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Economies of scale, glacial progress and a heatwave!

What the hell is all that about???

Those are the thoughts, linked together under the theme of devastation as a consequence of global warming, which are buzzing around in my head at present.

In 42 days’ time, I shall be celebrating having lived in Darwin, the capital of the NT, for 50 years.

Arriving in the early stages of the wet season, forewarned about daytime temperatures reaching into the low 30s, and leaving snow on the ground when I left London (Heathrow) Airport, I acclimatised rapidly.

I never want to be near snow again! Living in the tropics, and not being addicted to travel, I doubt whether I shall ever be likely to do so!

By June, 1971, when, on the rare cloudy, ‘dry’ season day, temperatures struggled to reach 30˚C, and dropped well below 20˚C on many nights, I complained of the cold!

We are now in the build up to our ‘wet’, season, and have just set a record in Darwin of 11 consecutive days of temperatures reaching 35˚C or more!

And, because Darwin is so near the Arafura Sea, we are fortunate to not (yet) experience the extremes of temperature which are the norm for those who live further from the coast.

Yesterday we saw, in the ABC News, an example of flexible solar film which is enabling solar ‘panels’ to be glued to surfaces which are not smooth and flat, opening up possibilities of a far greater use of solar energy.

Incidentally, solar film can be floated on water, with efficiency of production being potentially enhanced by the contact with water in cooler areas, while evaporation of the water is reduced – win/win! Alternatively, it can be used on a swimming pool to both produce electricity and raise the temperature of the pool water!

It can also be used on windows and let this freak you out!! …



If the current Coalition government is making any progress at all towards accepting the need for adopting renewable energy on a sufficient scale, it is making, ironically, glacial progress. In fact, the existing glaciers are melting faster than Morrison and Co are moving towards recognising the bleeding obvious!

So where do the economies of scale come in?

Just hang in there a bit longer.

The many critics of solar power – and they are both many, and misguided in intent – express concern (not necessarily in any order of priority) over issues like:

  1. Solar panels have a limited life and will be hard to recycle;
  2. Energy produced is intermittent, which puts pressure on the grid to even out the flow of electricity;
  3. Solar power is only available while the sun is shining.

All true – BUT:

  1. We are currently struggling to recycle massive amounts of waste, so the government should, as a priority, be putting money into the CSIRO and research facilities in universities to facilitate rapid development of recycling systems for all waste products. Plus, the flexible solar system might be less problematic than the glass panels;
  2. The energy should be directed into storage from which it can be fed into the grid in a continuous stream, and
  3. This can occur, irrespective of whether of not the sun is shining – which is where economies of scale come in.

Replacing PV panels by the flexible model will massively enhance the range of use of solar power, as it can be used on trains, roads and roofs. This will make it more cost effective, while exactly the same applies to batteries, currently more costly because of insufficient demand.

I have not mentioned wind but it has a place in the scheme of things, as the Netherlands and other Scandinavian countries will bear witness.

Now all the naysayers will jump in with negative comments which will further delay progress in dealing with a problem which is, inexorably, becoming more and more intransigent.

Do you really think last bush fire season was an anomaly?

Think again!

How long did the recent drought last? And have the rivers and dams yet been replenished?

What is the status quo in the Murray Darling Basin, where water intended to support the environment is being stolen, and corporations are growing water-hungry crops for profit, ignoring the detrimental effect this will have on production of essential foods?

For those people who still commute to work by car, leaving their vehicles to bake in the sun – what about this?

Put a roof over all parking lots, and cover the roof with solar panels. Not only will the cars be less likely to be overheated, but the power generated will be available for lighting at night, to provide greater security for those using the park after dark.

There are loads of people out there who are aching to produce even more valuable ideas to both tackle global warming and simultaneously make life more comfortable during the interim period.

Conflict of interest is ignored, when governments allow those profiting from fossil fuels to persuade them (how, I sometimes wonder? Does money change hands, or promises of future employment in a lucrative sinecure?) to use gas as a means of transitioning from coal – only we will still need to use coal for some time to keep Joel Fitzgibbon happy.

If the Opposition Leader had any sense, he would reduce the white-anting phenomenon by sacking Fitzgibbon from the ALP.

You cannot hope to satisfy everyone, but big, bold policies, which echo successes elsewhere in the world, would surely have to produce some converts.

Millions of people have suffered in one way or another through COVID-19. They should not be expected to put up with further pain because we have a government which picks and chooses which science it will pay heed to.

We need to look forward to a Happy Christmas in a few weeks’ time.

Would it not be marvellous – not to say a miracle – if that happiness came from hearing that Scott Morrison has seen the light and will take serious action on global warming?

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  1. Consume Less

    Well said Rosemary !! and can I sneak a plug in for pedal power. Can all state governments please continue to make roads safer for cyclists.

  2. RomeoCharlie29

    Agree with all you say RJ but we are led by Luddites and until we get rid of this rabble we can expect no progress on any of the critical issues facing us as a country. Regarding climate and our current heatwave, I am wondering what has happened to the promised La Niña. So far this November I have recorded just 19.5 mm of rain. This is less than one third of the lowest fall in the past five years and an even smaller proportion of some November falls: 2016 (77mm), 2017 (109), 2018 (97.5), 2019 (70).

  3. Vikingduk

    Also possible and has been done, to use solar panels as the roof over parking lots. No need of extra roofing. Check out Redflow batteries, one of their investors has roofed the parking area of his high rise with pv panels. And it remains to be seen if any of these measures will ever be implemented and, if so, far too late to make any difference. All current news I have come across recently says the reality is far exceeding the modeling, wishes and maybes and ifs will not change this reality of achieving the tipping point of out of control global warming. You must realise that the local as well as the global fuckwit leaders are exactly that.

  4. Consume Less

    Just how stupid are we. More and more I am seeing these articles on the heat island effect that we have created with black surfaces (bitumen), lack of trees etc in our city landscape.
    Another major strategy to reduce temperatures in urban areas is to use light-coloured surfaces as roofs and roads.
    “The difference between a black roof and a white roof in terms of the surface temperature would be 30-plus degrees,” Professor Prasad says.
    “Heat very quickly finds it way inside, particularly in black and dark-coloured metal, so you have to put a lot more insulation in the ceiling to offset that effect.”

    Yet, many houses being built now in new suburbs of Adelaide have black or very dark coloured roofs.

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