'Green' Monomaniacs in Pursuit of the Unattainable

With a nod to Jane Austen, it’s a truth which should be universally acknowledged that a country dependent on renewable energy must be in want of 100 percent backup power. No, not 50 percent nor even 95 percent. When the sun doesn’t shine and the wind doesn’t blow, we get a zero-power flow. Sadly, what should be universally acknowledged is studiously spurned by Climateers.

In my previous Pipeline post, I reported that the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO), responsible for keeping the lights on, had capped the price of natural gas; it had spiked up to 800 times its former level at the end of May. In turn, this led some generators, squeezed between fuel costs and the cap, to withdraw supply. Who would have guessed? Maybe only those with an inkling of insight into the difficulties of turning a profit when costs exceed revenue. Alas, American president Joe Biden isn't one of them:

Here in Australia, politicians fiddled, AEMO temporarily suspended the market for wholesale electricity and ordered generators to supply power at a fixed price. Governments finally woke up. Without shame, federal and state governments called for more coal and gas to be brought online. The very same governments which demonise coal and assiduously prevent natural-gas projects from getting up.  For example, a large coal-seam gas project in Narrabri in New South Wales is now fourteen years in the making. Still no final approval. Victoria has a complete ban on onshore drilling, whether conventional or fracking. Crazy doesn’t describe it.

Lincoln Steffens: the future didn't work.

Meanwhile, circa mid-June, the lights were on the point of going out in Australia's most populated states; in NSW, Victoria, and in Queensland. Politicians lived up to our meagre expectations. A sample to savour: the federal minister for Climate Change and Energy Chris Bowen asked people to switch off unnecessary appliances. NSW’s green-tragic treasurer Matt Keane ordered Sydney hospital staff to conserve power in non-clinical settings. He further suggested that if people must run dishwashers they should do so late at night. This is not a spoof. To constructively misquote Lincoln Steffens, we Sydneysiders have glimpsed the future and it ain’t gonna work.

But despair not, the new Labor government under Anthony Albanese has a multifaceted plan called Powering Australia. Under the plan, greenhouse gas emissions will fall by 43 percent (on 2005 levels) by 2030. And, by same year, the share of renewables generating electricity will be 82 percent; from 27 percent (including hydro) in 2020-21. To boot, electricity prices for families and small businesses will fall. Really? Yes, by $275 per annum by 2025. That’s not all. Many jobs will be created; 604,000, in fact. Lots of precision in these numbers, you’ll notice. Forget the shambles of the past month or so. A non-transcendental energy miracle of precise proportions is in store for us Aussies.

How will the miracle be performed? That’s too complex for any mere mortal, such as me, to put into a definitive account. There are many verbose and opaque documents to peruse from AEMO and the Energy Security Board (ESB). If you want more, try other authorities like the Clean Energy Regulator, the Clean Energy Financial Corporation, the Climate Change Authority, the Australian Energy Regulator, and the Australian Energy Market Commission. And that’s just on a federal level. Umpteen state bodies to choose from too. They all tend to talk of pumped hydro, green hydrogen, as yet undiscovered technologies, sucking up unused power from electric cars and home batteries, banks of commercial super batteries and, of course, many more onshore and offshore wind turbines, plus solar panels galore, all housed in numbers of “REZs” (renewable energy zones).

The federal government also intends spending $20 billion to construct 10,000 kilometres of transmission lines to connect all far-flung wind and solar farms to the grid. And to think, it used to be just cheap coal power running the whole caboodle. Be glad those primitive bad old days are behind us.

A truth universally acknowledged?

Two mechanisms are to be bought into play to help achieve the miracle. Neither mechanism has yet been fleshed out. There’s the rub. Both will need the wisdom of Solomon to be gotten even halfway right.

In the meantime, fun to be had seeing greenies squirm as they contemplate coal and gas power stations being paid for standing idle. Sometimes cognitive dissonance results. Bear in mind, the need for the capacity mechanism is driven by the intermittency of renewable energy against the backdrop of the continuing forced closures of coal-power stations. Yet, bizarrely, the Victorian energy minister Lily D’Ambrosio wants fossil fuels excluded from the mechanism; and she is by no means alone among the green zealotry.

We have always been clear that a capacity market operating in Victoria would make payments to zero-emissions technologies and not fossil fuels.

Can’t fathom how that makes any sense? Paging Jane Austen, who knows a universally acknowledge truth when she hears one. But that might tax even her dramatic powers of explanation.

Trouble in Oz for Albo and the Ghastly-Green Fourteen

The left-wing Labor Party narrowly won a majority in the May Australian federal election. It holds 77 of the 151 seats in the House of Representatives. It faces Liberal and National Parties, together holding 58 seats, and 16 assorted cross benchers. Of the cross benchers, an assorted ghastly-green fourteen will form, without much doubt, a cacophonous green choir. Nothing that Labor does on climate will be enough. And if that weren’t nearly enough, the Greens (party) will hold the balance of power in the Senate. Interesting times for the new government.

The Labor Party is not the natural party of national government in Australia. In the seventy-seven years since the end of WWII it has formed government only one-third of the time. The (now notionally) centre-right Coalition of the Liberal Party, largely representing urban areas, and the National Party, representing regional and rural areas, has formed government for the balance of the time.

Labor last formed government from 2007 to 2013. It was ugly. Prime minister Kevin Rudd was sacked in mid-first term and replaced with Julia Gillard. The 2010 election was all but lost. Gillard was subsequently sacked and Rudd resuscitated to try to save some seats at the 2013 election. To not much avail. Tony Abbott took the Coalition to a resounding win. Abbot used two principal slogans: “stop the boats” (carrying so-called asylum seekers) and, most notably, “axe the tax” (namely, the proposed carbon tax). Voters want climate-change action. Don't want to pay for it.

And your little dog Toto, too.

New Labor prime minster Anthony Albanese is quite evidently apprehensive. He doesn’t fancy traversing the same rocky road as Rudd or Gillard. Yet, only weeks into office, gas and coal shortages appear, energy prices soar.

What to do in these circumstances; when the election’s been won on climate action, reducing electricity prices and creating lots of green jobs? When, moreover, the cross-bench members of parliament have become greater in number and even more pathologically fixated on combatting climate-change? When they all, without the pesky burden of governing, want emission-reduction targets to go well beyond, and much more speedily beyond, the 43 percent (on 2005 levels) promised by Labor by 2030 and the net-zero promised by 2050?

It’s a rock and hard place. Which way will Labor go? For now, it’s Realpolitik. How could it not be? At the end of May, the wholesale price of natural gas in the states of New South Wales and Victoria spiked 50 and 80 times higher. That’s not a misprint. The Australian Energy Market Operator, responsible for keeping the lights on, responded by putting in place a temporary price cap of $40 per gigajoule. Still four times its not-so-long-ago average price of around $10.

Of course, the Ukrainian conflict, now an excuse for almost any government failure, took part of the blame. The rest was put down to the weather and to a fall in the generation of coal power. Herein hangs a disconcerting tale of inexplicably inclement weather in the era of global warming and, would you believe it, demands by the new fossil-fuel-averse government for more coal and gas power.

Currently it’s 6pm in Sydney and cold. My gas heater is on. It’s that or hypothermia. Is an exorbitant bill on the way? It's an uncommonly cold beginning to winter; lots of snow in the high country for skiers. And weren’t we told that it wasn’t going to snow again? The weather is paying no heed at all to global-warming soothsayers. You can say that again, and I will.

Ho ho ho: winter's on its way.

Inopportunely, as gas prices spiked, Australia’s largest coal power station, Eraring, some 90 miles north of Sydney, reported that it was running out of coal. As an aside, so what? Australia can do without Eraring. That must be so. Climate-change heads wiser than ours have determined that it will close in 2025, seven years earlier than its previously planned premature closing. Never mind, nothing to see there. Move on. But why was Eraring running out of coal?

Flooded coal mines is the answer. Back to that inclement weather. Climate "expert" Tim Flannery assured us in 2007, when made Australian of the year for his environmental credentials, that drought was here to stay. “Even the rain that falls isn't actually going to fill our dams,” he sermonised. And since? Rain aplenty and massive flooding. Don’t think for a moment that this has dented Tim’s chutzpah. Year in and out, decade in and out, dud prediction after dud prediction. The hallmark of the climate cult.

Chris Bowen, the new minister for contradiction in terms—sorry, officially, for climate change and energy—blamed the rise in gas prices on the previous government for not building more renewable energy and transmission infrastructure. Exactly how that would have helped in the circumstances is anybody’s guess. But, in the world of lies in which we live these days, baseless claims are commonplace. However, Madeleine King, the new minister for resources, swallowed her pride and introduced a note of realism. We need more coal and gas power to fill the breach, she said, “climate change be damned.” Well, no, she didn’t exactly say that last bit.

Calls for more coal power? What an irony. Numbers of aging coal power generators suddenly fell out of action. That’s not surprising for an industry destined for complete abolishment, stressed by having to compete with renewables when the wind blows, and to which banks won’t lend.

Hey, big Spender.

Ms Allegra Spender, a member the aforementioned green choir, and in sore need of relevance, blamed reliance on fossil fuels for the situation and called on gas companies to do the right thing, “to come to the party and make sure that Australian consumers and businesses are protected." From pointless to purposeful. Cut to Kevin Gallagher, the CEO of Santos, Australia’s largest gas production company, speaking at a Sky News conference in Sydney in early June.

What’s effectively happened over the last decade as gas resources have been used up and new projects have not been able to come forward and be developed and bring new supply into the market; all the buffer and all the slack in the system has been used up… Successive state and federal governments have put red and green tape in place which has made these projects…impossible to get up.

To wit, a major coal-seam project at Narrabri in northern NSW has been held up for years. All of the gas is destined for domestic consumption. “We thought that would inspire people to help get the project approved,” Gallagher said. Not in today’s world. A cognitively dissonant world; desperately in need of more fossil fuels, while bloody-mindedly preventing their extraction. Albanese’s government is already wrestling with the bitter fruits.

Into ze Future mit Stakeholder Capitalism

I thought of the song “Tomorrow belongs to me” from the movie Cabaret when listening to Klaus Schwab’s opening remarks at last month’s extravaganza in Davos. His pronunciation of ‘the’ as ze (according to my inexpert Standard English phonetic rendering) adds to the perturbing Teutonic effect. Be perturbed.

Ze future is not just happening. Ze future is built by us. By a powerful community, as you here in this room. We have the means to improve the state of the world.

He must have seen the movie. Subliminally, the unsettling phraseology pops out. Mind you, don’t discount the possibility that he’s deliberately messing with our minds. If so, it worked on me.

Australia’s eSafety Commissioner, Julie Inman Grant, got a spot at Davos. Didn’t recollect that we had an eSafety Commissioner, though she’s been in the job since January 2017. Maybe most countries have something similar these days? Fine, if they are employed to track and counter child sexual exploitation. But, of course, Parkinson’s Law prevails as does its counterpart, mission creep. A new Act (2021) gives Ms Grant extended powers to regulate online content. Has this gone to her head like bubbles in a glass of champagne? Apparently. There she is at Davos telling the assembled VIPs that we need a “recalibration” of free speech.

Here's something else. In 2020, the World Economic Forum (WEF), together with Apolitical, a global organisation of government bureaucrats, whose mission is to “help build 21st century governments that work for people and the planet,” appointed Ms Grant as one of the, so-termed, #Agile50. To wit, “one of the most influential leaders revolutionising government.” Who knew?

I dare say Nina Jankowicz would have been in line for a similar honorific; if only the Disinformation Governance Board had not been wantonly sabotaged, so it's sadly said, by disinformation. Anyway, it’s all too much for me to take in. The future obviously doesn’t belong to me.

What is the future? A good question to which I seek answers from the revised Davos manifesto issued in 2020. And, for historical perspective and to get a sense of the trajectory of the WEF's "Great Reset" agenda, I compare this with the first manifesto; issued in 1973, only two years or so after the WEF was established in January 1971. The 2020 manifesto declaims on the purpose of a company in the so-called fourth industrial revolution; the 1973 manifesto, on a code of ethics for business leaders. They are similar yet subtly, and not so subtly, different. Evolution has occurred.

“Professional management” charged with serving the interests of “stakeholders” in the first manifesto, morphs into the “company” in the second. This is not incidental. Companies encompass boards and large influential institutional investors as well as professional managers. All must be engaged in order to change the nature of capitalism and the world. And it’s working. It’s hard to find a company board or large institutional investor these days which hasn’t adopted ESG as its Holy Writ. Management eagerly complies with the expensive help of supremely woke major consulting firms.

AGL, Australia’s largest electricity supplier, had planned to split out its coal-power business. Along comes large shareholder, and green enthusiast, billionaire Mike Cannon Brookes, with institutional investors in his wake. A coal business on its own might not be eager to self-destruct. Won’t do. The split is derailed. Welcome to the world of the second manifesto.

To be clear, the manifestos are not all bad. Both emphasise the need for companies to earn sufficient profits, act ethically and pay their taxes. Ho-hum. Also, it’s unexceptional, on its face, for businesses which want to thrive to pay heed to the interests of their stakeholders. Small businesses know this instinctively. Customers matter, as do employees. As does the environment within which they operate. Being antisocial by throwing garbage into the street or local river might not be conducive to long-term success. Thus, you might query, why does the WEF make so much of stakeholder capitalism?

Two points. First, the focus is on companies rather than on businesses more generally. It’s all about the big guys. As Herr Schwab says, it’s about the “powerful community,” executing an agenda determined by, wouldn’t you know, the powerful community. It’s not immediately clear that this kind of stakeholder capitalism goes to the interests of small business or, say, those coal miners living in Poland or West Virginia. who find themselves unable to learn computer programming. Ah well, one can't make an omelette without breaking eggs.

Second, is the sheer reach of Schwab’s stakeholder capitalism. In the first manifesto this is described as management assuming “the role of a trustee of the material universe for future generations.” Can’t see Con the fruiterer in the corner shop embracing that concept very easily. The second manifesto goes further in asserting that a company “acts as a steward of the environment [as well as] the material universe for future generations [and that it] consciously protects our biosphere and champions a circular, shared and regenerative economy.”

Instructive too in the second manifesto, missing in the first, is the reference to multinationals. A multinational company, it says, “acts itself as a stakeholder—together with governments and civil society—of our global future.” And in case you think such a company might simply make, say, cars for profit, it’s required as being part of “corporate global citizenship [to collaborate] with other companies and stakeholders to improve the state of the world.”

As I’ve noted, serving stakeholders has always been part of capitalism. The leap in the first manifesto is to focus particularly on professional managers and to enjoin them in protecting the material universe. Where that starts and stops is anybody’s guess. The leap in the second is to broaden the focus to companies—and big ones to boot—and to enjoin them collectively as global citizens in protecting the biosphere; and, back to Schwab’s opening remarks at Davos, in improving the state of the world.

Improving the state of the world is like a team aiming to win a cup final. It comes from having the right systems in place. That doesn’t guarantee success, but it’s an essential prerequisite. The system of free-market capitalism has put trophies galore in the display cabinet. Got that perfect feeling that a rewarding future won’t stem from Schwab’s souped-up version of stakeholder capitalism, orchestrated by a global elite?  A miserable future? It’s happening. Covid diktats, soaring energy prices, power rationing, ESG, CRT, DEI; throw in rainbow flags, transgenderism, puberty blockers, regularising drug use, etc. Foretastes one and all. Willkommen, Bienvenue, Welcome.

Australians Go Walkabout on 'Climate Change'

Australia’s election is full of oddities and yet it has delivered a clear governing result. Labour will be the next Australian government either with a narrow overall majority or dependent on the parliamentary support of the Greens. Furthermore, it’s been carried into power largely on the back of green votes cast for several parties. And the pledge of the new prime minister, Anthony “Albo” Albanese, to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 43 percent in 2030 and by the full net- zero in 2050—will be a politically unbreakable one, at least for a year or two. Indeed, though there are still some 14 seats where the winner is still to be decided, none of these governing certainties will change.

What, then, are the oddities? The main one is that Labour won despite both having its worst electoral performance since 1934 and getting the lowest vote for a government in Australian history. That paradox is explained mainly by the fact that the center-right Coalition of Liberal and National parties lost even more support, getting its worst result since Australia’s federation was formed in 1901.

Votes lost by the two main parties went to independents and smaller parties in large numbers. Three groups in particular did well: the Greens who currently look like rising from one to four parliamentary seats; two populist conservative parties that between them scored about 10 percent of the national vote but have so far won no seats; and as my colleague Peter Smith pointed out in an earlier election report,  some former Liberal votes in urban areas went to “so-called Teal candidates”—i.e., independents allegedly blending Liberal blue and Green in their party colors—who are in reality left-progressives on every issue but oh, so, Socially correct too.

At the latest count, an Australian friend tells me, the Liberals lost six upper-middle class traditionally safe seats to these candidates. They were exceptionally well-organized and well-financed by a sympathetic green billionaire, climate activist NGOs, and investors hoping for greater public funding for renewables. They drew support from upper-middle class women voters in particular. And they helped to unseat Liberals by picking up the despairing second preference votes of Labour voters in upper-middle-class urban areas.

There are similarities between this successful insurgent campaign and recent election results in the U.S. and Europe. Left progressives have become adept at exploiting technical opportunities in election law and organization to favor their own voting constituencies, to create new electoral coalitions on key issues such as climate change, and even to conjure up last-minute new political parties when existing Left parties have discredited themselves, as in some recent European elections. They can call on the deep pockets of high-tech billionaires with progressive views. And their conservative opponents—notably the GOP in 2020—have been left behind, sticking with traditional fund-raising and campaigning directed solely to the next election when the progressives are investing in NGOs and tax-exempt social organizations that stay around long term and change the political weather in local urban and suburban communities between as well as during election campaigns.

In reality, despite the legitimate headlines about a “Greenslide,” this Labour/Green victory was in large part a technical knock-out rather than a change of national sentiment. It even seems likely that the center-right Coalition will end up with a larger share of the national vote than Labour. Liberal and National parties did well outside the big cities where these new political technologies have not yet really penetrated.

Those rural, small town, and outer suburban votes—together with the working-class constituencies that the Liberals might go after seriously for the first time if they were sensible enough to follow Peter Smith's advice—could be the basis of a Liberal-National recovery on an electoral and social platform from any before. It would be a recovery rooted in a robust defense of free markets and a science-based civilization against the neo-medieval puritanism of the Green revolution.

Such a recovery would not lack issues. Labour will never be able to satisfy the demands of its Green allies for ever-larger cuts in people’s standard of living, let alone their aspirations for a better life for themselves and their children. The “Teals” will soon discover that their own social standing depends on an economy that their quasi-religious attitudes undermine. Labour voters will be surprised to discover that saving the world means making everything poorer, meaner, and hotter too as their air conditioning fails in the Australian climate. Altogether, the Labour/Green coalition will be rent with increasingly rancorous disputes as the result of a remarkably unfortunate historic accident.

Australia’s conversion to hard greenery is arriving at the very moment when responsible people everywhere are realizing that the costs of orthodox Green climate policy are economically destructive and that the Russo-Ukraine war makes them strategically dangerous too. To use language that should be familiar by now: Net-Zero is unsustainable. And they’ve just embraced it.

'Greenslide' in Oz Dumps Scott Morrison.

Anthony Albanese of the Labor Party has won the Australian election as polls said he would. While the convoluted compulsory preferential voting system will keep some results hanging for some days, it’s likely (as I write 24 hours since the polls closed) that Labor will gain 76+ seats in the 151-seat House of Representatives. And, therefore, will be able to govern in his own right, without the help of independents or Greens.

I’m queuing to vote. A middle-aged chap in a Kylea Tink tee-shirt approaches me. Do you know anything about Kylea Tink, he asks? Yes, I do, I say, she has insane climate policies. He reminds me of recent floods and bushfires. You mean like the ones we had in the nineteen thirties; I respond. Resignedly, he beats a retreat and moves on to the young couple standing behind me. More receptive ears. I wonder. How does a man of his age become completely delusional? Young things, OK. They know no better, and have been brainwashed on social media.

On reflection, judging by the overall election result, the weight of the voting population across all age groups has become delusional. A cultural degeneration, perhaps already in waiting, has been given impetus by "climate change" and Covid. Irony. Australia is one of the few countries to meet its Kyoto commitment. It has a covid death-rate one tenth that of the U.S. Unemployment has just fallen to 3.9 percent; its lowest level for fifty years. And yet…

Ms Tink, who won the seat by the way, was one of thirteen so-called “Teal” independents, opposing “moderates” (more correctly, wets), among the governing Liberal (conservative) and National (rural centre-right) parties. All in blue-ribbon inner-city seats. Backed by the son of a billionaire with interests in renewable energy, these well-heeled women, in well-heeled electorates, are climate activists. In each case their Liberal or National opponent scores more votes. But preference sharing among the Greens and Labor gets (as it stands) six of them elected. Oh, for first-past-the-post elections...

Incidentally, they and their supporters deceptively wear teal-coloured tee-shirts as a sign that they are a cross between green and Liberal blue; presumable to appeal to conservative-minded voters. In fact, they’re more aptly “watermelons.” Or a cross between green and red, which make an unattractive brown when mixed and wouldn’t do on shirts.

Unfortunately, we now have a Labor government committed to a 43 percent reduction in emissions by 2030, with up to twelve Greens and green-minded independents in the parliament who think much more ambitiously. They variously want something between sixty and seventy-five percent. Meanwhile the Liberals are tortured. Should they try to outbid the Teals next time to get those blue-ribbon seats back?

Hold on, there’s no outbidding the Teals. Should they then try for those working-class outer-suburban seats, which they’ve never won, by going back to traditional conservative values and common sense? A Trumpian strategy. Seems farfetched. There will be no path back for the Liberals, while "climate change" is the cause du jour.

Feeling Panicked? Look Under Your Feet

Is there anything sadder than living in the past? I thought of that the other evening when viewing an Australian government ad still desperately pushing Covid boosters and vaccinations for children (aka, child abuse). Those of even modest sense can no longer see the rotting carcass of the Wuhan plague in their rear-view mirrors. To medico fascists, government busybodies, and rapacious big pharma; it’s over, get used to it. You’ll soon think of something else to keep the plebs tremorous. Unless, of course, the climate-change “crisis” is thought sufficient for the day.

Mencken nailed it more than a century ago: “The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by an endless series of hobgoblins, most of them imaginary.” And, truer it's become, since the application of common sense became unfashionable. Around what time did that happen? Hard to say, but the establishment of the United Nations' IPCC in 1988 was a watershed moment. Shortly after that, if you recall, the scientific methodology of Karl Popper was completely discarded.

The onerous hurdles entailed in rejecting the null hypothesis became infra dig among establishment climatologists and other scientists. Hocus pocus prevailed. The alternative hypothesis that industrial emissions of CO2 were on course to cause catastrophic global warming became settled science. Irrefutable science. Geocentrism revisited.

Mencken: scourge of the booboisie.

Simple minds; to be kinder, blinkered minds; to be unkinder, paid-for minds, reduced the unfathomable complexity of climate variability to the alluring simplicity of statistical correlation; hid within technobabble; the modelling equivalent of bafflegab. Up goes man-made CO2, up goes atmospheric CO2, up goes temperature. Hence the first causes the second and the second the third. Post hoc ergo propter hoc.

And by this circuitous route I come to my tale. Imagine Isaac Newton in his day discussing his ideas with friends in one of those new-fangled coffee houses in London or Cambridge. Little did they likely know what scientific revolutions were afoot. Imagine Albert Einstein on his lunch break at the Swiss patent office in Bern talking about speeding trains or accelerating elevators. The gravity, so to speak, of such musings might have gone right over the heads of those in his company. In any event, we know nothing of the everyday companions of famous scientists, unless they too discovered something. History is not about ordinary people.

I have a friend who’s a scientist. Professor Emeritus Ivan Kennedy of Sydney University. His principal field is agricultural science; his speciality, soil science. I’ve mentioned him before on this site in context of his hypothesis that wind turbines cause turbulence and drying in surrounding areas. Possible outcomes: more (warming) water vapour in the atmosphere, less agricultural productivity, and foliage more susceptible to fire. How significant are these effects is indeterminate at this stage? He has a prospective paper in Wind Energy Science. Perhaps that will prompt empirical testing. Perhaps not. His conclusions aren’t within the zeitgeist.

To the larger point, he is presenting a paper in July at the quinquennial National Congress of the Royal Australian Chemical Institute on the effect on atmospheric CO2 of exporting agricultural produce from rural to urban environments. The scientific detail is beyond me, though he's taken time to explain it, but the substantive hypothesis is plain enough. Modern agricultural practices rob the soil of alkalinity, as waste products are not returned to the soil. The resultingly lower pH levels (more acidity) in soils means less net CO2 absorption.

Professor Kennedy’s view is that in normal course man-made CO2 would be absorbed back into the land and oceans and cause no problem. Thus, according to Kennedy, it’s not CO2 emissions per se that is causing increased CO2 in the atmosphere but the reduced ability of low pH soil to absorb it. He notes, on the basis of his “crude estimate,” that this effect “is very substantial, perhaps a major part of the atmospheric increase since the early 1800s.”

Scorched earth? No: parched earth.

Back to statistical correlation, upon which all models, however fancy, are based. Since 1800 the world’s population has increased from about one billion to close to eight billion today. Food production has more than kept up. Cropping has become more extensive and intensive, with closed-system production and use ever declining. I dare say this development correlates pretty well with increased atmospheric CO2. But if it’s not in the models, and it’s not, it won’t be picked up.

My purpose is not to promote Kennedy’s theories. I’m no scientist. On the other hand, they are plausible and certainly demonstrate the appalling naivety of fixing immutably on just one flimsy theory to explain complex phenomena. Who knows, I might be sharing coffee each week with a scientist whose theories will upend the world. Rid us of wind turbines and reinstate coal. Like my made-up chums of Newton and Einstein I will rate no mention in history books, yet I was there. Unlikely? Perhaps.

The delicious irony of the answer lying in the soil is that achieving net-zero industrial and household emissions will be of no avail in reducing atmospheric CO2.  Meanwhile, feeding the growing world population, on course for, say, 10 billion or 11 billion, will go on lowering the pH of soil and thereby increasing atmospheric CO2.

The insufferable irony is that Michael Moore (Planet of the Humans) might be right. Reducing the world’s population is the obvious solution, if indeed reducing atmospheric CO2 is the goal. Can we speedily reduce the population to the one billion of pre-industrial times? Easy-peasy. World government led by an El Supremo (Herr Schwab perhaps). One child per family; that is, only provided they have sufficiently high social-credit scores. Illegal babies aborted. The elderly cajoled into euthanasia, Soylent Green style. Recall, the movie made in 1973 was set in 2022. Somewhat prescient.

And, to go back to my start, this idea of food production causing “catastrophic warming” is a lot scarier than the current theory.  It gives the powers that be enormous scope to control human behaviour at its reproductive dawn and at its degenerative dusk. If only they had the benefit of this theory in 1988. What havoc they could have wreaked. Mind you, there’s still time for them to transition from one big scare to an even bigger one. It might be best to keep shtum about Professor Kennedy’s theory. But there it is, I’ve let the cat out of the bag.

Up the Garden Path, By the Nose, Down Under

Is politics downstream from culture, as the late Andrew Breitbart suggested? Hard to accept when we see the calibre of current-day politicians. Easier to blame them for bringing civilisation to the brink of savagery rather than seeing them as mere symptoms of a broad malaise. Yet, climate change and Covid have surely laid bare the awful truth. The first and second estates completely reflect the weight of their constituents’ wishes. Namely, it seems, to be led by the nose up the garden path.

Australia’s prime minister, Scott Morrison, has called an election for May 21; which he will lose if the polls are half right. If he does lose, the country will go from where it is now, woke, green and tribal, to being even more woke, green and tribal. That’s the situation, because that’s what the majority of people want. There is no other explanation.

My Sunday newspaper selected a number of voters from a regional “battleground” electorate to interview. One, a seventy-year-old surf shop owner, reportedly said this: “The Liberals [Australia's "conservative" party] are not taking climate change seriously and need to be thrown out of government because that’s what’s affecting me and all my fifty workers.”

Morrison: dead man walking.

Based solely on his picture in the paper, this chap looked normal. At the same, we ought to be wary. He believes, without hint of embarrassment, that if the Australian government had taken "climate change" more seriously, he and his workers would be better off. More sunshine, bigger surfs? Who knows what and how he thinks? What we know is that insanity is spotted only in stark relief.

If we came across a town where everyone wears odd shoes and funny hats, we’d put it down to local fashion. The idiocy of the surf shop owner doesn’t stand out, because his views are not out of keeping with the prevailing zeitgeist. My local federal member is the very wet Trent Zimmerman. He is totally onboard with net-zero by 2050, as he is with most woke causes. Nonetheless, he is at risk from one of a cohort of thirteen well-funded so-called independents, all of whom want net-zero by 2040. All operate under the banner of Climate 200. All, not incidentally, are professional white women of comely appearance. Their patron, Simon Holmes à Court, is a very rich white man. White everywhere. Ye gads! Is the privilege real after all? Oh, do come on. The green left, as a protected species, is incapable of racism.

Trent would not be in trouble if most of those living in my well-heeled electorate were more than halfway sensible. But then a climate skeptic might get up, which is a risible proposition. Most everyone I meet these days has imbibed the climate Kool-Aid. In my personal experience, the outlandish idea that we’re not close to a climate Armageddon is entertained only by small groups of dissident conservatives meeting furtively in coffee shops, like the early Christians in Rome.

Covid’s the same. State premiers who introduced the most onerous of restrictions, Daniel Andrews (Victoria) is well up in the polls ahead of November’s state election and Mark McGowan (Western Australia) and Annastacia Palaszczuk (Queensland) were swept back into power with increased majorities.

Confiteor Climate Change omnipotenti.

OK, I know hope still exists in parts of America, thank God; and in Hungary I suppose. But it’s gone in most of the western world and certainly gone in Australia. What of the third and fourth estates?

The fourth estate is history in Australia. Frills aside, all of the press is of one mind on the major issues. All have bought into climate change alarmism. All were gung-ho for Covid restrictions; the more onerous the better. There is no contrarian mainstream press. Larger markets in North America and Europe leave scope for conservatism. But for how long? I subscribe to the centre-right U.K. newspaper, The Telegraph, where you still get a quota of conservative commentary to savour. But climate-change skepticism? Not very much, if any at all.

As for the third estate, chancy business now and the future is ominous. Australian Federal Court judge Mordy Bromberg recently sided with a group of eight female teenagers and their litigation guardian (an eighty-six-year-old Catholic nun), intent on stopping a particular mining development in New South Wales. They brought a class action arguing that the federal minister for the environment had a common-law duty of care to young people by protecting them from climate change when considering the approval of new mines. They were represented by Equity Generation Lawyers, specialists in Australian climate change law, so they tell us. And who funds these climate-change legal frolics? Not Catholic nuns, I’d guess.

While the full Federal Court sensibly threw out Bromberg’s nonsensical ruling; will they do so in upcoming years? Law schools are busy making lawyers even more woke and left-wing than is their time-worn predisposition. It will only be relatively few years before death and retirement sees them monopolising the bench. It’s on the cards that Bromberg’s ruling will soon enough become part of common law, not only in Australia but across the Anglosphere.

Endangering flora or fauna are the favoured pretexts for waging lawfare on fossil-fuel projects. Eventually, if the developers have enough money and resilience, this means projects can get up. The Adani coal mine in Queensland for example; even if it did take eleven years and lots of money and resilience. But once something as amorphous as "contributing to climate change" becomes a legal barrier, there will be no avenue of escape; and no one will try.

The power of climate-change alarmists, and their accompanying carpetbaggers, to distort and replace rational thinking is beyond all doubt. Populace, duped. Politicians, deranged. Exemplar, Boris Johnson. Mainstream press, piping their tune. Legal fraternity, marionettes in waiting.

Not for the first time in human history; superstition, "the religion of feeble minds," as Edmund Burke put it, is triumphing over reason. Only a handful of conservative commentators on stations such as Fox News, GB News and Sky News (Australia), together with the rational wing of the (new) fifth estate, like The-Pipeline if you will, is keeping reason afloat. Something to cling to: after stoking fear and wreaking mayhem, superstitions always and inevitably implode, as antithetical facts pile up and reality breaks through.

The Great Carbon-Credit Caper

Former chairman of something called the Emissions Reduction Assurance Committee, Professor Andrew Macintosh, recently spilled the beans on Australia’s issuance of carbon credits. Such credits are issued under the auspices of the Clean Energy Regulator by the Emissions Reduction Fund; part of the growing multiplicity of government climate agencies. He claimed that Australian Carbon Credit Units (ACCUs) were, among other rorts, being issued to beneficiaries for growing pre-existing trees.

What a surprise! Rorts galore when governments give out freebies for intangibles. For growing trees that were already grown. For not cutting down trees that were not for the chop. For land revegetation that was going ahead anyway. For not clearing land already uneconomic to clear. For energy efficiency measures, which otherwise form part of continuing efforts by businesses to lower their costs.

According to the World Bank (March 2022) there are sixty-five carbon markets operating either on a national or subnational level. As of 2021, these markets reportedly covered only 22 percent of CO2e emissions (the “e” referring to carbon dioxide equivalent emissions of all greenhouse gasses). Plenty of scope for growth and an inexhaustible supply of (internationally-sellable) carbon credits to emerge out of thin air. How then do you keep their price up, which presumably is the goal in order to keep emissions down? There’s the rub. You can see why green activists don’t much like carbon pricing. Paying a pittance to “pollute” isn’t in their playbook.

Would that it'were so simple.

Australia doesn’t have a cap-and-trade carbon market like, say, California, which forces emitters to buy carbon credits or face penalties. It doesn’t matter. In these days of woke, who needs compulsion? Corporations are terribly anxious to reduce their “carbon footprints.” And major institutional investors act as compliance scolds. Thus, there is no shortage of buyers. But, as in all markets, supply and demand reign supreme; and, other things equal, more supply means lower prices. Take a recent Australian development.

Initially, ACCUs could only be sold back to the government. Since early March they’ve been sellable on the open market. More supply. The result, a plunge in prices from over A$50 per metric tonne of CO2e to around A$30. As in Australia, as in the world.

Generally, companies will be able to buy carbon credits issued by foreign jurisdictions to satisfy their domestic (legal or self-imposed) obligations. Where developing countries are involved, this cross-border carbon-credit market is overseen by the U.N.’s Clean Development Mechanism; ensuring that carbon credits have been properly generated by genuine carbon-offset projects. Laughing verboten.

I googled the price of carbon credits. Got a range of from €107 per ton in Switzerland to €2.80 in Mexico. What’s going on? What’s going on is that this market is like no other. It’s a market devoid of proper underpinnings.

Adam Smith nailed it. People acting in their own self-interest to make what other people will buy at a profitable price serves the interests of everyone. The key to this process of enrichment is twofold. First, making things that people want in order to satisfy their real needs (bread) and desires (fast cars). And, second, investing effort and resources into making those things. Artificially creating needs and desires out of a cultish, pseudo-scientific, political movement (carbon credits) and then conjuring them up out of nothing is something, all right; but it isn’t the kind of market Smith would have recognised.

Economists of environmental bent are usually of socialist mindsets and disdain the market. Yet, when it comes to climate change, they see the market as saviour. Take American economist Joseph Stiglitz and British economist Nicholas Stern; the first a Nobel Laureate, the second a Lord. They must know a thing or two? Think Orwell and very intelligent people.

In 2017 they came up with a target price for CO2 emissions of from U.S. $50 to $100 per ton by 2030 to stem global warming. I have no idea from which model they sourced this rather wide price range. In any event, they’ve been overtaken by events. According to a Reuters poll of “climate economists” in October 2021, we need a carbon price of at least $100 per ton right now (or right then) to achieve net-zero by 2050. Expect it only to go up. My proposed new economic law: "When the goal is infeasible, there is no upper limit on the price required to achieve it."

A question: how is supply and demand for carbon credits to be orchestrated so as to produce a global price of at least $100; in America, in Europe, in India, in China, in Africa? Answer: With uncommon difficulty. Australia’s Clean Energy Regulator promises to establish a carbon exchange by 2023 and to reduce the time it takes for eligible projects to receive ACCUs.

Facilitating a carbon exchange and increasing the supply of ACCUs will support business and governments in delivering against their voluntary emission reduction commitments at the lowest possible cost.

There you have it, “at the lowest possible cost.” No wonder green activists are skeptical. Bear in mind too that every man and his dog in every corner of the world will want to wangle carbon credits to collect a dollar by selling them.

Tesla receives carbon credits gratis from California and a number of other states for doing what it does; making and selling electric cars. Reportedly, it sold carbon credits to the tune of $518 million in just the first quarter of 2021 to other vehicle manufacturers in need. Watch how this boondoggle unravels if new electric car sales (now about 4 percent) reach anywhere near the U.S. government’s target of 50 percent by 2030.

Short of the realisation of a Klaus Schwab wet dream of one-world government, there is no practicable way for a myriad of carbon schemes to orchestrate an equilibrium global price of $100 or more (plus inflation?). Price falls out of supply and demand. Supply will be subject to the rules of different regimes, susceptible to rorts. There’s an incentive for poor countries to rort. Demand will equally depend on the rules of different regimes and differing appetites among businesses for voluntary reductions in emissions. And all the while the supply of carbon credits will grow as businesses adopt technologies to reduce emissions and stick out their hands for carbon credits to sell.

There is an intrinsic flaw in this artificial carbon market. It’s part of the house of cards of boondoggles and grift built on the self-evident lie, as it was ten and twenty years ago, and as it will be ten years hence, that climate doom is only ten years away. A movable doom is a wonderful thing.

Oxymorons and Morbid Attachments

It’s approaching breakfast time in Australia on 25 January. Avid wind-watcher Rafe Champion reporting:

Wind addicted South Australia is importing half of its power from Victoria and 94 percent of the local generation is gas. Wind turbines are running at 2 percent of capacity and providing 5 percent of demand. Victoria is generating a small excess of power [mainly from coal] but not enough to prop up South Australia without help from Tasmania and New South Wales. Across the national electricity network wind is delivering 3.7 percent of consumption, fossil fuels are delivering 83 percent (coal 75 percent).

Close your eyes and imagine the entire world without coal, gas and oil. If you imagine in their stead thousands of modular nuclear power stations dotted around the globe, relax. While you probably need counselling on the practicalities of supplying affordable and reliable energy in the immediate decades ahead, you don’t have acute symptoms of a novel psychological affliction. To wit, a morbid fear of cheap dispatchable power and, its mirror image, a morbid attachment to rude living.

We had it coming.

To the afflicted, cheap dispatchable power means travel and gadgets galore for humans to enjoy. This isn’t the world they envision. To them it’s a dystopian nightmare. Hence their understandable terror at the prospect of its metastasising. Correspondingly, it’s no wonder that they’re smitten by unaffordable and unreliable energy. Out of the resulting deprivation, they see the noble savage emerging ready to live parsimoniously in harmony with nature.

Ask almost anyone in the street. Ordinary people. Normal people. None will like the idea of living parsimoniously. Certainly, when it’s explained to them.

When I was a boy, me mum used to wash our clothes, bedsheets and towels by hand in the bath; mangle them, then hang them on the clothesline outside even in the deepest English winter. Electricity usage zero. Mind you, mum used hot water heated in a boiler next to our coal fire or by gas on the stove top. Carbon footprint there, I suppose. Vandalism. She should have used cold water to be absolutely green-minded and parsimonious.

Today all kinds of labour-saving, communication and entertainment gadgets abound. They will be prised only out of cold dead hands. And not just gnarled hands. Make no mistake, those jet-setting climate-warrior hypocrites and their handmaidens are not about to forsake a smidgeon of indulgence.

How in the world do they get away with it? That is the question. Why isn’t net-zero laughed off the stage? Smoke and mirrors. That’s why. The truth is hidden. It’s hidden by baseless claims of green nirvanas. Job creation is the poster child.

Angus Taylor is Australia’s federal government “minister for industry, energy and emissions reduction.” His job description is a double-barrelled contradiction in terms. But all of those propagating the received wisdom are intent on the populace seeing them as oxymorons. Even among those who’ve never heard of Shakespeare’s sweet sorrow; who wouldn’t know an oxymoron from a contradiction in terms; and, incidentally, who might benefit from Danny DeVito’s masterly teaching.

Oxy this, you moron.

To expand. Juxtaposing both industry (the thriving thereof) and energy (the affordability and reliability thereof) with emissions reduction is meant to instill confidence that all is well with the world. Thus, effectively, we are meant to view "carbonless energy" and "carbonless industry" as oxymorons. That is to say, thunderous silence is more silent than plain silent. So, carbonless energy is cheaper and more abundant than just plain old energy. Carbonless industry is more competitive and job creating than just plain old industry. Grammar and propaganda working in sync to underpin the big sell.

Other countries have different set ups. But, within western governments these days; as, for example, in the U.K. and in the U.S., energy, industry and climate-change policy are caught under one broad umbrella, as though they are mutually supportive with no hint of conflict. And who’s to gainsay? No one of note at a political level. They’re predominantly likeminded.

It’s the real plague of our age. Political opposition has withered. Combatting climate change is a shared hysteria across the political aisles. It’s exactly the same thing with combatting the Wuhan virus. There’s no mainstream opposition. For the most part in Australia at a state and federal level, the usual charge against governments is that they’re not being hysterical enough. If you get the occasional reservation, it’s at the margin or from powerless mavericks.

Our system of government depends upon there being robustly opposing political forces. In Australia, Canada and the U.K., Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition, puts the imperative into words. They’re not idle words.

Two things thrive in the absence of opposition. Foolishness and despotism. We are seeing both in full bloom in the response to Covid. So far climate policy is simply replete with foolishness. Watch out for despotism when people refuse to follow the parsimonious script, grids collapse and blackouts ensue.

Not hysterical enough.

Back to Angus Taylor. He recently took delight in a ship leaving port for Japan carrying hydrogen made using brown coal. Reportedly, the CO2 was captured and stored in a reservoir. No comment on the extent of capture, how leaky, how expensive, how scalable. What he said is that “clean hydrogen is a fuel of the future [and] the government is investing more than $1.3 billion to accelerate the development of our local hydrogen industry.” And did he promise jobs? Needless to ask, “over 16,000 jobs by 2050 plus a further 13,000 jobs from the construction of related renewable energy infrastructure.”

Notice something across jurisdictions. Renewable energy creates job galore. No mention of jobs lost. It’s all gain and no pain in the imaginary renewable energy world. This is the way hearts and minds are lulled. But real life is confronting and salutary. As my opening shows, unlike Esteban in Kill Bill II, wind is not susceptible to flattery. Neither will clean hydrogen become cheap and abundant on the wish and prayer of governments.

We are told by Taylor that “the government is determined to supercharge the [hydrogen] industry even further to support our plan to reach net zero emissions by 2050.” There you have it. Nothing is impossible for a determined government armed with taxpayer dollars. Didn’t Barack Obama promise to quell the rise of the oceans among other wonderous feats and derring-dos? Job all done then, surely?

Lord Percy and the Green Climateers

Skint and owing £1000, Lord Blackadder faces the wrath of the perverted Bishop of Bath and Wells and the fate of being buggered by a red-hot poker. Valiantly trying to save him by making gold, his incredibly dim-witted friend Lord Percy instead makes ‘pure green’. Not gold! Blackadder points out.

Think of Percy’s quest as a metaphor for the quest of today’s climate activists. Instead of gold, they’re after carbonless energy. Alchemy rethought through a climate prism. And, to boot, with a religiously-convicted single mindedness. Pure "green."

Consider the attitude of those working for the myriad of agencies in each western country dedicated to completely greening the production and consumption of energy. I’m not a mind reader, but in Australia I can’t spot doubt. Just group-think. No evidence of robust internal debate. None escapes into public view in any event. Presumably no one is hired who doesn’t fit the mould.

Catastropharians all -- skeptics shunned -- they’ve fixed on their fanciful quest without at all questioning its feasibility. Percy’s problem. Fortunately, Blackadder found another way. If sense is not soon restored, we might be stuck with pure green and, figuratively speaking, with Blackadder’s blazing nemesis.

One way to appreciate the infeasibility of decarbonisation is to lay bare the fantastical plans for its achievement; by whichever climate agency, in whichever country. Incidentally, this is not necessarily straightforward. Common to all plans are grand visions and longwinded bafflegab. Thus, I was unsurprised to learn of the length of New York’s Draft Scoping Plan to radically reduce emissions. All 330 pages plus appendices were released on December 20.

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Everything’s bigger in New York. So, Australia’s reports tend to be shorter but remain competitive in the visions and bafflegab stakes. Which brings me to Australia’s equivalent of the DSP, the Integrated System Plan (ISP) to transform the production and consumption of energy. This plan, released also in December, was issued by the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO); the agency responsible for keeping the lights on.

The ISP is just ninety-nine pages long. Even so, I admit to not reading it all. Too little fortitude. However, the eight-page executive summary suffices to reveal its innards. Net-zero by 2050 is the goal of course but, to ease concern, we are told that power will remain “affordable, reliable and secure.” Take it to the bank. Every pie-in-the-sky plan to do away with fossil fuels contains the same placating, empty assurance.

The plan calls for ‘delivered electricity’ to nearly double by 2050; from 180 terawatt hours (TWh), to 330 TWh. Bear in mind, we are told, this electricity is needed “to replace much of the gas and petrol currently consumed in transport, industry, office and domestic use.” And this, seriously folks, without coal and natural gas which presently account for about 75 percent of electricity generation.

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To stretch credulity even more, the forecast in the plan of how much electricity will be required by 2050 looks way too low. The economy will at least double in size over the next 28 years, under conservative assumptions about immigration and per-capita economic growth. But hold on. I'm assuming, naively perhaps, that people in 2050 are still enjoying unrationed heating and cooling, red meat, freedom of personal travel, and other dissolute pleasures.

And from unreality to beyond, the plan contemplates, without quantification, the need for even more additional electricity power to make hydrogen. Readers are referred to another AEMO report called 'Hydrogen Superpower'. Yep, Australia along with many other countries, intends to be a superpower in producing and exporting green hydrogen. Why the additional electricity? Well, to make green hydrogen, lots of electricity is lost in translation. How is all this extra electricity to be generated?

Note, excluding the hydrogen bit, by “a nine-fold increase in utility scale variable renewable capacity.” Meaning in common parlance, nine times the current number/size of wind and solar farms. Where will they be built?

Much of this resource will be built in renewable energy zones (REZs) that coordinate network and renewable investment, and foster a more holistic approach to regional employment, economic opportunity and community participation.

Blue-collar workers and their families can relax. Look forward to holistic experiences. Starry-eyed boys and girls with university degrees have the conn.

Also required, we’re told, is “a five-fold increase in distributed photovoltaics capacity [and] substantial growth in distributed storage.” To again interpret, this means many more solar panels on roofs, complemented with household battery storage. Are there enough bribable and/or willing roof owners?

I presume this hypothesised blanketing of land with turbines and solar panels has been fed into a computer model. Hence, I’ll gullibly take it as given that on a good day all of this wind and solar infrastructure, in the extremely improbable event it is ever built, together with existing hydro, would do the job. But then there’s night, and stormy days and nights, and windless days and nights.

According to the plan, three times the current amount of standby power, equal to 620GWh, will be required to underpin the system. Or to put it into plan-speak: “significant investment is required… to treble the firming capacity that can respond to a dispatch signal.”

Again, I have no informed view about the numbers being spat out. But just suppose the envisaged standby power is not enough. Modelling has been wrong before, I vaguely recall; and wind capricious. Result blackouts? Am I being vexatiously querulous?

And a little child shall lead them.

Apropos the wind- and sun-dependent state of South Australia over the Christmas to New Year week. Renewable energy hit a peak of 130 percent of demand, a trough of just 4 percent and everything in-between. Not unusual. Is that any basis for delivering dispatchable power, adults might once have asked? Ah, the old days, when common sense had a look in.

Where is the so-called firming to be sourced? Gas is in the mix but, as the plan says, “over time, its emissions will need to be offset, or natural gas will need to be replaced by net-zero carbon fuels such as green hydrogen or biogas.” These zealots are not for compromising.

What else is in the mix? Predominantly batteries and pumped hydro. Good luck in getting dams built to supply additional pumped hydro. Environmentalists detest new dams as much they detest coal and human fecundity. Finally, demand responses are brought into play to help manage peak loads. A euphemism for rationing supply.

Shambles ahead, from Sydney to New York. Indelicately speaking, I foresee the Bishop of Bath and Wells, poker in hand, ready to collect a debt.