Grr B#$%&y introspective narrow minded F@#$ers

OK kiddies, settle yourselves down for a good old-fashioned rant.

Grab yourself a cuppa, this might take a while.

Greenhouse -> Climate Change + Drought = Proof !!

Have you noticied how we’ve all morphed from the geek-term “Greenhouse Effect” to slightly less geeky “Global Warming”, to the now politically correct, ungeeky “Climate Change”?

All this presupposes that the theories, and the data upon which they are based, are both accurate and correct.

STOP SCREAMING. Those who say “look at the current Australian drought” need to take a big dose of Mogodon and loosen up. The current Australian drought proves nothing, one way or the other. Australia has, according to the historical record, been through about a 50 year period of unusually HIGH rainfall, and now seems to be moving back to something more normal. Ask your parents or grandparents how much it used to rain in the 1930’s.

I’m pissed off that we have patronising people saying “look at what we are living through” as if this is proof. The proof will be found in another 50 to 100 years, not now. Get a grip. It’s a THEORY. According to the scientific method, you propose a theory, then you must find evidence both FOR and AGAINST. A Theory is rarely proved and easily disproved. Proof is not 1 or 2 years of lack rain. Proof is data over a long, long period. We have insufficient data to prove anything one way or the other.

Back in the 1950’s, every time there was a dry year, or a wet year, or the wind blew unusually strongly from the North-East, the blame was “the BOMB”. The A-bomb, that is. Young folks, go ask your parents. Say “The Bomb” and get them to tell you what it was all about.

We all love to blame something or someone for our ills. If a big nasty conspiracy is involved it’s even better. Time to take a reality check guys.

DON’T GET ME WRONG: This is not an excuse to buy V8 cars and leave all the lights on. Keep reading.

Local Government

We have the unedifying spectacle of various arms of government moving beyond hysterical hand-wringing about climate change, and now starting to impose charges and levies. Some local councils (not in Adelaide, yet, that I know of) are now imposing climate change charges.

Local government! These guys are supposed to collect your garbage!

What the heck are they doing imposing climate change charges? And what will they do with the money? Buy a bigger car for the Mayor?

These mad bastards should be taken out and shot. This is lunacy. The difference that local government can make is SOD ALL. See more below. The difference Australian can make is ZIP, and local government is ZIP SQUARED.

Again, get a bloody grip.

China

In Australia we have posturing and harping by our politicians, on the 2 major sides, and the usual bullshit from the minor parties and interest groups.

The Chinese are building 200 new airports. RIGHT NOW. That makes the airports, air traffic, and flights in Australia look like a minnow against a shark.

The Chinese bring on line new electricity generation equal to the ENTIRE Australian generation capacity, EVERY 9 months.

While we fiddle, Rome is burning, literally, but in China. The Chinese don’t give a flying F#$@ about any of our hand-wringing, they just get on with building stuff to make a better life for their people.

In the meantime, we argue, and waste hot-air on stupid things like whether the government car fleet should change from a Statesman to a Toyota Prius, or Hybrid Camry!

For crying out aloud, the change of government cars in the fleet won’t make a blind bit of difference in the long run to ANYTHING when there are other counties in the world adding emissions at the rate of THOUSANDS of Statesman cars per day!

Again, start looking past the end of your nose, Australia, what you do makes miniscule difference. It’s so small as to be insignificant. Making the guy in the street pay for a few rich people’s pious indulgence is patronising, rude, and totally worthless. We deserve better.

Australia cutting emissions in any form is roughly equivalent to zipping down to your local jetty and pissing off the end of it, then trying to measure the rise in sea level as a consequence. Australia cutting emissions by changing a few government cars to imported hybrids is equivalent to zipping down to that same jetty and tossing half a thimble-full of pee in the ocean, then measuring.

Petrol Prices

Oil prices rose. So petrol prices rose. Oil is a declining resource. Maybe we’ve hit “peak oil”, maybe not. Finding new oil is increasingly difficult and expensive, so the case for peak-oil is looking better with each passing day. In that case, it’s natural for the price to rise. This is basic, basic economics.

And rise the price damn well should. Oil has always been priced for the here-and-now, basically the cost of extraction + a profit margin.

Oil has never been priced as a one-off opportunity for the people of the planet, if it had, it would have been priced far higher from the very early days, on the grounds that it should last mankind forever. But that’s not how capitalism works. Dollars today and stuff the future!

Oil has so many benefits: in production of energy, pharmaceuticals, chemicals, and fertiliser. It is completely undervalued and because of the low price we abuse it to create motor sport (!), and make stupid things like cheap kids toys (all crap, all break easily, all made in low cost countries) and plastic shopping bags! Madness!

In the face of rising oil prices, we have dickheads like Brendon Nelson, Leader of Her Majesties Opposition, finally finding a way of rattling the new government by promising to cut petrol taxes by $0.05 / litre. HE IS NOT EVEN IN GOVERNMENT. IT’S STUPID! When petrol prices are $1.60 / litre, that 5 cents means NOTHING. It’s maybe $1 in a $50 tankful, unless of course you are foolish enough to drive one of those 4WD monsters, in which case it might be $5. But tough – your lifestyle choice, don’t complain!

Brendon Nelson is twitching the hip-pocket nerve as hard as he can go, on something that is symbolic and meaningless, as well as foolish. Reducing petrol prices leads to increases in emissions and worsens climate change, something he now believes in after the demise of his former glorious leader! Mixed messages anybody?

Reducing taxes and thus prices encourages MORE consumption of a precious and declining resource. It also sends all the wrong signals about the level of control a government has about world prices for commodities. And it reduces government revenue, which just means that taxes elsewhere rise to compensate. Petrol tax is a GOOD TAX. It taxes consumption! Spend less, pay less tax! (Income taxes on the other hand, are EVIL TAXES).

Banning The Bulb

Next on the list for the feel-good wankers is the move to ban the incandescent light-bulb. We get non-technical conservationists say completely stupid things like “the technology is 100 years old, its time for it to go”.

Riiiiiiiiiiiiighhhhhht ?!

And replaced by what? The only currently viable replacement (barring going back to candles) is the Compact Fluorescent lamp.

We have a Federal Government department pushing down this road as hard as they can possibly go. There are no quality standards for CF lamps, so these guys have written one. It’s on path to becoming an international standard and might get there in about another 2 years. In the meantime, they will try and impose an interim standard which might get up about the time of ban-the-bulb if we get lucky. Can anybody else see cart before horse here?

And why the heck does the Australian Government have 4000 CF lamps on test IN BEIJING? Why can’t they test them in Australia? They were all bought in Australia. And why does the standard and test regime not take into account things like the switching cycles used in toilets, pantries, bathrooms and so on? One or two switching cycles per day is not the normal cycle for a dunny-lamp.

The CF lamp contains mercury. About 5 mg in each lamp. Mercury is a toxin. So we will have to put oodles of that in every household. Clever. The public servants claim that the mercury level is very low, and burning coal puts mercury into the atmosphere, using CF lamps results in a NET reduction. Maybe. But power stations are not in every home. The CF lamps will be. How many will get broken? And what about the concentration in the waste dumps?

CF lamps also screw up the mains supply, they have a couple of very undesirable properties: Bad Power Factor, and Harmonics. Only the folks in the power authorities understand the consequences, certainly not the simpletons in government or the conservation movement. Bad Power factor means the power utilities have the spend a pot of dough adding new equipment to the electricity systems to correct for it. Which WE pay for. And harmonics… well they just screw up the operation of other equipment and cause radiated electro-magnetic noise.

Some realities of the CF lamp:

  • To extract and recover the mercury safely you need a separate waste collection system. Putting dead CF lamps in general landfill waste is polluting. The cost of a separate waste collection system is huge. But it’s not part of the picture because A DIFFERENT GOVERNMENT DEPARTMENT LOOKS AFTER THAT STUFF. And is a separate waste system was in place, how much would it be used? Don’t count the wealthy inner-city dwellers with a social conscience, include the single mums and deadbeats in the outer suburban fringes where the living is cheap. Where will the dead CF lamps go? Bleeding obvious, that one.
  • There are currently no standards for construction and performance of a CF lamp. These are supposed to be coming. But the standards don’t include catastrophic failure! Some fail in spectacular ways. I’ve had one explode with a huge flash, a loud bang and big puff of smoke. What’s in the smoke? Will it harm my health? NOBODY KNOWS. A colleague of mine has had one explode, where the explosion was severe enough to break the lamp, and the fitting, and leave a shower of broken glass all over the floor. AND THIS IS SUPPOSED TO BE GOOD FOR US? A quick poll the other night at the presentation about this showed 6 other people have had them explode – in the last few months. Once upon a time this never happened. As the CF lamp has got cheaper, the explosions have become more frequent.
  • The touted lifetimes are generally bullshit. I’ve been using CF lamps for 15 years, and I write the installation date on the base each time I fit one. THEY STILL SAVE ME MONEY, but the 5000 to 8000 hour lifetime is optimistic at best and lies at worst. The standards MIGHT result in honesty of the claimed lifetimes. We’ll see.
  • CF lamps have a warm-up time, this is typically 1 to 5 minutes or thereabouts. When first turned on the light output is dramatically lower than a few minutes later.
  • CF lamp lifetime drops significantly with switching, so places where they are switched frequently like stairwells, bathrooms, toilets, pantries will see dramatically shorter life. That means the effective cost is higher. The damn lamps are already costing $7. In most houses about 1/3 of the places where lighting is used are switched frequently and are unsuitable for CF lamps.
  • You can’t use a CF lamp as the light in your fridge, oven or microwave.
  • Depending on who you talk to… when a total energy balance is done, including the energy and environmental costs used in manufacture, shipping, use, and disposal, the CF lamp actually comes in about equivalent to the supposedly evil and obsolete incandescent. The government people claim this is not that case. Who do we believe?

These people, from the Government, sent to help us, say that the early problems with CF lamps in particular the warm-up time and lifetime are solved problems – not an issue. I REALLY DO NOT LIKE BEING LIED TO. The CF lamps I bought 2 weeks ago still take 2 minutes to reach full light output.

These same folks from the government showed the components of domestic energy consumption. Lighting shows a growth of about 25% over about the 40 years beginning 1980. On the other hand, the REALLY BIG consumers are Televisions (growth of about 400%) and Swimming Pools (about 300%). Tackling the backyard pool and the plasma TV will deliver huge bang for buck. Instead, a vast effort is going into something with only a small impact.

Banning of the bulb will make a few pollies and greenies feel better but actually make little difference to anything. Any effect will be small, and the pollution of waste sites by mercury may actually cause serious long term problems that will only be found in the next one or two hundred years.

There is hope on the horizon: the white LED is currently frightfully expensive, but does promise higher efficiency of conversion of electricity to light, and a lifetime about 10x that of the CF lamp. This is a technology in its infancy, which still has many problems to solve. But in the long run, the CF lamp is a lame duck.

If our government was serious, it would not even try to ban the incandescent lamp. It would instead apply a tax to make incandescent lamps cost about $4 to $5 each, comparable to a CF. Then, you would use whatever was most suited to the application: incandescent for frequent switching and instant-on. CF’s for places that are turned on and left on. The market would sort it out.

BUT FOLKS IF YOU ABSOLUTELY CANNOT USE A CF IN SOME APPLICATIONS THEN GO BUY A STACK OF EVIL INCANDESCENT LAMPS NOW, cos soon you won’t be able to get them at all. I’ve got a cupboard full, and I’m buying more every chance I get.

Weaning Ourselves Off Oil and Changing The Character Of Our Cities

This one really gets on my nerves. It’s been brought about by the high price of oil, so more people are using public transport (fine, good thing).

We have pronouncements now from patronising twerps in the conservation movement saying stupid things like “we must wean ourselves off oil” (ok, fair enough, to a point. Kill the Hummers through high fuel prices and I’m won over), and “We must redesign our cities for public transport”.

Well…. On this point… How? And who pays?

This kind of pronouncement is stupid in the extreme. How are we to re-design the cities AND SUBURBS in which millions of people live? The houses are there, the roads are there, the services are buried under the ground. How are we to make these places more suited to walking, public transport, and less use of the car?

Have any of the people who say this crap looked around the outer suburbs? Have they ever been to Golden Grove (in Adelaide), or Melton or Thomastown (in Melbourne), or Seven Hills or the Western Suburbs of Sydney? These places are so far out in the sticks its not funny. And the masters of the universe who plan these places don’t believe in streets that make walking easy. Instead we have the maze of twisty passages. But it looks nice.

The only way to really REDESIGN our cities for public transport is to use an atomic bomb to wipe the slate clean and start again.

These conservationists must have come from the same primeval swamp as a well-known Adelaide property developer and home builder, who believes that all development and planning controls should be scrapped to allow unfettered house building where he and his cronies see fit. Except in the hills, where he lives. Cos that’s special.

Means testing the solar energy rebate

I’ve ranted about this before. Solar energy is expensive. Very expensive. If the government seriously wants to have renewable energy being used it has to be produced.

In the absence of simply making everybody pay more for power via a tax or a ban on the burning of coal, the only other way to influence a market economy is by subsidy or rebate. The solar cell rebate did not ever cover the total cost of installation, so the only people who were installing solar power were the rich people with a social conscience. Using the rich people, plus a government subsidy has the effect of transferring the wealth of the rich to everybody else!

So what does this dumb-arse government do? They slap a means test on the rebate so now the only people who will get help with installing solar power are those who cannot afford to do so. There is something bizarrely Pythonesque about this.

Strangely enough, the forward order books for solar power have dropped 90%!

And the idiots in this government argue that the means test will result in an INCREASE in the installations of solar power! I’m sure they will next argue that black is white! MORONS!

So what REALLY gets my goat then?

It should be obvious… Dumb crap from by people who don’t THINK.

For the benefit of future generations we should consume less. Less oil. Less food. Less electricity. Within reason. Whether or not this has an affect on the climate will be proven sometime in the next 50 to 100 years. In the meantime we don’t need to be greedy.

Prices for things like oil should rise to reflect their long-term worth. In the meantime is we want to use renewable energy we need to pay for it. Using the rich and the government is as good a way as any. Using the poor is implausible and foolish.

In the future, some of our cities will seriously suck, having been built around the car. Adding or improving public transport will be difficult or frightfully expensive. Idiots telling us to redesign our cities don’t help because they are not proposing a solution, just spouting ignorant motherhood.

Stupid moves to save by tokenism – like hybrid cars and banning the bulb – will have no effect at all on the planet or the climate. Serious saving, well-considered, for good, well-thought-out reasons is fine, but tokenistic dictates from some idiot in Canberra (previously a Merchant Wanker, and now a former rock singer) are paternalistic, demeaning, transparent political games which have great cost and no appreciable effect.

AAAAAAARRRRRRRGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHHH!

5 Comments

Everything you have said here is entirely logical, and in line with my own thinking (except that I am a bit more convinced about the greenhouse effect).

If I had my way, the price of resources (oil, minerals, water etc) would be taxed to make them much more expensive. Until this is done, there will be no incentive to save them. Unfortunately, it would be political suicide to do this, even if it was our only hope for long-term survival. I can’t see it happening until it is too late.

Comment by Darren | June 14th, 2008 9:34 pm | Permalink

Great post.. nailed it.

Onkaparinga Council are proposing a Climate Change Levy for the coming financial year of rates..

Dunc.

Comment by Duncan Margetts | June 15th, 2008 9:39 am | Permalink

And what is the council going to do with that money?

I bet they don’t know.

Or perhaps buy carbon credits. Next rant coming up about that one… I wonder how many of these are scams?

Comment by Wally | June 15th, 2008 3:41 pm | Permalink

Fluffy stuff.. a bit of information here..

http://www.messengersouth.com.au/article/2008/04/01/4358_south_news.html

Its a revenue tactic of course.. like all levels of government they have an insatiable appetite for ever more revenue.

Dunc.

Comment by Duncan Margetts | June 16th, 2008 1:13 am | Permalink

Great rant, Wally – hope you feel better and have also gotten over your frustration with the fourth instalment of Indiana Jones and the forgettable second title.

The council rate for global warming is utter money grubbing and I agree with you re bad planning for ‘master-planned’ communities such as Mawson Lakes, Golden Grove etc with skinny little winding streets, almost-touching roof-lines, barely any trees in any gardens and no public transport of any worth is a shocking waste of time, mortgage money and land.

As for global warming, I’m with Darren’s comment. Being married to a meteorologist has convinced me (plus a heap of other info) that they have enough evidence to show that the earth is warming, and that most of this has been due to human beings consumption and population growth. Your rants on how ineffectively and patronisingly we’re dealing iwth it all is spot on.

I wish I had the answers to your rants and how to get rid of means-testing for solar panels. We got our underground water tanks installed last year, but don’t have the dosh for solar, and aren’t likely to until my writing ‘career’ earns us a few coppers.

Comment by MillyMoo | June 18th, 2008 4:20 am | Permalink

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