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What is Plan B, Malcolm?

By Bob Rafto

Imagine that you have consulted 100 doctors, 97 of them have diagnosed you with cancer and the other 3 said there’s nothing wrong with you.

You decide to side with the 3 doctors who told you nothing is wrong and refuse treatment although 97 of the doctors diagnosed the cancer as malignant and spreading. Your main rationale for this decision is that the treatment will be too costly.

This is a very simple analogy for climate change deniers. 97% of scientists agree with climate change, 3% say nothing is wrong.

This is the approach our leaders are using in the parliament to play down the cause of this cancer, on the grounds that it will be too costly to address it. And it is only because they have the numbers in parliament that coal will continue to be forced down our throats.

Trump and Turnbull are touted as successful business men who have accumulated millions and billions of the folding stuff and are best placed as leaders to ensure our economies maintain their prosperity, with coal leading the way.

Can anyone imagine a business owner not having contingency plans for the successful running of a business?

That is the case with these two master businessmen, Trump and Turnbull. They have no contingency plan should they be proved wrong on climate change. They have no Plan B, on a business venture that is considered by 97% of the world’s experts, to fail. Let’s not even consider Plan C or Plan D.

It’s time to call out Trump and Turnbull and ask, very loudly, “WHAT IS YOUR PLAN B, if and when the planet starts to fry?” What is your renewable energy policy?

We need to know what Plan B is if we continue down the coal path, because what is the point of saving a few dollars if we all end up frying?


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  1. Florence nee Fedup

    I wish he would explain details of plan A

  2. passum2013

    Mal has no plans at all the little voices in his head says just lie to all Questions as if you had the answers to everything

  3. Keitha Granville

    They are not worried about not having a plan -Mal has solar panels and batteries so he will just sit in his aircondtioned mansion watching the sizzle. Trump is already campaigning for the next election ! Reckon he knows he has to get people more on side now than they were last November cos by the time the next election comes around the USA will be a basket case

  4. Shevill Mathers

    Lacking a Plan A, let alone a Plan B. The patient will of course, die. The three doctors who decided there was nothing wrong with the patient were out of date with modern science/medical proven data.

  5. Johno

    Short and to the point, nice one Bob.
    Trump electing Pruitt as head of the EPA,,,, what a joke. The environment has been getting screwed over big time before this, so what will the future hold with Pruitt in charge.
    Here in fossil fuel munching Oz we have a minister for the environment and energy. Seem like a slight contradiction in portfolios.
    The mind boggles.

  6. Harquebus

    Plan B will be left up to the individual. I’ve got mine. It might not succeed but, at least I have one and am putting in into practice.


  7. Keith

    Bob, I think we are well on the way to frying:
    .California was knocked by a drought, and now has been hit by deluges. Such deluges are associated with the La Nina stage of Enso; instead Enso has been exhibiting neutral conditions.
    .New research indicates that oxygen content in Oceans is decreasing due to warming of Oceans.
    .Sea ice in the Arctic is in a poor state; sea ice volume has decreased by 75%. There have been a couple of periods in the last winter where sea ice was melting. It is expected that the Arctic will be ice free for a period by 2030.
    .Droughts in a number of South American countries eg Bolivia, where water resources come from glaciers.
    .The Larson C ice sheet in Antarctica is about to lose about 2,000 square miles of ice sheet, it will create an unstable grounding lineonce it happens.

    Coal is meant to be cheaper than solar; but, a kilogram of coal when burnt in a power station will produce 2 to 2.5 kilowatt hours of electricity, less if treated as “clean coal”. Whereas, 1 kilogram of silicon can produce around two square metres of solar panels. After 2 days with 5 hours of full sun the solar panels will have produced as much energy as the kilogram of coal. Solar panels can continue to produce energy for decades. Source a newspaper clip sent online, though unable to find source.

  8. Pat Garnet

    Our pollies are “marking time” in the quagmire …….. and the SHIT is floating to the top. Oh and by the way anybody who can count to 100 would have known the N.D.I.S. was NEVER funded. Bad look Julia.

  9. Harquebus


    It ain’t that simple.
    “Polysilicon production produces about four tons of silicon tetrachloride liquid waste for every ton of polysilicon produced.”
    Currently, this waste is being dumped into the Chinese environment. This is the main reason solar is becoming cheaper. Solar Pv panels can not be manufactured without a fossil fueled industrial infrastructure.

    See my comment at February 18, 2017 at 12:28 pm here for more.

    Day to Day Politics: Lies, lies, lies from Abbott to Turnbull.

    Antarctica Just Shed a Manhattan-Sized Chunk of Ice


  10. Miriam English

    Excellent metaphor, Bob. I’ll use that in future when arguing with climate change denialists, though realistically after another year or two of these changes I doubt anybody will be stupid enough to deny it anymore. They’ll all shift to “Mankind isn’t doing it.” We can already see that shift starting.

    Oh, and those 3 doctors who say you don’t have cancer… they’re all funded by companies that harvest organs. 🙂

  11. Don A Kelly

    Pat Garnet……..If you understand Modern Monetary Principles, you would know that the money is always there. Neo-liberalists tell us otherwise. The biggest sufferer of neo-liberalism is the truth. Barring obstruction from a hostile Federal Parliament, the AFG has access to as many $Aus. as it likes, whenever it likes. Sometimes the truth gets out for a short while – like the time when former Chairman of the U.S.Federal Reserve Bank, Alan Greenspan was called as an expert witness to address the U.S. Congress. Greenspan presented a statement, under oath when questioned about the sustainability of Social Security. He said, “It doesn’t matter if the question is about Social Security. It could be about Defence Spending, Education Spending, Infrastructure Spending, Student Debt. It could be about anything. What matters is there is nothing to stop the Federal Government to create as much money as it likes, whenever it likes.”

  12. Kaye Lee

    Bob, I think even those other three doctors have been forced to agree that you do in fact have cancer but it is entirely natural and absolutely nothing to do with smoking two packets of cigarettes a day.

  13. Miriam English

    Don A Kelly, I am broadly in favor of MMT, but I’ve been wondering about the extra dollars created… don’t they have the effect of devaluing the currency and causing inflation? I’ve been told it doesn’t, but I find it hard to see why it wouldn’t. (I also find it hard to see exactly why it would.) I know it would definitely cause inflation if the currency was tied to gold, but with a floating dollar I’m not so sure.

  14. Miriam English

    Kaye, nice extension of the metaphor. 🙂
    And of course they know it has nothing to do with your cigarette habit because cigarettes don’t cause cancer.
    [Collapses in laughter.]

  15. Harquebus

    Modern Monetary Principles require inflation. Economists and their world destroying monetary system are worse than climate change deniers.

    “By a continuous process of inflation, governments can confiscate, secretly and unobserved, an important part of the wealth of their citizens. By this method, they not only confiscate, but they confiscate arbitrarily; and while the process impoverishes many, it actually enriches some. The process engages all of the hidden forces of economic law on the side of destruction, and does it in a manner that not one man in a million can diagnose.” — John Maynard Keynes

    “This is the shabby secret of the welfare statists’ tirades against gold. Deficit spending is simply a scheme for the confiscation of wealth. Gold stands in the way of this insidious process. It stands as a protector of property rights.” — Alan Greenspan

  16. Miriam English

    Harquebus, anything that requires fossil-fuelled heat can get that heat by focussing the sun into a solar furnace. In fact solar furnaces routinely achieve higher temperatures than fossil-fuelled furnaces, and do so more quickly. They can also be turned on and off instantly.

  17. Harquebus

    Miriam English
    Trucks? You can’t build a solar furnace without a fossil fueled industrial infrastructure.
    Nice try.

  18. Wun Farlung

    Plan A-plan B are the same . Rant and rave, tell bare faced lies, ask what ‘those oppissite’ for their policy (even if we are’nt due for another election for ages) all in the full knowledge that no hard to answer questions will be asked by the compliant media flunkies and that come what may there are nice jobs waiting when they get out of politics

  19. Kaye Lee


    re MMT: I can accept that while we have unused productive capacity that we can “create extra dollars” without causing inflation provided the money is spent productively rather than on war toys or fleets of BMWs. I am not so certain about the effect on exchange rates because they seem to be more determined by speculation.

  20. Harquebus

    If only we had abundant and easy to access energy to fuel our unused productive capacity.
    Ahhh. Wind and solar. Abundant yes, easy to access no. Compare the energy and effort that have gone into harnessing them so far and how little they have actually produced.
    Over to you Miriam.

  21. stephengb2014s

    Modern money is the fact that the currency has no commodity or other currency to back it up (i.e. gold, US Dollar) the currency is backed by the government and its value in that country is determined by it’s scarcety.
    The exchange rate is a reflection of the currency on the money market. It is said to be floated on the money market, i.e. its value in that market is dependent on the way the money market traders see it’s floated value going up and down, and they look at the news and activities of the country to second guess the value and try to make a living trading up or down as they guess the way the value is heading. In other words the exchange rate is a result of gambling about the direction that a particular currency value may or may not trend.
    It’s a market, it’s exactly like stocks and shares in any other commodity, because the money market sees money merely as a commodity. Unless you are a trader forget it!


  22. Harquebus

    Fiat currencies value is confidence only. That is all. They have no worth and is why they all fail.
    A convenient lie that markets always provide.

  23. keerti

    Also, usa engaged in monetary easing for sometime, putting billions of created money into it’s economy. The economy improved and the value of the $ went up.

  24. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    Indeed, what are Malcolm Muck’s and Frump’s Renewable Energy policies?

    I doubt either of them care about Plan B because they both think they’ve got it nicely timed for any really bad climate affects to hit their backyards after they have left this mortal coil.

    I wonder if their stupid children instead are asking them what their Plan B’s are for them and their children?

  25. bobrafto

    Further thoughts, did anybody get that $550 when the carbon tax was axed? It was one big lie.

    Yet here are the LNP again saying they are going to keep prices down on electricity, it’s like the cartoon strip Peanuts, Lucy steadies the football for Charlie Brown to kick only to pull the ball away when Charlie Brown attempts to kick the ball.

    The problem is that the punters are like Charlie Brown they will fall for that lower cost trick even though they been stung before with the carbon tax.

    Electricity prices on average have been rising by about 4% every year but let’s say that the LNP will keep costs down with coal but any savings will be swallowed up by aircons running 24 hours a day if this summer is any guide.

    But I tend not to believe anything the LNP says, prices are going up and the LNP have no control over the prices and they will soar over summer.

    It’s a vicious circle, burn more coal that causes global warming and in turn burn more electricity to keep from getting fried and that in turn requires more coal to be burned.

    Can’t wait for the outcry when consumers get their next electricity bills.

  26. Miriam English

    Harquebus, you keep doing that. Please don’t take this wrongly, but I’m seriously worried that you have a learning impediment. I’m not trying to be snarky. I really am honestly worried for you. As I’ve shown you before, electric trucks exist already. They have a number of advantages over fossil-fuelled trucks, such as superior torque and no need for gears

    Smith Electric Vehicles have been making them for years, Tesla is getting into them in a big way, Nikola Motors manufacture two models of big electric semi-trailer trucks.

    Do a quick search. You’ll find oodles of examples. See the Wikipedia page for electric trucks too:

  27. Kaye Lee

    I am beginning to really dislike Josh Frydenberg. As the Minister for Energy AND the Environment, he should have the weight of the world on his shoulders, yet there he sits laughing uproariously when Scomo brings in his lump of coal. Up he gets to the dispatch box looking around to see who is laughing at his attempted zingers – real high brow stuff like Electricity Bill. Frydenberg has been groomed and gifted promotion if he performs, not in his portfolio – in question time. And that is all he does. Get up each day and work out how to sell his lies. He is a waste of space with regard to either of his crucial portfolios and he should be pilloried.

  28. Miriam English

    Also, H, all gold-based currencies fail too.
    All currencies require confidence.

  29. Harquebus

    Miriam English
    An unwillingness to learn is an attribute that I see in you. What you don’t see is the complex fossil fueled industrial supply chain that makes these things possible and which, will not function on renewable energy alone.

    See my comment at February 18, 2017 at 12:28 pm here for more. I read all of your links, I do not expect you to read all that are listed in that comment.

    Day to Day Politics: Lies, lies, lies from Abbott to Turnbull.

    I do not advocate gold backed currencies. I advocate gold and silver. They do fail if, they are debased however, that does not alter the value of pure precious metals.


  30. Steve Laing - makeourvoiceheard.com

    I was fortunate enough to recently attend a presentation by Dr Fiona Stanley on the projected health implications of climate change – some of which we are already experiencing in Australia – and she was clearly frustrated by the lack of inaction by the government. Indeed much of the audience were totally exasperated, and had very little faith that politicians of either major party would actually do what needed to be done due to “political expediency” always being considered a higher priority than actually properly resolving issues. So what can we do to take the issue away from the politicians who many don’t believe anyway (particularly of the “other” persuasion) and

    Perhaps GPs need to ask patients if they believe in the science of climate change before they treat them for conditions where climate change is a factor, in the same way they do about smoking, or diet? If they don’t in MMCM then perhaps they should simply suggest prescribing them a course of leeches to match their medieval thinking.

    Until people can directly link climate change to something impacting them in an adverse way are we likely to see some people from making the direct connection between health and climate change.

    Regarding Plan B – having significantly privatised our electricity network and generation in certain states, isn’t “the market” supposed to sort all this stuff out for us (i.e. planning for the future, matching supply with demand etc)? Ahh, the “market” – can always be relied on to do what the public sector can’t. Apparently.

  31. helvityni

    Yes Kaye, he’s one of the worst of them, a bit Hunt like, both of them trying to look most earnest and believable when telling us their lies…
    Decorating their speeches with few ‘it’s Labor’s, Shorten’s, Green’s faults/lies…’

    And the silly red-faced Barnaby is choking himself with laughter, it’s all sooo funny….more like sad or pathetic.

  32. win jeavons

    I totally understand why Buddhist monks self immolated during the Vietnam war, We don’t need to the pollies are doing it for us .I despair for a reasonable civilization in our time

  33. Pat Garnet

    Those who are hell bent on trying to convince/tell each other where and what has gone /is going wrong should read a book titled Dark Ages Ahead. I read it about 15 years ago, predictions are on track and it’s not concerning, only little old Australia. This day in day out polly bashing is what they love to hear. Otherwise if you go quietly they won’t know what you are up to and therefore might have to account for themselves. Are you the “silent majority” somebody on this site referred to recently? If you are it was suggested you DO something. Surely by now you like me realise what we have been doing ISN’T working.

  34. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    Spot on Kaye Lee @ 4.05pm re Josh Frydenberg.

    Politics is just one big game to him. Too bad if the Earth is frying. Should be him.

  35. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    Sorry Pat, but I can’t go quietly.

    This is what I wrote today and intend to present for publication in my local paper tomorrow, as follows:

    Last week, your paper published a letter from M***** M*****, who began his Letter to the Editor with “Ministers like Josh Frydenberg, Matt Canavan and even our Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull who are calling for investment in ultra supracritical coal fired power stations as a means to address our need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions are so wide of the mark of reality it beggars belief.”
    I am compelled to write this letter in reply, as I totally agree with Mr M******. It beggars belief that with the closing of Hazelwood, there could still be any discussion about that mythological beast called ‘Clean Coal’. Beside the Prime Minister and those Federal Liberal Ministers above, who appear incapable of rational thought where life can be contemplated without coal, who would continue with this bogus, fraudulent beast, Clean Coal? Is it the local Latrobe City Council and the various antiquated-thinking Labor, Liberal and National MPs at both state and federal levels?
    I invite each and every one of them to let the light in and actively support Renewable Energy technology (RET), RET projects and zero CO2 emissions well before mid-21st Century.
    My first suggestion is that they can fully fund the valiant Earthworks initiative, which has relocated a solar hot water unit making technology initiative from Melbourne to Morwell for the dual purposes of helping to fill the void left after the expected closure of Hazelwood and the expected shortfall of employment opportunities for Latrobe Valley people and the need for clean, green energy appliances.
    Another suggestion is that these assorted federal, state and local dignitaries (clearly floundering in the rising seas caused by Climate Change) can meet with local alternative and renewable energy enthusiasts and experts in regular community based consultation processes, so that they can be educated in the latest exciting and promising opportunities for a clean and greener future for our planetary health but also our far, better socio-economic opportunities for the entire community with new technologies and new ideas about how to make them work. I agree with Mr M***** M***** because if we don’t want our planetary temperature to keep climbing further and faster than:

    1 deg warmer than pre industrial times, that we have had year on year temperature records broken, that evidence of sea level rise, melting glaciers, acidity in the ocean, record lows in arctic ice, record frequencies of storm, flood, fire and drought across the world are sending humanity the strongest possible signals that we need to change how we live if we want civilization to persist, let alone currently habitable places on earth to remain so. The only rational response, and the response I would expect from federal government ministers, is to stop digging up coal, gas and oil as fast as we can, not to promote more of them.

    My main message of this letter is that political and public officials at all local, state and federal levels have no choice now but immediately to consider, learn, consult, develop, support, implement and continue to support all clean, green energy initiatives that can immediately improve on the gaping wounds left by the coal based power industries.
    Stop the talk about the mythological clean coal beast; it doesn’t exist. Like the tooth fairy, it is just a figment of imagination and wishful thinking. Stop sitting on your hands and support the energetic people in the local communities, who are raring to go to get clean energy industries up and running while also providing exciting new employment opportunities for the people of the Latrobe Valley and the wider Gippsland.
    Jennifer Meyer-Smith

  36. Arthur Chance

    Don’t worry this Climate Change stuff will never happen.

  37. Miriam English

    Harquebus, and yet you continue to say, wrongly, that electric trucks can’t exist. As I showed (and have showed you many times before), they do exist, have existed for years, and now with changes like better battery technology, charging stations, etc they are beginning to boom.

    They have peculiar advantages over internal compustion engines that let them move heavy loads from standstill to full speed smoothly without needing gears, pulling at full torque at all speeds. And now with automated drivers they are ready to easily convert.

  38. Miriam English

    Harquebus, I do understand the problems of the intricate web of petroleum interdependencies we’ve built up. I also understand much of the fuel aspect of it is beginning to be replaced. I also understand that many parts of it don’t need to be replaced, for example plastics and chemical manufacturing. Other things like Haber-Bosch fertiliser production can be replaced by a solar-powered powered variation of the same process can be delayed until needed. When we’re no longer burning fossil fuels for electricity and transport, fossil reserves will last for centuries.

    As for the distinction you try to make between currencies based on gold and silver and the gold and silver themselves. That value is a shared illusion of confidence. If I don’t see your gold as useful to me (I can’t eat it) then you can’t trade with me. The so-called “precious metals” have no more value than is granted them by people, exactly the same as any form of currency.

  39. Harquebus

    Miriam English
    I say that electric trucks can not exist without a fossil fueled industrial infrastructure to manufacture them.
    I read that wikipedia link and laughed. The other two were advertisements. Another that you provided last week I just shook my head and lost count of the number of times I saw the word “assuming”.

    Did you not read any of the links that I pointed you to. You do not comprehend that the transport, processing, distribution and delivery of everything can not be done using renewable energy. The diminishing returns on energy production is bringing down our current economic system via high energy prices. That will be the end of the renewable energy dream.

    Where exactly did I say that electric trucks can’t exist?

    Besides precious metals, other trade items include food, alcohol, tobacco, ammunition and drugs. It does not matter how valuable an object is, it is only worth what someone is willing to trade for it.


  40. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    Arthur Chance,

    I presume you were referring to my post when you made your contentious comment, “… this Climate Change stuff will never happen.”

    Please explain (as your sado-masochist mistress, Hanson, would say).

  41. Kate Ahearne

    Thanks, Bob.
    Harquebus, Just wondering about energy at your place. What do you use? Are you on the grid?

  42. Kate Ahearne

    Hi Jennifer, I don’t think they’ll publish it – not necessarily because of what you’re saying, but because it’s too long. I think you would have a better chance if you could briefly develop just one point.

  43. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    We’ll see, Kate. But I promise to tell you either way.

  44. Kate Ahearne

    Thanks, Jennifer. I’ll be very interested to see how it works out. Local papers sometimes have a bit of latitude for such things, especially when there’s not much actual local news happening.

  45. Phil

    Bob, you say “Trump and Turnbull are touted as successful business men who have accumulated millions and billions of the folding stuff and are best placed as leaders to ensure our economies maintain their prosperity, with coal leading the way”

    That assertion (touted) leads you argue a case for these guys to have a plan B yet it seems to me that the case is false and needs to be challenged long before accepting the premise as touted that they are ‘best placed’ as leaders. The Mafia and their equivalents in every continent could also be regarded as successful businessmen given they too have accumulated billions of folding stuff.

    Let’s be clear here – there is no emphatic evidence to support a view that either Turnbull or Trump acquired their stratospheric wealth through wholly moral, legal and honest means. ‘Working the system’ they might well call it, but for the rest of world ‘working the system’ is bordering on corruption pure and simple – all you need is the right personality traits – typically those of the narcissist and the sociopath.

    There is nothing in the modus operandi of a successful business person that automatically equates with the essential qualities of responsible and effective political leadership in a contemporary democracy.

    The succesful businessperson puts personal and enterprise profit first – way, way before social, public or environmental good – that is the very the essence of capitalism – an essence that far too many overlook in their worship of business success. The truly successful business person more resembles a political dictator, operating in a strict hierarchy – firing and hiring at will – trashing competitors in a dog eat dog system we euphemistically refer to as the ‘market’.

    The successful businessperson is rarely if ever interested in the world outside the enterprise other than seeking opportunities for further profit or to bring calamity to competitors. Trump and Turnbull operate in this world. Whereas the truly democratic political leader would to be seeking everything and anything other than what the business leader seeks – so it is a mistake and a dangerous one at that to give any credit to the myth of business success as a grounding for effective democratic political leadership. I posit Turnbull and Trump to support my thesis.

    There is no plan B in the Trump and Turnbull energy world view because each emphatically rejects the science and thus in their narrow business minds there is no point to a plan B. They would argue that you don’t plan for a non event.

    Yes, it’s false logic but that matters not one hoot to them – what matters to them is the retention and projection of personal power and the aggrandisement that goes with it. ignorance is their cloak and they are well shrouded – for now.

  46. Harquebus

    Kate Ahearne
    Yes. That said, my electricity use and carbon footprint are both less than my fair share. I am preparing to live without it and a lot of other things. Last year’s statewide blackout was a trial run for me.

    Good point.

  47. Kate Ahearne

    Thanks, Harquebus. So how do you envisage managing your energy needs in the future?

  48. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    Hear, hear Phil.

    Also, let’s remember both frauds aka Turnbull and Trump had the immense $$$ step ups given to them by their parents and close associates.

    In fact I would go so far as to say that Turnbull, if he truly only has $200 million in the Caymans, proves he is NOT such a good businessman after all considering the inheritance and the massive loan he received from his brethren in early life.

    Any person with good business sense would have multiplied it by 1000 times (over the time he has had and the opportunities) not a mere 100 times like little Malcolm Muck claims.

    On the other hand, I may have just helped to expose that Malcolm Muck has a dirty little secret on the Caymans and instead of having $200 million invested, he could just as well have $2 billion.

    You heard it here first, everyone!

  49. Kate Ahearne

    Do we have a misundertanding about what Bob is saying?.I can’t see anything in his piece to suggest that he thinks that all that ‘touted’ wealth qualifies either Turnbull or Trump to govern anything.

  50. Sam

    Miriam! don’t waste your time arguing with fools.

  51. Jennifer Meyer-Smith


    I understand your attitude.

    However I, for one, appreciate how Miriam patiently explains a wide variety of scientific and futuristic stuff that would normally escape my understanding.

    So, even though her intended recipient may not always appreciate Miriam’s intellect, others of us do.

  52. Kate Ahearne

    Jennifer, Yes, Miriam’s familiarity with so much of the stuff we all need to know is quite extraordinary. Long may she continue to share. And I hope Harquebus will continue to share, too. Like you, I’m just trying to get my head around it all.

  53. Sam

    Yes; Jennifer Miriam is such an eloquent communicator.The other commentator is a pain.

  54. silkworm

    “The succesful businessperson puts personal and enterprise profit first – way, way before social, public or environmental good – that is the very the essence of capitalism – an essence that far too many overlook in their worship of business success.”

    There are ethical business models, such as not-for-profits and workers’ collectives.

  55. wam

    by the time the PM’s grandchildren have paid off gillard’s debt they can start borrowing to make trump’s wall into a dyke.

    Kaye, there is something odd about mr frydenberg but he is super smart, in menzies’ seat and is not catholic? qed

  56. Harquebus

    Kate Ahearne
    Ultimately, I have kerosene for lighting and utensils for cooking with fire. In the meantime, energy and other constraints will be forced on us which, I am confident that I can live with.

    Considering the multitude of threats facing us including economic, resource, environmental, political….. any fool can see that business as usual is not sustainable and one of the consequences of continuing it has just recently been demonstrated as power outages due to an extreme weather event.

    We have borrowed from the future to provide the illusion of growth. Debt, in my opinion, will be the catalyst for the unraveling of our current world destroying way of life.


  57. Kate Ahearne

    Harquebus, Thanks for that. I’m guessing you’re in SA. But what about in the longer term? Kerosene? Do you have an energy plan for the future?

  58. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    To be fair,

    H was talking like this before the recent bad blackouts in SA.

    Still H,

    please don’t answer Kate’s question with nuclear, coal and gas as the answers to our energy future.

  59. Pat Garnet

    I wish you all the best for publication of your letter/s. I am an avid Newcastle Herald writer, and I win about 50/50 on publication. I fully appreciate your feeling of not ‘being able to let things go”. I have been defending almost every known cause all my life, but have lost faith that it will have done any good. Joanne McCarthy gave me a personal thank you, and believed what I had achieved with petitioning the Royal Commission into child abuse was significant. I was chuffed recieving that from her. Good luck, Cheers Pat.

  60. Miriam English

    🙂 Thanks Kate, Jennifer, and Sam. I try, but fall badly short.

  61. Kate Ahearne

    Miriam, ‘short’ is to be expected. There’s no long without short.
    Go Girl.

  62. Harquebus

    Kate Ahearne
    I think that I might be misunderstanding you. If mean an energy future for society then, ration the fossil fuels that we have left and power down in a controlled manner in order to gain time to adapt to a low energy future. Horse and cart basically. Building stables and other low tech infrastructure is what I would be doing.
    High unemployment will be one consequence, economic contraction another but, if you want a habitable and sustainable world?

    The wealthy will not be that when forced to get by on rations alone.


  63. Kate Ahearne

    Jennifer, It’s OK. I’m asking a genuine question of Harquebus, and I’m expecting a genuine answer. I’m hoping that he might help me towards a negative footprint – this is where I need to be heading. Miriam gets it, and I think Harquebus does, too. It’s just a matter of how we get there.

  64. Florence nee Fedup

    If Gillard’s debts were so bad, how in hell are they going to cope with debts of Abbott and Turnbull. Many times Gillard’s for very much less returns.

    I suspect many a good business man is incapable of not being able to run the nation’s budget, but also their own family budget.

  65. Don A Kelly

    Anybody that wishes to learn more about Modern Monetary Principles, I suggest you watch a YouTube video – “Ageing Myths Debunked Professor Phil Lawn 7 March 2015 Part 1 and Part 2.

  66. Kate Ahearne

    Harquebus, I don’t understand. I do agree about preparing for a low-energy future. What I was wondering, though, is what can you offer me about how I can, personally, reverse my footprint? And I’m wondering how you’re going about it. I get it about the kerosine for now, but I’m not asking you, on this occasion, about what society ought to be doing – just about what you are doing to reverse your footprint, and how you’re planning to get rid of the kerosine.

  67. Harquebus

    Kate Ahearne
    I can not see how a negative footprint is possible. As small as possible is the goal.
    Every dollar spent causes pollution. Those that spend the most are doing the most damage.
    If you are at the bottom of the economic heap then, you can not help but do your bit.

  68. Harquebus

    Kate Ahearne
    What I do is:
    Catch a bus, ride a bike or walk.
    Limit my electrical use. I have many computers but, most of time just run just my little laptop.
    Don’t spend money on frivolous unproductive enterprises such as movies and restaurants.
    Try to feed myself. Agriculture is very resource intensive and polluting.
    Repair, reuse and improvise. I am mechanically minded and improvising is fun for me. My favorite garden tool is a scraper made from a broken pair of cheap scissors and a lightweight handle from a kitchen mop. It works great, is very light and has lasted a lot longer as a garden tool that it did as a mop.
    If I think of anymore, I will add them.

  69. Matters Not

    Building stables and other low tech infrastructure is what I would be doing

    Hilarious! Never mind what you theoretically would be doing , what are you actually doing re ‘stable building’, acquiring ‘non farting horses’ that don’t have to be shod, controlled by ‘bridles’ without refined metals, carts without wheels using steel rims.

    Low grade entertainment value at best.

    Harquebus, as I have advised on any number of occasions – get a life.

  70. Kate Ahearne

    Thanks, Harquebus. I hope you won’t mind if I come back to you in the morning. I’m so tired, I don’t know which way is up.
    Chins up, though, and best feet forward.

  71. Harquebus

    Matters Not
    You live yours and I’ll live mine. How’s that?
    I hope that you live a long life. I want you to see what will come.
    You wish to believe that the people who have lied to you will care for you, that their promise of jobs and growth, cheap energy and unlimited resources until the end of time is true. Go ahead. Put your faith in the system that is criticized in this forum I dunno how many times every day. I am glad that you are taking that chance. You will lose.

  72. Matters Not

    Harquebus, you really invite ridicule. You say:

    What I do is: Catch a bus, ride a bike or walk.

    You actually ‘catch a bus’ when you could ‘walk’. And you ‘ride a bike’ when you could walk instead. Surely you know, that the engine that drives the bus ‘pollutes’, the ‘bike’ (and the bus) was manufactured as were the tyres, the brakes, the gears and so on.

    And because of your ‘purity’ you, presumably, walk in bare feet. And you use a computer that doesn’t rely on refined silica.

    Yes Harquebus, you ‘live’ in your world and I will live (and die) in mine. But at least I will have lived.

    All you seem to achieve are losses.

  73. Harquebus

    Matters Not
    You are an idiot. It depends on the distance I have to travel and yes, I do mostly get around in bare feet or thongs and 20 people on a bus is better than 20 single driver cars.
    Society isn’t completely broken yet and I expect to see the day when the internet goes quiet and computers lay dormant. I will think of you.
    I’m taking Kate’s queue and am retiring.

  74. Matters Not

    Harquebus, I know I should give this pointless discussion away but can I explore one statement you make.

    I want you to see what will come.

    You say : I want to see what will come. Are you suggesting that you have ‘doubt’. That you don’t know the ‘future’? Perhaps you could provide a link or two when such doubts have been expressed in the past?

    Or was it just a slip of the tongue?

    Yes I am an idiot. Because I try to engage with an id …

  75. Keith

    Matters Not

    Scientists are predicting that there is a high probability of there being a period of no sea ice during summer on the Arctic Ocean by around 2030. The result being a significant impact on climate; the cryosphere, snow and ice around Earth have a moderating impact on temperature. From 1979 till 2016 in the Arctic Ocean 75% of sea ice volume has been lost, multi year sea ice is being lost, the thickness of sea ice is down, and sea ice extent is lowering. During the last ice creation phase there have been occasions when melting has happened for short periods. In 2016 a British yacht was able to sail both passages of the fabled route around the top of the Northern Hemisphere; and two ice breakers were able to motor to the North Pole.

    Glaciers are generally retreating around Earth, for many communities they provide water resources. Glaciers are a source of water for major rivers such as the Ganges. Last year Chinese scientists were commenting on loss of Himalayan glaciers posing huge issues for the future. The runoff from those glaciers providing water resources for a number of countries.

    So, if you are fairly young, say 50, then in all likelihood you will experience greater impacts from climate change.

    Walking where ever possible is good advice from Harquebus; not travelling by airline is another way of reducing your footprint.

  76. Harquebus

    Matters Not
    No slip of the tongue.
    You don’t engage, not with me anyway. You carefully select statements and take them out of context to demonstrate what a smart half a brain you have only, it ain’t that smart.

  77. Keith

    Matters Not

    In relation to the volume of sea ice in the Arctic in the past, I read about how there was as a trend line down. It was not until I did the Maths myself that I had quite a jolt. It provided the impetus to write a few articles about Abrupt Climate Change. The figures for volume are firm, being derived by satellite and PIOMAS. Secondary evidence has already been provided in relation to the yacht and ice breakers above.

    With new research in relation to storm activity in the Arctic Ocean showing the upwelling of “warm” water attacking sea ice below and greater fetch where there is water free of ice, the 2030 prediction of an ice free Arctic for a short period is quite conservative.

  78. nurses1968

    good on you for trying to make change in your own small way, I work on a property where a lot of money has been thrown at gaining the smallest possible negative footprint but not all can afford that route
    This guy seems happy in his personal island made from waste plastic and fish net
    The new island was initially 20 metres (66 ft) in diameter, which has since expanded to 25 metres (82 ft), and plants and mangroves are already growing on it. It contains about 100,000 bottles. The new island has three beaches, a house, two ponds, a solar-powered waterfall and river, a wave-powered washing machine and solar panels.

  79. Kate Ahearne

    Matters Not, You say, ‘You actually ‘catch a bus’ when you could ‘walk’. And you ‘ride a bike’ when you could walk instead’. How on earth did you get the idea that Harquebus takes a bus or rides a bike when he could walk? The sensible assumption would be that he takes a bus when it’s too far for him to bike it or to walk, and he rides a bike when it’s not so far that he needs to take a bus but too far to walk. He’s trying to reduce his footprint. Good for him. What sorts of things do YOU do to reduce your footprint?

  80. Harquebus

    Thank you for that link. Millions living in ghettos all over the world use the same strategy; repair, reuse and improvisation. Lots of tips on the internet for such things as well. Disregard those requiring a fuel or electricity.

  81. Miriam English

    I’d like to try to clarify something here. Matters Not was having a go at Harquebus for continually putting down renewable energy as being something that requires (in his opinion) fossil fuels, and then speaking without blinking of a number of things he plans to use into the indefinite future that also rely upon fossil fuels. Matters Not was merely making a joke of the incongruous statements and I think he was right to do so.

    I’ll warrant Matters Not actually applauds Harquebus’ footprint minimisation. I certainly do. I’m trying to do the same.

    The difference is that most of us think civilisation will survive and continue to improve, but Harquebus thinks it won’t. He’s perfectly welcome to draw that conclusion, and given the pig-headedness of some aspects of society I can certainly understand why he feels that way, but there are also a lot of wonderful changes happening too that give great cause for hope and he sadly ignores them.

  82. Kate Ahearne

    Miriam, Sorry, I didn’t get that joke. It seems that I have a very tin ear when it comes to jokes – thinking someone is writing satire when they’re deadly serious, and now thinking someone is trying to be serious when they’re actually joking,

    Anyway, I agree that there does seem to be a disconnect in what Harquebus says – I really don’t understand, for instance, why he would prefer to use kerosene than to install a couple of solar panels. I have seen him argue that solar panels use energy in their manufacture, but I have also seen plenty of evidence (some supplied by you) that suggests that the energy consumed in production is recouped very quickly. And, presumably, as more and more of the energy on the grid is supplied by renewables, that argument should eventually disappear. (Of course, a lot of people would be happy to install solar and/or wind if they could afford it. Maybe Harquebus can’t afford it. Dunno.)

    The other matter that you and Harquebus come to grief over, optimism versus pessimism, is also very important. Sometimes pessimism is more realistic, but optimism is where the real power lies. I certainly don’t ‘think’ that everything is going to be alright. I ‘hope’ it, though.

    Harquebus, Thanks for your list, and yes, please do add to it as you think of things.

  83. Harquebus

    Miriam English
    “then speaking without blinking of a number of things he plans to use into the indefinite future that also rely upon fossil fuels.”
    If you are referring to kerosine lighting, that will last as long as my kerosine does. I am stockpiling now that which will not be available in the future. I can hold out for a time and hopefully, until the competition has perished and the dust settled.

    Until recently, my efforts have been to avoid disaster, now it is to survive it.
    Quite a few recent events have led me toward this conclusion. This is the one that convinced me.

    “Whilst total global oil (all liquids) production currently appears to be still growing slowly, the energy required by the global oil industry is growing faster, and the net energy available for work by the end user is decreasing rapidly.”

    End of the “Oilocene”: The Demise of the Global Oil Industry and of the Global Economic System as we know it.

    Hence, slowing economies and growing bubbles of debt.

    Back at theDrum, I had many arguments with Mike Stasse aka damnthematrix.

    We agreed on everything except renewable energy and he displayed the same frustration with me as you do and the arguments we had were very similar to ours. He lost. At least he had the courage to admit it.

    While advocating renewable energy, he proudly claimed that his son was a physics student at university. My response was something like, “Then your son should be able to explain to you the negative net energy returns of renewable energy.” Soon after, his advocating of renewable energy ceased and we are now in total agreement.

    You might get a few tips at his site. He has also published a couple of my emails which, are still there if you scroll down far enough.

    Peak oil Miriam, peak oil.

    BTW: The feasta link advocates renewable energy. It is the article’s only fault.

    Kate Ahearne
    The links that I pointed you to earlier on one of John Lord’s page explain. Renewable energy devices do more harm than good.
    The crux or Miriam’s and my argument is where the boundaries of EROEI analyses should be. It is my argument that they are deliberately constrained in order to give misleading higher energy returns for renewable energy devices.


  84. Miriam English

    Good summation Harquebus.

  85. Harquebus

    “For years now, I’ve written that the highly wealthy people whom I encounter through conferences, family offices and private consultations all got the “bug out” vibe after the 2008 crash, if not before. Today, many of them are more thoroughly prepped than us regular folks can imagine.”
    “Survivalism, the practice of preparing for a crackup of civilization, tends to evoke a certain picture: the woodsman in the tinfoil hat, the hysteric with the hoard of beans, the religious doomsayer. But in recent years survivalism has expanded to more affluent quarters, taking root in Silicon Valley and New York City, among technology executives, hedge-fund managers, and others in their economic cohort.”
    “From here it’s only a hop, skip and a jump for the newly-awake to start losing faith in our debt-based fiat money system and the massive unsustainability of the economy built on top of it.”
    “For example, our food distribution system relies on a lot of moving, integrated parts. If any one of these breaks down, the shipment of food (and pharmaceuticals, and many other components of daily life) simply stops.”

    With extreme heat events likely to increase in frequency, the fate of the GBR is probably already sealed.


  86. Johno

    Do you think the transition from a oil based economy to a kerosene/fire based economy will be smooth and peaceful ?

  87. Harquebus

    I have no idea what any future economy will be based on. Timber I hope. Currently it is fossil fuels. History favors slavery.
    Will the transition be smooth and peaceful? No.

    Search criteria: fossil fuel slave


  88. bobrafto


    You paint a bleak picture for the world and I note that you are storing kero. Does your survival plan include building walls with turrets on them or maybe machine gun emplacements around your property?

    Becos if doomsday comes the have nots will come after the haves with kero.

  89. helvityni

    I get a headache just thinking about kerosene…

  90. Johno

    The world is already very bleak for a great many people.. The lucky people with good water, food, housing, healthcare etc will have the most to lose. Maybe thats why some rich countries keep increasing their military spending.

  91. bobrafto

    US 1960’s and with the threat of nuclear war, folk got worried and started building bomb shelters under their houses, just saying.

    They might come in handy now that Trump is in power.

  92. Harquebus

    No. My defensive strategy is being on good terms with my neighbors and helping them transition with what I have learned if, collapse is not sudden. If it is then, it will be everyone for themselves.
    My immediate neighbors are a concern. They are all elderly, frail and in constant need of assistance. RDNS is regular caller.

  93. bobrafto

    Maybe thats why some rich countries keep increasing their military spending.

    I would venture to say it is to feed their military/industrial complexes that appear to be bigger players than the coal industry. They have to keep on manufacturing wars and the US is the biggest merchant of death on this planet.

  94. Harquebus

    “Krugman attempts to account for the no-growth economy by marshaling the stock-in-trade legerdemain of academic economics: productivity, demographics, and labor metrics. Krugman actually knows zip about what afflicts us in the present disposition of things, namely the falling energy-return-on-energy-investment in the oil industry, which is approaching the point where the immense activity of getting oil out of the ground won’t be worth the cost and trouble of doing it.”
    “we can’t generate enough wealth to maintain anything close to our assumed standard of living. We can’t even generate enough wealth to pay the interest on the debt we’ve racked up in order to hide our growing energy predicament. And that, in a nutshell, is what will blow up the financial system. And when that department of the economy goes, the rest will follow.”
    “None of these celebrated Grand Viziers knows what the f*ck he’s talking about, and a nation depending on their guidance will find itself lost in a hall of mirrors with the lights off.”
    “You also have an American public, and a mass media, who do not question the premise of a massive “infrastructure” spending project to re-boot the foundering economy.”
    “We’re going there whether we like it or not. But we can make the journey to it easier or harsher depending on how much we drag our heels getting on with the job.”

    Fumbling Towards Collapse

  95. bobrafto

    we can’t generate enough wealth to maintain anything close to our assumed standard of living. We can’t even generate enough wealth to pay the interest on the debt we’ve racked up in order to hide our growing energy predicament.

    You haven’t been paying attention, that wealth has been siphoned off to the 1% of the population and one has to wonder why they stash it in the Cayman’s being ‘IDLE’ and that’s probably a germ of an idea for someone to write about.

  96. Harquebus

    It’s not wealth. It is fiat and it will return to its intrinsic value. A lot of people who have been depending on their superannuation being there are going to be very disappointed and angry.
    The statement is not mine however, I believe it to be valid.
    James Kunstler has a comments section. Perhaps if you put it to him directly he will respond. I will be interested to see it.

  97. Harquebus

    From my comment at February 19, 2017 at 10:40 pm
    “Building stables and other low tech infrastructure is what I would be doing.”

    “Furthermore, while previous approaches, such as using horses instead of cars, may be appealing, they are extremely difficult to implement in practice. There are far fewer horses now, and there would not be places to “park” the horses in cities. Cleaning up after horses would be a problem, without businesses specializing in handling this problem.”

    Oops! The economy is like a self-driving car

  98. Harquebus

    “Why indeed would anyone air-freight watery lettuce across the whole of the American continent and the Atlantic when it takes 127 calories of fuel energy to fly just 1 food calorie of that lettuce to the UK from California?”
    “Although the new supply system is miraculous in its scale, speed and efficiency, it has two fatal flaws.
    First, it depends on the profligate use of finite resources – water, soil, and fossil fuels”
    “Second, the system is built on the exploitation of cheap labour, mostly migrant, that has been socially disruptive and politically fraught.”
    “Yet privately, supermarket buyers have been talking for at least five years about “choice editing” – that is, editing out some of the fresh foods we have come to take for granted because importing them is unsustainable.”
    “The UK only produces a little over half of what its people consume;”

    If you don’t have plan B of your own, make one. Now.

  99. nurses1968

    “Cleaning up after horses would be a problem, without businesses specializing in handling this problem.”
    On a micro level not so much so.
    my bosses son has a system to dispose of all manner of animal droppings, pigs goats chooks ducks etc {no horses though} in a pit with a lid like a water bed
    Don’t know all the technical terms but he extracts the methane with thingys called scrubbers or digesters for use on BBQs, outdoor cooking, etc and the remainder goes into fertilising all the vege gardens.
    With all the animals around the place there is a never ending supply of sh*t
    another interesting project he and friends are undertaking is converting an old deisel ute into a wood chip burning powered vehicle to run around the property in
    I find it all very interesting and intend to do a crash course in understanding the intricacies as my knowledge is almost zip

  100. Keith


    A week or so ago I read an article about how Greek supermarkets were not able to supply enough lettuces to customers.
    I wonder about the huge number of refugees in camps in relation to how they can be fed.
    Yesterday, I saw an article in Forbes which acknowledged the impacts of climate change; but, the theme of the article was about how food production is in a negative spin and a huge swath will go through populations generally.

    I would suggest people grow their own veggies being a good idea. Though this growing season for us has been quite cool and windy; wallabies have been feeding on veggies that have been safe in the past when grown without an enclosure, and bee activity seems to have been down.

  101. Harquebus

    A good idea. I also recommend that your son’s boss stock up on essential spare parts.

    Thanks for that.
    Perhaps I should dumb down but, I am a [computer] scientist first, last and always.
    Your criticism is one that I get regularly.

    Speaking of risk, here is one that I have just finished reading.

    “The world is full of so-called economists who in turn are full of schemes for getting something for nothing.”
    “significant write-downs on sovereign debt would trigger major crises for banks and pension funds.”
    “But without strong growth and high inflation, debt levels cannot be sustained.”

    The author, Satyajit Das, used to appear regularly on the ABC. Why he has disappeared is obvious when compared to the blurb put out by the likes of the IPA.

    “Modern agriculture is the use of land to convert petroleum into food.” — Prof. Albert Bartlett.


  102. jimhaz

    [You haven’t been paying attention, that wealth has been siphoned off to the 1% of the population and one has to wonder why they stash it in the Cayman’s being ‘IDLE’ and that’s probably a germ of an idea for someone to write about]

    It is not stashed there – the money is in use around the world. All that is stashed there is the financial documents to avoid tax.

    [we can’t generate enough wealth to maintain anything close to our assumed standard of living]

    I’m of the belief that our standard of living comes not from money-wealth – but from organisation – organisation being technological advance leading to super productivity, decent infrastructure and the rule of law. Worst comes to worst we could manufacture EVERYTHING we needed within Australia – but just not as efficiently, so yes a fall in standard of living would occur.

    We have so many service jobs mainly geared towards the well off and wealthy that achieve nothing much – all these jobs would be canned and more of the workforce applied to production.

    We could take a 33% hit to our standard of living without it affecting much for the masses at all. The proviso is that most mortgage debts, particularly OS ones are cancelled. We’d just need to nationalise everything important early in the world economic breakdown to come.

  103. Miriam English

    Horses also present a problem with the spread of tetanus, which is a bacterium normally present in their gut (and many other farm animals). If it gets into a cut and the victim was not vaccinated recently (protection wears off after about 7 or 8 years I seem to recall) then they may have a horrible death awaiting them.

    I recently bought a broken electric bicycle. I’ve fixed it, but haven’t used it yet. I can recharge it using solar panels. I’ve had a solar pump on the well at the bottom the hill for many years now and it works like a dream. I wish Julie would let me put solar water heating on this place.

    Later in the year I’ll begin constructing a tiny underground house for myself. I’m expecting the costs will be not much more than $1,000. The great thing about underground homes is that they are warm in winter and cool in summer without requiring energy input. It will also give a refuge from bushfires, which I’m sure we’re going to see much more of out here. (Scary.)

    If a building is 10 square meters or less it doesn’t require building permits, architectural drawings, etc., because it’s classified as a shed. (Of course, being underground there’s no way to check it doesn’t have hidden rooms, but I won’t be bothering with that anyway.) I’ll be using a lot of tricks to increase usable space, while keeping the floor to 10 square meters.

    There’s an enormous number of people now building tiny homes, both here and in USA.

    Malcolm and the rest of the politician ratbags might not have a plan, but many ordinary Australians do.

  104. Harquebus

    Speaking of Greece. Something that I read yesterday.

    “Before there was an order to things, you could build a house, educate your children, spoil your grandchildren. Now the cost of everything has gone up and with taxes you can barely afford to survive. Once I’ve paid for fuel, fertilisers and grains, there is really nothing left.”
    “Honestly, I can’t understand why things are going from bad to worse, why this just can’t be solved.”
    “This is the irony of Syriza, the leftwing party catapulted to power on a ticket to “tear up” the hated bailout accords widely blamed for extraordinary levels of Greek unemployment, poverty and emigration. Two years into office it has instead overseen the most punishing austerity measures to date, slashing public-sector salaries and pensions, cutting services, agreeing to the biggest privatisation programme in European history and raising taxes on everything from cars to beer – all of which has been the price of the loans that have kept default at bay and Greece in the euro.”

    One problem that I see is that the economy, energy, environment and politics etc. are not considered holistically. Each is considered a separate problem when they are all closely related and we can not affect one without affecting the others.

    Miriam English.
    I will be very interested in your underground home project. I hope that you will keep us up to date via your website.
    I wish you luck on that project and think that it is an excellent idea.


  105. Miriam English

    Unlike Harquebus, I don’t expect civilisation to fail. I’m doing this because it saves me money. I can’t afford much and I expect things to become even more unaffordable as fuel prices start skyrocketing soon. Renewable energy will bring prices down again, but I expect there to be some dislocation while the idiot politicians wake up. It’s a pity. They could be planning for Australia’s future. Instead, their corruption has ensured widespread pain for ordinary Australians.

  106. Harquebus

    Miriam English
    For whatever reason, it is still a good idea and if you proceed, I don’t think that you will regret it.

    It’s a sunny day so, I’m off to work on my plan B.


  107. Miriam English

    Thanks Harquebus. I’ll try to post info at AIMN, probably in a dedicated article. I’ve been a fan of underground building for many decades and have amassed an enormous amount of info on it. I’d originally considered making the home out of plastic (a very under-estimated material), but since watching a video by a guy who built foam concrete (he calls it air-crete) domes in Thailand I’ve become very interested in this technique.

    The two biggest problems for underground buildings are strength and waterproofing. A dome shape takes care of the strength problem. Plastic would have taken care of waterproofing, but I really like the foam concrete idea. Unfortunately concrete is not completely waterproof unless a silicone additive is used, and I suspect it may interfere with its ability to entrap airbubbles. I’ll have to experiment. Plastic may be easier and cheaper. We’ll see.

  108. nurses1968

    Miriam English
    I’m looking forward to your article as the more I delve into what they are doing around this property the more intrigued I become at the possibilities and the more I hear of people like yourself venturing into alternatives the more I want to learn.
    Just as an aside, Mr and Mrs boss are currently in Alaska and Canada.
    I was always glued to the TV to watch Alaska the Last Frontier where they hunted and were self sustaining to survive,isolated and dependent on their skills to in the isolation and desolation of the frozen land, and their ability to adapt meant the difference between life and death, stuck out there in the Alaskan wilderness
    Mr and Mrs boss laughed their heads off when I told them.
    They shattered my dream when they told me that a couple nights a week one of the stars performs at a local bar and the town of Homer, with stacks of takeaways, stores and a busy little town was only a 10 minute drive from the Kilchers front gate

  109. bobrafto

    Thanks for that.
    Perhaps I should dumb down but, I am a [computer] scientist first, last and always.
    Your criticism is one that I get regularly.

    Does that mean that you’re full with the dumb bit? say from a scale of 1-10 that you have to scale down.

    That was very flippant, you come across as very intelligent and you extend that intelligence to whackiness.

  110. Harquebus

    Those that know me say otherwise.
    If I bend down, does that mean that I am full of bend?

  111. Harquebus

    My previous remark was probably out of line, flippant perhaps.
    I do apologize. Please accept.
    One of the reasons that I hang out here is because, there are a lot of intelligent people here. I value your opinions and appreciate your comments.

  112. Miriam English

    nurses1968, I have a friend who married an Alaskan guy. She tells me she was amazed that they have the temperature in their homes hot, like tropics hot.

    My Mrs “Boss” is in England at the moment after a time in Scotland. When she gets back here later this year I’ll be able to work out where I can begin my tiny home. I’m looking forward to it, but not the digging, which will have to be done by hand because I can’t afford a machine.

  113. Johno

    Hows this for a stat..

    Roughly one third of the food produced in the world for human consumption every year — approximately 1.3 billion tonnes — gets lost or wasted.

  114. Harquebus

    Miriam will jump on that one for sure. I have been reading comments on my depopulate article and she has provided a good one on that very topic.
    You can save yourself some typing Miriam with a copy and paste.
    Reducing food waste is one thing, getting it to those that need it is another.

  115. Johno


    I was listening to a woman on Ted Talks and she said every 12 years 1 billion people are added to the planet. She was advocating the one child policy.

  116. bobrafto

    I knew what you meant but I had the opportunity to twist it and I couldn’t help myself.

    Good to hear you’re not upset.

  117. Harquebus

    I know what you mean.
    All is good.

  118. Miriam English

    Johno, the rate of population growth has slowed since the 1960s. Many parts of the world have reached the point of below replacement rate. Australia is one of them. Much of Europe has negative birthrate (that is, less than replacement). Much of the developing world has just reached that point. A lot of the third world is still in growth. As health and social factors improve in those countries population growth will taper off and stabilise there too. In the near future, so long as we don’t have any major disasters, world population should actually begin to decline for the first time ever.

    Here is a great short video that explains it extremely well:

  119. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    It appears that the rate has enhanced in the last few decades, H.

  120. Harquebus

    Jennifer Meyer-Smith
    I am not sure what you mean.
    The maths can not be 100% accurate because of the variability of growth rates. I just wanted to demonstrate that a declining birth rate does not necessarily equate to population reduction.

  121. Kate Ahearne

    Hi Jennifer, Miriam and Harquebus, I’m sorry to say that I haven’t had the leisure today. Just one remark, though. I do agree that a downturn in the RATE of population growth is not the same as a downturn in population growth. It’s not rocket surgery. However, we’re leaving out the fact that so much of the money in the equation is in so few hands, and most of those hands are not prepared to share.

  122. Harquebus

    Kate Ahearne
    Not only that.

    “One effect of this inequality is that the top 10 percent produce almost as much total carbon emissions as the bottom 90 percent combined.”


  123. Kate Ahearne

    No surprise there, Harquebus, although I won’t be able to check your reference till tomorrow. I’ve had a great big day – just trying to catch up now with what you lot are saying. So, I don’t know about the exact figures, but it makes sense that those few very rich people are using a lot more than their fair share of resources. I do wonder whether the world really could feed its teeming millions right now, if the will was there, and the available resources weren’t so unavailable.

  124. Matters Not

    Good link Harquebus. Certainly identifies many ‘scientific’ problems that seem overwhelming. (Same link you posted elsewhere by the way.)

    Perhaps you now might suggest how these problems might be addressed – in a democracy – without involving or engaging in the political process? Or are you suggesting that ‘logic’ and ‘rationality’ will win the day? And if so, then when? Perhaps when it’s too late? Or is it already too late? (Don’t answer that – I think I know what your answer will be.)

    Is it possible to initiate remedial action without being ‘political’?

  125. Kate Ahearne

    Matters Not, There isn’t anything that isn’t political.

  126. Matters Not

    There isn’t anything that isn’t political

    Depending on definition, I can only agree. Even denying your (unproven) assertion would be a ‘political’ act – (if I understand where you’re coming from). Is it not?

    Please tell and explain that concept to Harquebus. And others.

  127. Kate Ahearne

    Matters Not, No, It is not. I don’t have the foggiest notion about most of what you’re saying here, but I’m quite sure that i don’t need to ‘tell and explain that concept’ to Harquebus.

  128. Keith

    A very worrying action by Trump et al being planned … dismantling climate science produced by NASA. Fossil fuel companies are obtaining huge dividends through having significantly funded Republican politicians election campaigns. Reynard the fox is in control of the hen house.


  129. Harquebus

    Matters Not.
    “Is it possible to initiate remedial action without being ‘political’?” Yes.
    Is it possible to initiate it on the scale necessary without being political? In my opinion, no.

    Here is a group that is trying. The few that I have had contact with are not confident but, like myself and others, they keep trying. It’s all we can do.

    Remedial action is currently being swamped by those pursuing the growth ideology. The exponential function is generally poorly understood.

    My previous posting of that link was intended for you. Thank you for taking the time to read it. I mean that.

    It gets worse.

    “H.R.861 – To terminate the Environmental Protection Agency.115th Congress (2017-2018) ”

    “Anyone who believes exponential growth can go on forever in a finite world is either a madman or an economist.” — Kenneth Boulding


  130. Keith


    In the 70s a group I was involved in were interested in steady state economics. We understood then that many resources are finite. There seems to be a resurgence of interest in steady state economics. If there is a 2% or 3% growth in economies; then, over 10 years there is a 20% or 30% increase in the economy, though growth of service industries needs to be discounted from the 10 year projection.

  131. Johno

    Thanks, I looked at the you tube on population growth.

    This is the ted talk video I mentioned

  132. Miriam English

    Johno, thanks. Interesting talk. I agree with her. What she says aligns pretty-much with the Kurzgesagt video, except she doesn’t really acknowledge that the growth rate is already slowing. Yes, it’s not slowing enough, but cultural revolutions could slow it more and bring closer the point where the population ceases to grow and begins to decline. What she’s talking about is the early stages of exactly that kind of cultural revolution.

    Keith and Harquebus, the constant growth model of capitalism is a real danger to the planet. We have pretty-much zero chance of changing that to a steady-state imperative any time soon. That’s why I think we would have more success to redirect it to growth in culture, ideas, and knowledge. Those things are immaterial and can grow without limit with zero or minimal impacts on the physical world.

    If we also promote growth in efficiency then capitalism can dive into a gold rush to use less resources. Of course, there is almost certainly a limit to how much can be saved with efficiency, but it’s okay for it to be short-term if it quickly brings us to living lightly on the planet. There are good signs that this gold-rush has already begun (electric vehicles, solar and wind electricity generation, efficient appliances, LED lights, low-energy computing, etc).

  133. Johno


    If only the mega wasteful worldwide military machine could be reduced massively so the money could go into the actions you mention.

  134. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    Hear, hear Johno

  135. Miriam English

    Johno, I couldn’t agree more. It is a scandalous waste of time, energy, resources, and human ability.

    If I had control of the country I wouldn’t disband the military, that would be too disruptive. I’d put it to work for the country, building much-needed things like schools, hospitals, museums, libraries/computing/wireless access points. They would renovate buildings to insulate them and to use energy saving technology, preferably moving structures underground (imagine the ugly wasteland of suburbia become bushland once more). All roads should eventually move underground to eliminate the awful slaughter of wildlife, pets, and humans. Underground high-speed tube transport then becomes possible too — Sydney to Perth in about 5 hours, or Sydney to Melbourne in less than an hour — with much less energy used than any existing technology other than walking or bicycle pedaling.

    There are so many better things the military could be doing than learning how to conduct mass murder and stockpiling equipment for mass murder. I’d also rename them to emphasise their changed role. They would be peace builders.

  136. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    I like your thinking, Miriam.

  137. Miriam English

    Where are our politicians? What are they doing? As Bob’s article above asks, what’s the plan? Is there any plan?

    There is so much good that could be done. People want to help our communities but are excluded — thrown on the scrapheap because of ridiculous notions that money deserves to go to the most wealthy, and the magical belief that it will then somehow trickle down to everybody else instead of accumulating.

  138. Harquebus

    One for you Miriam.

    “Exponential technologies are revolutionizing the future of infrastructure and disrupting the construction industry in the process.”

    One for me.

    “Minerals like tantalum, tungsten, and molybdenum are another matter entirely. They’re vital to manufacturing high-tech devices and don’t have ready substitutes.”

    And one for all of us.

    “This end is not coming merely because of the recorded and predicted severe species extinction, or by peak oil. Its end is being heralded by a looming climatic catastrophe and by the reawakening of social forces realising that slavery persists as long as the enslaved is unaware of his state.”
    “The notion that any carbon, emitted anywhere, can be offset by carbon absorbed anywhere else has given rise to the concept of net emissions, offering polluting nations the ultimate escape hatch through which to retain their levels of pollution and consumption, while grabbing lands, forests and waters elsewhere to compensate.”
    “The call for system change is a call to a common-sense path that would secure the survival of the human race. It is also a call for humans to recognise their humanity as just one of the species on planet earth.”

    The U.S. military is the single biggest user of diesel in the world. At least it was the last time I heard.


  139. silkworm

    Wasting money on military spending does not prevent the government from spending on renewables. It is not a trade off. That still reflects the neoliberal idea of having to balance the budget and runs counter to MMT principles.

  140. Miriam English

    Three really great links Harquebus.

    The question that hangs over the second one is whether we can move to organic technologies quickly enough. The metals mentioned don’t have direct replacements, but quite often organic technologies provide an alternative that doesn’t require metal, and often requires less energy and no mining.

    Two very important technologies are coming into their own: the special properties of surfaces, and of extremely small things.

    Making a hole in something on the scale of atoms can let you make a laser without special materials. It’s the shape that does the job. The brightly colored feathers of birds and colored shells of some insects often use shape on a microscopic scale to use diffraction to produce those colors. Light is just one of many electromagnetic waves that could be manipulated this way.

    The way materials act at surfaces is different from those inside the materials. This can be exploited in composite materials. Carbon fibre embedded in plastics make extremely strong materials with qualities far superior to most metals. Chalk and protein are both fairly soft materials, but laminated the way the abalone snail does makes one of the hardest ceramics known… and produces it at ambient temperature, without pollution. Organic conductors are allowing us to build entire circuits without metal. Graphene conducts better than any metal.

    Metal has been great, but I can’t help feeling its time is almost past.

    I should also note that there is another source of metals that’s essentially unlimited — the asteroid belt. A space mission will soon be going to the asteroid belt to look at a metal asteroid specifically for gathering data for mining. Is it later this year? I forget.

  141. Harquebus

    There is also an energy budget that needs to be rebalanced.

    Miriam English
    I am aware of some of what you say including the space mission. We are now so desperate for resources that we are willing to travel millions of kilometers and at great energy expense just to determine the potential.
    Quantum computing is an interest of mine and I once gave a talk on it. The realm of the very small, electromagnetism (light for others here) and lasers are just a few things that I have been interested in since primary school.
    I hope for all of our sake that the gamble on technology will pay off as the bet has already been placed.


  142. jimhaz

    “Anyone who believes exponential growth can go on forever in a finite world is either a madman or an economist.” — Kenneth Boulding

    It also applies to anyone who does not wish to believe in evidence that does not suit their purposes – so about 99% of the population are mad.

  143. Miriam English

    I think most people understand that growth can’t continue forever. They just prefer to ignore it… you know, don’t pause under my watch. It’s selfish and wilfully ignorant, yes, but not mad.

  144. jimhaz

    I used to converse with a group who believed that anyone who had any delusions about reality, anyone who was not enlightened, was essentially insane.

    I found this to be technically valid, but I also tended to agree as even people classified as mad are not always in a state of madness, and we all sometimes think of ourselves as being a little mad, so it was just a question of degree how mad any individual was.

  145. Jennifer Meyer-Smith


    the way to get to those who know that continued growth is not possible or even acceptable for the survival of the planet and their children’s futures is to represent the life-changing realities in those terms.

    Economic selfishness gives way to family future survival when understood in the planetary sense.

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