Doctor and activist

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Category: Environment

Electric Vehicles: How helpful are they for Climate Change? 5/6/20

There are claims and counter claims for how much electric vehicles (EVs) improve the greenhouse gas situation. The production of batteries is quite energy-intensive, so a large battery car takes about twice as much energy to produce as a normal Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) car.

The ‘payback’ time for that extra energy is about 2 years based on the number of km an average (UK) driver does per year.

But the key variable is how the electricity is generated, both in making the battery and in running the car. If it is made in Asia with coal fired electricity to manufacture the car and then charged with coal powered electricity, there is very little benefit. If the battery is produced by renewable electricity and the car charged with renewable electricity, the savings are more than two thirds by 150,000km.

If you keep your old ICE car for 4 years, it will have produced about the same amount of greenhouse gas as it takes to produce a new electric car. Looked at it the other way, it takes 4 years for a new electric car to pay for itself from an emissions point of view as against paying just for the petrol of an existing ICE car.

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NZ Environmental Law Disappoints

The Conversation has an article about how NZ rivers are degraded and a package to improve them has been disappointing as it did not take expert advice. The Conversation only takes articles from academics and the author admits he was one of the expert panel whose advice was ignored. He does not write of other […]

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No Target, No Plan for Carbon-Neutral Economy by 2050: Angus Taylor, Energy Minister

20 May 2020

Angus Taylor, our Energy Minister says we cannot be carbon neutral by 2050- 30 years away! Why not? Well we cannot have a target without a plan. And since we have chosen to have no plan, we cannot have a target.

This sort of circular semantic nonsense is what Angus Taylor is all about. He is now taking the Clean Energy Fund and using for that hoax, carbon capture and storage. The man should be sacked for his rorting and corruption, and his actions as a Minister are totally in the wrong direction for Australia.

Carbon capture is just a fossil industry bad joke. A lot of carbon dioxide comes out with natural gas, and is already separated, because of course it would stop the gas burning as well if it went in the gas pipes. So if it is already separated from natural gas. What happens then? It is released to the atmosphere; Obviously- the cheapest solution! Privatise the profits and externalise the costs. So there is lots of carbon dioxide to store or sequester. Is this possible? Perhaps at great cost. If so, it should be part of the cost of selling gas. How economic would gas be then?

But it goes on. Coal is concentrated carbon. When it combines with oxygen it releases a lot of energy in a process commonly known as burning. And instead of a compact little bit of carbon that can be passed around a Parliament there is huge amount of gas that has to be captured from the atmosphere, and stored somewhere, presumably under a lot of pressure and presumably forever. This is quite a problem, will be difficult to do and will cost a lot of energy, perhaps as much as burning it released. You could call it it a difficult scientific problem. Or you could call it a very silly thing to do. Create a problem, then spend a lot of money and time to try to find a way to fix it.

But the fossil fuel lobby wants to get at the clean energy money to try. This has two advantages. One is called ‘opportunity cost’, which the economists’ way of saying that if you have spent your money on A, you do not have that money to spend on B. You spend your clean energy money researching an unlikely solution to a problem that you have created by burning, and you do not have that money to spend on something like pumped hydro, which would allow the problem of energy storage of renewables to be addressed. So real progress towards renewable energy can be slowed. Also you can pretend that capturing the huge amounts of carbon dioxide is a scientifically feasible option with just a bit more government funded research. All this suits the fossils fuel industry who can continue to burn as usual. The parallels with the tobacco industry denying the obvious health effects and profiting from delayed definitive action is striking.

Angus Taylor came from a grazing family, went to Kings School, St Andrew’s College at Sydney Uni and Oxford. He studied Economics and Law and worked with investment bankers and was in a group that tried to buy Cubbie Station.

He may or may not know any science, but his track record of using taxpayers money for the interests of his connections are already the stuff of scandal and have led to calls for his resignation. This last lot of nonsense simply adds to that imperative.

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Australia as a Compliant Colony getting Fracked.

21 May 2020

Here is an old but relevant article of how a British gas company got approval to sell gas to China, and pay no tax.

It happened at exactly the time that Rudd was rolled for asking for a resources rent tax.

The CEO, Catherine Tanna was given a seat on the Board of the Reserve Bank.

I wrote to her in disgust on another matter, when I left EnergyAustralia, the Chinese consortium who bought the privatised Sydney County Council electricity customers, because they pay no tax. To my surprise, she wrote back saying that she was looking after her shareholders, (naturally not mentioning that they are all on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange).

Here is an excellently researched article from the Michael West Website on how Prince Andrew as a UK Trade Ambassador, the Qld Liberal Government of Campbell Newman, and the Federal Labor Government, with Wayne Swan as Treasurer all dudded the Australian people. Now we have Qld Labor, and LNP Federally, but it makes no difference. Tanna is still on the Reserve Bank board, fracking still goes ahead, these folk still pay no tax and Australian gas prices are still sky high.

If we do not change, the luck will run out. We cannot trust our politicians. We need Swiss style Direct Democracy Now, with referenda able to be initiated by anyone, and a part-time, advisory Parliament with no career politicians. Yes, it will need major constitutional change, but tinkering with the Lib/Lab duo will not make a difference. A bigger change is needed, so we had better get on with it.

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Government Steals Clean Energy Finance for Fossil Fuel Development

4 May 2020 Angus Taylor, the Energy Minister has announced a $300 million new hydrogen project, but has not specified that it be powered by renewable energy and he wants to use gas to produce the hydrogen. There is fine rhetoric about trying to get the cost of hydrogen to $2 a kg, but the […]

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Angus Taylor Must Resign

30 April 2020The Energy Minister Angus Taylor must resign. He told Parliament that he had downloaded Clover Moore’s travel expenses from the Sydney City Council website, but NSW Police have stated that they have looked at the metadata and this is not possible.  He claimed that Council international travel expenses were $15 million, but they […]

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Load-Based Pollution 24/12/16

Dr Ben Ewald from the Hunter, who has been working with Doctors for the Environment has been lobbying for a Federal EPA and wrote a submission on the load-based licensing system, which is another name for polluters paying a levy per tonne of pollutant that they produce.  There is some charge for each type of […]

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Contamination on 4 Corners tonight is just part of the tale 9/10/17.

Tonight’s 4 Corners is about the Royal Australian Air Force contaminating the groundwater around its bases with a fire fighting foam containing PFAS (Per- and Polyfluoro Alkyl Substances, aka Perfluorinated chemicals, PFCs).  It made me think of my experience with pollution. I started off in treatment medicine, and saw all the harm tobacco did, so […]

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Environmental Vandals using the COVID-19 Crisis to Get Dodgy Projects Up. 24/4/20

This perceptive article by Mike Seccombe in The Saturday Paper (11-17/4/20) details what disaster capitalists are doing to get mining under dams, fracking and revamps for coal-fired power up while Parliaments are closed and the world is distracted by the COVID epidemic. At the head of it all is the inimitable rorter, Angus Taylor, busy […]

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Farm Update: Bushfire Time Day 3, 2/1/20

The air is better today, with the wind from the north-east, so we spent the day on the roof cleaning out the gutters. 

It terrifies me especially climbing up the slope to do the dormer window gutters, which were the most full of tiny pine needles.  Zincalum (Colorbond) is much more slippery than the old galvanised iron was as you are reminded with every step.  I always resolve that ‘This is the last time I go on a roof’, but it seems resolutions are easier to make than to keep. There is always some circumstance. 

I had always suspected that gutter guards were more trouble than they are worth, but today proved it for me. There was a more material under the gutter guard than on top of it, and it made the gutters much harder to clean.  Jan was cross, and having had the gutter guard installed at great cost ripped it off to make it easier to clean next time.  The object was to have the gutters so clean that no ember can find sustenance there, but obviously a few days of wind before a fire will undermine our efforts.  Gutters are dangerous in that they do allow a point for fires to attack houses and my brother says that in Western Australia, gutters are illegal in fire-prone areas.  This is logical, but the gutters are needed to collect water, and fortunately we still have enough of that at present- it is very expensive to buy it by the tanker load.

I had not realised how much material is blown up under the corrugations of a roof. Even with a 35 degree slope there are quite a lot of pine needles under both the ridge cap and where the roofing iron meets the valleys.  It is hard to get out, so we banged the tin to dislodge them.  I am not sure if it is a way that fire gets into the roof space, but it seems logical to try to remove them.

So that is the rant about roofs. Tomorrow I have to teach Jan how to use the chain saw, as the dead tree is still not removed, and persuade her that the pergola needs a more severe pruning.  We are going to get a real fire pump, which John says manage a higher flow.  Proper fire pumps, give a large volume quickly, so you can turn them off and not waste water. The one we managed to fix yesterday just gives a modest even flow.  John was a Fire Education Officer before his accident and was just a little offended that I raced off to be briefed by the fire team that he used to work with, but I assured him that prophets are never recognised in their own homes, so he took it in good part.

Tomorrow will hopefully be a quiet day and I may return to Sydney. My son, Mike and nephew Nick will come down as the relief team as Saturday expects heat and southerly winds, so the danger will be on again.  The fire is still 35 km away, so hopefully it will still be OK.

Everything is relative.  As we were on the roof a couple drove in with a double horse float. Jan went down and spoke to them.  They run a resort with 14 horses.  Jan has two of theirs already and they had brought 2 more. He said that he had done a google risk analysis and said that we were the safest farm for horses in the Southern Highlands because of the amount of open space between the trees on the road and the house and stables.  He has National Parks on all sides of his resort, which is mainly native eucalypt forest and he has only one access road.  He brought food for his horses seeking asylum.  The Moss Vale showground will take horses, but is very crowded and the rule is that you have to stay with the animals, which of course mostly means abandoning your property.

Time will tell. It is likely to be a long summer.

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