Saturday, March 12, 2011


No-one's claimed that as yet but it won't be long

Update: Here it is:

Hours after a massive earthquake rattled Japan, environmental advocates connected the natural disaster to global warming. The president of the European Economic and Social Committee, Staffan Nilsson, issued a statement calling for solidarity in tackling the global warming problem.

“Some islands affected by climate change have been hit,” said Nilsson. “Has not the time come to demonstrate on solidarity — not least solidarity in combating and adapting to climate change and global warming?” “Mother Nature has again given us a sign that that is what we need to do,” he added.

Global warming enthusiasts have also taken to Twitter to raise awareness of the need to respond to the earthquake by finally acting on climate change. And the Competitive Enterprise Institute’s Lee Doren compiled some of the best ones.

Some examples:

AliceTMBFan said “2 hours of geography earlier talking about Japan has left me thinking…maybe global warming is way more serious then we thought…”

Arbiterofwords tweeted “I’m worried that Japan earthquake, on top of other recent natural ‘disasters’, is a sign we’ve passed point of no return for climate change.”

MrVikas said “Events like the #Japan #earthquake and #tsunami MUST keep #climate change at forefront of policy thought: #environment

Tayyclayy noted her frustration by tweeting “An earthquake with an 8.9 magnitude struck Japan.. And some say climate change isn’t real?!”

DanFranklin postulated “Never really believed all this global warming talk, but after the earthquake in NZ and today in Japan. Maybe we’ve ruined the world.”

And TeamIanHarding tweeted “While Japan witnessed an earthquake we were talking about the problems that global warming leads to in school. Think. Pray. And change.”


Tsunami Info Center Web Site Fails on Day of Big Quake Despite Tens of Millions in Federal Funds

Bob McCarty

Like millions of people around the world, I awoke hungry for details of the 8.9 megaquake that struck Japan just after 2:30 p.m. local time Friday. When I landed at the web site for the International Tsunami Information Center, a center in Honolulu that was allocated $28 million for fiscal year 2011 and $29 million for fiscal year 2012, according to page 9 of PUBLIC LAW 109–424—DEC. 20, 2006, I found it didn’t work......

So I looked up — and found — the main web page for the International Tsunami Information Center (below) which featured an inviting message, “PLEASE GO TO OUR NEW ITIC WEB SITE. Click here.”

I “clicked here” and found [a blank page]

Now, I consider myself thankful that I was not in any position to have to rely upon the ITIC for up-to-date information about the tsunami that followed the massive earthquake. In addition, I find myself wondering what the folks at ITIC did with all those millions.

The answer probably lies in the fact that, according to it’s “About ITIC” page, ITIC was established in 1965 by the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

Get it? The U.N. is involved. THAT is why it’s wasteful and ineffective! ‘Nuff said!

SOURCE. (See the original for links, graphics etc.)

Dimming the light on human ingenuity

The candle-lit world of Earth Hour is a decadent celebration of an era that we ought to be glad we’ve left behind

On 26 March 1886, the House of Lords debated amendments to the recently enacted Electric Lighting Bill, with Lord Houghton proclaiming electric lighting had a ‘very brilliant future before it’. Exactly 125 years later, on 26 March 2011, the lights will go out on this optimistic vision of a better future.

The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) is asking for lights to be switched off in homes, public buildings and historic monuments for 60 minutes during Earth Hour, an annual event highlighting the impact of energy use on the environment. ‘Switching off your lights is a vote for Earth… [L]eaving them on is a vote for global warming’, states WWF. Unfortunately the symbolism of this gesture is entirely misplaced and ignores the socially and environmentally progressive story of artificial lighting.

In 1859, a small farm in Pennsylvania became the site of the first successful oil well in the United States. Oil was about to save the whale. With the Gulf of Mexico spill still fresh in our minds this seems scarcely credible. However, it had been known since 1854 that oil could be fractionated into a range of liquids including paraffin for lamps. Prior to this, oil from whales lit many American homes. So, in a reversal of the usual environmental narrative, the oil industry saved the whale. This is why the symbolism of Earth Hour is so entirely misplaced, and indeed rather ironic. The wonderful story of artificial lighting has been one of vast improvements in energy efficiency, plummeting costs and soaring utilisation. We now burn coal, methane and uranium to power artificial lighting. In the past, we burned whales.

While the use of paraffin saved whales, Thomas Edison killed the paraffin lamp. In turn, Edison’s filament electric lamps were eventually replaced by tungsten, fluorescent and now highly efficient solid-state lighting. Each new innovation delivered a step change in energy efficiency. However, these improvements in efficiency did not lead to a reduction in energy use but, wonderfully, greater energy use, brighter homes and workplaces and an escape from the diurnal day-night cycle.

Until recently, the world was an unimaginably darker place. At the start of the eighteenth century, humanity used 100,000 times less energy for lighting than at present. The candle-lit world of Earth Hour is a temporary and theatrical recreation of this pre-industrial era, the passing of which should be celebrated rather than used to symbolise our current excess.

Improvements in energy efficiency can also be seen in the transition from wood to coal, oil, methane and uranium. Each fuel produces more energy per unit weight and significantly less carbon. For example, one kilogram of coal can power a light bulb for four days, one kilogram of methane for six days and one kilogram of the carbon-free uranium for a remarkable 140 years. These energy transitions did not take place because of emissions targets set by the Victorians, but because each new fuel offered lower costs or better energy utility. As an entirely unintended consequence we have been continually reducing the quantity of carbon emitted per unit of energy produced. It is through an acceleration of this long-term historical decline that carbon emissions will eventually start to fall while global energy consumption continues to rise.

Modern, compact, combined-cycle gas turbines and nuclear plants now produce copious quantities of energy, but use modest amounts of steel, concrete and land. Ironically, the WWF’s vision of our energy future is based almost entirely on diffuse renewable energy that would require astronomical quantities of material, land and capital to deploy. It is improving energy density that has led to a relative decoupling of energy production from the environment, both in terms of land, material resources and carbon. In the future we will achieve an absolute decoupling by burning methane, uranium and later thorium rather than coal and oil, not just because they are cleaner fuels, but because they are better fuels.

These improving efficiencies have led to an historical decline in the real cost of energy. But as with all improvements in energy efficiency, the long-term result has been a growth in energy consumption which will continue until demand is saturated – and global demand for is far from being saturated. So as ultra-efficient solid-state lighting becomes widely available, the end result will be a further growth in energy consumption for artificial lighting, particularly when its cost falls within the reach of the poor of developing nations.

The expanding use of artificial lighting in the developing world could well accelerate energy consumption: children will be able to read after sunset, local businesses will stay open longer and work can take place indoors. This will lead to a better educated and more productive society with growing GDP per capita. This is exactly the progressive, positive feedback that led to soaring prosperity in the developed world. Indeed, artificial lighting is so important to economic development that some have suggested using night-time illumination, as measured from satellite imagery, as a proxy for GDP. For example, the contrast between North and South Korea is stark; in North Korea, it seems, every hour is Earth Hour.

The developing world should be able to achieve the developed world’s level of economic progress significantly faster as technical innovations such as solid-state lighting quickly circulate through global trade. This acceleration is evident from historical trends measuring the quantity of energy required to produce a unit of GDP. While the United States and other developed nations took some 200 years to move from inefficient heavy industry to high-technology prosperity, China is tearing through this development cycle in a matter of decades. This is a truly stunning success.

The alternative vision promoted by Earth Hour is one of energy austerity. The WWF-commissioned Energy Report, envisages a world of nine billion people in 2050 on the same level of global energy consumption as today. Their vision is of development within limits. For example, rather than advocating an ambitious programme of grid electrification in the developing world, WWF offers low-technology cooking stoves powered by concentrated sunlight. ‘These small scale solutions lead to a significant reduction in energy demand’, WWF enthuses. It is just a shame that they require food to be prepared outdoors during daylight hours when other productive labour could be undertaken.

The real challenge now is to develop energy technologies that can meet rapidly growing unmet demand in developing nations. These are the people who will need copious quantities of low-cost energy, many of whom will have no alternative but to participate in Earth Hour. We will need to replace indoor cooking using wood and animal waste with something far better than solar stoves. We need to improve energy efficiency so as to grow, not reduce, energy consumption.

In advocating devices such as solar stoves for the developing world, WWF is confusing energy efficiency with demand reduction. Efficiency is a natural consequence of technical innovation and leads to a growth in consumption for an energy service until demand is saturated, after which energy consumption for that service can fall. Demand reduction however can be a socially regressive tool that uses artificial increases in cost to suppress energy consumption. For example, so-called ‘smart meters’, which will connect domestic appliances to energy utilities are seen as a useful tool to reduce overall energy consumption in developed nations.

Certainly, using a smart meter to allow utilities to remotely switch off domestic freezers for a few minutes to clip peak grid demands will go unnoticed and will lead to a much more efficient distribution and utilisation of energy. However, artificially raising the price of energy, for example, during periods when demand is high and future renewable energy production is low, will simply impact on the poorest first and the most affluent last. Rather than trying to meet people’s needs, this approach is content to manipulate them.

The overarching aim of Earth Hour is to show that collectively humanity wants a governmental ‘commitment to actions that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions’. Unfortunately, the policies advocated by WWF are one of the major obstacles to such a low-carbon future. For example, when rating the ‘climate performance’ of the G8 nations, nuclear-powered France comes just third because ‘WWF does not consider nuclear a viable policy option’. WWF cannot simultaneously advocate a reduction in greenhouse emissions while forcefully campaigning for the global prohibition of nuclear energy.

Sweeping darkness around the globe, Earth Hour will also dim many symbols of genuine human achievement at a time when we need to call on our technical ingenuity and inventiveness to meet the energy challenges of the future. So, if you do find yourself in the dark during Earth Hour, think of those in the developing world who will remain in the dark when Earth Hour ends. When you switch the lights back on, think of the overwhelmingly civilising and liberating influence of the growth of artificial lighting achieved through improvements in energy efficiency - and think of the whales saved by 150 years of continuous technical innovation.


Tim Lambert's smear campaign: A Response from "Africa Fighting Malaria"

Australia's very own sheepish lion, Tim Lambert (a lecturer in computer science), has discovered that the banning of DDT was only one factor in the resurgence of malaria in the Indian subcontinent. Emboldened by that discovery, he has gone on to assert that his discovery applies to other places, including Africa. In Africa, however, he is dealing with seasoned South African campaigners against malaria who know from close-up experience what they are talking about. In frustration, Lambert has resorted to the usual Leftist strategies: misrepresentations, abuse and ad hominem accusations. The South African writers respond below

The blogger, Tim Lambert (aka Deltoid), regularly engages in the DDT debate by making ad hominem attacks on those who defend DDT in an effort to undermine their credibility. AFM has often been the target of such attacks and as a general policy, has not considered it a constructive use of our time to engage in these often misguided and pointless discussions. However, as Lambert recently blogged about a recent peer-reviewed paper that we published, we consider his comments too important to ignore.

Lambert recently posted a commentary on our peer-reviewed scientific paper investigating false claims made by UNEP and GEF about insecticide-free malaria control interventions in Mexico and Central America, accessible here. Lambert begins his commentary with the statement "Roberts and Tren's key argument is that reductions in malaria in the Americas were not the result of Global Environmental Facility interventions but were caused by increased use of antimalarial drugs."

This opening comment misstates our argument entirely. The most important message of our paper was that UNEP/GEF/Stockholm Convention officials were promoting false information when they claimed that their project had controlled malaria with environmentally sound methods. From his comments, it seems as though Lambert never took the time to actually read the paper; rather it appears he has just tried to discredit data we included in one of the tables.

Evidence for a conclusion is presented in the 'Results' section of scientific papers; however, Lambert ignores the results section of our paper entirely. Our conclusion about false claims of UN officials is explained clearly in the results subsection "Claims about effectiveness of GEF project interventions." The falsehood of UNEP claims rests entirely on epidemiological analyses conducted by independent scientists, which we describe.

The analyses were not ours, and our conclusion does not rely on data in the table at all. Data presented in the table is nothing more than an effort to explain how countries actually exerted control over malaria once environmentalists forced them to stop using insecticides. The tabular data had a limited and secondary role in proving UN officials were making fraudulent claims. Had Lambert actually read the paper, he could not possibly have missed that basic fact.

Lambert goes on to state reductions of more than 100% are impossible. Actually, there is no mathematical reason for not having a positive or negative percent value and you can have a percent value greater than 100. The validity of numerical values is dependent on the reader having a clear understanding of what the numerical values represent. This is true whether you call the value a percent, a proportion, or some other relative unit of measure.

The caption of our table in question reads: Table 1 Numbers of chloroquine pills distributed per diagnosed case of malaria in Mexico and seven countries of Central America for 1990 versus 2004 and percent change in numbers of pills per case and percent change in numbers of cases from 1990^35 to 2004^36

Lambert uses the example of Panama to inform his followers that we erred. He states "I checked the source for the column "pills/case in 2004" and found that all these numbers were incorrect, being too high by a factor 10. The correct number for Panama, for example, was 13.99, not 140."

If he had checked our literature citation (see reference 36), he would have discovered we cited data from two tables, Tables 7 and 8. Lambert pulled his stats from Table 8 and from the column heading "Number of first-line treatments available per case reported." Lambert obviously saw no disconnect in what is stated in our caption versus that column's heading. Our caption states, "The number of chloroquine pills distributed per diagnosed case of malaria," not "The number of first-line treatments."

The reason we cited two tables of data is because our values are derived from two tables, not one. The number of diagnosed cases was in Table 8 and the number of pills distributed per diagnosed case was in Table 7. So tabular data for number of pills distributed per diagnosed case in Panama, which Lambert claimed was incorrect, is composed of two variables—number of pills from Table 7 divided by number of cases from Table 8. Thus, for Panama in 2004, 712,852 pills (Table 7) divided by 5,095 cases (Table 8) equals 140 pills distributed per diagnosed case; the same value in our table.

In attacking data values in the table, Lambert states "The column appears to show the bigger number divided by the smaller." He is precisely correct. We did it that way so any reader could immediately understand what those values represented.

In the table we present number of pills per case for 1990 and 2004. For Panama, the number in 1990 was 202 and 140 in 2004. By dividing 202 (larger number) by 140, we get a quotient of 1.4428. This value multiplied by 100 is 144. Since fewer pills per case were distributed in 2004 than in 1990, we used a negative sign to show direction of change, -144. That is to say, there was a negative change of 144% in number of pills distributed per case in 2004 than in 1990.

Although one might argue this is an 'improper' percent value, it is, nevertheless, a legitimate value. Since both dividend and divisor are presented in the table, even the most obdurate will understand how the quotient was derived, and how it was then converted to a percentage value. For clarity, with reversals in increasing or decreasing numbers of pills per case for different countries from 1990 to 2004, the role of dividend and divisor could be reversed. We noted such switches in parts of the equations by using a - or + symbol to indicate the direction of change. A plus meaning that number of pills per case increased from 1990 to 2004 (i.e., value for 1990 divided into 2004 value), and a negative value meaning number of pills per case decreased from 1990 to 2004 (i.e., value for 2004 divided into 1990 value). There is nothing mathematically wrong with this and the method was used for purposes of simplicity and clarity. For consistency, the same process was used for generating all endpoint data in Table 1.

Lambert can rage about these values but the real question is: did they present a mathematically valid, clear and succinct message? The answer is: yes, they did.

Lambert states, "all these numbers were incorrect." In fact, as we have demonstrated, the numbers were precisely correct and the misunderstanding was a consequence of his carelessness. Lambert does not understand that evidence for our conclusion was not in the table in the first place, it was in the results section of the paper.

Lambert's claim about decreasing numbers of malaria cases invalidating our conclusions is total nonsense. Obviously, Lambert does not understand most countries distribute drugs according to a ratio of one curative treatment per diagnosed case. When those ratios change and a program is distributing far more drugs than needed for cure of diagnosed cases then, by definition, drugs are being used to suppress malaria, not just treat infections, per se. This relationship is true regardless of numbers of diagnosed cases and regardless of the scale of numbers of excess drugs distributed per diagnosed case. We will not dignify further his meaningless commentary.

Some of Lambert's devoted readers have encouraged him to write a rebuttal to the journal. We hope he follows this advice, as we would greatly appreciate the opportunity of writing a formal response. For far too long Lambert has relied on false and tendentious arguments to launch personal attacks on those with whom he disagrees. His campaign against DDT harms malaria control and feeds into an agenda that has imposed great harm on the world's poor.


Green Goons

Traveling to Madison, Wisconsin last week, film maker Michael Moore said, “America is not broke ... Wisconsin is not broke. The only thing that's broke is the moral compass of the rulers.”

Hmm. We know that Michael Moore is not broke. He became a millionaire making dubious documentaries that attack gun owners, oil companies, General Motors (before Obama took it over), and “the rich.” We also know that he’s not starving. He’s the most corpulent communist in the country, but he’s wrong about America not being broke.

The United States government debt is over $14,000,000,000,000. President Obama’s budget will add $1,500,000,000,000 to it next year bringing it to $15,500,000,000,000. Then he proposed to do that again the following year bringing the debt to $17,000,000,000,000. After that, many of us hope he becomes former President Obama, but we’ll see.

Michael Moore is right, however, about the broken moral compass of our rulers. For example, gasoline prices go up nearly every hour. It’s getting so people are afraid to drive more than 150 miles for fear that they won’t be able to afford the gas to get home again. Still, President Obama refuses to allow oil development either on government-owned land or just off our coasts. We have enough petroleum in the ground right here in the United States to last us centuries but Obama, the Democrats and their green goons won’t let us get at it for fear there might be a spill and a sea gull might get oil on its wings. It’s all right though to send $1,000,000,000 a day to Muslim countries who use much of it to finance jihad against us in their radical quest to destroy western civilization. Our liberal Democrat rulers want fossil-fuel energy prices to go up in hopes that Americans will turn to solar panels, windmills and Chevy Volts.

Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour said: "[T]his administration's policies have been designed to drive up the cost of energy in the name of reducing pollution, in the name of making very expensive alternative fuels more economically competitive. . . . In the United States, it's harder to get a permit to mine coal than it is to get a heart transplant. . . . we are going to produce about 13 percent less petroleum in the U.S. this year than last year. Now how is that good policy at any time when energy security is supposed to be a priority, but particularly a time of turmoil in the Middle East in the oil-producing states?"

Barbour may run for president as a Republican in 2012.

Leaders who would intentionally drive up energy prices for every American do indeed have broken moral compasses as Michael Moore suggests, but that isn’t how those leaders see themselves. When they look in their mirrors, they see modern-day saviors of the world looking back because oil and coal are fossil fuels. Michael Moore, President Obama, and millions of other Chicken Littles have been predicting for decades now that we’re all going to be boiled alive by global warming allegedly caused by burning those evil fossil fuels.

Just by inserting the word “allegedly” in the previous sentence, I’ve made myself a heretic in the rigid religion of Environmentalism. I’ve become the equivalent to a Holocaust-denier, a shill for oil companies, anathema to the “Greens” - just like Haley Barbour. People like Barbour and me are understood by the environmental saviors as suck-ups to “the rich” whom they think are ripping off everybody else on earth. Environmental saviors are also champions of “the poor” and those members of the middle class who bow at the same altars they do.

They’re on the side of the public-employee unions who portray themselves as champions of ordinary Americans against “the rich.” They would save us all from the the evil intentions of “the rich” who conspire constantly to make everyone else poorer and destroy the world.

Wisconsin and America “are not broke” because there are still some rich people who could pay more taxes. No matter that they’re already paying most of our federal income taxes. No matter that, according to an article on CNBC’s web site: “[S]ocial welfare benefits make up 35 percent of wages and salaries [in America] this year, up from 21 percent in 2000 and 10 percent in 1960” Who do they suppose is paying for all that?

Michael Moore and Barack Obama, both millionaires, know how much money we’re all supposed to have. They know how much is enough, how much is too much, and what amount each of us deserves. They would use government to take wealth away from “the rich” and fix everything for everybody so we can all live happily ever after driving our Chevy Volts and plugging them in every thirty miles.

Hang on America. The journey to the Big Green Paradise is going to be expensive and if you’re not broke yet, you soon will be.


Australia's carbon tax mess

Australia's Leftist Prime Minister has painted herself into a corner over her proposed carbon tax

THE enthusiastic applause in the US couldn't drown out the angry clamour at home. While Julia Gillard was making her address to congress, Tony Abbott was making a visit to a steel factory in Gillard's Victorian electorate.

No policy nuances necessary. The Opposition Leader knows that for all the government talk of "doing the right thing" with its carbon tax, the public is hearing a very different and much more disturbing message.

The key message is one of electricity costs jumping even more sharply than they are already. And to achieve what, exactly? Few people, even within the ALP, sound quite so convinced of the logic or the timing any more.

This is not only because Gillard's personal credibility is badly frayed given she is going back on her election commitment that no government she led would adopt a carbon tax. The larger problem of policy credibility extends well beyond that. Increasing numbers of voters don't comprehend why Australia is proceeding in this direction when its main trading partners, competitors and much larger emitters are backing away. The vague hopes of an international agreement at Copenhagen, always overblown, have become a sharp-edged mirror recording the lack of any such advance for the foreseeable future.

And for those still wanting Australia to "do the right thing", it is obvious that a national contribution of 1.5 per cent of the world's emissions will hardly tip the balance in limiting climate change if the scales are so weighted the other way.

That's one reason the Gillard government has abandoned Kevin Rudd's emotional rhetoric about climate change being the great moral challenge of our time. Instead, the 2011 focus is that the urgent imposition of a carbon price is in Australia's national interest. That makes it even more vital to be able to persuade the public that pricing carbon is a worthwhile reform that will benefit the Australian economy. So far Labor is going backwards in making that argument.

Abbott's logic is precisely the opposite. He argues that imposing a carbon tax will harm Australian consumers, jobs and economic growth while driving carbon-emitting industries offshore. His "direct action" plan to reduce emissions by the same amount - 5 per cent of 2000 levels by 2020 - may not persuade any economists or even most of big business that it will work as promised. But that audience was never his goal.

His goal is to win the public debate by attacking Labor's new tax as deceptive, damaging and unnecessary. The Newspoll last week showing Labor's dramatic fall in support told how effectively this tactic was working.

The Liberal approach is backed up by the fact it is closer to the position the Obama administration has been forced to adopt, given the backlash in the US to carbon pricing.

Commercial talkback radio, the bugbear of the government, was quick to point out the Prime Minister didn't mention action on climate change in her call to the US to be bold.

Yet the Gillard government seemed curiously unprepared for the public's reaction. The most optimistic view at senior levels was that the announcement had given a dispirited party some larger unifying purpose and a reform worth fighting for, along with the fervent hope that this approach would gain momentum through time.

"It's early days yet," one minister said reassuringly. Another was less sanguine. "One leader or the other will lose their job over this," he declared. He didn't say which one. And with opinions hardening so rapidly, recasting them will be even more difficult no matter how many more detailed reports there are from Ross Garnaut or the government's climate change commission.

Even those committed to the strategy of carbon pricing struggled to justify the tactical blunders that meant Gillard's initial press conference to trumpet this year's version was upstaged by the Greens. The Newspoll showing a slight rise in support for the Greens re-enforced the reality that Greens get the credit for Labor's shift while Labor gets the blame from those - a larger number - who don't like it.

The government also was blamed for not having enough detail to counter what it dismisses as the opposition's "scare campaign". But, of course, announcing the detail upfront was hardly going to win applause either. Climate Change Minister Greg Combet, sounding uncharacteristically sensitive about the dilemma, said people couldn't have it both ways.

The government was condemned for insufficient consultation over its surprise announcement of the resources super profits tax last May, he said. In trying to avoid a repeat by only putting out an outline on carbon pricing initially, it is criticised for lack of detail. True, but still badly handled. And it just shows how hard it will be to climb back out of the hole. The new political reality in the Senate after July 1 means Labor must do deals with the Greens or the Coalition to get its legislation passed. The government was gaining very modest traction by accusing the Coalition of being wreckers, against everything.

The carbon tax gives Abbott the perfect excuse. Gillard has the much harder task of trying to cobble together a deal with the Greens that won't completely alienate business and all those households in marginal seats feeling so squeezed by cost of living pressures, like power bills. Good luck.

Nor will there be a quick end. Big business is split but the mean is definitely moving further away from Labor's position. Those who were always against a price on carbon as a threat are more antagonistic as they look at their position against that of their trade competitors. Business leaders who supported the concept of carbon pricing last time were badly burned by the Rudd government's backflip. Their doubts about the level of compensation available are greater given the need to get agreement from the Greens. Then there's the very large question of the government's competence to handle a complicated scheme. Even previously reliable allies such as Heather Ridout from the Australian Industry Group are sounding far more cautious, especially given the altered international climate.

Labor could withstand this better with strong public support for action on climate change. But the mood has changed dramatically. The notion of another tax further limits the Prime Minister's leeway to convince sceptical voters that Labor's agenda can deliver for them. It doesn't make it any easier that her key economic argument is one that can only be proven in the negative: what will happen to electricity generation and power supplies if there is no carbon price.

Gillard says business needs the tax because it needs certainty. The underlying problem is that at present no one is willing to invest in adequate large-scale electricity generation to meet coming demand. Given the years it takes for such investment, time is running out.

But reinvestment in the power industry has been inadequate in recent years, not helped by state governments happily helping themselves to dividends from state-owned power stations. It is clearly unpopular and commercially dubious to build a new coal-fired power station. Yet it is also risky to invest in the more expensive gas option for baseload power without knowing about a carbon price.

According to Keith Orchison, former chief of the Electricity Supply Association of Australia, there is general agreement a carbon price of $20 to $40 a tonne would be needed to encourage substitution of coal for gas. But that additional impost would push up prices for users, by estimates ranging from 25 per cent to 40 per cent. That is when prices are already escalating because of the need to pay for much-neglected distribution infrastructure and to meet the cost of the government's renewable energy targets. Consumers seem to be already getting more "price signals" about the cost of power than they want.

The imposition of a carbon tax, morphing into an emissions trading scheme, provides greater certainty in theory.

In practice, the ground would remain slippery despite the easy talk about Australia's clean energy future. But Abbott's pledge to repeal any tax in government makes the idea of business, or households , relying on this to occur even more absurd. Politics has eaten policy and given everyone indigestion.



For more postings from me, see DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here


1 comment:

Spurwing Plover said...

These eco-wackos have been spending to long sitting in trees munching granola and going OOOOMMMM OOOOMMM OOOMMM and using this GAIA poppycock to explain the same hogwash spread by that blabbering twit JAMES LOVELOCK