Saturday salon 30/7

1. We need to talk about Kevin

Ambigulous already has.

Malcolm Turnbull, in a captain’s pick after cabinet couldn’t agree has seen fit not to nominate Kevin Rudd for the top job at the UN, as the Hawke Government supported Malcolm Fraser for the post of Secretary General of the Commonwealth, or the Howard Government supported Gareth Evans to be head of UNESCO.

The first thing you need to know is that Rudd says he was repeatedly assured by Turnbull that Turnbull would support him. Continue reading Saturday salon 30/7

Climate clippings 179

1. Merkel slows down Germany’s renewable power growth

Angela Merkel has struck a deal with the German states to slow down the growth of green power, capping the expansion of onshore wind power at 2.8 gigawatts in capacity per year. The reason given is:

    Generous green subsidies have led to a boom in renewable energy, such as wind and solar power. But the rapid expansion has pushed up electricity costs in Europe’s biggest economy and placed a strain on its grid.

Continue reading Climate clippings 179

Stranded assets and subcritical coal

Coal_ZAH_smoke_LW-20140320233307179630-220Coal provides 40% of the world’s electricity, with 75% of this capacity deemed “subcritical”, in other words dirty. That’s a little over 1,200 GW of capacity. The IEA believes that we must shut down 290 GW of subcritical generation worldwide by 2020 in order to stay within a 2°C temperature rise.

The Stranded Assets Programme at the University of Oxford’s Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment has identified the power stations, the companies and the countries, so that financers, investors and policy makers can weigh the risks and take appropriate action.

In addition to CO2 production, air pollution and the public pressure to close for that reason, is a risk factor. Finally, subcritical plants use 67% more water. Many are in climatic areas where water scarcity is a risk. Continue reading Stranded assets and subcritical coal

More murder and mayhem

Nice_5d442ae46d1ba4d41823fee1db758ede_250While the biggest terrorist attack in recent days was in Kabul where at least 80 were killed and 231 wounded in a suicide attack on a Hazara minority crowd who were demonstrating against inadequate power infrastructure in their home villages, we worry more about attacks in France and Germany, because their societies are more like ours.

We need to look at the evidence in each case, to see what we can learn. To take the last first, police believe the Munich killings were linked to the Norwegian mass murderer Anders Breivik rather than to IS: Continue reading More murder and mayhem

Turnbull’s problem with women and has he bought an election?

In the AFR Fleur Anderson tells us that women are becoming demonstrably disenfranchised from the Coalition. Only 13 out of the 76 or 77 LNP MPs elected to the House of Representatives are women. There’s only one, Robertson’s Lucy Wicks, in the 35 seats of Australia’s most populous region, the Sydney basin. Three Liberal women were turfed out in favour of Labor women.

“To say Liberal women are dismayed is an understatement,” says Anderson. Continue reading Turnbull’s problem with women and has he bought an election?

Malcolm tweeks his ministry

Malcolm Turnbull was talking up his victory, saying the people had put its faith in his team, just as Labor took the lead by eight votes in Herbert (I think there are a few hundred votes to count, before the recount) and the Senate was far from settled.

He said the next term would be a term of “delivery” of his “strong plan”. He’ll have to shake a leg, because parliament won’t meet until 30 August, which could give him around two years. More about that soon.

The full ministry is at Wikipedia, but here are the main changes: Continue reading Malcolm tweeks his ministry

Electricity prices, gas and renewables

Wind farm and solar panel
Wind farm and solar panel

In recent days we’ve had two articles – Giles Parkinson’s Coalition’s myth about renewables and high electricity prices at RenewEconomy and Ben Potter’s front page article for the AFR, published in print as Power crisis brings back fossil fuels.

First up, here’s the average monthly spot prices for the mainland states involved in the National Electricity Market (NEM): Continue reading Electricity prices, gas and renewables

Saturday salon 16/7

1. Bastille Day

The 14 of July commemorates the storming of the Bastille prison in Paris, which is considered the flashpoint for the French Revolution.

It was the mother of many things, including the principles of liberté, égalité, fraternité, the concept of human rights, the notion that everyone was born equal, and the secular state.

To the French it is their national day, but it has universal significance. Here is an 1790 etching done by Charles Thévenin depicts the storming of the Bastille now in the British Museum: Continue reading Saturday salon 16/7

Senate update

Voters wanting to elect a party of an independent other than the LNP or Labor, or indeed the Greens, are more likely to do so in the senate. Kevin Bonham says:

    Nationally, the overall “Others” vote is up only slightly in the Reps (12.88% from 12.42%) but it is up from 23.54% to 25.70% in the Senate.

Tim Colebatch points out that we had 54 parties or combinations of parties running for the senate, and 631 candidates for the 76 seats. People voting for something different want their vote to mean something, so how is the new senate shaping up?

William Bowe (Poll Bludger) thinks (paywalled) it “looks no less problematic for the government than the one that preceded it.” Indeed it is likely to be more so. Continue reading Senate update

Climate clippings 177

1. Potential One Nation senator wants climate scepticism taught in schools

His boss, Pauline Hanson, thinks he has the “true facts”, and in denialists quarters he has gained a reputation for exposing corruption in the IPCC, the CSIRO and elsewhere. Continue reading Climate clippings 177