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Jul 20, 2012

A da xiang in the room: new emissions data

A fresh report on the world's greenhouse gas emissions shows that a fundamental overhaul of international climate negotiations is needed to restrain global warming.


There’s a dà xiàng in the room when it comes to addressing climate change.

Dà xiàng is mandarin for elephant. And if you want to get your head around the latest data on greenhouse gas emissions, you’ll need to look to China.

A report on global emissions released this week by the PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency and the European Commission should put paid once and for all to the fallacy that climate change can be addressed by rich countries taking the lead and “developing” countries following later on.

This is a core principle of global efforts to address climate change and has been since the formation of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change 20 years ago. The principle made sense then. It doesn’t now. The world has missed that boat, and nothing short of a fundamental overhaul of the principles and approaches of international climate negotiations is likely to achieve the UN’s agreed goal of restraining warming to two degrees.

Here’s why: the Dutch report, Trends in global CO2 emissions 2012, found China emitted 29% of global emissions in 2011 — making it the largest emitter by a significant margin. China’s national emissions rose by a staggering 9% in 2011 alone, having risen by 150% over the past decade.

China’s per capita emissions increased by 9% in 2011 and are now 7.2 tonnes of CO2 per person, which, the report notes, is “similar to the per capita emissions in the European Union”. China’s per capita emissions are now higher than France, Italy and Spain.

International climate negotiations are proceeding on the basis that “developed” countries should take the lead and accept binding targets to reduce emissions under the Kyoto Protocol process, while “developing” countries (including China) can wait to submit to this process from 2020, when a new universal legal instrument is supposed to come into force.

This approach is equitable and ethically sound. It is also not feasible.

The Dutch report found that global emissions, which had dipped for a few years because of the GFC,  increased by 3% in 2011, reaching an “all-time high” of 34 billion tonnes of CO2. The report calculated that at this rate, the world would use up its “carbon budget” for the period 2000-2050 by 2032. In other words, global warming will not be restrained to two degrees if we keep this up. (The report’s data covers emissions from energy use and industries, but not forestry or forest fires.)

The distinction between “developed” and “developing” countries no longer reflects reality; looking at the figures, the world has to find a way to dramatically rein in China’s emissions, and pretty soon, to get back on track.

That’s the realpolitik. The ethics of the situation is different, and one in which Australia and the US are the villains — not China.

The report grants the perennial high-polluting Australia the dubious honour of having the highest per capita emissions.

Australia comes in at 19 tonnes of CO2 per person in 2011, and our per capita emissions are still rising (the figures exclude forestry emissions). By any measure Australia performs poorly. Our national emissions are the world’s 15th largest — which given that the world contains close to 200 countries, makes us a major player.

We beat the US on per capita emissions; the US comes in at 17.2 tonnes (those emissions — both national and per capita — are dropping slowly). It’s worth remembering that as the US was the world’s biggest polluter for a long time, its historical (as opposed to annual) share of emissions is proportionally very high.The UNFCCC approach of developed countries taking the lead on climate change has failed largely because the US refused to do so, by not ratifying the Kyoto Protocol and not comprehensively addressing emissions at the national level.

By contrast, Erwin Jackson, deputy CEO of the Climate Institute, notes that “many emerging economies are doing more to tackle climate change, they have some of the world’s most ambitious policies”.

Jackson concedes that the division of the world into developed and developing countries “is a reflection of the reality of 20 years ago”, but thinks equity cannot be left behind in the debate, which translates to focusing more on “developed” country actions than pointing the finger at China.

China is working on laws to make its self-selected greenhouse targets (which aim to reduce emissions per unit of GDP) binding, is the global superpower on renewable energy, and is trialling regional emissions trading schemes. Some Chinese provinces have simply turned off the electricity to industrial areas at times, to meet greenhouse targets. Imagine the howls of protest if Julia Gillard tried that.

But while China’s actions are in some ways ambitious, they won’t reduce the country’s emissions for some time. They just dampen what would otherwise be truly extraordinary emissions growth.

Ethically, the only crime China is guilty of is trying to emulate the economic growth and level of material comfort of countries like the US (which has itself squibbed on climate change). The problem is that the atmosphere will struggle to cope with that from China’s 1.34 billion people.

Experts say that international efforts to address climate change are failing, and there is a dire shortage of fresh approaches and political goodwill to get them back on track. The Dutch report provides evidence of this failure.

Among the report’s doom and gloom is one method by which emissions can be reduced — but it’s an inconvenient truth. Countries and regions that suffer economic decline tend to see their emissions drop. In 2011, emissions fell from the US (2%), Japan (2%) and the EU (3%); that was “mainly due to weak economic conditions”, as well as mild winters and high oil prices. On the other hand, China’s 9% emissions rise was “mainly due to a continued high economic growth rate”.

The Australian government (and quite a few economists) like to talk about how it’s possible and desirable to decouple economic growth from emissions growth. That doesn’t appear to be happening yet.


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166 thoughts on “A da xiang in the room: new emissions data

  1. Steve Grant

    The other elephant in the room is that much of China’s output occurs in the manufacture of goods consumed in Australia, the European Union, the United States and Japan. Perhaps there should also be a graph “Responsible for Emissions” which takes that into account.

  2. MJPC

    Thank you Cathy, interesting report on the science of the bleedingly obvious. The worlds economists will bleat on about continual growth which is just an impossibility when living on a world of both finite resources and finite environmental health.
    The latest Popular Science says it all when it states “There is no longer any question of preventing climate change, the atmosphere is already warming in response to Human generated greenhouse gas emissions”. It’s just a case of how hot will it become and what effects will that have on weather and climate conditions.
    I can recall a forum where Dr David Suzuki stated that that everything Economists predict rarely runs true (ie. predicting the GFC), whereas environmental predictions run true to prediction (ie pollution, environmental degradation, species extinction).
    I am not critical of the Aust Govt Carbon tax; one has to start somewhere but the world is going to have to join together and address the larger issues or it’s adios amigo’s for all our wasteful life styles.

  3. bobm

    So the Dutch report does not include Australia’s “forestry emissions”? That is a shame, since they are NEGATIVE:

  4. Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

    Most other countries talk about their emission from the 1990 levels, i.e. a 20% reduction from 1990 levels by 2020.

    Both Liberal and ALP (Alternative Liberal Party), say they are committed to reducing Australia’s emissions by 5% from 2000 levels.

    A look at the graph above of Australia’s emissions quickly shows why Australia is being devious by using the 2000 figure.

  5. Mark Duffett

    In addition to the factors mentioned above, a component of the falls in emissions can be attributed to the ongoing process of deindustrialisation, at least in the EU (euractiv.com/climate-environment/eu-energy-chief-warms-offshore-o-news-513990). Most this capacity is effectively going to China, where it contributes correspondingly to emissions there, making stuff that is exported back to…Europe.

    It would also be instructive to examine which decarbonisation policies have been most successful, and the extent to which they can be emulated elsewhere. One such analysis (thebreakthrough.org/blog/2012/04/which_nations_have_reduced_car.shtml) concluded that “State-led investments in energy technology are the best way to reduce economic dependence on dirty fossil fuels”, at least in developed countries. The most successful: Sweden and France. And China is indeed adopting many of the same approaches. One of these is building significant numbers of atomic power plants, which the article strangely fails to mention.

  6. Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

    BOBM – There is no other rich country which hides behind land clearing.

    That in 1990 we were clearing huge amounts of Queensland means that our forestry emissions for that year were extremely high.

    It was a trick of Howard’s to get this taken into account at the last minute in the Kyoto agreements (this was the “Australia clause”). To Rudd’s shame, when Labor ratified Kyoto, Labor still used this trick to enable Australia to substantially INCREASE its emissions when most other signatories committed to reductions.

    Because Australia is playing such tricks in the international forums we have been a force against climate change action, and Australians should be ashamed of what our governments have done in our name.

  7. bobm


    I tried to link to a graph to explain myself but it didn’t load.

    What I was trying to point out is that forestry (ie wood production) and land clearing are two very different things. Forestry has been and will continue to be a net sequester of carbon over the long term. This is something many green leaning folks seem to have difficulty accepting. Look at climatechange dot gov dot au and search for forestry. It’s all there.


  8. Microseris

    @ BOBM, how exactly does forestry sequester carbon for the long term (required) when a significant proportion of the timber cut goes to woodchips/paper/consumer goods (typically with a life span of 10 years)?

  9. Marty

    @Steve Grant

    I just received the daily mail and was going to log in to make exactly that point! While it’s great that Europe has managed to reduce its emissions through the use of tightened laws on power generation and transportation, the movement of industrial production to China has to have contributed greatly as well. As companies do this, in order to avoid the labour market and environmental legislation that make Western nations worth living in, we have essentially outsources our industrial emissions to China along with our manufacturing jobs. It’s unfair, therefore, to simply point to an increase in Chinese carbon emissions, even if we use the per capita metric, because the outcomes of the processes creating these emissions are consumed elsewhere. If there is going to be an accurate accounting, it would need to incorporate the consumption of people in each nation and the industrial processes required to meet that demand.

  10. mick j

    It isn’t all that difficult despite the reluctance of politicians to listen: Australia needs to levy a CARBON IMPORT TAX, levied only on those countries which refuse to clean up their act, including the third world. The tax is NOT an import tax as such because it will fall away once the nation in question makes a genuine move to improve its emissions.

    We all know that the cry will come up about tariff reprisals but this would not be a tariff. Governments also then protect Australian jobs from the higher cost which Australian manufacturers bear due to our compliance.

    Foreign nations would not like it but then how else do you get nations which are happy to exploit our conscience to make gains for themselves.

  11. bobm


    Simply? The trees are growing faster than we’re cutting them.

    And before you ask, that does not include the large benefits available through substituting carbon intensive products such as cement and concrete.


    The numbers are staggering, both in terms of the pace of climate change (over 3,000 temp. records broken in the USA this summer) and the huge difference between what CO2 we can emit and how much is already on the books of the hydrocarbon industries. In Rolling Stone, there’s a calculation that we will need to leave in the ground about $20 trillion dollars worth, so the scale of the problem is immense.

    And if not? We will fry, along with everything else on the planet.

    So what has energy density high enough to replace coal? Wind? Solar? Not unless we wish to cover half the planet with them, but even worse, they need storage, and as yet there is nothing to do this effectively, so for every watt of renewable energy there’s coal or gas backup.

    If carbon dioxide is the enemy, then nuclear is the answer for producing the 80% of what’s called baseload, and if we don’t start expanding the 14% of global nuclear generation, and quickly, it will be too late.

    All the FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt) pumped out by those who think nuclear power is unsafe is simply helping us cook the planet. The quantifiable facts say nuclear is the safest and greenest power source and we have it in abundance. (Just remember that no one has, or probably will die from the release at Fukushima. Coal kills, in large numbers)

    It really is way past time to start doing what’s rational, and not letting the religious purity of ill-informed tree huggers stop us from doing what is absolutely necessary. With our level of emissions, it truly is appallingly selfish to pontificate.

  13. stevew

    Something that is seldom discussed or considered in this debate is the fact that Australia is a very large country with a very small population. Hence to do ordinary things we use more energy just to get somewhere. Additionally, we are financially reliant on heavy resource industries.

    I’ll bet that tourists who visit here are responsible for more carbon emissions while here than when at home.

    Hands up all those who think we should stop mining and cluster our entire population down into the bottom right hand corner of the country and live of sustainably grown vegetables.

    Back to the caves anyone?

  14. Hamis Hill

    What is with the moderation? Bio-sequestration of carbon through the dead bodies of artificially grown microscopic sea creatures is potentially actionable and Crikey must protect itself? Really?

  15. Microseris

    @BOBM I suppose thats why forestry agencies like VicForests keep overestimating the available resource and the Victorian govt has to argue against additional reserves of high conservation value forests by stating there is insufficient resources available to satisfy existing contracts..

    Whilst plantations could satisfy demand, you need to factor in the carbon footprint of forestry activities including initial cutting machinery, burning the residual waste after logging, transport, processing, shipping, distribution and ultimately release of CO2 when the item reaches the end of its life expectancy. Hardly a win win.

  16. Hamis Hill

    OK let’s ignore the fate of the planet and suggest that the marine deserts be ferilised with missing elements so that depleted fishh stocks can be restored. (with increased biosequestration of oceanic carbon.
    Buy that would be “Human Intervention” now wouldn’t it?
    Are we at all sure that what is going on here is not a “Subconscious ‘Humans Must Be punished’ Religion” at work? Now we haven’t seen that elephant before have we?

  17. Lochee

    Does Cathy have a da xiang in her garage?

    I have a problem with some of the figures she quotes.

    Such as: China’s emissions are similar to Europe’s though greater than that of France, Italy and Spain.

    Surprise, surprise! China’s population is eight times the population of those three countries.

    She says Australia’s per person CO2 emission is over two and a half times China’s – 19 versus 7.2: Shame on us.

  18. The Pav

    Oh Oh

    More science.

    Don’t let the Parrot or Tony Abbot see it. They’ll only deny its existence.

    That’s the real da xiang in the room

  19. bobm


    I’m not aware of the situation in Victoria. But I don’t think a biased sawlog yield estimate in one agency has much bearing on the carbon budget for a whole industry. The carbon footprint of activities is included in the calculations, i.e. there are NET gains, as stated (emission – sequestration < 0) .

  20. muruk

    The real elephant is the huge number of people on earth, discussion of which is of course forbidden by political correctness.

    Currently the population is increasing by around 1.3% each year, so the population will double every 50 years. In 100 years there will not be enough arable land to feed the people, and that assumes that we still have enough oil for fertiliser production and fuel required for broad-acre farming.

    I would think that within 50 or so years wars and famine will cause the human population to crash to no more than that of medieval times. Of course some desperado could push the nuclear panic button and then homo sapiens would join the billions of already extinct species.

    Lampreys, cockroaches and tardigrades would survive so in a few hundred million years of continuing evolution, another “smart” species could evolve. And they could repeat the whole sorry cycle by using up the renewed supply of fossil fuels.

  21. Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)


    Plenty of people talk about population. And there are well known ways that reduce population growth.

    But when it comes to preventing global warming we have to make huge cuts in our emissions in the next few years.

    Population growth is a relative long term problem. Acting on climate change is a short term problem.

    And CHRISTOPHER DUNNE, for Australia Nuclear is only a long term possibility. It could be discussed as part of our long term actions, but until we take the short term seriously, nuclear for Australia is only a distraction.

  22. Mark Duffett

    @MWH, consideration of nuclear as only a long term possibility for Australia is an indication that the short term is not being taken seriously enough.

  23. Scott Grant

    I think, on current projections, climate change will take care of our population problem. I am not sure of the time scale, but the current projections of climate change suggest a planet able to support a few hundred million people (less than a billion, anyway), living at high latitudes. Assuming the really serious effects don’t hit much before the end of this century, population projections are that world population will peak at around 11 billion or so in the middle of this century. I would guess that by the end of this century population will be in a massive decline through starvation, flood, extreme weather, disease and war. We might be able to avoid the worst of it, but I doubt it. It requires serious change now. Too few people seem to accept just how serious the problem is. By the time it becomes so obvious that the penny drops, even for terminally stupid people like Tony Abbot, it will be too late.

  24. MJPC

    Muruk, heartily agree, the more people this planet has to support the greater the environmental degradation will be. Of course it is not PC to suggest major changes in pupulation policies, we are breeding ourselves into oblivion.
    C Dunne, to achieve the energy and carbon targets there needs to be a total turn from Carbon to a Hydrogen energy base. Alternate energy will assis,t but large gains will be made when the developed economies start to change to electricity supplied by H2 fuel cells which can power vehicles, aircraft and ships as well as supply power and heat.
    I agree that nuclear fission is not the way, nuclear Fusion is a possiblity but not in the short term unless major funds are put into the research.
    As I read once, there needs to be a Manhattan type project to save the planet and supply clean power. Frankly, from articles such as this, it seems to be economics is winning out over science.

  25. Hamis Hill

    The four horemen of the apocalypse, see above post, are you all at all sure that you do not harbour an almost religious desire to punish “”humanity” for some subconscious reason?
    Look they’re not listening! Kill them all! Kill them All!
    Feeding the shock jocks here.
    Bio-sequestration of carbon in the oceanic depths? Nah, we’re all stuffed anyway!
    Pathetic, really pathetic.

  26. Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

    It is looking likely that some parts of the world, including parts of Australia, will become inhabitable for humans without artificial cooling.

    At present the hottest places on earth are all dry. But when you combine heat with greater humidity, a human in the shade will overheat and die.

    As Scott says, by the time it become obvious to the deniers that climate change is real it will be far too late.

    @Mark Duffett – Until we sort out our plans for urgent action for the next ten to twenty years, discussing nuclear is just a distraction. Because it would take many years to plan then build nuclear, we have to make huge changes before any nuclear plant would be turned on. What should we do this year and next are urgent questions from which discussing nuclear is just a distraction.

  27. Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

    @ MJPC – Energy is needed to create hydrogen. So the question remains – now do we get that energy?

    The economics have been clear since the Stern report – it is cheaper to take action to prevent climate change than to deal with the consequences. The real costs of taking action are, compared to the consequences, fairly mild.

    So it is not economics that is winning over science, it is vested interests winning over rational economics.

  28. muruk


    Population growth is not a relatively long term problem. As I noted above, the human disaster horizon is set by food availability and lies at about the year 2060. The population has to decrease, not stay the same and certainly not increase at all. With respect to climate, the disaster horizon is somewhere on the far sided of 2100. In 50 years the world’s climate will still be quite reasonable even if the most alarming current warming forecasts are exceeded.

    What currently feeds the people is the conversion of oil to food via fertiliser and fuel. No other raw material allows so much food to be produced. The oil reserve in the ground is now well known and very limited – peak oil production was in 2007. It is currently estimated that by 2060 oil production will be about 30% of what is currently produced. At present about 40% of the oil supply is devoted to agriculture and food distribution. In 50 years time the total available oil will not support the food needs of the current population. It will absolutely not support an expanded population.

    Replacing oil with bio-fuels is a pipe-dream because the source materials displace food production. If we slaughtered every single baby born in the next 50 years, the normal mortality rate of the remaining aging population would not reduce it sufficiently to avoid catastrophe from starvation.

    There are numerous sources of relevant data, and the arithmetic is simple. For your own edification I suggest you get the data and do the sums – you will find as I did that the ruling classes have hoodwinked all the rest of us. The elites have every intention of surviving, as they always have.

  29. Mark Duffett

    @MWH, the ‘urgent action’ for Australia is to develop something like 20-25 GW of low carbon, high capacity factor generation. Any means of achieving that goal is going to ‘take many years to plan then build’, so nuclear should be in the mix from the get-go.

  30. Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

    I can think of rather a lot of things that should be done now. So first lets:

    Scrap all fuel subsidies,
    Stop funding roads,
    Massive increase to public transport and cycling,
    Carbon tax on petrol,
    No exceptions for carbon tax and increase the tax to much higher,
    Scrape all the compensation and use money to do the things on this list
    Match world’s best practice for energy efficiency of all new cars
    Match world’s best practice for all building and product efficiencies
    Massive wind, solar, and perhaps other technologies (which can be built quickly)
    (and as this is just of the top of my list, add much more).

    Once all these are on the go I’ll be happy to discuss why I think nuclear is not part of the answer for Australia.

  31. Ian

    Vested interests and ideology trump the evidence and rationality, that’s the problem.
    Nuclear materials themselves, apart from all their other problems, are just finite resource themselves which would rapidly deplete if they were used on a significant scale to replace other non- renewables.
    MHW (earlier post),
    There is nothing wrong with addressing the population problem at the same time as the consumption and energy problems. In fact it’s imperative if we are to be succeeded by more than one or maybe two viable generations.

  32. Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)


    As well addressing the wold population problem (usually giving women better education, health, and access to contraception very quickly reduces family size), we should look in our own backyard.

    The very best thing you can do for the environment is to have one less child. Yet Liberal and now Labor have lots of policies in place encouraging people to have more children. Consequently Australia’s natural population increase is one of the highest in the rich countries.

    My last post is still begin held for moderation. Hopefully this one will get through.

  33. Scott

    Australia doesn’t have an overpopulation problem. In around 30 years the crusties will be leaving the building leaving a depleted generation x as the top tier. Also When 56% of Australia’s increase in population is coming from net overseas migration, you know that it’s not the birth rate that is the problem.

    As for carbon emissions, I think most people have see the emperor’s underwear in regards to climate change and realize it isn’t as bad as the deep ecologists have claimed. Sure, something to keep an eye on and worthy of more research, but no need to start stock piling canned goods just yet.

  34. Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

    Scott – With our current use of natural resources, Australia is already overpopulated.

    And, if your figure is correct, then 44% of our population increase is natural increase and this proves my point – compared to most rich countries we are having more children (many rich countries have a natural decrease in population).

    And it is very obvious to anyone following the facts of climate change that overall things are much worse than was earlier predicted.

    If Scott has any evidence that climate change is nothing to worry about, please let me and others know.

  35. Andrew (the real one?)

    That Carbon Import Tax that JJMICK mentions sounds good and would be an easy sell. I read that some European contries have proposed this idea.
    What also needs to be looked at is a Carbon Cost applied to any new item that reflects the Carbon Contribution over the life of that item.
    This would be known as a Carbon Contribution Tax.
    It would mean good quality long lasting items have a lower tax applied and low quality short life items have a higher tax applied. As a side benefit it would help local manufactures compete with the rubbish imports.
    Once again it will be an easy sell.
    I look forwards to one if the parties incorporating this idea into their policy.

  36. Andrew (the real one?)

    That Carbon Import Tax that JJMICK mentions sounds good and would be an easy sell. I read that some European contries have proposed this idea.
    What also needs to be looked at is a Carbon Cost applied to any new item that reflects the Carbon Contribution over the life of that item.
    This would be known as a Carbon Contribution Tax.
    It would mean good quality long lasting items have a lower tax applied and low quality short life items have a higher tax applied. As a side benefit it would help local manufactures compete with the rubbish imports.
    Once again it will be an easy sell.
    I look forwards to one of the parties incorporating this idea into their policy.

  37. Patriot

    Reminded me of this one:

    “China, closing down a dirty coal-fired power generation facility at the rate of one every one to two weeks, putting up a wind turbine at the rate of one every hour.”

    Anyone else remember that? Goodness, that was funny.

  38. Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

    China is doing much better than Australia and most other countries in increasing its percentage of clean energy.

    So what is your point Patriot? That China should have stayed in poverty? That China shouldn’t have produced any emissions to make the products that we in the West buy?

    In a hundred or so years time, when people look back to see how it was we knowingly destroyed the planet when we knew what would happen, and it was relatively easy to prevent, Australia will clearly be one of the main offenders. So don’t blame China.

  39. Hamis Hill

    The problem Michael is that worrying is all you do.
    Leadership doesn’t include a lot of worrying, (quick, everyone, let’s follow the worrier).
    The “what problem” crew are just as useless, not leading anywhere at all.
    If I may be so bold, no-one is going to start dismantling civilization forthe sake of an apocalyptic vision.
    No matter how true it may be.
    Adaptation is the hall mark of civilisation, it is the only weapon in the arsenal and instead, by way of “leadership”, we get mindless bickering about who to blame and punish.
    Pathetic, truly pathetic.
    If you are not going to do anything about this problem except bicker you’d be better off crawling under a rock to die, taking your f—ing infectious negativity with you.
    Do the planet a favour and start doing something positive.

  40. Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

    Hamis, I posted a list of things that should be done NOW at 6:10, and this post is still being held for moderation.

    Proper action on climate change is not dismantling civilisation. Neither is changing our economy so that we no longer reduce our natural capital. But it does involve some of the vested interests having to make major changes.

    I’m not sure what negativity you are accusing me of. I’m facing the reality. If you are not alarmed by what is likely to happen then you are not informed.

  41. Patriot

    My point is simply that Gillard is deceitful. I’ve got a good campaign slogan for you Greens, Michael:

    Be alarmed, not alert!

  42. Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

    Both Gillard and Abbott are deceitful – a 5% cut of 2000 levels by 2020 is far too little far too late.

  43. Patriot

    So why don’t you start building a bunker or running around with a sandwich-board like the rest of the “end is nigh” nutters?

  44. Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

    Because I’ll be dead before I’ll need a bunker.

    Who is more evil – a man who kills 14 people in a cinema or those who publicly lobby against action on climate change?

    This is a serious question.

    My view is that those speaking out against action on climate change are more evil.

  45. Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

    And as for running around with a sandwich-board …

    I stood as a candidate for the Greens in Higgins back in 2007, spent one months worth of time (i.e. 31 x 24 hours) campaigning, with my major issue being climate change.

    It didn’t make much difference, but at least I tried.

  46. Patriot

    Wow! If climate change denial is worse than mass-murder what are your thoughts on murdering prominent deniers to save the planet? Would you condone it as a form of activism?

  47. Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

    I would not condone it, but I’m surprised that it has not yet happened.

    And climate change is mass murder – where the numbers will be measured in millions (or possibly billions).

  48. Col Campey

    There’s another elephant in the room and it’s that partisan politics is the main obstacle to progress on emission reduction (as well as on many other fronts)

    see colflower.blogspot.com.au

  49. Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

    Col – I think that the Greens have a conscious vote on every issue. So they are close to independent.

    The Liberals are fairly locked – crossing the floor is very rare. And with Labor crossing the floor can have you expelled from the party.

    I wonder what would happen if something like the asylum issue was a conscious vote for all parties? The Greens would not change because they already have this. But I suspect that there would be a few Liberal and Labor members who would no longer support offshore processing.

    With climate change I also wonder. There must be at least a few Liberals who understand the reality of the threat. And perhaps there is even a glimmer of decency hidden away within Peter Garret and a few other Labor members.

    The only hope is when a few Liberal and Labor people say “Look, this climate change is real. The carbon tax is only a small first step. Now we need to urgently decide on our second and third steps.”

  50. fractious

    Population growth on a planet with finite resources is only one part of a long-term problem: another other factor that goes hand-in-hand with growth is increasing material consumption and a third is unequal distribution of that material wealth. Most people in most “developed” nations have more than enough, those without want what most of us have and those in “developing” nations want for a lot. We are all individually to varying extents locked into an insane and insanitary race to better our material circumstances and it’s a race that’s very hard not to take part in (and I have tried). Aside from some clear-headed thinkers and a minority of the population who understand enough to want to fight for something less self-destructive, none of the major political parties in “developed” nations will even acknowledge the problems, let alone address them, and it is often a lot worse (often by necessity) in “developing” nations. Increasing material consumption is a global problem and all “developed” nations are doing is shifting the blame to nations like China and India, the same nations we export raw materials to to make the material things we are only willing to pay sod-all for. So-called “externalities” – like air and water pollution, land degradation, loss of species, loss of social and ecological amenity and, dare I say it, climate change – are either never considered in the “triple bottom line” (i.e. money, money and money) or given trivial values that don’t reflect the real cost.

    So there will be 8+billion people locked into a system that they hardly understand and have almost no control over whose effects on the natural systems that really support them they only begin to understand when those natural systems start going haywire. Then the full cost (and I don’t mean $$$, by that time money won’t mean much) will begin to become apparent. Then behaviours and attitudes will – slowly at first – inevitably change. But that widespread mass change will be far far too late, since once natural systems go haywire there is no turning back. What we can see – if we stop to look – right now are natural systems breaking down, at species and community and biome levels, but these are not generally cataclysmic events like say a volcano or an earthquake. These breakdowns are the result of often gradual and subtle shifts and interactions but the combination of the spread of effects and further interaction over time is almost unstoppable. Think of weeds in a patch of bushland – they didn’t just appear and get a stranglehold on the area overnight, it would have taken 20, 30 or 50 years but it was so gradual we hardly noticed. Now expand that to the entire planet and enlarge the timeframe, then add in pollution, land clearing, weed and feral animal invasions, habitat fragmentation, soil loss and degradation, over-harvesting and so on, then add in changes wrought by climate disruption, all over a century. Then try to imagine how all those factors and more will interact and combine.

    With the exception of minor parties like the Greens politicians are useless for this sort of long term planning because it requires long term vision and principles. And anyway Big Business dictates the agenda, governments are mere facilitators and elections are a sideshow designed to keep the punters quiet. The last thing Big Money wants is a government with Principles and Ideas cos the next thign you know they’ll be mountign serious challenges to the sacred notion that economic growth is the answer to everything. As far as Big Money is concerned there is no alternative, either because they can’t conceive of one or they will have it dragged out the back and shot if they see one.

    In part the planet and its future human cargo are already partly screwed, simply because of the time it takes to get a large enough proportion of the population to stop, look, think and act (assuming no economic and political interference), and partly because of the time it takes for disrupted large-scale ecological systems to settle into a less unstable and disruptive pattern. And all of that assumes sufficient global will. And that means all of us giving shit up, most of all beliefs and habitual actions, and that means challenging first ourselves and then others and then – collectively – whoever it is who’s running the place and running it into the floor.

  51. Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

    Well said!

  52. Patriot

    So why won’t you take the next step in your reasoning, Michael – condoning the killing of deniers to save the billions of their victims?

  53. Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

    Because killing deniers is no, for me, the next logical step.

    Instead I’m trying democracy.

    And I hope that there is a possibility that what I’ve written makes you recognise that this is not idle banter, but matters.

  54. Liamj

    Good unsentimental article, but bit of an oversight not emphasising Australia’s mega-polluter role as major coal & LNG exporter. Nothing we can do!!? how obvious can a suicide cult get?

    I think AGW deniers like the dirty digger & botox Tony are secret animal lib fundys, working to wipe out the humans.

  55. Hamis Hill

    FRACTIOUS gives the right lead with the argument for individual responsibility.
    Individual freedom of action is more direct and effective than lobbying for legislation.
    Look at the voluntary emissions trading scheme, aready in place for almost two decades.
    And as for “Publically lobbying against action on climate change” an article recently appeared describing the growing of algae to sequestre carbon in the ocean depths.
    Canned ten years ago by conservationist exrtremists who threatened bad publicity and brought about a consequent withdrawal of financial support for the proponents.
    “Lobbying against action on climate change”.
    Don’t blame Michael PATRIOT, no planet without peace, no peace without justice and no justice without grass roots participatory democracy are The Greens principles. Not single-issue extremism!

  56. The Old Bill

    There is of course one other dà xiàng in the room that no one has mentioned yet.
    Conservative religions, especially The Roman Catholics and Muslims, have a huge hold on a large number of people’s attitudes to birth control, women’s rights including access to contraception and their health. Until there is a fundamental change amongst those who need an imaginary friend in their life, (like Tony Abbott and the idiots from Family First, not to mention some of our more moronic muslim clerics,) there will be no change anyway.

  57. Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

    Hamis Hill – Taking adequate action on climate change requires major changes to the economy.

    Individual action is good because it shows that persons commitment.

    But because most people will not make many changes, individual actions will make little difference to our emission levels.

    The best individual action you can do is have one less child.

    The best thing you can do is to not vote for the major parties, and to urge others to change their vote as well.

  58. Hamis Hill

    The best thing you can do, Michael, if you claim to have some connection with The Greens, is to at least indicate that you have some concept of that party’s guiding principles. Your guiding principles!
    And the same can be said for those who were forunate to be elected as The Greens representatives..
    The silence is quite pathetic. State and talk to the principles, Michael, if you are arguing as a member of The Greens, otherwise give it a rest and don’t mention them at all.
    You are not being baited, Michael, simply called to account.
    Do not make claims that you do not substantiate, state the principles or just stay quiet.
    Too intellectually understimulating for you? A bit of party discipline too hard to take?

  59. Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

    I don’t have any connection with the Greens now (I’m neither a member nor have I been to any meetings for years).

    But I used to be very involved, I used to be a member, and I was even a candidate in 2007. And I still strongly support most the policies of The Greens.

    That my experience when I was in the Greens differs from yours just shows that the Greens are a diverse group. Any history of what happened in say NSW branches is irrelevant to my experience.

    I’m happy to substantiate the claims I make. But as I have no connection with the Greens at the moment, any talk of party discipline is irrelevant.

  60. Hamis Hill

    ” A political ideology is a set of principles aimed at establishing or maintaining a certain social system; it is a program of long range action, with the principles serving to unify and integrate particular steps into a consistent course.

    It is only by means of principles that citizens can project the future
    and choose their actions accordingly.”

    Michael. I prefer my philosophy to be delivered by professor Ayn Rand.
    It is much more considered, disciplined and directable to the ordinary citizen, as would befit grass roots democracy.

  61. Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

    I’m sure that most Green members and definitely most Green voters have not even heard of Ayn Rand.

    All my time with Green members, supporters, and voters showed that most were concerned about practical policy issues.

    Even in party meetings I don’t recall much philosophy.

  62. Hamis Hill

    You didn’t learn much during your time as a party member Michael if you think that there is in NSW, under the particpatory democracy principle, a Head Office and Branch structure like the major parties.
    And who decided when you were a candidate in Higgins in 2007 that you would campaign on the single isssue of Climate Change? The Climate Change Coalition? A separate single-issue party?
    I do not think that, given their recent successes, The Greens in Victoria are without the guidance of principles, as you appear to have been.
    Raising again the question of who the real Greens are; party members disciplined by their principles or a bunch of single issue barrow pushers gate crashing the party?
    We have a planet to save…. Yeah right!

  63. Hamis Hill

    But thanks, Michael, for mentioning The Greens, it gave the opportunity to promote the principles which citizens can hold even when like you and I they are not members.
    Principles are the means by which, if you look at Ayn Rand, all political parties may be held to account.
    Those which do not wish to be held to account hide or deny their principles. Labor, Liberal, all of them.

  64. Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

    I suspect that I’m not the only person confused by your posts.

    Certainly when I was candidate we had an active local branch, a state office who did higher level campaign co-ordination, and as it was a Federal election, we of course worked closely with Federal Greens.

    I campaigned on all the usual issues. In 2007 Climate Change and Human Rights were the two that resulted in community forums. But also Education, Gay rights, etc etc

    As the article above shows, we are quickly heading towards it being too late to prevent very bad climate change. Don’t you think that this one of the most important, if not the most important, issue of our time?

  65. Hamis Hill

    “The principles serving to unify and integrate particular steps (practical policy issues , perhaps?) into a consistent course”
    Showing that reading is not comprehension. No room for philosophy, the love of truth, either?
    Michael, you can do better, don’t let the ego get in the way of saving the planet.

  66. Hamis Hill

    I will have to leave it to your erstwhile colleagues from the Victorian Greens to verify whether they have a major party style Head Office and Branch organisation, The principle of grassroots democracy and professor Rand’s philosophy seems to confuse you, be that as it may.
    Now to answer your question, I do not agree that when we finally all realise that it is,( as you suggest)
    A single “Most important issue” we will all suddenly stop and do some thing about it.
    The question is how to do do something about it, within the framework of what already exists.
    And I agree with Ayn Rand that ” it is only by means of principles that citizens can project the future (Your “saved” planet”) and choose their actions accordingly”.
    Particularly by application of Greens principles which saves the planet through disarmanent and non-violence which requires economic and social justice which depends upon grass-roots participatory democracy. Comprehension needed here. Single-issues do not cut it and never have.
    Survey the ruins of the single-issue approach to this problem in the above posts. endless bickering.
    Who is against peace, justice and democracy? No-one! Use them to save the planet, do not abandon them as single-issue lunacy does. How is this confusing?

  67. Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

    Hamis. Can you please provide a link to these “Greens principles”. I suspect that you are not talking about the Australian Greens political party but some other philosophy.

    So yes, your posts do confuse me. I have trouble seeing how they related to the Greens party that I know. And I have trouble seeing how they related to the topic of discussion of this thread – climate change.

  68. Patriot

    Our Greens here are loony and extreme even measured against other greens around the world. I remember reading a quote from Peter Costello a few weeks back regarding the attitude of European green parties to our Greens:

    “I ask him his opinion of the Australian Greens. I cannot repeat his reply but it made me realise that our indigenous Greens are not only extreme by Australian standards. They are at the outer reaches of international Greenism as well.”

    Loony, extreme and ultimately embarrassing even to other greens. That’s saying something!

  69. Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

    Patriot – Given the facts about climate change, I think that it is factual to call the Liberals looney and extremists on this issue.

    What we don’t get is criticisms of actual Green policy (from Liberal or Labor).

    So to put some substance to this debate, please name three policies which make the Greens extremists!

  70. Hamis Hill

    Michael, The Australian Greens are a federation of State Greens parties.
    The Australian Greens, in their charter, have subdivided the four international Greens Principles into eleven slogans or motherhood statements. You have to ask those responsible why they did it.
    The Greens came out of Europe where several different activist groups concerning themmselves separately with ban the bomb or saving the environment or promoting justice came together to better promote their objectives. That is the source of the four principles.
    The name came from the Sydney Green bans of 1972 where a grassroots campaign by local communities supported by the unions successfully saved cultural and environmental heritage.
    A co-founder of Die Gruenen , Petra Kelly took the name back to Europe after visiting Sydney in 1977.
    And the name spread through Europe and eventually back to Australia.
    I suspect Michael that you are still confused.

  71. Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

    Hamis, To your last post I just say “so what?”

    I’m confused as to why you think that what you wrote has anything to do with this thread.

    And if I’m confused, I’ll bet that plenty of other people are as well.

  72. Patriot

    3 loony extreme Greens policies off the top of my head:

    1. Open borders and/or free charter flights from Indonesia for unidentifiable “asylum seekers”.

    2.Phase out of coal mining.

    3.One world government.

  73. Hamis Hill

    A message from Philosophy Professor Ayn Rand ( a Bete Noire for the more moronic of you) and for those who recognise that The Greens are indeed an environment party. (Yes Michael. Climate Change? Definitely confused.)
    ” A political ideology is a set of principles aimed at establishing or maintaining a certain social system; it is a program of long range action, with the principles serving to unify and integrate particular steps into a consistent course.
    It is only by means of principles that citizens can project the future and choose their actions accordingly”
    Hence no planet without peace, no peace without justice and no justice without democracy is the simple and straightforward manner inwhich the four international Greens Principles act together.
    According to Michael none of this is at all relevant to anything? Yeah save the planet!

  74. Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

    Patriot –

    1 – Why is it extreme or looney to process more asylum seekers in Indonesia and Malaysia and accept those who are genuine refugees. This will certainly remove the need for these people to get on leaky boats. The numbers will be small compared to our overall immigration. So what is the problem?

    2 -If you don’t accept the science of climate change then it would be silly to phase out coal mining. If you do accept the science then this is a necessary step. So here “looney” and “extreme” come down to either accepting the work of thousands of scientists in every country over decades, or thinking that all of these people are involved in some huge conspiracy – which now even includes economists, some business leaders, and some governments of the right.

    Believing in the major long term conspiracy seems to me to be getting close to a major mental disorder.

    3 – Why is the idea of one world government loony or extremist? Or have you swallowed so much tea at your parties that you are now like some in the US taking great issue with even the idea of a Federal government having a major role?

    Just because you don’t agree with something does not make it loony or extreme.

  75. Hamis Hill

    Drop the ego Michael and get some discipline. The new science of complexity ( see Prof. David Green of Sturt University) states that all issues are connected and affect each other. (But what’s that got to do with anything bleats you know who)
    If you accept this then it is ridiculous to suppose that climate Change stands as an issue which is unconnected to any other issue.
    In which case it can be argued that the big issue can be affected by working on other issues.
    or that a co-ordinated effort across the board on all these connected issues might better solve the “Big issue”. No? Each according to their understanding then.

  76. Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

    International action on climate change has to happen well before there is any prospect of world peace, justice, and democracy.

    In fact China is a great example how it becomes much easier to take real action on climate change when a country is not a democracy. (Of course I would be pleased if China become much more democratic).

    Unfortunately I think the issues of peace, justice, and democracy will be with us for many more hundreds of years.

    But if we don’t act on climate change in the next two decades the planet and future generations is stuffed.

  77. Patriot

    These illegals are unidentifiable. Captain Emad proved that. We quite simply lack the capability to evaluate the legitimacy of their claims, so it’s dishonest to talk about accepting genuine refugees.

    If you can’t work out what’s wrong with destroying our export income and ceding sovereignty to a world power made up of foreign representatives then you are barking mad. Is it even possible to do both? I doubt it. Would a China-dominated world government agree to phasing out coal use? The answer is no! Would they recognize indigenous Australian rights in Australia? No! etc, etc, etc.

  78. Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)


    That a few mistakes are made does not mean that the whole system is broken.

    Even when Howard was in power many asylum seekers were found to be genuine refugees. It is you that is dishonest.


    I still can’t tell what you would like me to do, others to do, or whether all your talk is just ballyhoo.

  79. Patriot

    “In fact China is a great example how it becomes much easier to take real action on climate change when a country is not a democracy.”

    Ok, you are barking mad. Did you not read the article? China’s emissions (and per capita emissions) are going through the roof.

  80. Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

    Patriot – Have you not followed anything on climate change?

    Has ANYONE ever predicted that China’s emissions would not increase significantly?

    But on the other hand, did anyone predict that China would do so well with renewables?

    As the article points out, it is countries like Australia that have failed – not China.

  81. Hamis Hill

    Michael, your priorites are askew. I say the planet cannot be saved without peace, justice and democracy and you say that it must be saved without peace justice and democracy.
    I think the punters would prefer my view.
    Just think about it, abandon peace for what? a martial law setting with an abandonment of all civil liberties? Justice? ( No time, we’re busy saving the planet!) Denied!
    Democracy? Too slow! let’s have some centralised dictatorship instead?
    If, Patriot, you are a troll, careful your stomach doesn’t explode!

  82. Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

    Hamis. The science makes clear that unless we take signifiant action in the next two decades there is no preventing very bad climate change.

    I would love world peace, justice for all, and world democracy. I support all of these. But the chances of making significant progress on these issues in the next ten years is very small. And these things do not need to be achieved for the world to act on climate change.

    Are you yet another troller on the internet posting to disrupt any discussion on what actions Australia should be starting NOW to prevent climate change? If you are not doing this deliberately then you are have succeeded in wasting my time and those who have bothered to read this thread.

  83. Hamis Hill

    Michael, there is a book called the Art of Strategy By Wu Sun Tsu, translation by RL Wing.
    Strategy Michael Strategy. The discussion must move on to politics and winning.
    Ten years ago there was action to sequester carbon in the ocean by increasing microscopic growth, canned by conservationists. Answer that ignored question please.
    You may be able to expound the problem, but your strategies for success are not realistic.
    Look at the battlefield, look at the above act of evil, by your own definition! Treachery by mine.
    The individual must be empowered to act, the individual must be inspired not to just know but to act.
    The single-issue conservationist tactic of petitioning government for legislative change from the top of the power structure is not working any more, the shock jocks are in full slather and the vast majority of those concerned are sidelined and powerless unless we go from representative to grassroots democracy. That is the strategy. Your opponents are disempowering the citizens, you have to empwer them. How in hell is that trolling? it is your strategy that is deficient not your basic argument. Can’t you see that? You certainly are not alone!

  84. grant bussell

    The fairest way to distribute pollution rights, is to calculate

    1. Capacity of the atmosphere divided by the number of people in the world, multiplied by safe greenhouse gas concentration. Divide that into each country based on its population at 1.1.2000
    That’s the Country Quota.

    2. Subtract how much greenhouse gases each country have produced since 1800. If it’s a surplus (the least industrialised countries) they can sell that to deficit countries and polluters.

  85. Andrew (the real one?)

    It’s nice to see my comment come out of moderation 24 hours later. Thankyou.

  86. The Old Bill

    Sorry Grant, your idea on pollution rights is too simple and logical to work.
    Besides, you would need a “One World Government” and there are too many “Patriots” around for that.
    At least you will get the last laugh when the sky falls in and everyone wants to live in Tasmania and New Zealand for the balmy sub tropical climate 🙂

  87. Liamj

    Hamis Hill – nonsense, ‘microscopic’?presumably you mean phytoplankton fertilisation with e.g. iron only works to extent iron is limiting element (see Leibigs law, and don’t forget increasing acidity), and can process and distribute enough iron across ocean. Its just another technofix fantasy, belief requiring complete ignorance about the energy and other resource limits that currently apply. So no, greenies have nothing to do with it not happening, and i believe research continues.. there will always be a market for hopium.

  88. Liamj

    Fascinating graphs above – Australias steadily increasing consumption matches Mexico & S.Arabias, both also major f.fuels extractors and exporters. Where as EU countries, every one past its peaks of oil, gas & coal production and nearly all importers, showed declining consumption .. and stagnant or contracting economies. If we weren’t so willing to export coal & LNG our economy would be contracting too, but nah fukc it, screw the future, ‘jobs’/private profits now!

  89. Hamis Hill

    LIAMJ, well at least you are having a go.
    Now, whatever specialised understanding you may have, can you explain the seasonal algal blooms which are a feature of the Arabian Sea.
    These blooms are supposedly fed by mineral dust delivered by strong winds from the land.
    This is an observed geological process so you will be excused, LIAMJ, if thses facts are beyond your knowledge and understanding.
    Other posters might see how such natural events might be replicated by the nasty and horrible creatures who are destoying the planet?
    Or Does your microscopic undertanding of the subject match your knowledge?
    So no you have no understanding of the kyboshed efforts caused by greenies do you? No.
    Well, why not just admit so and spare posters the BS? Nonsense? Why?

  90. Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

    I think Hamis is here to replace Frank Campbell –

    You all know the drill – act like long term Greeny and post long confusing articles which effectively deny that we need to act on climate change.

    And, just like with Frank, the postings effectively hijack the discussions and make the comments on Crikey a waste of time to read.

    The similarities in approach are too strong for this to be just coincidence!

  91. Hamis Hill

    Michael, get some of LiamJ’s hopium, it may just counteract your troll paranoia.
    Bob Brown, in The Bulletin 2004, in answer to a question about the tree focus of his early political career said, “If I had wanted to be marginalised I’d have stuck with the trees.
    The Greens are (also) about peace, justice and democracy”.
    Get over the bruised ego Michael, it was never going to save the planet under any circumstances.
    Single-issue conservationist extremism does not win votes.
    To quote Bill Mollison, if you are not part of the solution you must be part of the problem.
    You need to act on climate change goes no further than simple whining and, like LIAMJ, denial of reality. See Brown above on The International Greens Principles. any answer?

  92. Johnfromplanetearth

    MWH: You know, i’m beginning to think that your average Green, lefty, looney is more dangerous than any James Holmes will ever be. Riddle me this…why do warmists wish to kill all non believers? What book do they have that advocates this violence?

  93. Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

    John – Please find me at least one reference or quote where those who accept the science say they WISH TO KILL ALL the deniers.

    As you cannot do so, I suggest that the evidence points to you being the looney.

  94. Hamis Hill

    One must presume that if this thread’s most pontificating prat cannot find a “link” to the above Bulletin article then it must therefore not exist or be a figment of a planet-destroying troll’s fevered imagination.
    I vote FRACTIOUS, Friday, 10.29 pm as the best post of this thread.

  95. Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

    Also interesting to note how each article on climate change always has one very active climate change denier, but rarely two.

    Clearly this thread is Hamis’s shift and Frank Cambell and others are not on duty.

  96. fractious

    Hamis Hill

    I keep seeing posts from you that a) sing the praises of phytoplankton fertilisation (or several other terms which you use interchangeably, even though they are not interchangeable) as a means of drawing down atmospheric CO2 and b) blaming “greens” or “single issue conservationists” (or variations on the theme) for it not being developed and used.

    LiamJ has it right – scientfic review, field trials and modelling all come to the same sort of conclusion – impractical, of dubious benefit and would set off an entire web of ecological responses which cannot be accurately predicted.

    Se e.g. http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2007/05/thin-soup-and-a-thin-story/

    Also Zeebe R.E. and Archer D. (2005). Feasibility of ocean fertilization and its impact on future
    atmospheric CO2 levels. Geophysical Research Letters 32: L09703, doi:10.1029/2005GL022449. here:

    Those are just two examples. Its inutility is what killed it – nothing at all to do with “greenies” or – your favourite bête noire – “single issue extreme conservationists”.

    If you want your input to be taken seriously, it would help if you stopped making false claims and stopped blaming conservationists for acts they haven’t committed.

  97. Karen

    @Michael Wilbur-Ham – I and others have been engaged in a bruising fight with FC on another thread to Bernard Keane’s article on ‘Labor and the gap between stated and perceived preferance’ – so, yes, he has been on duty but not to actually support the use of fossil fuels, only to traduce the alternatives. Bizarre way of supporting his thesis. And when you pick him up on it, he becomes personally abusive and then claims he is being abused in the same breath. Bizarre.

    Your posts have been really good by the way – very measured and very reasoned.

  98. Suzanne Blake

    Its all a con job, but extreme left loonies, what want us back as hunters and gathers weaving baskets

  99. AR

    “He who dies with the most toys, wins.” And everyone else pays the price though those of us who are least reliant upon the Magic Pudding Merry-Go-Round will at least survive, as long as rule of law & property rights do.
    When, rather than IF, they go and the world descends into strife & warlordism, at least we’ll have had practice in making do with less.

  100. Hamis Hill

    “Single-issue conservationist extremists” please direct your denials to the source; Democrats leader Natasha Stott Despoya.
    Natural algal booms fed by wind blown dust, mentioned recently on the BBC, all a delusion?
    The conservationist gruops threatening research ten years ago, will you find it on the internet?
    Can’t be true then!!
    Name one positive result from all your tedious protesting?
    All you want to achieve is to differentiate yourseves from the “Baddies”.
    All your good intentions merely pave a path to hell. Do you want a link for that?
    A conga line of pretentious self serving suck holes now frorming a circle to feed off each other.
    And for all your efforts? Nothing but empty, ignorant and ego serving prattle.
    Worse than useless, Abbott’s best friends. Where’s that forensic auditor; get one to analyse your posts!

  101. Hamis Hill

    A conga line of selfserving suckholes now forming a circle to feed off each other in your Manichean Utopia. No confusion about that. Assailed on all sides by planet destroying trolls.
    Idiots useful only to the DLP stooges. Beyond redemption.

  102. warwick

    The death of Rupert Murdoch has basically just signaled the birth of Mining Billionaires in parliament, we’re screwed.

    We’ll meet again…..

  103. Suzanne Blake

    Mining boom to end, what will incompetent Swan and ly ing Gillard say now?


  104. Suzanne Blake

    @ Hamis Hill

    “A conga line of selfserving suckholes now forming a circle to feed off each other in your Manichean Utopia. No confusion about that. Assailed on all sides by planet destroying trolls.
    Idiots useful only to the DLP stooges. Beyond redemption.”

    Enlighten me, how many cones did you smoke to come up with this piece, at the inner sity hemp cafe?

  105. Karen

    @SB – “its all a con job” – the only con job is that which is coming from the Right which has failed, abysmally, to address the consensus of the global scientific community, which says the world is rapidly heating due to green house gas emissions. And yet you, Frank Campbell and others provide no solutions but to stick to what we have and traduce alternative energy policy solutions.

    No, lefties don’t want to live in loin cloths – on the contrary, the left would prefer to see the global citizenry live a materially comfortable and dignified existence. This does require the world’s resources being distributed far more equitably than they are currently; the people who represent the means of production are currently transferring their income through increased taxation burdens and other mechanisms upstream to those who already have enough and, frankly, don’t deserve it.

    @SB – “mining boom to end …in 2 years” – that may me more of a relevant issue for Abbott and his motley crew to address. As for the wealthy mining industry, I think they’ll cope with the modest impost. Someone like you, of course, would rather see the abolition of the mining tax and an increase in the GST (which Abbott will need to pursue to raise revenue), which is yet another taxation policy that acts regressively to increase the burden even more unfairly on the wage/salary earning working majority.

  106. Suzanne Blake

    @ Karen

    You dont need a solution, cause its all li es and green agenda spin

    The Scientists are PAID for their comments. Cash for Comments. They tell the left politicians what they want to hear and get cash. If they go against the li es, they are out of work.

    The Worlds climates is ALWAYS evolving, has for millions of years. Even you know that

    Wake up and smell the con job

  107. MJPC

    SB, I think Alan Jones is talking about witchdoctors, climate science and scientists this AM; now there is person you need to listen to for paid political an cash for comment, and not a scientific credential in sight!

    Yes world climate has changed for millions of years, but not as fast as the recent history. In the past million years the environmental degradation has not been as rapid as the last 100 years (look to the elimination of worlds forests and carbon sink areas, world fish stocks etc), they are figures which you seem not to have considered in your factless comments.

  108. Hamis Hill

    SB rides to the rescue of Michael Wilbur Ham who might say “but what has it to do with the original article?”
    Ask Michael Kroger about the state of mind of Peter Costello when he described Tony Abbott as a “DLP Stooge”?
    Now for the enlightenment.. The ancient Manichean religion of the Far East postulates a world of
    “Goodies and Baddies” fighting it out for control. Utopia’s ( it means “nowhere”) are political constructs (see St Thomas More) written to expose ideas for debate.
    Which side of this Manichean Utopia are you on SB?
    To return to the topic, is co-ordinated action on counteracting the possibility of Climate Ghange
    possible while you babies battle out your infantile goodies and baddies pantomime?
    The “Pre-cautionary Principle” argues that until something of concern is definitely proven it makes sense to take precautionary action in case, for instance “Climate Ghange” is real.
    Something that responsible adults might do.
    But go, Goodies and Baddies, battle it out. The good versus evil philosophy entered and still taints western Philosophy. You did ask to be enlightened. Growing up is so very hard to do. Where are the adults.

  109. Liamj

    @ Fractious – thanks for the link putting HamiSHills ocean-fert fantasy to rest. With his complete lack of evidence, enthusiasm for insults and empty rhetoric its now easy to see what a time waster he is.

  110. Suzanne Blake

    @ MJPC

    SB, I think Alan Jones is talking about witchdoctors, climate science and scientists this AM

    dont think so, read somewhere he is in London doing the Olympics.

  111. Suzanne Blake

    @ Hamis Hill

    so how many cones? 2 – 3 more?

  112. Andrew (the real one?)

    @SB, Tell me, do you really believe the crap you are writing? The deniers are being sponsored for their efforts. Just look at Lord Bonkton and Ian Plimer. Mining companies and right wing think tanks right behind them.
    Surely you can understand that since the industrial revolution, started 200 hundred years ago, there has been a huge and sustained increase in the amount of pollution produced? And it is not just CO2. Humans have been rubbishing the planet like never before with the land, ocean and atmosphere having become a chemical cocktail where life will struggle to exsist.
    It is high time that ALL countries clean up their act! And it won’t cost as much as

  113. Suzanne Blake

    @ Andrew

    Its all crap, spread by people pushing their agenda and lining their pockets.

    You have been conned, like Y2K, like the alerts a few weeks ago on DNS bug

    you swallow and nod

  114. Andrew (the real one?)

    many make it out to. For if we do nothing it may cost much more. As they say prevention is cheaper than cure.

  115. Frank Campbell

    This piece illustrates that Crikey is an intellectual dead zone.

    Alexander writes imperiously, as if she’s revealing something we all missed. But we all know that China and the other BRICS have rapidly industrialised in the past 20 years. Therefore CO2 emissions have increased. Therefore these countries are the core of the problem.

    There’s no awareness that industrial production has shifted to the BRICs, away from the old dark, satanic heartlands. No awareness either that the nature of new industrial production in Europe etc is markedly different from the old- and incidentally has fewer emissions of all sorts. Remove Australia’s couple of old aluminium smelters and power consumption would fall sharply. Alcoa uses a third of all Victoria’s electricity…brown coal. No solution of course, as smelting capacity just heads to the BRICS. But at least new plants are more efficient…

    The assertion that China (or any BRIC) is doing anything significant about CO2 is laughable. How many coal-fired power stations are built per month in China again? Nuclear plans? Proportion of power from solar?

    There is no awareness that higher oil prices have driven rapid expansion of oil sands and various sources of gas. Cheap US gas is now affecting US coal for instance. One result is- reduced emissions.

    Alexander doesn’t have a clue about the energy revolution- the fossil fuel bonanza. Renewables are a farce, a fig-leaf over this monstrous carbon dick. The most dishonest assertion is that Australia is “a major player” in carbon emissions, when her sole argument is that China etc make any reductions elsewhere irrelvant. Australia emits 1.4% of world emissions.

    Alexander ignores the fact that Australia IS a major player in the export of fossil fuel. The rest of the world couldn’t care less what Australia says or does, but is aware of that central hypocrisy.

    Alexander’s real agenda is local: to shore up the jerry-built political structure which rests on the carbon tax and the pointless, debilitating MRET.

    What really intrigues me is what will intellectual bankrupts like Alexander do and say for the next decade- when we’re ruled by the naked Jesuit. How are they going to define “progressive” then? Will they ever take responsibility for the mess they’ve made? Will their hubris fall away in the wilderness?

  116. Filth Dimension

    Could Crikey please set up a dickhead filter.

  117. Hamis Hill

    Keep seeing natural geological processes sequestering biological carbon in the ocean depths.
    Any of you kindergarten kids able to find a link refuting this? Living in cyberworld?
    Now The Opposition’s Direct Action Plan, not as an alternative but as a part of a combined strategy?
    The problem must not be as presing as you claim if you can indulge in an all or nothing contest on who is right.
    Press SB for the details, or is there nothing at all in the direct action plan which is acceptable?
    Oh, that is right, no compromise now because we don’t have a planet to save after all!
    Irony! Dickheads.

  118. Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

    Hamis and the other right wing trolls are very successful at disrupting discussion.

    But I wonder if anything they have posted has ever changed someones mind – e.g. someone who accepts the science then reads a post by SB, HH, or FC and ‘sees the light’ and becomes a ‘skeptic’.

    Those who arrive at this website as deniers may read their posts and cheer. But I really would be surprised if this endless garbage has ever changed someone’s mind.

    As Filth Dimension says, we do need a filter for these discussions to become worth reading.

  119. Hamis Hill

    Seem to remember directing the same criticism at you MWH. Right back at you and do try to be original. (Do something about your paranoia.)
    Apparently, Michael, discussion is only deemed to be taking place when MWB initiates and controls it. Anything contradicting your pronouncements is deemed to be disruption?
    Where did you learn this, some sort of early religious indoctrination?
    Well I suggest the facts are that you and your “acolytes” immediately suspend “Your” discussions at the least challenge to your assumptions of infallibilty.
    Am I the only one to detect a totalitarian tendency in all these calls for a filter on public debate?
    To what degree, Michael and others, do you think that you exercise a proprietary control over any Crikey thread that you appear on? IncidentallyI don’t, from experience, expect any answer by way of debate, it might disrupt “your” apparently private, privileged discussions. Do grow up!

  120. alfred venison

    better crikey! takes all comments & publishes them as rec’d. having said that, they could empower readers to filter for themselves. for example, the toronto globe & mail comments used to have a button beside every comment that allow readers to “mask out” the commenter if they didn’t want to see his/her comments – feature gone now, though: (wtf?). and both globe & mail and cbc.ca let you “up-thumb” & “down-thumb” individual comments, even if you’re not registered to comment yourself.

  121. Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

    I think it would be fun if Crikey had a thumb up and down system like The Conversation.

    And they should then do as Amazon does with it’s reviews. When there are enough thumb down responses the comment is not visible unless a reader clicks a link to view it. That way the readers decide what isn’t useful.

  122. Frank Campbell

    MWH says: “But I really would be surprised if this endless garbage has ever changed someone’s mind.
    As Filth Dimension says, we do need a filter for these discussions to become worth reading.”

    Repression and censorship seems to come naturally to followers of Clive Hamilton.

    So much simpler to read only opinions you agree with.

  123. Karen

    @SB – so, the entire global scientific community which produced data to supp0rt rapid global warming as measured especially in the mid to late 20th century (compared to previous centuries) are ‘paid for comment’ charlatans, whilst Lord Monkton (boy-wonder genious scientist that he’s not ), who was SPONSORED by Gina to come out to Australia to say his contrary piece against rapid global warming is not. You must be joking, right?

    Please support your statements with evidence and come up with some decent solutions to the problem. Not even Frank Campbell wouldn’t support your assertions here.

  124. Karen

    genious should be spelt genius

  125. Karen

    last line – wouldn’t should read would

  126. Hamis Hill

    Some sort of grass roots democracy with a somewhat limited franchise there MWH.
    Sorry, did not intend to confuse you with principles and such, but it does seem to matter to you when you want it.
    But to quote you MWB what has it got to do with the original article? Relevance!!

  127. Hamis Hill

    Oh that’s right it is all about Michael, Saint Michael of The Posts, The Anti-troll!

  128. Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

    Frank – free speech is not possible if the conversation is dominated by trolls repeating the same old garbage.

    As I just suggested in another thread, what I would love is for readers to be able to vote comments useful or otherwise (like on The Conversation), and for comments that get enough ‘not useful’ responses to be hidden unless the reader clicks a link.

    Most readers want to read what ‘the other side’ has to say. So, insightful comments from the other side will get a voted as insightful by me and many others.

    My expectation under such a system is that you, SB, HH, etc would quickly have your comments hidden. If this happened the Crikey comments sections would become the informative and interesting that I wish for.

    And if it didn’t then you and SB, HH, etc could bask in the glory that your views are appreciated and that I’m wrong.

  129. Hamis Hill

    Perhaps SB can explain her party’s direct action plan even though, KAREN, it is off topic.
    Not ignoring Saint Michael of the Posts are we? Say three Hail Michaels as penance!

  130. Mark Duffett

    “…insightful comments from the other side will get a voted as insightful by me…”

    I don’t doubt the honesty of your intention in this, @MWH, and I dips me lid to you if you actually do operate by this code. However, I strongly suspect you’re very much in the minority. My observation at The Conversation is that negative votes are all too commonly used as proxies for ‘dislike’ or ‘disagree’, rather than ‘unconstructive’ (the reverse also applies).

    Some express a pious wish to ‘hear from the other side’, but that’s not what’s borne out by the behaviour of the majority.

  131. Suzanne Blake

    Got my power bill last week, glad that they have a note on the front page in bold print, how much the carbon tax added.

    Looking forward to everyone else getting their first bills in the next 3 months.

  132. Mark Duffett

    Further to my preceding comment (still in moderation), the issue is that it would be all too easy in one’s own mind to go from ‘disagree’ to ‘not useful’, and vote accordingly. Conversely, I contend it’s rare in the extreme for opposing views to be overtly recognised as ‘useful’. There is already something of the echo chamber about Crikey comments; a scheme such as MWH proposes would make it much worse.

  133. Scott

    I’m a fan of letting all opinion have it’s place in the sun. I might not necessarily agree with a lot of it, but only through dialogue with those that disagree with us can one eventually find truth.

    One of my favourite philosophers (Habermas) has said that rather than just being a communication tool, dialogue is the way we find identity in our world. That communicating is a reason to be in itself, not just a means to an end (like informing or persuading). The theory pretty much explains the rise of social media and reality TV, not to mention the amount of time people spend on blogs and comment threads. No one is going to change the world by posting on crikey, but you might find some self identity or satisfaction through a self declared “win” the thread war, either though a valid argument or the “your a troll” refrain.

    I think crikey would be reduced if it just became a reflection of one Leftist view point via censorship or some form of user thread moderation. The Left need the Right like the Right needs the Left. Only together can we find what we are looking for.

  134. Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

    Scott – Nice words, but they don’t deal with the reality of trolls.

    I think it is clear that the right have an active campaign to ensure that public discussion is filled with tea-party like rhetoric. Probably most of the political trolls are volunteers, but I feel certain that many of the climate change deniers are paid.

    The result is not any dialogue moving towards truth, but repetitive and endless distraction as people reply to the trolls.

    Consequently most people find the comments in Crikey boring and not worth reading. Most subscribers don’t go to the comments, and Crikey thus think the comments are not important, and thus has no interest in making them better.

  135. Gederts Skerstens

    The world doesn’t operate on Fantasies.
    No-one’s drowning, no-one’s frying, and no-one is going to operate as if they were. Except for the Germans, Guilt Cripples from seventy years ago, solar panels facing grey skies and halfwit windmills starting to wobble on their foundations in the sea. With most of their electricity now bought from the French nuclear reactors. With the French paying a fraction of what Australians pay to get cool or warm.

    Fantasies work for a while, no question. Flannery is richer than any poster here, on taxpayer money. Just on pure BS. Following his warning that anyone with a water-view should be alarmed, bought himself a waterfront property without any alarm; with Mug Money, taxpayer money, via Gillard. Still gets $210,000 p.a.

    The Mugs, the fools who work and pay for everything will soon get a chance to tip out the whole thieving, clowning, lying circus, no matter how many sustainable Indigenous parameters or inclusive criteria they implement. It has to be for twenty years.

  136. Liamj

    MWH – you may like the word ‘namshub’, colloq. meaning a prayer that overwrites preexisting language and beliefs with new ones.
    Usage e.g: The Tea Party/Murdocracy are preaching a namshub overwriting egalitarian democratic values with a toxic emotional cocktail of victimisation myths and scapegoating.

    This is most obvious in their constant ‘poor me’ whining and tabloid sloganeering, but it goes further than that: because old fashioned discourse and debate doesn’t hit the same emotional hotbuttons as tremulous Tony and apoplectic Alan, it just doesn’t register on their radar – they feel more, therefore they must be right!!

  137. Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

    Thanks for that Liamj.

  138. Gederts Skerstens

    ” The Tea Party/Murdocracy are preaching a namshub overwriting egalitarian democratic values with a toxic emotional cocktail of victimisation myths and scapegoating.”

    Nothing Emotional about it.
    No-one happily gives money to a thief. Most of us, calmly, unemotionally, are going to refuse.

  139. Captain Planet


  140. Captain Planet

    Hamis Hill writes,

    Apparently, Michael, discussion is only deemed to be taking place when MWB initiates and controls it. Anything contradicting your pronouncements is deemed to be disruption?….To what degree, Michael and others, do you think that you exercise a proprietary control over any Crikey thread that you appear on?

    I suggest you read the Crikey code of conduct, Hamis.

    Please reflect on the following phrases you have used in this thread, and consider whether they compl y.

    Path etic, truly path etic….
    … If you are not going to do anything about this problem except bicker you’d be better off crawling under a rock to die, taking your f — -ing infectious negativity with you…
    …this thread’s most pontificating pr at…
    …A conga line of selfserving su ckho les…
    …Idio ts useful only to the DLP stooges….
    …Irony! Dic khea ds.

    Will you please make an effort to show a little more respect to your fellow commenters? You may disagree (that is healthy) but please do so using logic and evidence.

    It is probably too much to ask that you keep an open mind and admit the validity of convincing evidence of the error of your position. I would cite two examples:

    Microscopic algae as CO2 sequestration planetary saviour, comprehensively demolished by Fractious on Sunday on this thread, at 2:41 pm.

    “Mechanical Battery Storage”, which you originally postulated via lifting weights and recovering the energy by letting them down again, which then metamorphosed without warning into a factually incorrect rant about flywheels as the solution to storing utility – scale grid connected renewable power generation. Refuted by yours truly on a recent thread.

    In these cases you’re just plain wrong. You will gain more respect and contribute more of value to this forum if you can admit this, instead of trying to pass it all off as some kind of consp iracy.

    A more advanced social skill would be to consider the opinions of your debating opponents even when conclusive proof is not available to either side, and give some thought to allowing your own opinion to change about such complex issues. For example. some time on this site has led me to question the fundamentalism of the Greens regarding Nuclear Energy, especially as a tool which could be deployed in the medium term to reduce CO2 emissions while transitioning to a 100 % renewables future.
    I certainly don’t have even one foot in the nuclear camp just yet, but the considered (and respectful) engagement of Mark Duffet and others have given me pause – It was through considering the validity of their viewpoints and arguments that I came across the writings of George Monbiot on this issue.

    I haven’t always been a saint on this site either, but I do not recall having ob stinately refused to acknowlege facts, or resorting to personal ab use of the low calibre you have demonstrated here.

    You are lowering the tone of the site and its contributors. Please think about it.

  141. Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)


    What do you think are the most promising technologies for storing (or time shifting) energy?

    (A genuine question by the way.)

  142. Gederts Skerstens

    Crikey wants to stay in business, Cap’n.
    Who knows what the future brings?

  143. Ian


    I agree with your post of some days ago that Australia needs to play its own part in halting population growth – the opposite of what it’s doing now. I also think we should drastically reduce the number of non-refugee immigrants we go out of our way to attract since, apart from already being overloaded (my view) our per capita GHG emissions are much higher than those countries from which we source or immigrants.

    If digging holes at an insane pace is resulting in labour bottlenecks then we should slow down the digging, not increase the diggers. After all the resources are not perishable and will still be there for the future.

    On another matter I admire you for keeping your cool when trying to debate people such as Hamis and Patriot but I think you are wasting your time as facts seem not to influence them. Ideology trumps all I fear in their case.

  144. Frank Campbell

    Crikey is rarely funny, but the sight of Capt Planet lecturing Hamis on decorum is a laugh

  145. Liamj

    A Captain Planet who is pro-Nuclear!?! As if the ONGOING catastrophe of Fukashima not enough, note California’s Diabalo Canyon plant recent unscheduled ‘maintainence’ shut down, now not to restart – hows that for baseload reliability eh? Monbiot lost it years ago, went wacky on nukes and is now pollyanna on oil supply as well, follow no guru’s CP.

  146. Captain Planet

    Hi Liamj,
    It is not guru worship, but monbiot’s(and others,) reasoned arguments about the criticality of action on climate change, which caused me to reconsider. As many crikey commenters have pointed out, the problem is too big and too intraactable for ANY technology with emissions reduction potential to be completely off the table. All proposals need to be considered in the light of a risk assessment – anyone who has ever worked in business management will unddrstand this principle. Although Nuclear is a technology fraught with dangers and potential for both environmental harm and health risks to humans, by comparison with most existing utility scale energy sources, the argument can be made that they are risks which may have to be managed. consider the thousands of deaths attributable to cancers caused by coal fired power plants and their (radioactive) particulate emissions, as a case in point.

  147. Hamis Hill

    @ Crapped On ( refers to your credibility after laughing off the very idea of energy storage subsequently followed by a confession that you actually tightened down the roof screws on the shed containing an energy storage device whose development was partly funded by an Australian taxpayer funded grant). This is “debate”?
    All a delusion of course. ha ha
    The “Accummulator” ( of wind energy was an existing example from the interwar period of the 20th century.
    Impossible energy storage? Built by an amateur in England. (Not on the internet-does not exist).
    Ongoing sequestration of biological carbon in the ocean depths, a natural geological process unable some how to be replicated by human endeavour, like energy storage.
    Totally refuted by a couple of links? Only in Crapped ON Planet’s cyberworld where reality is shot down by magical links. You credibility is still crapped on and as stated on a previous post you did it all by yourself. Feel free to repost this. And your reference to Watts as energy, a typo, but again-crapped on. Most apt unfortunately.

  148. Hamis Hill

    If posters will indulge me, the use of general and easilly understood terms such as microscopic sea life in the place of more explicit terminology used by scientists for scientists is deliberate.
    It avoids giving an unwarranted and deceptive impression of professional expertise which may, in fact, not exist at all.
    These general terms are chosen to widen the debate to include as many as possible.
    If other debaters seize upon the absence of explicit terminology as an indication of ignorance then this is a reflection upon their own pretensions to knowledge and expertise.
    Too much of this deceitful posturing, to return to the original article, mudies and restricts the general debate and merely adds to the accusations of eliteism aimed at some debaters.
    Counterproductive I’d say? As for the insults, toughen up, it’s a debate!

  149. Mark Duffett

    @Captain Planet ‘risks that may have to be managed’, yes. This is why I cannot fathom the internal contradictions of @MWH’s position, when in this very thread he indicates the possibility of billions of deaths from climate change.

    Oh, and the idea of oceanic carbon sequestration might not be quite dead yet. An experiment reported in Nature last week had positive results: nature.com/nature/journal/v487/n7407/full/nature11229.html

  150. Captain Planet

    @ Michael Wilbur Ham,

    In my opinion, the significant problems of integrating intermittent renewables generation into modern power grids will require a multi – pronged approach.

    First and foremost are two technologies which cannot really be considered true “storage”: Transmission infrastructure, and demand side response management.

    Electricity transmission, by H.V. D.C. links and by new and upgraded A.C. interconnectors, will allow geographically dispersed renewables to be more completely utilised, and smooth out some of the intermittency problems. The downside is that there are significant capital costs, and interlinking different electricity grids is fraught with commercial issues, at this point in time.

    Demand Side Response has barely begun to scratch the surface of its potential. Smart grids are just the beginning (and these are very limited in their rollout so far). Promising concepts such as distributed local thermal storage have high total cycle efficiency and can be integrated into smart grid technology to provide whole of grid storage, where heating and cooling applications are the consumption purpose. E.g. office blocks with heat or cold storage – not much more expensive than current commercial cooling and heating infrastructure, and allows utilisation of intermittent energy sources.

    As for centralised energy storage, the two technologies I consider to have the most potential right now are thermal storage, when associated with solar thermal power plants (refer to the Gemasolar plant now operational in Spain, with 15 hours worth of storage capacity and generating electricity 24 hours per day) for mid – term storage, and pumped hydro for long – term storage. Molten Salt thermal storage has developed to the point where whole – cycle efficiency approaches 95 %, but is really only good for mid – term storage (measured in days) of moderate amounts of power (nudging a single GWh at the moment, and probably likely to be in the realm of 1 – 10 GWh when the technology achieves economies of scale over the next 10 years). Pumped hydro has the disadvantage of comparitively low efficiency (~ 70 %) but has the advantages of large scale storage of large amounts of energy. Both Thermal and pumped hydro storage are running at around $100 – $200 per MWh in Levelised Cost of Energy terms. This is still quite expensive by comparison with fossil fuel generation costs (typically around $60 / MWh for gas and much less for coal). Pumped hydro also involves construction of dams, which take up large amounts of space and can have environmental impacts. Integration of pumped hydro energy storage into existing hydro schemes has potential, but in most cases would have implications for downstream (literally) water flows.

    Battery technology is excellent for small scale, relatively portable energy storage, but way too expensive for utility scale storage. Compressed Air Storage and Hydrogen generation by electrolysis are showing promise, but compressed air storage relies on utilisation of geological pressure reservoirs for its storage vessel in order to be economic, which is hard to come by in most locations, and the processes involved in the hydrogen energy cycle (chemical seperation of oxygen and hydrogen atoms from water, storage of the hydrogen, then conversion back to electrical energy either via fuel cells or turbines) is not cost competitive at present. It does show promise for the future.

    Flywheels are useful only for very short term storage of very small amounts of energy (a few MWh at most), are highly expensive and really only have application in voltage and frequency support for network operation, at fringe – of – grid locations, or in remote islanded grid operations with high fuel costs and predictably fluctuating loads.

    The reason I like Thermal storage is primarily that it involves the least amount of conversions of energy. With Solar Thermal, heat energy is gatherered and stored, then converted into kinetic energy in a turbine, then into electrical energy in an alternator. Most other forms of electrical energy storage involve more energy conversion steps than this, e.g. electrical to chemical etc. Thermal storage can also be integrated into existing power grids with considerable ease, and the steam turbine and alternator technology used at the generation stage is extremely well developed and already installed worldwide. Integration of Solar Thermal with molten salt storage into existing fossil fuel power stations, in areas of high insolation, is probably the most promising renewables / energy storage combination available today.

  151. Captain Planet

    @ MWH,

    reply to your query about my opinion on energy storage is stuck in moderation, sorry. Should be available to view in a few hours I should think.

  152. Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

    @Captain – thanks for posting a reply on energy storage. I look forward to reading it one day 🙂

    On nuclear I don’t think it should be part of the solution for Australia (the start of the a long debate). But you are right that it should be considered and debated. What drives me mad at Crikey is the number of posters who are locked-on to their views no matter what evidence is presented.

    @ Mark Duffett – Prey tell me where you think I have an “internal contradiction”.

  153. Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

    @Captain – thanks for posting a reply on energy storage. I look forward to reading it one day!

    On nuclear I don’t think it should be part of the solution for Australia (the start of the a long debate). But you are right that it should be considered and debated. What drives me mad at Crikey is the number of posters who are locked-on to their views no matter what evidence is presented.

    @ Mark Duffett – Prey tell me where you think I have an “internal contradiction”.

  154. Paddy Forsayeth

    I was having a good read of the opinions being expressed though I wouldn’t agree with them all. Bad luck the our pollies couldn’t do the same…we might get somewhere. Fractious wrote some good stuff! My ‘good read’ came to a sudden halt when that moron Suzanne Blake came on. It’s the same when that cretin Abbott appears on TV…I switch on the mute. I sadly agree with the opinions which predict calamity for the globe. I think it is far too late to make much difference since the majority of the global population either don’t know or don’t care.

  155. Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

    @Captain – your answer to my storage question has just come out of moderation.

    Thanks for providing so much detail. It seems a very sensible summary to me.

    One other idea I heard recently is putting big bags tied to the sea-floor and using energy to pump these full of air. Then when power is wanted the sea squeezes the bags allowing the air to flow out and generate energy. I suspect that the deeper the air bags the better the system.

    People talk about base-load as something to stive for, when in fact base-load is actually a problem. Base load is the always on – the problem is that at night we don’t want always on. So we have off-peak electricity to encourage people to use late at night base-load (and store the energy in the home).

    Moving to renewables means that if we have lots of solar that the aim would be to get people to use energy when the sun is shining or the wind blowing. That renewable energy falls to 50% of capacity at 4am is only a problem if we want to use over 50% of capacity at 4am.

  156. Gocomsys

    PADDY FORSAYETH posted Tuesday, 24 July 2012 at 1:19 pm
    Unfortunately bread and butter issues are what the vast majority of the somnambulist public are concerned about.
    > Got my power bill last week ……………………………………
    These people are not interested in articles like this one. (Please copy and paste into browser).


  157. alfred venison

    how about a “sheltered hyde park corner” in the crikey subscriber’s area? after all, its self-selected and costing money to join would work to deter all but subsided “trolls”.

  158. Ian


    On nuclear – I see that it should be in the mix only because the climate crisis has reached a tipping point and if we are to arrest the problem we have to throw everything at it, including perhaps nuclear. But, as I noted in an earlier post, uranium and other nuclear materials are limited and if nuclear energy generation were to be used to replace a significant portion of existing fossil fuel generation then the materials would not last long and become even more risky and energy intensive to extract.

    Also I understand that nuclear energy is extremely expensive compared to that derived from fossil fuels or renewables and will take a lot longer to bring on line, perhaps too long.

    Another problem with nuclear is that it is controlled by large multinationals who, like in Japan, have a corrupting, self serving role in our governments that could lead to unwarranted, risky life extensions (Vermont Yankee) to plants and to safety shortcuts (Fukushima).

  159. Captain Planet

    hello all,

    great to see the constructive turn this thread has taken after a long time in the doldrums….

    Agreed, there are LOTS of problems with nuclear power.

    1. It is very expensive.
    2. It is quite safe, in objective terms, when you consider the number of accidents and ill effects per MWh produced, especially by comparison with fossil fuel generation.
    3. Uranium mining is a messy, polluting business with phenomenally long term environmental degradation often resulting.
    4. lead time up to 10 or more years to construct reactors,
    5. Major issues with decommissioning reactors when they reach end of life,
    6. IF there is an accident or incident, however rare, at a nuclear plant, the consequences can be very bad indeed,
    7. There isn’t as much uranium as the mining companies want you to think there is (nor, in all probability, as little as anti nuclear activists would have you believe) and so nuclear is not a long – term solution,
    8. There are still CO2 emissions associated with mining, processing, enriching, transporting and disposing of nuclear fuel (as much as 30 % of the CO2 per MWh produced by an equivalent coal – fired power station),
    9. Thorium reactors, despite the claims of pro nuclear enthusiasts, are not in use on utility scale anywhere in the world (as yet),
    10. Nuclear power plants are ugly 🙂

    On the other hand, all of these disadvantages rather pale in comparison with the projected extinction of two thirds of all species on earth and the likely disintegration of civilisation as we know it, which is looking increasingly like the most probable outcome of anthropogenic climate change, if we fail to do absolutely every single thing we can to reduce emissions immediately.

    So, to my mind it is a matter of which is the lesser of the two evils?

    I can live with having to decommission a few thousand nuclear reactors in 50 years’ time, and even with the problematic issue of nuclear waste, if it means that using up the world’s uranium buys us some breathing space in which to reconfigure the world’s energy economy and infrastructure, to supply all of the planet’s needs from renewable energy, and if in so doing, we can avert armaggedon.

    On the other hand, I don’t believe nuclear power is the answer for Australia at this point – simply because the Australian power grid is way too small, our nuclear technology way too hopelessly undeveloped, and our national appetite for nuclear way too unenthusiastic, for nuclear power to be economically implemented here.

    If we were to be interconnected to the rest of the planet via HVDC links to, say, South East Asia, and through there to China and India, and thence to the rest of the world, well then that might be another matter. This might be a good place for nuclear power plants under those circumstances. But that’s not the case now and until it looks likely to be, it is rather futile to even consider the nuclear option for Australia. Also, a good connection to the rest of the world via HVDC Transmission would be far more likely to lead to the development of Australia as a world leading exporter of Solar, Wind and Wave energy, given our natural competitive advantage in being abundantly endowed with all of the above.

  160. The Pav

    Dear Captain Planet

    Like you I have enjoyed the more productive discussion of late but I will raise one thing.

    You state that nuclear power plants are safe. Unfortunately this usn’t a view shared by the insurance companies. Try and insure a plant & you’ll see whta I mean.

    If it wasn’t for the public sector ( ie taxpayer via the govt) being the effective insurer then there wouldn’t be aplant in the western world.

    If the plants can’t be commercially insured then they are not a commercially viable option.

  161. Mark Duffett

    @The Pav, that ain’t necessarily so: bravenewclimate.com/2011/08/21/nuclear-risk-insurance/

  162. The Pav

    Mark Duffett,

    That article refers to the Price-Anderson Act. Without going into why this act is considered necessary and how it relates to insurance and hence enable commercial insurers to get involved there are other other places in the world

    For example

    In the UK there is a statutory limit GBP140M

    In Canada there is limited liability then assessment by a Govt tribubal and paid for by the Govt.

    The there’s the Vienna Convention & Paris Convention that does / will limit liability.

    You can’t tell me that commercial insurers would get involved unless there were these statutory limits to the liability.

    It would be my guess that they were a prime mover for them. This way they can collect the premium but off load the risk.

    I’m actually neutral about nuclear ( I’m its not like the other options are that risk free Exxon Valdez, Gulf of Mexico any one?) but on the theory that the risks experts (insurance coys) won’t touch it then neither should we.

  163. Mark Duffett

    @The Pav, as the post at decarbonisesa.com/2011/10/09/a-new-age-for-nuclear-dont-hold-your-breath/ puts it (well worth a read of the whole thing), Governments all over the world serve as the insurer of last resort to all sorts of situations, from critical infrastructure to global finance. But we don’t cease all activity in those realms for that reason. It’s inconsistent to single out nuclear on that basis.

  164. The Pav

    Dear Mark Duffett

    Thanks for the xtra reading……like I really needed it! But I will do it as I like to learn

    I’m flat out at present so I can’t debate/argue properly but suffice to say yes the Govt serves as insuraer of last resort ( lets see the Tea Party position on that one!) but this doesn’t mean that regarding the nuclear power as different is inconsistent.

    For example

    There is a world of difference between the Govt providing disater relief/rebuild after a cyclone compared to acts limiting liability.

    Commercial insurers don’t have liability limits on flooding say other than those in the policy ( and the peopl of Quld know all about fine print now)

  165. Andrew (the real one?)

    @Captain, Great points you make and I am a fan of Solar Thermal. The potential for Australia to supply this energy is huge. But I don’t hear of much activity in this area.
    A recent US survey done says 67% of people believe climate change is real. Up from 56%. And 74% want something done about it. The opinions of people are the same in Australia according to local surveys.
    The denialists are going to lose the debate any moment now. They will just become a niche group similar to the flat earth society.
    Regarding Nuclear energy supporters in Australia, I have long suspected the support of it by the right side of politics has a lot to do with the desire for Australia to have a Nuclear weapons capability.

  166. Hamis Hill

    Re energy storage, is this the very same Captain Planet, who with other “experts”, John Bennetts and Rico laughed to scorn the very mention of mechanical batteries? Now why, other posters, did they do that?
    Because they know so much more than anyone else? I don’t expect any mea culpa’s, none of you are man enough for that. And, oh yes, the equally disdained ocean depth sequestration of biological carbon, that will not go away either, despite being risible to certain posters. The last laugh goes to?


https://www.crikey.com.au/2012/07/20/theres-a-da-xiang-in-the-room-new-greenhouse-emission-data/ == https://www.crikey.com.au/free-trial/==https://www.crikey.com.au/subscribe/

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