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
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