Australia: “More is less”, “Non-renewables are renewables”, “Inaction is action”, “gas is clean energy”. By Gideon Polya

Via: BELLACIAO.

Orwellian Australia, a world leading greenhouse gas (GHG) polluter, falsely asserts that “More is less”, “Non-renewables are renewables”, “Inaction is action” and “Gas is clean energy” – turning the truth on its head Downunder.

Australia is a world leader in annual per capita GHG pollution and natural gas exports and is the world’s leading coal exporter. Australia is also dominated by powerful corporations linked to this orgy of Planet-killing GHG pollution. The horrible reality is that the current Labor Government, elected in 2007 in part to “tackle climate change”, has done nothing in its first 3 year term and now promises to do nothing until 2013, and that an empirically ineffective, counterproductive and indeed fraudulent Carbon Trading-based Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS).

Australia is Downunder to people in the Northern Hemisphere. Indeed I have jokingly asserted to young Northern Hemisphere relatives on Skype that I am actually sitting upside down so that they can see me right-side up. However truth is stranger than fiction when it comes to look-the-other-way Australia which has a culture of entrenched denial, disavowal and ignoring of the Elephants in the Room. Indeed methanogenic livestock-infested Australia is the Land of Flies, Lies and Slies (spin-based untruths).

When the Elephants in the Room are simply too numerous and too big to ignore, some story is required to explain their presence (e.g. as a caption to a Gary Larsen cartoon might say, “Meet my cousins from New Jersey”).

However the gigantic realities of coal- and gas-based power in Australia and huge coal, iron ore and gas exports that have an enormous impact on global GHG pollution simply make the usual, run-of-the-mill spin-based stories for Murdochracy Australia utterly inadequate. The Carbon Elephants in the Room are so huge that truth has to be turned upside down to permit Business As Usual (BAU).

The Australian Mainstream Establishment – dominated by Pacmen (Prosperous Anglo Celtic Men) and Paczmen (pronounced “patchmen”, Prosperous Anglo Celtic Zionist men) – has now come up with the goods with an Orwellian Australian Carbon Newspeak (cf George Orwell’s novel “1984”) that turns reality upside down with the massive Carbon Falsehoods that “More is less”, “Non-renewables are renewables”, “Inaction is action” and “Gas is clean energy”.

And what is worse, various ostensibly environmentalist organizations, notably the Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF), the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and the Australian Climate Institute, have variously become complicit in this egregious falsehood, notably by supporting the Australian Labor Government’s Carbon Trading-based Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) (a so-called Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme that will actually increase Australia’s Domestic plus Exported GHG pollution). The WWF also backs the Labor Government’s repeated, false assertion that “natural gas is clean energy”.

Falsehood #1: “More is less”.

The Australian Government has put forward its version of a Carbon Trading-based Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) that it calls the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme. Their only commitment so far under this ETS is for a 5% reduction on 2000 GHG pollution by 2020 and a 60% reduction by 2050. [1].

What this means in reality, however, is that Australia’s Domestic plus Exported GHG pollution will increase to 119% over the 2000 value by 2020 and to 173% of the 2000 value by 2050. [2].

Indeed Australia under Labor has already increased its Domestic plus Exported GHG pollution in 2009-2010 to over 104.4% of the 2006/2007 value and to over 110.3% of the 2000 value. [3].

The ETS approach is condemned as empirically ineffective, counterproductive and fraudulent by top climate scientists, economists and analysts. Indeed Carbon Trading is utterly fraudulent because it involves trading something one does not possess, namely the right to pollute the one common atmosphere of all nations, all peoples and all species [4].

The counterproductive ETS approach threatens both Humanity and the Biosphere. Thus the species extinction rate is now 100-1,000 times above what it should be. [5].

Both Dr James Lovelock FRS (Gaia hypothesis) and Professor Kevin Anderson (Director, Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, University of Manchester, UK) have recently estimated that fewer than 1 billion people will survive this century due to unaddressed, man-made global warming – noting that the world population is expected to reach 9.5 billion by 2050, these estimates translate to a climate genocide involving deaths of 10 billion people this century, this including 6 billion under-5 year old infants, 3 billion Muslims in a terminal Muslim Holocaust, 2 billion Indians, 1.3 billion non-Arab Africans, 0.5 billion Bengalis, 0.3 billion Pakistanis and 0.3 billion Bangladeshis. [6].

Indeed eminent climate scientist Dr James Hansen (head of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies) has said “Cap and trade with offsets, in contrast, is astoundingly ineffective. Global emissions rose rapidly in response to Kyoto, as expected, because fossil fuels remained the cheapest energy. Cap and trade is an inefficient compromise, paying off numerous special interests. It must be replaced with an honest approach, raising the price of carbon emissions and leaving the dirtiest fossil fuels in the ground. Are we going to stand up and give global politicians a hard slap in the face, to make them face the truth? It will take a lot of us – probably in the streets. Or are we going to let them continue to kid themselves and us and cheat our children and grandchildren? Intergenerational inequity is a moral issue” and “The worst thing about cap-and-trade [ETS], from a climate standpoint, is that it will surely be inadequate to achieve the sharp reduction of emissions that is needed. Thus cap-and-trade would practically guarantee disastrous climate change for our children and grandchildren. The only solution to the climate problem is to leave much of the fossil fuels in the ground. That requires a high enough carbon price that we move on to our energy future beyond fossil fuels.” [4].

However the false and utterly counterproductive ETS (CPRS) approach is supported by the Southern Cross Climate Coalition (SCCC) that includes the Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF), the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU), the Climate Institute, the Australian Council of Social Services (ACOSS) and the World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF). [7].

The Australian Labor Government’s Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme involves an increase in Australia’s Domestic and Exported GHG pollution i.e. more “means less”.

Falsehood #2: “Non-renewables are renewables”.

A Renewable Energy Target (RET) Bill passed by the Australian Parliament (August 2009) sets a target of “20% renewable by 2020” and measures this by allotting 1 Renewable Energy Certificate (REC) per 1 MWh (megawatt hour = million watt hour) of renewable electricity generated and put into the grid.

However what can be regarded as renewable energy includes a number of clearly non-renewable components.

i. “Phantom renewable energy” is major part of the RET Scheme. 5 RECs are issued for every 1 MWh of solar or wind electricity put into the power grid i.e. 4/5 of the so-called renewable energy to achieve the “20% renewable by 2020” target can be phantom renewable energy. Thus 8% of electricity in Australia comes from renewables at present; however, assuming no net increase in power, the “20% renewable energy by 2020” could be achieved by merely adding a further (20-8)/5 = 12/5 = 2.4% of renewable energy (e.g. wind, solar, wave, or tidal).

ii. Coal-, oil- or gas-based electricity for electric hot water (clearly non-renewable energy).

iii. Gas-based or other carbon-based electricity for solar hot water (clearly non-renewable energy).

iv. Methane gas from coal seams (clearly non-renewable energy).

v. Methane gas from land-fill (clearly non-renewable energy).

vi. Geothermal energy (a huge non-carbon resource but ultimately non-renewable energy).

vii. Forest-derived biomass (a net CO2 polluting energy source, especially in SE Australian Eucalyptus regnans forests which have the highest carbon sequestration density of any forests in the world).

viii. Terrestrial non-algal biomass in general (which, like forest-derived biomass, is a net CO2 polluting energy source due to loss of soil carbon from tillage and methane generation from any attendant anaerobic degradation of cellulose material).

ix. I understand that the nuclear option has not been explicitly ruled out of the Renewable Energy Target scheme (the overall nuclear cycle in a largely carbon-based economy, i.e. from uranium oxide mining and processing and plant construction to waste disposal and decommissioning, is a major CO2 polluter and uranium and thorium resources are non-renewable).

x. Similarly, clean-er coal burning (as in the latest modern plants in China today) and coal burning with limited or near-complete carbon sequestration (euphemistically referred to by the Australian Government as “clean coal”, as yet undeveloped and effectively inapplicable in a 10 year time frame even if it is proven to work) may not have been ruled out of the Renewable Energy Target Scheme.

The pro-coal, Australian Labor Government is saying that carbon burning can be clean energy, clean fuel, green, and renewable – rubbish or indeed KRudd (the name of Australia’s PM Kevin Rudd). [8].

The Australian Liberal Party-National Party Coalition and the Australian Labor Government (collectively known as the Lib-Labs) are both declaring that “non-renewables are renewables”.

3. Falsehood #3: “Inaction is action”.

Labor was elected in 2007 in part on the promise to “tackle climate change” and it endlessly claims to be “tackling climate change”. Yet the Australian Labor Government has helped the US sabotage the Bali (2007), Poznan (2008) and Copenhagen (2009) Climate Change Conferences; has savagely damaged the scandalously only nascent solar energy and wind energy industries in Australia; and has already increased its Domestic plus Exported GHG pollution in 2009-2010 to over 104.4% of the 2006/2007 value and to over 110.3% of the 2000 value. [3].

Indeed the Australian Labor Government, having done nothing in its first term (2007-2010) now promises to do nothing until 2013, and that an empirically ineffective, counterproductive and indeed fraudulent Carbon Trading-based Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS).

The Greens and the Coalition Opposition both oppose the Labor ETS, a position consonant with the views of outstanding climate scientists, economists and analysts who reject the ETS approach as dangerously counterproductive and fraudulent and who demand instead a proper price on Carbon through a transparent Carbon Tax that recovers the full environmental and human cost associated with fossil fuel burning and other GHG pollution [4].

Labor inaction is glaringly exposed by the 2009 Rudd-Turnbull compromise ETS proposal that was fortunately rejected by the Coalition Opposition and the Greens. This compromise ETS proposed that agriculture would be permanently excluded from any consideration.

However recent analysis by World Bank analysts Robert Goodland and Jeff Anhang has found that livestock and their by-products actually account for at least 32.6 billion tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2-e) of GHG pollution per year, or 51 percent of an upwardly revised annual worldwide GHG emissions total. [9].

Thus the Australian Labor Government proposed to ignore over 51% of annual GHG problem forever and is clearly asserting that “Inaction is action”.

4. Falsehood #4: “Gas is clean energy”.

The Australian Labor Government’s most blatant falsehood is its repeated assertion that “natural gas is clean energy”.

Natural gas (mostly methane, CH4) yields carbon dioxide (CO2) on combustion as does black coal (mostly Carbon, C) and brown coal (65% water, H2O). Burning 16 tonnes of CH4 yields 44 tonnes CO2 (i.e. burning 1 tonne of natural gas yields 2.8 tonnes CO2) and burning 12 tonnes of C yields 44 tonnes of CO2 (i.e. burning 1 tonne of coal – assuming it to be 100% carbon – yields 3.7 tonnes of CO2). Brown coal (that is burned to produce most of the electricity in Victoria, Australia) has a water (H2O) content of about 65% and thus burning 1 tonne of brown coal would yield 0.35 x 3.7 = 1.3 tonnes of CO2, or about 46% of that produced by burning 1 tonne of natural gas (2.8 tonnes of CO2).

Clearly, on a weight basis, burning gas (CH4) yields twice as much CO2 as burning brown coal. However proponents of gas assert that it is only 50% as polluting as black coal and only 30% as polluting as brown coal in terms of grams CO2 generated per million joules of energy. However, this is contradicted by Professor Robert Howarth of Cornell University, New York, who estimates that because of an estimated 1.5% industrial methane leakage and because methane is 72 times worse than CO2 as a GHG on a 20 year time scale, hydraulic fracturing-derived natural gas may be worse than black coal in terms of GHG pollution: “Far better would be to rapidly move towards an economy based on renewable fuels. Recent studies indicate that the U.S. and the world could rely 100% on such green energy sources within 20 years”. [10].

Most of the electricity in Victoria, Australia comes from burning brown coal. Various environmental groups (notably Environment Victoria and the WWF) are advocating a partial transition from coal burning to gas burning. Thus the Australian Gas Association-supported and WWF- and business-sponsored study “A Clean Energy Future for Australia” has a “Clean Energy Scenario 2” in which only 31.5% of electricity is from renewables (wind, hydro and solar) and the remainder involves generating CO2 from natural gas (17%), petroleum (1%), biomass (26%), black coal (9%), brown coal (0%) and co-generation (15%, 13% from gas, 2 % from biomass). [11].

The conservation group Environment Victoria is campaigning to replace Hazelwood, one of the dirtiest coal-burning power stations in Australia and the World with “a combination of renewable energy, energy efficiency and peaking gas plants … This year, Environment Victoria is spearheading a major campaign calling on the state and federal governments to close Hazelwood Power Station by 2012, and replace it with a combination of renewable energy, energy efficiency and as a transition fuel, gas.” [12].

However University of Melbourne of electrical engineer Professor Peter Seligman (a major player in the development of the bionic ear) has written a book that estimates the cost of 100% renewable energy for Australia at a mere $253 billion. [13].

Further, University of Melbourne scientists say that there is a huge resource of geothermal energy in Victoria’s La Trobe Valley that is the centre of brown coal burning for electricity. According to the ABC Science Show: “Geothermal power is typically obtained from drilling to great depths where fluid is passed through hot rocks. Usually these rocks are granite impregnated with uranium. A second way involves applying an insulating blanket across the earth to trap the heat. Underneath temperatures are high enough for production of geothermal power. This is at depths of up to 5km. The best blanket is brown coal and the best site on earth for this is the Latrobe Valley in Victoria, where about 500m of brown coal sits on the surface.” Yet Australia is busy digging up the “blanket” and there is a major proposal top export dried brown coal to India on a massive scale. [14].

The Australian Labor Government continues to falsely assert that “gas is clean energy”.

Conclusion.

The flagrant, Orwellian falsehoods being promulgated by the Australian Labor Government crudely short-circuit rational risk management that successively invovles (a) accurate data, (b) truth- and reason-based scientific analysis and (c) systemic change to minimize risk.

Flagrant falsehood puts Australia at risk and merits an indignant response from Australian voters who should vote 1 Australian Greens and Put Labor Last.

Australia has 0.3% of the world’s population but its Domestic plus Exported GHG pollution is 3% of the world total – its remorseless, climate criminal GHG profligacy and the egregious untruth of its pro-coal Labor Government need to be widely reported around this acutely global warming-threatened world.

  1. Prime Minister, Treasurer, Minister for Climate Change and Water, “A new target for reducing Australia’s carbon pollution”, May 2009: http://www.environment.gov.au/minis… .
  2. “Post-Copenhagen Australian will increase its per capita Domestic plus Exported GHG pollution”, Yarra Valley Climate Action Group: http://sites.google.com/site/yarrav… ).
  3. “Australia’s Domestic plus Exported GHG pollution has increased under Labor”, Yarra Valley Climate Action Group: http://sites.google.com/site/yarrav… .
  4. “Science and economics experts: Carbon Tax needed not Carbon Trading”, 300.org:”: http://sites.google.com/site/300org… .
  5. P.S. Levine and D.A. Levin, “The Real Biodiversity crisis”, Macroscope, 2002: http://www.soc.duke.edu/~pmorgan/le… .
  6. “Climate Genocide”: http://sites.google.com/site/climat….
  7. Southern Cross Climate Coalition joint statement, “Climate Solutions and Clean Energy Jobs”: http://www.acfonline.org.au/uploads… .
  8. Gideon Polya, “Australia Absurdly Declares Methane Burning Clean And Renewable”, Countercurrents, 2009: http://www.countercurrents.org/poly… .
  9. Robert Goodland and Jeff Anhang, “Livestock and climate change”, Worldwatch Institute: http://www.worldwatch.org/node/6294 and http://www.worldwatch.org/files/pdf… .
  10. Professor Robert Howarth, Cornell University, “Preliminary assessment of the greenhouse gas missions from natural gas obtained by hydraulic fracturing”:http://www.eeb.cornell.edu/howarth/… .
  11. Dr Hugh Saddler, Dr Mark Diesendorf & Richard Denniss, “A clean energy future for Australia”: http://www.wwf.org.au/publications/… .
  12. Environment Victoria, “Replace Hazelwood”: http://www.environmentvictoria.org…. .
  13. Professor Peter Seligman, “Australian sustainable energy – by the numbers”: http://energy.unimelb.edu.au/upload… .
  14. ABC Science Show, “Geothermal power from Victoria’s La Trobe Valley”: http://www.abc.net.au/rn/sciencesho… .

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