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Dissecting the Global Warming and Energy Issues in Australia

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posted on May, 20 2019 @ 09:38 AM
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This is a thread I've had on the back-burner for a few months but decided it might be best to wait until after the Australian elections before posting it, just so this isn't seen as Russian propaganda or something, despite it being well known I am Australian. The global warming and climate change issues in Australia are a very contentious subject right now because over the last few years we've seen quite a lot of flooding, droughts, and bush fires.

Australia is often referred to as "the land of extremes" and what I want to do in this thread is show why the vast majority of these natural disasters are just that, natural, using very clear facts and figures. I will explain why Australia emits a perfectly sustainable amount of CO2 and I will also show how our government has been doing a lot to phase in green technology despite the liberals being perceived as eco-terrorists by many Australians on the left.

I will also show how this rapid effort to transition to an "all green" energy grid has hurt our energy infrastructure and pushed up the cost of electricity substantially. First it's important to realize that Australia contributes around 1% of the worlds total CO2 footprint[1], compared to the U.S. which contributes around 15% and China which contributes 28%. So I think it's valid to ask whether these largest polluters see a higher number of natural disasters.



Not too long ago I got into a debate about global warming and had to do some research on the severity and number of droughts, fires, and heat waves in the United States. To my surprise I quickly found data from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) which showed that the amount of droughts, fires, and heat waves has remained remarkably stable in the United States for many decades[2][3][4]. So does it really make sense to claim all our bad weather is caused by global warming?

It's true Australia has seen an increase in the area of land burned by bushfires and we've experience multiple severe fires over the last few years, in fact last year a bush fire came through my town and almost destroyed my home. However something which isn't often mentioned is that we've also had a rather sharp drop in the area of land that undergoes controlled burning[5] to reduce the risk of fires, and I imagine it has something to do with environmental concerns but we must also be concerned for our own life.

On the Australian Bushfire Front website, a website dedicated to fire safety and bush fire prevention, their main concern is that fire management efforts are failing and putting lives at risk[5]. They provide the image below showing how as the amount of prescribed burn area has fallen, so too has the area of land burned each year by wildfires / bush fires. Once the prescribed burn area fell below about 300,000 ha we can see the land area burnt starts to creep up.



Also consider the fact the developed world has kept CO2 emissions stable since 1980[6]. The simple truth of the matter is our recent weather problems are not caused by our CO2 emissions, but it's obviously a good thing if we can reduce our CO2 output and we should encourage these other developing nations to adopt cleaner sources of power generation using modern technology. Having said that I don't think it's really fair to say these nations aren't allowed to go through an industrial phase.



I also don't think we should be so quick to link higher CO2 levels with a worse environment and warmer climate. I know it may be obvious but CO2 is food for plants and trees, even NASA has shown that the Earth has seen a significant level of greening over the last several decades due to rising levels of atmospheric CO2, according to their measurements it's "an increase in leaves on plants and trees equivalent in area to two times the continental United States"[7].

Studies have also shown that from the 1960s to the early 1990s we experienced a "global dimming" caused by pollution and other particulates in the atmosphere[8]. Some areas such as North America and Europe have experienced a "brightening" since then by reducing pollution, and land temperatures have increased quite rapidly as a result of more solar energy reaching the surface of Earth[8]. Clearly this doesn't mean air pollution is good, I'm simply pointing out this is a complex issue with causality you may not expect.

I will promote the use of nuclear, hydro, solar, and geo-thermal solutions in situations where they will provide a reliable and cost effective solution for consumers. However I will not support this hysterical environmental movement which seems to want us to move back into the stone age. I am against fear mongering and moralizing at the expense of consumers, especially when clean cheap sources of energy like nuclear energy are dismissed as a solution.

One of the solutions they propose to our energy problems is more green tech like solar and wind, along with more electric vehicles (EV's). Just because a vehicle is electric doesn't automatically make it better for the environment though. This video attempts to debunk the myth EV's are worse for the environment, but I think what it really does is highlight how important it is to consider the way the electricity was generated, if your EV is powered by coal than there's really no difference.

EV's release more emissions during manufacturing due to the batteries; in the video they show that it takes 2 to 5 years before that difference is offset by the reduced emissions of the EV. However in a state such as West Virginia where 93% of the electricity is generated from coal plants, it can take up to 17 years before that difference is offset, meaning it wont be beneficial to the environment unless you drive the same EV for more than 17 years in that state.

This is highly relevant to the current energy debates in Australia because environmentalists constantly complain about coal power, since around 63% of our electricity comes from coal plants and only 16% of it comes from renewables[9], but the they fear monger about nuclear energy so we don't have a single nuclear reactor despite having the most stable continent on Earth and the worlds largest reserves of Uranium[10]. Over 20% of electricity in the U.S. comes from nuclear plants and only 30% comes from coal.

This means if you calculated the offset time for EV's in Australia it would be much longer than 2-5 years. There are also concerns regarding the recycling and disposing of batteries for EV's, which often require special treatment due to the chemicals, every solution has a cost but I do think much better batteries are possible. It's also very important to realize that wind and solar solutions also have an environmental cost just like EV's[11].


The dilute nature of water, sunlight, and wind means that at least 450 times more land and 10 - 15 times more concrete, cement, steel, and glass, are required than for nuclear plants.

All of that material throughput results in renewables creating large quantities of waste, much of it toxic.

For example, solar panels create 200 - 300 times more hazardous waste than nuclear, with none of it required to be recycled or safely contained outside of the European Union.

edit on 20/5/2019 by ChaoticOrder because: (no reason given)




posted on May, 20 2019 @ 09:38 AM
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You need massive fields full of solar panels and wind mills to generate the same amount of power a small coal plant could provide, and that power still isn't reliable because wind and sun light is not always available. Granted, there are places like the desert where no one will care if we cover the land in such devices, but we still have the emissions created during the production of these countless devices made mostly from plastic and glass materials.

The bigger problem however would probably be transmitting that power to anyone without virtually all of it being lost due to storage and transmission inefficiencies over the long distances which would be required. It sounds very nice to talk about free energy which comes from the sun, but if people really cared they would realize nuclear energy is the cleanest and most reliable option we have, assuming we have a good way to dispose of the nuclear waste of course.

The Liberals have done a lot to expand the use of green tech like solar and wind, the Australian Energy Update for 2017 shows a 18% increase in small scale solar power and a 4% drop in coal power in a year[12], and more recently they enacted laws forcing power companies to charge consumers less[13] due to the fast rising prices. We've seen quite rapid rises in our electricity prices over the last few years and a large part of that is correlated to an effort to make the grid entirely green despite the consequences.

Over 40% of the electricity generated in South Australia comes from renewable sources[14] but it seems they have more blackouts and brownouts than any other state. It has also been reported that some places in South Australia have the highest electricity prices in the world[15]. This is why I find it highly disingenuous when some environmentalists try to claim new green tech is now more cost effective than methods such as coal or nuclear power generation.

On a private scale something like a solar panel can can save you money in the long term, but when a large-scale and reliable source of power is required it becomes less cost effective due to all the equipment required to generate any substantial amount of power. Moreover it becomes a problem to actually generate and store enough stable power for a modern society to function because the efficiency of fossil fuels and nuclear fission is much higher and you get much higher energy output.


The World Nuclear Association wrote in its Nov. 25, 2008 report "World Energy Needs and Nuclear Power," published on its website:

"The renewable energy sources for electricity constitute a diverse group, from wind, solar, tidal and wave energy to hydro, geothermal and biomass-based power generation. Apart from hydro power in the few places where it is very plentiful, none of these is suitable, intrinsically or economically, for large-scale power generation where continuous, reliable supply is needed...

Without nuclear power the world would have to rely almost entirely on fossil fuels, especially coal, to meet electricity demands for base-load electricity production...

Increasing fossil fuel prices have greatly improved the economics of nuclear power for electricity now. Several studies show that nuclear energy is the most cost-effective of the available base-load technologies. In addition, as carbon emission reductions are encouraged through various forms of government incentives and trading schemes, the economic benefits of nuclear power will increase further."


The average U.S. household uses almost twice as much electricity as an average Australian household[16], and we've been using less energy each year for several years[17] which I presume has a lot to do with increasing prices. Maybe I'm crazy but I don't really think that is good for people or the economy, at times it feels like we're going backwards as a nation and it's still not good enough for some people. Also I don't think simply making power companies charge less is a viable long term solution.

It doesn't solve the underlying problem which is a lack of robust and reliable energy generation which is capable of powering an advanced modern society. The only reason we still rely so heavily on fossil fuels as a nation is because it's hard to find a truly viable alternative and because we refuse to acknowledge the solutions that do exist, such as "clean coal" and nuclear energy. Nuclear energy is cheaper than electricity generated from coal, natural gas, and oil[18].

Well that statistic may not apply to natural gas in Australia because we export most of our natural gas to other nations who pay much less for it than Australians do. For example Chinese consumers of Australian natural gas pay around a third of what Australians do due to a deal our federal government made back in 2002, allowing them to buy our gas for the same low price until at least 2027[19]. And is there a difference between burning the gas yourself or selling it to let other people burn it?

To summarize I just want to say I love this planet and all the life on it, but that also includes human beings. Of course we need to be mindful of how we treat the planet, especially when it comes to actual pollution in our environment and other tangible issues like deforestation. But when it comes to more intangible concepts like global warming people are far too willing to use it as a political tool, and suddenly every weather event is caused by it and the end of times are upon us.

If we can create green technology which is capable of reliably powering our modern world then I'm all for it, and I think many of these technologies already exist we just need to start using them in the right places. However I don't think it's healthy to be demonizing fossil fuel industries which are already declining in Australia. When you say nonsensical things like all energy must be 100% green and coal miners should find new jobs you ostracize people and quite frankly sound a bit insane.

Threatening things like combustion engine cars will be made illegal in a few decades is not at all productive, it's clear society is moving towards a more electric future as the technology improves, however some people may have their life and soul invested in combustion engine cars. Maybe it's the way they sound or feel when driving, how should I know, but I surely wouldn't want to take that away from them. There is always some room for the "old ways" and it's not moral to forcefully take that away, and clearly some CO2 output is sustainable.
edit on 20/5/2019 by ChaoticOrder because: (no reason given)



posted on May, 20 2019 @ 10:05 AM
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a reply to: ChaoticOrder

S&F; excellent OP.

Unfortunately I cant comment intelligently to this topic. I am surprised to hear it feels like things are going backward in Australia. I think you are spot on about EV's; everything I read indicates they actually increase GHG emissions. Because you face vast distances like we do in Texas, I would think something like Hybrids might be an answer.

One thing you didnt mention is Australias concentration in mining and oil extraction industries and they do emit a lot of GHG emissions.

The correlation between decrease in controlled burns and an increase in wildfires has been documented in the US.

I dont know if the US is going backwards or not, but we are definitely not "progressing" much except in 5G and cell phone sales.

Thanks



posted on May, 20 2019 @ 10:15 AM
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a reply to: ChaoticOrder

I'm pretty sure all the fossil fuels the World is burning everyday is causing a pollution problem.



posted on May, 20 2019 @ 10:21 AM
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originally posted by: ChaoticOrder
The average U.S. household uses almost twice as much electricity as an average Australian household[16],


If you want energy efficiency you have to have top down community design. It's not not people in the US "use" so much energy. It's just that the technology systems the US has in place in order to live require a lot of energy the way the controlling interest in the US want it to be.

The answer is not for people to stop using cars. The answer is we need transportation technology solutions that are more efficient. People need on-demand transportation. You can't have electric cars is there is no inexpensive highly available way to charge them.



posted on May, 20 2019 @ 10:27 AM
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a reply to: ChaoticOrder

Australia should have built nuclear plants.
Gotta keep the vegemite factory up and running.




posted on May, 20 2019 @ 10:37 AM
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a reply to: ChaoticOrder

I wasn't able to read all of this since I'm pressed for time, but I read enough to agree that natural disasters are just that, as you said, natural. Climate change is something that's been happening for billions of years, man made global warming is the biggest farce the world has ever been fed. And these people fighting for green energy and less pollution are only helping this natural heating period by cleaning up the air. Pollution would actually cool it down but the subject has become too partisan. So while environmentalists scream about cleaning up the earth to keep global warming from killing us, and telling us it's our fault, they're progressing towards a hotter planet by trying to clean it up.



posted on May, 20 2019 @ 11:06 AM
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a reply to: ChaoticOrder

And the grid is under increased stresses from renewables feeding into the grid.

joannenova.com.au...


Renewables stress the grid Perry Williams,

The Australian Australia’s electricity grid is relying on emergency safety nets to keep the lights on, …


The deterioration of the strength of the electricity network — most pronounced in South Australia — is also spreading to southwest NSW, northwest Victoria and north Queensland, adding to wholesale costs incurred by users.

SA’s electricity system is increasingly operating under the direct intervention of the grid operator, with last-ditch interventions reserved for emergencies becoming a default way of managing the network,…

“Systems with lots of non-synchronous generation like wind and solar are weaker and harder to control — raising the risk of cascading blackouts. Unprecedented in their breadth and scope, these trends put extraordinary pressure on the security and reliability of our power grid.” Investment in large-scale renewable energy doubled in 2018 to $20 billion, with one in five Australians now owning rooftop solar and electricity generated by clean energy accounting for 21 per cent of the overall power mix, Clean Energy Council data will show today.


We're in for shaky times.



posted on May, 20 2019 @ 11:25 AM
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originally posted by: dfnj2015

originally posted by: ChaoticOrder
The average U.S. household uses almost twice as much electricity as an average Australian household[16],


If you want energy efficiency you have to have top down community design. It's not not people in the US "use" so much energy. It's just that the technology systems the US has in place in order to live require a lot of energy the way the controlling interest in the US want it to be.

The answer is not for people to stop using cars. The answer is we need transportation technology solutions that are more efficient. People need on-demand transportation. You can't have electric cars is there is no inexpensive highly available way to charge them.



If you want energy efficiency and you live in the US a top-down solution isn't the answer.

Educating the population and having them make a choice is the answer.

I'm off-grid and have been for about 10 years.

I have no electric bill, water bill, sewage bill, trash bill.

The government didn't do that... I did.

I've the same amenities as any other American citizen... probably more.

So no... more government isn't the answer.

Being self-sufficient is.



To the OP, just... Bravo!

Thank you so much for taking the time and energy to put so much in one place with links to back it up.

S&F for the effort.




edit on 20-5-2019 by Lumenari because: (no reason given)



posted on May, 20 2019 @ 11:34 AM
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a reply to: ChaoticOrder

a post about AGW based on facts and not emotion. How nice.

Well done and well sourced.

I wonder about the reduction of pollution and how it's decline factors into our current warming. I can't believe it would not contribute something. These are things that make me wonder if every aspect of this has been considered.



posted on May, 20 2019 @ 11:44 AM
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One of the best thought out and sourced OP's in this entire site.

I wish more people took a practical approach to this 'global warming' debacle.


One has to be reasonable when proposing radical changes. I'll be keeping my eye on this thread for later dissection.



posted on May, 20 2019 @ 11:44 AM
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a reply to: ChaoticOrder

Well done OP.... Well done. This is by far one of the best threads I've seen in a while.

I agree that people have to be pragmatic about trying to responsibly address our energy mix, and we also have to follow the law of diminishing returns.

I've heard of a lot of optimistic technologies on the horizon, and right now I think fusion reactors may be one of the keys.

Here is a video of a guy who only lives an hour from me trying to unlock that possibility in his workshop, it's only about 8 minutes and worth the watch.



posted on May, 20 2019 @ 11:52 AM
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originally posted by: dfnj2015
a reply to: ChaoticOrder

I'm pretty sure all the fossil fuels the World is burning everyday is causing a pollution problem.


If anything, it's stopping the normal heating period from starting.



posted on May, 20 2019 @ 12:00 PM
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originally posted by: LSU2018

originally posted by: dfnj2015
a reply to: ChaoticOrder

I'm pretty sure all the fossil fuels the World is burning everyday is causing a pollution problem.


If anything, it's stopping the normal heating period from starting.


I don't think that means it's the solution (pollution).



posted on May, 20 2019 @ 03:12 PM
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a reply to: dfnj2015

I'm "pretty sure" you don't know what you're talking about.

Jaden
edit on 20-5-2019 by Masterjaden because: (no reason given)



posted on May, 22 2019 @ 09:52 PM
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Just watched a pretty funny video from Independent Man about the election results:


What isn't so humorous though is just how out of touch with reality some of these people are. These two tweets in particular are a good example of how a large portion of Australians view the liberals are some sort of nature hating lunatics.



Here's a quote from a longer post a I made a few days ago where I attempted to explain why it's highly misguided to view the Liberals as far-right or even a right wing party:


originally posted by: ChaoticOrder
Well I'm glad Labour didn't get into power but I don't think we really have as much choice as we like to believe. I still find it surprising how many Australians seem to have this perception that the liberals are a right leaning conservative party who love big corporations and have no concern for the environment. They are pro business but it's more pro small to medium businesses since they are so important to our economy.

However they aren't called the Liberals for no reason, they hold many liberal and progressive ideals. In reality they are much closer to the Democrats than they are to Republicans, but politics in Australia is centered much more to the left so we view the Liberal Party as right leaning whereas they'd probably be considered a left wing party in the U.S. because they do support a considerable amount of traditionally leftist policies.

For example the Morrison government proposed banning "violent videos" as a reactionary response to the Christchurch shooting video. A few months ago there was a ban on "decorative" knives in NSW. Right wing personalities including Lauren Southern and Milo Yiannopoulos have been banned from Australia by the Morrison government. David Icke was also recently banned from entering Australia because apparently his opinions on vaccines and global warming are unacceptable.


Independent Man also mentioned an article from Lisa Wilkinson, a well known TV personality here in Australia, titled A Letter To The New Prime Minister. Here is a small snippet from that article relevant to this thread:


We know, too, that the climate is sick and tired. And things are getting worse.

Most of us now fear the kind of planet we are leaving behind for our kids and grandkids.

Just last weekend we learnt that the planet’s CO2 levels had broken all records and were at their highest in the last 800,000 years. Human beings have never existed, let alone survived, in an atmosphere such as this.

Our summers have never been hotter, our riverbeds drier, our farmers more desperate, our native animals more endangered. As the magnificent David Attenborough has warned us, we are in the midst of a climate emergency.


Ok lets just assume for a moment all out bad weather is a result of human activity, we release 1% of the worlds CO2, even if we could halve that number, if would have barely any impact what so ever because developing nations would cancel out any of our small reductions with their rising CO2 output.

Our goal should really be to maintain stable levels of CO2 output, and it seems the developing world has achieved that, or even reduced emissions over the last couple of decades. Being aware of these facts makes it very hard for me to sympathize with this type of global warming alarmism at the expense of our economy.
edit on 22/5/2019 by ChaoticOrder because: (no reason given)



posted on May, 22 2019 @ 10:08 PM
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a reply to: CriticalStinker


I agree that people have to be pragmatic about trying to responsibly address our energy mix, and we also have to follow the law of diminishing returns.

The message of this thread is really about a robust and cost effective energy mix. Green tech like solar and wind obviously plays some role in that, but it's abundantly clear we need to have a healthy mix of other technologies, including things like nuclear energy and even coal to some degree, preferably with a smaller reliance on fossil fuels. But this idea of zero CO2 emissions really doesn't make any sense on any level, it's not even good for plants and trees. This constant fear mongering around global warming has created a very naive attitude of how to solve the problem, which ends up creating far more problems than it ever solves.
edit on 22/5/2019 by ChaoticOrder because: (no reason given)



posted on May, 22 2019 @ 10:16 PM
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a reply to: CriticalStinker


I've heard of a lot of optimistic technologies on the horizon, and right now I think fusion reactors may be one of the keys.

Unfortunately I've always been a bit of a skeptic regarding nuclear fusion. The fact that fusion is kind of an opposite reaction to fission indicates to me there's no way to get out more energy than you put in with nuclear fusion, the only exception to that rule is when you have enough mass for the fusion process to start on it's own, what we call a star. The immense gravity is what allows the process to occur without expending energy to sustain the reaction, but we cannot replicate that on Earth. Of course I could be totally wrong and we may one day crack the problem, but the amount of time it's taking us is also another reason for my growing skepticism.



posted on May, 22 2019 @ 10:25 PM
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a reply to: network dude

I recall how all the flights were shut down after 9/11. They documented a temperature spike just from the lack of contrails in the air.







 
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