Make a Difference

Tag: environment

Climate Change is a Moral Issue

Vain attempts to stop completely natural climate variation – aka global warming – kill millions of people in developing countries. 4.3 million people die every year from indoor pollution casued by burning wood and dung on open fires for cooking and heating. Yet  greenies actively work to stop poorer nations developing the electricity supplies and other forms of cheap energy they take for granted.

“The grim irony of the pursuit of “green” energy is that it may be placing millions of people in poor countries at risk of living much shorter, unhealthier lives due to air pollution, according to a new report from The Global Warming Policy Foundation.”

The report, by eminent epidemiologist Mikko Paunio, says that international bodies and NGOs are trying to prevent poor countries from expanding their use of conventional fuels, have abandoned the so-called “energy ladder” — the gradual shift to cleaner types of fuel that underpinned the clean up of air quality in industrialised nations. As Dr Paunio explains, this will have devastating consequences:
“Indoor air pollution from domestic fires kills millions every year. But instead of helping poor people to climb the energy ladder and clean the air in their communities, the poorest people are being given gimmicks like cookstoves, which make little difference to air quality, and solar panels, which are little more than a joke.”

What is worse, the greens inside and outside the development community are blaming air pollution on power stations, industry and cars, as a way to prevent any shift to industrial power production. As Dr Paunio makes clear, most air pollution in poor countries is in fact caused by burning low-quality biofuels and coal in domestic stoves:
“Trying to blame power stations for indoor air pollution might make greens feel they are saving the planet, but the reality is that they are allowing millions of deaths from air pollution to continue. The body count is going to rival that of the totalitarian regimes of the twentieth century.”

And of course, the ones who shout loudest about the need for government and other people to “do something” about global warming are the ones who do least themselves.

Australia – Local Energy Development

Apart from occasional links to news stories of interest, I haven’t written anything about local oil and gas development for over a year. I am often asked why I would support energy exploration in the Bight. And even more often, it is simply assumed that no one could honestly want such development, and I must therefore be in the pay of the oil companies. Alas! Not so. Though if Bight Petroleum or BP or any of those other nefarious organisations felt a desire to send me a large cheque, or even an offer for me visit to an operational rig or working survey vessel, I would gladly accept. The cheque would be best.

Australia’s economic stability depends on reliable supplies of cheap energy, mostly in the form of coal and oil. Many people would rather this were not so, and suggest renewables as a safer, cleaner option. Renewables are becoming cheaper and more efficient. But they are not yet even at the stage when they reliably produce over their lifetimes more energy than it costs to manufacture, transport, install and maintain them. The energy required for that production, maintenance, transport, etc., is entirely provided by fossil fuels. The only other possibility, energy produced by hydro and nuclear power, is not efficiently convertible for use in primary industry or transport; two key areas for remote communities like Kangaroo Island. Like it or not, our stability and economy will depend on fossil fuels for the foreseeable future.

Members of remote communities would be the first to suffer if fuel became difficult to obtain, or prices surged. For example, on Kangaroo Island in South Australia, the entire life of the community depends on oil. Without oil there would be no ferries or planes to the island. There would be no fishing, no farming, no way for tourists to travel to or around the island, no boat trips or safaris, no food or furniture transported to the island, no building, no roads, no maintenance of infrastructure. In other words, no way to live.
There are a number of reasons why energy production should take place locally wherever possible.

Some of the most important of these are environmental.

Firstly, as a general rule, anything that can be economically or competitively produced locally should be produced locally. This is true of clothing and food; it is certainly true of energy. It is inefficient to produce oil half- way around the world and transport it here if we can develop oil reserves within Australia at the same price. And we can. Local production means saving all of the fossil fuel used in transporting vast amounts of oil around the world, with all of its associated emissions. Just because we have to use fossil fuels for now does not mean we should do so wastefully, or without regard for any environmental impact.

Secondly, oil that is not produced locally has to be produced somewhere else; somewhere, unless it is the US or Canada, with far lower safety and environmental standards than Australia. The lower the standards, the greater the likelihood of loss of life and of lasting harm to biological systems.

Thirdly, about 25% of all oil spilled into the ocean is directly related to oil industry activity (the rest, by far the majority, is mostly natural spills and seeps, like the Coal Point seep field near Santa Barbara, or multiple seeps in the Gulf of Mexico). About 5% of the 25% attributable to the oil industry occurs during exploration and development. The other 20%, five times as much, occurs during transportation. By far the greatest risk of a major spill near Kangaroo Island is the millions of tonnes of oil unloaded at Port Adelaide, which is far closer to KI than any proposed development site. One guaranteed way to reduce ocean spills is to reduce the volume of oil transported over long distances. Of course oil would still need to be transported from local wells to a local refinery, but there is a huge difference between transport over 500 kilometres, and transport over 15,000 kilometres.

The final environmental concern that would be alleviated by responsible local energy development is that of ocean noise.

Waves slapping against the sides of an empty tanker are in the same order of magnitude as the sounds generated by acoustic imaging. Acoustic imaging allows engineers to map the ocean bed and underlying structures in great detail. This reduces the need to drill test wells, and keeps interference with the sea bed to a minimum. Acoustic imaging is carefully monitored when in operation to protect nearby marine life, especially marine mammals. It has been rigorously researched over the last thirty years to examine possible impact on marine life. No long term impacts on any marine species have ever been observed. There is, for example, no correlation between acoustic imaging and increased beaching of whales. Australian research has also shown no impact beyond a momentary startle on smaller fish, worms, corals, etc. And of course, acoustic imaging takes place in any one area for only a few days. The noise of tankers plying the oceans is constant, is not monitored for effect on wildlife, and has not been subject to the same research. Where we are unsure of effects, we ought to exercise caution, and where we can reduce human impact on the environment, we have a duty to do so. Local energy development will significantly reduce ongoing ocean noise pollution.

In addition to environmental benefits, local production of oil also provides for greater reliability of pricing and supply. The Middle-East is simply too unstable to for us to rely on for such a vital resource. In the past we had little choice, but now it is clear that Australia has oil and gas reserves which may rival those of Saudi Arabia. We do not need to obtain oil from unstable, violent or war-torn regimes. In addition, Saudi Arabia has repeatedly shown that it is willing to manipulate the price of crude oil to suit its own purposes. It has done so over the last twelve months, reducing the price dramatically, in order to make Western investment in energy development uneconomical, and to encourage continued dependence on Arab oil producers. It can just as easily increase the price when it believes itself in a position of strength, and has done so in the past.

Price and stability of supply are important factors when considering where to source oil supplies. So are human rights. Many of the Middle-East oil producing states have appalling human rights records. These are places where children are executed, where women are stoned to death for adultery, where hungry men who steal a loaf of bread for their families have their hands cut off, where gays are hanged. When we support these undemocratic regimes, which are only able to maintain their hold through massive security spending, we are extending and facilitating the suffering of millions of people who deserve better.

Local energy production reduces our dependency on dictators, and reduces their ability to keep their populations under control. It makes us more responsible members of the world community.
Finally, money that is spent on development here in Australia provides employment and investment in Australia. Instead of sending money overseas, resource development companies pay royalties which help fund schools, hospitals, roads, and other infrastructure and services in Australia.

Why do I support responsible local energy development? It’s better for the environment. It’s better for energy pricing and security of supply, which makes it better for Australian industry including manufacturing, farming and tourism. It’s better for human rights. It’s better for the Australian tax-payer, because local development helps fund local infrastructure and services.

I have constructed a short, five question survey which covers some of the points above. If you are interested, please feel free to complete it.

Responsible Energy Development Survey

Fixing Things That Ain’t Broke

With solutions that don’t work.

I hope soon to comment on the Murray Darling proposals (costing billions of dollars and tens of thousands of jobs to ‘preserve’ something that never existed until fifty years ago) and SA’s proposed marine parks (costing some 1,000 jobs and approximately $1 billion in lost income from commercial and charter fishing to ‘protect’ fisheries which are under-utilised and not remotely in danger).

But for now, wind farms: Europe’s Ill Wind, a 25 minute video packed full of information.

If you only see, read or listen to one thing about wind farms, this should be it.

And excuse the sometimes shoddy camera work. Unlike global warming alarmists and alternative energy ridiculists, rational people don’t have access to vast sums of government money for high end production work. The facts are what count. Unless you’re a greenie, of course, but then you probably won’t watch it anyway.

Someone Else Should Fix It

I know Andrew Bolt (and a thousand other people) have already posted these videos:

But the contrast between the practice of the uncaring right wing despoilers and ravagers of the environment and the gentle earth loving supporters of Obama is just too great too pass without comment.

The more I think about it, the more I believe that the fundamental difference between right and left, or conservative and progressive if you prefer, is a willingness to take responsibility.

Penn and Teller on Recycling

I find these guys annoying. There is far too much pointless swearing – it’s intrusive and sometimes offensive. So you couldn’t show this a to a group of students, or your Rotary Club, which is a pity. And Penn and Teller are often arrogant and sometimes wrong.

But there is enough good research and good argument in this episode to make it worth watching (the three video segments linked below make up a single half-hour episode).

Best line? About halfway through the second segment, when Penn says ‘Ahh.. subsidies. That’s when the government takes tax money from you by force, and spends it on something you wouldn’t be willing to pay for..’ ‘Governments tell you to recycle because it saves money and resources. But if it saved money and resources, you’d be paid for doing it – that’s the way money works.’

Instead of which, of course, recycling costs governments and local communities millions of dollars each year ($8 billion per year in the US), precisely because it costs energy and resources.

The argument that recycling creates jobs is also well handled. Jobs created by recycling programs are pointless ‘make work’ which have to be funded by additional fees and taxes which reduce cash flow and consequently reduce funds available to employ people in work that creates useful goods or services.


What About Economic Sustainability?

Amidst the deafening and ceaseless talk about environmental sustainability, Australia seems to have lost any reality based sense of the need for a sustainable balance between production, taxation and expenditure.

By Walter Starck on the Quadrant website.

All over the world developed nations have created more government than their increasingly uncompetitive, over-regulated, over-taxed economies can support. Deficit spending is epidemic and borrowing is reaching the limits of capacity to even maintain payments on interest. Increasing numbers of local, state and national governments are running on empty. Unpaid bills, layoffs and cuts to welfare and essential services are spreading. Financially desperate governments seem determined to seek and destroy any remaining pockets of economic viability via increased taxation and regulation.

While better off than most, Australia is not immune to this global malaise. We too suffer from chronic balance of trade deficits, unsustainable government commitments and proliferating bureaucracy strangling any productive activity. Australia has the highest house prices in the world, the highest level of personal debt, the steepest increases in food prices of any OECD country over the past decade and a declining manufacturing sector that is now the smallest in the developed world.

The city-centred cult of environmentalism puts up dire tales of species loss and climate change as barriers to new resource development, energy production, and manufacturing projects. But these tales frequently have no connection to reality, and draw their ‘facts’ from the popular media.

Like over-indulged children, the non-producers feel neither guilt nor gratitude, but rather a sense of entitlement. To this purpose environmentalism serves an important role. The world of non-producers begins at the shop and ends at the rubbish bin and it largely exists in an urban realm wherein nature has been virtually exterminated. From this viewpoint, only producers despoil the natural environment. Environmentalism affords non-producers a satisfying sense of moral superiority over those who support them. Not surprisingly, it is a popular belief commonly held with great conviction and righteousness. 

Anyone who produces anything is seen as an irresponsible exploiter. Our failure to make sensible use of our own fisheries is just one example:

In fisheries the situation is even worse. With the largest per capita fisheries resource in the world, we have the lowest production and our harvest rate is the lowest in the world at only 1/30 of the global average. Our fishing fleet has already been reduced to one-third of what it was two decades ago. All this is entirely because of bureaucratic mismanagement and over regulation. None of it is due to overfishing.

That we now have to import two-thirds of the seafood we eat, and all of it comes from much more heavily exploited resources elsewhere, is unconscionable. That we are selling off non-renewable resources to pay $1.7 billion annually to import a renewable one we ourselves have in abundance, then call this sustainable management and pat ourselves on the back with self-proclaimed status as the world’s best fishery managers, is beyond moronic.

Over the last few years, at both state and federal level, we have seen increased government spending, massive debt, manufacturing hampered, land and other resources locked up, and a failure to build and maintain transport and energy infrastructure.

How is this responsible and sustainable?

Know What You’re Voting For

A few people I have spoken to over the last couple of weeks, people who are otherwise intelligent as far as I can tell, have told me they intend to vote for the Greens in the Senate.

When asked why, they usually respond by saying they think the Greens will do a better job of protecting the environment.

So I ask if they can tell me about any specific Greens policies.

‘No. Well, they’re in favour of the environment.’

‘OK. How do their specific policies differ from those of the Labor or Liberal parties?’

No answer.

The Greens win votes by making sure people don’t know about their policies. There’s just a general fluffy, let’s be nice to green things and furry things feel about them.

But there is nothing green or pleasantly furry about the Greens.

Just consider two Greens policies, one which will impact on everyone, and one which will impact on a few in real need.

First, the Greens have made it clear that if Labor depends on them, even occasionally, to get legislation through the Senate, the price of their co-operation will be a carbon tax.

A Carbon tax will have no positive effect on the environment.

Human activity has had a miniscule impact on the level of CO2 in the atmosphere – from about 3 particles per 10,000 to about 4 particles per 10,000.  And that is assuming we are to blame for all of that small increase over the last 100 years. But we don’t know. It really is just an assumption. CO2 levels change all the time. They have been much higher in the past, and sometimes lower.

Higher is good. During the Carboniferous period, when most modern trees evolved, temperatures were about the same as they are now. CO2 levels were three times higher than now. At current levels, trees and other green things are Carbon deprived. For plants, surviving at current levels of CO2 is like our surviving on Oxygen depleted air. Less CO2 means less green, not more.

More CO2 means better crops, and more resilience in forests and wetlands.

So a carbon tax is bad for the environment. It is also bad for industry, because it is a tax on energy, which means it is a tax on transport, manufacture, travel, power generation, etc, etc, etc.

Everything will be more expensive, for no point whatever.

This is what voting for the Greens means.

A second Greens policy is the closure of the Lucas Heights reactor.

I have mentioned this to a few people, and the response is always something like: ‘Well that’s OK. Good. We don’t need any nuclear reactors in Australia anyway.’ 

Actually we do. They are a cheap, clean, sustainable form of energy production that will reduce our dependence on coal and imported fuels. But that is not the immediate point.

The Lucas Heights reactor produces the isotopes required for nuclear medicine. Radiotherapy. Diagnosing and treating cancer.

1.5 million doses of nuclear medicine (radiotherapy) are administered in Australia every year.

If the Greens have their way on this, cancer patients in Australia will die because a basic modern form of treatment will not be available to them.

Know what you are voting for.

© 2023 Qohel