The real impact of ‘green’ thinking

posted in: Life and things | 3
Wind turbines in South Australia

An American friend recently sent me this article about the current state of America.  It’s entitled ‘why the greens lost and Trump won‘. Let me just quote the first paragraph of that article “It’s tough to prevail with an agenda that makes people poorer, more subservient and more miserable. That disconnect is one part of how this awful guy made it to the White House.”

I realise the article’s argument is probably an oversimplification, but it resonates all the same. It’s so easy to suggest we stop using coal and use solar and wind power. But the practicalities are different. People who can afford the thousands to install a solar array on their roofs will do so, and slash their power bill. But poor people, living from pay cheque to pay cheque (or welfare cheque) can’t. Businesses that operate during daylight hours, like banks, public service offices and the like, could substantially reduce daylight power costs by having solar arrays, and (IMO) they should do so. The more people have solar panels, the cheaper they’ll become, there will be less strain on the grid, and more research will be carried out to improve their efficiency and longevity. But they will never replace conventional power from the grid – because of clouds, and night. Alternative sources cannot provide the sustainable supply of power needed for the manufacturing industry, hotels, hospitals, and other twenty-four-hour concerns. Maybe they will in the future, but not now.

So if you shut down power stations without adequately providing alternative supplies for the population, guess who suffers? Let me help – pensioners, low-paid workers, single mums, the disabled – all the most vulnerable people in the community. Also industry, where rising prices and intermittent supply will impact productivity and cause some players to leave the market altogether, which will cost jobs.  Once again, it’s working class people without the skills to obtain other jobs, especially people outside the large cities, who suffer the consequences. One small business here in Hervey Bay is being slugged an extra $300,000 per year for power. Needless to say, plans for expansion are on hold. And Hervey Bay has the highest unemployment rate in the country.

Let’s look at some alternative facts. Australia has huge coal deposits, some of the finest coal in the world. These days, coal fired power stations are much more efficient than they were in the past and make no mistake, China is still building them, despite a slowdown. One reason for that slowdown is the improved efficiency of modern plants, as described in this article. So where does our coal go? To China. We also mine high quality iron ore. I’ll give you three guesses where most of that goes. And then, when the Chinese convert our coal and iron ore, we buy it back from them as steel. And it isn’t very good steel.

The steel mill in Newcastle closed years ago, and the steel mills in Port Kembla are on a rocky road. The car plants have closed in Victoria. The mines have closed down in the West. These are all places that used to employ working class people without the skills to move into the burgeoning service industries. Granted, one of the reasons all these plants have been shut down is because the unions have negotiated/enforced such conditions that even if the companies can provide the pay and conditions for a time, they’ll back out as soon as they can. And with the cost of electricity sky-rocketing, they probably couldn’t afford to keep the industries going, anyway. Here’s a look at what’s happening in South Australia, which has the highest power costs in the country.

On the matter of the environment, yes, the Barrier Reef is important. But the Adani coal mining project is to take place on ground that isn’t used for much else. Why not give people jobs? It’s true there was serious bleaching of coral in the far north of the reef in a particularly hot year. Do the Greens really believe that a carbon tax will stop that from happening? Pulling stunts like pretending runoff from coal mines has polluted the land near the coal port at Abbott Point is simply lying. Climate change is here to stay, folks. Even the optimists have had to accept we can’t change it. Australia is responsible for an insignificant amount of carbon emissions. Taxing businesses even more will discourage enterprise, or send it to India and China where the imposts are smaller and the wages lower. The Paris Accord is just another junket for bureaucrats to get their snouts in the trough. Why don’t the Greens expend a bit more wind on cleaning up the oceans, which is something we can, and should, do?

Prominent Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young recently took her daughter on a trip to the Great Australian Bight to go whale-watching – at tax-payers’ expense. To quote an article, ‘Ms Hanson-Young claimed the premise of her trip was to talk to locals and players in the tourism industry which she said is under threat from “big oil”.’ Southern right whales come into the Bight to breed, and I’m delighted to say that numbers are at last starting to recover. One of the reasons for that is that the Great Australian Bight is a marine park, has been for twenty years, and has recently been expanded. There won’t be any oil drilling. Why does she not know that? Oh, and by the way, what about the emissions from a charter aircraft used to fly the senator to the site?

It’s all about balance. We can’t continue to rely on fossil fuels forever, but instead of destroying the viability of our way of life, maybe we should talk about transition. Until we can prove we can rely on sustainable energy sources, we shouldn’t be shutting down coal fired power stations.

And here are the weekly pictures.

The Murchison River gorges near Kalbarri. A wild place.
The cliffs of the Great Australian Bight. Whale watching from the tops of those cliffs is not exciting.
Whale watching in Hervey Bay IS exciting. This is a humpback, one of the flourishing community on the East coast of Australia, well and truly back from the brink of extinction.

3 Responses

  1. Meredith Gurr

    Totally agree, especially regarding transitioning. And Greens they may be, but they’re still politicians with a *political* agenda. And as long as the environment and climate change remain political footballs, I fear for our future.

  2. charlotte

    Totally agree…the old throw the baby out with the bathwater thinking just doesn’t cut it when the most vulnerable of our society get whacked every time with unavoidable increases in staples. This just throws them into an increasing debt spiral which can end badly, and often does.

  3. MonaKarel

    Solar power is wonderful. It will be even more wonderful when we can build more efficient, less toxic solar panels. The arrogance of the so-called ‘super powers’ who can not learn from the research of others puts us all at risk.

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