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High Speed Rail

Australia and Antarctica are now the only two continents in the world where there is no high speed rail project underway.

As part of the agreement to support the minority Labor government, the Australian Greens secured a $20 million feasibility study into high speed rail. That feasibility study demonstrated that it will cut pollution, enhance business and passenger transport and generate positive economic returns.

Melbourne to Sydney is one of the busiest air routes in the world. High speed rail could alleviate the need for a second Sydney airport. Once fully operational (from 2065 if we start planning now), HSR could carry approximately 84 million passengers each year, with express journey times of less than three hours between Melbourne-Sydney and Sydney-Brisbane.

Line 1: Sydney to Melbourne (2 hours 44 mins) comprising of Canberra to Sydney (1 hour) and Melbourne to Canberra (2 ½ hours).

Line 2: Sydney to Brisbane (2 hours 37 mins) comprising of Sydney to Newcastle (40 mins); and Newcastle to the Gold Coast and Gold Coast to Brisbane.

Once complete, the High Speed Rail would stretch 1,750km linking 11 major cities and regions all the way from Melbourne to Brisbane. The preferred alignment includes four capital city stations, four city-peripheral stations, and stations at the Gold Coast, Casino, Grafton, Coffs Harbour, Port Macquarie, Taree, Newcastle, the Central Coast, Southern Highlands, Wagga Wagga, Albury-Wodonga and Shepparton.

The estimated cost of constructing the preferred HSR alignment in its entirety would be around $114 billion (in 2012 dollars) which sounds like a lot of money until you realise it is what we hand out in ONE YEAR in tax concessions (estimated to grow to $150 billion per year in 2 years.)

HSR would substantially improve accessibility for the regional centres it served, and provide opportunity for regional development. It would allow cities to compete with each other. While Sydney might be more attractive at the moment, it is also much more expensive, so the opportunity to save costs by moving to regional areas that had easy access could be an option for some businesses.

Thousands of jobs would be created in the construction phase and, unlike roads, the HSR would provide ongoing employment for railway employees and associated industries.

Better transport connections mean reduced production and transport costs, higher productivity and greater competition between regions. Mobile phones and laptops now allow for business to be continued during train travelling time.

HSR will move millions of air and road trips on to rail. It will open up space on the existing rail network for freight, taking hundreds of heavy goods vehicles per hour off the roads. In so doing, It will also help cut carbon emissions.

The groundwork has been costed by the Parliamentary Budget Office at $664 million over the forward estimates period. This includes preparing a detailed financing and investment plan for the project, surveying the best rail corridors with the relevant state and local governments, securing ownership of those routes, and confirming the development and operation plan of the project through an inter-governmental agreement. The Environmental Impact statement (EIS) has been costed at $570 million. This seems a small amount to invest to ensure the viability and benefit of what seems a very worthwhile investment.

The Greens have already adopted this as a policy priority. I believe Labor should join them in making this a reality.

In August the ‘High Speed Rail Advisory Group’ chaired by former Nationals leader Tim Fischer found “no insurmountable issues that preclude Australia proceeding with high speed rail as a priority.”

That group was abolished by the Prime Minister in November.

Something to ponder: Some commentators argue that high speed rail is 20th Century technology. Video conferencing, apps like Hailo, and Google’s driverless cars are a cheaper and more up-to-date model for doing business and getting around. Then there’s the Hyperloop scheme suggested by PayPal founder Elon Musk. He claims it could propel pressurised capsules between Los Angeles and San Francisco in 35 minutes. I doubt that these are as relevant in Australia due to our huge distances but perhaps interesting thoughts for urban or interurban application.

Also by Kaye Lee:

Some of my best friends are corrupt

Who are the real whingers?

What makes a good politician?

Letter to all Coalition MPs


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  1. Pingback: High Speed Rail | OzHouse

  2. Kaye Lee

    It would be interesting to hear from Infrastructure Australia as to whether they think the benefit of a second Sydney airport outweighs the HSR. It seems to offer so many benefits. And quite frankly, if I get off a plane, I don’t want to be at Badgery’s Creek with the prospect of a long drive. I’d rather fly to a regional centre and hop on the HSR if needs be.

  3. DanDark

    Yes we need to look FORWARD,
    NOT get caught up in the PAST, we need to plan now for the FUTURE
    The PAST brings us too the PRESENT, that leads us into the FUTURE

    Its all relevant, but the country and the LIBS need to step out of the past, its the past, we need to evolve into the future smoothly, not fighting the future, its a waste of time and energy…we need to put it into the present and future, plans,, sustainable for the planet and the living species US humans and a flora and fauna
    We cannot skip the present and ignore the future, and go back top the past, its not how we as a species work, we will become extinct if Tones and the worlds leaders keep their agenda up,
    FUTURE FAST RAIL..thats a 3 world slogan that we need to be putting out there.. 🙂

  4. Kaye Lee

    WOULDN’T IT BE WONDERFUL to be able to step on a train at Southern Cross in Melbourne and step off at Central Station in Sydney just three hours later. On the train would be WiFi, so you could do some work or update your Facebook status (I’m travelling at 300km/h!). You could maybe pop into the dining car for a cuppa around Albury-Wodonga. All this for less than the cost of an airfare, fewer greenhouse gases, and of course, without the associated taxis to and from the airport and waiting times at the airport.

    ….the High Speed Rail Advisory Group noted in its report that “the greatest immediate threat to high speed rail in Australia is not cost or timing or technology… it is simply inertia, brought about by perceptions that, even if desirable in concept, high speed rail is unrealistic or not within the contemplation of current generations.”

  5. DanDark

    WONDERFUL is an under statement, its a need Kaye Lee
    and you need to run for P.M if only we can wish and hope 🙂

  6. Dan Rowden

    Once fully operational (from 2065 if we start planning now)

    WOULDN’T IT BE WONDERFUL to be able to step on a train at Southern Cross in Melbourne and step off at Central Station in Sydney just three hours later.

    I’ll never know 🙂

  7. DanDark

    We should already have it, but yes our govs are very slow learners, excruciatingly slow l e a r n e r s
    but Dan it wiil be good for the ones that live long enough to travel on it,, it wont be me either 🙁

  8. Kaye Lee

    That’s the thing Dan. An article said it was a 40 year project in entirety but they would start with the Sydney Canberra link which would be finished much sooner. Hell…think of what we could save in politicians entitlements if they could catch the train to and from work. technological improvements may cut rollout time (she says optimistically and somewhat unrealistically).

    Is it beyond us to look that far into the future? (I’m older than you but my kids aren’t 🙂 )

  9. Robert LePage

    Considering that Australia will have NO oil of it’s own by 2020 (yes only 6 years away) and the price of imported fuel by then could be around $8 per litre, it is the only way that people will be able to travel.
    The money saved from not having to build a third Sydney airport and the sale of the sites of all the airports will go a long way towards financing the rail option.

  10. Mike Stasse

    High speed = high energy consumption. Doubling the speed of anything quadruples energy consumption!

    In an energy constrained future, high speed ANYTHING is a bad idea.

    Everything will have to be relocalised, and transport especially. When cars and planes go extinct, we will need lots of slow shuttle trains and light rail to move people between suburbs and small towns using the least amount of energy, which is all solar will give us.

  11. DanDark

    There will be more environmental energy supplies than just solar, that’s just thinking inside the square
    Base load power/energy will exist, and it won’t rely on coal 🙂

  12. DanDark

    Was ment to be Environment “friendly”

  13. Kaye Lee

    No Mike I am not having a “larf”. I am opening a discussion. I cannot be an expert on everything I write about but I can be a willing learner. I understand your concerns about peak everything known to mankind, and as I have said many times before, I have faith in our researchers (unless they are starved of funds). Your point about increasing speed increasing consumption is interesting. Would it equate to the energy NOT used by trucks and planes and cars maybe?

  14. Beeza Geeza

    Wheeled HSR is not a viable replacement for air travel between major Eastern city centres, much less cross-continent. We need to seriously consider maglev technology if rail is to compete with (and ultimately replace) domestic air services.

    A proposal given to the Victorian State Government in 2008 cited $34M per km of dual maglev track (see wikipedia link below). At that price, for slightly more than the cost of Sydney’s new second airport, a maglev line could be built from Sydney to Canberra; 500kph trains would take about 35 minutes to travel the ~300km distance. Canberra International Airport, hopelessly underutilised, could synchronise operations with Sydney Airport and serve as terminals 4 & 5 for both domestic and international flights. (And Sydney wouldn’t need a second airport.)

    Extending the line from Sydney – Canberra – Albury – Melbourne, approximately $24-$30 billion (plus vehicles) would place stops every 300km (about 35 mins), provide regional passenger hubs in Canberra and Albury for rapid transit to and from major centres, open these areas up as residential, industrial and tourist centres, and allow people to get from Sydney to Melbourne in under two hours – less time that it takes to fly when you consider checking in, boarding, taxiing and disembarking in addition to flight time. (By comparison, passenger commutes from Macarthur area in Sydney’s south-west to the Sydney CBD currently take 80-90 minutes).

    The line could then be extended from Melbourne to Adelaide with a stop in between (again, 35 minutes between centres), and from Sydney – Newcastle – Port Macquarie – Coffs Harbour – Gold Coast – Brisbane, thereby directly competing with Sydney-Gold Coast and Sydney-Brisbane air routes. Sydney-Newcastle (20 minutes) would be especially important, since commuters from one city could work in another, and would open up the University of Newcastle to Sydney-based students who would otherwise have to relocate (and vice-versa for those studying in Sydney). For comparison, the train journey between Sydney and Newcastle CBDs is currently just under *three hours*. Reducing that to 20 minutes point-to-point would be revolutionary.

    Trips between Melbourne and Brisbane would be slightly longer than air travel (considering pre-flight and post-flight requirements), but as maglev speeds increase, this difference will shrink. (The current record for maglevs is around 580kph and was set just before the GFC halted pretty much all development.)

    And the other big upside to a national maglev network? Unlike planes and some long-distance rail services which run on refined fossil fuels, it runs on electricity – which can be generated by eco-friendly sources like wind and solar.

    (Sorry, but the lack of high-speed rail in Australia has been a pet peeve of mine for ages.)

  15. DanDark

    Beeza Geeza, thanks for that info, technology is a wonderful thing.

  16. Laurence E. (Larry) Blow

    Nice comments, Beeza Geeza.

    I would only add two things: One, that realistic point-to-point travel speeds might not be quite as fast as you calculate, once route alignments are laid out. And two, the environmental benefits of a maglev system beyond its all-electric approach — especially in the areas of noise, vibration and electromagnetic field effects — are added bonuses that clearly distinguish it from conventional steel-wheel systems.

    Effective intercity and cross-continent travel requires a different approach from the conventional. Maglev should be a candidate for discussion.

  17. Ruth Lipscombe

    Readers should nominate Kaye Lee for Australian of the Year for making us think!
    Sometimes I wonder if she is REALLY brilliant or just appears to be so when compared to the ‘dorks’ eg Brandis,Pyne,Bishop x2,Hockey even (sadly) Shorten.

  18. Mike Stasse

    “Beeza Geeza, thanks for that info, technology is a wonderful thing”

    Dan, I have to say you are making the classic mistake of confusing ‘technology’ with ‘energy’. Until I retrained in energy in the 1990’s, I too did this. This confusion leads to what we call in ‘my circles’ Techno Utopia. It’s truly understandable that anyone could believe that white man’s magic will save the world when we are surrounded by so much of it every day, but…….. for instance, did you know it takes 250kg of fossil fuels to make your computer? It is impossible to make solar panels or wind turbines without fossil fuels. Somehow, all the ‘stuff’ these things are made from has to be mined, and usually from very far away, like half way around the world, and transported to many different locations where components are manufactured then transported to the one common location to be assembled as a finished product. Denmark for instance has only grass, cows, and wind as resources. And intelligent people of course, who design the world’s best wind turbines… All the bits that are inside a Danish VESPA wind turbine come from Africa, Australia, the USA, South America, China, and assembled in Denmark using Russian or Norwegian gas energy, and then transported to where they are needed, all using fossil fuels……

    It is the complexity of such chain of events that will bring the system down, along with Peak ALL ENERGY…… are you aware that the UK will be 100% totally out of gas/oil/coal within three years…? Australia will be totally out of oil by 2020 9and probably before because the oil companies are already exiting our country as our oil supplies dwindle to a drip and become uneconomical…

    Go make a cup of your favourite poison and sit down to watch this presentation by Australian geologist, Dr Simon Michaux………..

    And make sure everyone you know finds out too.

    Could be the most important video you’ll ever see..

    Conventional thinking is over

  19. Kaye Lee

    Very interesting thanks Beeza Geeza.

    Ruth, saying that I help make people think is the greatest compliment you could pay me. I am not brilliant but I love to learn about the brilliant work of others. I was a teacher and making people think was both my job and my passion. I often taught kids who were smarter than me – my job was to point them in the right direction and provide whatever resources and assistance I could to facilitate their brilliance. Likewise, I got a great deal of satisfaction from finding the brilliance that is in every kid and every person.

    I learn a great deal from the commenters here and things they bring up lead me off to new areas to explore. It is a wonderful exchange of ideas that I find very stimulating so thank you to all the brilliant people who take the time to share their knowledge, opinions, suggestions, and even criticism. We learn from every experience in life, good or bad. And for those who are doing it tough now, always remember that life is a spiral with windows of opportunity. If one passes you by, another will come along.

    My kids would be rolling their eyes saying yes mum by now. Think I better go have a coffee.

  20. Beeza Geeza

    “It is impossible to make solar panels or wind turbines without fossil fuels.”

    This is true, if you assume photovoltaic cells will always be made with silicon, aluminium, indium and tin, or whatever goes into a wind turbine (I haven’t checked). Much research is being done with graphene at present, as a means of both collecting, conducting and storing electrical energy – and graphene is an allotrope of carbon, a reasonably abundant and easily accessible element. That’s not to say our energy needs are “taken care of”, but we are very much in a position to make rapid advancements if efforts are committed now. The problem is not one of technology or of resources, but of politics. (Typical.)

    Peak oil would also have major side-effects around synthetic rubber, fertiliser and pesticides – but again, these substances are made from readily available elements; the concern is less about accessing these materials and more about the (high) energy requirements of processing/recycling them into usable forms – which basically reduces the argument to one of energy production and distribution. As far as trace elements are concerned… when peak oil hits (if it hasn’t already) and no-one can afford a tank of petrol, we are going to have a major stockpile of fossil-powered vehicles full of useful minerals. As above, extracting those would be a function of energy, not of availability.

    So as you say, energy is the limiting factor, but we have alternatives sources of power (silicon- or carbon-based solar, hydro, wind, New Zealand has geothermal, as well as ongoing research into thorium-based power) which, if implemented now while still possible, would ease what will surely be a difficult transition for much of the world.

  21. Mike Stasse

    ” Think I better go have a coffee”

    To watch that video link I posted I hope……?? You may need something strnger afterwards!

    And thanks for givimg ME the opportunity to make people think too. Making people think is my raison d’etre and my passion too….

  22. Beeza Geeza

    Thanks Kaye, Dan and Laurence – there’s a lot in there, I appreciate you reading it. 🙂 I have been a (deeply amateur) enthusiast of maglev-based mass transit for a long time now. It’s not a fix-all solution, but if we are going to cut back on air travel as a fossil fuel sink, we need viable alternatives. Why we don’t already have a national high-speed rail network – especially around population centres inland from the East Coast capitals, is completely beyond me.

    Laurence – your point is a good one; maglevs and excessive curvature do not mix terribly well at high velocity. I used to commute from Sydney’s Central Station to Canberra via train and, even though the land is reasonably flat, the track itself was not and would snake around certain features. I’d imagine a maglev track would be designed in such a way that the worst of these could be avoided; failing that, though I can’t find any information on the topic, high-speed curves could be built at a slight incline, much as rollercoaster tracks are. Regardless, the maglev would need to slow in its approach to a hypothetical Canberra Airport station, so bending around metropolitan Canberra would be less of an issue.

    The other consideration I haven’t factored in is acceleration – a maglev would spend a good 2-3 minutes getting up to speed and about the same when slowing down – I think my calculations for a Sydney-Gosford maglev indicated the vehicle would cruise at top speed for about 60 seconds, about 8km, before decelerating.

    And undoubtedly there would be speed/noise limits in residential parts of Sydney and rural centres outside the metropolitan area (if existing rail corridors were to be used). Given that, it may be wiser to run the track from Sydney Airport along/under/over the M5 motorway until it reaches the outskirts where noise is not an issue. Mind you, if petrol becomes too expensive, the M5 will be useless and could accommodate a maglev line without any trouble at all, saving a good chunk of money in land acquisition and construction costs.

    Anyway, showing my obsession here – best I stopped!

  23. Kaye Lee


    I have never been quite sure what you hope to achieve by just presenting the doom and gloom side. certainly the warnings must be heard, but I have great faith in the ingenuity of humanity. Are you offering any suggestions or only Armageddon?

  24. Beeza Geeza

    Mike, thanks but no, I get enough negativity/defeatism/fatalism from Twitter and Facebook as is.

    Just once I’d like to approach an idea from a “we-can-do-it” perspective. Because we ~can~ build electric HSR, wheeled or maglev, and we really should.

  25. Kaye Lee

    When Tony Abbott embarked on his mission of thousands of kilometres of roads, I wonder if he considered how much he is adding to global warming. Aside from the pollution caused by cars and the increasing scarcity of oil, the asphalt roads are damaging within themselves.

    Black pavements and hot impervious roofs are taking more and more natural planted surfaces out of doing what they do best. Natural surfaces like grass and trees absorb sunlight and through photosynthesis they remove Carbon Dioxide as well as other pollutants from the air we breathe. Also their roots and foliage help trap storm water and move it to the underground aquifer.

    Asphalt pavements absorb more of the heat of the sun. This adds to the problem. Because asphalt is so widely used it creates heat islands as its black or grey surface absorbs sunlight. In summer its temperature may climb to 60° C or more. Even after dark the asphalt radiates heat.

    When it rains on hot pavements, the rain evaporates more quickly. Less water reaches the aquifer or other runoff receptors. What eventually reaches streams, estuaries, the bays, or ocean is warmer water. It affects everything living in those waters changing the balance of nature.

  26. Mike Stasse

    Beeza……. ignorance is bliss. Stay uneducated if you like, but don’t be surprised when everything you believed in turns out to be BS. Because I sure was surprised the day I had my epiphany…… If you don’t know/understand what the future holds, HOW can you plan for it? Get it wrong, and you will pay heavily for it.

    I don’t see myself as a negative or defeatist at all…… I’m a realist prepared for the future, because I, unlike 99.99% of the rest of us, I have taken charge of my future (and my children’s) to deal with the crap our visionless leaders have brought to us……

  27. Kaye Lee

    Mike, I’m fairly certain that you have not totally removed yourself from the modern world as we are conversing on a computer. It would be interesting to hear your practical suggestions about how we deal with the immediate and long term future because I, for one, don’t intend to just curl up and die. It’s better to die on your feet than live on your knees.

  28. Kaye Lee

    We should have been building HSR years ago, just as we should have been replacing Telstra’s copper network with fibre – something they wanted to do when we still owned the majority share.

    On 15 November 2005 Telstra, the owner of the national copper network, announced a plan to upgrade its ageing networks, including a rollout of a fibre to the node (FTTN) network. At the time, the Federal Government was the majority shareholder of Telstra, but the plan did not involve any additional government investment. The rollout was later put on hold after the Howard Government refused to exempt the new network from laws requiring third party access, instead saying Telstra could achieve the exemption by applying to the competition regulator, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC). Telstra dropped plans for the new network on 7 August 2006, after reaching an impasse in negotiations with the ACCC.

  29. Mike Stasse

    Kaye…….. I have no intention of curling up and dying yet either! Something I learned a long time ago was that we do what we do because we can. So fossil fuels are still available, therefore laptops are still being made, the internet is still going, etc etc……

    However….. it will one day end. And seeing as for 99.99% of the history of humanity nobody had a computer, I don’t think their disappearance will cause us all the curl up and die.

    One thing we have to get straight here. Well several actually…. first, we’re all gonna die. 100% certainty. So stop fretting about that, it’s HOW you check out that matters. Secondly (and more importantly) only a few will manage to ‘survive the crisis’.. and those who refuse to acknowledge there is a problem will be victims; the reason being that the carrying capacity of the planet is probably less than 10% of today’s population in the absence of fossil fuels. Before FFs, there were fewer than 1 billion people on Earth, and let’s face it, their lives were less than rosy. The ONLY reason we now have 7.2 billion humans here, and growing, is 100% duie to the availability of cheap and abundant fossil fuels.

    Today, we have knowledge that was simply non existent 200 years ago. As a result, I believe we can quietly continue living in a low tech world. Whether your computer has electrons to run it or not is not essential to your survival.

    Food production, however, does, and today it utterly relies on FFs. 90% of all the calories in supermarket food entirely come from FFs Even so called organic food grown on large scale organic farms rely on hundreds of truckloads of manure brought from far away to be used as fertilisers. There are solutions to this, we use them all the time here on my little farm…… because (among many other things) we use Permaculture principles whereby OUR animals produce the manure, and we move it in wheelbarrows!

    Permaculture CAN be done on suburban blocks, though not on those where McMansions take up 90% of the site…. just as one example. COMMUNITY cooperation will become primordial, unlike the current way where everyone does his own thing at ‘work’ and retreats to urban dormitories for the night….

    So yes, I am not yet totally divorced from the Matrix, but if TSHTF tomorrow, it would be inconvenient, but for us it would not be the end of the world. My blog explains many of the things we do to prepare, and my advice is free…..

    Oh and Simon Michaux also has another video posted on my blog where he proposes some solutions….
    The Evolution of Society through a Crash


  30. Mike Stasse

    “We should have been” is actually FORTY TWO YEARS OLD!

    All the stuff I go on about in my comments on the AIMN were predicted in 1972 by the Club of Rome…… and nobody did ANYTHING. Heads in the sand everywhere. Still. Even people here like Beeza Geeza can’t be bothered learning the truth. It’s just too inconvenient.
    So much for debunking the Club of Rome….

  31. Mike Stasse

    I wrote a lengthy reply to Kaye’s 9:03AM post….. and it disappeared, obviously…

  32. Matthew Oborne

    When the oil find was announced in South Australia I was expecting at least some sanity. The race to get it out of the ground is now on presumably with no calls to leave it there, I guess we better build more of those roads of the 21st century, good thing too I was wondering what epoc of road building the Abbott government would embrace, first thoughts were ancient Roman roads flanked with crucifixes. High speed rail has been derailed in favour of infrastructure with a use by date.

  33. DanDark

    Mathew you forgot, The Toga, no more budgie smugglers though,
    Oh my dear, it’s too funny this morning
    Truthies ditty is bloody funny
    Everybody should start the day with Truthie 🙂
    Then a read of AIMN it all makes me feel sane again 😉

  34. DanDark

    Beeza Geeza
    My grandfather came from England
    One of his grandfathers was a prototype engineer
    And did prototype designs etc for steam trains
    We have to start someone
    If someone had told the Romans
    There would be steam trains moving the masses
    They would of laughed at them, then stoned them to death
    The Future is soooo hard for some folk to understand
    They just want to live in the dark ages, and keep everyone else there too

  35. DanDark

    Oops sorry we all have to start Somewhere

  36. Kaye Lee


    I love the idea of people living in communities using permaculture and sharing resources. I think the HSR could facilitate that. There are innumerable benefits to allowing people to spend most of their time in such a community, working from home, if they also had quick easy access to the cities or town centres when needed which would be increasingly less hopefully. We could then make our finite resources last longer while our brilliant scientists continue to come up with new ideas.

  37. Mike Stasse

    I love the idea of people living in communities using permaculture and sharing resources. I think the HSR could facilitate that

    Do you Kaye? No one I know of omes here to partake in Permaculture who lives more than 10 km from here….. most of them walk! (not from 10km of course…)

    Where I live, near Noosa, is the originating hub of Permaculture. We have monthly Permablitzes, but NOBODY would use HSR to come here. I’m prepared to bet my house Australia will NEVER have HSR.

    Re the Romans remark, there’s an Arab saying that goes something along these lines: My father rode a camel. I drive an SUV, and my son rides in a Lear Jet. But his son will ride a camel too.
    And to DanDark……. I absolutely do NOT believe we will go back to the dark ages. Unless we allow it to happen of course.

  38. DanDark

    Mike lol lol lol lol lol
    whatevs 🙂

  39. Kaye Lee


    I wasn’t actually envisaging the purpose of high speed rail to be people coming to visit you (or any other permaculture commune). I was talking about the people in those communes being able to get OUT for work or education or doctors visits or entertainment or to visit family should they choose to do so.

  40. John921Fraser


    @Kaye Lee

    When you have a moment I would be interested in your take on this "Comment" and the numbers therein :

    Abbottism has brought a pestilential horde of political unfairness down on those who can least cope. Those with kaleidoscope eyes ignore the thinking of an unintelligent, dedicated to ordinariness, untalented type of man with a want to impose misery. One could expect such cruel and satisfying mockery from the Neolithic era: brutish mindlessness like a man who carelessly throws a well gnawed bone to his dog, after the cur had found his supper.
    There can be no meat on a bone shaved to pay $840 billion for 100 F35’s. Yes, you read it right, $840 million each x 100 = $840 billion. The $12 billion for 58 planes is Neolithic speak.. Our Mr Unfairness (Ardipithecus ramidus kadabba type man) is remiss to explain that 100 lemons cost $32,000.00 per hour to fly and maintain x 100 planes = $3.2 million per hour x 500 hours annual use for say 40 years expends 64 billion tax paid dollars, plus purchase price, plus inflation, plus any combat costs. Oh, and ties us to Lockheed Martin’s spare parts mortgage facility of unspecified interest and price hikes for the next 40 years.
    Lockheed’s mortgage reasons why a mind like a son of Lucy (Australopithecus afarensis) has OAP’s living on $400 million less, NO cuts, but reductions to bi-annual pension adjustments. It also explains where, Hockey’s $667 billion 10 year debt forecast comes from, which in terms of mystery is similar to that of Sahelanthropus tchadensis the oldest hominid found to date. Neothandral dumbness probably reasons no NDIS wheel chair funds, due to spare engines for lemons cost $28.947 million each.
    It’s truly primate type thinking to spend $840 billion on fighting an imaginary enemy while meanwhile spending nothing on climate change.
    Abbott: truly an offspring of Lucy in the sky with diamonds." ….Pen of hrba

  41. Mike Stasse

    But Kaye, aren’t high speed train invented t replae airplanes? Or else why the speed when ‘slow’ trains have to stop at every stations…..

  42. Kaye Lee

    John, the helmets cost more than US$500,000 each!

    The original expectation was for 100 aircraft. The Abbott government’s announcement in April takes Australia’s commitment to 72 – with the possibility of up to 24 more when the current Super Hornet is ready for retirement from 2030 on.

    The head of the JSF program, US Air Force Lieutenant General Chris Bogdan, visited Australia in April and declared the reliability and maintainability of the aircraft was not yet “good enough”.

    The US House Armed Services Committee was told the planes are currently not affordable to use at the moment.

    The committee heard software problems could delay the fighter’s production, and foreign buyer delays could see countries like Australia paying millions of dollars more per aircraft.

    The committee heard countries like Australia may risk paying millions of dollars more per aircraft because Italy, Turkey and Canada have or are considering delaying their purchases.

    “If those three partners choose to push airplanes out or reduce their buy, it will have an effect on all the other partners and the services buying the aircraft to the tune of about 2-3 per cent increase in price,” Lieutenant General Bogdan said.

    “We’ve looked at the reliability too and it is a really big concern now – it’s very risky,” the General Accounting Office’s Michael Sullivan said.

    “Not just in terms of getting the unit costs down on the aircraft, but also in terms of the operating and support costs.

    “The estimate now is deemed unaffordable.

    “That’s all got as much to do with reliability of the aircraft as anything else.”

  43. Kaye Lee

    “But Kaye, aren’t high speed train invented t replae airplanes?”

    I suggest you read the article.

  44. Mike Stasse

    Where I live, ‘in the country’, FREQUENCY of train services would be far more useful than SPEED. Only two train services a day stop here. it’s on the main line between Brisbane and Cairns too.

    What we really need is to double the track system, or even quadruple it. It’s probably not know by anyone living in big cities that the main line between large centres is a single track. Even the Tilt Train in Qld (our farcical excuse for ‘speed’) stops in our town to allow goods trains going in the opposite direction to pass without colliding..! The ordinary rail system has a very long way to go before I would consider any version of HSR to be of any use.

    IF I need to go to the next town, or the next one again, where the train stops when it actually runs, there is simply no way I could consider using the train, so utterly useless is the service.

  45. Kaye Lee

    Could I point out again, that it isn’t all about what is useful just for YOU Mike. As I said in the article, HSR would help free up the existing rail line. And regardless of how YOU choose to live your life, there are a great many people who still have to leave home and go further afield than the next farm.

  46. Kaye Lee

    You never can tell what the future will hold.

    After decades of experiments, U.S. Navy scientists believe they may have solved one of the world’s great challenges: how to turn seawater into fuel.

    The breakthrough came after scientists developed a way to extract carbon dioxide and hydrogen gas from seawater. The gasses are then turned into a fuel by a gas-to-liquids process with the help of catalytic converters.

  47. John921Fraser


    @Kaye Lee

    I've read enough informed articles on the jsf going back over 12 months to know that it is a turkey.

    I even went so far as predicting it would send Lockheed to apply for protection under Chapter 11 of U.S. bankruptcy law.

  48. Mike Stasse

    Oh but it isn’t just me……… EVERYONE for 40 km radius has to drive to work because of the USELESS train service (and the buses are just as bad. People in this district commute to Nambour and Maroochydore for work….. and have no option but to drive, which of course will all come to an end within five years. I don’t need to go anywhere much, because I’m pretty well self sufficient these days, but it’s everyone around me who are ill prepared for the future I worry about. They’ll all be screwed, not even able to get to work!

  49. John921Fraser


    And sorry to break into this thread, I just thought the posted "Comment" required a better math knowledge than mine.

  50. Kaye Lee

    Trying to follow the maths was hard john. Firstly, after a cursory look on the net, I have been unable to verify the assumptions made about $32,000/h and 500 hours flying time a year and 40 years use. If correct, and also assuming 100 planes (we don’t actually have ANY yet), then the maths to get to $64 billion operating costs was correct.

    I do not understand where the figure of $840 billion came from.

    Stop press….I may have worked it out. They are suggesting cost of $200 million each plane and then $640 million for operating costs over 40 years – $840 million over 40 years….times by 100 planes. I think that’s it.

  51. Mike Stasse

    After decades of experiments, U.S. Navy scientists believe they may have solved one of the world’s great challenges: how to turn seawater into fuel.

    Hahahaha….. that is so funny….

    Guess how they do that? They burn ENERGY, from….. you guessed it, fossil fuels. Worse, there is NO WAY KNOWN that this can be done in such a way that the resulting ‘fuel’ will return more energy than was put into the process in the first place…… having done some research, it seems that they are thinking of using the nuclear stations some navy ships use for propulsion….. but if they do in fact do that, their ships’ performance will be reduced, ither slowing the ship down or reducing range, or possibly both.

    “We’ve demonstrated the feasibility, we want to improve the process efficiency,” YEAH, right. Another boondoggle.

  52. Kaye Lee

    Mike, regardless of how much research you or I may do on the net, neither of us are experts on all the research that is going on in the world. I find your absolute certainty that no-one will make any progress on the energy equation or sustainability extremely arrogant. You have made up your mind that Armageddon is coming and you are preparing for it. Good luck to you.

  53. Mike Stasse

    No Kaye……. not arrogant at all. My son’s a physicist (TWO degrees), and Tom Murphy has a phD in physics ( and they agree with me. Or rather, I agree with them, because they know much more than I do…… And Simon Michaux has a phD in Geology. Who am I to say he’s wrong? Now THAT would be arrogant……

    I only deal in facts and numbers. Make no mistake, I’d love to be proven wrong. But Physics 101 precludes that as far as things stand right now, I am not.

    Unfortunately, people still confuse PRIMARY energy with storage systems. Remember high school physics? Energy can neither be created nor destroyed? It still applies……

  54. DanDark

    Here here Kaye
    There is light at the end of the tunnel
    And it’s Future Fast Rail
    There is more than one way to skin a cat
    The naysayers will all ways be around
    The old arm chair critic, a breed all of their own 🙂

  55. Jason

    What I think Mike is trying to say (or perhaps should be saying) is

    1. The true currency of civilization is energy. Our current wealth rests on abundant energy.

    2. The key factor in energy abundance is EROEI (energy returned on energy invested).

    Conventional fossil fuels have a very high EREOI. We have been able to enjoy massive abundance with little effort. However all known alternatives have a much lower EREOI, which is what makes them expensive. As we speak we are using up the last of the “low fruit” fossil fuel sources. The ones we are working now (fracking, shale oil, gas from sea water) are all low EREOI sources.

    Barring some major technological or scientific breakthrough, the future is likely to be one of lower energy abundance and higher frugality.

  56. Kaye Lee


    I accept that concept and agree it is what matters with new technology…it’s not a money cost but an energy cost. If it uses more energy to produce than it creates then it is not viable. But as with all new technology, if you know it is possible then the step to viable is often just a matter of time. And before anyone yells at me, I know energy is not “created” but it can be released by processes like breaking chemical bonds.

  57. Diannaart

    Australia and Antarctica are now the only two continents in the world where there is no high speed rail project underway.

    Wow!. Who said to get attention shout something like ‘sex”?

    Yup, Australia is heading full-steam into a 1950’s never-was.

  58. Mike Stasse

    My wife onstantly tells me to be patient with people when I try to explain our predicaments to them…….. after all, I have had 12 years head start, and there’s a lot to understand. I’m not yelling at anyone….. but I do get impatient. After all, when I first watched Simon Michaux’s presentation, we had four years left. I watched it again today, and blow me down we only have three years left now…! So if you wonder why I sometimes sound frustrated when discussing these issues on these forums, it’s because we are fast running out of time, and we did have forty years to do something and wasted them.

    Kaye….. the chemical bonds between hydrogen and oxygen are very strong. That’s why there is no free hydrogen anywhere, and therefore no hydrogen mines… more the pity.

    To break such a bond requires an exact and known amount of energy. 463kJ mol-1 to be precise. Not many bonds are actually stronger… HF is (583), as is SiF (541). that’s because Fluorine is even more reactive than H2…… but because we can’t achieve 100% efficiency in almost anything we do (sometimes we get pretty close..) it ALWAYS takes more energy to break water up than you ever retrieve by burning the Hydrogen, no matter how you do it. No amount of better tehnology will alter that. So why bother, when you could have used the energy used to do it to do the work you originally wanted to do? There’s only one reason, and that’s to store that energy, just like a car battery. And exactly like a car battery, hydrogen can never return the energy needed to create the stored energy.

    Modern civilisation cannot run on such ERoEI. Not even close. Hydrogen has an ERoEI of 0.8. Civilisation needs 5.0 minimum.

    Diminishing Returns, Energy Return on Energy Invested, and Collapse

  59. Trevor A

    The Beyond Zero Emissions report on High Speed Rail (2014) is a MUCH better source of information than the overly conservative 2013 Fed government Phase 2 report.

  60. Mike Stasse

    The Beyond Zero Emissions plans amount to a complete fantasy. For a start, the timescale for such a monumental shift is utterly unrealistic:

    Perhaps the most misunderstood aspect of energy transitions is their speed. Substituting one form of energy for another takes a long time….The comparison to a giant oil tanker, uncomfortable as it is, fits perfectly: Turning it around takes lots of time.

    And turning around the world’s fossil-fuel-based energy system is a truly gargantuan task. That system now has an annual throughput of more than 7 billion metric tons of hard coal and lignite, about 4 billion metric tons of crude oil, and more than 3 trillion cubic meters of natural gas. And its infrastructure—coal mines, oil and gas fields, refineries, pipelines, trains, trucks, tankers, filling stations, power plants, transformers, transmission and distribution lines, and hundreds of millions of gasoline, kerosene, diesel, and fuel oil engines—constitutes the costliest and most extensive set of installations, networks, and machines that the world has ever built, one that has taken generations and tens of trillions of dollars to put in place.

    It is impossible to displace this supersystem in a decade or two—or five, for that matter. Replacing it with an equally extensive and reliable alternative based on renewable energy flows is a task that will require decades of expensive commitment. It is the work of generations of engineers.

    Even if we were not facing a long period of financial crisis and economic contraction, it would not be possible to engineer such a rapid change. In a contractionary context, it is simply inconceivable. The necessary funds will not be available, and in the coming period of deleveraging, deflation and economic depression, much-reduced demand will not justify investment. Demand is not what we want, but what we can pay for, and under such circumstances, that amount will be much less than we can currently afford. With very little money in circulation, it will be difficult enough for us to maintain the infrastructure we already have, and keep future supply from collapsing for lack of investment.

    Timescale and lack of funds are by no means the only possible critique of current renewable energy plans, however. It is not just a matter of taking longer, or waiting for more auspicious financial circumstances. It will never be possible to deliver what we consider business as usual, or anything remotely resembling it, on renewable energy alone. We can, of course, live in a world of renewable energy only, as we have done through out most of history, but it is not going to resemble the True Believers’ techno-utopia. Living on an energy income, as opposed to an energy inheritance, will mean living within our energy means, and this is something we have not done since the industrial revolution.

    Technologically harnessable renewable energy is largely a myth. While the sun will continue to shine and the wind will continue to blow, the components of the infrastructure necessary for converting these forms of energy into usable electricity, and distributing that electricity to where it is needed, are not renewable. Affordable fossil fuels are required to extract the raw materials, produce the components, and to build and maintain the infrastructure. In other words, renewables do not replace fossil fuels, nor remove the need for them. They may not even reduce that need by much, and they create additional dependencies on rare materials.

  61. Rais

    Writing from Perth I don’t see much advantage in a High Speed Rail project linking Melbourne and Sydney at huge national expense. What can high speed rail do that high speed buses running on dedicated lanes could not do nearly as fast and for a fraction of the cost?

  62. Kaye Lee


    Buses can’t go at 300kph. The volume of traffic between Melbourne and Sydney is huge. In places the road is single lane. Building dedicated lanes from Brisbane to Melbourne would cost a fortune and save NO time. If we use your reasoning (that it doesn’t do anything to help WA) then we could say money spent on hospitals in WA do nothing to help NSW. I know how you feel though – it is how I feel about the Coalition spending tens of billions on a NBN that some people will be hooked up to for free while others will have to pay thousands to get connected.

  63. Trevor A


    19 comments from you on a story about high speed rail, and not an ounce of support??

    “High speed = high energy consumption. Doubling the speed of anything quadruples energy consumption!

    In an energy constrained future, high speed ANYTHING is a bad idea.

    Everything will have to be relocalised, and transport especially. When cars and planes go extinct, we will need lots of slow shuttle trains and light rail to move people between suburbs and small towns using the least amount of energy, which is all solar will give us.”

    What a larf indeed!

    Now there is a fantasy….expecting some sort of doomsday event are we Mike?

    How does your opinion differ between fantasy and delusion?

    Lets go back to the horse and cart shall we?

    Finally if I may be repeat the authors own words:

    “Could I point out again, that it isn’t all about what is useful just for YOU Mike. As I said in the article, HSR would help free up the existing rail line. And regardless of how YOU choose to live your life, there are a great many people who still have to leave home and go further afield than the next farm”.

  64. Rais

    Kaye Lee,
    Admittedly buses wouldn’t do 300 km/h but on dedicated lanes which would cost a lot less than rail they could do at least 150. With computerised coordination of traffic other vehicles could make limited use of the bus lanes. Yes I’ve driven from Sydney to Melbourne and there is a lot of traffic. But I would like to see a business model demonstrate the worth of fast rail, and could never envisage it reaching Brisbane.

    BTW, new hospitals are being built in WA and the money is locally raised! If Sydmelberra can finance its own high speed rail without help from the roughly two thirds of WA’s GST that they currently take I’ll happily withdraw any objection. (Yes in case anyone wants to point it out, WA used to be a “mendicant State.” But then we were 8% of Australia being propped up by a large population in the industrialised States. Now we’re 11% of Australia propping up larger populations elsewhere.)

  65. Mike Stasse

    Trevor A……. let’s revisit this in 5 to 10 years time and see who has the last larf…..

    The mere fact you lump ““High speed = high energy consumption. Doubling the speed of anything quadruples energy consumption!” in the fantasy column reduces your credibility to NIL. THAT, mate, is Physics 101, a universal rules set in concrete……

  66. corvus boreus

    A morning libation and prayer;
    To the outside chance that any of us are capable of genuine larfter and mirf in the landscape of 5-10 years time.
    I hope but doubt.

  67. Mike Stasse

    19 comments from you on a story about high speed rail, and not an ounce of support??

    As I always say…… blogging isn’t a popularity contest.

    I don’t partiularly care whether you agree with me or not. It’s YOUR problem, not mine. If you want to join the queue of victims of the looming collapse, be my guest…… just don’t come here looking for help when it happens.

    All I’m trying to do is shake people from their torpor. MSM comes up with fairy tale stories all the time, and I’m afraid high speed rail is just one of them. So is hydrogen from seawater. They even keep calling that shit a breakthrough, even though I already knew about it fifteen years ago and was even then telling people it was a dead loss of energy…. It’s a distraction; after all, you don’t want more people like me scaring the little children…… it might bring the Matrix down ahead of schedule!

  68. Kaye Lee


    I don’t find your approach helpful. You say you aren’t negative but I have to tell you, you certainly come across that way. You don’t offer suggestions, just doom and gloom. You have an absolute certainty that you know everything about all research now and into the future – it’s all something 101 to you. Perhaps you are right. Perhaps there is no hope and that we have reached the limit of our understanding. There will be no “breakthroughs”. I am not so certain and I will continue to explore possibilities and read what others are doing and try to offer suggestions myself. Remember how annoying Tony Abbott was when he just belittled everything and said no all the time?

  69. corvus boreus

    “We’re being sedated by the gasoline fumes,
    and hypnotised by the satellites,
    into believing lies are true,
    and wrong is right”.
    Matt Johnson

  70. Mike Stasse

    Kaye……. I offer suggestions all the time. It’s just people don’t like them, nobody wants to give up their cushy lives, their iPhones, their self parking cars, overseas flights for trivial pursuits, etc etc etc…. And I do NOT know everything about everything….. but I know enough to tell you that the faster a train (or anything at all) travels, the more energy it consumes, and it’s directly proportional to the sqare of the speed. I also know how to make hydrogen from water… I’ve actually done it for fun! I also get knowledge from experts. One of my best sources for this is Tom the physicist who has written at length, with all the numbers over at his website Do the Math which I have already linked to above. You say “I am not so certain and I will continue to explore possibilities”……. well explore what he has done, he’s a doctor of physics, and he is very good at calculting why things are impossible. Start with his Most Popular Posts list on the RHS of his website. Then get back to me.

    I actually think putting the growth monster with all its consumerist idiocy down is a POSITIVE thing. And please don’t compare me with the mad monk…… he’s a dickhead, and I’m not.

    And…… there is hope. Every day I hope people come to their senses and realise what an idiotic idea it is to continue increasing consumption by building ever more stuff we don’t need to survive a decent relaxed life.

  71. Kaye Lee

    Mike I agree about the consequences of rampant consumerism and I understand that we live on a world of finite resources. Where we diverge is that you see only one future. You state any other future is impossible because of the equation. I see an infinite number of possibilities in front of us. Some will turn out to be impossible but every day new possibilities open up. Terraforming Mars? Who can tell what the future holds. In the mean time lets aim for achievable steps. Any reduction of fossil fuel use and carbon footprint is a start. Anything that offers renewable energy is worth exploring. I understand your point about turbines are made of finite resources and require energy to build and run but we come up with new materials and production methods all the time.

  72. Möbius Ecko

    Momentum is a vector quantity – it has a direction in space, and momenta combine like forces do. Kinetic energy is a scalar quantity – it has no direction in space, and kinetic energies combine like “regular numbers.”

    The momentum of an object is proportional to the object’s velocity – if you double its velocity, you double its momentum. The kinetic energy of an object is proportional to the square of the object’s velocity – if you double its velocity, you quadruple its kinetic energy.

    It is kinetic energy (and drag) that is quadruped, that is the energy required to stop it.

    I’m not sure that doubling the speed requires quadruple the electricity or fuel to achieve it. Trains are the most efficient per passenger transport because the steel wheel on steel track has the least friction. High speed trains are also drag efficient by design. Though an aircraft at height has less friction it requires a lot of energy to get it up there and then to maintain it flying.

  73. Mike Stasse

    Terraforming Mars? Are you out of your mind…… Don’t you think we should stop destroying THIS planet before we embark on another…?

    You say ” I agree about the consequences of rampant consumerism and I understand that we live on a world of finite resources”, but you want HSR. Is that not consumption of non renewable resources? And seeing as nothing lasts forever, its maintenance and eventual replacement also means more consumptiion…

    Building renewables does NOT reduce fossil fuel consumption, it increases it.

    I suggest you listen to another phD I know, Dr Susan Krumdieck, who teaches transition engineering in NZ…

    Susan Krumdieck on Transition Engineering

  74. Mike Stasse

    It is kinetic energy (and drag) that is quadruped, that is the energy required to stop it.

    It is also the energy required to drive it. Don’t you understan you need the same amount of energy to overcome drag?

    Fdrag = ½ρcDAv²

    Force is directly proportional to energy……

  75. Kaye Lee

    Mike, I would refer you to the comments by SAULT18 in the scientific American article you linked to. They make very sensible suggestions. And I would really appreciate it if you would stop telling everyone else they are crazy.

  76. Möbius Ecko

    Can you give us a link to that Mike Stasse as I look everywhere and that’s not what I got from the sites I visited.

    Surely a streamlined vehicle requires less energy to overcome drag than a non-streamlined one?

  77. Kaye Lee

    “Building renewables does NOT reduce fossil fuel consumption, it increases it.”

    Not according to the data Mike


    It has become an article of popular faith that building wind farms also involves constructing fossil-fuelled power stations for back‑up when the weather is calm. As a result, some opponents go on to say, wind turbines do little or nothing to cut carbon dioxide emissions.

    Now the National Grid has studied what actually happens in practice, with explosive, if surprising, results. Between April 2011 and September 2012 – its head of energy strategy, Richard Smith, told the Hay Festival – wind produced some 23,700 gigawatt hours (GWh) of power. Only 22GWh of power from fossil fuels was needed to fill the gaps when the wind didn’t blow. That’s less than a thousandth of the turbines’ output – and, as it happens, less than a tenth of what was needed to back up conventional power stations.

    It proved to be much the same with emissions. Wind saved nearly 11 million tonnes of carbon dioxide over that 18 months; standby burning of fossil fuels only reduced this by 8,800 tonnes, or 0.081 per cent.

    Not surprisingly, given these figures, no new fossil‑fuel power station has been built to provide back‑up for wind farms, and none is in prospect.”

  78. Möbius Ecko

    I found this:

    Simple theory of train
    energy consumption, per passenger, for
    an eight-carriage train carrying 584
    passengers. Vertical axis is energy
    consumption in kWh per 100 p-km.

    Assumptions: the train’s engine uses
    energy with an efficiency of 0.90;
    cdAtrain = 11 m2; mtrain = 400 000 kg;
    and Crr = 0.002.

    In fact the whole article on vehicle energy efficiency is enlightening:

  79. Mike Stasse

    ALL trains are aerodynamic. That, and the fact steel wheels on steel tracks cause almost no drag is why trains are far far better than trucks/buses/cars for transport. But it doesn’t alter the fact that if is take x amount of energy to drive a train at 100 km/hr, it will take x^2 amount of energy to drive a train at 200 km/hr. I’m not against trains – I’m all for them – I’m against speed.

    Kaye….. I’m not talking about backing them up, I’m talking about BUILDING them. Somewhere I’ve seen estimates that it would almost consume almost all the remaining economic fossil fuels to replace what we currently do with fossil fuels. So what’s the point? We are still going to burn all the fossil fuels.

    IF you bothered to listen to Susan Krumdieck, she’d tell you the problem is NOT the renewable energy we don’t use, but the fossil fuels we do use…

    Australia already gets ~10% of its energy from renewables. if everyone stopped consuming and lived like I do, that would be enough already. THAT is my point.

  80. Mike Stasse

    Kaye….. regarding the omment by SAULT18 in the scientific American article I linked to, I fail to see your point. I agree with him 100%!

  81. Kaye Lee

    ummmm….I wasn’t making a point. I was directing your attention to some good suggestions in case you hadn’t read the comments below the article. I found the article poor but some of the comments most interesting and offering practical suggestions on how to move forward. We will not all end up living like you Mike, much as I can understand how rewarding you find it and what a personal contribution you are making by living that way. But we still need hospitals and schools and many things that you cannot provide so we need to work with what is possible.

  82. Mike Stasse

    We only need hospitals because the corporations feed us crap and expose us to untold poisons, etc etc etc……. oh and they take us to wars too. And build cars that crash.

    Generally speaking, modern life is very bad for us. Stress for one thing, and cancer causing chemicals everywhere. Once the system’s crashed, the next generation will be much healthier.

    Schools have become places where kids are taught to become srfs of the economy…… If I had kids now, I’d home school them.

  83. Mike Stasse

    SAULT 18 states “CO2 emissions need to fall 80 – 90% and we need to halt the degradation of carbon sinks (like forests and the oceans) to stabilize the CO2 concentration in the air. That’s a difficult task, but we will never achieve it until we achieve a 10% reduction and then a 20% reduction and so on.”

    He’s dead right. Trouble is “CO2 emissions need to fall 80 – 90%” RIGHT NOW. Not tomorrow, not next year, not in 10 years time…… right now. We are running out of time fast. Greenland and the West Antarctic Ice Shelf are melting at 10 times the rate the models predicted……

    And all these plans of building HSR, winf turbines, solar power, etc etc etc only exacerbate emissions.

    But never fear……. the economy will collapse in 5 to 10 years time, and all this nonsense will stop. I hope (see – I HOPE!) that it actually occurs earlier, even though it would be highly inconvenient for me who’s planning to start all over again Tasmania before Climet Change kills me in Qld……

  84. Kaye Lee

    If I was you I would watch out for stress related diseases. They may pose a more imminent threat.

    And as pointed out. You cannot achieve 80% reduction NOW, and you can never achieve it until you achieve 10% then 20%…..thankfully many people have ideas on how to take those first steps.

  85. Mike Stasse

    We’ve ahieved 90%. Our house will again this year be open for Sustainable House Day. Maybe you’d like to pop in for a chat (September 7 and 14) and I’ll make you one of my special organic fair trade coffees on my wood stove…… Until someone shows me a household that uses less electricity than us, I will continue claiming to have the most energy efficient house in Australia…

    Using less is easy. Just stop what you’re doing. Stop driving to work (see I’m far less likely to be stressed out, I never see traffic…) and stop servicing your debts… in no time flat, less than a week? the system would be on its knees and emissions would fall by 80%. Just like that.

    But people won’t do it. Too inconvenient. So I wait until it happens of its own accord…..

  86. Kaye Lee

    Right. So when the chemist stops driving to work how are you to get your medications? How am I to get to your place if I don’t drive? If the shop owners stop driving to work where am I to buy the things I am unable to produce myself? Do you expect hospital intensive care units to run on wood burner stoves? I assume you have plumbing – what do you do if the pipes break?

    You are one person making a good contribution. You are totally impractical to think the world can be run as you do your household.

    And I will continue to pay my debts because it would go against everything important to me to not do so. I entered into an agreement knowing what I was doing. I have benefited from the arrangement and I will honour my side of the bargain.

  87. Mike Stasse

    There’s a slow speed train to here…… twice a day! The irony was too much for me to pass up…!

    “I entered into an agreement knowing what I was doing.” So you agree to repay the banks money they didn’t even have to lend you in the fisrt place…….?

    Everyone to his own.

  88. Mike Stasse

    Something interesting just occurred to me…….

    If I say “such and such can’t be done because…..” everyone comes down on me like a ton of bricks.

    But then when I say “such and such can be done, because I’ve actually managed to achieve this in real life”, then you still come down on me like a ton of bricks and now you say nobody will do this…..

    So it’s OK for you to be ‘negative’, but not me…….

  89. Kaye Lee

    How is applauding your contribution coming down on you like a ton of bricks? All I am doing is pointing out that maybe the chemist does not have a slow speed train from his place to the pharmacy. Maybe the distributors don’t have slow speed trains from the warehouses to the pharmacy. You get my drift? Not everyone has the option to live as you do and you must understand that others are making valuable contributions in what they do by teaching your children or building your slow speed trains or putting out the bushfire bearing down on you.

  90. Kaye Lee

    Mike, we have the same goal. You want it now. I know that can’t happen. What CAN happen is that we can look for reductions wherever we can find them. We will still need energy. Let’s try to need less and let’s look for the most effective uses for the energy we do consume.

    You feel there is no need for fast travel but I disagree. Slow travel is very unproductive. So if there is a need for fast travel, I want it to be the most environmentally friendly cost effective alternative (though I don’t really care about the cost – just the best allocation of resources).

    You have minimised your carbon footprint in what may well be a blueprint for the future and an inspiration for people right now. You have minimised your dependence on the rest of society, but you have not eliminated it.

  91. Mike Stasse

    Ironially, my chemist, whom I know very well, can walk to the shop. I’m almost certain he already does….

    And productivity IS the problem. Productivity means things made for consumption happen. We need to end this line of thinking…..

  92. Bacchus

    Fair enough Rais – we’ll distribute GST on a purely per capita basis as the first step. How about for step two, we move the power to tax mining (royalties) from the states to the federal government and distribute that on a per capita basis too? Sound fair? 😉

  93. Kaye Lee

    “Productivity means things made for consumption happen”

    Do you consider health and education things made for consumption? Do you want your ambulance drivers and firefighters and police to get there slowly? Do you want to wait a long time for anything you need?

  94. Mike Stasse

    I strongly recommend anyone wishing to find out more about our future dilemmas to attend this set of lectures by David Holmgren and Nicole Foss….. both great speakers, and very knowledgeable.

    The latest “Survive and thrive” tour dates

    Strategies for a changing economy

    Survive and Thrive

    with Nicole Foss and David Holmgren (click title to see the details)

    June 27 (Fri) Sydney

    June 29 (Sun) Narara Ecovillage (9am)
    June 29 (Sun) Newcastle (3pm)

    June 30 (Mon) “Crash or crash through” workshop (Holmgren) at Hunter TAFE in Newcastle
    June 30 (Mon)”Building resilience in an era of limits to growth” workshop (Foss) at Hunter TAFE in Newcastle
    June 30 (Mon)Building resilience, with Nicole Foss in Port Stephens (Foss)

    July 3 (Thu) “Crash or crash through” workshop at Bellbunya (9am)
    July 3 (Thu) Sunshine Coast (6pm)

    July 4 (Fri) Brisbane (6pm)
    July 6 (Sun) Fremantle (10am)
    July 8 (Tue) “Crash or crash through” workshop at Fremantle Town Hall (6pm)
    July 13 (Sun) “Crash or crash through” workshop (Holmgren) at Creative Collective in Lara near Geelong
    July 11 (Fri) Daylesford (7pm)
    July 15 (Tue) Melbourne (7pm)
    July 19 (Sat) Hobart (Holmgren) (6.30pm)

    Full details at links @

  95. Mike Stasse

    Kaye……. you finally get it! Describing the future as it will be…..

  96. Kaye Lee


    I have “got” nothing at all from anything you have said. You have taught me nothing I didn’t already know and offered no sensible suggestions. I am interested in the possible, you are fixated on the impossible. We will never agree and I will not be engaging further.

  97. Trevor A

    Some recent international examples of ambitious creation of high speed rail systems are:

    • Spain’s program of extending HSR across the country, in eight years from 2005 to 2013 bringing over 2550km of new HSR line into service, on seven new lines connecting a total of 31 cities and towns.

    • Taiwan HSR line, which began construction in March 2000 and opened in Jan 2007 in just under 7 years. This example is notable as while the line was only 350 km long, approx 300km is either in tunnels, on bridges and on viaducts, which is a a major construction challenge. The proposed entire HSR network for Australia would require only180km of elevated structures and tunnels.

    • The 1318km Jinghu railway from Beijing to Shanghai was constructed in just three years from April 2008 to opening in June 2011. Whilst this experience would not be expected to be fully transferable from China to Australia, it does highlight how rapid construction rates could be.

    We could easily build the entire Brisbane to Melbourne system within 15 years. We are the clever country aren’t we?

    My research suggests that 10 years would most likely be required to complete a HSR section(s) as follows:

    a. two years to form a business case and tender,

    b . two years for environmental and engineering study and public consultation,

    c. five years for construction, and

    d. one year for testing and evaluation.

    However, concurrent activity and the construction of sections requiring minimal tunneling significantly reduce that period. The Central Coast – Newcastle section and the Canberra – Southern Highland sections could be built faster, within 7 years

    It has been suggested that a model adopted by some overseas countries where the government bought the land, and the private sector developed the infrastructure and associated commercial development, might also work here.

    “It’s not just a train, it’s a future”

    P.S. Loveyourwork KL
    PPS I fully concur with your final reply to Mike.TY.

  98. corvus boreus

    Mike S,
    Thanks for the perspective and links.
    25/6 08:23 hit home hard for me.
    Best wishes to you and yours.

  99. Laurence E. (Larry) Blow

    Kaye Lee,

    Let me say first that, as far as I’m concerned, you’ve been a model moderator throughout this thread.

    And I agree with you when you say (at June 25, 2014, 12:13 pm): ” … if there is a need for fast travel, I want it to be the most environmentally friendly cost effective alternative (though I don’t really care about the cost – just the best allocation of resources).”

    Looking back a little in time, the Green Party in Germany had a hand in killing a couple of promising routes for the homegrown Transrapid intercity maglev in the early and mid-2000s. One of their talking points was that attaining travel speeds higher that those available at the time — 186 mph on the ICE trains — would require building additional sources of power to sustain such a network, possibly nuclear power plants, and that was a fundamentally bad idea. Germany has never built an intercity maglev for itself. China did it instead in Shanghai.

    The energy-sustainability cranks will always be with us and can teach us some valuable lessons if we pay attention. But they don’t represent everyone.

  100. Mike Stasse

    This is obviously a lost cause, my ability to explain our predicaments is clearly not good enough. This thread has I think run its course, and I don’t think I’ll continue after this….. or I shall despair.

    Laurence: “The energy-sustainability cranks will always be with us and can teach us some valuable lessons if we pay attention. But they don’t represent everyone.” SO Laurence……… WHO represents us? Those f*wits in Canberra who want to continue with business as usual maybe? And fry the rest of us..?

    Trevor: Like I said somewhere way up the top of this now lengthy thread, “we do what we do because we can”

    Yep, Spain built those train lines. Now the country’s bankrupt. Spain’s population is three times the size of ours, and the country is a fraction the size; from the top of Spain to Gibraltar is just over 800km or 80% of the distance from Brisbane to Sydney.

    You can hardly compare China to us. Did you know that China, in just the past three years, used as much cement (responsible for half the world’s greenhouse emissions) as the USA consumed in the entire 20th Century? Now I’m not saying all this cement was used on their HSR, but the Chinese do what they do because they can. Their population is 52 times the size of ours. China will soon collapse from overpopulation, inability to power all its toys, and pollution. Its economy is an even bigger ponzi scheme than ours, they have entire cities that are uninhabited, and their real estate values have plunged 34% just this year….. watch this space.

    Then there’s timing…..

    As I have said before, production of ALL liquid fuels, even those funny ones that are fracked or made from corn and sugar cane, will start going down six or so months from now. Forever. The oil companies are slowly but surely going broke….. just like the rest of the world, burdened by unrepayable debts Within six years (or less) Australia will have zero oil of its own. We will be at the mercy of other countries to sell us theirs, and they can ask whatever they like, if they even are prepared to sell us some.

    What’s happened in the past has absolutely no bearing on what will happen in the future. I feel totally bewildered that almost no one here has taken on board what Dr Simon Michaux, an Australian geologist who used to work for the mining industry had to say in the video clip some 30 AIMN readers had a look at on my blog…. PEAK MINING is three years away.

    WHERE will we find the resources to build this HSR wet dream once mining becomes not just ecologically unsustainable, but economically so as well?

    Goodbye…… I have sustainable things to attend to.

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