Saturday salon 23/9

1. Same sex marriage campaign goes ape

All day yesterday I heard that a same-sex marriage campaigner planted one on Tony Abbott, with Abbott and all and sundry saying it’s emblematic of how the Yes campaign is being prosecuted.

Turns out that 38-year-old Hobart DJ Astro ‘Funknukl’ Labe reckons:

    he is a lone anarchist that “felt the need to headbutt Tony Abbott because I didn’t think it was an opportunity I’d get again”.

As you do!

He’d had a few, and now he’s sober he reckons it had “nothing whatsoever to do with marriage equality.”

However, it plays into the framing of the No campaign, as does the children’s party contractor, Madlin Sims, who sacked one of her entertainers known only as Madeline who put a frame on her private Facebook profile picture that said “it’s OK to vote no”.

Sims reckons it was homophobic “hate speech”, which it wasn’t. Any way she didn’t need to make a public fuss about it if she did not want her business linked with the entertainer’s views. She had the option of simply not giving her more work.

Phil Coorey reckons the Noes have quickly claimed victimhood. How many noticed that a 14-year-old Dubbo girl was threatened with death after supporting same-sex marriage, a Burnie cafe was threatened with arson, and police had to evacuate AFL HQ and cordon off the street when they made their views known?

The Conversation has an Explainer: what legal benefits do married couples have that de facto couples do not?

Frank Bongiorno thinks On marriage equality, Australia’s progressive instincts have been crushed by political failure.

He says our leaders trail public opinion, which is dangerous for our democracy.

In short, it helps generate the kind of disaffection that the surveys tell us is now increasingly characteristic of Australian democracy. We come to believe that what is best about our country exists despite rather than because of their political system.

This attitude:

    produces national stroppiness and erodes trust and confidence. In short, it helps generate the kind of disaffection that the surveys tell us is now increasingly characteristic of Australian democracy.

This week as the ABS forms appeared in leteer boxes, so did a pamphlet warning darkly that gay marriage will impact schools, free speech and religions and charities. Our leaders are taking us backwards, rather than simply legislating the rights of a minority accepted by the majority.

2. Malcolm Roberts in trouble

One Nation Senator Malcolm Roberts was a citizen of the United Kingdom at the time of his nomination, the High Court has found. And it seems he knew it.

When he tried to send an email to British authorities with the subject line “Am I still a British citizen?” before the election (emphasis added) he gave himself away. And his attempts to resolve the matter were less than impressive.

It’s for the full bench to decide, but attention has moved to who might replace him. The money seems to be on Pauline Hanson’s sister. There’s some feeling that Pauline won’t want Roberts back. He’s too much competition for the limelight.

3. Keeping up with Trump

Last weekend my attention was drawn to the efforts of an American called Matt Kiser, who runs a site What the F**** Just Happened Today, which gives a blow-by-blow account of what Trump is up to, tweets and all.

That was Day 239: Sick and demented. Day 245 was not quite so interesting.

This week we have had “Rocket Man” “on a suicide mission” calling the other bloke a “mentally deranged US dotard” as the war of words reaches new heights, with one threatening to explode an H-bomb over the Pacific and the other threatening to wipe him and his regime from the face of the earth.

My informant last weekend also had a great site listing what Americans believe, like only around half know where New York is. It wasn’t this one, where we find that a quarter believe the sun goes around the earth and more than three-quarters of Americans believe there are indisputable evidences that aliens have already visited our planet. Or this one, where 29 percent of Americans think that an armed revolution in order to protect liberties might be necessary in the next few years.

Then there is this image of how they think of the world:

A surprising number think chocolate milk comes from brown cows, and nearly 20 per cent think Barack Obama is a cactus.

4. New Zealand goes to the polls

It looks as though New Zealanders will wake up with the same prime minister when the go to the polls. There is a chance that the “Jacinda effect” will put Labour’s Jacinda Ardern in a position where she can form a coalition with basically conservative Winston Peters and his New Zealand First. Peters has worked with Labour before.

For us, however, it is good to know that when you have decent people in politics they can conduct a campaign mainly on policies. On this side of the ditch Malcolm Turnbull has chosen a different path.

Germany is also showing that elections can be reasonably civil, if a little boring. I’ll do that one in a separate post.

AGL struggles daily to keep Liddell going, and looks to ‘flexible’ power

According to the AFR, AGL Energy faces “a huge daily challenge” just to keep its “geriatric” Liddell coal-fired power station running and will need to spend up to $150 million just to “keep our noses above water” until 2022. It will cost $900 million to keep it open for another 10 years, as Malcolm Turnbull and Josh Frydenberg would have it.

“It’s exceptionally challenging,” AGL Macquarie general manager Kate Coates told the group of press representatives and other interested persons on the tour on Tuesday. Continue reading AGL struggles daily to keep Liddell going, and looks to ‘flexible’ power

Coal now in short supply!

Former PM Tony Abbott said it would be “unconscionable” to adopt a clean energy target and he would cross the floor rather than vote for it, adding that his government had been elected “to abolish the carbon tax and end Labor’s climate change obsessions to go further down the renewables path.” He said there was “no chance” the party room would support a “significant increase in the amount of renewables in our system” and called for Hazelwood 2.0.

On the same day, the AFR’s front-page headline was New threat to power supply, the problem being that coal-fired power stations in NSW are struggling to find enough coal. Continue reading Coal now in short supply!

Does the Government want to solve the energy crisis?

Last week ended with talk of breaking up AGL, along with experinced political journalist Philip Coorey saying:

    It is becoming more apparent the government is as happy to have a fight as find a solution.

A fight over energy all the way to the next election could suit it very well, if the main priority is to “kill Bill”. What it says it wants is “dispatchable baseload”. Cheap dispatchable baseload, and for a sizable rump it must be with coal.

Of “dispatchable baseload”, Giles Parkinson asks is that a thing? Continue reading Does the Government want to solve the energy crisis?

Saturday salon 16/9: late edition

1. What happens when fools get to vote

Philosopher AC Grayling told Phillip Adams that just 26% of eligible voters voted in favour of Brexit, and exactly the same percentage voted for Trump. It doesn’t sound like democracy. BTW Google says that 36.8% voted for Hitler’s party in Germany.

Grayling says that Plato worried about democracy when everyone had the vote, although ‘everyone’ in Greece meant ‘citizens’, by definition male, and constituting about 20% of the adult population. Continue reading Saturday salon 16/9: late edition

Climate clippings 214

1. Trump’s climate vandalism continues

Trump has picked a Republican politician, Rep. Jim Bridenstine of Oklahoma to oversee NASA, a job that often goes to astronauts or scientists.

    Bridenstine, who is the former executive director of the Tulsa Air and Space Museum and Planetarium, said in a 2013 speech on the House floor: “Global temperatures stopped rising 10 years ago. Global temperature changes, when they exist, correlate with sun output and ocean cycles.”

Continue reading Climate clippings 214

Turnbull to walk away from the Clean Energy Target

According to Malcolm Farr, when the Finkel review appeared, this is what Malcolm Turnbull said about the Clean Energy Target:

    “Well it would certainly work, there is no question it would work and we are looking at it, giving it very favourable consideration.”

Rafael Epstein interviewing Josh Frydenberg on RN Drive replayed Turnbull’s audio, saying also the CET had “strong virtues”. Continue reading Turnbull to walk away from the Clean Energy Target

Turnbull goes feral on electricity

Last week AEMO, the Australian Energy Market Operator produced two reports on future of electricity markets. The Coalition government under Turnbull cherry picked the reports in a way that was almost infantile, going completely feral, politicising the energy policy, making clear that bipartisanship will be avoided at all costs.

On Saturday at the Country Liberals annual conference in Darwin, he said this:

    “I mean, Blackout Bill, fair dinkum, as my old dad would have said, he is so hopeless he could not find his backside with both hands.”

The electricity issue has been folded into his “kill Bill” strategy. Continue reading Turnbull goes feral on electricity

Saturday salon 9/9

1. Hurricane Irma

Having just finished with Harvey, Hurricane Irma, said to possibly be the biggest and meanest on record in the north Atlantic basin, looks set to make landfall in Florida by Sunday, but flanked by Hurricane Katia and Hurricane Jose.

James Hansen worries that, given what happened during the Eemian, the last time we had temperatures roughly this high, all hell could break loose. Maybe it’s happening.

Here I want to talk about the impact Harvey, Irma el al could make on the US budget and immigration policy. Continue reading Saturday salon 9/9

Turnbull’s choice – a clapped out coal burner or a clean energy plan

You guessed it, he chose the clapped out Liddell coal-fired power plant.

AEMO, the Australian Energy Market Operator, said New South Wales may be short of power when Liddell closes, as scheduled, in 2022, based on known plans and government policy positions, federal and state. AEMO had just published two documents – Electricity Statement of Opportunities for the National Electricity Market and Advice to Commonwealth Government on Dispatchable Capability. Apart from the risk of blackouts this coming summer in SA and Victoria, the next pressure point could be in 2022 in NSW with the closure of Liddell.

As David Blowers of the Grattan Institute said, the second report carried a clear message, though not stated directly – the system is broken a bipartisan clean energy policy is badly needed. Continue reading Turnbull’s choice – a clapped out coal burner or a clean energy plan

Climate clippings 213

1. Australia has experienced its hottest winter on record

From the Climate Council – Worsening climate change melts winter heat records:

    The Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) today released its seasonal update confirming Australia has seen the hottest (for mean maximum temperatures) and one of the driest winters on record, with temperatures reaching almost 2 degrees Celsius above average.

    Climate Council CEO Amanda McKenzie said the hottest winter in history was very concerning, given 2017’s string of broken climate records including the warmest July (mean maximum temperatures). Continue reading Climate clippings 213

Water, water everywhere

Well, not everywhere, it’s dry here this winter, but definitely in Texas, and in India, Nepal, Bangladesh and now Pakistan. In fact, in the Indian subcontinent more than 1,400 people are dead since the recent rains started, and more than 45 million are directly affected, many having had their livelihoods destroyed. Mumbai, a city of some 20 million people, had a month’s rain in a single day. Two-thirds of Bangladesh was said to be under water. Here’s an early map from August 29:

Continue reading Water, water everywhere

Climate change, sustainability, plus sundry other stuff