Climate, energy, carbon et al:

John Hunwick writes: Re. “Beyond the carbon price, a Faustian bargain” (yesterday, item 13). I agree entirely with David Spratt’s warning on the Faustian bargain being undertaken by the human race with the impact of climate change on the environment. My concern is that people can plan and analyse and point out the best route to take to resolve the problems at least cost to humans and the environment, but no such action will be forthcoming.

Appeals to the past that we humans will respond to the “attack” in the same way some did in WW2 leave me unmoved. Nothing will actually happen of any measurable significance until the situation is alarming and occurring in front of our eyes.

While I am happy people such as Spratt explain the situation, and NASA climate chief James Hansen  continues to care for his (and others’) grandchildren, it is time to tell it more like the way it will happen. When weather patterns have become far less similar with those in the past, when hordes of people cannot be saved by aid because there are too many of them, when food is costing too much to the point where 75% of the Australian population has turned to growing their own food, then there is just a chance (a slim one) that the sensible action we should be taken now — but by then it will be too late.

Only when the human race has been reduced to below a billion is there any chance of a remnant of what we call “life” maintaining a modicum of existence — that no one with any sense would want to live.

Brett Gaskin writes: So more so-called “facts” and “science” from NASA climate chief James Hansen. What would this guy know really about climate change? Does he have his own TV show, newspaper column, or blog? No!

Which proves he probably doesn’t know much and is making all this up in support of a world government/wealth redistribution/attack on job creators/war on capitalism.

Tamas Calderwood (yesterday, comments), we implore you to tell us the truth in simple words and selected data that we can understand.

Bruce Graham writes: Re. “Parkinson: no easy choices, but strong case for energy action” (yesterday, item 2). The Grattan Institute analysis is a welcome addition to national discussion on energy policy, but in one regard it is already out of date.

Referencing a 2011 survey, they note that about a half of surveyed solar panel prices were less than $3 per watt. Prices have fallen a further 20% since their research. The lowest surveyed price in January was $US1.14 per watt. The Grattan Institute has estimated a cost of PV at $200-400 per MWH. Current data from their sources puts this at $150 for  a good location (and, as they document, much of Australia is exceptionally suitable).

Modelling these prices is, however, like all economic modelling, part fantasy. The cost is critically dependent on how long the asset actually endures (unknown, but variously assumed to be 10-40 years), and the interest rate. Exact wholesale pricing, however, is rapidly becoming irrelevant.

Unsubsidised PV installation is accelerating in many parts of Australia because it is cost effective to the end (commercial) user. It is doubtful that either governments or electricity utilities yet know how they should react.

Neil Hunt writes: I’m not sure of the scientific qualifications of the participants of the “cage match” (yesterday, comments), but I suspect that, like me, while they might be trained in some science, it’s certainly not climate science.

My favourite quote on climate change is by one of my IT heroes, the late, great John McCarthy who wrote: “As I have read more about climate change, I have become convinced that I cannot learn enough about the subject to be entitled to an opinion on my own.”

I think all others that don’t have the necessary training and experience should also follow this advice …