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Pie in the sky

By Stephen Fitzgerald 

Greenhouse gasses trap energy from the sun and drive global warming. A one degree increase in global temperature equates to a 7% increase in atmospheric water vapour. Increased temperature and water vapour drives extremes in weather. Floods, wild-fires, droughts, hurricanes, ice melt and sea level rises as we are experiencing right now. The only way out is to stop burning fossil fuels but, we have a major fight on our hands.

As part of the climate-change picture, I have previously mentioned the oil wars ravaging entire nations in the battle for control of fossil fuels worth 10’s of trillions of dollars. This is driven by greed and the selective ignorance of a few oil and war barons plus the governments who pander to them. Companies generating electricity by burning fossil fuel are driven purely by profit and they have a total disregard for the future of civilisation, the natural world, and us. The big question is: “How do we stop them?”

Let’s look at the main offenders in relation to burning the fossil fuels that drives global warming. Check the pie chart below. At 2% of total green house gas emissions, Germany have just now surpassed their 50% renewable energy target and aim to phase out all coal powered electricity stations by 2028. They are well underway to a sustainable energy future and, if they can do it, what’s wrong with the rest of us? I’m suggesting it’s miss-information by government and big business plus our own ignorance.

Here’s another shock. The top five fossil fuel burning countries create a staggering 60% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. Let’s have a look at where they stand with action on climate change:

China: Are in the process of setting up a national power grid so every capable citizen can generate and contribute renewable solar and wind energy to a national grid. On the “Climate Action Tracker”, at the moment, they are still considered highly insufficient.

America: A war economy whose government fully supports the fossil fuel industry and not climate action. On the “Climate Action Tracker” is considered critically insufficient. The pinnacle of capitalism. It’s all about money and screw everything and, everyone else.

India: Aims to develop solar energy for power generation with the ultimate objective of making solar competitive with fossil-based energy options. On the “Climate Action Tracker” is considered 2°C compatible and on the right track.

Russia: Wants to protect itself from climate change with better weather forecasting and not by reducing carbon emissions? On the “Climate Action Tracker” is considered critically insufficient. Clearly obsessed with self-interest and not self-preservation.

Japan: Action on climate change on the “Climate Action Tracker” is considered highly insufficient. Well, they eat whales and apparently don’t care much about the natural world so, what else can we expect.

That then brings us to dear old backward Australia. On the “Climate Action Tracker” is considered insufficient. We are shamefully worse than India! What is our LNP government doing to play their part and help save the world? The answer is a resounding nothing! They are doing quite the opposite by promoting fossil fuel to exacerbate global warming and, I am personally disgusted with all of them.

So, in exasperation, what do we do? What can we do? We can’t trust the government, we can’t trust the fossil fuel and power industry and, we can’t trust those other mongrel dogs fighting over fossil fuels. That would be Russia and America. The only solution we have, is to trust ourselves.

Collectively, every conscious human on the planet needs to generate renewable energy and then, feed the surplus into their national power grids and, eventually a global power grid. We did it with communication and the internet and it can be done with electricity supply.

You see, there is hope but, we can’t leave it to governments or big business. We must do it ourselves and only we can save us. At the moment Australia runs on 15% renewable energy. Start generating your own power and sell the surplus to the national grid. If every capable Australian does this, we can force out the fossil fuel giants and save us but, we need to act together and quickly.

Individually, we can’t change the governments, we can’t stop the murderous war machine and we can’t shut the door on fossil fuel conglomerates but, collectively and with a collective consciousness, we can work around them and shut them down. It’s people power! Put up those solar panels, feed electricity into the grid and fight for the future.

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103 comments

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  1. Josephus

    Good article, but a few comments:
    1. Germany cannot go nuclear due to domestic resistance. Having shut down its Soviet era GDR nuclear plants post 1990, it imports nuclear power from France.
    2. Post Fall of Berlin Wall , while the Easterners hoped for an end to filthy lignite mining and use, the new Germany modernised/reused several lignite mines, and still uses this fossil based power source.
    3. Japan is largely using nuclear power, not coal. Ditto France.
    4. As a solar panel householder I realise that solar panels have a toxic end of life. (Newest solar panel types are better, I understand). Ditto end of life disposal of wind turbines (also use heavy metals.)

  2. Kaye Lee

    Solar panel recycling is a promising new industry

    https://www.solarquotes.com.au/blog/solar-panel-recycling-mb0712/

    https://reneweconomy.com.au/solar-panel-recycler-leads-australia-in-emerging-industry-99038/

    Before the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster, about one third of electricity in the country was generated by nuclear power. In the following years, most nuclear power plants have been on hold, being replaced mostly by coal and natural gas. Solar power is a growing source of electricity, and Japan has the third largest solar PV installed capacity with about 50 GW as of 2017. Japan has the second largest pumped-hydro storage installed capacity in the world after China.

  3. helvityni

    ” Germany have just now surpassed their 50% renewable energy target and aim to phase out all coal powered electricity stations by 2028.”…..

    …and to think that Oz has all that sun, plus plenty of wind, shame on us..

  4. John Hermann

    If the markets were not rigged in favour of the fossil fuel producers (for political and ideological reasons), then freely operating market forces would largely and quickly eliminate coal and oil from the energy mix. The cost of using renewable energy sources continues to fall, and on average around the world these sources are more than cost competitive with both fossil fuels and nuclear. That gap will continue to increase over time. Energy companies are now largely investing in renewables, not coal.

  5. RosemaryJ36

    I installed 12 solar panels on the roof of my unit just over 3 years ago. I am consistently in credit with my power provider. I estimate it will be another 4 years before I have paid off the capital outlay. I am advantaged by being paid the same rate as I am charged. Had I delayed the installation, the cost might have been lower.
    I understand that power suppliers have to balance out fluctuations in input to the grid from private sources and renters are at the mercy of landlords.
    This is why governments MUST have a clear policy on the issue as well as making provision for future recycling needs.

  6. SteveFitz

    Thanks Rosemary for leading the way.

    You would need to be in a coma or isolation tank not to be aware of the extremes in weather brought on by global warming. Our politicians know about it and big business are fully aware of the consequences of ignoring action on climate change but, in Australia, it’s business as usual?

    As pointed out, the countries in climate change denial are the countries with a huge vested interest in the fossil fuel that drives global warming. Down the track, these countries will be sanctioned by the rest of the world to force action on climate change. Australia generates 85% of its electricity by burning coal and coal is Australia’s largest export. Australia is right up there with global climate change deniers like Russia and America and, we need to change.

    We need to grasp the enormity of our problem. We are all threatened if we don’t act to reduce the consumption of fossil fuels. For starters, collectively, we can join the global movement to install climate action governments. Desperately, we need a progressive government that can guide Australia to a renewable energy future. To force that process, individually, we need to back alternate energy by investing in alternate energy. Locally and globally we need to remove the demand for fossil fuel.

  7. Kaye Lee

    I would really love Labor to get active in facilitating reusing/recycling as a priority. It would be a great employer that could largely be done by unskilled labour overseen by older people who have the skills to recognise the value of raw materials. Charities could help co-ordinate it along with local councils. Using recycled input should be made cheaper for manufacturers. So many ideas come to mind.

  8. SteveFitz

    They are big ideas Kaye Lee and that’s exactly what we need. Big ideas. Helvityni, you are right…

    Australia does have all the sun. We are a vast flat sunlit land ideally suited to capture solar energy. We now have the capacity to battery store and on sell that solar power or, feed it directly into a global energy grid. Australia needs to aim for a 500% renewable energy future to accommodate our own energy needs plus, we can on sell the surplus energy, to the rest of the world, to reduce their dependence on fossil fuel and Australian coal.

    By doing this, Australia can generate more income from selling clean energy than selling coal and, in the process, go some way towards avoiding catastrophic climate change.

    Step 1: Change to a progressive government. Step 2: Embrace alternate clean energy for all of Australia. Step 3: Sell clean energy, not coal, to the rest of the world.

  9. SteveFitz

    Kaye Lee – Something you are really good at is keeping us informed of the larger picture. That puts us in a position to make informed decisions on the best path for the future. Hydrogen, hydro, solar and wind are important parts of the future clean energy mix. As part of the bigger picture we also need to fully understand where Australia is positioned right now so we can formulate a plan for the future: –

    AUSTRALIA – WORLD’S LARGEST COAL EXPORTER

    While Australia’s domestic greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions represent some 1.5% of the global total, its global carbon footprint – the total amount of carbon it pushes out into the global economy – is much bigger.
    Australia is the world’s largest coal exporter. By adding emissions from exported coal to our domestic emissions, Australia’s carbon footprint trebles. Its coal exports alone currently contribute at least another 3.3% of global emissions.

    In aggregate, therefore, Australia is at present the source of at least 4.8% of total global emissions. That’s without considering natural gas exports.

    This alternative viewpoint underscores the importance of Greenpeace’s recent claim that proposed “mega coal mines” in Queensland’s Galilee Basin, producing for export, would be responsible for 705 million tonnes of CO2 per year and would turn that region alone into the world’s seventh largest contributor of emissions.

    GOOD REASONS FOR THIS LARGER PERSPECTIVE

    Why take this alternative view? First, such a re-framing makes visible a range of hidden but significant national responsibilities for climate change. It is a more honest calibration of the mitigation/adaptation responsibilities and burdens of specific states. Countries like Australia benefit economically from this trade – and from fuelling climate change – without acknowledging that benefit or the costs.

    Second, it undermines already spurious claims that Australia’s contribution to the problem of climate change is trivial. When its current domestic carbon dioxide emissions and its exported CO2 emissions are combined, Australia ranks as the planet’s 6th largest emitter of CO2 – after China, the USA, the Russian Federation, India and Indonesia. It is responsible directly and indirectly for over 1.5 billion tonnes of CO2 per year – more than Germany’s emissions (population 82 million) and the UK’s emissions (population 62 million) combined.

    If planned and projected increases in Australian coal and gas exports are realised, our carbon footprint will more than double again over the coming decades. By 2030, Australia would be directly and indirectly responsible for over 2 billion tonnes of exported ‘green house gas’ emissions per year.

    HARM AVOIDANCE

    Still, should we reduce our coal exports in a global system geared to direct-emitters’ responsibility?
    Consider the principle of harm avoidance. This is a widely recognised principle, including under international law. It has been enshrined in the Stockholm Convention 1972 and the Rio Declaration of 1992.

    These international declarations – to which Australia is a signatory – state that parties “have the responsibility to ensure that activities within their jurisdiction or control do not cause damage to the environment of other States”. Trade in injurious substances flies in the face of the harm avoidance principle.

    By analogy, think of how most legal systems view sellers of asbestos or heroin, or of the growing reaction to the sale of tobacco. In these cases, we are no longer prepared to buy the argument that harm is a case of “buyer beware”. Instead, we ascribe responsibility for trade in a harmful substance substantially (in the case of heroin or asbestos) or significantly (in the case of cigarette producers) to their predatory traders.

    Leaving the responsibility for mitigation to others involves an abrogation of ethical responsibility to the market and to the atomised consumer.

    The second argument is purely pragmatic. The greater our dependency on a coal/gas export economy, the greater the economic distortions and social perils for Australia in the longer term. Australia’s export energy boom is generating an economy unsustainably dependent on the returns of that sector.

    If the end to the fossil energy boom is abrupt, the trauma to Australia’s economy will be significant. How will we provide regional structural adjustment assistance in the Hunter Valley and Bowen Basin, especially if this adjustment trauma is accompanied by increasing demands for climate adaptation and disaster relief funding?

    KILLING THE GOOSE?

    It must seem crazy-brave to propose a tax on coal exports given falling coal prices and political anxiety about the power of the mining industry. It must seem crazier still to propose an immediate moratorium on further expansion and to plan for the sector to be wound back. But in each case, that is what Labor should do.

    Labor first should immediately freeze Australia’s expanding global carbon footprint by capping export volumes.

    Second, it should simultaneously establish a carbon fund to provide for longer term structural adjustment costs domestically and for investment in energy alternatives in developing nations currently importing our fuels.

    Even a modest levy of $2 per tonne of exported coal would now net almost $800 million per year. More than this, though, Australia needs a national energy strategy based on this shift in perspective. It involves reconfiguring our understanding of Australia’s very substantial international role in the climate game and winding back our fossil fuel export sector within a decade.

    Ultimately change will be forced upon us, whether or not we like it, or are prepared. Even the most conservative IPCC and IEA estimates suggest that global fossil fuel use will need to contract substantially by 2050 if we are to limit global warming to 2 degrees Celsius. Australia itself has adopted an emissions mitigation policy of -80% by 2050. This is less than 38 years away.

    Major importers are already moving to cap and reduce their coal consumption. Our export carbon sector is clearly unsustainable if the rest of the world intends to cut fossil fuel use dramatically.

    A coherent energy-climate policy would guide a rapid, planned scale-down in coal production. The chaotic alternative – the one we have now – will continue to build our coal export sector and then allow market and climate forces to combine in a perfect economic storm and potentially destroy Australia.

    Our current, short sighted, LNP government is driving Australia towards destruction. As pointed out already, we the people need to force the transition to renewables and to save our economy we need to generate and on sell clean energy to the rest of the world.

  10. Diannaart

    Steve

    Australia has wedged itself into this conundrum.

    Coal will continue to lose value as third world countries avail themselves of cheaper and easier methods of energising their homes and industries.

    Correspondingly, the big lie by the LNP that Australia is “helping” poorer nations by selling coal will become apparent to even the most blinkered of voters.

    The irony that Australia could’ve avoided this situation and still made money (although not for fossil fuel investors) by utilising our abundant opportunities for solar, wind and other methods for generating energy.

    Australia once had the opportunity to become a world leader in sustainable technology.

    Well, that ship has sailed.

    We can still rescue ourselves from the years of do nothing governance this year. Labor had better be ready.

  11. SteveFitz

    Yes Diannaart, it is a conundrum and it does not get easier.

    CAN WE QUIT COAL IN TIME?

    IPCC warns world has just 12 years to avoid climate change catastrophe. The IPCC issued its bleakest report yet this week, saying that without drastic changes, the world doesn’t have a hope of avoiding uncontrollable climate change.

    Unless emissions are halved within 12 years and virtually eliminated by 2050, temperature increases will likely exceed 2 degrees Celsius. Beyond 2 degrees, scientists predict temperature increases may spiral as the climate breaches a series of unique tipping points, such as reflective sea ice loss and the methane releasing melting of the permafrost.

    The top culprit is fossil fuels, and the instructions to Australia and the rest of the world are clear: Quit coal by 2050. Specifically, the report’s authors say that coal usage needs to drop to between 0 and 2 per cent of existing levels.

    At the moment, the countries responsible for the bulk of the world’s emissions are scaling down their reliance on coal, but developing countries in South-East Asia are moving in the exact opposite direction, even going so far as to build new coal-fired power plants with the help of foreign finance. If they’re all built, Australian coal is likely to be used to keep those generators running for 50 years into the future.

    AUSTRALIA’S COAL HABIT

    Much has been written about Australia’s love affair with coal. The bulk of Australia’s coal is mined in Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland, with the most polluting coal — also known as brown coal — coming predominantly from Victoria.

    Australia has more than 21 coal-fired power stations in operation, and still relies heavily on coal for electricity. There are no new coal-fired power stations currently being built in Australia, but Energy Market Analyst Tim Buckley has told The Signal, 80 per cent of Australia’s coal is exported.

    He said he believes “it’s entirely possible, [but] it’s entirely improbable” that Australia will manage to wean itself off coal by 2050, if the current policy settings remain. The Government’s own figures, released two weeks ago, reveal Australia’s emissions are currently rising.

    WHO’S QUITTING COAL

    The tipping point’s been reached: the cold, hard numbers show that new renewable energy is supplying cheaper electricity than new coal-fired power plants could and, will continue do so, writes Stephen Long.

    In responding to the IPCC report, Scott Morrison has been quick to point out that Australia’s emissions are only a fraction of the world’s overall carbon output, coming in between 1 and 2 per cent. That does not include our monumentally huge coal and gas exports.

    By contrast, the US, China, Japan, and India are the world’s biggest emitters. Tim Buckley said Japan has been slow to act, but has had a recent change of heart. “Japan is definitely pivoting. They’ve gone from being a world laggard — Japan is going in the other direction”. China and India on the other hand, have been investing heavily in renewables.

    WHAT HAPPENS IF CHINA DRIVES THE WORLD WHEN IT COMES TO COAL.

    “China is half the world’s coal production, half the world’s coal consumption — it’s the biggest importer of coal, and for the last five years the Chinese central leadership has been on an absolute mission to decarbonise their economy”.

    “India is really exciting. Prime Minister [Narendra] Modi was elected on a solar platform. “They are saying that 40 per cent of their electricity generation capacity by 2027 will be renewable energy, up from maybe 10 per cent three years ago, so it’s just a huge transformation.”

    US President Donald Trump has expressed enthusiasm for coal, and long threatened to pull America out of the Paris Climate Agreement. But Tim Buckley said the transformation set in motion during the Obama years was significant. “Coal went from being 50 per cent of US electricity system a decade ago, but it hit a record low last year of 30 per cent and it’s gone even lower this year”.

    Of Australia’s reliance on coal as an export, he said: “We can turn the ship around. Our biggest customers are turning the ship around.”

    WHICH COUNTRIES ARE DOUBLING DOWN

    Not every country is bailing out of coal. “South-East Asia is still on a coal-fired power station expansion program, that’s really the last bastion of growth”.

    Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines are all planning to build new power plants. Tim Buckley said if all those plans come to pass, the rest of the world’s cuts won’t be enough to compensate for that increase. “Therefore we have to assume that the world is going to go off the climate cliff.

    “So if Asia goes and replicates the same sort of industrialization that Australia, America, Europe and China have all done, we all go off the cliff”. “We are going to have a climate catastrophe if Asia continues to get foreign subsidies finance to build these coal plants, because once you build a coal plant, you’re locking in 45 years of coal burning.

    HOW TO GET COAL UNDER CONTROL

    These proposed power plants will cost $2-$3 billion dollars to build, and require government subsidies. The capital subsidies supporting those planned projects are coming primarily from Japan, South Korea and China. If South Korea and Japan stop providing those subsidies, China is now the last man standing. If China moves, and pulls the subsidies, there is no way new coal plants will be built in South-East Asia, and those countries will need to pivot to renewables.”

    There’s a lot more in the air than greenhouse gasses. In a big way, we can do our bit by backing a climate action government and in a small way, by investing in renewables to reduce the demand for coal.

  12. Diannaart

    The best incentive for Australia to ween off its coal habit, is for third world to bypass the entire 19th century coal, gas era. Leave alone whatever fossil fuel generation has started go straight to sustainable and collect $$$.

    It will be the money which will turn the tide from stupid to sustainable. Government could help with motivating and regulating … and following through such programs.

    BTW to be completely free of fossil fuel dependency we need to start about 20 to 30 years ago.

  13. Stephen Fitzgerald

    The Kyoto Protocol was adopted in Kyoto, Japan on 11 December 1997 and is an international treaty which extends the 1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) that commits state parties to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, based on the scientific consensus that (part one) global warming is occurring and (part two) it is extremely likely that human-made CO2 emissions have predominantly caused it.

    Diannaart – We did start 20 to 30 years ago but basically, climate action advise was ignored by our leaders and those in power. With extremes in weather, we are now seeing the outcome of their self serving ignorance and inaction that threatens all of us.

    So, 27 years after the first serious warnings about climate change, our leaders are still floundering and, driving us towards an uncertain future. What do we have: –

    (1) Conflict & war for control of oil and natural gas by war economy superpowers resulting in the destruction of entire nations and the death and displacement of millions of innocent people.

    (2) Australia is dependent on coal to generate 85% of our electricity and with government support we have fallen into the trap of coal being our largest export. Coal that has the potential to fuel the expansion of coal power stations throughout South East Asia and radically increase global green house gas emissions.

    (3) The Australian LNP government is in climate change denial to protect the coal industry. Look at the cost to Australia as a result of government inaction on climate change. Extreme weather events including unprecedented cyclones, droughts, wild-fires, heatwaves, and flooding have already cost Australia tens of billions of dollars and lives. Also the destruction of the Great Barrier Reef and Murray Darling Basin is attributed to global warming.

    (4) The rich and powerful are self serving, driven by greed and care nothing about society or the immeasurable cost to humanity of catastrophic climate change. The LNP government pander to the rich and powerful to attract election funds and screw the rest of us.

    (5) Greenhouse gasses from burning fossil fuel are driving global warming and climate change as we are now seeing in real time. It’s a major wake-up call to those in power but they still don’t listen and they are still not acting to protect our future .

    What can we do…

    (1) Install a progressive pro climate action government to promote the transition to a renewable energy future.

    (2) Remove the demand for fossil fuel by investing heavily in renewable clean energy.

  14. Rapideffect

    Your solution won’t solve anything. How many Australians have the funds and a house to put up solar panels?

    The world runs on fossil fuels (over 80% of energy used is fossil fuels) and renewable energy is totally reliant on fossil fuels. Renewable energy is produced and maintained with fossil fuels.

    Renewable energy cannot power the large cargo ships or jumbo jets that keep civilization running.

    The very resources used to manufacture renewables are non renewable, therefore renewable energy is as unsustainable as fossil fuels are.

  15. Peter F

    Is it possible that we might get a Government with the ability to see that an investment in renewables of the magnitude of the original original investment in the Snowy Mountain scheme could totally transform our economy? That scheme transformed large areas of inland Australia.

  16. SteveFitz

    Hi Rapideffects – Renewable energy is energy captured form the sun, wind and hydro and, can now be stored in batteries. Electricity generated from renewable energy can be used to manufacture solar panels, wind turbines and the equipment used to produce hydro electricity. No fossil fuel required and no greenhouse gasses emitted to exacerbate global warming.

    If you can’t put up solar panels you can do your bit to help avoid catastrophic climate change by investing in renewable energy companies. You can buy shares in those companies. The only chance we have to protect the natural world and in fact, civilisation as we know it, is to reduce the demand for fossil fuel by promoting and using clean energy.

    Coal is primarily used to generate electricity and is the biggest poluter in terms of greehouse gas emissions. The first major push by responsible contries, companies and individuals is to phased out coal burning. This can be worked towards and we can do this with wide ranging public support and education.

  17. Peter F

    @ rapiddefect – It is interesting to learn that civilisation did not exist before the 18C. SteveFitz, you have nailed the defect in rapid’s argument.

  18. Terence

    SteveFitz

    Outside Australia, nuclear power is the base load energy answer.
    Australia has the advantage of having much of the world’s uranium available in the ground.
    But nuclear power is just not discussed here, as we seem to be preoccupied with replacing base load coal and gas power stations with non base load solutions (solar – with high co2 (emitted during manufacture) lithium battery backup, and wind mainly).
    However, renewable energy sources would work very well supporting nuclear base load energy.
    There are currently around 500 nuclear power stations in operation worldwide and in addition, Saudi Arabia is currently selling all its oil
    interests and investing the released capital in constructing 80 new nuclear power stations around the world. Much of the USA and Russian navy is nuclear powered. Even the latest lunar rover sent to Mars is nuclear powered.
    Nuclear power can be a significant solution to global warming and should at least be discussed in our country.

  19. SteveFitz

    Venezuela has the largest conventional oil reserves and the second-largest natural gas reserves in the Western Hemisphere. In addition Venezuela has non-conventional oil deposits (extra-heavy crude oil, bitumen and tar sands) approximately equal to the world’s reserves of conventional oil. Hence the conflict and crisis with global superpower intervention.

    Just like the middle east inc Afghanistan, the conflict in Venezuela is all about control of oil and natural gas reserves. We are once again seeing the total collapse of entire nations in the fight for rapidly depleting natural resources.

    This period in history will be remembered as the “Oil Wars”. Future students will question the pathetic stupidity of out leaders and those in power. We are murdering each other for a resource that when burned to generate power will drive catastrophic climate change with the potential to destroy the natural world and subsequently human civilisation.

    We need to get serious about transitioning away from fossil fuel and, the only way I can see that happening is to reduce demand for fossil fuel. Any clean energy alternative needs to be pursued.

  20. Rapideffect

    Hi SteveFitz
    Majority of solar panels are made in China with coal and exported around the world on ships running on fossil fuels, this is not clean energy. Hydro electricity is almost at capacity and won’t grow much, all the best sites are already taken.

    How many windmills, solar panels, inverters, batteries, etc would be needed to replace fossil fuels??? Renewable energy cannot power cargo ships or jumbo jets that allow the global civilistion to function.

    Just about all renewable energy is built with fossil fuels, where is all the renewable energy being built with renewable energy happening???

    @Peter F
    I was referring to the current global civilisation built on cheap abundant fossil fuels. Many civilisations have come and gone, the current civilisation is only different in that it is global and far beyond overshoot due to the use of fossil fuels.

    Renewable energy cannot power the current global civilisation and at the moment over 80% of the world runs on fossil fuels.

    “Humans are very good at propping up the unsustainable, and this often results in a fast and unexpected collapse”

    -Joseph Tainter

  21. SteveFitz

    @ Rapideffects – I’m not one to sit on my hands or argue in the negative. We have a problem ET and we need a clear vision of those problems to effectively search for solutions. Throwing our hands in the air in despair solves nothing. We can make an effort or we can walk to the edge of the cliff and ponder our future as we gaze long and hard into the abyss.

    Visualize a time when there is no fossil fuel left. We have used it all up. We will be forced to embrace alternate energy or perish as a civilisation. Instead of waiting for that fateful day, lets fast track and embrace alternate energy right now. Lets have a vision for the future that preserves the natural world. A world we can’t survive without.

    First step – Phase out the biggest greenhouse gas emitter being coal. We have the technology right now – It’s happening all around us. Electric transport can be recharged with alternate clean energy. Develop and implement the technology to replace our dependence on oil and natural gas.

    The greatest challenge mankind faces is greed, ignorance, stupidity and inaction. We build cities that span continents, we build bridges that span oceans and we send spaceships to the stars. Together we can do this but first we need to remove what stands in the way. My vision is for the future and it’s a long way beyond where the self interest climate change deniers and the wet blanket brigade are standing right now.

    Humans who lapse into despair quickly perish. We need ideals and aspirations and a vision for the future to flourish. So, do we act on climate change or don’t we?

  22. Terence

    SteveFitz

    Hi Steve,

    I agree.

    Our climate scientists have identified the various causes of the problem and their job is essentially done.

    It appears that they are now spending their time writing and referring scientific papers fo each on basically the same subjects.

    The implementation task now belongs to us, our politicians and our leaders worldwide.

    Therefore it is very likely that we need a Plan B.

    i.e. Devote our considerable scientific research capability to find ways that 12 billion humans can survive and flourish
    on a planet with 550 ppm co2 and that is is 2-3C warmer.

    This might be easier than the colonisation of another planet or moon.

  23. SteveFitz

    Thanks Terrence – If we proceed along our merry path and do basically bugger all about global warming, at some point in the not so distant future, we will be searching for a hostile planet to inhabit. Well, look no further, we will be standing on it.

  24. DrakeN

    The renewable energy sources produced with fossil fuels will ultimately replace further fossil fuel energy production.

    AND we can reduce overall consumption at the same time.

    Likewise, replacing an extremely ‘right wing’ government with a slightly less ‘right wing’ one will be just one step in the process of slowing the increasing rate in climate change that we are presently faced with.

  25. Kaye Lee

    Reduce, reuse, recycle is a critically important part of environmental protection but you cannot ignore the devastating effect of GHG emissions from the burning of fossil fuels and the degradation due to deforestation.

  26. Rapideffect

    @DrakeN

    “The renewable energy sources produced with fossil fuels will ultimately replace further fossil fuel energy production.”

    This is only partly possible by replacing fossil fuel generated electricity with renewable energy, renewables can only do a small part for all the fossil fuel energy needed in transportation. Renewable energy has a limited lifetime before it would have to be totally replaced, say every 20-30years. The amount of resources needed to try and replace fossil fuels and then maintain/replace it every 20-30years is impractical.

    Without fossil fuels there is no global economy, it is built and run on fossil fuels.

    Reducing consumption is needed but if the consumers aren’t consuming the global economy goes into recession, depression and then collapse. The global economy needs consumption to grow, there is no reverse gear.

    Changing the government will have little to no effect on climate change, Labor and Liberal are either side of the same coin.

    It would be better to tell people to become vegetarian than to put up solar panels…

  27. SteveFitz

    @ Rapideffects – We have the science forecasting devastating outcomes if we fail to take action on climate change. We have a pathway to transition to renewable energy. Clearly, the greatest obstacle standing in the way of a clean energy future is fossil fuel vested interests and ignorance.

  28. Rapideffect

    @SteveFitz

    The greatest obstacle with renewables is they only generate electricity and are intermittent needing storage. Renewables cannot power cargo ships, jumbo jets, road/freight trains. The storage requirements for renewables to phase out fossil fuels is impractical at best.

    There is no clear pathway to transition to renewable energy, just hopes, dreams and assumptions.

    “Renewables reach highest share of Australia’s power in 40 years”

    So are Australias emissions going down as we add more renewables???

    The greatest obstacle standing in the way of a clean energy future is 7.5 billion people, that cannot live sustainably on earth whether that is with fossil fuels or renewable energy. So your argument about transitioning to a clean energy future is nonsense.

  29. SteveFitz

    @ Rapideffects – O.K. Lets continue down the pathway you suggest and do nothing about reducing green house gas emissions. Let’s do nothing about global warming and dump renewables. Give us your plan for humanity. Give us your vision for the future for our grand-children and beyond. Lets consume all the fossil fuel on the planet and then what?

    Without the diversions try to take a small leap into the not so distant future. How do you suggest we drive civilisation in your new world of catastrophic climate change and 60 metre sea level rises?

    Stay focused on the question. It’s a pretty simple question: – “Lets consume all the fossil fuel on the planet and then what?”

  30. Terence

    SteveFitz

    Renewables will certainly help but a lot more research needs to go into energy storage.

    e.g The 100 megawatt Tesla Big Battery installed in South Australia can only provide its rated output for 1 hour! However, it can supply a reduced output of 30 megawatts for 3.5 to 4 hours.

    Its function is for short term system backup only should the SA network of gas fired, coal fired and wind farm energy not be able to cope for any reason. And it will probably need replacement every 15 years.

    Similarly, a typical $15,000 10Kw battery installed in a home solar system can just supply the house for the one night if the grid goes down in the afternoon.

    If the grid stays down, the battery may only partially charge up the next day – providing the day is not cloudy.

    To ensure say, 3 days of power availability off the grid the home would require around 100 kw of batteries at a cost of $100,000+.

  31. Kaye Lee

    We have to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Anything that can help us do that should be considered. We obviously cannot eliminate them so we take whatever reductions we can get while we sort out better ways of doing things. Building efficiency measures help. Small scale farming for local areas. Better public transport.

    There is a lot of research going in to reducing emissions from transport – technology is only one aspect. There are behavioral changes we can make that would help emissions reductions.

    https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/07/090727080836.htm

  32. Kaye Lee

    Very interesting Kronomex. In all the Adani court cases, they have rejected considering climate change. Will this set a precedent?

  33. Rapideffect

    @SteveFitz

    “Stay focused on the question. It’s a pretty simple question: – “Lets consume all the fossil fuel on the planet and then what?” ”

    I never said to keep consuming fossil fuels, and we will never use all of the fossil fuels. Fossil fuels will become too expensive to extract as we have used all of the high quality and easy to extract fossil fuels first.

    Without cheap and easy to extract fossil fuels the global economy doesn’t grow much, which is what is happening right now. The record low interest rates, record debt, quantitative easing, and other monetary policies are used to keep the global economy functioning but will only work in the short term. Expect a massive shock to the global economy very soon.

    I said we should consume less, not more. Your plan is to consume more with building renewables with fossil fuels, the opposite of what is needed.

    https://www.technologyreview.com/s/610457/at-this-rate-its-going-to-take-nearly-400-years-to-transform-the-energy-system/

    Becoming vegetarian consumes less fossil fuels, reduces emissions and is not expensive like solar panels. This would be a better starting point for you to pursue.

    Maybe it’s you that should stay focused on the question, as you have not answered any questions that I have put to you;)

    “Humans are very good at propping up the unsustainable, and this often results in a fast and unexpected collapse”

    -Joseph Tainter

    And this is what you are proposing to do. You might like to hear some of Joseph Tainter’s lectures or read this https://wtf.tw/ref/tainter.pdf which will give you a better insight into the issues with civilisations.

  34. SteveFitz

    People with a bit of vision drive civilization forward. Electric lamps to light the streets of London instead of whale blubber, telegraph instead of courier pigeons, printing press instead of word of mouth, mechanized looms to cloth the masses and cars replaced horses with huge objection. Hydrogen power will drive our planes, ships and trucks and, solar energy will replace fossil fuels also, with huge objection.

    It’s called progress and, since our advances in technology are being developed at exponential speed there’s nothing to stop the transition to renewable except, as history tells us, people who naturally cling to the status quo or have a vested interest. Jump on board and be dragged kicking and screaming into the future of unlimited clean energy and in the process do your bit to help. In other words Rapideffects, drop the wet blanket.

  35. Rapideffect

    @SteveFitz

    Your progress is exactly what has lead humanity to climate change, pollution, overpopulation, extinction of thousands of animals, destruction of forests, etc, etc, etc. Maybe people should of listened to the objectors and we wouldn’t be in the mess we are in now. You’re proposing to continue this unsustainable (so called) progress.

    Hydrogen powered jumbo jets and cargo ships won’t happen, this is just nonsense. Backing up claims with facts would make your argument hold water.

    “Jump on board and be dragged kicking and screaming into the future of unlimited clean energy and in the process do your bit to help.”

    I am doing my bit by pointing out false claims like the ones you continue to make: “unlimited clean energy”.

  36. totaram

    Rapideffect: is that you harquebus ? Without saying it you are pushing the EROEI etc. argument. Very briefly:

    with enough development populations fall. That is happening already in countries that do not allow immigration like S. Korea and Japan. Even China is considering abandoning the one child policy.
    Continuous “economic” growth does NOT demand ever increasing resource consumption if it is organised properly.
    We can use as much “energy” (actually “work”) as we can squeeze out of the radiation from the sun (and wind etc.) as we need for the purpose. It should be enough to maintain our civilisation (with stabilised and falling population) for a very long time. Clean energy is not “unlimited” but there is a hell of a lot of it , and quite enough thank you.

    There is no evidence that this cannot be done. In fact, much of this can be done within this century if we have the will. If there are enough doomsayers and obfuscaters, it will never get done and the consequences will be anyone’s guess.

    I am not going to write another thesis on explaining all this. Many of the statements you make are simply assertions based on one particular hypothesis. They are not really supported by evidence. Tainter is just a very nice “hypothesis” but by no means “proven” in any way. To quote it as some kind of gospel is just silly. It doesn’t even have the status of the theory of evolution, with all its caveats and shortcomings and unexplained phenomena. Don’t even dream of comparing it with quantum mechanics or the theories of relativity.

  37. Matters Not

    Re:

    Even China is considering abandoning the one child policy

    Well it was considering changes some time ago but it abandoned the policy in 2013 – gradually at first (finally in 2016) – but those in the know (with money) abandoned it well before then. Once met a couple in a large Chinese city taking triplets to school. At that time, extra children attracted a financial penalty – even at the school level.

    Without going into detail, the policy was ‘abandoned’ because of growing concerns over an aging population (who was going too look after the oldies?) and a declining birth rate. All sorts of interesting cultural forces in play as well – like is the wife primarily responsible for the husband’s parents or her own? And given the size of the average apartment in a Chinese high-rise – doing both was out of the question. They tend to be rather cosy. lol,

    As for Rapideffect – not harquebus and certainly not to be dismissed lightly – if at all. Yet to see Rapideffect bested. She is toying here.

  38. Kaye Lee

    I don’t think it is a matter of besting someone. Everyone is making valid points including Rapideffect. There is no one solution. We just look for improvements and they can come from many different directions. We will never reach perfection but we must take steps in the right direction.

  39. Matters Not

    Re:

    we must take steps in the right direction

    Indeed. But what are the right steps and the right direction? And are there wrong steps in the wrong direction? Or are these questions not up for consideration?

    And yes I should have said Rapideffect’s argument(s). I promise to be more pedantic in the future. lol.

  40. Kaye Lee

    Hell no. More pedantic is not something you need to be.

    Reduce, reuse, recycle. How’s that for a general starting point.

  41. Matters Not

    Re:

    More pedantic is not something you need to be

    So you are recommending that we should let any nonsense go through to the keeper? No wonder the average punter is still in the cave.

    No wonder we get the government we deserve. And so on … lol.

    Perhaps we could value conceptual thinking over emotional ..

    Having an education system that allowed for the transcendence of .

  42. Kaye Lee

    I appreciate your contributions MN. I think you know that.

  43. Michael Taylor

    We all do. I’ve enjoyed MN’s contributions on the blogosphere for about twelve years now. We are fortunate that he spends so much time here.

  44. SteveFitz

    Rapideffect Google: Hydrogen powered planes, boats, trucks, transport etc for 5 million results. And then check out Labor’s hydrogen plan: http://www.jasonclare.com.au/media/portfolio-media-releases/4155-labor-s-national-hydrogen-plan . Hydrogen power is in development just like every other advance in technology was once in development.

    At this point though, it’s not the point so, lets keep it simple and push one thing at a time. Step one: Phase out coal to be replaced with unlimited clean energy captured from the sun, wind and hydro. Sorry Rapideffects, energy from the sun is not unlimited, my mistake, it’s only going to last another 5 thousand million years.

    To transition to renewables we need a pro climate action government. Since, because of vested interest, the LNP are in climate change denial, that leaves the Labor Party. They have promised action on climate change. As we are aware, Labor always stuff up in the lead up to elections? We need to forgive them and give them a shot at this anyway. We have no other option.

  45. Rapideffect

    @totaram

    “with enough development populations fall.”

    With massive amounts of energy and materials available to the rich people on earth (most of the people in developed countries) they can afford not to have large families. Poor people without much energy or materials need large families to support the family and the parents into old age. Without access to resources like rich people poor people have no medical care and child mortality is high, another reason to have many children. (No access to birth control is also a factor).

    “Continuous “economic” growth does NOT demand ever increasing resource consumption if it is organised properly.”

    Yes it does, unless you have some way to break the laws of physics. To produce more goods and services in the global economy it requires more energy and materials. The so called decoupling of economic growth from fossil fuel growth is made possible by increasing debt levels, a very bad idea. Efficiencies can be made to do more work with the same amount of energy, but this has a limit and jevons paradox applies to these efficiencies in the global economy.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jevons_paradox

    “We can use as much “energy” (actually “work”) as we can squeeze out of the radiation from the sun (and wind etc.) as we need for the purpose. It should be enough to maintain our civilisation (with stabilised and falling population) for a very long time.”

    It should be enough?? Try to provide some facts in how exactly it can be done, how much materials and fossil fuels will be consumed to make it happen? What is a very long time, 20-30 years when all solar and wind renewable energy needs replacing??

    As the population continues to grow so does the need for more energy and materials to support the added growth in population.

    “Clean energy is not “unlimited” but there is a hell of a lot of it , and quite enough thank you.
    There is no evidence that this cannot be done. In fact, much of this can be done within this century if we have the will.”

    There is plenty of evidence to prove this will not be done, you just choose to ignore it as it doesn’t fit your beliefs. Humanity doesn’t have 80 years to do it.

    Even if all greenhouse gases stop tomorrow it still won’t stop climate change. And you conveniently forgot all the other problems that civilisation has created, but hey as long as we have enough renewable energy everything will be alright. Climate change is just a symptom of the real problem and fixing it doesn’t solve all the other issues…

    “Tainter is just a very nice “hypothesis” but by no means “proven” in any way. To quote it as some kind of gospel is just silly.”

    So you obviously haven’t read any of his work. By all means disprove his work, but we know that won’t happen.

    “Tainter has written and edited many articles and monographs. His arguably best-known work, The Collapse of Complex Societies (1988), examines the collapse of Maya and Chacoan civilizations,[2] and of the Western Roman Empire, in terms of network theory, energy economics and complexity theory.”

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_Tainter

    So to sum up what you have said: I believe it can be done therefore it might happen…

    @Matters Not

    “Indeed. But what are the right steps and the right direction? And are there wrong steps in the wrong direction? Or are these questions not up for consideration?”

    Hi Matters Not
    Good to see there are still people willing to think and question instead of believe.

    More objective thinking is needed. Everything needs to be questioned.

    Most of the points being made here are not valid, but based on wishful thinking because people cannot handle the reality of the predicament humanity has gotten itself into.
    Getting people to question their own beliefs is what I aim to do, but it usually ends with people getting emotional, defensive and abusive as you reveal their beliefs to be invalid. People should attack the ideas/opinions and not each other.

    @SteveFitz

    “Hydrogen power is in development just like every other advance in technology was once in development.”

    Yeah and humanity has the time to wait. Just because the sun will last for another 5 billion years, doesn’t mean humanity will be able to extract that energy for anywhere near that length of time.

    “At this point though, it’s not the point so, lets keep it simple and push one thing at a time.”

    I do try to keep it simple but you still don’t grasp the concepts I am talking about, or answer any questions I put to you because you’re out of your depth.

    7.5 billion plus humans cannot sustainably live on planet earth, pretty simple really. Until you accept this FACT you have no chance of understanding or solving the problem.

  46. SteveFitz

    Rapideffect you are off topic – We are not talking population! That’s a diversionary tactic to avoid the main issue. If you wish to talk population but and article together and submit it to AIM Network for publication. Then, if your good enough, we can see what your made of and all respond accordingly. You earn respect with intellect, not abuse.

    On this page, we are talking phasing out fossil fuel to be replaced with clean renewable energy to put a cap on global warming and avoid catastrophic climate change. Clear your mind and try to stay focussed, try to avoid getting worked up and becoming hysterical. This is about climate action, not population.

    Once again the very simple question is: – “Keep burning coal for electricity or transition to renewable clean energy?” (A) Keep burning coal for electricity? or, (B) Transition to renewable clean energy? Which is it Rapideffect (A) or (B)? Cut the crap, stop avoiding the issue and just type (A) or (B), so we know where you stand.

  47. Rapideffect

    @ SteveFitz

    I haven’t abused you and I don’t get hysterical (a bit sexist to say that to a woman). It’s clear you cannot back up your claims with facts.

    “Once again the very simple question is: – “Keep burning coal for electricity or transition to renewable clean energy?” (A) Keep burning coal for electricity? or, (B) Transition to renewable clean energy? Which is it Rapideffect (A) or (B)? Cut the crap, stop avoiding the issue and just type (A) or (B), so we know where you stand.”

    Stop burning fossil fuels altogether is what is needed, but you think somehow renewable energy is made with renewable energy which almost all of it is made with fossil fuels, which means both (a) and (b) result in burning more fossil fuels. I take option (c) stop burning fossil fuels altogether, because ultimately that is what is needed and anything short of that has little benefit.

    You want to take the simplistic option of treating one problem in isolation when in fact all of the problems are interconnected. I never avoided the issue, I just understand it far better than yourself.

    So instead of pretending you know what your talking about, go do some research and come back with some facts to support your ideas.

  48. SteveFitz

    Thanks Rapideffects – Being a women won’t buy you advantage here – With the pen, we are all equal and, being argumentative and confrontational, for the sake of it, whether you’re a man or a woman, does not wash. Getting you to agree that we need to stop burning fossil fuel was like extracting teeth from a horse but, it’s a start.

    The way that I write, I like to give people the opportunity to do some of their own research. We are both more than capable of hitting the Google button. Answering your own questions though, is much more satisfying than being led or being told.

    What has come to light is the battle we face to save the future for the natural world and humanity. We are up against those driven by greed or beset with ignorance. That would be those with a fossil fuel vested interest $$$, those with a LNP vested interest $$$, the gullible who believe LNP propaganda ??? and, paid up members of the flat earth society.

    Every major change for humanity has had the same obstacles. The difference now is the urgency and the devastating outcome if we do nothing about global warming and climate change.

    Thanks Terence – I think we hit on this a while back https://theaimn.com/population-its-the-environment-stupid/

  49. Rapideffect

    @ SteveFitz

    Since when was I being argumentative and confrontational for the sake of it? I am merely pointing out that your solutions won’t work.

    I never implied that being a woman somehow gives me an advantage, just the fact that calling a woman hysterical is sexist as it’s not applied to men. Yet clearly I wasn’t and it is just an insult because you can’t back up your claims with facts and so you will do anything to protect your beliefs.

    The fact that you think you made me agree that we should stop burning fossil fuels is hilarious. I have never and never will say burning fossil fuels is a good idea, that has always been my position. You somehow think because I say renewable energy is not the solution that that immediately means I think we should keep burning fossil fuels, but that couldn’t be further from the truth.

    “The way that I write, I like to give people the opportunity to do some of their own research. We are both more than capable of hitting the Google button. Answering your own questions though, is much more satisfying than being led or being told.”

    I’ve done plenty of research, that’s how I know your solutions won’t work, you obviously haven’t done enough as you think population has nothing to do with climate change and renewable energy.

    You don’t want to admit your wrong, fair enough, I wasn’t trying to change your mind. I am showing how flawed your ideas are so other people can do their own research and figure out what the facts actually say.

  50. SteveFitz

    Hi Rapideffect – Please point out the claims you are suggesting I can’t back up and also point out where I may be wrong in my opinions. Number the points so we can run through them one point at a time.

  51. Rapideffect

    @SteveFitz

    How about you start by answering the questions I already asked.

  52. Terence

    SteveFitz

    It may be a little premature to write off coal fired power stations just yet.

    We probably have a 20 year period before renewable technology (perhaps hydrogen based – watch Japan) can economically replace what we have now.

    In the meantime, if you search, there is quite a lot of well funded worldwide research going into cleaning up stack emissions, even recycling co2 emissions into additional electrical energy, or usable fuel, using fuel cell or bio technology.

    e.g. https://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/Could-Fuel-Cells-Solve-the-Emissions-Problem-for-Coal-Plants

  53. SteveFitz

    Hi Rapideffect – Please ask those questions again. Since you know what the questions are, It can’t be that difficult. You see, you need to back-up what you are saying with the evidence. Unless, of course, you are making false accusations and accusing me of something that is only going on in your head.

    Thanks again Terence – Anything to help is a good thing

  54. SteveFitz

    Thanks Terence – It’s all true and it’s progress. The carbon capture article refers to efforts by ExxonMobil. BHP also accepts the IPCC assessment of climate and, they are also pursuing carbon capture and storage technology. It’s a big step when the fossil fuel giants are looking to protect their industry by stripping CO2 equivalent from the atmosphere. This then opens the door to sell their products as “Carbon Neutral” and stay in the market.

    Most of the top scientists agree we also need a carbon capture program to cap global atmosphere CO2 concentration to stabilise the weather. Necessity is the mother of invention and, so is profit. If carbon capture is cheaper per tonne than carbon tax, the fossil fuel giants may just come up with the technology to manage global temperature. It’s a race against time to save their industry and they know it.

    Australia produces about 500 million tonnes of coal per year for domestic use and export. Carbon tax at $23.00 per tonne equates to $11.5 billion tax or, investment in carbon capture and storage technology per year. Things are moving forward but we still need a climate action government.

  55. Rapideffect

    @SteveFitz

    1) How much materials (metal, glass, concrete, rare earth metals, etc) and fossil fuels will need to be consumed to replace fossil fuel energy with renewables?

    2) How much renewable energy is made with renewable energy?

    3) Are Australias emissions going down as more renewables are added? (Are the worlds emissions going down as the world adds more renewables?)

    4) How long will it take to totally replace fossil fuels with renewables?

    5) Does population have no effect and/or is unrelated to climate change?

    “Thanks Terence – It’s all true and it’s progress.”

    “At the 2.7-gigawatt James M. Barry Electric Generating Plant, in Bucks, Ala., an experiment is under way that could one day usher in a new era of nearly emissions-free fossil-fuel-powered electricity.”

    “It’s also a showcase for fuel cells, which have struggled to reach commercial readiness despite 180 years of R&D and countless false starts.”

    “The technology, though, has proved extraordinarily difficult to perfect. Costly materials, durability problems, and the difficulty of securing a steady supply of hydrogen have derailed many a fuel cell project.”

    https://spectrum.ieee.org/green-tech/fuel-cells/fuel-cells-finally-find-a-killer-app-carbon-capture

    So SteveFitz you’re betting on a technology that hasn’t even proven itself to be viable. How much more fossil fuels will be burned to make this idea actually work on a global scale?

  56. david higham

    This article gives info on the amount of energy capturing infrastructure needed to replace the energy output of a cubic mile of oil,which is approximately the amount of annual global use. Note that to replace gas and coal as well, the numbers have to be multiplied by 2.4..I don’t know when the cost estimates were last updated,but otherwise still relevant,although oil consumption has
    increased since the article was written.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cubic_mile_of_oil

  57. SteveFitz

    @ Rapideffect – These are all your insightful questions, not mine? Please feel free to do the research and answer your own questions. I would love to see what you come up with. Whatever that may be, should not interfere with the transition from coal to renewables. Keep in mind that phasing out coal is the pressing need put forward in the IPCC report.

    My articles are designed to reinforce the need to install a government prepared to take action on climate change. We don’t want a government that is in climate change denial and being deceitful to the electorate because of vested interest. How can you trust a government that perpetrates a blatant lie and threatens the future of society along with it.

  58. david higham

    All of that infrastructure (apart from the dams ) has to be rebuilt every 30 to 50 years,of course.

  59. SteveFitz

    Thanks David – That’s good information about global reserves of fossil fuel and what we are up against. If we burn it all, we have 40 years of oil left, 69 years of natural gas left and 150 years of coal left. All the reserves of oil and natural gas will be gone in less than one lifetime. That explains the global conflicts raging for control of diminishing fuel reserves.

    We are in a position to phase out coal right now and the reserves of oil and gas are limited but, if burnt, are sufficient to drive us towards catastrophic climate change. This reinforces the urgency and the need for a pro climate action government and the need to reduce the demand for fossil fuels. We are at a cross-road for humanity.

  60. Kaye Lee

    Rapideffect

    “you’re betting on a technology that hasn’t even proven itself to be viable”

    And you’re betting on a technology that has been proven to be lethal and is creating an existential threat to our very survival. So come up with some ideas because the status quo cannot continue.

  61. Terence

    SteveFitz

    Unfortunately there is no evidence that we can phase out coal right now.

    The highly hyped Tesla Big battery in South Australia discharges fully in just one hour at its full load rating.

    Batteries in homes around Australia with solar power will discharge in just half a day if the largely coal and gas fired grid goes down.

    We just do not yet have a renewable solution that works for more than one hour when the sun doesn’t shine or if the wind doesn’t blow.

    I do believe that we should phase out coal but we are kidding ourselves if we think we can do it in under 20 years.

  62. Kaye Lee

    Terence,

    Even the Greens policy is aiming for 2040 for zero emissions. No-one expects it to happen overnight.

  63. Rapideffect

    @Terence

    Thanks, greedy capitalism indeed.

    @SteveFitz

    I know the answers to those questions that’s how I know your claim that fossil fuels can be substituted with renewables is nonsense.

    “In 2016 while total world energy came from 80% fossil fuels, 10% biofuels, 5% nuclear and 5% renewable (hydro, wind, solar, geothermal), only 18% of that total world energy was in the form of electricity.[15] Most of the other 82% was used for heat and transportation.”

    So with 100% renewable energy (electricity) it would only produce approx 18% of the energy needed to power global civilisation. How can renewable energy be substitute for the remaining energy needs???

    “My articles are designed to reinforce the need to install a government prepared to take action on climate change. We don’t want a government that is in climate change denial and being deceitful to the electorate because of vested interest. How can you trust a government that perpetrates a blatant lie and threatens the future of society along with it.”

    “We have a pathway to transition to renewable energy.”

    And this claim of having a pathway, is that just some political spin so you can convince people to elect a certain political party???

    That would explain why you have produced no evidence to back up your claim that a pathway to clean renewable energy is even possible let alone how to make that happen.

    @Kaye Lee

    How am I betting on a technology that has been proven lethal? You know my position is to stop burning fossil fuels as this is the only solution to climate change, the problem is how can that be done?

    The status quo cannot continue, this is obvious, then why are you trying to keep it going by burning more fossil fuels to figure out how to burn less and/or reduce the emissions from the consumption of fossil fuels.

    You want ideas on how to keep the problem (global civilisation consuming the planet creating all sorts of existential threats) going on for far longer than it probably should?

    As I have said before, unless 7.5 billion people can live like the Indigenous Australians who lived pretty much sustainably for over 60 000 years, then collapse of the unsustainable global civilisation will result. You may delay that from happening for a while, but the longer the destruction of the biosphere goes on the less habitable places remain, which would make rebuilding after a collapse that much harder.

  64. totaram

    Rapideffect:

    “In 2016 while total world energy came from 80% fossil fuels, 10% biofuels, 5% nuclear and 5% renewable (hydro, wind, solar, geothermal), only 18% of that total world energy was in the form of electricity.[15] Most of the other 82% was used for heat and transportation.”

    So with 100% renewable energy (electricity) it would only produce approx 18% of the energy needed to power global civilisation. How can renewable energy be substitute for the remaining energy needs???”

    And you call this a reasonable argument? Why don’t you also say these are the laws of physics?

    Thank you. I will now start planning my cave retreat to try and survive the apocalypse. Have a nice day!

  65. Rapideffect

    @totaram

    “And you call this a reasonable argument?”

    And what about it is unreasonable?

    “Why don’t you also say these are the laws of physics?”

    Because it’s not a law of physics.

    “Thank you. I will now start planning my cave retreat to try and survive the apocalypse. Have a nice day!”

    All you have to do is provide evidence of the claim that renewable energy can replace fossil fuels, that will give your argument plausibility.

  66. Kaye Lee

    Emissions from heating and cooling can be reduced to some degree by better building design and more efficient appliances.

    There is a great deal of research being done on reducing emissions from transport eg Speeding up the deployment of low-emission alternative energy for transport, such as advanced biofuels, electricity, hydrogen and renewable synthetic fuels and removing obstacles to the electrification of transport.

    and even from livestock eg through feed additives and supplements for ruminants or changing our diet.

    “Feeding one type of seaweed at 3% of the diet has resulted in up to 80% reduction in methane emissions from cattle. If just 10 per cent of global ruminant producers adopted FutureFeed as an additive to feed their livestock, it would have the same impact for our climate as removing 50 million cars from the world’s roads, and potential increases in livestock productivity could create enough food to feed an additional 23 million people.”

    https://www.csiro.au/en/Research/AF/Areas/Food-security/FutureFeed

    Giving statistics about the situation now does not define the future. Sooner or later the sun will explode. Prior to that we have to do the best we can to reduce, reuse and recycle.

  67. Rossleigh

    Ok, rapideffect, it’s not really that hard.

    Renewables rely on fossil fuels to be created because most manufacturing relies on fossil fuel at this moment in time. As more renewables provide energy, then they will eventually be less reliant until they reach a point where they’re not.

    Your argument is akin to suggesting that a child is reliant on a parent and because the parent will eventually die, then the child has no future because he or she will always need the parent and there’s no way that a child could ever be more capable than the parent.

  68. Rapideffect

    @Rossleigh

    If it’s not that hard, tell me how it can be done. How much fossil fuel energy has been replaced by renewables?

    Have a read and look at these graphs to see just what has been happening over the last couple of decades or so of climate change action:

    https://www.nationalobserver.com/2017/07/13/analysis/these-missing-charts-may-change-way-you-think-about-fossil-fuel-addiction

    Suggests that renewable energy has no real impact on the amount of fossil fuels that are burnt or the emissions that are generated.

    “As more renewables provide energy, then they will eventually be less reliant until they reach a point where they’re not.”

    The evidence seems to disagree with you…

  69. Matters Not

    While me might get excited and also depressed about the (rising) yearly temperature records we seem to ignore the root causes.

    In 25 of the last 26 years, we burned more fossil fuels than the year before .

    The only year in the last quarter century with a decrease was 2009. That was caused by a sharp global recession. And within a year, that rare respite was wiped out by a massive surge that followed.

    No need for a link because it’s already been provided. (But probably not read if history is to be any guide.)

    As the words of the song says: A man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest.

    What is it that we want to hear?

  70. david higham

    Rossleigh,
    It’s certainly harder than just the EROEI aspect. There are the mineral and other material requirements as well,for the construction of the energy capturing infrastructure (see the link I posted above),plus the energy storage infrastructure,and of course
    the energy using equipment. All of that massive mineral and other material requirements have to be supplied every 30 to 50 years.
    Some recycling is possible,but very limited in other cases. Alice Friedemann at energyskeptic .com has spent decades studying this.
    She posted a recent article detailing the minimal recycling possibilities of wind turbines. I could track it down,but have a look there if you want to. ‘Scarcity’ by Chris Clugston provides much detailed information on estimated years before supply constraints for a long list of minerals become limiting factors.

  71. Kaye Lee

    You can’t ignore modern research.

    How can wind turbine blades be recycled?

    https://www.livingcircular.veolia.com/en/industry/how-can-wind-turbine-blades-be-recycled

    A new report ‘Lithium battery recycling in Australia’ addresses growing demand for lithium-ion technology, currently used in vast quantities in electronic and household devices.The report says that Australia could become a world leader in the re-use and recycling of lithium-ion batteries.

    https://www.csiro.au/en/Research/EF/Areas/Energy-storage/Battery-recycling

    While the glass on a solar panel and its aluminium frame are relatively easy to recover, polymers used to bond a module’s various other components together can make recycling a headache. The ELSi system uses an energy-efficient pyrolysis process to dissolve the polymer layers, enabling successful recovery of aluminium, glass, silver, copper, tin and silicon in a pure form.

    https://www.solarquotes.com.au/blog/solar-panel-recycling-mb0712/

  72. Rapideffect

    @david higham

    This article from Alice Friedemann covers the limitations of wind power:

    http://energyskeptic.com/2018/wind/

    “There are over 8,000 parts to a wind turbine which are delivered over global supply chains via petroleum-fueled ships, rail, air, and trucks to the assembly factory. Finally diesel cement trucks arrive at the wind turbine site to pour many tons of concrete and other diesel trucks carry segments of the wind turbine to the site and workers who drove gas or diesel vehicles to the site assemble it.”

  73. Kaye Lee

    Alice Friedemann has invested a lot into promoting her books which are outdated. When you have a line to sell its best to ignore current breakthroughs in technology.

  74. Terence

    Kaye Lee

    The good news – Germany plans to phase out coal fired electricity by 2038.

    The not so good news – they will replace coal fired electricity with another fossil fuel, natural gas fired electricity.

    (likely topped up with imported nuclear power as needed)

    At least gas emissions are around half of coal emissions.

  75. Kaye Lee

    Rapideffect,

    My answer to you is that these things haven’t happened (in a commercially viable way) …yet. To make prognostications about where we will be in 30 years time takes a very brave (or IMO stubborn) person.

    Terence, if we need to use gas to transition, it is a big step forward from coal. As I keep saying, we will never get to perfect, but we must try to take steps towards it. In my maths classes, most improved award got the greatest kudos.

  76. Rapideffect

    @Kaye Lee

    Exactly, they haven’t been proven viable yet. But say these new technologies are proven viable tomorrow, how long would it take to build and install them and how much fossil fuels are going to be burnt in the process?

    So making predictions is both brave and/or stubborn? Like the predictions about the climate that climate scientists make? Are you not making a prediction that in the future technology is going to fix the problems to some great extent?

    As Matters Not said earlier: “What is it that we want to hear?”
    The facts or a story with a happy ending?

  77. Kaye Lee

    You misquote me Rapideffect. I said they were not commercially viable yet – that is an entirely different thing. Proving what is possible is the first step.

    Perhaps you also misunderstood my comment about predictions which was referring to technology rather than climate. I have never said that technology alone will fix the problem. I am heartened by much of the research that is going on – something you seem to ignore. The problem is immense and we certainly do not have the solution at hand which is why we must take every step we can to buy us more time. There is absolutely no point in just continually saying nothing will work. That may turn out to be true in the long run but giving up before you begin is just not an option.

    I have not heard you make one practical suggestion (though I may have missed it – it’s a long thread). You want to reduce population. How? You want to reduce consumption. How? These are valid points of discussion but just sounding the klaxon gets very wearing. If you don’t have any ideas to contribute about ways forward then you are just a loud annoying noise. We know the danger. Grab a bucket and start helping douse the flames.

  78. Rapideffect

    If the technology is not commercially viable yet, means it’s not viable yet. Just because something appears to have potential at a small scale doesn’t make it viable in the way it needs to be (commercially viable) to solve the problem it’s intending to fix. And do we really have the time to wait for some new technology?

    “The problem is immense and we certainly do not have the solution at hand which is why we must take every step we can to buy us more time. ”

    As Matters Not said earlier: “But what are the right steps and the right direction? And are there wrong steps in the wrong direction? Or are these questions not up for consideration?”

    It would seem those questions are not up for consideration as long as we chose what we want to hear…

    How about telling people to become vegetarian…

  79. Michael Taylor

    Well we’re happy.

    Yesterday had seven more solar panels installed (making a total of 23) and two solar batteries.

    Goodbye power bills!

  80. Kaye Lee

    You can’t make people become vegetarians. So what could we do?

    Educate them about the environmental damage caused by large scale livestock herds and the health advantages of eating less meat.
    Impose taxes to adjust behaviour.
    Reduce emissions from livestock through feed supplements (the CSIRO have done great work here with a seaweed supplement that reduces the production of enteric methane by more than 80 per cent.)
    Have cooking classes or websites that provide recipes for healthy sustainable meals.
    Have an environmental as well as health rating for food like we do for appliances.
    Expand small scale farming to supply the local area to reduce transportation emissions.
    Supply people with seeds or seedlings to grow their own food.

    We need ideas, not apocalyptic inertia.

  81. Rapideffect

    @Kaye Lee

    I did say to tell people to become vegetarians, I never said to make people vegetarians. (I used it as an example of a better idea than putting up solar panels earlier in the comments).

    “We need ideas, not apocalyptic inertia.”

    I am pointing out the facts which make your ideas invalid. I am not sounding any klaxon, it’s just you don’t like hearing facts that make your beliefs invalid. You want ideas to keep business as usual going, the very thing that is creating all the existential threats??

    We need people to accept the facts and only then could a possible solution be found, but I doubt that, as not many people care about the environment as they say they do (actions speak louder than words). The chances of 7.5 billion people becoming sustainable is highly unlikely, I have no ideas of how to make that happen, do you?? And if you don’t have any ideas that will fix that problem the only outcome is collapse, but for some reason you ignore that.

    “The problem is immense and we certainly do not have the solution at hand which is why we must take every step we can to buy us more time.”

    We don’t have more time to find a solution…

    @Michael Taylor

    Why is it that whenever someone gets solar panels they always boast about how much money they are saving, but no one ever boasts that they are reducing emissions? Is that because they don’t care about the environment and only really care about money…

  82. Kaye Lee

    Please stop telling me what I believe or want because you are completely wrong and it is presumptuous of you. Thank goodness we are not limited by people like you who have “no ideas”. There are an enormous number of people with a myriad of ideas. It’s just you prefer to be stuck in the past because you have invested so much into your apocalypse mentality.

    You saying solar panels don’t reduce emissions doesn’t make it so. Recent research shows that the carbon footprint of solar is lower than coal or gas with carbon capture and storage (CCS). This remains true after accounting for emissions during manufacture, construction and fuel supply. It takes only about one year to cancel the carbon footprint necessary to produce a panel!

  83. Michael Taylor

    Rapideffect, I felt bad about doing it, but I only posted my comment to see if there would be a complaint about something from you. You didn’t disappoint. You are just soooo predictable.

  84. Michael Taylor

    Thanks for that link, Terence. Looks quite useful.

  85. Rapideffect

    @Kaye Lee

    I never said solar panels don’t reduce emissions, just that all the massive growth in renewables has had little to no effect on global emissions.

    “In 25 of the last 26 years, we burned more fossil fuels than the year before.

    The only year in the last quarter century with a decrease was 2009. That was caused by a sharp global recession. And within a year, that rare respite was wiped out by a massive surge that followed.”

    https://www.nationalobserver.com/2017/07/13/analysis/these-missing-charts-may-change-way-you-think-about-fossil-fuel-addiction

    “Thank goodness we are not limited by people like you who have “no ideas”. There are an enormous number of people with a myriad of ideas.”

    Ok, what are these ideas that can sustain 7.5billion humans into the distant future without destroying the biosphere???

    @Michael Taylor

    Yeah I’m predictable, I like to point out the facts, so that’s a bad thing?? If you felt bad about doing it why do it? Is it because you too don’t want to hear the facts and would rather remain ignorant?

  86. SteveFitz

    97% of scientists and 70% of the rest of us believe climate change is real and happening as a result of human activity. Governments in climate change denial govern for the financial elite and vested interests. It’s a government that runs on lies and deceit and proof that they don’t govern for the people.

    Don’t be distracted by the LNP propaganda, stay focused. As long as the LNP government are in climate change denial you are being lied to and, if they lie about the greatest challenge to ever face mankind, if they lie about something that threatens our future, they will lie to you about everything.

  87. Kaye Lee

    “I never said solar panels don’t reduce emissions, just that all the massive growth in renewables has had little to no effect on global emissions.”

    When you start from a very small base, massive growth is relative. As you yourself have pointed out, we still get the majority of our energy from fossil fuels. As that changes, so will the results. As you yourself have pointed out, electricity is only a part of the equation but you are not receptive to the research and development that is occurring in other areas. You asking me what are the ideas shows me you have not bothered reading any of the links already provided so is there any point in giving more?

  88. Rapideffect

    @Kaye Lee

    I read the links, the ideas are too little too late:

    “Solar panel recycling is a promising new industry”

    “There is also huge potential for small-scale pumped hydro according to a study from ANU”

    “Emissions from heating and cooling can be reduced to some degree by better building design and more efficient appliances.

    There is a great deal of research being done on reducing emissions from transport eg Speeding up the deployment of low-emission alternative energy for transport, such as advanced biofuels, electricity, hydrogen and renewable synthetic fuels and removing obstacles to the electrification of transport.

    and even from livestock eg through feed additives and supplements for ruminants or changing our diet.”

    I said I have no idea how to sustain 7.5 billion humans into the distant future without destroying the biosphere.

    And you tell me there are ideas, but none of these ideas you present can sustain 7.5 billion humans into the future, let alone stop climate change.

  89. Kaye Lee

    All indications are that population will plateau and decline. Some think through apocalypse, others think through educating and empowering women and lifting people out of poverty.

    If you want one single answer to how we will survive, you will never get it. We need to manage a myriad of different approaches. We certainly cannot sustain our current trajectory so we must take action. It may, as you say, be too late, but while there is life there is hope.

    Even if you don’t think any of the improvements we are making will be enough, “The road that is built in hope is more pleasant to the traveler than the road built in despair, even though they both lead to the same destination.”

    So let’s keep trying rather than seeing the problem as too hard. My father always said give me the courage to change what I can and the strength to endure what I can’t.

  90. SteveFitz

    One of the Institute of Public Affair’s greatest successes has been to stitch climate denialism into the very fabric of the conservative LNP government political identity. Basically, this is to protect the fossil fuel industry so, it’s a perpetrated lie driven by greed.

    We have fossil fuel vested interests, includes many global governments, in climate change denial, also driven by greed. We see war economies fighting for control of diminishing oil and natural gas reserves and a massive global demand for coal, the single largest green house gas producer threatening the natural environment.

    We are talking about the systems that underlie the capacity of human life on the planet. Climate change throws a shadow over the question of our lives, the lives of children and the possibility of life at all. Now we know that with the twin forces of global warming and biosphere destruction, we can actually break down the system sustaining human life.

    We see two responses, that of the right, climate deniers and trivialists. Their politics is no longer a politics, if by that we mean a discourse on the matters of living together. Those on the right, because their politics has died, have decided to ally themselves with death and energise themselves by rejecting moral principals in the belief that life, other then their own, is worthless.

    The other response offered is one of hope and the various techniques that radical and reform movements have always used to tackle major challenges. “Eyes on the prize”, “one step at a time” and “hope for the future”. Hope has been a political commodity of great demand for the past decade or more. Hope is the fuel that drives such juggernauts.

    Humanity, as a species grounded in nature, will, in this century, pass through the narrow corridor of its essence and, our civilization and survival hangs in the balance.

    Should we some how avoid catastrophe, the best we can hope for is a world that has been blasted out of recognition. Even some sort of super-rapid global awakening of consciousness to collectively take action on climate change would see us heading towards 2-3 degrees of warming. This equates to extremes in weather, devastating sea level rises, the collapse of natural habitats and mass extinctions.

    Needing global and local solutions, twinned together, we remain imprisoned within a system of global nation-states, whose pursuit of their individual interests is lethal to collective interest. We need leaders capable of putting the global catastrophe on a real political footing.

    Instead, we have on one side Trump, Bolsonaro, Morrison and others, framing the fate of our planet in political culture-war terms; on the other, the U.S. Democrats, the Chinese leadership and others, sufficiently rational to recognise the climate crisis but unwilling to propose or initiate real action that would disadvantage their states.

    So the best, realistic hope for a global approach to the global catastrophe is, say, two to four decades away. In those years, while habitats will be irreversibly destroyed, thousands of species, including many of the animals we think of as part of the “human garden”, will disappear, ocean life could be taken to the brink and beyond, zones of super heat will be created, disrupting food and water supplies.

    Political disruption and wars, most likely a recognizable series of conflicts that can be called the oil wars or third world war will escalate. With the LNP adding fuel to the fire by allocating $200 billion to turn Australia into a war economy. The world we save will be a blighted, diminished place. For the planet our generation inherited, the catastrophe is already well under way.

    Fighting against human and world extinction demands an acceptance of that, that one look this in the eye, and acknowledge that, in effect, it is already happening. Being able to respond to news stories such as unprecedented extreme weather events, the collapse of insect systems, irreversible antarctic ice melt and not simply swipe the screen, can only be done by accepting the radical truth that these stories tell us.

    What we do with that is now up to us. But, the first and most important political act is looking the world in the eye, as it is and will be, without flinching, and starting from there. A step to the conservative right is a step towards continued fossil fuel consumption, global conflict and perpetual war. A step to the progressive left is a step towards the transition to renewable energy and hope for the future.

    We are still the lucky generation. We have the benefit of mans amazing advances in technology and we still have a beautiful natural environment to revel in. Life is for the living, I think we need to enjoy what we have while we have it and try to save what we can for future generations.

  91. Rapideffect

    All indications are that population will collapse. All the ideas you have presented (plus many additional ideas) all working together will have little effect in sustaining 7.5 billion humans for much longer.

    World Scientists’ Warning to Humanity: A Second Notice

    https://academic.oup.com/bioscience/article/67/12/1026/4605229

    Since the first scientists warning to humanity in 1992 and the second notice in 2017, things as a whole have gotten worse. All these so called solutions have had little effect and humanity continues to burn more fossil fuels every year to support the growing population.

    You present false hope, you think many of these ideas are improvements which many aren’t as they burn more fossil fuels, the opposite of what is needed. The results so far suggest all these ideas working together are not producing the results that are needed.

    “The road that is built in hope is more pleasant to the traveler than the road built in despair, even though they both lead to the same destination.”

    The road built in facts is the only true road, everything else is just false…

  92. Stephen Fitzgerald

    Life is a beautiful thing and I think we need to take some time out and smell the roses. We need to stop tearing ourselves apart over something we have little control over. We can only do what we can do to reduce the impact of global warming.

    Not all of us will make it but, our ancient ancestors survived previous extinction events, humanity survived the fall-out from Krakatoa, the bubonic plague, the 1st and 2nd world war and, if we do everything we can, humanity can survive the last of fossil fuel and the worst of climate change.

    Once again, the world will change drematically but, we need to brush off the state of catatonic fear we find ouselves in and live our lives in the hear and now. Relax, step outside and feel the sun and breeze on your face.

  93. Terence

    Rapideffect

    The conclusions of a very practical engineer with a well developed political BS meter.
    Let’s jump forward to the year 2030!
    Since 2019 we Aussies have suffered very severe economic pain under our deluded governments, but we have managed to reduce our CO2 emissions by 50%. That is we have reduced them by around 250 million metric tonnes of CO2 per year.
    However, during this period, (2019 to 2030) the population of the earth has increased by 900 million people (as per world forecasts).
    And each new inhabitant causes 5 metric tonnes of CO2 emission each year (the current average).
    Therefore the total new emissions are 900,000,000 x 5 = 4500,000,000 metric tonnes of CO2 per year, – so they immediately wash out 18 times the hard earned Aussie saving!
    Add to this the additional 5,000,000,000 metric tonnes per year that China and India are forecast to emit in 2030. They still show no signs of decreasing their emissions.
    In retrospect, were our lost jobs, high energy costs, lost exports and increased national debt over the last 11 years worth it?
    Fact – Population growth is the elephant in the room – Earth’s population growth is 99% correlated to both CO2 emissions and global warming over the last 120 years, and the unfortunate fact is that new emissions from this population growth and unabated increasing emissions from developing countries, will always wash out any puny emission reductions that we may achieve.
    Am I being fatalistic? Yes I Am.
    In fact we should be preparing to adapt our infrastructure and living systems to the inevitable new climate conditions, instead of believing in politically motivated ‘Magic’ to save us.

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