Mar 28

Energy crisis II World water day II Climate change II Empire or vampire – Amazon


Contents: Energy crisis II World Water Day II Climate change II Amazon – empire or vampire II Peter Dunne – artist

Not in my wildest dreams, did I ever think I would welcome a cyclone.  We have had four months of excruciating heat and high humidity, today’s temperature is expected to be a wicked 37 degrees celsius.  

As reported by Joshua Robertson in The Guardian Weekly this month (p1. 17.03.17) “The Great Barrier Reef is suffering a ‘mass bleaching’ for an unprecedented second consecutive year”.  Calling it an underwater heatwave, the GBMPA’s David Watchenfeld stated  “The climate is changing and that’s bringing a much greater frequency of extreme weather events to the reef”.  For Cairns this is serious, tourism is still our major economic driver.  

We are in the midst of global warming. It is arguable we are beyond the point of no return.  What is the action plan?  It’s certainly not helpful when our government spends last week debating race and hate speech and gay marriage. 

Climate Change Policy and Action

3.2°C – this is the expected increase in average global temperatures based on current pledges to reduce emissions, as projected by the UN.  It is way above the agreed target negotiated in Paris at the Paris climate conference (COP21) in December 2015 where 195 countries adopted the first-ever universal, legally binding global climate deal. The limit to global warming was set at below 2°C.  Referring to the most recent State of the Climate Report (2016) by the CSIRO in Australia – 

  • Ocean temperatures and acidity have increased affecting corals and fish production
  • Sea levels have risen.  This we know.

Photograph: Brett Monroe/ Garner/Greenpeace

A brief and basic note on climate change .. Energy comes from the Sun.  In order to maintain stable temperatures at the Earth’s surface, in the long run energy from the sun has to be balanced by an equal amount of heat radiated back into space.

Greenhouse gases in the atmosphere such as carbon dioxide, act to increase the temperature of the Earth’s surface, oceans and atmosphere making it harder for the Earth to radiate this heat upwards, this is called the greenhouse effect.  

Greenhouse gases are largely emitted by the burning of fossil fuels and changes to land use,  the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is rising and surface temperatures are increasing.  There is now an energy imbalance.  

The atmosphere and oceans will continue to warm until enough extra heat can escape up into the atmosphere to allow the Earth to return to balance.  Because carbon dioxide increases persist in the atmosphere for hundreds of years, further warming and sea level rise is locked in.

The greenhouse effect 

While some governments globally, and courts are taking this seriously,  in Australia arguments continue about the best approach, meanwhile the average temperature in NSW on February 11, was 44°C.  Paul Kelly in his lead article ‘Switch off the politics to solve energy crisis’, remarked  “spiralling power prices, shortages and system unreliability [that’s what we are facing] as the long and unresolved issue of climate change is overtaken by an energy emergency.” 

The Financial Review (Thurs 9 Mar) reported “There is a shortfall in gas-fired electricity in NSW, Victoria and South Australia – looming gas shortages [are] forecast for eastern states as the bulk of coal seam gas is exported.”  On the bright side, Australia has massive gas reserves.  In fact Australia is set to become the world’s biggest LNG exporter.   But what a mess. The Australian Energy Market Operator (who’s that?) is quoted as saying “holistic planning across the entire energy supply chain is now imperative.”   Hello ….

(Source: Journalists, Laura Tingle and Mark Ludlow reporting on Energy)

In December 2016, South Australia had a state-wide blackout caused by a freak storm, 75,000 customers were affected.  Then in February 60,000 customers lost power as temperatures topped 40°C.  Now this is more serious, 90,000 homes had no power for 27 minutes.  Then later in the month NSW experienced rolling blackouts across the state, as a result of load shedding.  

Commenting in The Australian today (Fri 31 Mar), former Trade Minister Andrew Robb described the loss of power and blackouts resulting from the nation’s chaotic energy distribution as a ‘crime’.  Robert Gottliebsen, Economics writer went further “Every word uttered by ministers as they vandalised the network and created high prices needs to be examined.”  We now know that solar and wind installations required back up and what should have happened was a reconfiguration of the power network which didn’t and as yet, hasn’t happened. 

Finally some action – on March 14, the South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill announced his government would spend more than $500 million to build a new gas-fired power plant and Australia’s largest battery farm (100MW) as it moves to secure the state’s energy supplies. Electricity prices are now being driven up by policy failure and according to the Australian Energy Council “the price impact is now effectively equivalent to a carbon price in excess of $50 a tonne”.  

Prime Minister Turnbull steps in with a $2 billion extension to the Snowy.  Atlassian and Tesla were already in on the act.  Battery parks can be linked to wind farms or solar generation or connected to the grid.  Alan Kohler (who reports for the ABC, The Weekend Australian and Constant Investor) said,  “batteries can shoot power into the system in a nanosecond for just five minutes, and turn off again just as quickly.”  That sounds like a boost.

Meanwhile Xenophon won’t sign – no company tax cuts till the energy crisis is resolved.  Well done Nick.

“Agricultural exports are now second only to iron ore and bigger than coal, in importance to the national economy; most Australians don’t realise that,” Mr Joyce told The Australian in an exclusive interview.

Deputy Prime Minister,  Barnaby Joyce will gain fresh money $4 billion in fact, to deliver funds for drought relief direct to farmers, The loan facility will also create new dams and weirs and irrigation pipelines.

National agricultural production will exceed $60 billion in value this year, for the first time. Food and rural exports are already worth $48bn to the economy, cattle and sheep prices are at an all-time high and an unprecedented 52.4 million tonnes of wheat, grain and pulse crops have just been harvested. Higher prices on the back of surging export demand are also directing a greater share of profits to Australia’s 135,000 farmers.

Source : Sue Neales, Reporter – Rural/Regional Affairs, The Australian Mar 29, 2017

And now in a new political brawl,  enter Environment Minister Greg Hunt who has just approved an open cut coal mine – Shenhua,  in some of Australia’s best agricultural land., NSW Liverpool Plains. Sue Neales was further reporting today that Super Funds are moving into agriculture.  Agriculture is the strongest growing sector of the economy.  It soared to 8.3% of GDP in Dec 2016, double the growth rate of the mining sector.  

Advice to government: Get with the program, sort out the energy crisis. 

WHO | World Water Day 2017: Why waste water

60 powerful images World Water Day

World Water Day on 22 March every year, is about taking action to tackle the water crisis. Today, there are over 663 million people living without a safe water supply who spend countless hours queuing or trekking to distant sources, and coping with the health impacts of using contaminated water. This year’s theme: Why waste water?  How about DON’T waste water.

World Water Day – 60 powerful images

Images – above …In Bangladesh,  the polluted Buriganga river in Dhaka,  a woman collecting water to rinse vegetables (AFP).

A boy drinks water from a pipe in the rebel-held besieged town of Douma, east of Damascus, Syria (Reuters). 


Amazon – empire or vampire

Amazon fresh is heading to Australia. US retail powerhouse, Amazon is preparing to launch its food and groceries services in Australia this year.  Advertising for technical staff in Brisbane is happening. office space in Melbourne is secured along with trade marks etc. Eli Greenblat, (SMH & the Australian) said “”it will pose a huge threat to supermarket chains like Coles and Woolworths. It may be as much as 30% cheaper when it pushes the button.” 

Jeff Bezos who has taken the long term approach to investment, is famous for telling competitors “your margin is my opportunity.”  With total sales per year of $131 billion, Amazon is scooping 50% of all online retail sales growth in the US. Microsoft is its strongest competitor but Google and IBM are formidable too.    Since 2015 Amazon’s price has jumped by 173%, with a market capitalisation of some $400 billion,  Amazon is the fifth most valuable firm in the world.  Interestingly 92% of its value is due to profits expected after 2020.  

Amazon Fresh is coming.  But will Australians buy fruit and veg online?  I wonder.  There’s nothing like the local market (pictured Rusty’s weekend markets in Cairns).

Finally farmers battling drought will get some respite in the 2017 budget. James Massola reporting for The Age on Saturday March 25, said that $4.5 billion will be channelled through the Dept of Agriculture and Water Resources, the Department fronted by Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce.  

And now to Art – Peter Dunne’s art.
Part of the India exhibition, this is the road to Thamsar Jot.  Spectacular !
On his website there is an Australian exhibition too and a ‘greed’ exhibition with video. 
Watch …Peter Dunne – giving away his art in the financial district of London
Peter Dunne’s website  …art








End of blog quote:  The good life is one inspired by love and guided by knowledge. – Bertrand Russell 

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