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Climate change is irrelevant

In the argument for investment in renewable energy in Australia, the existence, or non-existence of climate change is irrelevant, writes Warwick O’Neill.

Like most semi-intelligent Australians I accept that all the scientific evidence provides near definitive proof that things aren’t looking real bright for our future generations, unless we invest in renewal energy technologies now. But us semi-intelligent Australians are no longer the ones who need convincing, are we?

Tony Abbott, Joe Hockey and the rest of this chamber of horrors masquerading as a Government are the ones who need convincing. But while I think that deep down the majority of them probably do believe the science, they all believe much more in the money flowing into Liberal Party coffers from the likes of Gina, Rupert, and other esteemed members of the IPA. So do we continue doing things the way that we have been ever since these people stole the election, i.e. pleading to their conscience and their desire to leave a clean and sustainable future for our grand kids? Like that’s ever going to work.

As they say, the epitome of stupidity is to continue doing the same thing, in the same way and expecting a different result. We need to stop trying to bash down the front door. We need to stop appealing to their conscience and instead use their enormous egos and greed against them. Let’s stop trying to convince them that climate change is real, and start talking about the only things they care about; economics and legacy.

These people may be able to stick their head in the sand and deny climate change, but there are two unmistakable and unarguable truths which no amount of sand can cover up.

First undeniable truth – our mining resources will run out eventually. Whether it’s in ten years, fifty years or one hundred years, unless their God can miraculously replenish our stocks, we will run out. This will leave Australia with very little to trade and the rest of the world will be quite happy to say “thank you for your contribution to our future” while they wave us goodbye.

Even a government which passes the one collective brain cell around to whoever needs it most can see that this will be an economic disaster. How to avoid it though? By finding another source of income, something else which we can sell to an eager world. It would be hard to argue that Australia, due to its geography, isn’t ideally placed to take advantage of renewable energy production. Heavy investment in this industry could potentially reap enormous financial benefits to Australia. Yes, I know it would buck the trend to have a government in Australia that actually invests in assets rather than selling them off, but humour me.

We all know that solar is a viable source of energy. If solar panels the size of an average house roof can provide sufficient power to run that house, imagine the power output of a 1000 acre solar panel. A few of these strategically positioned and we go a long way towards providing enough power to keep this country ‘rocking and rolling’. Government investment in training could help alleviate the job losses from the mining sector, and these new solar areas could be the future version of today’s “mining towns”.

The Horizontal Waterfalls (source:

The Horizontal Waterfalls (source:

Our other advantage is our fifty odd thousand kilometres of coastline. Each inch of this coastline is subject to the one of the truly dependable and predictable sources of energy on this planet – tides. Tidal energy doesn’t dissipate under an overcast sky or when the wind stops blowing. Some areas, such as the “Horizontal Waterfalls” near Broome, have such huge tidal flows that you could imagine, with the right technology in place, potentially provide enough electricity generation to supply the entire top end. And this happens twice a day, every day. But is going largely untapped due to lack of investment.

If any Government properly invested in the research and development and then implemented these technologies, then solar and tidal power could see Australia in a position to provide clean energy at least to the South East Asian region. Our scientists (should we have any left) could no doubt devise efficient and environmentally friendly ways of harnessing this power. The sale of the electricity produced, combined with the manufacture and export of our intellectual property could bring billions of overseas dollars into our economy, easily paying off the initial investment and then adding pure profit well into the future.

The second undeniable truth is that no matter how strenuously Tony Abbott fights against renewal energy, most of the rest of the world, even China, is already making great strides in establishing their own sustainable energy industries. This can mean only one thing for the Australian coal industry – a decrease in the price of coal. The less demand there is, the less it is worth. Economics 1 0 1. So long before coal resources run out, they’re going to be worthless anyway. Failure to start investing now will only mean that the rest of the world will be so much further in front of us when the time comes and we have no other option.

That takes care of the economic angle of attack; now let’s stroke their egos by dangling the carrot of legacy in front of them. Two things any politician who strives for the top echelons of government have in common is a massive ego and a desire to be remembered as one of the giants in history.

Point out to Tony Abbott that he could go down in the annuls of history as the visionary who set up Australia’s economic position in the world for centuries to come, and his ego is sure to be soothed. Actually scrap that. As the “suppository of knowledge” he’d probably think that he’ll be going down in the annals of history as the intellectual giant who scrapped the ‘carbon tax’. Sharp as a marble, our Tony.

But pitch the legacy idea to whoever will be the leader of the LNP once they rid themselves of Tony, and I’m sure they’ll show some interest. Maybe the thought of a gilded statue out the front of Parliament House, honouring their greatness would be enough to overcome the natural desire of most pollies to only look as far ahead as the next election.

Take the whole climate change debate out of the renewable energy argument, and all they are left arguing against is a stronger future economy and their place in history. We could very well get what we wanted in the first place, which is investment in sustainable energy and a brighter, cleaner future. Any military strategist will tell you, if your initial frontal assault fails, change your plan and take them in the flank, where they least expect it.


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  1. LogicalPhilosophical

    Exactly! This is what I don’t get about the debate surrounding implementation of policy regarding climate change. I do get why people debate (I don’t like this term here, it somewhat implies two equal positions. Obviously that is not the case given the consensus among scientists) the science of climate change, because frankly I’m sure a lot of people don’t want to take their head out of the sand, when accepting the facts means relinquishing a lot of income in the short-term (eg for owners of mining companies). However, considering people like this are surely focussed on money, how do they not see the slightly longer-term opportunity that the renewable energy and cleaner technology industries present? Whoever researches and invests the most now is going to reap unimaginable amounts of money later on when they hold the patents to the technologies that countries are going to start requiring and demanding in the not-too-distant future when it becomes just too apparent the problems climate change is causing.

    Additionally, why do people in government not recognise this opportunity also? As a rich, first-world country with a strong technological research and knowledge base, we stand to gain so much if we provide incentives to encourage research in this area. Yes, we are resource rich now, but a whole new industry is opening up and we are in a perfect position to take full advantage of it and become a world leader in it.

    How could we start? Well, an agency that invests in companies that are developing new tech in these areas could help. I don’t know, maybe call it the Australian Renewable Energy Agency….oh wait. We’re trying to get rid of that right now.

  2. mikestasse

    “We all know that solar is a viable source of energy.”

    Define viable…….

    Yes, solar runs everything in my house, and it actually does it 5 to 10 times over depending on the day/season. But will it run business as usual? NO WAY!

    Solar can never replace fossil fuels. They are simply too different. It’s like you cannot make an apple pie with oranges.

    Besides, ‘switching to solar’ will NOT stop climate change……. it will make it worse.

    To manufacture renewable anything requires the upfront emission of greenhouse gases that stay ‘up there’ for centuries. The problem is not the solar power we don’t use, it’s the fossil fuels we do use. And every time a new solar panel is made, more emissions are created that SOLAR PANELS WILL NEVER REMOVE IN A MILLION LIFETIMES!!!

    Susan Krumdieck on Transition Engineering

  3. LogicalPhilosophical

    @mikestasse this is not just about energy production (though I would make the point that of course solar isn’t going to replace fossil fuel based energy production by itself – but there’s a whole range of options available, including but not limited to: geothermal, tidal, hydro, wind, and (dare I day it) nuclear), it’s about cleaner technologies in general. Improvement of processes, manufacturing, etc. Anyplace where newer technologies can reduce the production of greenhouse gases. That covers a lot of sectors, not just electricity production.

  4. Nidd

    One little bit of information about coal to China, 90 % is used in blast furnaces for steel, to make gas for non ferrous products manufacture and the manufacture of plastics. So until you can find a alternative for Steel, Aluminum, copper and plastic huge amounts will still be used. Fusion power has huge amounts of money being poured into it buy Western countries, it will be non polluting and appears to be the magic bullet.

  5. Douglas Evans

    Warwick O’Neill
    1. You seem to imagine that appeal to logical thought might persuade this government of the error of their ways as long as the right argument is chosen i.e. economic common sense rather than climate armageddon. In this you totally misunderstand the nature of this government (and probably most of the opposition also). Appeal to any sort of logical thought is irrelevant to these dinosaurs whose logic does not stretch beyond assessment of who has power. If it’s not me/us what do we have to do or say to gain it? If it is me/us what do we have to do to maintain it? This means promoting the interests of the paymasters/kingmakers. To the extent that these are in conflict with the common good this can only be achieved so long as the truth can be twisted to plausibly justify defence of the status quo. So far, with the selfish interests of a disingenuous majority of news and information vehicles identical with those of our fossil fuel based economy and conservative politics, this is working a treat in Australia. Change in the selfish, entitled, lucky country will only occur when so many people have their livelihoods destroyed and/or are made sick or killed by the effects of climate change that fear of the status quo outweighs the fear of change. By then of course our collective goose will be well and truly cooked. It is not climate change but appeal to logic that is irrelevant.

  6. Kaye Lee

    The government does not want investment in renewables because they were installed to protect the fossil fuel industry. To underline just how blatantly and deliberately manipulative this government is, they are scrapping the tax deduction for exploration of geothermal energy sources. Previously, income tax law provided an immediate tax deduction for expenditure incurred when exploring or prospecting for minerals, petroleum or quarry minerals – Labor extended this to geothermal exploration. In the budget Hockey cut the deduction for geothermals but NOT for fossil fuels.

    This was what we had

    “An immediate tax deduction for exploration of geothermal energy sources from 1 July 2012 has been announced by the Federal Government.

    By extending the definition of exploration, exploration for geothermal energy now receives the same treatment as traditional hydrocarbon energy sources, according to the Department of Resources and Energy.

    This is consistent with the advice provided by the Policy Transition Group’s exploration report, which the Federal Government also announced its acceptance of.

    “The amendment to the tax law is a win for the geothermal industry in Australia that will help remove barriers to investment in geothermal energy and improve the economics of geothermal exploration,” Federal Minister for Resources, Energy and Tourism Martin Ferguson said.”

    This is what we have now

    $1.3 billion funding cuts to ARENA
    Removal of tax deduction for geothermal exploration while maintaining all subsidies to mining companies.
    Broken promise for 1 million solar roofs
    Huge funding cuts and job losses at the CSIRO

    “CSIRO, which has already suffered many budget cutbacks over the years, is reportedly set to make a series of cuts to its environmental programs, closing eight sites and reducing funding to key research areas including geothermal energy, liquid fuels, carbon capture and storage, and climate change.

    At the same time, funding for CSIRO’s research on coal seam gas is likely to increase. We might speculate that the changes are a deliberate strategy of investing in programs that are likely to impress the government and head off any more future cuts. But is that in Australia’s best interests in the long run?”

    “John Grimes, the chief executive of the Australian Solar Council has accused the federal government of breaking multiple promises made to the solar industry, stating they have broken their word on the Renewable Energy Target, their promise to maintain funding for ARENA, and their commitment to another million solar panel roof installations by 2020. He has also criticised the federal budget for its inevitable residual effects, meaning solar research, development and employment are all at risk.

    Many within the renewable energy industry are expressing their frustration that such significant cuts are being made to the sector, while the federal budget maintains funding for subsidies in mining and non-renewable energy industries.”

  7. mikestasse

    Actually Nidd, I recently discovered this most amazing statistic…. China, in the last three years, manufactured (and used obviously) 1.5 times as much cement as the US used in the entire 20th century…

    Cement manufacturing, I’m led to understand, accounts for something like half of all the greenhouse emissions.

    @LogicalPhilosophical, I have a Diploma in Renewable Energy Technology, am an energy efficiency specialist and an accredited home energy rater. I have a pretty good understanding of what goes into all aspects of our energy sectors.

    Geothermal, tidal, hydro, wind, and nuclear will NEVER cut it. To start with geothermal is really limited to places like NZ and Iceland where the resource is truly abundant. Our local attempts have been abysmal failures. Ditto with tidal… very few regions have sufficient rises and falls to generate appreciable power. With hydro, nearly all the best sites in the world have already been used up. besides, dams are environmental abominations, they have a limited life to boot, the Aswan Dam being a classic case, built in the 60’s and fast filling up with silt.

    In any case……. we are fast running out of the resources we need to make all this stuff, especially as we will soon hit peak mining (~2017) due to Peak Oil.

    Beginning of the End? Oil Companies Cut Back on Spending

    Yes, Climate Change is [almost] irrelevant….. because industrial civilisation is on the brink of total collapse. And not too early either as far as I’m concerned…..

  8. Douglas Evans

    You should read more widely on the GHG emissions implications of manufacturing solar PV cells. The trade off is not as bad as you seem to think. Try for example this:
    Your point is very well made. The GHG emissions-intensity of our entire way of life must be scrutinized. We used to hear talk of ‘low hanging fruit’ – reduced emissions from motor vehicles, reduced emissions from manufacturing processes as a result of increased energy efficiency etc. This seems to have been lost in the noisy and childish ‘debate’ around our ETS. If they have the wit/backbone – which I doubt – the Abbott rabble might easily turn the climate issue into a plus for them by quietly regulating to pluck some of these low hanging fruit. This would allow us to easily achieve our ludicrously inadequate 5% emissions reduction goal and allow Abbott to soothe the masses by crowing about the success of direct action.

  9. Kaye Lee


    Your fatalistic attitude is just as selfish as the Coalition’s active support for their financiers. Your certainty that our civilisation will collapse in a few years time has led you to become the prophet of doom. You are not doing this to offer hope. You make no constructive suggestions. You say “I have a self-sufficient community so I will be alright – bugger the rest of you”.

    Thankfully there are people far smarter than you or I that continue to do amazing research. You claim it is all pointless and that nothing can work. You have stocked your bunker and almost look forward to the apocalypse it seems. You have no faith in technology.

    I refuse to adopt that approach. I will do what I can to support research, to pass on information, to reduce my family’s emissions, and to campaign for emission reduction and renewable energy and anything we can do to slow the damage while our scientists and engineers do their stuff.

    Small steps forward towards attainable goals.

  10. mikestasse

    Kaye, the problem is that no one wants to acknowledge we do not need to ‘live like this’. I live in hope that the system collapses, and you live in hope that it does not.

    Fish live in water. yet they are totally unaware that water even exists. We are the same, surrounded by stupidly complex systems run by the Matrix which itself is run by the very people you abhor…. yet we are unaware that there are better ways to live that do NOT involve running the world on unsustainable technology.

    I am not a prophet of doom, I am a prophet of change…..

    You want to reduce emissions….. yet you support stuff that increases them.

    Renewable energy may reduce emissions….. but it does not remove them. Until we acknowledge that CONSUMPTION, and I mean consumption of ANYTHING, which includes renewables is done away with, nothing will stop the march of catastrophic climate change. The madness has to end. Or we are screwed.

  11. Kaye Lee

    You want collapse….I want change. I do not support increasing emissions at all…what a silly thing to say. But I am realistic enough to know that we cannot get to zero emissions tomorrow. The thing that always astonishes me about you is your certainty that research will not provide any answers. I don’t mean definitive answers…I mean alternatives. I find that arrogant. I have far more faith in scientists than you do.

    “SunPower is planning to use Australia to test a combination of rooftop photovoltaic (PV) panels and battery storage, giving houses off-the-grid electricity access during the daytime and during clear, sunny weather conditions with sufficient storage capacity to power applicances for extended periods of poor sunlight and during nighttime.

    The current status quo for home solar electricity generation in Australia is for houses to feed excess solar energy back into the grid, selling it to energy providers at around 8 cents per kilowatt hour. When they need to draw power from the grid — during the night and periods of cloudy weather, when solar cannot meet their baseline needs — consumers are being charged up to 30c/kWh. Battery storage would let solar PV users store excess energy on-site, and sufficient battery storage would mean consumers could disconnect from the grid entirely.”

  12. Douglas Evans

    “industrial civilisation is on the brink of total collapse. And not too early either as far as I’m concerned…..” We agree about this but what do you imagine is in waiting? I’m afraid I fear something like the scenario outlined by Cormac McCarthy in ‘The Road’ but without the element of hope for the future that made this book bearable. We are most likely on the brink of a violent chaotic transition to possible/probable extinction and if this comes to pass, your island of sustainability will not protect you. I cannot rejoice in this possibility. An interesting fact about the unlikely possibility (Impossibility?) of stabilizing temperature increase at around 2ºC is that if all the nations of the world were to converge in less than four decades on an equitable and sustainable GHG emission intensity the value is around that which India currently produces. Given the likely implications of this for material standard of living how easy do you imagine this message will be to ‘sell’ in the fair land of Oz?

  13. Terry2

    The G20 agenda will include ‘Energy Efficiency’ and whilst Abbott will evidently try to steer discussion away from climate change it would be a very strange discussion if renewable energy did not feature prominently.
    I would think that, as Hockey’s central theme seems to be a G20 commitment to 2% economic growth (wow that’s visionary Joe) it would be bizarre if the economic benefits of a strong move towards renewable energy targets was ignored.

    It is inescapable that a renewable energy future coupled with emissions trading would be a significant contributor to global economic growth.

  14. Douglas Evans

    “It is inescapable that a renewable energy future coupled with emissions trading would be a significant contributor to global economic growth.” Economics is not one of my strengths but, while I have some quibbles with other aspects of Paul Gilding’s book ‘The Great Disruption’ I can’t fault the analysis of our current plight with which he starts the book. Briefly, as I remember it, Gilding’s argument is that expanding population and increasing global material standards of living combined with declining resources and growing environmental chaos mean that we are already beyond the possible sustainable limits of economic growth. That being the case I have real difficulty with the notion of continued global economic growth on any basis let alone growth driven by renewable energy technologies. Perhaps you can explain to me where Gilding got it wrong or where I’m misunderstanding him – as I say economics is not my strength.

  15. mikestasse

    “SunPower is planning to use Australia to test a combination of rooftop photovoltaic (PV) panels and battery storage, giving houses off-the-grid electricity access during the daytime and during clear, sunny weather conditions with sufficient storage capacity to power appliances for extended periods of poor sunlight and during nighttime.

    SO……….? You know Kaye, you’re sucked into believing this is new…. back in the 90’s, that sort of stuff was the ONLY way you could have solar power. Grid tied solar didn’t even exist back then…. ironic isn’t it that now the power companies don’t like you hooking up anymore solar to their Matrix, people want to go offgrid…

    I’m planning to do exactly that myself in Tasmania when I move there as MY preparations to survive climate change… But just because I can do it (because I’m selfishly getting in before the collapse!) doesn’t mean EVERYBODY will be able to do it.

    Where will the resources come from? What fuel will you use to mine the ores to make all the panels and batteries and copper wires etc etc etc…? have you even bothered to watch that Geologist’s presentation on my blog that explains why we are running out of time and resources? Which backs up my argument for collapse? HAVE YOU? Because the only reason you would disagree with me is if you are misinformed……

    A pessimist is a well informed optimist.

    Conventional thinking is over

  16. @empathiser

    Pathetic little piece of fluff and no by line. The whole thing with independence is that writers/journos have no need to hide behind editorial position pieces. Is this the AIM Network’s position? Someone has to finally speak to how we transition away from coal (87% of QLD exports). The argument/intimation that coal is becoming unviable is absurd. They will want to get their hands on it as long as it’s in the ground. New unconventional methods like UCG, PCCC&S, and CO2-EOR are part of a shift to more enmeshed energy generation and resource extraction. I suggest the many headed beast who wrote this piece ask serious questions about the mooted ‘Steady State Economy’ on which our renewable dreams are founded.

  17. Kaye Lee

    For me, the debate centres around prioritisation and allocation of resources. I know money is just a construct but when individuals control wealth greater than whole countries, when 85 people have the same combined wealth as 3.5 billion people, there is something drastically wrong. That is why income inequity is becoming such an issue. It is reasonable for emerging nations to want to improve the lifestyle of their citizens. This can be achieved to a degree through redistribution. No doubt we will hit a wall sometime – overpopulation and resource depletion cannot continue indefinitely – all we can do is try to use our period of stewardship as best we can.

    We will all die one day – that should not stop us from trying.

  18. mikestasse

    @Douglas Evans…. WHAT do I imagine is in waiting?

    That depends on us……… the longer we wait for technology to save the day, the worse the collapse will be. If we abandon the Matrix, all those bastards running the mines and the media and the banks will bite the dust, and it will be “off with their heads”!

    We already have everything we need, not least knowledge….. we need a revolution before the 0.1% take over and imprison us with all their stupid crap.

  19. Kaye Lee


    “Independent” means we HAVE no editorial position. Our writers do not need a “byline” to offer an opinion any more than YOU do. This article was about investing in renewable energy which, I would suggest, is exactly “how we transition away from coal.” Your contribution would be more appreciated if you offered your thoughts without your derision. If you want to abuse people try facebook.

  20. Kaye Lee


    I have watched and read so many of your links that I no longer bother. They all say the same thing. You want to jump straight to Armageddon, I want to make the journey in the best way that I practically can.

    If you wish to share a link with practical suggestions then let me know. I am not interested in death doom and destruction. I have already heard the warning bells.

  21. Matters Not

    Someone has very poor comprehension skills and it’s not the writer of this piece. Good work Warwick O’Neill.

  22. @empathiser

    Mikestasse is right. We need to power down rather than try for a different version of business as usual. All energy generation creates externalities that we in the overprivileged west are happy to remain ignorant of. Energy generation and BigConsumption are the real dirty game. Why do you think some of the biggest players in renewables are now the big oil and gas companies (Bechtel & Chevron).

  23. Kaye Lee

    China is the world leader in clean energy investment, with $54 billion in investments in renewables in 2013, well above total U.S. investment of $36.7 billion. Though renewables market share is on the rise globally, overall worldwide renewables investment has been declining for two straight years. Investments totaled $254 billion last year, a decline of 11 percent from 2012 and 20 percent from 2011 when investments peaked at $318 billion.

    Whereas China installed 14 gigawatts of electricity generation capacity from wind farms and 12 gigawatts of solar power generating capacity last year, the U.S. installed less than 1 gigawatt of wind power after a tax incentive for the wind industry expired. The U.S. installed a record 4.3 gigawatts of solar generation capacity in 2013.

    Zwindler said the solar and wind power industries worldwide are in a transition period as subsidies for renewables are scaled back, especially in Germany and Italy, but he is confident renewables will be able to compete in the future with few subsidies.

    “It does not take place in all places at the same time,” he said. “If you’re in a sunny part of the world with high electricity prices, putting solar on your roof clearly can make more sense.”

    My question is why we subsidise fossil fuel production while winding back subsidies to renewable energy.

  24. Dan Rowden

    I don’t see that energy generation is the real issue with respect to “Armageddon” scenarios. It’s more the relationship between increasing resource demands and decreasing supply. It’s impossible to deny or escape the math of that. The question is how well we manage to adjust ourselves – psychologically, philosophically and technically – to what is inevitable and how much time we have to do it. I think Mike and Kaye Lee are both right, the former in that we should be making those adjustments now; the latter in that continuing research can help make the transition less painful. But that research can only be useful if conducted in the light of an appreciation of the inevitability of the crash. I think to some extent that’s what’s happening, or perhaps I’d just like to think so.

  25. mikestasse

    Kaye……. 2012 Chinese GDP = 5468.31 BILLION dollars
    Size of clean energy investment: 1%

    It’s a joke really…….. Australia sold about $55 billion dollars worth of coal in 08/09, and I’m sure it was more than that last year.

    Some of that coal comes back here as Chinese PVs…..

  26. Dan Rowden

    Note to self: always, always write thoughtful posts offline. 🙁

  27. mikestasse

    “Zwindler said the solar and wind power industries worldwide are in a transition period as subsidies for renewables are scaled back, especially in Germany and Italy, but he is confident renewables will be able to compete in the future with few subsidies.”

    The constraint is NOT money…… we can print as much of that resource as we like, but we can’t print the greenhouse emitting energy resources needed for the green wet dream of renewable energy……

    Beginning of the End? Oil Companies Cut Back on Spending

  28. Kaye Lee

    I realise this is pointless but… what is your suggestion Mike?

  29. Michael Taylor

    Sorry Dan. Spam got your earlier comment. 🙁

  30. @empathiser

    Wow Kaye, Your threshold for defining abuse is really low. I was wrong about there being no by line and I can only guess that while Warwick O’Neill’s piece has been called an editorial he has written here because of AIM’s commitment to giving small voices a go.

    Just so that you know. I will continue to come here with my opinions despite your framing of discourse and critique as mere derision.

    Geez I wish Mr O’Neill was not virtually invisible online!

    Also Kaye, When you say we when you make your defensive jibes, are you speaking with the AIM we voice?

  31. mikestasse

    I don’t believe that the transition to 90% energy consumption reduction is painful Dan…… because we have easily achieved that.

    My suggestion Kaye is to live more simply so we may simply live.

  32. mikestasse

    BTW, all this talk about investing in more research is, in my not so humble opinion, a bit of a joke. We already know how to live sustainably, I have proven that in my household.

    It may even be of interest to some people here that it is now my intention, when we go off grid in Tasmania, to use 100 year old battery technology. Because NOTHING better has yet been found!
    On Energy Storage

  33. RalphG


    “And every time a new solar panel is made, more emissions are created that SOLAR PANELS WILL NEVER REMOVE IN A MILLION LIFETIMES!!!”

    Well of course not. Solar panels were designed to create electricity, not to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. However, the power generated by solar panels could be used to power a device which does remove CO2 from the atmosphere. It may even be possible that such a system could remove more CO2 from the atmosphere than what was released during its manufacture.

    “Geothermal, tidal, hydro, wind, and nuclear will NEVER cut it.”

    True to an extent. Once the interior of the planet cools down, geothermal power will cease to be an option. The moon’s recession will eventually mean that the tides will stop.

    On the other hand, although the sun will eventually consume the planet, for the next few billion years it will continue to be an energy source. As long as we have an atmosphere, and a sun to heat it, we will have wind to drive turbines. We have oceans full of fuel to power nuclear fusion devices (assuming they become a reality).

    “Never” is a very long time. As Neils Bohr is alleged to have said: “Prediction is very difficult, especially about the future.”

    I wonder if sailors in the early part of the 20th century would have thought it possible to construct a device that would power a ship for more than 20 years without refueling? Don’t underestimate human ingenuity.

    “I live in hope that the system collapses, and you live in hope that it does not.”

    I presume that you realise the “collapse of the system” would inevitably result in the deaths of millions, if not billions, of people. Why would you hope for their deaths? Do you have children? If so, would you be happy if they too died as a result of the “collapse”? Do you cheer whenever you see images of starving people on television?

    “Fish live in water. yet they are totally unaware that water even exists.”

    How in the zarking fardwarks do you know that “fish” aren’t, in some way, aware of their environment? Granted, “fish” would be unaware that we call the medium through which they move “water” but I don’t think that’s what you had in mind.

    “I am not a prophet of doom, I am a prophet of change…..”

    And yet you stated that you “live in hope that the system collapses”. It sounds to me like you gleefully await the collapse of civilization just so that you can be proven right.

    “Until we acknowledge that CONSUMPTION, and I mean consumption of ANYTHING, which includes renewables is done away with, nothing will stop the march of catastrophic climate change.”

    So, once you escape to Tasmania, how do you propose to survive without consuming anything? It gets rather cold down there in winter. You wouldn’t be tempted to build a fire to keep you warm?

  34. Michael Taylor

    Empathiser, please locate a dictionary and look up what the word ‘independent’ means.

  35. @empathiser

    We just haven’t learned anything from the fracking boom. It was leveraged on the promise of reduced emissions but instead gave energy producers stewardship over our water. The water rush came and went and we barely noticed. The crunch will come as we discover the depravity that is enhanced oil recovery (and other unconventional methods) which is attaching itself to new concentrating solar technology. Look at NRG’s new post combustion carbon capture and storage project which integrates enhanced oil recovery announced 2 days ago. Look at Ivanpah and the role played by Chevron’s thermal CSP at Coalinga developed by Brightsource and deployed at Ivanpah by Bechtel using gas for baseload.

    Kaye, The pundits and commentators have their heads so far up their arses they are missing the big moves. All this “coal is becoming unviable” messaging is dodging the point. I suspect this is because these pundits and commentators have been remit constrained since forever by Foundation funding. Exxon made great profits from fracking and will continue to profit from EOR (ask which family still own a big chunk of Exxon).

  36. Kaye Lee


    I agree my comment was overly harsh and you had not been abusive. I am just sick of explaining “independent” so overly testy. I apologise and welcome you.

    As for the royal “we”…I also write articles here and I mean that those of us who do are under no editorial influence. We are free to write our opinions which often differ and lead to interesting discussions where I learn a great deal from the commenters who are better informed than most.

    I speak for no-one else, just to reassure you that we are indeed independent.

    And for the record, our regular readers know my byline…..middle-aged woman in jammies typing on comp.

  37. Kaye Lee

    Well said Ralph.

    empathiser, I do not fully understand what you just said but I will read again and look stuff up. And welcome to the fray 🙂

  38. @empathiser

    So you guys really believe that independent claim? These so called independent media entities are funded by internet entrepreneurs, unaccountable foundations, and billionaire hedge fund managers. True independence comes from being free of constraining remits and pressures to self censor. Our consent is being continually manufactured.

    For those of you who maintain the delusion that Labor would have delivered something better I have two words Martin Ferguson.

  39. Michael Taylor

    So you guys really believe that independent claim?

    Yes, we do. And nobody funds us (although it would be nice if somebody opened up their wallet).

  40. Michael Taylor

    I am just sick of explaining “independent”

    Tell me about it, Kaye.

  41. Kaye Lee

    I understand about fracking and water and the dangers of EOR. This is what I found so far. Interesting. I will keep looking about links to solar.

    “Today, the Department of Energy – in partnership with NRG Energy Inc. and JX Nippon – announced that construction has begun on the first commercial-scale post-combustion carbon capture retrofit project in the U.S., the largest such project in the world. The Petra Nova Project will use this cutting edge technology to help decrease the power plant’s greenhouse gas emissions.

    Once completed, the energy technology project will capture about 1.4 million metric tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) annually from an existing coal-fired power plant in Texas. The captured CO2 will then be used to extract additional, hard-to-access oil from a previously depleted field 80 miles away, safely storing the carbon underground in the process.

    “As part of the President’s all-of-the-above approach to American energy, the Department is advancing the technologies that will help ensure we can continue to develop all of our abundant energy resources responsibly and sustainably,” said Secretary Ernest Moniz. “With coal expected to remain a significant part of the energy portfolio in the U.S. and internationally, first-of-a-kind projects like Petra Nova will move us toward a low-carbon energy future.”

  42. @empathiser

    My apologies. I assumed you guys were that collective former by Graeme Wood, IA, New Mathilda etc. What are they called? I remember seeing a logo cluster and having a laugh at the independent claim a while back.

  43. @empathiser

    My take on it Kaye is that Obama’s ‘tough’ stance will allow polluters to sell carbon to themselves and develop massive cost saving efficiencies. In the end inaction always buys time for big energy to get it’s ducks in a row.

  44. Kaye Lee

    Ok…this is what I have so far on the solar thing

    Solar thermal enhanced oil recovery (abbreviated solar EOR) is a form of thermal enhanced oil recovery (EOR), a technique applied by oil producers to extract more oil from maturing oil fields. Solar EOR uses solar arrays to concentrate the sun’s energy to heat water and generate steam. The steam is injected into an oil reservoir to reduce the viscosity, or thin, heavy crude thus facilitating its flow to the surface. Thermal recovery processes, also known as steam injection, have traditionally burned natural gas to produce steam. Solar EOR is proving to be a viable alternative to gas-fired steam production for the oil industry. Solar EOR can generate the same quality steam as natural gas, reaching temperatures up to 750˚F (400˚C) and 2,500 PSI.

    The Future of CSP Is Bright
    June 6, 2013

    Our proprietary technology concentrates the sun’s energy to produce high-value steam to power electricity, petroleum and industrial process markets. To successfully bring this new technology to market, BrightSource self-developed projects in the U.S. Today, BrightSource has established itself as a leading provider of solar field technology. Our 29 megawatts thermal Chevron/BrightSource Solar-to-Steam Demonstration Facility in Coalinga, Calif. has been in operation for nearly a year and continues to exceed its performance targets. The 377 MW (net) Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System, built in partnership with NRG and Google in California’s Mojave Desert, is nearing completion and on track to be fully operational by the end of the year. When complete, Ivanpah will be the largest solar thermal facility in the world.

    These projects will likely include solar electric (both with and without storage) and enhanced oil recovery projects, as well as other industrial applications seeking high quality and renewably generated steam.

  45. Matters Not

    For those interested in energy storage, here’s a recent article.

    if renewable energy is ultimately to dominate the market, we will need ways to store the energy so we can use it round the clock. The good news is that it is easy to store energy. All you need is two small reservoirs – one high, one low – and a way to pump water between them.

    This technique, called “off-river pumped hydro energy storage”, can potentially provide the energy storage that Australia needs to embrace renewables fully. It’s cheap, too.

    Initial source of energy is solar.

    Of the available electricity storage options, such as batteries and flywheels, pumped hydro is by far the cheapest. It has no standby losses while the water waits in the reservoir, and can reach full power in 30 seconds

  46. Matters Not

    that collective former (sic) by Graeme Wood

    My understanding was that Wood provided funds to produce The Global Mail, which ceased publication some six months ago. Perhaps you could advise further about that ‘collective’? Any evidence? Or is that too much to ask?

  47. Michael Taylor

    We belong to no group or affiliation. There is no secret-squirrel business. We are not associated with any other site. We do, however, share a good relationship with many sites, IA included.

  48. Dan Rowden


    AIMN has a greater basis for the claim of independence than any other multi-authored political site out there, so far as I can tell. No authors are paid and the generic advertising generates, shall we say, extremely modest funds. There is a broadly identifiable political theme but no editorial constraints. I don’t see how it gets any more “independent” than AIMN (in the context of multi-author sites).

  49. Matters Not

    @empathiser, thanks for that link, but Wood’s loan to the Guardian doesn’t shine any light on your claim

    assumed you guys were that collective former by Graeme Wood, IA, New Mathilda etc. What are they called? I remember seeing a logo cluster and having a laugh at the independent claim a while back.

    Still seeking info on Wood’s ‘collective’ – IA, New Mathilda (sic) etc. I am also interested in this ‘logo cluster’. Any links? Wasn’t aware that Independent Australia (IA) and New Matilda were linked to Wood or that they had any links to each other, apart from some common readership and some authors.

  50. @empathiser

    That helps. I was way off. I guess it’s because I’m absolutely convinced that inaction has been manufactured by left and right. And that this left right dichotomy is poisonous and only perpetuates our obscene privilege as westerners. The Greens don’t talk about strategic plans because there are inherent contradictions between their promises and the type of economy/society they say they want to deliver.

    Again, my apologies. I wish I could recall the name of that astonishing logo cluster!

  51. Mercurial

    Excellent article from an analytic viewpoint Warwick, but how to convince a man who owes so much to the man who put him there? Even the desire for a visionary legacy wouldn’t stack up against fear of Murdoch’s revenge.

  52. Michael Taylor

    Hell hath no fury like Murdoch’s scorn.

  53. empathiser

    Here’s how renewables are being deployed by extractive and energy generation industries under Obama’s tough on coal stance. This new project allows companies to sell CO2 to each as part of a joint venture involving solar thermal enhanced oil recovery. This is why Chevron and Bechtel worked with people like Robert F Kennedy Jnr to hybridise (gas) solar thermal at Ivanpah and enhance oil recovery at Coalinga. Fossil fools are enmeshing their extractive and energy generation functions.

  54. jimhaz

    Well, if other pessimists are going to come out swinging, I might as well join them. This is the rest of a post, with some new stuff added in, that I had hesitated in making – due to the truth in what Kaye mentioned in response to Mike above. Defeatism is defeating.

    I must admit to not getting too worked up about the destruction to renewable energy development that the LNP and other vested interests are causing. Strongly disappointed, but not despairing. I think it is because I’m an outright pessimist by nature – I don’t really have that much faith in the human race.

    It is my view that in the competitive development stage of significant products, a lot of waste is caused – there are only a few long term winners and many losers. The reason many developing countries, including China have been able to develop so fast is that they can just put in the current technology, with little evolutionary waste of their own. They can also avoid the cost of royalties.

    We can do the same with renewable energy technology. It will be better than cost neutral by then.

    I’m not suggesting this is ideal, on an issue as big as this it is better for the means to be grown from within, building for sustainability needs to be a cultural shift learnt from actual involvement.

    Abbott’s destruction of the RE industry could end up being the means by which existing money gets control cheaply of the industry. As far as I am concerned, this could be one of the motives – historically banks have engineered recessions so they can buy cheap. Banks missed the last due recession, as they got lost reveling in the profits from derivatives, and Greenspan and successive administrations opened up money creation gates to make debt worse – without growth the country will fall apart, most debt ridden countries are like this. It is not just developing countries where natural resource consumption growth will come from. Unfortunately the next US gov will probably be an Abbott like one.

    All our coal, gas etc will be sold at some point. While it would be far better to be sold later when there is a much higher likelihood technology can decrease its pollutant affect, we don’t have any control over that. Outside of mega-change catalysts where the result would be anarchy, it will be sold and used when buyers and sellers want it to be sold. China for instance would not tolerate a substantial decline in supply, if they were not ready for it. Amongst the Australian population, let alone everywhere else, too high a percent believe growth is too much of a godsend.

    The human race is a juvenile entity. It is really quite dumb. Fancy billions following books written many centuries ago, as if the abstractness caused by their very age gave them the power of truth, and that what is valued in those books did not need to be put into rational contextual relevance, with the changes in society and knowledge. Fancy well established democracies allowing its citizens to be dominated by a few due to wealth and corrupt institutional control and manipulation. Fancy every free country in the world being able to embargo the US, until they capitulate on their excessive spying, because it would create a world economic crash. Fancy no one really talking about population control. Fancy Abbott being elected by offering the voters blindingly obvious platitudinal trogan horses.

    Putting on an ill-fitting optimists hat, the amount of effort and capital that could be applied to resolving pollution once the need became recognised by the moneyed people, as great enough, is quite extraordinary. Maybe about 20% of jobs are dispensable, and if even a quarter of that current effort is redirected, future pollution problems will be solvable. It will just a question of how much has been able to be preserved, how much natural variety beauty remains or can be resurrected.

    Humans want technology (brain developed power over the universe, thus a form of evolution) and Technology = Greater Consumption. Using less energy and expecting people not to consume technology is simply not an option.

    I am not bothered about energy because the cost of renewable generated energy is just not that much more. I’m actually more worried about resource depletion and the absolute power of capitalism, and as mentioned human stupidity (wasting immense resources killing each other). With pollution/environment destruction generally, I find sea acidity rather concerning due to the life chain consequences. As with population and resources usage growth we will abuse so much more.

    I have no idea how to even improve any of these significant problems.

    The only possible way as I see it is to concentrate on local means. To quote Kaye “Small steps forward towards attainable goals”.

    What I notice is that when almost everyone in a population has enough to not be stressed by an inability to pay bills, birth rates decrease and society gets a chance to become more sophisticated. As the pressures of resource depletion and warming become more pronounced, I would hope our distributed wealth could let us be very much more selective and smart about what we buy. A decline in turnover of consumables by a tight sustainability approach – ie clothing/shoes that last, no low quality imports of anything, more made at home, maximum re-use, more sustainable agriculture.

    That is my hope anyway. I am uncertain about the effect of greater distribution on the average Joes brain. It can lead to more being caught under the spell of the money drug – to more people becoming far right conservatives due to an increased levels of fear of losing what they have and a love of the money accumulation game – and to higher unemployment and boredom created drug dependency of the more incompetent, troubled or aimless.

    Australia is a rich country resource-wise, mainly because we have a small population. Imagine if 50 years ago our population was Indonesia’s. How much natural coastal beauty would remain?

    So I complain most consistently about immigration as this drives growth and raises the population here (and also eventually where they came from), and neo-con types as they prevent distribution and the community being able to think rationally.

  55. mikestasse

    So, once you escape to Tasmania, how do you propose to survive without consuming anything? It gets rather cold down there in winter. You wouldn’t be tempted to build a fire to keep you warm?

    RalphG…… there’s consumption, and then there’s consumption. Yes I will have a fire. I intend to buy a refurbished/recycled AGA stove, and burn my own firewood in it. BTW…. when you know how to do it, you can grow food all year ’round in Tasmania. It’s not Sweden you know…

  56. mikestasse

    Samuel Alexander of the Simplicity Institute has just published a new paper called ‘Disruptive Social Innovation for a Low Carbon World,’ which critically reviews the social movements or social innovations most likely to change the world’s current trajectory acutely in the direction of a low carbon world. This paper was written with the support of the Melbourne Sustainable Society Institute, the Victorian Eco-Innovation Lab, and the CRC for Low Carbon Living.

    The full paper is freely available here:

    Sam’s last book, Entropia: Life Beyond Industrial Civilisation, has also been reviewed in Arena, by Dr Peter Burdon. The review can be read here:

    New Book Review of Samuel Alexander’s ‘Entropia’

  57. Dan Rowden

    Yeah, a guy who morally gives a stuff about humanity wants money to tell us how to survive. Give me a break, Mike.

  58. RalphG

    mikestasse, can I remind you of what you wrote earlier?

    “Until we acknowledge that CONSUMPTION, and I mean consumption of ANYTHING, which includes renewables is done away with, nothing will stop the march of catastrophic climate change.”

    You now state that you will burn your own firewood to keep warm in Tasmania. I am going to assume that the firewood you intend to burn originated as a tree – please correct me if that’s not the case but I don’t know of any other source of wood (other woody plants excepted).

    I’m finding it difficult to reconcile your earlier statement with your intention to consume a renewable energy source, particularly one which will emit carbon dioxide when it burns.

    I did some brief research on AGA stoves but I couldn’t find one that incorporated a carbon capture device. Do you plan to retrofit one?

  59. LogicalPhilosophical

    @miketasse :
    “RalphG…… there’s consumption, and then there’s consumption. Yes I will have a fire. I intend to buy a refurbished/recycled AGA stove, and burn my own firewood in it. BTW…. when you know how to do it, you can grow food all year ’round in Tasmania. It’s not Sweden you know…”

    Are you serious? Your realise this ideal you have of how you’d like to live your life is absolutely unsustainable if applied to the population at large? Y’know, the population of 7 billion people on this planet? Burning wood creates so much smog if everyone is doing, just look at SE Asia or London a couple of centuries ago. Also, the footprint for someone trying to live off the land is huge if you’re doing it old-school style. We need modern agricultural intensive farming technologies to feed the population now and even more so into the future. The more we research and invest in these technologies, the more efficient and cleaner they will become…so I’m back to the original point I made.

  60. corvus boreus

    Voluntary Extinction Movement.

  61. mikestasse

    RalphG, firewood is the ultimate renewable energy source. It grows on trees. You cut a tree down, and plant a new one. Or two or three or a thousand…..

    LogicalPhilosophical I know people who grow food all year ’round in Tassie. I’ve met them, I’ve seen their gardens, and if you think living off the land is huge if you’re doing it old-school style……. you’re right; we don’t do it the old school style, we use modern permaculture principles. We need modern agricultural intensive farming technologies like another hole in the head. It is THE reason we are in such deep shit….. and besides it’s impossible without oil.

    You are of course correct that 7 billion people cannot live sustainably. Nor can 7 billion people continue living unsustainably! That’s because 7 billion is at least 700% too many people. The ONLY reason we now have 7 billion people is because FOSSIL FUELS allowed us to grow beyond the carrying capacity of the planet. And when the FFs disappear, as they will (in true practical terms) within ten or so years, it will be all over Rover…… Every single person alive on the planet today will die…… stop fretting!

    We were warned about the collapse of civilisation 42 years ago by the Club of Rome when their Limits to Growth Report was published. All the rich people who wanted to become even more filthy rich poo pooed the whole concept, and as a result absolutely NOTHING was done to avert the catastrophe. Several recent studies have now shown that the CoR’s “standard run” is bang on target to happen, and world population is due to start collapsing some time 2025~2030.

    Not only that, but one of the originators of the LtG Report is now saying it’s far too late to do anything… THAT particular page of my blog has been read at least ten times as much as the next most popular page attracting readers internationally…. it’s even been translated into French!

    The problem as I see it is that people have no grasp of the situation. We are fast running out of affordable oil. Climate Change is way worse than the IPCC let on. For instance, it was predicted the Arctic would be ice free in Summer by 2100. This is now going to happen before 2020, and the positive feedback loops this unleashes has some people even saying humans will be extinct by 2050. I’m not buying into that, not yet at least….

    corvus boreus has it right in my opinion…… Voluntary Extinction Movement. It’s all around you.

    Will I succeed? Unlikely. I’m just postponing the inevitable, just like you are!

  62. corvus boreus

    I don’t have it right, I just typed three words that popped into my head.

  63. mikestasse

    Hmmm now you have me wondering if that’s what everybody else here is doing……. 🙂

  64. mikestasse

    “Of all the liars in the world, sometimes the worst are our own fears.”
    ― Rudyard Kipling

  65. Kaye Lee

    “And when the FFs disappear, as they will (in true practical terms) within ten or so years, it will be all over Rover…… Every single person alive on the planet today will die…… stop fretting!”

    You have progressed into the realms of nutcase Mike. There used to be guys standing on the corner with sandwich boards saying the same thing a long time ago. We have reached and passed I don’t know how many predicted dates for our extinction.

    Yes we will all die one day and excuse me if I chose to live an optimistic proactive life in the mean time. I will continue to do what I can to help others and to improve myself. I find your predictions of doom pointless and have no idea what you are trying to achieve.

  66. mikestasse

    Hey Dan Rowden…. maybe the a guy who morally gives a stuff about humanity wants money to tell us how to survive so he can buy a block of land in Tasmania…. 🙂 Or more likely it’s his publisher who needs the money. Get off your high horse mate….. at least I give all my advice freely, which I agree is the way it should be done……

  67. corvus boreus

    “Fear is the vulture that sits on your shoulder”
    Richard Roxbourgh in a silly action movie.
    Balanced with,
    “Arch-rival for Rudyard’s title of worst liar is the inner voice that offers a tissue dipped in snake oil as a veil against real dangers that loom”
    Random collision of words in Corvus’ head.
    I don’t think you are unwise in what you have mentioned of your precautions/plans, mike. The more I learn the about how It works, the deeper my rational concerns become. I am more thinked in life than energy equations(can’t even mentally recite the photosynthesis equation(s), have to look it up), but what I know of biosystems juxtaposed with what I see happening around me, gnaws at my guts(or that could be trematodes).
    I also believe the simpler composites of life on our planet can survive shit we can’t, and small and simple gets big and complex over time. Until the sun explodes, and there’s no current shortage of stars. Matter seems to want to exist, and life seems to want to be.
    And I know, like all who think, and think they know,that I could be wrong in my pessimistic assessments and feelings, especially given my seeming individual predisposition to periodic despondencies.
    I have my own ark option for the predicted interregnum of upheaval, but, I keep it as plan B so I can maintain something like functionality in being positive, both as an active agent in a consequential existence and so can enjoy experience of being alive. I know this, to will pass.
    There are benefits in being a social animal when the animals around you are clever and compassionate, it makes life more than an existence struggle. Get it while it’s there, and help the best of it keep going.
    Meantime, you’ve got an idyllic country retreat in the beautiful southern isle.
    Bless this day, mike.

  68. mikestasse

    I also choose to live an optimistic proactive life in the meantime Kaye……. I freely give advice to people willing to help themselves to survive the collapse. Does that really make me a nutcase?

    I too will continue to do what I can to help others and to improve myself. I am now thinking of starting a Permaculture school in Tassie to teach young people how to transition to a post crash world, and survive the best they can.

    “I find your predictions of doom pointless and have no idea what you are trying to achieve.” I thought it was obvious. I know stuff you don;’t know, and I pass that knowledge on. I’m trying to get as many smart people as possible (stuff the bogans…) to survive the collapse so that when it’s over we don’t make the same mistakes again. Well we won’t be able to make the exact same mistakes again, because we won’t have the fossil fools to do it with, but hopefully you’ll get my drift.

    “We have reached and passed I don’t know how many predicted dates for our extinction.” If you read carefully what I wrote, I said I did not buy into the extinction thing……. and anyone who put a date on “the event” was foolish, because as we all know the powers that be have been pedalling furiously in the background to postpone the crash. But it will be impossible to stop it happening. Entropy rules, OK?

    The Club of Rome were many many times misquoted as saying “collapse will happen in _____ (insert your favourite date). This is NOT what they projected at all….. what the CoR said was that within a 100 year period [from 1972 when the Report came out] civilisation would collapse if it kept growing. They gave some 13 different scenarios using different inputs to do with technology, birth control, etc etc…. but they ALL conclude with collapse, because infinite growth on a finite planet is IMPOSSIBLE!!! Here we are, 42% of the way into their declared century, and we are bang on target emulating their standard run – which was the scenario where we did nothing – almost to the letter. The graphical analysis is uncanny……. you should get yourself a copy, one can often find them in second hand bookshops.

    If you prefer to ignore me and call me a nutcase, I really don’t care…… be a victim of the collapse if you so choose. At least it seems several people from here are now following my blog and informing themselves properly and maybe they will change their consumption behaviour like we did.

    Good luck Kaye…..

  69. mikestasse

    Meantime, you’ve got an idyllic country retreat in the beautiful southern isle.

    Well no, not yet…….. But if anyone wants to buy “an idyllic country retreat in Sunny Queensland”……..
    Mon Abri – For Sale!

    I know, cheeky of me to advertise my place here……..

  70. corvus boreus

    Capitalist pig.(!!!)

  71. Kaye Lee


    I wish you well and I do find your way of life interesting and probably essential some time in the future but I am too practical to think we can all become subsistence farmers and I am too optimistic to live my life in fear.

    As a very wise man with a silver tongue recently said,

    Life is more than an existence struggle.

  72. corvus boreus

    We can, however, Kaye Lee, optimise our own food localisation, down to the herb garden. It all helps. Individually and beyond.

  73. RalphG

    mikestasse, first you say this: “Until we acknowledge that CONSUMPTION, and I mean consumption of ANYTHING, which includes renewables is done away with, nothing will stop the march of catastrophic climate change.”

    And then you say this: “firewood is the ultimate renewable energy source. It grows on trees. You cut a tree down, and plant a new one. Or two or three or a thousand…..”

    Doesn’t that strike you as being somewhat hippocritcal?

  74. corvus boreus

    Oh, yes, on that one, mike, use groundfall (preferably) dead timber for burning or senecient sections of trees(check the hollows, you don’t want to chainsaw a possum), and save the vigorous veg for structural resource and planetary life-support(I know, hole either end and suck the egg dry).

  75. mikestasse

    Life is more than an existence struggle.

    ME….. struggle? You’ve got me all wrong Kaye, I’m lazy as……

  76. mikestasse

    Doesn’t that strike you as being somewhat hippocritcal?

    Ralph……. you have totally lost me.

  77. RalphG

    mikestasse: “The ONLY reason we now have 7 billion people is because FOSSIL FUELS allowed us to grow beyond the carrying capacity of the planet.”

    What utter rubbish.

    Here’s a line spoken by the Jeff Goldblum character in the Jurassic Park movie:

    “Yeah, but your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn’t stop to think if they should”

    Fossils fuels are just an enabler, they are not the reason why we have 7 billion people on the planet.

    I’m incliined to agree with Kaye in that “you have progressed into the realms of nutcase”. Not because of your statements about the demise of the human race but because of your salivating desire for it to happen.

  78. corvus boreus

    I have a nutcase in me. I sometimes let him out for a run around.
    There are too many people on this planet and we are using up too much.
    The planet is groaning at our burden.
    Our numbers are ever increasing, and in a broad pattern, each wants more and more.
    These problems are not being addressed.
    P.s. That was not my nutcase.

  79. Douglas Evans

    left a comment on your blog. it seems I’ve been misunderstanding your position.
    kaye lee
    unfortunately according to smarter people than you or I the ‘future’ is closer than you think or I hope. the trouble with facing crisis is that while fear freezes us in the headlights of the onrushing disaster unfounded optimism based on partial knowledge or selective ignorance may well turn us into road kill as we are run down from behind. which way to look? which way to jump? we end up as road kill either way.

  80. Kaye Lee

    One thing that REALLY pisses me off is when people tell me I am ignorant of the danger we are facing. You seem to think that only YOU understand. You seem to think that I spend my time reading magazines planning holidays. STOP IT. It’s annoying and presumptuous.

    You can stand there frozen in the headlights if you want….I never will. I will continue to achieve what I can to minimise our impact on the planet. I am not sitting here waiting for the coming of some technological messiah on a white horse to solve the world’s problems any more than I am sitting here sucking my thumb rocking in fear.

  81. mikestasse

    With all due respect Kaye, it is YOU who is frozen in the headlights……. I’m running away!!

    On the subject of “understanding”, I have learned over the years that there are many levels of understanding……. Surely I don’t have to tell you of all people that….

    When I retrained in Renewable Energy Technology in the 90’s, I did so ‘understanding’ that what I was going to learn was going to assist me in ‘saving the world’. What I learned was the complete opposite! So now I have a different level of understanding to that which I had before.

    Ralph, 90% of the calories in the food you buy in the supermarket come from fossil fuels. Obviously, without fossil fuels, we would have 90% fewer calories to consume, and to me at least, it is obvious far fewer people would be on this planet were it not for FFs….

  82. RalphG

    CB, I am very much aware of the unsustainability of having 7 billion people on the planet. It is the “elephant in the room” issue and it seems that nobody wants to address it. Several years ago I read an essay by Reg Morrison entitled “Life’s Maker…And Breaker” in which he described us as a plague – I found myself unable to disagree. He also stated that there had never been a successful plague in the history of the planet.

    I would not consider anyone who appreciates the precarious position the human race is in, a nutcase. However, to me, a statement such as “I live in hope that the system collapses” borders on the psychopathic. (

  83. corvus boreus

    I think we all sometimes post past the dictates of our own usual rationality when online, it seems to be the curse of the web.
    Or the curse of the human mind magnified through silicone.
    P.s. Congrats, mike, acknowledgement makes a warm and fuzzy.

  84. mikestasse

    Thing is Ralph….. we could have a collapsed banking system, bugger all energy, and STILL be OK! Do you REALLY want to drive to work every day? To pay for a mortgage, the money for which was created out of thin air? Is watching TV or posting here with your computer that essential…?

    “All this”…… is merely a fossil fuel aberration…..

  85. Kaye Lee

    “a UNSW paper has been published on the viability of 100% renewable energy in which info from my blog is quoted…… not bad for a nutcase hey!”

    Were they quoting where you call it the ” green wet dream of renewable energy” or where you said “‘switching to solar’ will NOT stop climate change……. it will make it worse.” Perhaps they liked the bit where you said “BTW, all this talk about investing in more research is, in my not so humble opinion, a bit of a joke”.

    “With all due respect Kaye, it is YOU who is frozen in the headlights”. With diminishing respect mike….f*ck off.

    Yours is the worst type of proselityising. We must all cast off one shoe and follow the gourd. No other contribution will be recognised. Nothing is important other than worshipping at the shrine of mike. Well mike, you may be doing some good things in your arena. Your arrogance that everything that everyone else does is worthless makes you worse than a southern bible belt preacher.

  86. RalphG

    CB, I think that “usual rationality” is a very poor standard. As far as I can tell humans are, by their very nature, irrational beings. It’s nobody’s fault (not even the Romans :-)), it’s just the way we have evolved but it does lead us into making some very poor decisions.

    I can’t help but wonder how different things would have turned out if religion had not taken such a hold over the human race.

  87. corvus boreus

    If we (hoomuns) had historically predominantly based the decisions underpinning our actions on a studied (open minded but rigourously sceptical) examination of potential consequentiality, rather than a dogmatic interpretation of an assumption of knowledge of a divine predetermination?
    Alternative potential outcomes; the mind boggles.
    Ps, I think there is rationality within most of us. ‘Usual’ may have been a word too far.

  88. RalphG

    Mike, I’ll give this one more try.

    Why do you hope for the collapse of civilization?
    Do you not understand what “collapse” means?
    Do you not appreciate the ramifications of a collapse?

    It’s not about not having to pay a mortgage, or not having to drive to work, or not watching television, or not posting on the internet. These things are completely irrelevant.

    Let me try this one on you: I live in hope that civilization collapses and that you and your children (if you have any) die as a result. Does that seem a reasonable position to take?

    I suspect that I will have “lost you” again.

  89. Kaye Lee

    Environment will eventually limit population growth as it has always done in the plant and animal kingdom. Finite resources are a reality. Greed is hastening our demise. All that is an undeniable reality.

    But we still have our finite lives to lead and each of us must choose a path.

    I see people like my husband who works very long hours helping other people in a myriad of ways. He is not particularly interested in money, has little interest in politics, but loves learning things. He is tolerant, compassionate and kind but has little time for we activists. He just gets on with offering practical assistance to everyone he can.

    For myself, I have found that everyone has something to offer and it is the combination of different ideas, skills, interests, passions…the diversity…that makes life so wonderful. If people feel safe and happy it is much easier for them to flourish, to realise and extend their potential.

    When my father was dying I was able to keep him at home and we had a very special few months together. This was a gift that many people are denied. My point is that, even if we are on an inevitable path to destruction, we must do what we can to delay the inevitable and have the best quality of life we can while using the time we have left profitably.

    We may find that we are not alone in the universe….we may discover ways to terraform….the science fiction of today may be the reality of tomorrow. All I can do is use my time of stewardship in the best way I can within my sphere of influence and I prefer to try to help people than to try and scare them.

  90. corvus boreus

    Kaye Lee,
    Regarding the sci-fi ponderings of your post, I hope we mutant monkeys get our poo in a pile before we go spreading into space. We are currently probably a bit rude to meet the neighbours.

  91. mikestasse

    Obviously, your idea of collapse is different to mine……. because current civilisation utterly relies on banking, fossil fuels, and hi tech toys. Like cars. This civilisation is utterly unsustainable ans will disappear, whether I look forward to it or not…..

    I do have children, 28 year old twins. It is for THEIR benefit that I hope civilisation collapses….. and you may be amazed to learn that they agree with me!

    Whether we die as a result is doubtful….. squillions of people lived relatively well before western civilisation was invented. Whenever they have not lived well was almost always because they were badly treated by those in power.

  92. Douglas Evans

    kaye lee
    “I do find your way of life interesting and probably essential some time in the future but I am too practical to think we can all become subsistence farmers and I am too optimistic to live my life in fear”
    just trying to make the points that:
    a. very clever people like the former Club of Rome guru Dennis Meadows think that ‘sometime in the future’ might start next year.
    b. there is no good way to deliver the bad news. tell it as it is and you are an alarmist prophet of doom who risks paralyzing folk with fear. tell it like it isn’t and we’ll simply be run down from behind totally unprepared.
    I applaud your diligence and generally agree with the points you make but I do find your determination to interpret any attempt to engage you in discussion as a personal attack rather tiresome. that is one thing that REALLY pisses me off. You are the same Kaye Lee that once shrieked at me online that my PEOPLE SKILLS ARE REALLY F*CKED aren’t you?

  93. RalphG

    CB, if we had taken that path we may have ended up with pointy ears 😉

  94. Kaye Lee

    Stop telling me I am ignorant, ill-informed, unaware, stuck in headlights, and all those other comments that you and mike make continually. You seem to think I do not understand and you want to keep delivering the “bad news”. You completely disregard everything I say…you won’t even let me agree with you.

    I was a teacher for many years. If you want to get your message across and get people on board then I think fear is a really crap way of doing it. That’s what religion uses and it’s what Tony Abbott uses.

    Offer suggestions by all means…continually, constantly, repeating the same message of “there is no hope” is pointless.

    I don’t feel personally attacked, I feel dismissed. (and I do not remember conversations from months ago. If you felt attacked I apologise but I would suggest you let it go)

  95. corvus boreus

    Infinite diversity in infinite combination, RalphG.
    Live long and prosper. 🙂

  96. Kaye Lee


  97. RalphG

    Collapse: To break down suddenly in strength or health and thereby cease to function.

    If you mean something different then maybe you should choose your words more carefully.

  98. corvus boreus

    \I/ (crow’s foot attempt) 😉

  99. corvus boreus

    The pedant raises a finger.
    Collapse;To undergo a structural failure.
    In saying this, I do acknowledge that I am, at times, a turd dropped from a smart-arse.

  100. mikestasse

    Ralph, civilisation is not a bridge……..

    Kaye, how come it’s alright for YOU to tell me I’m frozen in the headlights, but it isn’t OK for me to say you are? And when have I said you are ignorant? I said I knew stuff you didn’t…. that doesn’t make you ignorant anymore than you knowing stuff I don’t know makes me ignorant.

    And what the hell have you got to fear from my lifestyle?

  101. RalphG

    “I prefer to try to help people than to try and scare them.”

    Unfortunately Kaye, human nature seems to dictate that only a scare, a really big scare, will prompt us to change the way we do things.

  102. Kaye Lee

    I have never said you are frozen in the headlights. I have nothing to fear from your lifestyle and have on numerous occasions applauded it. And comments like this don’t help…. “the only reason you would disagree with me is if you are misinformed.” Anyway…enough of this squabble.

    And Ralph, in my view the scientists have already made that case. I just want to get on with it in achievable ways.

  103. RalphG

    “civilisation is not a bridge”

    No it is not but you do not get to dictate the nature of the collapse nor the degree to which it will collapse.

    No civilization has ever had the destructive power that we now wield.

    “Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I’m not sure about the former.”
    – Albert Einstein

  104. mikestasse

    You can stand there frozen in the headlights if you want….I never will.

    If you want to get your message across and get people on board then I think fear is a really crap way of doing it.

    So…… please explain

  105. RalphG

    “The pedant raises a finger.”

    But which finger CB? 🙂

  106. corvus boreus

    A redundant one, since cringingly retracted; your definition was just as accurate.
    Ahem, upon subsequent reflection(again raises primary phalange in irksome manner),
    Collapse; A breakdown of system or structure compromising basic function or form.
    The error has been rectified, and cosmic balance restored(lowers finger, sighs contentedly with smirk).

  107. Douglas Evans

    kaye lee
    typing this from a motel room without my spectacles hope it is understandable, currently leading a bit of a gypsy life and keeping an eye on AIMN on the run. “I was a teacher for many years. If you want to get your message across and get people on board then I think fear is a really crap way of doing it.” That was the conclusion of many who involved themselves in climate change messaging and I am certainly not in a position to contradict them. However it is fear – fear of change that keeps the masses quiescent while entrenched power wrings every last cent out of the current system before it collapses and takes us all with it. This of course is already happening – its not somewhere out in the future. Just because the Australian middle class (what’s left of it) hasn’t had its door metaphorically kicked in yet doesn’t mean that those below us in the dung heap are not already suffering – they are. Yes fear is a crap vehicle for getting a message across about climate but what is the alternative? ‘Its the economy stupid was a complete failure ask the former Gillard government. Just say yes! – an attempt at positive messaging was a complete dud just ask Get Up. It’s about your health and that of your loved ones is not cutting through but as a well informed activist’ you understand this so what is the answer kaye lee? U repeat; telling it like it is makes one an alarmist prophet of doom and anything else is ignored. The penny will drop inevitably when the growing pile of disasters unquestionably linked to human driven climate change becomes too large but I fear that by then it will be too late to stop this thing. Having reached the age I have I only hope that I’m not around to see the consequences of what is about to commences of the changes already in train.

  108. Kaye Lee

    For the millionth time Doug,

    I understand the danger. I understand it is happening now. I listened to those wonderful young people from Kiribati who no-one from the Coalition had time to meet. I have relatives from the Philippines and our community rallied to send over supplies. I know we need urgent action now and that some damage is irreversible. I know that the future will be different and the change has to start now. I don’t know how to get this through to you.

    Where we differ is you want to keep ramming home a message of disaster that we all understand and accept without offering positive achievable goals of what steps we should be taking. I understand your ultimate goals but I am talking about what we CAN achieve NOW. I want practical action rather than continual doomsaying.

    Suggestions about how we can live subsistence lives are great but it doesn’t help the wider picture of how we bring about change in industry and society.

    Even suggestions like make road surfaces out of lighter colours as the dark bitumen makes heat islands. And yes I know you want to get rid of roads. But since that isn’t happening any time soon let’s hear suggestions for in the mean time.

    You don’t have to ring the alarm bells louder…the scientists have done that….you need to help be part of our future rather than telling us we haven’t got one.

  109. mikestasse

    I’ve shown you what we CAN achieve NOW Kaye…….. and you dismiss it all the time…… calling it struggling.

    BTW, it was fear of the future that got me out of the headlights; I re-educated myself, pulled my finger out, and acted on a plan, leading by example. What are YOU doing?

    Industry is as good as finished. Stop fretting about keeping the Matrix going……. it’s rooted. All the signs are around us. You’re just not reading them. Inconvenient truths….

  110. mikestasse

    A new report warns the riches promised by exporting Australian gas may have a devastating impact on local industries, particularly manufacturing.

    It warns that, if the rise goes unchecked, the manufacturing sector alone will contract by as much as $118 billion by 2021, with nearly 15,000 jobs lost.

    See Kaye….. the collapse has already started….. fuelled by Peak Gas.

  111. Kaye Lee

    “I’ve shown you what we CAN achieve NOW Kaye…….. and you dismiss it all the time…… calling it struggling.”

    What rot. You have some great ideas about what individuals can do in their own daily lives. I wish you would realise that there is a great big huge world that isn’t your house and you pay it no heed whatsoever other than some fixation on us all bailing out of what you call the matrix. That equates to abandoning your fellow man in my view.

    You dream of some sort of Mad Max world where you will be fine. You think you are self-sufficient and refuse to acknowledge that you also make use of mod-cons. You are definitely better prepared than most to survive a world of dwindling resources but you still make use of the modern world as it suits you.

    I am an idealist too but with a healthy dose of realism. My focus is not on myself, though I do what I can to minimise the consumption by my family. You predict doom and disaster that will no doubt happen sometime and has already started. You are taking personal steps to deal with it. I respect that.

    In the mean time many of us are providing essential services to the community that benefit you and your family as well as other members of society. You have a narrow focus and ignore so much else. Obviously if the planet dies then we die, but equally obviously we must keep living in the mean time. We need hospitals and medicines unless your answer to overpopulation is survival of the fittest and culling by pandemic. We need schools and colleges and universities to invest in our future. We need disaster relief services to help us recover from nature’s hazards. We need transport to move resources to where they are needed.

    To say industry is as good as finished shows you do not understand what the word means. To say the collapse has already begun shows a fatalism that denies the present and precludes a future. To talk about the job losses in manufacturing ignores the possibility of moving to new types of manufacturing.

    You have one vision of the future. I see an infinity of choice every day where every action has a consequence. To paraphrase the Buddhists “One small act of kindness reverberates around the world”. More broadly, the living is more important than the dying so let’s concentrate on how to move forward along the right path rather than just seeing the cliff at the end.

  112. mikestasse

    “The truth does not cease to exist when it is ignored.”

  113. mikestasse

    “You are definitely better prepared than most to survive a world of dwindling resources but you still make use of the modern world as it suits you.”

    We do what we do because we can. Once it becomes impossible, like you, I will stop “using mod cons”.

    “In the mean time many of us are providing essential services to the community that benefit you and your family” Like what exactly………?

    “To say industry is as good as finished shows you do not understand what the word means.”

    Whatever Kaye……. but seeing as we won’t be making any more cars here within two years, and that the price of gas is said to push even more manufacturing over the edge, the end seems closer every day to me. We even stopped making solar panels in this country more than ten years ago……. the UK will be TOTALLY out of oil, gas, and coal by 2020. What roll on effect do you think this will have on us when one of the biggest economies in the world stops functioning? WE will be out of oil by 2020…. because of the role of what is known as the Export Land Model, it is suggested very few nations will be left to sell us any of THEIR oil by then…. You poo poo the peak mining thing too. HOW will we turn to “new types of manufacturing” if we don’t have the fuel to mine the resources and move them to market? It’s doomerism you say….. you just don’t like bad news. Even the fact we have the morons at the helm in Canberra is a sure sign of collapse… Australians will vote any old dickhead into the lodge in the vain hope “he can fix it”.

    I don’t hide the fact I have totally lost faith in humanity….. I help people willing to help themselves. Relocalisation will be the only thing left once TSHTF. I don’t care much about people outside my circles….. they are too far away and too involved in the Matrix, they are mostly beyond redemption. Let’s face it, 40% of them voted for Abbott….

    If you want to move forward along the right path…… you’d better avoid the cliff! I feel like I’m in the boot of a car speeding headlong for that cliff, and all the people in the car are arguing over who should drive, while I yell out “Let me out! Let me out!!” And you are one of the drivers…… let’s just hope all the Fiberals go over the cliff first.

  114. jimhaz

    I’m partly on Mike’s side. The reason being is that a collapse is unlikely, until the harm will be the greatest.

    Climate change and pollution/environmental degradation tends to be a slow process – no need for those with money to panic. So what we’ll do is make minor workaround solutions all along the way and adjust our expectations downward.

    The shift to fracking is an good example of a work around solution – and how great is fracking!

    Its a bit like the adjustments our govs have been making on the budget under growing demand. Once we could afford free Uni education – cant now, once we could afford some gov ownership of utilities – cant seem to now, once ad-hoc charges for gov services were non-existent or minimal – not now. So instead of increasing tax, increasing the cost per taxpayer now, they do other little fill in things, that are not really solving the big problem. We could tolerate much higher taxes if we had a democracy, but we don’t, like the US it is a plutocracy.

    Renewable energy may not be the godsend people think – it provides even greater opportunity for population increase or additional forms of consumption. What it does do however is that it gives us a bit more time to mature and to equalise economically between nations more, in the hope that when access to dwindling resources of certain types occurs, nations will not use the military to fight for those resources.

    Technology may come in quite useful – vat grown meat, a primarily online virtual reality social life (no need for real materials or expansive natural settings), work form home or clean cars and so on.

    Aarrgg – antdome here we come lead by some Reinhart style Queen Bee.

  115. mikestasse

    What slo mo collapse looks like……

    A South Australian “hot rocks” renewable energy project is stone cold after a failure to raise funds and the cancellation of government grants.

    The quiet end of Petratherm’s Paralana geothermal energy project is a long way from the media fanfare that accompanied its launch in 2009 by then-premier Mike Rann and Federal Resources Minister Martin Ferguson.

    “This gives us an opportunity to be a world leader in totally emissions-free power generation that’s continuous,” Rann said in August 2009.

    The Petratherm project had attracted $62.8 million in government funding via the Renewable Energy Demonstration Program on the basis it could generate 30MW of power.

    In June last year, InDaily reported that the $62.8 million commitment had been scaled back to $24.5 million, as had the project’s expectations.

    Today, the company announced the funding had dried up and the grants had been cancelled.

    SA hot rocks project dumped

  116. mikestasse

    And then we have this……. which is what happens when you scrape the bottom of the barrel…..

    California officials have ordered an emergency shut-down of 11 oil and gas waste injection sites and a review more than 100 others in the state’s drought-wracked Central Valley out of fear that companies may have been pumping fracking fluids and other toxic waste into drinking water aquifers there.

    Collapse has begun alright….

  117. Douglas Evans

    kaye lee
    After six years of activism which I distinguish from comforting the converted online I don’t need to justify my commitment to practical action. An activist I know once commented to me that with climate change we start out believing it’s about behaviour change so we change the light bulbs, put in the rainwater tanks, recycle the waste etc then we notice that nothing has changed so we decide it’s all about political change. So we lobby politicians, agitate for political change, join political parties, write letters sign petitions etc. Then we notice nothing has changed and we decide it’s all about social change …… I keep trying to talk about climate change messaging and why there doesn’t seem a right way to give bad news and you keep talking about …you. Why?

  118. LOVO

    The following link is one of the better anti-Abbott AGW (CC) posts I have come across in ages. It goes in to great detail about the stupidity of the abbott governments stance on Global Warming; a must read…..please take a look 😀

  119. Carol Taylor

    LOVO, thank you for that. One aspect (just one of them) where the Abbott government shows its ignorance is the fact that China is now world leader in research into renewable energies and alternative fuel sources. It used to be the USA, but they fizzled during the GFC.

    Now anyone with any knowledge of Chinese history knows that one thing that the Chinese do not like is to be beholden to other nations..self-sufficiency is their goal. So why the emphasis on renewables? So that they can in the future off load dependence on other nations, just as they have always done.

  120. Kaye Lee

    I wonder who will go to Paris next year. It’s a big deal…we have to send a minister I’d reckon. How would you like to be Greg Hunt?

  121. Kaye Lee


    “you keep talking about …you. Why?” Thanks for that Doug. I will make way for your important words which tell me what I think and what I fail to think and what I should think and question whether I even think about anything other than myself. My point was irrelevant anyway so do carry on.

  122. OzFenric

    I think Mike Stasse is right – the collapse is inevitable and close and approaching. The formerly stable foundation of cheap, plentiful fossil fuels is looking increasingly hollow and the systems built on it that currently run the world are getting shakier by the day. But I can’t accept Mike’s solution of disengagement. As we know, there’s simply insufficient sustainable resources for seven billion people on this planet; there’s probably not the resources in Australia (at present, let alone a straitened, post-AGW Australia) for its current population of 22-23 million. Building a little homestead in Tassie is probably a very good move if all you’re concerned about is the immediate future for you and yours, but it’s not going to save many others and it’s not really going to help your family two or three generations down the line when the world around your little enclave is Mad Max wasteland. An uncontrolled collapse of society is not something to be wished for, but it is something for which it may be prudent to plan.

    I continue to live in optimism that the severity of the challenge may give humanity the motivation it needs to see alternatives arise. On this I’m with Kaye Lee; given motivation, the human race is capable of great things. We’re on the verge now of such advances in medicine, in energy generation, in faster-than-light travel, that it would be a cruel irony indeed if we ran out of the required material and societal resources to complete their development. It’s undeniably true that we’re coming to the end of readily available materials, minerals, trace elements and fossil fuels, but given sufficient motivation and will we can pour the remaining resources into emergency development efforts and trigger the next technological revolution. It’s not unreasonable to expect we could develop low-investment fusion technology, or the seed energy to start mining energy and minerals from non-terrestrial sources, as a couple of science-fiction sounding but reasonably feasible solutions. There’s a decent likelihood that the “solution” to our woes lies in technologies most of us are as yet unaware of. We have a narrow window in which to develop these solutions before we hit the wall.

    Our choice now would seem to be to either work towards these emergency efforts and contribute to a bright future for the species – or to wrap ourselves in permaculture and cover our ears to the great die-off of most of homo sapiens. In the latter scenario, it might take several hundred years before humanity recovers to a “technological” society with prospects beyond “living simply to simply live”. Personally, I’m concerned for my own life and the lives of those close to me; but on a larger level I want to believe we’re more than dumb animals. ‘Simple living’ may be possible, but I do not concede that it’s a worthwhile use of our species’ time.

    Of course, if climate change collapses the entire planet’s biosphere and makes the world inhospitable to humans, then all the permaculture in the world isn’t going to save you, and only in the “emergency solutions” approach lies our dwindling hopes.

  123. mikestasse

    Thanks for the partial support Oz… though my eyes did glaze over when you wrote ” We’re on the verge now of such advances in medicine, in energy generation, in faster-than-light travel”. Physics 101, nothing goes faster than light. Then there’s the insignificant problem that it takes time to accelerate and then slow down from such vertiginous speeds at a g force rate that doesn’t kill you!

    There’s more to our future energy dilemmas than what it is we can actually do. If you can bear some technical stuff, I suggest you read this…:

    EROI and the limits of conventional feasibility assessment—Part 3: Intermittency & seasonal variation

    Re moving to Tassie… of course I am concerned about the future of my kids, but make no mistake, I also intend to contribute to the community I am moving to. Not a day goes by when someone from down there asks me when we are moving! Some people actually LIKE what I have to say and the solutions I bring…… BTW, you may find it interesting that an inordinate number of climate scientists, from all over the world, have moved to Tasmania which is now a global hub of Climate Research…

    WHY must we go beyond “living simply to simply live”? Not a worthwhile use of our species’ time? People who brought us steel and pottery and other magnificent things lived simply. Living without eToys is something I actually look forward to.

    Gotta go. 5 ducklings hatched yesterday, I better check to see if there are any more…..

  124. corvus boreus

    Broad agreement, but on details I quibble.
    We are animals, by definition, pure and simple. We just don’t have to be beastly.
    Our disposition to dumbness is variable, individuals, circumstances, and our own moment to moment moods.
    We are gifted with a capability for complex situational analysis, collectivisation of strategies and clear communication.
    We are also blessed with a capacity for empathy and ethics. We can progress grand ideas into huge works, the dexterity of our minds and hands amplified by the power of the machines we can create.
    But what is the vision, the goal of our collective project?
    As the bio-mineral capital at our disposal runs dry, the squandering of all remaining resource is to be bitterly begrudged. We have even used up the vast majority of the helium to be had here, mostly on party balloons and squeaky voiced utterances.
    What use will humanity make of the last untapped frontiers, the treasure troves of Antarctica?
    Possibly as the investment for truly paradigm altering leaps in ingenuity and efficiency that will transcend our current crises of bio-systems, climate and resource.
    Possibly as the material and fuel for last gasp wars of dogma-based faith/assurance, tribal/nationalistic affiliation, and acquisition/retention of dwindling wealth.
    Either way, it seems i have little say in the matter.

  125. Kaye Lee

    Thankfully some people progressed past physics 101.

    Researchers at NASA’s Texas-based Johnson Space Center are trying to prove that it is possible to travel faster than the speed of light, and hope to one day build an engine that resembles the fictional Starship Enterprise.

    NASA physicist and engineer Dr. Harold G. White, 43, believes it is possible to bend the rules of time and space that Albert Einstein constructed when he postulated that it is impossible to exceed the speed of light.

    White’s research is based on the theories of Mexican physicist Miguel Alcubierre, who in 1994 theorized that exceeding Einstein’s galactic speed limit was possible if scientists discovered a way to harness the expansion and contraction of space. And Harold and his team are trying to do just that.

    By creating a “warp bubble” that expands space on one side of a spaceship and contracts it on the other, “the spaceship will be pushed away from the Earth and pulled towards a distant star by space-time itself,” Dr. Alcubierre wrote in his hypothesis.

  126. randalstella

    Kaye Lee,
    I have a time machine which may interest you. It runs on carrots.
    I feed them in, press the button and then sit there and wait the required 12 hours.
    I found that way I can waste half the day.
    I can send you one.

  127. mikestasse

    “We can progress grand ideas into huge works, the dexterity of our minds and hands amplified by the power of the machines we can create.”

    CB…… my take on this? With fossil fuels you can do anything.
    With fossil fuels…… you can do ANYTHING!

    “We are also blessed with a capacity for empathy and ethics.”

    Someone should tell the Israelis……

  128. mikestasse

    Kaye Lee…….. ROFLMAO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  129. Douglas Evans

    kaye lee
    i’ve previously said that I admire your diligence and generally agree with what you write but this is getting really childish. probably best we take a break.

  130. Kaye Lee

    NASA is currently working on a solar sail propulsion system that would use large reflective mirrors to harness the sun’s radiation to propel spacecraft through space.

    Researchers at the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) developed technology to extract carbon dioxide from seawater while simultaneously producing hydrogen, and then converted the gasses into hydrocarbon liquid fuel. The system could potentially shave hours off the at-sea refueling process and eliminate time spent away from missions.

    “It’s imperative that we find alternatives to fossil based combustibles,” says Dr Michael Studer of Bern University of Applied Sciences (BFH-HAFL) in Zollikofen. “Second generation biofuels are a viable solution to this dilemma, which could be provided at sufficient scale to address these problems immediately.” In contrast to first generation biofuels made from edible crops like sugarcane or corn, the resource for such advanced biofuels is lignocellulosic biomass, the most ubiquitous organic material on earth.

  131. mikestasse

    All these post oil technophyle dreams will only work by relying on:

    Energy Return on Energy Invested
    Money to pay for it
    and last but not least burning up more fossil fuels thus worsening the already worsening climate situation…..

    WHY space anyway? Talk about a waste of energy………..

  132. OzFenric

    Actually Kaye Lee is pointing to one of the more promising FTL projects. It sounds fanciful but Newtonian physics has already been shown to be incorrect (or perhaps, “incomplete”) when you get into high energy and quantum-level science. I’m not guaranteeing that Harold White is going to build a warp drive in the next ten years. But the research is sound and the work is real. Teleportation, quantum computing (time to respark Moore’s Law?) and instantaneous long-distance communication are only a few of the possible advances of the near future.

    In the area of health and medicine, we are probably within twenty years, at most, of being able to extend lifespans significantly – slowing or reversing many of the outcomes of ageing. Cures for cancer (or at least, many forms of cancer) and AIDS are both likely within the same time frame. There will always be something else that kills us – cure cancer and we’ll live longer, but there will be a new disease or condition to take the baton until we find a cure for that too. But the incremental increases in lifespan (from three-score and ten then to an average of four-and-a-bit now) that have held us back for millenia may soon be overtaken by science. (Are we ready for this? World overpopulation is bad enough now… wait until people live to two hundred years but refuse to reduce their procreation. Anyhoo, that’s another blog post.)

  133. OzFenric

    Corvus Boreus and Mikestasse, lamentably you are probably correct. All of these fanciful dreams of a space-faring futuristic humanity rely on us getting over the hump. These technologies that are just about in view will count for nothing if we can’t harness the resources to take them the last mile. The encouraging thing is that these developments are happening within the current system – subject to individual pressures, funding cuts, small-scale labs, competition for grants and the requirement to put effort into regular publishing. Imagine what would be possible if our species could put aside its partisan squabbles and actually put resources into these things?

    But I’m cynical enough about humanity to think that we’re not yet at the level of frantic emergency that would be required to spark that effort. What we really need is an oncoming meteor or an alien invasion.

    — Three men are at the bottom of a well. It’s cold and damp and night is falling. There is just enough wood in the pit to build a ladder that will get them to the surface. Bill wants to get building but Tony and Warren are more interested in putting together a nice campfire.

  134. Kaye Lee

    Terraform Mars 🙂

  135. OzFenric

    So this is where we come in. It’s our job as activists and concerned citizens to not only cocoon our own nests (incidentally, some of my family also has moved to Tassie and I think it’s a prudent investment) but to agitate for the building of the ladder. Our individual capability is small. The forces arrayed against us are powerful and self-motivated. Only through ‘people power’, a movement of concern, do we have any hope of success, and it’s a slim one at that. This brings us to the topic of the original piece – we need to find convincing arguments that speak to the self-interest of the self-absorbed. Telling people about the warmer winters to come has evidently not convinced them of the seriousness of the situation; appeals to economics (e.g. international sanctions) and to short-term future (e.g. the global divestment from coal and the need to be involved in increasing our productive diversity and in renewable energy sources) might truly be more effective than standing on the rooftops shouting about a couple of inches of water.

  136. flohri1754

    Just got around to reading this late in the piece (as there are already 130 or more comments … but, with all the points made back and forth, I think most could be covered by a comment I read a few weeks ago …..
    “Humankind didn’t evolve from the Stone Age because the world ran out of of rocks” ……

  137. Möbius Ecko

    Not sure that increasing lifespan will increase overpopulation, indeed it may reduce it.

    There are some studies on this, and what appears to be a sound theory on a natural cap or reduction is doing the rounds. Can’t remember how much over the current seven billion the figure was, but the figure and reason for it seemed to be logical.

    That is not to say that a lot of environmental destruction and resource depletion won’t have occurred, but even if the environment and resources were sustainable and could maintain a huge human population, that population naturally wouldn’t expand to fill it but would reach a hiatus well before that maximum and even decline slowly from the hiatus.

  138. DanDark

    Where is the LOVE…….

  139. mikestasse

    “Humankind didn’t evolve from the Stone Age because the world ran out of of rocks” ……

    NO…… and that’s because what followed was better and better and better and……………….. now we’ve run out of better things.

    Just 80 years ago, for every barrel of oil invested in discovering, extracting and processing oil, 100 barrels were produced. Today it’s between 5 and 20, and 5 is the lowest boundary with which we can keep the Matrix going.

    The 20th Century was built one brick at a time, as and when it was needed, with growing amounts of energy whose cost was going down in real terms.

    Now we have to replace the whole lot (and then some), in far far less than 100 years (likely not even 20), with reducing amounts of fossil fuels (whose net energy return is dropping like a stone!) and whose cost is rising. AND while the climate is shitting itself.

    Good luck with that.

  140. Douglas Evans

    Yes we may dodge a bullet with technological advances yet unimagined (but we probably won’t) yes we may find that despite the overwhelming scientific evidence to the contrary mother nature is more forgiving than we think likely (but she probably isn’t). Here are some links to a few folk who really do know what they re talking about giving their assessment of how they see us traveling and the likely outcomes. It’s not for the faint hearted.
    Jørgen Randers member of the Club of Rome and author of the book ‘2052 A Global Forecast for the next Forty years’.
    Dennis Meadows member of the Club of Rome and author of ‘The Limits to Growth’.
    David Spratt activist and co-author of Climate Code Red
    International Energy Agency
    Clive Hamilton author of Requiem for a Species
    Gwynne Dyer author of Climate Wars
    I have no answers. No magic formulae but I don’t believe in self deception.

  141. OzFenric

    Thanks, Douglas. I will watch/read those resources. It’s important to understand the full extent of the issues, to “know thine enemy”. I’m not terribly hopeful either; a shining happy future for humanity is a big call. I do think that things will get a lot worse before they get better, but I suspect that there *is* a future for us. It might be a bit unpleasant in the getting there.
    You can approach the future with pessimism (sorry, “realism”) and decry anyone who wants to retain a modicum of hope, but you have to accept the inevitability of mass death and misery and perhaps even perpetuate that outcome. I refuse to be part of a self-fulfilling prophecy.
    My philosophy is to plan for the worst, but hope for the best. If promoting that hope adds even an iota to the possibility of it happening, it’s worthwhile.

  142. mikestasse

    Thanks for those links Douglas….. I hadn’t seen Jørgen Randers’ presentation before, and I have to say I was blown away by his optimism.

    Here is an accurate review of his book, 2052, by someone whom I respect very highly, Gail Tverberg who, being an actuary, is most capable of crunching numbers….. I’d love to know what Dennis Meadows thinks of Randers’ book!

    Why I Don’t Believe Randers’ Limits to Growth Forecast to 2052

  143. mikestasse

    It might be a bit unpleasant in the getting there.

    That depends Oz. Getting to MY future will not be unpleasant at all. This is what I’m trying to drum into people. Do nothing and bet on a technofix (that won’t happen) and things will get REALLY ugly.

    Prepare now before it’s too late, and the worst thing that will happen to you is that you will lead a stress free simple and sustainable life…..

    I just don’t understand stances like that taken by Kaye.

  144. Kaye Lee

    Which stance would that be Mike?

  145. OzFenric

    Depends on your definitions, Mike. I think watching six billion people starve to death is going to be a bit unpleasant even if I have stockpiled eighty thousand cans of baked beans and spam. Thus my “plan for the worst” – i.e. begin buying canned goods, or perhaps setting up permaculture – and “work for the best” – agitate for change that in a miraculous best of all worlds will make my preparations unnecessary. I strongly suspect that you are correct in your outlook for the future, and I will do everything humanly possible to make you incorrect even if it does turn out to be futile.

    I’m right with Kaye Lee on this.

  146. mikestasse

    Canned food…. and SPAM?! Are you kidding me? Do you know what’s in SPAM? Sawdust and fat! We discovered that in England in 1979 while camping and trying to cook the crap….

    I have maybe six cans of food in the pantry. The best place to store food is in or on the ground.

    You won’t know about the starving 6 billion people. There won’t be any TV by then……. Besides, a quarter of the people alive today go to bed at night starving. Do you see them on the news at night? Does anybody care about them?

    Kay, you believe in fairy tales. That’s your stance.

  147. Kaye Lee

    You are very wrong about that mike and it is exactly that sort of dismissive arrogance that annoys me. I do not purport to know everything. I am amazed by the research I read about. I cannot seem to convince you in any way that I am aware of our finite resources running out. Time and time again I have pointed out my respect for what you are doing. But I refuse to abandon my fellow man. OzFenric says it far better than me.

  148. Douglas Evans

    i’ll read that critique of Randers’ book when I get a chance – thanks. it’s probably worth noting that Randers is the source of Paul Gilding’s (to me) completely unfounded (given his analysis) optimism about our future prospects. however about Randers’ optimistic tone – if you look carefully at what he is saying (to me) he actually seems relieved that runaway warming will now only occur after mid century. my conclusion is that he previously thought it was likely before mid century! Wrt his apparent optimism if you juxtapose Randers’ massive non negotiable requirements for saving the day or at least delaying the end (which is how I read him – I’m married to a Dane and Scandinavians have quite a way with ironic understatement) and the likely implications of Dyer’s arguments it’s pretty hard to see how we will wriggle out of this one.

    thanks for your response. you write:
    “You can approach the future with pessimism (sorry, “realism”) and decry anyone who wants to retain a modicum of hope, but you have to accept the inevitability of mass death and misery and perhaps even perpetuate that outcome.” i feel the urge to say a little about myself. my basic position owes a lot to buddhism – for ten years i was, in the formal traditional sense a student of a fine and well regarded Mahayana buddhist teacher, now deceased. from him i learned the importance of trying to see things for what they really are, not for what they might become, or what we wish they were. as i remember it this central buddhist tenet has implications. for buddhists compassion (for example) is inseparable from wisdom and wisdom or right view depends on seeing things for what they really are. compassion based on a false view of reality is described as idiot compassion and hope engendered by such compassion (however well intentioned) is deluded and not useful. anyone who seriously wants to help to make things better must start by recognizing reality. in the case of climate change we don’t have to do very much digging to get at reality. willfully ignoring aspects of this reality that we feel are too painful and keeping our views private only damages ourselves. willfully ignoring aspects of reality and promulgating our views to others is (at best irresponsible).

    i spent years of my life as a climate change activist. leafletting, letterboxing, running saturday stalls to try and spread the word. helping out at endless events, staging pre-election candidate public forums to try and shed light on the climate related policies of political parties. picketing politicians’ offices, conference venues and financial institutions to try to promote change. writing submissions to white papers and green papers to try to promote change. writing reports on council planning strategies to try to promote change, attending countless local council meetings to speak in favor of particular strategies to try to promote change. of course i didn’t do this alone. i was simply a helper. there are thousands of (mostly younger australians) pushing to shore up our future. now i’ve reached an age where i want to concentrate my efforts elsewhere for the remaining decade or so that i have left so i’ve withdrawn from activism, but you will understand perhaps why i don’t take kindly to petulant pundits telling me that i should stop promoting doom and gloom and start doing something about practical outcomes.

    during all this i was also blogging constantly on aspects of climate change and other environmental issues trying to spread the word but i quickly discovered that those likely to read what i had to say didn’t need me to tell them they already knew, and for the most part those that needed to be told mostly never got to see what i wrote or, if by some accident they tripped over the blog they were completely impervious to reason or argument. for these reasons i don’t count pouring words into cyberspace as activism of any sort. for me it was interesting if depressing and an essential part of me informing myself but i didn’t kid myself that i was having any beneficial effect.

    so, to finish on my initial quote from your comment. with regards the increasing likelihood of social collapse in the coming decades. i’ve thought this through as carefully as i can and my conscience is clear – or at least as clear as possible for any citizen of the first world whose lifestyle demands and behavior are largely responsible for this problem. this disaster will occur because of the evil bastards driving our fossil fuel dependency, their pathetic political handmaidens, their paid lackeys in the media and countless well meaning but misguided online ‘doofuses’ who think that some parts of the truth are just a tad too uncomfortable to be aired in public.

  149. DanDark

    fa·tal·ism [feyt-l-iz-uhm] Show IPA
    the acceptance of all things and events as inevitable; submission to fate: Her fatalism helped her to face death with stoic calm.
    Philosophy . the doctrine that all events are subject to fate or inevitable predetermination

    Hey Mike, not everyone follows the doctrine of fatalism, give it a break, the word hope and the word future
    can be put together for a real positive outcome, I always have this little quote I follow in life……it’s
    “Resist those who try to predict and set your fate”
    I am with Kaye Lee and OZ, you need to give people HOPE, yep HOPE, knowledge is power,
    not doom and gloom because you say so MIKE 🙂

  150. Kaye Lee

    I assume I am classified as a “well meaning but misguided online ‘doofuses’ who think that some parts of the truth are just a tad too uncomfortable to be aired in public.”

    If you knew that hope and despair were paths to the same destination, which would you choose? ~Robert Brault

  151. Kaye Lee

    Federal Parliamentary Secretary for Industry, Bob Baldwin, gave an almost defiant speech today to members of the clean energy industry at the Clean Energy Week conference.

    He stated that they were determined to press on with abolishing the Clean Energy Finance Corporation and the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) and refused to provide any reassurance about the government’s commitment to the Renewable Energy Target. This is in spite of Palmer United joining with the Greens, Labor, and Xenophon to block changes to these initiatives.

    Baldwin restated that, given the need to address what he suggested was a budget deficit emergency, the government could not support the CEFC providing what he believed was “concessional” finance to projects that he termed “too risky for the private sector”.

    This comes in spite of the CEFC reporting in its annual results today that:

    – it has incurred no bad debts to date;

    – it is delivering a profit, achieving an average of a 3.5 per cent premium on its loans over the government cost of funds;

    – it finances projects in a partnership with private sector financiers which includes all four major banks and more than 10 other domestic and international banks, and;

    – its current portfolio of loans involves an average of $2.20 of private sector investment to every $1 of money lent by the CEFC.

  152. mikestasse

    the acceptance of all things and events as inevitable

    Would that not also apply to believing in techno fixes?

    I lost all my hopium when, after years of campaigning to wake people up re Peak Oil and Climate Change, NOTHING happened, nothing changed….. everybody waiting for a technofix in the hopium everything would be alright soon. We could even elect Rabbott…. then HE’ll ‘fix’ the mess the ALP created……. everybody lives in hopium…..

  153. OzFenric

    Like I said above, I think it’s going to take more emergencies or frantic necessity before we see the kind of popular support we need. We’re not there yet. We’re engaged in a global game of Chicken and those in the driver’s seat aren’t going to flinch until the last possible second. The only real question is whether they’ll be a millisecond too early or a millisecond too late. If my voice in the cacophany in the rear seat can influence the wheel to turn just a millisecond earlier, then I’ll keep speaking up.

    Abbott and the fossil fuel dinosaurs know full well that their time is coming to an end. They’re desperate to keep the profits flowing as long as possible. It’s a betrayal of the future of the most heinous kind, but their own kids will be okay.

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