‘Populate or perish’ still a strategic imperative

Last week we passed the 25 million population mark. (See the ABS media release and fact sheet.) Apparently early this century we were forecast to add an extra million every seven years. Now we are doing it every two and a half years. Earlier this century we were told we’d hit 25 million in 2051. We got there 33 years early, and are told we’ll be at 40 million by 2048.

Some people are uncomfortable with this, but defence specialist Andrew Carr says that few acts would do more to undermine our long-term national security than cutting the number of migrants we take in. ‘Populate or perish’, he says, is still a strategic imperative.

He is saying that the changing strategic order in Asia makes population growth vital for our long-term security. We have tended to have two separate conversations, one about the strategic order in Asia, the other about population. Time we saw them together.

Australia has this problem of defending a large, sparsely populated country. During WW2 we had the dilemma of putting men in uniform or manning factories. In our history we have depended on hegemonic powers, such as Britain and America. Britain has gone, and the Americans are no longer to be relied upon unless it suits their own national interest.

Our own relative power is changing. Carr says:

    By the 1970s, Australia’s economy was one-third larger than all of the ASEAN countries combined. Until 1990, Australia and China had almost equivalent GDPs and we were the 10th largest in the world. All that has changed. Australia’s economy is less than half of ASEAN’s. Our global economic ranking could slide to 28th by 2050, with neighbours like Indonesia moving into the top 10.

Now:

    We have 57,000 people in uniform compared to 247,000 for Japan, 395,000 for Indonesia, 625,000 for South Korea, and just over 2 million for China. Yet in Australia, we struggle to provide enough people to staff six submarines and modest peacetime deployments.

Cutting immigration will cut our economic power, our people power, and diminish our voice internationally.

National Party leader Michael McCormack likes 25 million and looks forward to 30 million. However, 67% of us live in capital cities now, compared with 63% in 1970 and 37% in 1901. I’m sure McCormack is not pleased with the trend towards favouring the big cities.

I’ll just point out that Tasmania has a population of 522,000 while the Gold Coast has 638,000. Seems right and proper.

Brisbane’s population at around 2.5 million, within the SEQ region of about 3.5 million, has always seemed about right to me. I don’t like to see the country chewed up by suburbs, but the extra population seems to bring more services with greater sophistication and vibrancy.

If you want to hear about the migration issue in full there is an excellent discussion at ABC RN’s The Roundtable – Is Australia’s migration system working as it should?

Often overlooked, about a million Australians decamp overseas each year.

Our fearless philosophers, Waleed Aly and Scott Stevens, had two goes at it:

One of their more important insights was that if the people already here, and their government acting on their behalf, actively selected who came in, the place would be far less interesting.

Update: The featured image at the head of the post is from the first Minefield link:

It’s not specifically identified, but I think it shows Syrian refugees up against the fence built by Hungary to keep them out.

We spent a few days at the end of our 2015 trip in Budapest. Fascinating place.

According to Wikipedia, it is a member of the Schengen Area, which allows free passage across borders. Hungary has borders with seven countries, not all Schengen members.

Wikipedia says:

    Following centuries of successive habitation by Celts, Romans, Germanic people, West Slavs, Avars, and the Huns the foundation of Hungary was laid in the late 9th century by the Hungarian grand prince Árpád in the conquest of the Carpathian Basin.

Then in the 13th century came the Mongols, and half the people in Hungary died. Then they came again.

Then in the 17th century:

    The Austrian-Habsburg government settled large groups of Serbs and other Slavs in the depopulated south, and settled Germans (called Danube Swabians) in various areas, but Hungarians were not allowed to settle or re-settle in the south of the Great Plain.

Then in July 1849, the Hungarian Parliament proclaimed and enacted the first laws of ethnic and minority rights in the world.

The main language is Hungarian (Magyar) which is a Uralic language from the east. Other than English and German, recognized minority languages in Hungary include Armenian, Bulgarian, Croatian, German, Greek, Romanian, Romani, Rusyn, Serbian, Slovak, Slovenian, and Ukrainian. German probably appears twice because there is probably more than one variety of German.

So it’s a highly multicultural place, but obviously now threatened by people they see as ‘other’. I think we are going to have more fences in the future, both literally and figuratively.

57 thoughts on “‘Populate or perish’ still a strategic imperative”

  1. I’ve done an update on the highly multicultural nature of Hungary. Hoping Australia will remain open to all races and cultures.

  2. Here’s an article at Macrobusiness.com.au headlined Water security should be front and centre of population debate, dated March 20, by Leith van Onselen.

    The carrying capacity of Australia needs to be determined in terms of infrastructure for energy, water and food production/distribution.

    Sydney’s water storage capacity has fallen from 91.4% (same time last year) to 69.2% now (Aug 13) – a fall of 22.2%. Three more years of drought could see Sydney reservoirs near empty.

  3. During WWII Aus mobilized about one million people for the war. On the other hand, GM points out from time to time, we currently have only a few weeks worth of fuel. Our defence is a lot more complex than populate or perish and may relate to our ability to deal create durable relationships with other countries rather than our fighting capacity.

  4. More on Australia not meeting oil reserve obligations:

    It has been six years since Australia last met its global obligations to maintain sufficient oil reserves to last 90 days, a benchmark set by the International Energy Agency (IEA) in 1974.
    Oil stocks currently sit at between 51 and 52 days, and a wave of oil refinery closures in recent years has been blamed for the decline.
    One option being considered is new treaties with countries as far afield as the Netherlands, so Australia can draw from other oil stocks in the event of an emergency.

    Drawing from overseas stocks isn’t going to help much if our enemies are stopping oil tankers sailing to Aus?

  5. Geoff M, SEQ reservoirs diminish by about one per cent each month, so we’ve just gone down through 80%.

    Sydney may have to recycle or use desalination, which are our two main options, since we have no more decent dam sites where it’s practical to build.

  6. There is a program on ABC TV tonight which I think looks at the future of food production in the future.

    When thinking of carrying capacity I think we have to take into account that in the future power will be plentiful and probably cheap. Just how cheap will be critical to certain industries.

    There is also a post I need to write about the future of use of algae.

  7. Brian (Re: AUGUST 14, 2018 AT 12:05 AM):

    Geoff M, SEQ reservoirs diminish by about one per cent each month, so we’ve just gone down through 80%.

    I heard a radio news item today suggesting that if there’s no further rain that it’s possible that Sydney’s water catchment could fall to 60% within 10 weeks, with questions about whether the Sydney desalination plant would be available to operate. The Australian has an article today, headlined Doubts over Sydney’s desalination plant as storage levels plunge, link here.

    Sydney may have to recycle or use desalination, which are our two main options, since we have no more decent dam sites where it’s practical to build.

    The Colo River is the only large-scale dam option remaining for the Sydney water catchment area, but I think there would be huge opposition to it, and it’s too late now for this drought.

    There’s a proposal to raise Warragamba Dam’s wall higher – that’s going to take a few years to do, and Sydney may not have a few years if the drought continues for more years.

    Desalination requires lots of energy, and the current inaction on energy policy has put particularly NSW in a poor ‘firm’ energy generation position as we head into the early 2020s – vis-a-vis Liddell closure.

    Water recycling in future is a ‘no brainer’, but I think it’s too late for this drought.

    So, I can’t see how bringing more people into the Sydney area is a good thing when the basic water and power infrastructure isn’t keeping up. If the drought keeps progressing there could be several million people running low on water in a few years time.

  8. Meanwhile there’s this idiocy.

    South32’s Endeavour Coal is indicated an interest in exploring for coal in a 4087-hectare region just north of Picton on Sydney’s south-western edge, according to the Government Gazette.

  9. John Davidson (Re: AUGUST 13, 2018 AT 10:33 PM):

    Drawing from overseas stocks isn’t going to help much if our enemies are stopping oil tankers sailing to Aus?

    Indeed. With the likelihood of global post- ‘peak oil’ emerging soon every country will be scrambling for dwindling oil/fuel supplies.

    This post at crudeoilpeak.info headlined Peak oil in China and the Asia Pacific (part 2), dated Aug 12, link here, includes these interesting statements:

    According the USGS there is not much oil in the South China Sea. China is securing its oil supply routes as future oil imports are going to increase after production peaked 2010-2015.

    Then scroll down to Fig 11: Australia’s increasing oil consumption vs production decline. And then these statements:

    Since 2004 Australia’s oil production declined by 40% or almost 3% pa while consumption increased by 25% or around 2% pa. As a result, net imports increased by a whopping 134% in this period or almost 10% pa. 3 local refineries have closed, causing fuel imports from Asia to skyrocket…

    And the conclusion is:

    Peak oil in China will change the world. We see the first signs but governments have not woken up yet to the competition for oil in the Asia Pacific region which is supposed to be the global growth engine

    It’s difficult not to think that our governments are asleep at the wheel. So why bring in more people to exacerbate the energy security problem further?

  10. Brian

    Sydney may have to recycle or use desalination, which are our two main options, since we have no more decent dam sites where it’s practical to build.

    There are plenty of sites around Sydney and the rest of Australia that are “ practical “ for water storage.
    It’s just that to be “ practical “ for political purposes, it seems, they have to be devoid of fossil, semi rare trees, any animals ( even ones that live in water ), touched by an Aboriginal in the last 40,000 years, be able to grow anything edible or have Mabel’s cousins great Anty Esme’s childhood shack that’s heritage listed on it.

  11. Her nose was always considered her finest feature. I liked to observe her waddling along in search of the next nest.
    🙂

  12. Anyway, I’m struggling to find the connection between population growth being driven by immigrants.
    I think birth rates may have more influence.

    You are overthinking the issue, Jumpy.

    Australia’s fertility rate was last measured as 1.79 per female. We need 2.1 to replace ourselves.

    So without immigration our population would be falling year by year.

    However, it grew by 1.6%, that is 145,500 by natural increase, and 240,400 by net immigration. Here’s the graph:

  13. Brian: Australia’s birthrate would be reduced because of the high housing costs, high unemployment etc. Suspect the reduced immigration would boost the native birthrate.

  14. Lots of things affect Australia’s fertility rate, female work force participation is one.
    In 1965, births per woman was 2.98 and workforce participation rate for women was about 37.
    Married women were barred from the Public Services then.
    Today female participation rate is at an historic high of 60.5.

    John
    I believe immigrants have more children on average than the locals.

  15. Oh dear, trubble at mill: Senator Hanson condemns ex-One Nation candidate……

    [Guardian Australia online]

    During a Senate debate on Labor’s motion to reaffirm Australia’s commitment to non-discrimination on Wednesday, the One Nation leader said she was “appalled” by Anning’s comments, adding that the speech was “straight from Goebbels’ handbook from Nazi Germany”.

    Hanson – who called for a ban on immigration in her first speech to the Senate in 2016 and warned Australia was in danger of being “swamped by Muslims” – said that she was offended by comparisons between Anning and herself.

    “Because you may have your grievances with what Fraser Anning has said, don’t direct them at me – it’s got nothing to do with me.”

    Hanson supported the motion and said Anning’s speech did not reflect One Nation policy.

    Hanson suggested that Anning did not write the speech, claiming it was written by an adviser named Richard Howard, who she said had previously worked as a military propaganda specialist before a stint as a One Nation staffer.

    She said that Howard had worked for the office of the former One Nation senator Malcolm Roberts but was sacked. She said he then asked for a position in her office but she refused. Hanson said she warned Anning not to take Howard on to his staff when Anning replaced Roberts after his disqualification.

    +++
    Apologies for the long excerpt.

    One of the more chilling phrases, to me, is “military propaganda specialist”
    but then, I admit to being easily shocked.

  16. John Davidson (Re: AUGUST 14, 2018 AT 10:30 PM):

    GM: A country like Aus that is dependent on long, vulnerable sea tanker routes would still be very vulnerable even if the fuel reserves were raised to 90 days.

    Agreed. But 90 days fuel stocks provides a bit more time to find alternatives. A few weeks of in-country fuel stocks is not enough to provide any meaningful resilience, IMHO.

    We need to be thinking of doing things like producing renewable ammonia or other electro fuels to reduce our dependence on long tanker sea routes.

    As I’ve said before (but I’ll repeat it again):

    Humanity must leave petroleum oil, before oil leaves us.

    I don’t think your “electro-fuels” example is viable.

  17. GM: We won’t get transport fuel security using fuels that have to be shipped into Australia
    Ambi: If you start with renewable power and water you can make renewable hydrogen using existing commercial processes.
    If you have renewable hydrogen and nitrogen extracted from the air you can make liquid ammonia using existing commercial processes. Liquid ammonia can be used as a transport fuel and fertilizer and as the starting point for a whole raft of chemicals.
    If you have renewable hydrogen and CO2 you can make a whole raft of hydrocarbon fuels and products. (CO2 can be extracted from air or sea water as well as as a byproduct of fossil power and a raft of industrial processes.

  18. Geoff M, on water, we had a situation back around 2005 where the dams were at 16% and at 5% I believe they are effectively empty. So it was a matter of months.

    We spent mega-bucks building a pipeline grid around SEQ, and pipe after uphill (biggest lift in the world, I believe) to Toowoomba, because the sensitive souls there rejected recycling in the face of recycled water or nothing.

    Recycling plants don’t take long to build. We have one, but I beleve it just sits there until our dam levels get down to about 45%. Options then include using recycled water for industry, or pumping it back into the dam so it picks up minerals and becomes ‘natural’.

    We built a desal plant in short order at Tullebudgera, built by a French multi-national without due process (specifications and tender) in a panic. It doesn’t work very well, and probably never will. However, there are forward plans to build another six or so if/when they are needed. That process would be started if we get down into 40% area, which gives a 3-year or so window.

    I think you’ll find they have desal in Melbourne and certainly in Perth, where they also use the aquifers for storage if they get rain in the good years.

    Not sure about Adelaide.

    They are talking about all that in Capetown also.

    There is talk here about using Wivenhoe water to supplement the Lockyer Valley where the salad bowl is pumping the aquifers dry.

  19. John Davidson (Re: AUGUST 15, 2018 AT 10:18 PM):

    GM: We won’t get transport fuel security using fuels that have to be shipped into Australia

    Agreed. But try explaining that to the federal government, whilst supply chains are functioning normally – they aren’t considering the implications when things go very wrong – the “she’ll be right” attitude. And there’s no acknowledgement for the probability of a post- ‘peak oil’ world soon – they don’t seem to want to know – too inconvenient/head-in-the-sand approach.

    If you have renewable hydrogen and CO2 you can make a whole raft of hydrocarbon fuels and products. (CO2 can be extracted from air or sea water as well as as a byproduct of fossil power and a raft of industrial processes..

    It appears you are referring to your 13 April 2014 post about US NAVY PRODUCING FUEL FROM SEAWATER. John, what further progression/development has occurred? If this process is viable then I would have expected more progress by now – is there any? I suspect it’s not viable because it’s likely to have poor to very poor EROI (and therefore too expensive to scale-up and produce any meaningful quantities of this type of fuel), but please correct me if I’m wrong.

  20. Brian (Re: AUGUST 16, 2018 AT 9:58 AM):

    Recycling plants don’t take long to build. We have one, but I beleve it just sits there until our dam levels get down to about 45%. Options then include using recycled water for industry, or pumping it back into the dam so it picks up minerals and becomes ‘natural’.

    What timeframe to build the plant and any associated piping? Months? Years?
    What volumes produced, and what is this in proportion to overall demand for the water supply network?
    How much energy is required per megalitre produced?
    Is the electricity supply (i.e. generation and/or distribution) adequate to support the process, or is more generation and/or distribution reinforcement required?
    I don’t expect you to know these things – terrific if you do know – but these are the sorts of questions that need to be considered and factored in to determine the capacity/viability to deliver these projects in a timely (and affordable) manner. But are these considerations even being contemplated?

    Yet, bringing in more people in to the regions that are already under stress (i.e. congestion, inadequate infrastructure, etc.) is still considered by some as good for business, and “is still a strategic imperative“.

  21. Looks like the desalination plant near Wonthaggi will be running again every year, after it has been very little used for Melbourne drinking water, since its completion.

    The rains came. Lucky.

    Unfortunately it was built without complementary wind turbines dedicated to its power needs, though there are a few in the general area, e.g. near Wonthaggi and over at Toora.

    Victoria lags in wind power.

    Hopefully the suggested offshore wind farm in shallow waters on the edge of Bass Strait (in South Gippsland) will go ahead a few years from now.

  22. GM:

    I suspect it’s not viable because it’s likely to have poor to very poor EROI (and therefore too expensive to scale-up and produce any meaningful quantities of this type of fuel), but please correct me if I’m wrong.

    Geoff, you go on and on about peak oil and transport fuel security yet want to say that we have to sit there sucking our thumb unless someone comes up with something cheap enough to compete with currently very cheap fossil fuels.
    You may find it a lot more productive to read the post on which the the Jet A fuel post is based and look for more viable alternatives for producing low impact fuels that don’t have to be tanked in from overseas and don’t make a climate crisis worse.

  23. Geoff, I don’t know all those details. The Gold Coast plant took two years flat from design to completion in November 2008, and three months further to optimise.

    It was mothballed to standby a couple of years later, but has been used from time to time.

    Queensland is not short of electricity, but I don’t know the costs etc. I’m sure they will work it all out if they have to. From the major report on SEQ water at the time it was seen as doable to have up to six.

  24. John D

    Yes, we can’t demand that the next “fuel” be cheaper than petrol and diesel. One reason is that the current cost of petroleum fuels is not calculated correctly; for a start it ignores the social/global costs of CO2 pollution.

    If electric vehicles of all types (apart, I think, aviation vehicles) are developed swiftly, safely and economically then the “fuel” will be sunlight. This will not peak for another several billion years and that need not concern us during the next few electoral cycles.

    In the past, GM has said I am being overly optimistic about possible technological progress: particularly storage, etc.

    You engineers, yes: you over there hiding behind your physical facts, technical knowledge, financial estimates, awareness of recent decades of technological change….. what do folk like you think of our prospects?

  25. John Davidson (Re: AUGUST 16, 2018 AT 11:11 PM):

    Geoff, you go on and on about peak oil and transport fuel security…

    It’s a critical (dare I say diabolical) problem for our civilisation, that is inevitable and likely soon, yet apparently little is being done to transition away from the problem anytime soon – like climate change. If it’s not attended to, then there will be tears soon.

    …yet want to say that we have to sit there sucking our thumb unless someone comes up with something cheap enough to compete with currently very cheap fossil fuels.

    Where have I said “that we have to sit there sucking our thumb…“? I have indicated previously (words to the effect) that: We do have to work within the laws/limitations of physics and chemistry – otherwise it’s “fantasyland”. And if it’s not economic then it’s unlikely to get support in the commercial world.

    You may find it a lot more productive to read the post on which the the Jet A fuel post is based and look for more viable alternatives for producing low impact fuels that don’t have to be tanked in from overseas and don’t make a climate crisis worse.

    Thanks for the link – I note the post is yours, dated 30 March 2013 – more than 5 years ago, and a year earlier than your US Navy post at CP. Anything more recent – a follow-up that is less than a year (or two) old? Any further developments?

    I note your post includes (bold text my emphasis):

    D: Cost Comparisons:
    No clear cost comparisons were found. The Iceland experience with renewable methanol and ammonia as well as the NZ experience with the conversion of methanol to gasoline suggests that at least some renewable fuels will be competitive (or close to competitive) with fossil fuels if a supply of low cost renewable power is availa

    No clear cost comparisons were found.” – that’s always a worry. How can you then say “that at least some renewable fuels will be competitive (or close to competitive) with fossil fuel“? That seems to me to be wishful thinking on your part, not fact. How low does the “low cost renewable power” have to be to make it “competitive (or close to competitive)” with petroleum fuels? John, you raise a whole lot of questions that it seems you can’t answer.

    You say you’ve managed projects in your professional career – did you ever award jobs/work without understanding the costs involved? Have you ever operated on a “blank cheque” basis on projects? That’s what I think you are trusting we should do with your examples of “electro fuels” – have I got that right? Show me comparative costs (monetary and energy/EROI analysis) to enable an informed decision on whether it’s viable or not; otherwise it seems to me to be a whole lot of “hand-waving”.

    I’m being hard-nosed here – I’d like affordable replacement solutions to be found and deployed as quickly as possible to replace/displace petroleum fuels – but I think you are engaging in wishful thinking – but prove me wrong – I’d gladly be wrong on this issue, but prove it with facts (NOT suppositions and wishful thinking).

  26. Ambigulous (Re: AUGUST 17, 2018 AT 8:18 AM):

    If electric vehicles of all types (apart, I think, aviation vehicles) are developed swiftly, safely and economically then the “fuel” will be sunlight. This will not peak for another several billion years and that need not concern us during the next few electoral cycles.

    And geothermal, and possibly tidal.

    Here’s Wikipedia’s take on the Future of Earth. It includes (bold text my emphasis):

    The luminosity of the Sun will steadily increase, resulting in a rise in the solar radiation reaching the Earth. This will result in a higher rate of weathering of silicate minerals, which will cause a decrease in the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. In about 600 million years from now, the level of CO2 will fall below the level needed to sustain C3 carbon fixation photosynthesis used by trees. Some plants use the C4 carbon fixation method, allowing them to persist at CO2 concentrations as low as 10 parts per million. However, the long-term trend is for plant life to die off altogether. The extinction of plants will be the demise of almost all animal life, since plants are the base of the food chain on Earth.[12]

    In about one billion years, the solar luminosity will be 10% higher than at present. This will cause the atmosphere to become a “moist greenhouse”, resulting in a runaway evaporation of the oceans. As a likely consequence, plate tectonics will come to an end, and with them the entire carbon cycle.[13]

    But you are correct “that need not concern us during the next few electoral cycles.

  27. Geoff

    I was thinking of the far distant time when most of the Sun’s thermonuclear fuel has been depleted.

    Apologies for mentioning this in polite company, but forecasts say our star will then expand and evolve into a Red Giant, scorching any Earth life which exists in that epoch.

    You’re quite correct, it’s a long way off.

  28. Hello there Mr Jumpy

    Red Giant is an astronomical term, in no way implying that the Sun has Communist inclinations or, indeed, a Communist future.

    Cheerio,
    Ambi
    at the Observatory

  29. Hello there Mr A
    I knew what you obviously meant.
    I’ll leave the selective disingenuous comprehension to others more practiced at the art.

    Cheerio,
    $6.99/kg at your local IGA.

  30. I asked Dr Google What is the average length of time a species spends on Earth?

    The answer is:

    Mammals, for instance, have an average species “lifespan” from origination to extinction of about 1 million years, although some species persist for as long as 10 million years.

    So in 10 million years we will have had our time, and really should move on and make way for others.

  31. Geoff, I have to break the news to you, Sydney has a desalination plant.

    It is designed to produce 250ML pa, or up to 500ML if necessary. For years now it has been producing exactly nothing, but it’s costing $534,246 per day top keep it at the ready, just in case.

    A wind farm was built to offset the power needs.

    It won “Project of the Year Award” at the Infrastructure Partnerships Australia’s 2013 National Infrastructure Awards, and was named “Desalination Plant of the Year” at the 2011 Global Water Awards in Berlin.

    There is a lot of interesting information in the link, including the fact that the last time Sydney’s water storages were full was in 1998.

  32. The technological advances humans have made in the last 100 years is astonishing, and accelerating every week, especially in energy.
    I see no way coal and oil can remain competitive in 25 years time. They will simply be made redundant and never run out.

    The fear of running out of horses ( although some fear mongering by catastrophists did occur) didn’t necessitate the uptake of cars, trucks and buses.There wasn’t a horse tax or equine reduction scheme. In fact horses are still use today in small, comparatively inconsequential ways.

    Relax folks.

  33. Oil and coal never run out…

    Let’s hope so.
    The crudest (no pun intended) thing you can do is to burn them.
    Yet I hear there are other uses, where chemical treatment can produce valuable substances.

    So it would be pleasant to have plenty of feedstock on hand, for much more intelligent uses than combustion.

    “The Stone Age didn’t end because humans ran out of stone.”

    ***
    OK, now today’s news blather claims the PM will change the NEG to have an emissions reduction target set by regulation, rather than legislation.

    This to head off Tony and Tony’s allies.

    Tony is again saying that a compromise with Federal Labor is anathema. Wind the calendar back to late 2009: Tony said “we can’t have a Leader who is making common cause with Labor on carbon and climate!” And won the leadership by a whisker.

    Isn’t deja vu a strange, giddy feeling?

    And where is the noble bipartisanship advocated here by GM and others? Where is the basic common sense?

    All I can say is, thank Heavens Tony has followed his own pledge not to snipe or undermine…. imagine how much worse things would be if he had been bent on disruption!!!

    Deary me.

  34. Ambi, I think the real worry was that Peter Dutton may have found it necessary to resign and sit with Adam Bandt while Labor came over and sat with Turnbull.

    If not it was at least a desperate move to keep distance between him and Labor.

    My fear is that to pacify the loonies he’s going to have to promise to build a coal-fired power station.

  35. One of my fave’s on new technology. Google can’t get past modern trivia, so I cant’ find it, but one English toff early last century or whenever said something like “Who needs the telegraph while we have page boys?”

  36. Brian (Re: AUGUST 17, 2018 AT 10:33 PM):

    Geoff, I have to break the news to you, Sydney has a desalination plant.

    I’m well aware – see my comment above (at AUGUST 14, 2018 AT 1:13 PM). The Australian article headlined Doubts over Sydney’s desalination plant as storage levels plunge, includes (bold text my emphasis):

    The Sydney desalination plant had the capacity to contribute about 15 per cent of the city’s daily water needs, Mr Wright said, a figure that paled in comparison to Perth’s, where more than half the city’s water is sourced from desali­nation and recycling.

    15% is better than nothing – some insurance, but is that enough?

    I suggest, if the drought deepens in the Sydney water catchment area for a few more years then the Sydney desalination plant may not be enough if/when the water storage is depleted. So, should the NSW government take the risk that the replenishing rains will come before the dams are dry, or should some additional contingency planning be developed and deployed (expand the Sydney desalination plant perhaps with extra power generation, or perhaps bring in water restrictions earlier and deeper?) before things get possibly drastic? Is there still time? I’m just putting these questions out there – I’m asking whether prudent risk management is occurring, or is there just “finger-crossing”, hoping for the best?

  37. John Davidson (Re: AUGUST 17, 2018 AT 10:37 PM):

    GM: How many cost estimates for large scale new processes have you done?

    Your question: “How many cost estimates for large scale new processes have you done” I see as a diversionary tactic to avoid answering:

    Anything more recent – a follow-up that is less than a year (or two) old? Any further developments?

    Show me comparative costs (monetary and energy/EROI analysis) to enable an informed decision on whether it’s viable or not…

    Which suggests to me you can’t provide any more recent developments and you don’t know the cost comparisons, but expect me to take on faith that these technologies can be scaled-up to meaningful volume production capacities and compete with petroleum fuels. I’m not going to rely on some vague proposition as a bankable solution to replacing petroleum fuels.

    John, provide something more definitive, or you are wasting my time and yours.

  38. GM: Your answer

    Your question: “How many cost estimates for large scale new processes have you done” I see as a diversionary tactic to avoid answering:

    confirms you haven’t got a clue how much effort is required to answer the cost questions.
    If you google “renewable ammonia production” you will get over 2 million hits. If you google “renewable ammonia production Australia” you will get over 300,000 hits including proposals like this one for a Pilbara pilot plant.
    It is not all a figment of the JD imagination.

  39. Brian (Re: AUGUST 17, 2018 AT 12:08 AM):

    The Gold Coast plant took two years flat from design to completion in November 2008, and three months further to optimise.

    Per The Australian August 14 article headlined Doubts over Sydney’s desalination plant as storage levels plunge:
    • The Sydney desalination plant, when operational, has the capacity to contribute about 15% of the city’s daily water needs;
    • The Sydney desalination plant will be activated when Sydney’s water storage falls below 60% capacity;
    • “The outlook for August to October shows high chances of warmer and drier conditions over the Sydney region,” said Simon Grainger, a Bureau of Meteorology climatologist;
    • Level 1 water restrictions begin to take effect when storage levels fall below 50%;
    • “Sydney is facing a steep downhill slope,” Mr Wright said (a lecturer in environmental science at Western Sydney University and a former water scientist at Sydney Water);
    • Sydney’s water storage could:
    ̶ Drop below 60% by November 2018; and
    ̶ Reach 50% by February 2019.

    If the drought continues to deepen for the Sydney catchment area, then (by my extrapolation) Sydney’s water storage could possibly drop to:
    • 40% by May 2019;
    • 30% by August 2019 (1 year away);
    • 20% by November 2019; and possibly
    • 10% by February 2020 (1½ years away).

    Increasing water restrictions and the activation of the Sydney desalination plant would likely retard the storage decline, but as storages continue to decline, evaporation rates would likely increase. Continually leaking water mains don’t help with conserving water either.

    Sydney had a severe drought between 1934 and 1942, prompting the building of Warragamba Dam, which began in 1948 and completed in 1960. Sydney’s population (and water consumption) was considerably smaller then.

    Summers are getting hotter, increasing water evaporation rates.

    With this in mind, my questions are:
    – Will history repeat for Sydney’s water catchment area with another multi-year drought?
    – If so, does Sydney have adequate water storage and desalination capacities to ride-out a multi-year drought?
    – Is it now too late to add more desalination capacity for this drought?
    – Should water restrictions for Sydney be imposed sooner (and deeper) to conserve for longer the remaining precious water?

    I reiterate:

    But are these considerations even being contemplated?

    Why risk bringing in more people into the Sydney area if perhaps there’s a significant risk there aren’t adequate water storage/supply resources? Is Sydney full? Anyone care to answer?

  40. John Davidson,

    You keep banging on (and on) about your 13 April 2014 post about the US NAVY PRODUCING FUEL FROM SEAWATER in your comment above (at AUGUST 14, 2018 AT 10:30 PM) and earlier (in your comment at MAY 14, 2018 AT 5:39 PM below the post RAPING THE RAINFORESTS TO ‘SAVE’ THE PLANET), and a few instances before then.

    I keep asking you (at my comment above at AUGUST 16, 2018 AT 12:03 PM):

    John, what further progression/development has occurred? If this process is viable then I would have expected more progress by now – is there any? I suspect it’s not viable because it’s likely to have poor to very poor EROI (and therefore too expensive to scale-up and produce any meaningful quantities of this type of fuel), but please correct me if I’m wrong.

    And (at my comment at MAY 15, 2018 AT 1:47 PM below the post RAPING THE RAINFORESTS TO ‘SAVE’ THE PLANET):

    Demonstrating that it’s possible to produce petroleum replacement liquid fuels to power a small model of a WW2 Mustang aircraft is one thing. Replacing roughly 82 million barrels of oil equivalent per day is another matter (see US IEA monthly data, link here).

    The article you referred to is dated 10 April 2014. What developments have occurred since? Has it been scaled up to something bigger? How big? Can it be realistically scaled up?

    You keep ignoring my questions. This suggests to me that my questions are inconvenient for you. By not answering, it suggests to me that you have probably been seduced by the hype (false hope or mirage?) of vague proposals to seemingly produce affordable and meaningful quantities of hydrocarbon fuels from seawater, but I reiterate “please correct me if I’m wrong”. Please provide more definitive facts/evidence of this technology with indicative costs (NOT suppositions, “hand waving” and wishful thinking).

    You say in your comment above (at AUGUST 18, 2018 AT 12:50 PM):

    If you google “renewable ammonia production” you will get over 2 million hits. If you google “renewable ammonia production Australia” you will get over 300,000 hits including proposals like this one for a Pilbara pilot plant.

    Where have I challenged your comments regarding “renewable ammonia production”? Let me make it crystal clear to you – I’m NOT disputing the viability of “renewable ammonia production”.

    Producing hydrogen by electrolysis isn’t an issue either, provided electrical energy is cheap.

    I’m challenging your promotion of the processes producing hydrocarbon fuels from seawater, particularly to affordably replace/displace petroleum fuels in meaningful quantities. But you just keep ignoring my challenges and distract with red herrings. My concern is you are possibly/probably promoting a false hope. But John, prove me wrong with more definitive facts/evidence, not insults and distractions.

  41. GM: I don’t think that renewable ammonia is the answer to renewable air transport hence the interest in renewable hydrocarbon fuels.
    I also don’t think that biofuels are the answer because of land usage issues.
    I wait for baited breath for your solution to these problems.

  42. John Davidson (Re: AUGUST 20, 2018 AT 9:11 PM):

    GM: I don’t think that renewable ammonia is the answer to renewable air transport…

    I dare say you are probably correct, IMHO.

    …hence the interest in renewable hydrocarbon fuels.

    Finding “renewable hydrocarbon” is the holy grail for particularly the airline industry (e.g. Qantas), and probably shipping. But you cannot ignore the laws of physics/chemistry/biology, and economics, and Energy Return on Investment (EROI) (that’s influenced by physics/chemistry/biology constraints).

    I also don’t think that biofuels are the answer because of land usage issues.

    Agreed. There are issues of diverting arable land from food production to fuel production, decline in soil fertility due to constraints with a finite phosphorus supply, but it’s also to do with poor to very poor EROI.

    I wait for baited breath for your solution to these problems.

    I’m cautioning you for putting faith in and promoting technologies that haven’t demonstrated they are viable at large scale. Without indicative costs there’s no way of determining how viable they are – it’s all “hand waving”. So I’m challenging you for promoting the processes producing hydrocarbon fuels from seawater that may well be a mirage – I suspect due to poor to very poor EROI – like biofuels.

    I don’t see any direct, affordable, large-scale replacement for petroleum fuels on the horizon, that can be deployed at scale before a post- ‘peak oil’ world arrives. That’s a big worry. What I do see are affordable and rapid deployment solutions for zero-carbon emissions, reliable electricity generation and supply. That means we need to be electrifying as much as possible, wherever possible – more/rapid electrified rail deployed to become the dominant mode of long distance transport, more/rapid deployment of battery-electric and hydrogen-fuel-cell vehicles. By transitioning land transport to electrified (and hydrogen fuel) solutions, that should reduce demand for petroleum and reduce carbon-emissions/particulates/NOx/SOx, and buy a bit more time.

    But it seems to me that we have too many dangerous fools in government that appear to be willfully ignoring the warning signs threatening Australia’s energy security, and I fear Australia will not be sufficiently ready/resilient for when an inevitable post- ‘peak oil’ (and post- ‘peak gas’) world arrives.

  43. // Notional Liberal Party )

    Yes Geoff M

    Land transport is the lowest hanging transport fruit. Sea transport is relatively energy efficient compared with aviation.

    As you know, the sea provides buoyancy. The land supports vehicles, light or heavy. So engine wnwrgy can be applied more to gaining kinetic energy than to combatting frictions, staying aloft.

    Humanity may have to reduce international transport, e.g.
    tourism
    heavy goods import/export

    and work towards more efficient aviation…

    Those are difficult areas.
    (Zeppelins, anyone?
    Large wind-powered ships?
    Solar powered engines on small sea craft as advocated here by Mr J a while ago?)

    Buying a little time is a good plan, in the meantime. The only tactic that has credibility, actually.

  44. Ambigulous (Re: AUGUST 21, 2018 AT 2:00 PM):

    Buying a little time is a good plan, in the meantime. The only tactic that has credibility, actually.

    Indeed, so long as you don’t squander it by not doing anything.

    Matt at crudeoilpeak.info has done a 3-part post series on peak oil in Asia, Part 3 is here (scroll down to the bottom of this post to find the links for Parts 1 & 2). The conclusion at the bottom of Part 3 is:

    All Asia Pacific countries are now net oil importers. This means that there will be a lot of competition among these countries once the global oil supply situation gets tight.

    Australia needs to rapidly reduce its dependency on petroleum fuels, but we have dangerous fools in governments that are unable to see (or wilfully ignoring) the warning signs, and continue to promote business as usual.

  45. There’s a 2008 documentary titled Blind Spot, which runs for almost 86 minutes, which includes contributions from:
    Richard Heinberg, Ted Caplow PhD, William R Catton PhD, Roscoe Bartlett PhD, Albert Bartlett PhD, Joseph Tainter PhD, David Pimentel PhD, Max Fradd Wolff, Matt Savinar, Terry Tamminen, Jason Bradford PhD, Bill McKibben, James Hansen PhD, Elke Weber PhD, Derick Jensen, David Korten PhD, Kenneth Deffeyes PhD, and Mary Anne Hitt.

    I think it’s well worth a look, and it’s interesting to compare what was said a decade ago in Blind Spot with what has happened since.

    Increased production of US shale oil and gas has provided a temporary reprieve from an inevitable global post- ‘peak oil’ & post- ‘peak gas’ supply world, but humanity has ignored the warnings and has evidently squandered this reprieve by predominantly carrying-on business as usual. New renewable (i.e. wind & solar-PV) electricity generation technologies have very recently become unequivocally cheaper than new nuclear, coal and gas, that’s resulting in substantially more wind and solar-PV capacity being added globally this year compared with coal but beginning from a small base. But global GHG emissions continue to rise, with atmospheric CO2 levels now above 400 parts per million, locking-in a temperature rise of more than 1.5°C above pre-industrial age (and probably overshooting 2°C rise) leading to dangerous climate change, and the global human population has increased to around 7.6 billion (with Australia’s population around 25 million).

    I doubt defence specialist Andrew Carr, and National Party leader Michael McCormack, have considered the long-term implications of continual population growth in a finite world, as discussed in Blind Spot (from 1:10:41 with Richard Heinberg, and from 1:18:03 with Albert Bartlett).

    Continuing to increase Australia’s population will put greater stress on, and probably exceed (if we haven’t already exceeded) the nation’s carrying capacity (i.e. water, food), that will likely worsen our long-term security. Australia needs to reduce its population growth to zero ASAP, quickly achieved by reducing net immigration.

    The highest priority for Australia should be to deploy sufficient, affordable, reliable/resilient, zero-carbon emissions, long-term sustainable renewable energy supplies ASAP, and get as much of this transition done BEFORE a post- ‘peak oil’ supply world arrives. Nothing happens without energy. Unaffordable energy means life becomes unaffordable.

    Humanity needs to fix the mess we are heading towards, or the mess will likely exterminate us.

  46. Yesterday in the online SMH was an article by Peter Hannam headlined All models used by Bureau now point to El Nino by the end of spring, and includes:

    During El Ninos, spring rainfall in eastern and northern Australia is typically below average, while temperatures in the southern two-thirds of the country is above average.

    Also:

    Sydney, for instance, has collected less than 8 millimetres of rain in August while evaporation levels are running at about 132 millimetres, bureau data shows.

    Sydney water storage levels (today):
    Total: 1,677,243 megalitres (65.0%), down 0.6% from last week;
    Warragamba Dam: 1,384,363 ML (68.3%), down 0.3% from last week (last year it was at 90.7%);

    No water/rain; no pasture/crops; no livestock. Why risk bringing in more people into the Sydney area (and elsewhere stressed by drought) if perhaps there’s a significant risk there aren’t long-term sustainable, adequate water storage/supply (and food) resources? Are governments performing prudent risk management, or just hoping/praying for the best?

  47. Geoff, The Guardian says Sydney dam levels down 25% in the last year, and desal plant can’t be fully operational until next August.

    Yep, I’d be worrying if I was living there.

    We have 16,000 of tank water, but it’s nowhere near enough, and household tanks are an expensive way of tackling the problem.

    An article in last week’s New Scientist says that a stack of models say that the world is going to continue to warm over the next four years. They also say South Africa and Australia will get less rain.

    Not good.

  48. Also yesterday afternoon, at SMH online was an article posted by Peter Hannam headlined Pressure mounts for early Sydney water use curbs on desalination delay (also in today’s paper edition).

    Sydney’s water storage is currently (Wednesday, Aug 29) at 65.0%, declining at about 0.6% since last week.

    At current rate of decline (assuming a constant rate of 0.6% per week), then:
    • 60% storage level could be reached near the end of October (i.e. 27th) 2018;
    • 50% storage level could be reached in late February (20th) 2019;
    • 40% storage level could be reached in mid-June (16th) 2019;
    • 30% storage level could be reached in mid-October (12th) 2019;
    • 20% storage level could be reached early February (5th) 2020; and
    • 10% storage level could be reached by the beginning of June (1st) 2020.

    It’s reported in the SMH article that the Sydney desalination plant won’t be fully operational for several months:

    “The testing phase is due to be completed by December 13,” a spokesman for the plant said.

    Drinking water would then take “four to five months” from the restart to be produced, and full production would only be reached “by month seven and eight”…

    With all BoM international models indicating an El Niño is probable by late Spring, likely producing a hot dry summer, evaporation rates are likely to rise, potentially lowering storage levels sooner.

    It seems to me that Level 1 water restrictions need to be implemented sooner than scheduled, when storage levels fall below 50% – I think it would be more prudent to set 60% as the appropriate threshold, and Level 2 water restrictions should be implemented when 50% storage level is reached, and so forth – that’s what I would call prudent risk management. It would be only a minor inconvenience to enact water restrictions earlier – it would be a national catastrophe if Sydney had no water supply remaining in about two to three years should the drought deepen further.

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