Category Archives: Sundries

Posts on sundry matters of life the universe and everything: Culture, Environment, Life, Politics & Government, Science, Social Science and Society, Technology etc.

TIME TO PANIC ON CLIMATE ACTION

Brian and I have agreed to try running some posts as short conversation starters instead of the much longer posts we have both produced in the past.
This conversation post was prompted by “The climate change panic button is coming” by Allan Kohler. It looks at climate change from a financial risk perspective, in particular how the rising number and size of climate change disasters is making is making it harder and harder for the insurance industry to the point where more and more insurance will become unaffordable. Banks will not lend money to projects that cannot be insured.
This post asks you to discuss what might be done to avoid or survive a future of shrinking insurance, shrinking loans and a deteriorating environment.
It is suggested that you read the Kohler article before commenting.
DETAILS:
To quote Kohler:
“This week it’s floods in Germany, 170 dead and terrible devastation.
A few weeks ago people were dying from the heat in Canada, which reached about 49 degrees Celsius in Lytton, British Columbia.
This is from the global warming that has already occurred, which is about 1.2 degrees above the pre-industrial age.”
Then think about bushfires and the impact of sea level rise on assets, insurance and investment.
The world is now trying to stop the temperature from going above 1.5 degrees higher than present by getting emissions down to net zero by 2050.
Even if we succeed in that, which is far from guaranteed, the extreme weather events will be significantly worse and more frequent than they are now.
But at what point will governments hit the real panic button?
Because net zero by 2050 is not it.”
Kohler goes on to point out the limitations of simply keeping the temperature below the 1.5 deg C target by 1950. 1.2 deg higher is already causing damage that is adding to the problem by pushing more greenhouses gases into the air, killing vegetation and reducing the area of snow available to reflect heat back into space.
By the time we have reached the 1.5 deg higher more greenhouse methane from melting permafrost will have got into the atmosphere. (Kohler thinks 1.5 deg by 2050 will end up driving us to 2 deg even if humans have reached net zero. (See: ‘Delay is the new denial’: Why the 2050 net-zero fight is missing the real danger.))
Kohler concludes with:
“What does the panic button look like?
I’m not sure, but here are some thoughts: Fossil fuels would be suddenly and totally banned, or made prohibitively expensive, and oil, gas and coal would instantly go bust; physical tourism would be banned and air travel confined to essentials and rich elites so the airline industry would collapse; the lithium battery and hydrogen would suddenly boom.
And so on.
Life would change more completely than it has during the pandemic.
In short, it would look like war.
So what do you think? What might we do to:
1. Slow or reverse climate change?
2. Reduce our and other species risk of extinction?
3. Live with sea level rise?
4. Look after our descendants?
5. Manage the economy and the environment?

COVID crisis in NSW

Lock down hard or you’ll be stuck where you are until Christmas, NSW has been told by the Melbourne Burnet Institute, who did the modelling which helped Victoria escape its long lockdown in 2020.

Let me say at the outset that I agree with Professor Catherine Bennett, Deakin University’s Chair in Epidemiology, who said in an article in The Age that:

    harsh measures like a nightly curfew and kilometre limit might not be required in NSW.

    “I do think that the routes of transmission that they’re seeing in NSW should guide the interventions, not just putting things in place because they’ve been used elsewhere,” she said.

Back on June 24 Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant told us Why a snap COVID-19 lockdown won’t work for Sydney’s Bondi outbreak. The Delta variant was already well and truly abroad and could not be reined in by a three-day lockdown like those other states had used.

Less than three weeks later with all of Sydney plus some adjacent areas locked down, harder than before, new cases rose from 11 to over 100. The virus was winning in the community:

Continue reading COVID crisis in NSW

Affordable Home Ownership

Too many Australians are struggling to find secure, affordable accommodation in places where they need/want to live. This can be true for those seeking to own a house of their own as well as those seeking rental accommodation.

This post focuses on affordable home ownership. (It does not include apartments. I have negligible experience with apartments.) Continue reading Affordable Home Ownership

Barnaby is back

When Warren Truss was leader of the National Party from 2007 to February 2016, just about no-one in the general public knew who he was. That was one of the reasons why Barnaby Joyce succeeded him.

Now lots of people know a lot about Barnaby for a variety or reasons, and a saw enough of his successor Michael McCormack this week to realise he was simply not up to the job. The numbers that matter are the 21 members of the federal National Party room. More than half prefer Barnaby Joyce, warts and all. So we have Barnaby Joyce victorious in Nationals leadership challenge.

I have to say that his deputy, David Littleproud, looked absolutely miserable next to Barnaby on TV, although he says he was just cold. Word is that Matt Canavan moved the spill motion, and Littleproud’s support made the difference, in the interests of longer term stability.

If so, strange thinking. As Jennifer Hewitt says in the AFR today:

    The public will now have a front row seat at Joyce’s more explosive brand of political fireworks. And he does bear grudges.

Continue reading Barnaby is back

Asylum seekers become human

Every-one not living under a rock knows that the Biloela community loves the Tamil family Nades and Priya Murugappan, and their daughters Kopika and Tharunicaa, who were taken from their homes in March 2018 in a dawn raid without warning the day their bridging visa expired, and have now been banged up in Christmas Island for several years.

Biloela wants them back, some Liberal backbenchers want them back, even Tony Abbott, when he was still in parliament in passing on a letter of support to then minister Peter Coleman, annotated the letter saying that the family could have a case “if they have as successfully integrated as it seems, there is a … case for giving them [permanent residency].” Continue reading Asylum seekers become human

Climate policy or biffo?

Our media, it seems to me, are more interested in biffo than policy. For example, can anyone in the media tell me why they constantly interview Joel Fitzgibbon as though he had any influence on Labor’s climate policy?

James Massola in the SMH in February gave us an explainer What are Labor’s factions and who’s who in the Left and Right? To cut to the chase, Joel Fitzgibbon is nominally in the Right, but he says:

    The Left’s national conveners are Victorian MP Julian Hill, NSW Senator Tim Ayres and MP Sharon Claydon, while MP Matt Thistlethwaite is the national convener of the Right along with South Australian Senator Don Farrell.

What, no Joel Fitzgibbon?

No Joel Fitzgibbon. Massola says this:

    While Thistlethwaite is the national convener of the Right – and his state faction – frontbench MPs Chris Bowen and Tony Burke are the most influential in that state. Joel Fitzgibbon, long the convener of the NSW and National Right, is now seen as on the outer for the “whatever it takes” faction.

Continue reading Climate policy or biffo?

Morrison monsters women

I’m going to take one more shot at PM Scott Morrison, because I think he bullies women in circumstances where if the person were male he would act differently. Bullies are instinctively drawn to perceived weakness, or one might say, soft targets.

Scott Morrison’s treament of Aust Post CEO Christine Holgate has not gone down well, writes Dennis Atkins. Photo: AAP

The first is from the Michelle Grattan article John Davidson linked to ie Scott Morrison finds strong women can be tough players, the case of Christine Holgate from Australia post:

    Immediately after Holgate had told a Senate committee about the watches, a furious Morrison let loose in the Parliament. Declaring the action disgraceful, he said: “The chief executive has been instructed to stand aside and, if she doesn’t wish to do that, she can go.”

Continue reading Morrison monsters women

Weekly salon 8/4

1. The PM has a problem or three

Grattan on Friday says Prime Minister Scott Morrison has three pressing problems:

  • the COVID vaccine rollout
  • the budget
  • the issue of women.

Bernard Keane at Crikey says Morrison continues to see everything as a political problem to manage away. Keane was referring to his tearful mea culpa and apparent change of heart on the issue of women and the intemperate attack on Sky journalist Andrew Clennell, claiming that in Clennell’s own organisation there was an incident of harassment of a woman in a women’s toilet being pursued by their own HR department.

There wasn’t. Continue reading Weekly salon 8/4

The dark side of clean energy and digital technologies

A man working at a rare earth metals mine in Nancheng county, China REUTERS/Springer

That’s from an article by Simon Ings in the New ScientistWhy using rare metals to clean up the planet is no cheap fix, about a book by French journalist and filmmaker Guillaume Pitron now translated as The Rare Metals War: the dark side of clean energy and digital technologies. Continue reading The dark side of clean energy and digital technologies

Weekly salon 19/3

1. The loser as always is you!

To begin with something light, the Australien Government, courtesy of Juice Media, explains what is going on with the socalled Newscorp bargaining code whereby big media gets a slice of the action with big tech.

In effect, she says, they are ganging up on us, since they have a shared interest in destroying human civilisation.

The real answer is quite simple, she says, tax big tech companies and invest the funds in quality journalism. Continue reading Weekly salon 19/3

Climate action core Labor business in rebuilding Australia

When I attended a LEAN (Labor Environment Action Network) conference in September 2019, the concern was to make environment action part of Labor’s DNA and to cast climate action in terms of a positive vision for the future. However, people were tired. Labor had lost the unloseable election to Scott Morrison Scotty from Marketing, with nothing more than slogans and tax cuts to offer, plus scare campaigns boosted by Clive Palmer’s multi-million advertising blitz, a smear campaign directed at Opposition leader Bill Shorten, and a totally misconceived anti coal-mining intervention by former Greens leader Bob Brown.

Yes, there is more to say, and mistakes were made by Labor, but understandably many were tired and discouraged. Still, some were working on strategies inspired by the Green New Deal, in short a regeneration of the fossil fuel economy with a vision of planet-friendly, sustainable restoration and growth. Some were talking about the possibilities of hydrogen.

Post-bushfires, post-COVID, and prior to the ALP Party Conference and a possible election, LEAN has now come up with a simple and I think compelling story, to be found Climate action is core Labor business and Rebuilding Australia on the interwebs. Continue reading Climate action core Labor business in rebuilding Australia