Friday, February 04, 2022

What we really think about coal and gas

This is a laugh. The survey was commissioned by the greenie crooks at the Climate Council. As an old survey hand from way back, I know how you get the results you want from a survey. I also know how to guard against that and did so in my own surveys. But I see none of that in this survey

They may be hugely valuable exports, but new polling has revealed exactly what people in New South Wales and Queensland think about coal and gas.

Support for fossil fuels such as coal and gas appears to be tanking in Queensland and NSW, despite record prices being paid for the commodities overseas.

Australia’s resource and energy exports are expected to fetch $379 billion in earnings in 2021-22, up from $310 billion last year, the latest forecast from the Office of the Chief Economist shows.

But a new survey from YouGov commissioned by the Climate Council shows declining levels of support for fossil fuel industries, with fewer than one in five voters saying coal or gas should be an investment priority.

Surveying more than 2000 voters in Queensland and NSW, YouGov found massive support for renewables, with 60 per cent of respondents saying they should be a top government investment priority.

But coal was nominated as an investment priority by just 20 per cent of respondents in Queensland and 15 per cent in NSW. Gas was chosen as a priority by 15 per cent of respondents in Queensland and 17 per cent in NSW.

There were some discrepancies in views between the capital cities and the regions – support for coal was at 17 per cent in Brisbane but 28 per cent in outback Queensland – but in many instances the divide was slim.

Climate Council economist Nicki Hutley said the poll showed “people in NSW and QLD understand the era of coal and gas in this country is coming to a close”.

The results also showed it was not just so-called “latte sippers” who had concerns about fossil fuels, Ms Hutley said.

“We’re seeing strong agreement right across the board,” she said. “Whether it’s in NSW or Queensland, the majority are saying that our future prosperity lies in renewable exports or mineral critical exports such as lithium, not in exporting gas.”

The global value of critical minerals was expected to equal that of fossil fuels by 2040, Ms Hutley said, and Australians were becoming increasingly aware of the opportunities this presented.

“Losing coal … will be hard for people in that sector, and yes the government needs to support the transition, but it doesn’t mean that we’re going to fall into an abyss,” Ms Hutley said. “It’s quite the opposite. If we grab all the opportunities and become first movers [with renewables], there is a huge amount of economic opportunity for the taking.”

While the survey suggested a drop in support for natural gas, a spokesman for the Australian Petroleum Production & Exploration Association (APPEA) said rates of domestic usage for the commodity remained steady. People aren’t disconnecting, in other words.

APPEA CEO Andrew McConville said other recent polling by JWS Research showed 74 per cent of people think there is a role for gas in Australia’s future energy mix.

“This isn’t a question about choosing one energy type or another,” Mr McConville said. “We will always need gas and the evidence shows there will be demand stretching decades into the future.”


Questions not asked by the mainstream media

The questions put to Prime Minister Scott Morrison at the National Press Club this week, lobbed at him with all the grace and dignity of a Gazan teenager tossing a Molotov cocktail over a border fence, by those who are meant to be the cream of our nation’s journalists, ranged from the asinine to the fatuous to the repugnant. Well done, fellow scribes. Those questions do not bear repeating here, suffice to say that second-hand and unsubstantiated personal smears alongside ‘when did you stop beating your wife?’ style questions demeaned the press gallery far more than they did the Prime Minister.

Moreover, the contrast between those spiteful, innuendo-laden questions and the soapy froth with which the Canberra press gallery lathered and massaged opposition leader Anthony Albanese the previous week was, equally, an indictment on the so-called professional standards of those employed by the ABC and the left-leaning mainstream media, whose job (and in the case of the ABC whose legal responsibility) is to approach political debate in a fair and balanced fashion.

Yet again, those on the centre-right of politics are forced to ponder what on earth the Liberal party is up to. By refusing to de-fang (defund?) the national broadcaster after eight years in power, the government only has itself to blame for the constant attacks and political damage it and individuals within its ranks suffer at the hands of these hardcore, hard-left, single-minded political campaigners posing (not very convincingly) as responsible journalists.

How many times does the Prime Minister have to be mocked on the national stage before he and his minders realise that they don’t actually need to show up at leftist events like the National Press Club, or trot on down to Ultimo to face ritual humiliation, in order to talk to mainstream Australians?

But above all, what this recent charade demonstrated is the utter failure, as Ramesh Thakur spells out in his column this week, of the Fourth Estate to hold this federal government and indeed all our state governments accountable where it genuinely matters; namely, on the clear abuse of power and authoritarian over-reach during the ‘once-in-a-century’ Covid pandemic. And the economic pain and destruction needlessly wrought on everyday Australians and small businesses through lockdowns, internal border closures and curfews.

This theme is picked up by Mark Latham as well, as the NSW One Nation leader in his column ridicules the Covid bedwetters supposedly from the centre-right of politics who have become captive to the endless fear-mongering of the overly-zealous health bureaucrats and their supine political overlords.

One Nation’s Senator Pauline Hanson has called for a Royal Commission into the abuses of power during the Covid pandemic, and this week on our Flat White online magazine our Editor-in-Chief Rowan Dean listed just a few of the questions that such an inquiry might address. Alas, as readers have pointed out, with the Liberals, Nationals, Greens and Labor all basically on the same ticket when it comes to supporting excessive Covid restrictions over the last two years, it is unlikely a parliamentary majority will ever agree to a Royal Commission of any sort regarding the pandemic. Instead, the narrative will continue around what Sanjeev Sabhlok identified on Flat White earlier in the week as ‘the big lie’: that Covid is a terrifying and existential once-in-100-year pandemic requiring the dismantling and suspension of democratic safeguards and pre-planned measures.

As Rocco Loiacono writes in this issue, already one well-respected media outlet, the British Medical Journal, has broken ranks with the mainstream leftist media and is demanding that all relevant Covid vaccine data be released for scrutiny.

That our own supposedly elite press galley appears more interested in trivia and smears is a crying shame, but entirely predictable. There are many, many questions that need to be asked about the pandemic and the way our various governments reacted to it. The appropriateness of the severity of the restrictions and harm done to everyday Australians, not to mention our long-term economic well-being, can only be properly judged by a full and frank appraisal of the severity of the disease itself and an honest appraisal of how wrong the models were from reality. Basic questions such as the exact numbers of those who died ‘with’ as opposed to ‘of’ Covid must be answered.

Every Covid death is a tragedy. But it is hard to avoid the conclusion that our politicians and their bureaucratic bodies are hell-bent on continuing to sell us the fear and panic that has been repeatedly peddled throughout the last two years. This they do as a means of justifying measures which at the time were highly questionable (just check our back copies) and now look evermore reprehensible and ill-judged.


The invisible pandemic: Surprising study of random Aussie homes finds four out of five Covid-positive people have NO symptoms

Queensland's top doctor has released a study of random homes that found four out of five Covid-positive people had no symptoms at all.

The state's Chief Health Officer Dr John Gerrard unveiled the research, which saw health workers randomly survey 117 houses on the Gold Coast over consecutive weekends in January, at the state's Covid update on Thursday.

The survey is the first of its kind in Australia to find out how many people have Covid-19 and don't know it.

On January 22, when the current Omicron wave was at its peak in the city, 20 people out of 117 tested came back positive from PCR tests.

Only four of those 20 were showing any symptoms, Dr Gerrard said, and only two knew they were positive. 'To recap, four out of five had no symptoms and nine out of 10 did not know they were positive. 'It is quite extraordinary.

'There are people walking around the Gold Coast who had no idea they were infected...hence the importance of masks even when you feel well.

'A lot of people that have been infected are completely unaware they were infected. That number is significant.”

The survey was repeated on the following weekend, when 11 out of 143 people tested positive. Of those, six reported having symptoms.

The revelations came as the state recorded another nine deaths and 8643 new cases.

The deaths included one person was in their 60s, two in their 70s, three in their 80s, one in the 90s and two over the age of 100.


Reef notes

Jennifer Marohasy

With the recent A$1billion announced to save the ‘dying’ Great Barrier Reef, I wonder how many realise there has been an increase in the amount of coral dug-up and sold overseas as part of the aquarium trade – the quota is now 200 tonnes each year. This is not a lot considering the size of the entire ecosystem that is visible from outer space, but it is probably more than is going to be replanted with the A$1 billion.

When the announcement of the new funding was made, there was commentary that this is about the upcoming federal election and keeping the Cairns-based seat of Leichhardt and, also, satisfying the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation monitors, who will soon be taking another look at Australia’s environmental policies. The focus has been on climate policies. There will be funding for replanting corals, ostensibly dead from bleaching – from global warming. No mention anywhere that each year more and more tonnes of coral, many of the species listed as endangered, are being excavated and exported. With the new funding for replanting, this could end up being one big hole-digging and filling in operation.

The UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee is considering a draft ruling declaring the Great Barrier Reef to be a World Heritage Site in danger. University Professor Terry Hughes, a well-known proponent of ‘The End is Nigh’, was on national radio saying that the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Area deserved to be downgraded by the United Nations because he didn’t like our climate change policies. It had nothing to do with the state of the coral reefs, not even those being sold overseas.

Journalist Fran Kelly made the very reasonable comment that a listing should have something to do with actual impacts.

‘…if we look at it more broadly though, Terry, I mean, if climate change impacts are used as a justification for an endangered listing, then every reef must be, therefore, listed in danger because climate change is a problem [all over the world]. Every World Heritage Site that is affected in any way by climate change, must be listed as endangered. Is that the logical extension of this?’

The University Professor gave a very political reply.

‘Not really. There are 29 World Heritage Sites that have coral reefs. Four of them are in Australia. But other countries that are responsible for those World Heritage properties have much better climate policies [not necessarily better reefs] than Australia does. Australia is still refusing to sign up to a net zero target by 2050, which makes it a complete outlier. And I think this draft decision from UNESCO is pointing the finger at Australia and saying, If you’re serious about saving the Great Barrier Reef, you need to do something about your climate policies.’

Australia is a rich country with a population concentrated in the south – a long way from the corals. Commercial fishing is heavily regulated. Tourism is heavily regulated. Every town has a sewage treatment plant. High-tech agriculture is the other side of heavily mangroved-river catchments. Temperatures are monitored at eighty sites within the Great Barrier Reef by the Australian Institute of Marine Sciences, and individual records do not show a long-term warming trend. There are no studies showing either a deterioration in coral cover or water quality.

Back in 1998, soon after the World Wildlife Fund Inc. launched its campaign focussed on the impacts of fishing and agriculture on the Great Barrier Reef, WWF revenue from the federal government increased seven-fold from less than $500,000 to more than $3.5 million in just four years.

In April 2018, then Prime Minister Malcom Turnbull approved a $443 million grant to the tiny Great Barrier Reef Foundation with $86 million for ‘administration’.

Those who believe in the competence of government and the integrity of science might assume that in the process of grant distribution, scientists identify and prioritise the big remaining research questions, through some process that included rigorous checks and some quality assurance. But we know from Peter Ridd’s book Reef Heresy: Science, Research and the Great Barrier Reef that there is none – no accountability, no quality assurance, no system for prioritising.

But not even $443 million seems like a great deal of money any more, not with the recently announced $1 billion.

With some of this new money going to go to the consortium that want to replant corals there will be jobs for scuba divers, and it will be filmed by underwater videographers, marine scientists will collect data around the program and boats will be chartered. There will be money for almost everyone who wants to participate – if they are vaccinated, believe in human-caused climate change and that the Great Barrier Reef is dying.

There may even be money for the ‘coral fishery’ people – that is the euphemism for the trade in rare and endangered corals. Never mind corals are not fish! An October 2021 assessment of the Queensland Coral Fishery by the federal Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment explains there is a quota of 200 tonne total allowable catch, split between ‘specialty coral’ (30 per cent) and ‘other coral’ (70 per cent).

Many of the corals are listed under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). The assessment report does mention that there is some concern around the lack of harvest limits for CITES-listed coral species and the lack of adequate mechanisms to enforce harvest limits. It also explains that the take of corals has been increasing. But not a mention of this 200-tonne quota by Fran Kelly or Terry Hughes on Radio National. It was somewhat brazen of Professor Hughes to suggest that it is not the state of the corals but politics that should dictate how a coral reef is listed by the United Nations.

And I can’t image that his team at James Cook University will be measuring the area of coral replanted relative to the area dug up over the next few years.




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