Thursday, November 08, 2018

Battered Australian Power Consumers Cry Mercy as Climate Cult Ramps Up Renewables Rhetoric

Wind and solar power have never been about logic and reason, it’s a deranged form of ideology that drives their promoters. The zealots that promote that pathetic pair are screaming blue murder, as the political tide turns against them. The rhetoric gets ramped up, even as reality bites.

Sydney billionaires living in $100 million Harbourside mansions are just the latest class of virtue signalling cynics to condescend from their very privileged positions to dictate the terms on the form of electricity that only their peers can afford. Mike Cannon-Brookes, who has a Masters in Smug, is now lecturing Australians on what constitutes ‘fair dinkum power’. He’s made his fortune out of the Internet, which in Australia runs on coal-fired power; always has, always will.

Now Cannon-Brookes is demanding an end to what powers Australia and his beloved Internet.

Naturally, Cannon-Brookes commences his pontification by claiming the moral high ground on climate change and runs the line that urgent action is required to save the planet from everybody else’s energy use (not his, of course).

Cannon-Brookes recently targeted STT as part of his Twitter storm, unleashing his push from all sun and wind powered future – he reckons he can take “Australia 100% onto renewables eventually”. A Sydney boy, Cannon-Brookes may have never heard of South Australia where, having only reached the halfway mark, it’s already the butt of international jokes, suffering the world’s highest power prices and Third World reliability, to boot.

Unwilling to deal with troubling facts such as the skyrocketing power prices and blackouts that plague SA, Cannon-Brookes and his ilk instead attack STT and our fellow travellers as “anti-wind, climate deniers”.

The guff about STT (or any other repository of common sense, for that matter) being “anti-wind” is … well … just plain silly.

STT loves a summer breeze just as much as the next family sweating on the beach – we’re partial to surfing a ‘winter-stormy’ – and love being tucked up inside during a winter squall. And sailing wouldn’t be much without a southerly bluster.

No, it’s the nonsense that is wind power that’s the prime target for STT.

The use of words and phrases such as “anti-wind”, “denier”, “denial”, “belief” and “believer” have no place in science, politics or economics. Then there’s the hysterical phrase: “climate denier”.

No one at STT, well, actually no one anywhere, denies that there’s such a thing as the “climate”.

That word, by definition, incorporates within it the concept of “change”; for if the climate had not changed over the 4.6 billion years that our Earth has been lapping around the Sun, it would have probably remained a solid frozen lump of ice; and we wouldn’t be here arguing the toss about a few degrees, one way or the other.

Climate hysterics run a kind of ‘Goldilocks fantasy’ that, at some point in the recent past (we can’t quite pin down when) the climate was “just right”. Ever since, apparently, we’ve been lurching towards a man-made climate catastrophe.

In the 1970s school kids were terrorised with forecasts of a looming ice age. 20 years on and the reign of terror was reversed: catastrophic global warming was the next big thing.

As global surface temperatures stubbornly refused to budge for nearly 20 years – ‘the pause’ – the rhetoric shifted from global warming to “climate change”: a tautology if ever there was one.

As any geologist will tell you, the Earth’s climate is in a constant state of change: change is endogenous to the model. Whether that change is significant or “dangerous”, as the most strident would have us believe, is yet to be seen. Humans have tolerated severe ice ages and, somehow, miraculously managed to survive. If the planet warms, we’ll survive that, too. It’s called “adaptation”: a central feature of humanity, without which the species wouldn’t have 8 billion units presently roaming the planet.

STT takes the position that man-made emissions of CO2 may increase atmospheric temperatures. But we don’t concede that wind or solar power has made – or is even capable of making – one jot of difference to CO2 emissions in the electricity sector; principally because they are not – and will never be – an ‘alternative’ to conventional generation systems, which are always and everywhere available on demand:

Assume that man-made CO2 emissions in the electricity sector are a problem. Then the only presently available solution is nuclear power; unless, of course, you’re prepared to live in Stone Age darkness.

STT’s work is aimed at a pair of meaningless power sources; that are insanely expensive, and utterly pointless, on every level. For those on both sides of the argument (including “climate deniers”) that slavishly connect industrial wind turbines or solar panels with global warming (or climate change) they, in effect, box themselves into a logical corner.

On the one hand, if the AGW champions are wrong and we are in fact on the brink of the next ice age, applying their (by then failed) man-made CO2/warming argument, we should scrap every last (planet cooling) wind turbine and solar panel and start burning coal and gas as fast as humanly possible and prevent the next ‘big freeze’.

Alternatively, if the “climate deniers” are wrong, temperatures start to rise and Australia becomes a lifeless desert, then the AGW camp gets to claim victory and the high moral ground.

From that platform, the anti-CO2 crowd will have the imperative to carpet the entire planet with an endless sea of giant industrial wind turbines and solar panels as far as the eye can see.

Having pinned their arguments against wind power on the basis that CO2 caused AGW is a furphy, the “deniers” would be forced to concede their opponents’ case; and to also concede the need for a completely wind and solar powered electricity system.

And that’s why STT seeks to disconnect arguments for and against global warming, from arguments about generating electricity with sunshine and breezes.

As wind power can only ever be delivered (if at all) at crazy, random intervals it will never amount to a meaningful power source and will always require 100% of its capacity to be backed up 100% of the time with fossil fuel generation sources; in Australia, principally coal-fired plant. As a result, wind power generation will never “displace”, let alone “replace” fossil fuel generation sources.

Contrary to the anti-fossil fuel squad’s ranting, there isn’t a ‘choice’ between wind power and fossil fuel power generation: there’s a ‘choice’ between wind power (with fossil fuel powered back-up equal to 100% of its capacity) and relying on wind power alone. If you’re ready to ‘pick’ the latter, expect to be sitting freezing (or boiling) in the dark more than 60% of the time.

Placed in the practical context of the needs of a functioning industrial society, wind power can be seen as the patent nonsense that it clearly is. If a country didn’t have a conventional power generation system (as we have), it would build one, anyway.

Despite the hype from RE zealots, the completely chaotic and very occasional delivery of wind and solar won’t be cured with giant batteries. Sure, at a technical level, it is possible to store volumes of electricity for a period, such that it might be released when power consumers need it. However, were such a thing ever attempted, the cost of the electricity generated, stored and later released would be astronomical and beyond the reach of all but billionaires and rock stars – people just like Mike Cannon-Brookes.

The world’s largest battery cuts a lonely figure in a paddock near Jamestown in South Australia’s mid North; it doesn’t generate power; it stores a piddling 100 MW worth; it consumes power during each charge/discharge cycle, lost as heat energy; it cost taxpayers $150 million; and would satisfy SA’s minimum power demand for all of four minutes. On those numbers, anyone talking about batteries providing an economic solution to Australia’s energy crisis, is either delusional or hoping to sell them.

Facts, logic and reason of never stopped the likes of Mike Cannon-Brookes from trying to destroy the system that works, by pushing wind and solar, which never will.

But, always and everywhere, central to their case is the idea that the only way to save the planet is to run it entirely on sunshine and breezes.


The three great lies corroding western cultures


The degeneration in the culture that drives the corrosion in our politics has its origins in three great lies now being propounded daily in our universities, media, corporates and obviously among the politicians.

These lies are becoming embedded in our discourse. National politics in America and Australia was once about the fight for control of the shared narrative or common destiny. Not any more. Politics is about tribal messages derived from the breakdown of the agreed national ethos.

The recent statement of this pathology based on the US university sector comes from American social psychologist Jonathan Haidt and lawyer Greg Lukianoff in this year’s "The Coddling of the American Mind", and in this column I have drawn on their thesis as modified by my own assessments.

In the 1980s politicians such as Ronald Reagan and Australia's Bob Hawke offered appeals based on the shared national imagination — Hawke won office in 1983 calling for consensus under the slogan: “Bob Hawke — Bringing Australians Together”. Reagan helped Americans manage adversity with his “It’s morning again in America” slogan, a fusion of nostalgia and optimism.

The Haidt-Lukianoff book is based on the “three great untruths” in our cultural and university life now spilling into politics.

* The starting lie or untruth is that disputes and differences today are a battle between good and evil, between the oppressed (the virtuous victims) and the oppressors (evil tyrants of the status quo.)

This turns the mundane injus­tices of everyday life into a moral contest. Yet it is a contest based on distorted morality. There are many illustrations: if you don’t support radical action to curb climate change you are a moral threat to society and betraying your friends. In short, your support for the status quo marks you as a bad person no matter how many charities you support.

In her recent Helen Hughes lecture for the Centre for Independent Studies, Quillette editor-in-chief Claire Lehmann called out the technique: “If there is a gender pay gap then this is because men are oppressing women. If there is a gap between the earnings of immigrants and a native population, then this is because the native population is oppressing the immigrant group. If there are health discrepancies between LGBTI people and heterosexual people, then this is because of discrimination. This simple formula gets repeated over and over and over again.” Eventually this false logic seems to become the only way a sensible person would think. In fact a sensible person, while recognising discrimination as a factor, would analyse the other explanations at work to avoid reaching the wrong conclusion.

As Lehmann said, a conclusion endlessly repeated — that the gender pay gap is caused by sexist oppression — takes hold when a considered analysis shows the fact that women have children is critical in the explanation. Adopting a conflict framework, an oppressed versus oppressor narrative, means politics becomes more divisive and problems are harder to solve because the analysis is wrong. One reason for this is while many advocates would like to solve the problem they have a higher motive; their purpose to dismantle the power structure, whether it is allegedly patriarchy or white supremacy or heteronormativity.

The Haidt-Lukianoff book argues the key to an inclusive community is to create the sense of common humanity, not tribalism based on gender and race. The authors point out that in his heroic 1960s civil rights campaigns Martin Luther King declared his dream was “the American dream” and asked the entire nation “to rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed”, to honour equality beyond race. King relied on American values. He aspired to unite, not destroy. He appealed to one America, not a collection of tribes. Haidt and Lukianoff contrast the impact of the oppressed-oppressor paradigm that enshrines “whiteness” as a power construct. They quote a student’s essay: “White death will mean liberation for all.”

These days social issues are frequently presented in mainstream media as rituals of injustice and grievance. This mentality originated in Marxist ideology. Once you believe social problems arise primarily because of power and the oppressed-oppressor conflict, then the scene is set for tribal warfare justified by a moral principle.

Referring to American universities, the authors state an enduring reality: “The more you separate people and point out differences among them, the more divided and less trusting they will become.” None of this is to say power is irrelevant. It is always relevant. Indeed, academic opposition to the Ramsay Centre courses on Western civilisation is an insight into the pathology. The Ramsay people are bad because they arrive, the critics assert, in the name of white supremacy, racism, neo-colonialism and so forth. They represent the oppressors and you cannot deal or debate with oppressors; you can only resist them.

* The second great lie or untruth from the Haidt-Lukianoff analysis is people will be weaker by being challenged in their ideas and preconceptions. They need to be protected and made safe. This is the notion of a fragile society. It was given focus last year in the campaign against the same-sex marriage plebiscite when politicians and mental health experts united against a democratic vote and debate because its extremes would damage too many people.

Because identity politics relates to the personal, it becomes dan­gerous. It is not just your political views being threatened, it is your identity. That makes it a health issue. Female students in the US have refused to hear lectures denying America is a rape culture because it threatens to invalidate their own identity and experience.

In this world the public policy test to prevent trauma and offence becomes a subjective test. This was the issue in relation to section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act. Defenders of the law said subjective views must prevail and what mattered was how people felt — whether people felt offended and intimidated. Haidt and Lukianoff say that if people and students come to believe they cannot handle offence then they will become less able to do so. Fragility begets more fragility. The authors say leaders and health professionals have made the wrong call.

The task of institutions and universities is to “prepare students for conflict, controversy and argument” and students must learn that having cherished beliefs being questioned is not a personal attack on them but preparation for life. At present institutions are “setting up a generation for failure”.

* The third lie the authors nominate is “the untruth of emotional reasoning”, the false nostrum you must “always trust your feelings”. Much of our political and media debate now revolves around displays of emotions to prove you care. Be unemotional and you are uncaring. The oppressor-oppressed mentality largely thrives on emotion at the cost of reason.

“In an age of social media, cyber trolls and fake news it is a global crisis that people so readily follow their feelings to embrace outlandish stories about their enemies,” Haidt and Lukianoff state. They quote Hanna Holborn Gray, president of the University of Chicago from 1978 to 1993: “Education should not be intended to make people comfortable; it is meant to make them think.”

Because politics operates at the intersection of emotion and reason, it becomes hostage to the cult of emotional reasoning; witness the appeal of Donald Trump among many. Social media generates a mob mentality based on emotion. Once emotion takes control, people view the world through one single lens, not through a more balanced understanding based on reason.

Single-lens emotion is the path to anxiety and depression for people and hysteria and irrationality in politics. Human beings are tribal creatures and civilisation was supposed to lead us from the tribe to society. Are we regressing?


South Australia signs up to Fed offer on school funding

But no Federal funding is ever enough for Left-led States

South Australia is the first state to sign up to a controversial new national deal for school funding with the federal government hoping others will follow its lead.

The SA Liberal government on Monday signed up to the deal, which has been under negotiation with all the states since mid-2017.

Federal Education Minister Dan Tehan is confident others will soon follow, despite complaints from some states that public schools won't get enough money.

"I continue to negotiate bilateral agreements with the other states and territories in good faith and hope to finalise them all soon," he said.

The federal government's deal with SA lays out concrete steps the state must take to improve outcomes for its students, Mr Tehan said.

"This agreement confirms that school reform must focus on driving individual student achievement and equipping teachers with the right tools in the classroom," he said.

In September, a $4.6 billion 10-year peace deal offered to Catholic and independent educators by the coalition threw a curve ball at negotiations with the states, with education ministers calling for an equal funding boost for government schools.

Labor education spokesman Tanya Plibersek said Prime Minister Scott Morrison's government has shown through the deal that looking after the "top end of town" is more important than funding public schooling.

"Mr Morrison has restored the money he cut from Catholic and independent schools, but he refuses to do the same for public schools that teach two in three Australian students," she said on Monday.

The coalition says it has delivered record funding for public schools, with $7.3 billion this year, rising to $8.6 billion in two years' time.

Dozens of education organisations penned an open letter to Mr Morrison last month calling for a $1.9 billion funding boost for public schools.

The Australian Education Union, Children and Young People with Disability, and numerous principals' associations were among the 26 signatories.

But SA Education Minister John Gardner said the federal funding boost in the deal, from $1.3 billion in 2018 to more than $2 billion in 2029, would deliver better outcomes for children in his state.

"By working with the Morrison government, we are providing funding certainty for schools across South Australia," he said.


Qantas fears return to union anarchy

Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce has warned that a push by the union movement to reintroduce industry-wide bargaining could cripple thousands of small suppliers to the airline and take the ­nation’s industrial relations system back to the chaos of the 1970s, threatening jobs and national prosperity.

As Labor considers giving ­unions and workers the right to strike in support of pay claims covering multiple employers, Mr Joyce said any move to reintroduce industry-wide or pattern bargaining would wreak havoc with the airline’s supply chain, and the wider economy.

“Industry-wide bargaining will mean that people who need to change their business to survive will not be able to survive if the highest common denominator wins. That is terrible for employment, terrible for ­efficiency,” he told The Australian.

“We have 13,000 small suppliers around the country. We buy $7 billion worth of Australian produce. If those suppliers lose their ability to make money and be ­efficient, that is bad for us, it is bad for the economy and it is bad for Australia.”

The airline chief, who successfully took on the union movement in 2011 by grounding the entire Qantas fleet, was backed heavily yesterday by the nation’s three major employer groups, which warned of industrial upheaval if the union push was realised.

Bill Shorten has left the door open to changes that would allow industry-wide pay claims, but it is understood Labor is also considering greater powers to allow the workplace umpire to suspend and cease industrial action against multiple employers.

Labor workplace spokesman Brendan O’Connor said the opposition was “looking at multi-­employer bargaining”, but he suggested the right would not be universal. “My priority and my focus is on those who are not getting a fair share. And I have to say that tends to be those people who are not receiving high wages or very good conditions of employment,” Mr O’Connor said.

He said it was “hysterical” to suggest that some form of multi-employer bargaining would damage the economy or lead to an increase in industrial disputes. “There is not a high instance of ­industrial action for countries with multi-employer, sector or ­industry bargaining,” he said.

Industrial Relations Minister Kelly O’Dwyer said any reintroduction of pattern bargaining would be a disaster for Australian prosperity, opening the way for job-destroying, industry-wide strikes. “Small businesses would be crippled as militant unions pursue sector-wide claims targeting hundreds of family enterprises at a time,” she said.

“Bill Shorten must stand up to the demands of his union masters and rule out industry-wide strikes ever becoming Labor policy.”

The ACTU, which is leading the campaign to revive industry-wide bargaining in response to static wage levels, accused Qantas of using the enterprise bargaining system to crush the ability of workers to achieve fair pay rises.

“Mr Joyce and other large employers have been squeezing working people for ­decades and the reason they are opposing sector bargaining is they are worried workers will finally have the power they need to fight to negotiate fair pay rises,” ACTU president ­Michelle O’Neil said. “This is a man who locked out workers and grounded thousands of travellers because he didn’t get his own way.

“He showed no concern for small suppliers or the families of workers and customers affected. Clearly he is desperate to protect a bargaining system where all the power rests with big business.”

Mr Joyce, who last week opened the airline’s new business and Qantas club lounges in Melbourne, said every company and every union should have the same interest: to improve the economic activity in Australia.

“The Hawke era saw great reform and enterprise bargaining that made a huge difference to this country. What we are worried about as a business community is some of the ideas that are on the table,” he said.

“It takes us back to the 1970s before those reforms that (Bob) Hawke bought in, which we think, and everyone thinks, were great.’’

Business Council of Australia chief executive Jennifer Westacott warned that the ACTU plan would send workplace relations “back into the dark ages”, empowering big unions at the expense of workers. She urged the union movement to return to the role it played during the era of the Hawke Labor government in the 80s where it worked with the commonwealth to “open up Australia”.

The Australian Industry Group attacked the proposal as a “throwback” to a time when Australia was protected behind tariff walls, saying it would undermine busi­ness competitiveness and ­inno­vation in an era of global competition.

The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry said small and medium-sized firms, with high overheads and lean inventories, would find it almost impossible to ride out industry-wide disputes. “Many SMEs will need to keep paying their non-striking employees who don’t join unions and don’t want to stop work,” ACCI workplace relations director Scott Barklamb said.

Industry-wide bargaining will be a key focus of the industrial relations policy debate at the ALP national conference next month.

Mr Joyce said it was up to corporate Australia to make the case to the government — whichever side of politics it belonged to — of the benefits for workers and productivity from enterprise bargaining. “We are in dialogue — the BCA is, all companies are. It is up to us to make the case and to show that we are speaking in the best interests of the economy, in the best interests of our employees.

“There are a lot of sensible ­people on both sides of politics and I hope that sense prevails.”

Qantas famously confronted the union movement in October 2011 when it grounded its entire fleet in response to a union industrial campaign. It was a decision backed by the company’s now former chairman Leigh Clifford.

Last month, Mr Clifford called on Mr Shorten to reveal his position on the return to collective bargaining proposals by the ACTU: “Someone’s got to ask him what he does (plan to) do so that we understand if, when we go to an election, what the alternative government’s view on this is. I think he’s been aggressively silent.”


 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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