Happiness: the universal goal

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The main goal is always to beat New Zealand, but this time they beat us, according to the World Happiness Report 2017, which tells us that increasingly, happiness is considered to be the proper measure of social progress and the goal of public policy. They say:

The results are yet another resounding endorsement of the ‘Nordic model’. The top four countries, Norway, Denmark, Iceland and Switzerland are statistically a dead heat, while Finland is fifth, and Sweden ninth, tied with Australia to three decimal places, after The Netherlands, Canada and New Zealand. Continue reading Happiness: the universal goal

Saturday salon 25/3

1. Service interruption

I’ve been advised by the host of Climate Plus that they will be taking time out for maintenance for about two hours from 2pm PDT (whatever that means, they are based in the USA) on Saturday March 25. It’s about MySQL and they say connectivity could be affected during that time.

2. Who pays and who gets the loot?

Laura Tingle has an interesting graph about who pays the bills and who gets cash and kind from the government:

Continue reading Saturday salon 25/3

What the biffo between Weatherill and Frydenberg really means

“Ten years of brutal, opportunistic politics has left this nation with no credible energy policy.”

The money quote from Jay Weatherill’s outburst was this:

    “Josh Frydenberg was humiliated back in December. We were working with him to introduce an emissions intensity scheme. He knows that. It was well advanced. It was about to happen. Coal interests in the federal Coalition government basically cut him down before he even had a couple of hours explaining it.”

Continue reading What the biffo between Weatherill and Frydenberg really means

Retailers gouging electricity prices: Grattan

AGL, Origin and Energy Australia are gouging electricity retail prices, according to a report by The Grattan Institute titled Price shock: Is the retail electricity market failing consumers?.

The report which focusses on Victoria finds that electricity retailers charge a margin double what other retailers make, for doing little other than marketing a service we are going to buy anyway, and sending out a bill. Continue reading Retailers gouging electricity prices: Grattan

Climate clippings 199

1. Ballarat and Bendigo targetted for blackouts to keep lights on in NSW

It didn’t happen, but the phone call was made during the early February heatwave:

    Victorian Energy Minister Lily D’Ambrosio confirmed she was approached by the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) with the suggestion that either Ballarat or Bendigo could potentially lose electricity for a period of time to assist NSW.

Victoria was not impressed and have demanded an explanation. Continue reading Climate clippings 199

Gas to burn

Jay Weatherill’s energy plan involves the construction of a government-owned 250MW gas-fired power plant to provide emergency back-up power and system stability services for South Australians, and power for his resources minister to instruct the owners of Pelican Point to turn it on. Yet his plans for cheaper gas, or any gas, will not work quickly and possibly will not work at all. Laura Tingle in an excellent article published under the title of Power sources: steaming Premiers and Pumped PMs tells us that on the futures market on Wednesday, the June contract for electricity in Victoria hit $147.50 per megawatt hour, compared to a price for the March contract of just $80 as energy traders put a price on the closure of Hazelwood in Victoria at the end of March.

Meanwhile a group of former BHP Billiton and BP executives is consulting with SA to build a private equity funded power station, using gas from a floating regasification plant sourcing gas from the North West Shelf and from Singapore, some of which may actually come from the Cooper Basin in the state’s north via Gladstone.

Is this for real, and how did we get into this ridiculous mess? Continue reading Gas to burn

Saturday salon 18/3

1. Sally McManus is one to watch

Sally McManus has just become the first female secretary of the ACTU. When she went to study a bachelor of arts at university her parents said “We never knew you were good at painting.”

There’s been a bit of a kerfuffle over Leigh Sales ‘gotcha’ question about supporting the rule of law on the 7.30 Report. McManus took the bait head-on by stating that there was no obligation to obey an unjust law. Christopher Pyne called it “anarcho-Marxist claptrap”. Bill Shorten took the easy road and said “We believe in changing bad laws not breaking them.”

People should remember Rosa Parks and Mahatma Gandhi. Continue reading Saturday salon 18/3

Snowy hydro 2.0: nation-building game-changer or giant red herring?

Just after we had heard about 100 MW batteries being installed in South Australia to keep the lights on, Malcolm Turnbull announced a giant ‘battery’ in the form of pumped hydro in an expansion of the Snowy hydro scheme.

    “In one hour it could produce 20 times the 100MW per hour expected from the battery proposed by the South Australian government, but would deliver it constantly for almost a week, or 350,000 MWh over seven days.

Michelle Grattan reports that the media were dragged up to Talbingo in the Snowy Mountains for Thursday’s big Hydro announcement. But then his press conference couldn’t be beamed direct because there was no way of transmitting the signal.

    Meanwhile the news cycle was taken up with the pictures of the extraordinary biffo between South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill and federal Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg when they appeared together in Adelaide.

    It was all a metaphor for the shambolic national energy debate, in which the process is chaotic and politics trumps policy.

Continue reading Snowy hydro 2.0: nation-building game-changer or giant red herring?

Zen Energy’s renewable baseload power

South Australia’s brave new energy plan may not have been the biggest energy news on Tuesday. The gong may go to Zen Energy‘s plan in cahoots with Santos to provide renewable baseload power.

It works this way. Solar is now the cheapest form of power when the sun is shining. So you supply solar during the day, but store some in a grid-scale battery to provide power when people are up and about at night. Then the battery gets recharged overnight from wind to provide power for the morning start until the sun takes over. The whole thing is backed up by gas. Gas is the backup of the backup. Continue reading Zen Energy’s renewable baseload power

Solutions to the energy crisis

Malcolm Turnbull has now, for reasons best known to himself, elevated “energy crisis” to a “national security” issue. Ben Potter puts the situation well:

    A decade of fighting over renewable energy, carbon prices and fossil fuels has left Australia with some of the world’s dirtiest and costliest energy – a bitter yield from historical abundance.

    Three years ago, manufacturers began complaining they couldn’t get gas, and 18 months ago the South Australian grid started to wobble.

    Now, electricity and gas prices across the eastern states are two to three times their levels only a couple of years ago.

    Gas exporters overcommitted to foreign buyers; the federal government mismanaged renewable energy and the regulatory apparatus – and politicians responsible for it – are frozen in the headlights.

Continue reading Solutions to the energy crisis

How Bill Clinton and Barack Obama prepared the ground for Donald Trump

Thomas Frank has recently been in Australia, spruiking his book Listen, Liberal or Whatever Happened to the Party of the People. He told Richard Fidler that

    the Democratic Party has drifted away from its working class roots and been captured by technocrats — lawyers, financiers and professionals.

    As a result, the Democrats have lost interest in the problem of inequality and the increasingly stressful lives of the everyday people who used to vote for them.

He told Fidler that Democrats believed that if people felt they had been left behind (“the deplorables”) it was because that is what they deserved. They had made the wrong choices, studied the wrong subjects, or hadn’t tried hard enough. Continue reading How Bill Clinton and Barack Obama prepared the ground for Donald Trump

Climate change, sustainability, plus sundry other stuff