“All Australians want action on climate change”
2017 was a bad flu year. About 4,200 Australians died in 2017 of the flu and pneumonia.
Look at the age of the 101 deaths so far assigned to the 2020 Chinese Wuhan Virus in this article.
Have our politicians and bureaucrats gone troppo?
Why is Scott Morrison leaving the back door open to a carbon tax?
Alan Moran The Spectator Australia 20 May 2020
As part of the ABC’s climate conspiracy agenda, Four Corners this week highlighted the “anger” at the government from the senior mandarins from its failure to deliver their goal of a carbon tax. Their preferred approach was notwithstanding the tax rate would today have to be $US100 per tonne, a staggering $80 billion a year impost.
A Societal Cytokine Storm
Christopher Carr Quadrant Online 22nd May 2020
The longer shutdowns continue, the greater the risk that the post COVID-19 world will be dangerous and unstable. We are not simply talking about the external challenge by China to a weakened West. We could be facing an unprecedented destabilization of civil society. Democratically elected governments have assumed the kind of executive powers, normally only reserved for wartime emergencies. Yet not even under war powers legislation during World War II did any democratic government dare to exercise the degree of control over private citizens’ movements we have endured in 2020.
Under the cloak of saving lives and easing pressure on the public health system, the relationship between government and the governed has been entirely reversed. The elected politicians front for the bureaucracy’s lords and masters and the people must obey or be punished. Never mind that the now-discredited computer modelling of a certain Dr Neil Ferguson has been the rationale behind the total lockdown in Britain and partial shutdowns in our country, resulting in the destruction of thousands of livelihoods and potential deaths, way beyond any deaths from COVID-19. Okay, tell me how many people you know have died from the coronavirus? How many do you know who have lost their jobs? How many retirees have had their retirement years ruined? How many are suffering both mentally and physically? And what about increased suicides?
And talking of economic carnage, Robert Gottliebsen, writing in The Australian noted:
The share market, the banks and many solvent smaller enterprises are suddenly getting very jittery that in less than six months’ time there will be an unprecedented rise in the failure rate among small and medium sized enterprises.
Real unemployment – ABS unemployment statistics are useless – is going through the roof and is close to 20 per cent, triggered by a catastrophic slump in the small and medium sized business sector led by hospitality, retail and tertiary education services.
Liquidations, receiverships and official administrations have risen strongly, but at nowhere near the rate that could have been expected following such a big fall in economic activity.
Liquidators who operate in this area are warning anyone who will listen that there are a vast number of enterprises that are really insolvent but are still trading.
Richard Fernandez drew the obvious analogy between the virus itself and our societal reaction:
One of the ways the Coronavirus kills is by stimulating an overreaction of a patient’s own immune system. “Diseases such as COVID-19 and influenza can be fatal due to an overreaction of the body’s immune system called a cytokine storm.
He argues that this is a metaphor for how a society can harm itself when measures taken to control a disease do more harm than good.
In my opinion the stage-3 lockdowns in Australia were panic reactions by the bureaucracy, relying on computer models of an unknown unknown. A kind of cytokine storm at the official level can only be sustained by keeping the populace at large in a state of fear.
But what if more people start to believe that with most cases of COVID-19 are mild and the deaths largely confined to the old and already sick, the official justification for the shutdowns is invalid. What if the pandemic was already well down from its peak before the lockdowns were announced? What if the alarmist computer projections of Dr Neil Ferguson, the basis of the lockdown strategy, are more widely perceived as worthless?
To the extent that the populace retains its fear, leaders of governments will retain overwhelming popularity as protectors of human life. But once the suggestion that the pandemic has been much exaggerated gains traction, public opinion will turn against governments on a dime.
Little wonder then that governments are desperately hoping that economies snap back into full life once restrictions are lifted. This may be a forlorn hope. Can you image the new army of unemployed, facing a life of penury, thanking the government for saving them from a virus which affected so relatively few. If the forecasts of some well-respected economic commentators are accepted, we may face not sunlit uplands “on the other side,” but a grinding economic slide which will see the destruction of a huge swathe of the private economy. After all, so many middle and small enterprises are zombies in the twilight zone, under temporary protection from bank foreclosure and bankruptcy.
The challenge to civil society may well be unprecedented. The trend towards increased dependence on big government may be paradoxically accompanied by increased anger against the powers-that-be. Political success will rest largely on mastery of the cultural narrative.
To take some tentative examples; in the United States, we might imagine that on traditional markers, Donald Trump would be doomed to defeat. Yet his bid to open up the economy early, derided as a blunder, could well be a masterstroke. Combine this with his ban on travel from China, condemned by his Democrat opponents as xenophobia, his attacks on China in relation to “Wuhan virus”, again condemned on cue by his political opponents and the mainstream media, and the appalling edicts by Democrat governors, forcing admission of COVID-19 patients to nursing homes, where they spread the virus amongst the most vulnerable, you have the outlines of a potentially successful deflection narrative.
No such luck will be enjoyed by Boris Johnson in the United Kingdom. His Brexit strategy, a singular success story, will likely sink into a distant second place behind his government’s disastrous response to the pandemic. How can anyone rationally reconcile the ridiculous lockdown of the local population with the total lack of checks at airports and the virtual open door to illegal boat people from across the English channel? After all, much of the support for Brexit derived from popular concern over uncontrolled immigration. Combine all this with the spectacle of the British police behaving more like the enforcers of a totalitarian state, and you have the seeds of popular anger. Boris Johnson may sooner than later wear out his welcome. We may not have heard the last of Nigel Farage. The Conservative Party victory of December 2019 seems so long ago.
And in Australia, Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Gladys Berejiklian, Premier of New South Wales, are looking worn. Following Scott Morrison’s lead, it seems that, finally, Berejiklian is waking up to grim reality. At least, some of our political leaders have had a look at the “other side” and don’t like what they are seeing.
Emissions debate goes from inane to ridiculous
Terry McCrann The Australian May 23, 2020
I give it to Business Council of Australia CEO Jennifer Westacott over Angus Taylor, the Minister for “Energy and Emissions Reduction” — four words, by the by, that capture everything that is so hopelessly and destructively wrong about government in general in the 21st century and this Morrison government more and very specifically. Westacott did manage to nose Taylor out in mouthing the most mindless pap per page — she packed an impressive lot into a single page whereas his was spread out over 74 pages in his “Technology Investment Road Map Discussion Paper”.
Westacott was commenting on Taylor’s paper on behalf of the business council, the curdled cream of the Australian business community; so, true, she was essentially only developing his inanity theme.
“All Australians want action on climate change,” Westacott asserted. Actually, no, Jennifer: not all Australians are so mindlessly stupid as you claim. All Australians do not want to take utterly futile and indeed actively stupid action that would be — indeed, already is — all pain and zero gain.
She followed with a sentence that managed to fit more idiocy in so relatively few words than I would have thought possible.
“By not picking winners and remaining technology neutral, the road map is firmly focused on achieving a critical end goal, a more carbon efficient economy, while ensuring that new jobs, industries and opportunities are created to keep Australia competitive.”
“By not picking winners and remaining technology neutral”: are you kidding? The entire, albeit chaotically ramshackle, policy is exactly about picking “winners” and not remaining technology neutral.
It’s all-about closing down our existing highly efficient coal-fired power generation while eliminating any chance of it being progressively replaced by next generation coal-fired generation (or nuclear, which if properly done could be a close second best); to say nothing of destroying energy-intensive value-adding industries reliant on cheap power like aluminium smelting.
While at the same time it deliberately seeks to force-feed the use of otherwise useless wind and solar generation, backed up by some form of inefficient and almost as useless “battery”, whether Tesla-style, “big battery” Snowy 2, or gas-fired stations which would spend most of their time lying highly inefficiently idle.
She was though, beautifully, utterly inadvertently and completely unknowingly right about the policy not “picking winners”; no, it is precisely about picking losers: hence my quotation marks around the word in the earlier sentence.
“A more carbon efficient economy”: out in the real world as opposed to the jargon of public sector and business bureaucrats, what the hell does that mean?
I, and I would suggest most rational persons, would want carbon to be used efficiently like any other resource in the economy, like indeed it is already in a coal-fired power station.
One thing is crystal clear, whether or not we get Westacott’s “carbon efficient economy” fantasy unicorn, we will most certainly get a dramatically and permanently less efficient economy in the good, old-fashioned — both normal English and economic — meanings of the word, if we persist in this mad, bad and dangerous embrace of destroying our energy infrastructure.
“Ensuring that new jobs, industries and opportunities are created to keep Australia competitive”; again, are you kidding?
The entire basis of our economy, of any economy — indeed of the entire progress of civilisation through especially the past two to three centuries — and so to “jobs, industries and opportunities” is access to power that is cheap, power that is reliable and power that is plentiful.
Westacott showed she well less than half got that and well more than half didn’t, with her metric of: “affordable, reliable and secure”. No plentiful, affordable not cheap, and there is no way, no way, the energy generation chaos that would ensue from the Taylor-Westacott future would deliver reliable and secure.
Our friends — for some, “friends” — in the Middle Kingdom know all this only too well. That is why China is embracing more and more, and more efficient, coal-fired power and happily selling us wind turbines and solar panels.
For them, it’s a no-brainer two-fer — they get both more efficient and richer, while enabling us to destroy jobs and industry and impoverish ourselves.
I could go on with virtually every paragraph of the Westacott statement.
The so-called “Climate Solutions Fund” has to be expanded. Why? This is all supposed to be the most efficient, the cheapest, the form of generation that will, well, generate the greatest returns.
Why then does it need government money? On top of the quite literally tens of billions of dollars of both taxpayer and electricity consumer money that has been pumped into useless wind and solar (and now the Snowy 2 big battery, Malcolm Turnbull’s “answer” to Kevin Rudd’s multi-billion-dollar NBN waster)?
“Other technology-focused strategies including on hydrogen, electric vehicles and grid reliability …”
Again, why? We are continually told that all these wonderful things are the cheapest and most efficient; the very future available to unfold before our eyes; so why then do investors need to be led to and then subsidised into them?
And I just love that term “grid reliability”. That’s the money you have to spend to ensure we do actually get electricity when the wind don’t blow and the sun don’t shine; with those quirky buggers, wind and sun, choosing to (not) do so when they decide rather than when it would suit us.
Like what happened in Britain earlier this month. At times Britain can get more than 10,000MW from wind when the wind does, you know, blow. For two whole days it didn’t; for two whole days Britain was getting just 300MW or so from wind — effectively zero.
So where did it get its electricity from? About 45 per cent came from a carbon-emitting, cough, cough, fossil fuel called gas; around 25 per cent from, cough, cough, nuclear; another 10 per cent or so from burning wood and pumping CO2, and 15 per cent from the extension cords to Europe.
Please Jennifer, who will we plug our extension cord into, when we’ve closed the coal-fired generators?