A sim­ple equa­tion

Aus­tralia’s politi­cians have some­how man­aged to com­pli­cate the ba­sic task of de­liv­er­ing cheap en­ergy in a na­tion with vast coal re­serves and a small pop­u­la­tion

The Daily Telegraph (Sydney) - - News - TIM BLAIR

As chal­lenges go, sup­ply­ing cheap and re­li­able elec­tric­ity to Aus­tralians ought to be as easy as pro­vid­ing sun to Cal­i­for­ni­ans, oil to the Mid­dle East and wool to New Zealan­ders.

The equa­tion is in­cred­i­bly sim­ple. We have a pop­u­la­tion of just 24 mil­lion — around the same as the US in 1860, and smaller than the cur­rent pop­u­la­tion of Texas.

To keep all of those peo­ple il­lu­mi­nated, warm, em­ployed and alive, we have coal re­serves that are among the largest on earth. Ac­cord­ing to gov­ern­ment fig­ures, if our 40,000 coal in­dus­try em­ploy­ees con­tinue min­ing black coal at 2015 pro­duc­tion lev­els, our stocks of black coal should last un­til at least 2127.

The fig­ures for brown coal, the form mostly used for do­mes­tic elec­tric­ity gen­er­a­tion, are even more im­pres­sive. We’re ranked sec­ond glob­ally for brown coal re­serves, which are sched­uled to run out some­time in 3112. That’s right. We have more than 1000 years of brown coal — and that only in­cludes coal in ar­eas that per­mit min­ing.

Throw in a few other en­ergy sources that we don’t even bother to ex­tract for lo­cal power gen­er­a­tion — ura­nium, for ex­am­ple, and frack­ingderived gas — and we’re set for cheap power from now un­til for­ever.

At least, that’s how things should be (and, in fact, largely were for most of the 20th cen­tury; pre­vi­ous eras weren’t noted for quar­terly power bills equal to an en­tire week’s av­er­age earn­ings). Un­for­tu­nately, how­ever, we also have in­ex­haustible sup­plies of id­i­otic politi­cians and de­ranged en­ergy poli­cies, which ex­plains our cur­rent sit­u­a­tion.

It takes a very special form of mad­ness to con­vert so much power for so few peo­ple into four-fig­ure elec­tric­ity bills and loom­ing black­outs. Re­mov­ing the car­bon tax — the Gil­lard gov­ern­ment’s at­tempt to reg­u­late global tem­per­a­tures with money — re­mains a soli­tary mo­ment of en­ergy san­ity from the last 20 years. Ev­ery­thing else has merely added cost and com­plex­ity.

The car­bon tax may be gone but car­bon taxes in other forms re­main em­bed­ded through­out Aus­tralia’s po­lit­i­cal and in­sti­tu­tional struc­tures. Our taxes fund god only knows how many cli­mate cranks, all com­mit­ted to ex­am­in­ing a prob­lem Aus­tralia can­not pos­si­bly solve.

Well, what­ever that num­ber is, you can re­duce it by one. For­mer Aus­tralian In­sti­tute of Marine Science cli­mate sci­en­tist Daniel Michael Alongi was re­cently im­pris­oned for fraud­u­lently claim­ing half a mil­lion dol­lars in re­im­burse­ments.

In­ci­den­tally, af­ter I men­tioned Alongi’s case online, a scold­ing note ar­rived from the Aus­tralian In­sti­tute of Marine Science’s public af­fairs man­ager. “You wrote a story about the sen­tenc­ing of Dr Daniel Alongi, a for­mer sci­en­tist with the Aus­tralian In­sti­tute of Marine Science,” the note com­plained.

“You said Dr Alongi was a cli­mate sci­en­tist. This is not true. He isn’t and never was a cli­mate sci­en­tist. Dr Alongi was a Se­nior Prin­ci­pal Re­search Sci­en­tist.”

Thou shall never im­pugn, den­i­grate or in­sult the holy cause of cli­mate science.

While Alongi’s ti­tle was “Se­nior Prin­ci­pal Re­search Sci­en­tist”, his tax­funded pur­suits were over­whelm­ingly cli­mate-themed, as his re­search his­tory re­veals.

Check these ti­tles: Cli­mate Reg­u­la­tion By Cap­tur­ing Car­bon In Man­groves; Car­bon se­ques­tra­tion In Man­grove Forests; The Im­pact Of Cli­mate Change On Man­grove Forests, and so on, in­clud­ing a sup­ple­ment to the IPCC guide­lines for na­tional green­house gas in­ven­to­ries.

Sorry, public af­fairs man­ager lady, but your for­mer $2000-per-week man­grove both­erer def­i­nitely was a cli­mate sci­en­tist. And now he’s in jail.

On the topic of cor­rec­tions, the In­sti­tute of Marine Science’s web­site de­scribes the joint as Aus­tralia’s “pre­miere” trop­i­cal marine re­search agency. So at least we can look for­ward to Alongi star­ring in a fu­ture movie.

Of course, he only knocked off $500,000 or so, which is small beer in the over­all scheme of cli­mate ripoffs. Ev­ery year tax­pay­ers lose around $3 bil­lion per year in sub­si­dies for re­new­able en­ergy, which has so dis­torted the mar­ket that coal power is no longer a vi­able in­vest­ment op­tion.

Last week the Turn­bull gov­ern­ment con­sid­ered a means of ad­dress­ing this.

In­stead of tak­ing the ob­vi­ous step and slash­ing the fund­ing for re­new­ables, sev­eral mem­bers of our ridicu­lous gov­ern­ment ac­tu­ally pro­posed fur­ther sub­sides — for coal! And pre­vi­ously, as Peta Credlin noted on the week­end, en­ergy min­is­ter Josh Fry­den­berg gave $100 mil­lion to Mac­quarie Leas­ing so elec­tric car buy­ers can en­joy cheaper fi­nanc­ing.

We’re now sub­si­dis­ing wealthy Tesla own­ers.

“Ini­tia­tives like this one are ex­am­ples of the ac­tion the gov­ern­ment is tak­ing to meet our Paris tar­get of re­duc­ing emis­sions,” Fry­den­berg said, which in a sane world would be rea­son for his im­me­di­ate dis­missal.

Fry­den­berg is pre­sid­ing over an en­ergy dis­as­ter, but he gen­uinely thinks he’s help­ing.

Sub­tract the politi­cians from our power equa­tion and we’re back to sim­ple el­e­ments: small pop­u­la­tion, abun­dant re­sources, cheap and re­li­able elec­tric­ity.

Achiev­ing record high power prices from that lot is al­most an act of ge­nius.

It takes a special form of mad­ness to con­vert so much power for so few peo­ple into four­fig­ure elec­tric­ity bills and loom­ing black­outs

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