Sunday, May 27, 2018


An email from Bettina Arndt below.  I have been reading Tina for decades so am pleased that she is still energetically engaged in challenging the consensus. She has had her own travails but has risen above them. There are two things in her words below that had a personal resonance for me.

1).  Her claim that roughousing from a father figure is desirable would be greeted with pursed lips by many but I in fact did heaps of it with my stepchildren, much to their delight.  I would wear  out after a while, however, and I can never forget the childish voices urging me on:  "Come on, John.  More John".  They are all well established adults in their middle years now and I am still on excellent terms with them all.  We all remember lots of fun times together.

2).  I did once years ago have an interview with a counsellor from Relationships Australia and was amazed at their feminist bias.  For example they seemed to think that anger in a female was a good thing, whereas I as a psychologist would have said that all anger is a bad thing as it obstructs dialogue

I thought you might like to see something cheerful after all the very serious topics I have been covering recently. So my latest video is about Roughhousing, featuring a fascinating discussion between Jordan Peterson and Warren Farrell about how this classic play between fathers and their children contributes to child development.

I’ve indulged myself by including a couple of tiny home videos showing my own son, Jesse playing with my baby granddaughter, Matilda. I received these videos from the family – who are living in Texas at the moment - around the same time I was watching the Peterson/Farrell discussion. I couldn’t resist including them here because they so beautifully illustrate what it is about play with fathers that is unique and irreplaceable. I hope you will help me promote the video. 

Finally, we’re doing well with Rob Tiller’s crowd-funder – we just about to hit the initial goal of $10,000 but we decided to double that amount. I’m sure you all know about hefty legal fees -  his next Fair Work Commission hearing is in July. Also Rob is slowly building up his private practice. Do keep him in mind for skype or phone counselling – and he’s planning his first workshops. He’s scheduled one for next month on The Impossible Business of Keeping Women Happy. Keep an eye on his website for details of when and where. Rob’s delighted to have some financial support at the moment to help him back on his feet. He’s also been doing some great media interviews. Here he is with my friends Ross Cameron and Rowan Dean on Sky News’ The Outsiders.

We are being swamped with stories from across Australia about the anti-male climate at Relationships Australia and similar organisations. I have a number of people who are keen to follow up on this story so please contact me if you have more information. If you need to remain anonymous, that will be fine. We will protect your confidentiality. 

Bettina Arndt

Western civilisation course at the ANU sparks uproar

An unprecedented scholarship program to encourage the study of Western civilisation is facing a backlash from within the first university selected to participate, with staff and students accusing the philanthropic group behind it of pushing a “racist” and “radically conservative agenda”.

The National Tertiary Education Union and the Australian National University Student ­Association have intervened in negotiations between the university and the Ramsay Centre for Western Civilisation over a proposal to establish an undergraduate degree that could see up to 40 students offered scholarships in the first two years worth $25,000 a year each.

In a letter to vice-­chancellor Brian Schmidt this week, NTEU ANU branch president Matthew King expressed “grave concerns” and warned of a potential backlash if the finalised agreement were perceived to compromise the university’s core principles.

Mr King singled out a Quadrant article written by Ramsay Centre director and former prime minister Tony Abbott in which he “implies that the Ramsay Centre would wield considerable influence over staffing and curriculum decisions”.

“If this is true, we are very concerned that this would violate the core principles of academic freedom, integrity and independence, and reflects an ignorance of, or disregard for, the role of the academic board as final arbiter of academic standards,” Mr King wrote.

“If the Ramsay Centre agreement is perceived to compromise on these principles, it will be ­rejected by staff, students and other stakeholders and could lead to significant anger, protest and ­division.”

Mr King, who is employed as a technical officer, told The Australian academic staff and non-academic staff, and students, had raised concerns around the proposal. The union has been backed by the student association, which has also written to the vice-chancellor, while a separate student petition has been established ­opposing the deal.

ANUSA president Eleanor Kay told the campus newspaper, ANU Observer, that Western civilisation was often used as “a rhetorical tool to continue the racist prioritisation of Western history over other cultures”. She said there was “value to learning from Western civilisation” without prioritising it over others.

Ms Kay was not available for comment yesterday. ANUSA education officer Harry Needham said students had multiple concerns, including lack of consultation around what was “more than a philanthropic donation” involving an organisation with a “politically loaded board”.

The Ramsay Centre, based in Sydney, is chaired by former Liberal prime minister John Howard. As well as Mr Abbott, its directors include former Labor leader Kim Beazley, who is now governor of Western Australia.

The proposed Bachelor of Western Civilisation, due to commence next year, is understood to be the first course of its kind in Australia and is the brainchild of late healthcare mogul Paul Ramsay, who bequeathed part of his $3.3 billion fortune to revive the neglected study of the liberal arts.

After its launch March last year, the Ramsay Centre sought expressions of interest from universities seeking to establish undergraduate degrees in Western civilisation based on the great books courses taught at top liberal arts colleges in the US.

ANU was the first university invited to enter detailed negotiations after the centre opened in March last year. It is understood the centre is hoping to announce a conditional agreement with a second university within months. Up to 100 scholarships could be established under deals with two or three universities over time.

While Mr Abbott in his Quadrant article ­published last month stressed Ramsay was not “oblivious to the deficiencies” of Western civilisation, his comment about the Ramsay Centre being “not merely about Western civilisation but in favour of it”, has ruffled some feathers.

Ramsay Centre chief executive Simon Haines yesterday defended the process. “The Ramsay Centre for Western Civilisation is completely committed to academic freedom, integrity and independence,” he said. “University autonomy itself is a bastion of Western civilisation.”

Professor Haines declined to comment on the ANU negotiations or internal university ­matters.

An ANU spokeswoman said the university was not in a position to make an announcement on the outcome of negotiations. “The university has a long history of managing donations and gifts from a range of private and public donors,” the spokeswoman said.


IPA boss scoffs at Race Discrimination Commissioner’s ‘so-called achievements’

In his last 12 months in his $346,000-a-year role, Race Discrimination Commissioner Tim Soutphommasane has produced a report on cultural diversity in leadership roles, led a racism campaign supported by business and sport leaders, and held public forums on race relations.

Institute of Public Affairs executive director John Roskam said it was a list of “so-called achievements” that demonstrated why the position should be scrapped.

“The so-called achievements of the commissioner are proof that the position is a waste of money and, worse, promotes divisive identity politics,” he said.

Fifty-three applicants have applied to replace Dr Soutphommasane, who was appointed in 2013 for a five-year term.

The IPA argued this week, in a parliamentary research brief sent to all federal MPs, the position should not be filled because it served “no substantive function” and is required to ­promote “divisive” ideas based on race.

Attorney-General Chris­tian Porter rejected calls to axe the position. Shortlisted candidates will be interviewed next month, a Senate estimates hearing was told yesterday.

A spokesman for Dr Soutphommasane told The Australian his key achievements over the past year included the “Leading for Change” report, which highlighted the lack of cultural diversity in senior leadership roles, and leading the “Racism. It Stops with Me” campaign, which had more than 360 supporters from business, sport and other organisations.

He had also conducted regular forums on race relations and “opposed the growth of far-right nationalist extremism”.

Mr Roskam said the “Leading for Change” report encouraged “government-sanctioned ethnic apartheid”, while “far-right ­nationalist extremism” was an idea “confected” by Dr Soutphommasane.

The idea of a racial discrim­ination commissioner embedded the notion of difference, he said, rather than treating everyone equally, regardless of their race.

“The path­etic response of the Turnbull government to the idea (that) the position not be fulfilled reveals it is at best half-hearted about freedom of speech.”


EU to approve free-trade negotiations with Australia and NZ

After eight months of closed-door diplomacy, SBS News can reveal European Union leaders will tonight formally approve free-trade agreement (FTA) negotiations between Australia and New Zealand, paving the way for a multi-billion dollar deal before the United Kingdom leaves the EU in March.

Plans for “fast-tracked” FTA negotiations, revealed by SBS News, were announced by European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker during his annual State of the Union address to the European Parliament in Strasbourg in September.

President Juncker expressed a desire to complete negotiations and secure a deal before the next European elections, which will take place in May, two months after Brexit.

While the European Commission had expected the European Council to greenlight talks before the end of last year, SBS News understands talks stalled at the leaders’ level after France, Ireland and Belgium raised concerns about “the reciprocity” of any agreement.

French President Emmanuel Macron had urged his fellow European Union leaders not to rush free trade agreement negotiations with Australia and New Zealand, fearing a “free-trade stampede” would “wipe out” his country’s “struggling” agricultural sector.

Concerns were raised by other nations, because President Juncker’s fast-tracked plan would mean any final deal would not need the final approval of the European Union’s 38 separate national and regional parliaments.

Instead, the European Commission would be given the authority to agree the final terms of any deal.

The President – and his Commissioners – were said to be “incensed” after a multi-billion dollar free trade agreement with Canada was almost scuttled by regional parliamentarians in Belgium.

Earlier this month the French President visited Australia, where he was asked by a French journalist if it “was fair play” to delay FTA negotiations with Australia, given it had been awarded a $50 billion submarine deal – the largest defence procurement contract in Australian history.

“First of all, it is about protecting the French interests”, Mr Macron said on the lawn of Kirribilli House. “We’re not wasting any time, we're not lagging behind.  “France will be in favour of a negotiation mandate in the coming weeks, as soon as it is submitted to the (European) Council. They will have some very concrete discussions on agricultural issues.

“This is fully reassuring. This is also our vision of global trade, which has to be free and fair.

“I can say that both our countries do not consider trade war or tensions to be something in our interests or in the interests of our values so we very much want to comply with the spirit of multilateralism and free trade, to which we contributed to designing.”

Later today in Brussels the Foreign Affairs Council, chaired by Emil Karanikolov, the Bulgarian Minister of Economy, will formally adopt a decision “authorising the opening of negotiations on free trade agreements with Australia and New Zealand” and agree “the respective negotiating directions for the Commission”.

Trade Minister Steve Ciobo told SBS News he "looked forward to seeing the results out of Brussels" and that "hopefully, we’ll be able to commence FTA negotiations very soon".

“There’s a high level of commitment from both the Australian Government and the European Union to try and commence these negotiations,” he said.

“Importantly, we’ve completed the scoping study and in the next 24 or 48 hours we should see the results in terms of the European Union hopefully securing a mandate to commence FTA negotiations."

The European Union is Australia’s second-largest trading partner, worth close to $100 billion, and officials have spent decades trying to increase our access to the single market.

The sectors likely to benefit most from a free trade agreement include agriculture, motor equipment, machinery, chemical, processed foods and services.

“I’m a firm believer in keeping the horse in front of the cart, so you’ll understand I’m not going to get into a sector by sector analysis, what I will say is that we want to drive more trade and more investment with Europe,” Mr Ciobo said.

“We know that we can do that through a high quality, comprehensive free-trade agreement between the two of us and that’s what I’m focused on doing.”

Shadow Trade Minister Jason Clare welcomed news of the impending talks. “It’s great news for Australia”, Mr Clare told SBS News.

“We were hoping it was going to start last year, but if it’s starting now, that’s great.”

The Opposition has pledged a bipartisan approach to negotiations, should there be a federal election or change of government before the negotiations were completed.

“Both the Liberal Party and the Labor Party support free trade and support fair trade,” Mr Clare said. “We want to export as many of our goods and services as possible to the rest of the world because that’s what creates jobs here in Australia.”


Doing the numbers on renewable energy

Wind and solar are still currently small in global terms. Which is why advocates never mention absolute size or even relative size, but focus on growth rates. They also never talk about the wildlife impacts.

In Australia, there is little research on such matters, but some figures are coming in from the US. The Gibson paper cites estimates that wind farms are killing 600,000 to 880,000 bats a year, which now makes them the second biggest risk to bats behind White Nose Syndrome. Birds are also getting killed in large numbers, but not large enough to rate next to motor vehicles and transmission lines; unless you are a bird.

But intermittent renewables like wind and solar need a much bigger transmission network than traditional grids, so they will also increase the avian transmission line death and injury toll. How much bigger does the transmission network need to be for wind and solar? 5-10 times. And those 600,000+ bats killed annually in the US are being killed for a power source that generates just 6.3 percent of US electricity.

The Jacobson plan (see Part I or critique here) calls to expand the 82 GW of wind turbine capacity in the US to 2449 GW; so we can expect this to also cost 18 to 26 million dead bats a year. We can also expect the current wind farm toll of half a million birds annually, including 83,000 raptors, to rise by perhaps a factor of 32.

But all these animal and environmental problems wouldn’t be so bad if the technology could both provide a reliable grid while also solving our climate problem… but it can’t.

In Germany, solar power is still only about 6 percent of electricity, but is already stuck.

The following figure shows that solar power growth is levelling off in all the key European countries who spent big on subsidising solar growth. The German data for solar output in 2017 is available and is much the same as for 2016.

Some of this is due to simply running out of money. But the much bigger problem is structural. It doesn’t matter how cheap it is if you can’t sell it. Solar power output in Germany will certainly rise a little more, but it’s unlikely to pass its predicted maximum of about 11 percent of German electricity.

Prediction? What prediction? I don’t know who spotted it first, but this article contains a description of why intermittent renewables will tend to level of at around what’s called the capacity factor… 11 percent for solar power in Germany, and 16 percent for solar power in sunny Australia.

Why? Put briefly, and using wind power, as an example, when you have enough wind turbines to meet 100 percent of the electricity demand on windy days, then the incentive to build more turbines starts to decline. Why? Think about what will happen on windy days after you double the amount of wind power? You’ll simply have to throw half of your electricity out; you can’t sell it.

How much electricity will you get from wind over a year if you satisfy 100 percent of the demand on windy days? This number is called the capacity factor. It’s just the annual average output divided by the theoretical maximum if every day was maximally windy at all turbine locations. It’s about 33 percent, give or take a bit.

So without large amounts of storage, profitability ceases and growth gradually stops, rather like what you can see in the graph.

The largest battery in the world was recently installed with great fanfare in South Australia, but can it store large amounts of energy? No. That was never the intention; as an energy storage device, it’s tiny.

SA typically uses 1,500 megawatt-hours of energy each hour, and the battery could store about 4 minutes worth of this. The battery was never intended to store energy; that’s just a side effect. Its purpose is to reduce frequency fluctuations during generator outages. Not that it will do that particularly well either. ACOLA reckoned it would need to be 6 times bigger to have prevented the September 2016 blackout.

So it won’t store much energy and won’t be much use to stop blackouts; so what’s it for? As a means of securing votes from renewable energy junkies, it’s priceless.

The only available technology which can store significant amounts of electricity to allow renewables to expand beyond their capacity factor is… can you guess? … flooded valleys; otherwise known as pumped-hydro.

So while renewable advocates cheered early exponential growth of solar and wind power, the rates were always destined to be logistic… meaning that they grow exponentially until hit by limiting factors which cause an equally fast levelling off.

If I had included China in the graph, you’d see a massive solar increase during the past few years, because she’s still on the exponential growth segment of the curve. But the limiting factors will eventually kick in, exactly as they have done in the EU countries. In fact, at a local level throwing out excess wind power in China is already a problem.

A few years back AEMO did a study on how to meet Australia’s electricity demand with 100 percent renewable sources. They put forward two plans, both involved putting a baseload sub-system underneath wind and solar; one plan was based on burning forests and the other on geonuclear.

Geonuclear is where you drill a hole in the earth’s crust deep enough to tap into the heat generated by radioactive decay in the earth’s mantle and crust. You might know it as geothermal, but it’s a power source based on radioactive decay so why not call a spade a spade? And did I mention the radioactive material being bought to the surface and spread over the landscape by this industry?

Is it a problem? Absolutely not. Meaning that it is a well understood micro-problem which people solve in many similar industries. But could I construct a true but totally misleading scare story about it?

For some people, I probably just did. Not everybody appreciates the irony of opposition to digging big holes to drop radioactive material down (nuclear waste repositories) while supporting digging big holes down to where extraordinary quantities of radioactive material is generating heat.

And what if you don’t want burning forests or geonuclear? A recent study of the US showed what happens when you try and power the US with just wind, solar and storage. It quantifies the lack of end game with these technologies. It’s like trying to build a 10-story building with inadequate materials and design. Things may go brilliantly until level 9 and then you suddenly realise you are screwed.

The US electricity grid is currently about 99.97 reliable, ours is generally even better. The study found that that you can get an 80 per cent reliable grid with wind and solar without too much trouble. And then it starts getting hard; really quickly. By without too much trouble, I mean lots of overbuilding and extra transmission lines.

Look at the bottom graph, which assumes 75 per cent wind and 25 per cent solar. The black line shows how big an overbuild you need if you want a grid of specified reliability. The reliability is given along the X axis and the overbuild factor on the right.

Draw a horizontal line with your eyes from the overbuild factor of 10 and see where it hits the black line. Somewhere about 99.8 percent reliability. So if you want a 99.8 percent reliable supply of 1 gigawatt, then you need to build 7.5 gigawatts of wind and 2.5 gigawatts of solar.

This is very much an optimistic estimate. There are plenty of unrealistic assumptions here, like a perfect transmission system and all your turbines in the best spots. It’s the best you can do; it’s just that the best isn’t really very good.

Now draw a horizontal line with your eyes from the overbuild factor of 5 to the 12 hour storage line. This shows that you can get a 96 per cent reliable supply of 1 gigawatt by building 3.75 GW of wind and 1.25 GW of solar if you have 12 gigwatt-hours of storage.

You’d have to repeat the study with Australian data to see what happens here, but it’s worth thinking about what 12 hours of storage looks like. In Australia, our average power use is about 28 gigawatts, so to store 12 hours worth of energy would require about 3,100 of those ‘biggest battery in the world’ devices in South Australia. There are plenty of other tiny storage systems that it’s fun to pretend might one day scale to the sizes required, but only flooded valleys have a proven track record.

As it happens, someone has done a very similar study using Australian data. The recently released ACF report A Plan to Repowe Australia lists the study (by Manfred Lenzen of UNSW and others) among its evidence base. It finds pretty much what the US study found; namely that you could power Australia, meaning supply our 28 gigawatts worth of demand) with wind, sun and storage and all you’d need to do is build 160 gigawatts worth of wind and solar farms, including 19 gigawatts worth of biomass burning backup.

A one gigawatt power plant is a large structure, whether it’s burning wood, coal or gas. The 19 biomass burners would be doing nothing for 90 percent of the time, but we’d need them just to plug the holes when there are low wind and sunshine periods. Oh, and they also postulate 15 hours of storage for the 61 gigawatts of solar farms.

How would this be provided? The main paper didn’t say, and I didn’t buy the Supplementary material. But you could do it with about 8,000 “biggest battery in the world” Li-ion batteries. Alternatively you could use fertiliser; otherwise known as molten salt. This is a mix of sodium and potassium nitrate. All you’d need would be about 26 million tonnes, which is over 8 years worth of the entire planet’s annual global production (see here and here); all of which is currently ear marked to grow food.

In South Australia, our wind energy supplies us with a little over the capacity factor percentage of energy; which means we are starting to throw away electricity when it’s windy, while relying on gas or coal power from Victoria when it isn’t.

Which is why the new Liberal Government wants to build another inter-connector. That’s fine as a short-term fix, but eventually the whole NEM will saturate with wind and solar. And then where do you build an inter-connector to?

The statewide blackout of 2016 was also a wakeup call that the automatic frequency control delivered by synchronous energy sources but not by wind and solar actually mattered; big time. Without it you are in trouble when events of any kind take out some of your generation capacity.

But ignoring the problems and assuming the US results apply, then we could surely plough on and build another 6.5 times more wind power plus considerably more solar and also buy another 180 of those Elon Musk special batteries and we could have a working, but sub-standard, grid.

This assumes we added all the rest of the required transmission infrastructure to connect all those wind and solar farms. That’s the thing with solar and wind. It may seem attractive when you kick the problems down the road and rave about the short-term successes. But the devil is in the detail and the total lack of end-game.

SOURCE  (See the original for links, graphics etc.)

Posted by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.).    For a daily critique of Leftist activities,  see DISSECTING LEFTISM.  To keep up with attacks on free speech see Tongue Tied. Also, don't forget your daily roundup  of pro-environment but anti-Greenie  news and commentary at GREENIE WATCH .  Email me  here

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