose them an election?

In so far as China is any sort of distant threat it would be much less so if we were not so subservient to the US. The US is determined to make China its enemy. We are cooperating in that process.

The US is a very dangerous ally. It is more likely to get us into trouble than out of trouble.

We are joined at the hip to the most violent and dangerous country in the world.



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