Saturday salon 27/5

1. Margaret Court pipes up

No doubt you remember this from Saturday salon 13/5:

Margaret Court, tennis legend, later Pentecostal Christian minister in 1991 and now a minister at Perth’s Victory Life Church, brought a storm upon her head when she said she would no longer fly Qantas because of Alan Joyce’s advocacy for same-sex marriage. Continue reading Saturday salon 27/5

Energy crossroads

Transformer over orange sky
The initial stimulus for this post was an article in the AFR entitled We are at an energy crossroad (paper version) by Tony Wood of the Grattan Institute, based on a new report Powering through: how to restore confidence in the National Electricity Market and a series of articles mainly at RenewEconomy. I’ll summarise them Climate clippings style, so the story should emerge and you can follow the links for elaboration if you choose. Continue reading Energy crossroads

Snakes alive

For something a bit different, for many years our neighborhood has had a carpet python that visited the back yards from time to time, where it cleaned up any vermin and then moved onto the next house. At over two metres it was sizeable – we know it has devoured a possum or two. Recently when it appeared in a yard nearby, hanging about in a small tree, we thought it might be dead after it stayed motionless for a couple of days:

Continue reading Snakes alive

Saturday salon 20/5

1. The Trump Presidency Falls Apart

That’s the story from David Graham at The Atlantic, who details fully the events over just 10 days, some of which haven’t been picked up by our media.

The bottom line is that Trump is not up to the job, his minions are not up to saving him, often mislead him or don’t tell him the truth, he doesn’t take much notice of them, and the place leaks like a sieve. This will play out over a long period, but there are serious questions about whether his presidency can achieve anything. Continue reading Saturday salon 20/5

How the 2017 budget was made

There was a story around that Mark Textor had a hand in the creation of the 2017 budget. Joe Aston in the AFR says Forget Mark Textor, JWS’ John Scales was the Treasurer’s budget pollster. Aston says that Scales, who was a protégé of Textor’s did the real work, or at least his company JWS Research.

However, Textor did play an important role. The Daily Telegraph reported back in early April that Textor’s research (for the Liberal Party) “highlighted the critical issue of housing affordability”, following which, ScoMo proposed changes to negative gearing that were shot down immediately by Mathias Cormann and Peter Dutton. Continue reading How the 2017 budget was made

Budget 2017: we live in a Labor world

As I said in the post on infrastructure and debt, Peter Martin heaved a sigh of relief that the Coalition Government finally understood that the services, infrastructure and welfare that we depend on to function have to be paid for, by raising revenue if necessary. Laura Tingle goes further. She says the Coalition has reset the debate on the role of government by moving to:

    a more central position which embraces, and even advocates, a bigger role for government, both in terms of its fiscal position and its interventions in the economy, whether that be by building, owning and running airports or regulating product and labour markets.

She says that the government is actually seeking to own Labor’s modern signature policies – Gonski, the National Disability Insurance Scheme and Medicare. Continue reading Budget 2017: we live in a Labor world

Budget 2017: good debt, bad debt infrastructure con?

Peter Martin states it directly:

    Those sighs of relief are prayers of thanks for a budget that embraced reality: the reality that schools, healthcare, roads, railways, pensions, the National Disability Insurance Scheme and the other things that we want need to be paid for.

Except that almost nothing happens immediately except slugging the big banks. Spending, including infrastructure is weighted to the out-years, even beyond the normal four-year projections. Revenue improvement depends on heroic assumptions – $44 billion from income tax bracket creep from higher wages, when wages have actually been falling, more than 40% increase in company tax even though company tax cuts are assumed, an increase of 60% in capital gains tax receipts by 2021. Continue reading Budget 2017: good debt, bad debt infrastructure con?

Turnbull stands naked on climate policy

Giles Parkinson says of the 2017 budget that Turnbull lets [his] fig leaf droop and stands naked on climate policy. Matthew Rose says Turnbull’s budget ignores energy crisis and dodges climate. The Conversation article is headed Budget 2017: government goes hard on gas and hydro in bid for energy security, which is I think misleading. It goes for gas and hydro, but not hard.

Before looking at what the budget has to offer, it is appropriate to remind ourselves that at the UN climate talks in Morrocco last year, Australia’s proposed effort was ranked fifth worst in a list representing 90% of the world’s emissions. Moreover, Frydenberg has been backsliding since then, suggesting we may not achieve zero net emissions until 2100. Continue reading Turnbull stands naked on climate policy

Power tipping point

The Four Corners program Power Failure added to the sense of crisis around our power system, beginning with the breathless comment that there was almost a breakdown of civil order in South Australia when the lights went out in September. The program looked at the difficulties experienced when the power went off for three days. Recently in some places affected by Cyclone Debbie, crews couldn’t get in to start fixing for about double that time. I’ll come back to Four Corners via a series of articles published on the same day.

First, in the AFR tucked away on page 8, Mark Ludlow penned an article Renewables, EIS ‘make gas-fired power redundant’ (paper edition title). Ludlow interviewed Professor Frank Jotzow, director of the Centre for Climate Economics and Policy at ANU, who said gas had been overtaken by renewable energy, including battery storage, in the transition away from coal-fired power. We should skip gas and go straight to renewables with batteries. Continue reading Power tipping point

Climate clippings 206

1. Revival of pathogens as permafrost melts

As linked by zoot on the last CC, pathogens are emerging as the permafrost melts, some capable of becoming active after long periods of time, even millions of years. There has been one case of anthrax becoming active after being frozen in a dead reindeer for 75 years. Continue reading Climate clippings 206

Climate change, sustainability, plus sundry other stuff