Sunday, December 17, 2017
By Max Koslowski. Max Koslowski is an 19-year-old student at the Australian National University
Max Koslowski spoke to supporters of Milo Yiannopoulos outside his recent Melbourne talk. Brace yourself.
Lauren has just left Milo Yiannopoulos' show, and is still buzzing when her Mum texts. She turns her phone to me: “Don't post anything about tonight on Facebook if you're looking for a job".
Lauren laughs. “It's true. We are afraid of what to say because of these people," Lauren waves to protesters on the other side of the road.
“I just went and saw a show, and I've been told that I've gotta be careful because of these people. And that really annoys me".
The 22-year-old bartender has just finished watching Yiannopoulos, right-wing British-born provoker, perform in front of around 800 supporters.
“I've been called a Nazi. I sat down to listen to a dude speak and now I'm a Nazi. I honestly want to know why!"
Lauren, from Wodonga, 300 kilometres north-east of Melbourne, has come to the Milo show with her boyfriend David. Her main political worries stem from modern day feminism, Australia's lack of free speech, and the increased power that Sharia law has in her country.
I ask how Sharia law is rising in Australia.
“They're trying to…." she turns to her partner. “What are they trying to do?"
“I don't really know what Sharia law is," David replies.
“They're trying to change our holidays… yeah, like Australia Day – which is ridiculous. And I don't like the fact that they are trying to say their culture is very feminist – their law basically shuns women. Maybe I'm wrong, maybe they don't. But that's how I see it".
David fits the profile of a typical attendee at Milo's show – he's a 23-year-old who works at a McDonald's in Geelong while finishing his degree. Most of Milo's supporters here are young and male, and some have turned up as couples, or as part of a whole family. But most rock up in small friendship groups.
Like Harry and Simon – two 19-year-old high school leavers, who first got into Milo after seeing videos online. They tell me about how they lost friends when they started to support the controversial figure.
“Most of my guy friends are pretty fine with it. A few of my girl friends, I feel like they misunderstand what views on the right of politics are," Harry explains to me. “Because they've got such an agenda being pushed down their throats, the minute you say something against feminism, all of a sudden you're against all of women".
But he was hopeful that his strong beliefs weren't for nothing.
“The political landscape is shifting a bit now. With guys like Milo coming over, there's a lot more attention being given to these viewpoints, I think people are drifting over and somewhat being converted.
“A lot of kids – we just finished Year 12 – a lot of kids in our year are attracted to him because he's funny and charismatic."
I ask them whether they think that Milo galvanises those on the far right.
“I think a lot of them hate him. There's no Charlottesville-type protests going on here," Harry replies, referring to violent protests in the Charlottesville, Virginia that lead to the death of one.
“There's no Antipodean Resistance, or stuff like that," Simon jumps in.
The Antipodean Resistance are a small Australian neo-Nazi group. I point out that Blair Cottrell, the infamous co-founder of United Patriots Front who once said that there should be a copy of Mein Kampf in every classroom, had attended the protests, and note that he was joined by far right groups True Blue Crew and Sons of Odin.
“But the vast majority were probably normal people," Harry responds.
“Yeah, I didn't think it was a genuine concern for people to say that Milo is going to bring out all the racist rednecks, because if he were to, then they'd turn up tonight," adds Simon. “Maybe there was Blair and a couple of his mates, but I don't really think it's a big deal".
Some rocks and water bottles are thrown in our direction by the protestors on the other side of the road. A police officer asks us to move on, so we head towards the group of Milo supporters who are starting to line up for the next show. One fan, who is wearing a Make America Great Again cap, sits on his friend's shoulders and holds up a pro-Trump flag. The protesters across the road boo. I realise that the supporters aren't lining up, but instead voluntarily waiting outside, enjoying the spectacle.
I ask some others waiting outside how they first got interested in Milo. Anna and Harrison, 19-year-old siblings who travelled an hour and a half from Ballarat, say they “probably just saw him on social media or something".
Duncan, a 16-year-old who is here with his Mum, says the same thing.
I move inside. I try to listen to what people are saying – one supporter asks his friend where all the “beautiful blonde Aryan chicks are". His name is Carlos, and he is here with his friend Hayden – both are in their 20s, and both work at the same pizza shop.
“He's for freedom of speech," Carlos tells me, speaking of Milo. “I'm a bit worried about this country – I feel like I can't state the wrong opinion or look in the wrong direction without having the wrong intention. I feel like I can't manspread. I get looks – it's a bit disconcerting to me.
“I started liking Milo when Trump was going for the presidency. He started calling Trump ‘Daddy', triggering people and showing their hypocrisy. I just identified with that point of view that hadn't been stated so bluntly before".
Carlos had also lost friends because of his support for Milo.
“I don't have friends anymore. Most of my friends don't talk to me anymore. Our point of views changed – it came to a breaking point, where I agreed with the right-wing stuff more. I started learning more about the ideas, and everything just changed. They stopped being friends with me," he said. “Even on little arguments and disagreements, they would think I am implying something, but I wasn't. I lost a lot of my friends because we were disagreeing. Daily interactions changed."
The foyer is starting to get packed – a lot of people are holding on to a copy of Milo's new book, ‘Dangerous', and many are wearing Donald Trump's iconic red caps. It feels festive. Someone laughs as they say that they hope a car runs over some of the protesters outside.
It's a couple of minutes before the show's start time. The crowd is waiting to be let through the doors. Hayden shouts “Make Australia great again!", and some clap and whoop in response.
When the doors finally open and the show begins, Milo plays the room well. He doesn't say much for the first couple of minutes, and then kicks things off by asking a question:
“Australia, what have they done to you?"
Thursday, November 9, 2017
A recent decision in the Supreme Court of South Australia is a warning shot across the bow of publishers of online content. Hannah Marshall and Daisy Von Schoenberg from Marque Lawyers explain.
The latest defamation case about Google's search engine results has just come out. It's a warning to search engines and online publishers generally, and a nod to defamation litigants everywhere to pursue them.
It all started when Dr Janice Duffy, a medical researcher, consulted some online psychics about her love life. After the psychics' predictions didn't eventuate (shock!) Dr Duffy posted negative reviews about the psychics on a website called the Ripoff Report (who'd have thought psychics might be a rip-off?).
The psychics responded with posts labelling Duffy a “psychic stalker".
Because of this, a Google search of her name started returning results with extracts of the articles calling her a psychic stalker, and its autocomplete function offered the words psychic stalker after her name.
Dr Duffy asked Google to remove all that. Google refused. Litigation ensued.
This latest judgment was Google's appeal of the original judgment, in which it lost and Dr Duffy won $115,000 in damages.
You might think that a payment of $115,000 would be immaterial to a multinational tech company like Google, but the broader implications for its business and other online intermediaries were huuugggeee.
The legal question was whether Google was a publisher of the search engine results in a way that makes it liable for defamation. Here's the short version of the appeal court's answer.
Google said it was not a publisher of the defamatory results because its algorithms automatically produce results at the request of users, performing over 100 billion searches every month.
The court accepted this, and found that Google was not liable for the results prior to it being made aware that they were defamatory. However, the court also said that once Dr Duffy notified Google of the defamatory material, its failure to remove the results amounted to further publications of the defamatory material.
This largely reaffirms the position of secondary publishers like search engines, or hosts of user generated content like chat rooms, Facebook page operators, or any news or other sites with user comments.
Once you know, or should reasonably know, that material is defamatory, then you can be liable for publishing it.
What happens now? Keep your eyes and ears peeled for a High Court appeal by Google. Our bet is that the mega search engine is not going to roll over on this decision lightly.
In the meantime, if we were Google we'd be reviewing our complaints handling procedures very carefully.
Sunday, November 5, 2017
Monday, September 18, 2017
Below is an excerpt from a homosexual who reports that he has on many occasions experienced disapproval for being homosexual. I believe him. He had become rather inured to that but has now been shaken by the debate over homosexuality that the same-sex marriage plebiscite has aroused. The many public comments about same sex marriage being wrong have upset his self-confidence and repose.
But who is to blame for that? It is the frenetic demand for sexual licence from the Left. They never shut up about homosexuals and they have kept up the pressure for legal recognition of homosexual marriage for years now.
Conservatives could see the case for giving homosexual couples legal rights similar to heterosexual couples and in most places enacted civil partnership laws to achieve that. That should really have been the end of the argument. Nothing tangible is achieved by going any further.
The Left were however not satisfied with compromise. They go for total victory. It is their intransigence that led to the plebiscite. They alone are responsible for it. So they alone should be blamed for the pain caused to the writer below
The ironical thing is that Leftists often warned that moves to allow homosexual marriage would ignite a debate that could upset homosexuals -- but they still went on with their campaign anyhow. Rather than drop their campaign because it might harm those they were allegedly "helping", they just kept up the pressure. So that is yet another demonstration that beneath the ostensible Leftist desire to "help" lies a hunger to hurt
For many people of my generation, the same-sex marriage postal survey is our first taste of active state-sanctioned discrimination. We’re dealing with this whilst still coming to terms with our identities, and what it means to be queer.
“If any of you boys came home and told me you were gay, I’d probably disown you,” says Mum casually as we are watching the Sydney Mardi Gras on TV, her brow furrowed in mild disgust.
I am 13 and think I might be gay; her words are like a bomb going off, the ringing in my ears drowning out the TV.
“We love you, no matter what. And who knows? Maybe it’s just a phase.” My grandfather embraced me after I told him I was gay.
“What?” Mum’s eyes widened and her hands jerked the steering wheel of the car, sending us swerving. “I’m never going to have grandchildren…” she later cried.
“Faggot!” someone screamed from a passing car. I pretended I didn’t hear, but thought about it for weeks after. Sometimes I still think about it.
“Since when did you start sounding so gay?” my best friend laughed, having not seen me for a few months.
“I don’t like him – he’s a poof,” quipped my brother about a boy he doesn’t like at school. “What’s wrong with being a poof?” I quipped back.
“Marriage should be between a man and woman! Being gay is unnatural!” reads a comment on an online article. I clicked on the woman’s name, and discover she lives in my hometown.
She’s Facebook friends with members of my family.
I had probably been with Mum down the main street as they smiled at each other in passing.
“You can never be too careful,” said a boy I dated once, after he snatched his hand from mine as we were walking down the street.
“I’m not as okay with being gay as I thought I was,” admitted the boy I like, my shoulder wet with his tears.
He’s been out for less than a year. His mother, for religious reasons, is voting “no” in the marriage survey.
He loves her, and I have no doubt that she loves him. It’s complicated.
Above are a just a few of the words said to me over the course of my life. They hold a prominent place in my history in that ambiguous way certain words said at certain times do.
Wednesday, September 13, 2017
The fight for marriage equality is important. But there’s no room in it for racism, writes Anisha Gautam:
Growing up in Australia with a hyphenated migrant identity is a unique experience, and yet it would be fair to say that most migrant Australians, particular those with visible differences, will at some point in their lives face at least two, very common racist sentiments. The first one is the ubiquitous question “Where do you come from?” as though, despite our multicultural make up, it is impossible to believe that a person with brown skin, say, might just “be” from Australia.
The second is a statement, that old chestnut: “Go back to where you come from.”
As a somewhat outspoken advocate for minority rights, I cannot count the number of times I have had that sentiment hurled at me with the utmost contempt and hatred. It is a sentiment that is most often expressed when a migrant Australian is deemed to be insufficiently ‘grateful’ to the nation as, for example, when a migrant Australian dares to criticise an unjust government policy.
It is also expressed when a migrant Australian simply dares to express an opinion that the xenophobic right simply doesn’t agree with.
I was very disappointed, however, when I recently found the same sentiment being expressed by advocates of same-sex marriage under an article about the ‘No’ campaigner Dr Pansy Lai. “If she doesn’t like our modern secular society with western values of equality,” one commentator write, “maybe she should leave.” Another commentator suggested that perhaps Dr Lai “would be more comfortable practicing back in China where SSM is illegal”.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I absolutely do not agree with Dr Lai. Her opinions on same-sex marriage are, as far as I’m concerned, wrong, and her contribution to the ‘No’ campaign ad was both absurd and harmful. Dr Lai’s organization – the Australian Chinese for Families Association – is also doing the nation a great disservice in advocating against the Safe Schools Program, which aims to protect the most vulnerable of the nation’s children. Moreover, if true, it is abhorrent that the organisation advocates the dangerous and discredited conversation therapy as a “cure” for same-sex attraction.
As far as I am concerned, Dr Lai, in coming forward as a public advocate against same-sex marriage has left herself open to many things. She is currently facing, I would argue rightly, the contempt and scorn of those of us fighting to legalize same-sex marriage as a matter of human rights and human dignity.
What she should not face, however, no matter how abhorrent her opinions, are calls to “go back to where you come from.” Because when you say it to her, you say it to me, and to every other migrant who considers himself or herself Australian. Because when you tell one migrant Australian that they are not welcome in the country because their opinion is unacceptable, you tell every one of us that our welcome, too, is contingent in saying and doing the ‘right’ thing, whatever the issue may be. Because it is racist.
If you think my argument is unfair, take a moment to read the comments under articles on Cella White, the white woman in the same video for the No campaign who claimed that her son’s school encouraged him to wear a dress. Not once will you see any calls for her to leave the country because while her argument is called out as absurd and her stance bigoted, being white, her “Australianness,” her right to continue to live in Australia, is never called into question.
The fact is, migrant Australians are not all the same. We do not think in the same way, we do not vote for the same parties. Some of us are progressives and willing to fight for a more just world, and others are willing to fight to keep the status quo. As sad as it makes me to say it, just as I have the right to be progressive, so Dr Lai has the right to be bigoted. When we accept others into our national fabric, we need to do so wholeheartedly, accepting that they are Australian unconditionally, for good or for bad.
Most of us have been put in a situation we did not want, having to participate in what is essentially a national survey on whether or not our LGBTIQ allies should have the same rights that the rest of us have had for centuries.
This campaign has been exactly what the government promised it would not be: hateful, cruel and divisive. It is important that we continue to fight the misinformation published by the ‘No’ campaign but we must do without compromising our ideals as agents of social progress.
Resorting to racism is not a strategy we should engage, if we want to win the bigger war against all injustice.
Tuesday, August 22, 2017
Most Leftist journalism would fail on that score. Also amusing that he admits to being a narcissist, which seems a common and borderline-clinical condition among Leftists.
His fallacy in this matter is to look at the absolute level of support for Pauline Hanson, rather than at its RATE of increase. It's true that a 1 percent rise is not noteworthy in isolation but a one percent rise over a period of only a week or so is a very big RATE of increase -- a rise of 12.5% in this case. Any political party would rejoice at that.
It is of course true that the rate of increase noted is unlikely to be sustained but, in relative terms, the increase in support for Pauline -- whom I regularly vote for -- is clearly non-trivial. Chris on his high horse below:
I don’t have a favourite Biblical quote, because I don’t believe in God. But if I did have one, it would probably be this: “Therefore write the things which you have seen, and the things which are, and the things which will take place after these things.”
It sounds like something Monty Python would have invented, but it is an actual passage from the Bible – Revelation 1:19.
And as with all things Bible, it can be interpreted in different ways. As a journalist, and a narcissist, I like to think it’s ‘God’ tipping her hat to my craft, which is mainly political reporting: Write what you see, what is, and what you think will come from it.
This morning, here’s the news that we all awoke to:
“Pauline Hanson’s One Nation party has surged in the polls after she wore a burqa in Parliament, as Malcolm Turnbull’s Liberal party slips further behind Labor.
“A Newspoll released by The Australian on Sunday revealed the One Nation party soared in popularity, increasing its primary vote from eight to nine per cent in the past two weeks.
“The results come after Ms Hanson wore a burqa onto the floor of the Senate on Thursday ahead of a debate on full-face covering in Australia.”
Only two of those statements are true… the second and third ones. The first – that Hanson has ‘surged’ in the polls – is obviously complete rubbish, and you don’t have to be an expert in polls to know that. You just need to be able to count to 10.
Actually, just to one
Before I explain why, briefly, Hanson’s stunt was designed to appeal to her base. It obviously worked, because her base like seeing her do stupid shit. Indeed, all she was really doing was, ‘exercising her right to be a bigot’. Which makes Attorney General George Brandis’ reaction all the more hollow. But in any event, the key point is, ‘how big is Hanson’s base’?
Obviously, a rise from 8 to 9 per cent – i.e. a one point rise – does not equal a “surge”. That’s basically akin to claiming that a one-point victory in a five-day cricket test match was a “thrashing”.
Thursday, June 29, 2017
The article below is very long-winded in a typical Leftist style but the essence of it is in the opening paragraphs that I have excerpted below.
I believe the article does address a real problem. The only surprising thing is its discovery that bore water is a last resort for drinking purposes. It often has metallic and other unpleasant tastes that should warn that its use for human consumption is risky.
Depending on the contamination it can be purified at some cost but that is rare. People, black and white, just take their chances, usually. So it is not surprising that the W.A. government has not funded purification for Aborigines. Government has many calls on its funds.
Asking the government to go into a large number of black settlements with purification machinery is a big ask when it is always possible for the inhabitants to move into areas where reticulated river water is available. The W.A. government encourages that.
But the Aborigines resist that. They have a religious attachment to their traditional locations. So in a sense they have made their choices about what they are exposed to and have to bear the consequences. Is it fair for them to ask those who pay taxes (they rarely do themselves) to prop up their religious beliefs? As former Prime Minister Tony Abbott declared in March 2015, "what we can’t do is endlessly subsidize lifestyle choices."
When deep-well bore water arrived in Australian bush communities people thought the big thirst was over. Jeff McMullen reports that a decade long study shows unsafe water is now cutting lives short.
If a baby is fed unsafe water contaminated with chemical nitrates, the child turns blue.
The striking colouring occurs particularly around the eyes and mouth. Blue Baby Syndrome is the decrease of the oxygen carrying capacity of the haemoglobin. It is potentially fatal.
And yet, in scores of communities across Australia many people are still not aware of the growing evidence that nitrates – found naturally in the environment and compounded by mining – are a crucial factor in a devastating epidemic of chronic illness, particularly renal problems afflicting children and adults.
"I never dreamed that our water has such high levels of nitrate contamination," says Dr Christine Jeffries-Stokes, paediatrician to the Goldfields region in Western Australia.
"Water flows from the Pilbara all the way south to the Great Australian Bight. The critical threat is the nitrates, combined with uranium and arsenic, to create a perfect storm."
It is this discovery – that not only is there an immediate threat of nitrate poisoning from high levels in the water but also a long-term danger caused by prolonged exposure – that will bring Dr Jeffries-Stokes and her medical team from the Western Desert Kidney Project face to face with the WA Government this week, to present their findings and lobby the government to finally take action.
Co-Chief Investigator of the decade long research project, Annette Stokes says "people are very, very sick".
"Some already had diabetes and did not know it. Others are progressing to end state renal illness without ever being aware of this water poison."
"Previously unexplained levels of chronic illness, especially kidney disease afflicting black and white people in remote regions, can now be understood," adds Dr Jeffries-Stokes. "Governments must take action urgently and it is no good talking about closing hundreds of remote communities and towns. This affects so many people Governments must clean up the water."
One of Australia’s most respected epidemiologists, Professor Fiona Stanley, has added her voice to the call for urgent action.
"This is a really important public health and human rights issue, particularly for the Aboriginal populations of the eastern Goldfields. The neglect that we have shown these populations over the years is being added to by our reluctance to clean up the water supply," Professor Stanley says.
More at: https://newmatilda.com/2017/06/28/the-poisoned-chalice-breakthrough-wa-study-shines-a-light-on-global-water-contamination/
Sunday, March 5, 2017
Below is an excerpt from an article by Michael Brull. Brull is a far-Leftist Jewish Australian and his writings boil with hate. I have left the abuse and hate out. I have just excerpted the apparently factual bits of his article below. So the article now is about half as long as comrade Brull left it
Today Tonight in Adelaide featured yet another report on Muslims.
The story was based primarily around three figures, supposedly representing the important insight of Muslims concerned about Muslims. Two of them were presented as Muslim clerics. One was Mostafa Rachid. The other was Mohammed Tawhidi. And the third figure was Jamal Daoud, presented as a “Sunni community leader”. Daoud’s is called a “leader” presumably on the basis that the TV presenter liked what he was told by Daoud.
The star of the show was Tawhidi, who used his supposed status as a Muslim religious scholar to attack Muslims and Islam. The show opened with him saying that, “When I am worried about what’s happening and what I see from my community and my religion, trust me that there’s something that’s going on.”
Tawhidi made numerous inflammatory statements. He claims there was a plan to increase the population of Muslims in Australia, to buy real estate, and give the streets Islamic names. And those Islamic names would be in memory of those who “massacred and killed people”. And then they’ll ban drinking and anything “un-Islamic”, it’ll be a small Islamic country within Sydney. He also claimed that ISIS hides among refugees fleeing to Europe, some of them disguised as women. Presumably he is opposed to Western countries accepting Muslim refugees.
The journalist was impressed by this rendition, and his “stark warning of a plan to alter Australia forever, to establish a caliphate here right under our noses”. Tawhidi confirmed this theory, saying that the alleged fact that a Muslim imam is worried (him), shows that something must be done.
Tawhidi called for governments to stop the building of mosques and Islamic community centres, and for a government body to be established to investigate everything in relation to the Muslim community.
In response, the online Muslim magazine One Path Network issued a video response to the report, along with a short written summary. Both are refutations of Today Tonight’s report. They showed that the two supposed Muslim scholars have something like zero credibility. As for Tawhidi:
“Little is known about Mr Tawhidi, who claims to be a “Muslim leader” in South Australia. His centre named the “Islamic Association of South Australia” was only set up last year and there is little to no information available about the centre and its attendees.
When One Path Network approached the Australian National Imams Council, ANIC, for comment on the above individual, they stated that Mr Tawhidi was “not recognised as an Imam, Sheikh or Muslim leader”. ANIC is the official representative body of all Imams across Australia and has over 250 members.
The Imams Council of South Australia was also approached for a public comment and they too stated that ” he was not recognised” and “not part of the Islamic leadership in South Australia”.”
And Rachid, the supposed scholar brought on to claim that alcohol and pork are halal? One Path Network reports:
“The other “Imam” used in the segment is known as Mustafa Rashed, and is a known imposter and fraud. He has previously claimed to be the Mufti of Australia, and was exposed by ANIC in 2014 for his fraudulent remarks. He has no known credentials in Islamic Studies and neither does he have a centre in Australia or a following.”
This was followed by a media release by ANIC, the Australian National Imams Council, featured in the video report by One Path. It observed that Tawhidi is “not a recognised Imam, Sheikh or Muslim leader”. The video report, fronted by Malaz Majanni, noted that “Imams for Peace” seems to consist entirely of Tawhidi.
Sunday, February 19, 2017
Reliance on "renewables" was the problem
Let’s recap on exactly what happened based upon the actual reports written after people knew what had happened, rather than before. First a little background on South Australia’s electricity system.
We had about 6,000 mega watts (MW) of capacity in 2015-16; which means when all of these sources of electricity were running flat out, we could light up about 60 million 100 watt globes. But because about 2200 MW of this capacity is wind and solar PV, then that would be impossible except perhaps on a hot and very widely windy day. On a windless night, that 2200 MW will produce bugger all. Since then, we have lost about 1,000 MW of baseload capacity. The word baseload is a little misleading, the right word is despatchable… meaning you can choose when you want it rather than with wind and solar, which operate according to the whims of the wind and weather.
Our maximum demand is only about 3,400 MW, but because of our high renewable mix, we not only need interconnectors to handle windless nights, we needed to upgrade the biggest of these in 2016. The flow of electricity into South Australia over the past decade has been steadily growing as our despatchable power stations close.
If all of our 4,800 mega watts was despatchable power, then we’d never need either of our interconnectors; Murraylink (220 MW) and Heywood (recently upgraded to 650 MW).
On the 28th of September, the Heywood interconnector was supplying 500 MW with Murraylink running at 110 MW. When the storm knocked over the transmission towers and some wind farms shut down, the system lost 445 MW of capacity.
Imagine sucking a drink through three straws and one of them blocks, then the suck on the other two rises. This is what happened when the wind farms shut down; the combined demand, the suck, was transferred to the interconnectors. Remember, Heywood was upgraded to handle a 650 MW suck and was running at 500 MW. When the wind farms died, the suck on Heywood surged to 850 MW and it turned itself off to prevent catastrophic damage. The rest is history; a cascade of failures.
Had we had 4,800 mega watts of despatchable power, then we wouldn’t have had such a load on the interconnectors and they would easily have had the capacity to absorb the additional load when the wind farms shutdown.
Was the SA generation mix a factor in the blackout? Of course. Are there generation mixes which would have prevented it? Of course; I just gave one.
The great thing about the interconnectors is precisely that they can function to satisfy demand during the loss of capacity. But if that function isn’t available because your interconnectors are already saturated making up for renewables which aren’t currently doing much, then you have a problem.
What enrages me so much about the debate on this issue is that everybody has an opinion about why the blackout occurred without understanding what actually happened. If you don’t know the simple facts of what happened, they how can you imagine you understand why?
I’ve deliberately ignored important things like frequency control and spinning reserves in an effort to keep things simple. But our renewable mix has various other complicated effects on our grid to make it less robust in the face of disturbances.
The short-term answer to our problems is to change the NEM rules which discriminate against despatchable systems. This will allow gas operators to make money and stay running. This will also allow investment in clean despatchable systems, meaning nuclear, that can solve both our reliability and climate problems simultaneously. Remember, the main reason that the Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission found that nuclear would be uneconomic in SA is that under the current NEM rules, all despatchable power is uneconomic. When reliability isn’t considered worthy of a price premium then it will vanish, exactly as we have seen.
Friday, February 10, 2017
Trump must be biting his fingernails over that one
An academic boycott of the United States is warranted, writes Dr Christopher Peterson. But the Australian tertiary sector’s response so far is too weak.
Today I signed a petition calling for a boycott of international academic conferences held in the US. The boycott has been organised in response to President Donald Trump’s executive order to ban entry to the US by Muslims from seven selected countries.
The boycott currently has over 5,000 signatures. I also signed another petition imploring Australian Universities to explicitly denounce Trump’s polices as well as to support international students by funding scholarships for students from countries affected by the ban.
I am an American citizen by birth, and a naturalized Australian citizen. So it’s disorienting to say the least to be boycotting my home country.
Detractors of boycotts point to the collateral harm they sometimes inflict on those whom we are intending to help. Yet the preservation of American democracy outweighs whatever temporary inconveniences American academics might incur if the call for a boycott receives widespread support.
Tuesday, January 24, 2017
Chris Graham is proprietor of a far-left Australian webzine called "new Matilda" with rather shaky finances but he seems to be far more rational than most Leftists. He defends coal below and hints that nuclear power may be the best of all. Beat that! He seems to be on the same page as Trump when it comes to the electricity supply so it's a wonder he can stand the embarrassment.
His main concerns in fact seem to be Aboriginal welfare and Palestinians. He publishes some pretty one-eyed stuff on those topics. The Aboriginal stuff probably bores most of his readers. The Australian Left mostly regards the Aboriginal problem as "too hard", which it is. Compare the Canadian "first nations" problem or the native American problem. But Palestinians are red meat to Leftists so that probably keeps Chris's ship afloat
Naomi Klein: Definitely of the left and a powerful advocate for the oppressed; at least when they have two legs and an upright stance. Her first book, No Logo, was a powerful polemic against the branding and bullshit of the modern corporate culture.
Klein is now getting heavily involved in climate change politics, writing one of her characteristically large books on the topic a few years back: This changes everything: Capitalism Vs the Climate.
Here’s a shorter taste of Klein in full flight. It’s an essay adapted from her 2016 Edward Said London Lecture. The essay’s central theme is how Said, a Palestinian born Professor of Literature, thought of environmentalism as a bourgeois playground and missed what Klein thinks is the powerful connection between environmental destruction and oppression.
I think she’s a bit rough on Said; he died in 2003, well before many non-scientists realised the deep gravity of climate destabilisation. The penny hadn’t dropped then with Tim Flannery, for example; or I think, Klein herself. It was 2004 before the penny started falling with me.
But even if Said had realised the seriousness of climate destabilisation, would he have agreed with Klein on the connection between oppression and trashing the climate? Perhaps Klein’s connection is simply the result of moving outside her area of expertise. Science changes everything.
Klein is used to identifying protagonists and telling their stories with events and anecdotes. Science is about numbers, evidence and carefully constructed arguments. Klein’s not comfortable with any of the three.
For example, Klein wants to assert that our fossil fuel problems are the result of our othering of miners and Indigenous peoples. Meaning that we treat them as less than human to justify their exploitation.
Did coal and oil mines displace Indigenous people? Certainly, but were they the biggest driving force or simply a minor footnote in a much more general process?
It’s easy enough to check. I’ll illustrate with some Australian numbers, but they illustrate general principles. We crop about 20 million hectares in Australia and graze another 70 million hectares of improved pasture. Cattle and sheep also graze another 330 million hectares of natural vegetation.
Keep in mind that the entire area of Australia is about 770 million hectares. We also have a couple of million hectares of plantation forests. And our mines? All up, not just coal, they occupy a few tens of thousands of hectares and much of that isn’t the prime area with surface disturbance. So… which activities have done most to dispossess Indigenous people? Mines of any description, or cropping or grazing?
The ratios are similar the world over. Mines are tiny, cropping is big and grazing is huge. Indigenous people have been dispossessed by the sheer weight of numbers of non-Indigenous people and the fact that the latter all eat; with the biggest dispossessors being those who indirectly appropriate the most land… meaning meat eaters… which probably includes both Klein and Said (as far as I can make out).
Now think about the other part of her claim. Coal mining is definitely a filthy business, but a damn site healthier than what it replaced… chopping and burning wood. And what did they use to light the lamps of Europe before oil?
They used whale oil.
Perhaps Klein would like us to return to men in little boats throwing sharp pointy things at whales, but I’d rather drill holes in the ground. And wood isn’t dead yet. Some 3 billion people still cook with solid fuels; mostly wood, but also cow dung or charcoal or even coal itself.
Wood smoke indoors shortens lives and kills children. The death toll from household air pollution is about 4.3 million people a year; and the suffering on top of that is immense. The upside of a coal industry, particularly when it became used to generate electricity, is that by replacing wood, a large number of people benefitted from the toil of a few.
The other great thing about coal mining is that it’s a big compact centralised industry; which means it’s easier to regulate. Think about the difference between a textile factory with a union and regulation compared to people working at home. Highly distributed industries are tough to regulate. Globally between 1990 and 2013, coal production trebled, but deaths from black lung dropped from 29,000 to 25,000.
Black lung is the common name for CWP (Coal workers’ pneumoconiosis). It’s the biggest killer of coal miners and is caused by breathing coal dust. But when you mine coal from big open cut holes while sitting in massive air-conditioned machines, the problem can be eliminated; and the pay is better than many other jobs. But it does take good unions and continued vigilance.
There were 6 cases of CWP in Queensland between May 2015 and February 2016 which prompted calls for action in the Medical Journal of Australia. Science changes everything.
Klein can point to coal mining abuses in various parts of the world, but ignores the benefits of coal over what went before. I don’t know of any studies on how many lives coal has saved in replacing wood, but there are studies on the numbers of premature deaths nuclear power has prevented in replacing coal… about 1.8 million. The number of lives coal has saved by replacing wood would be far greater.
Klein is so closely focused on oppression by big business that she missed the much bigger cause of Indigenous displacement and thus all the subsequent domino progression of problems. She misses that large industries can be regulated and improved and that in many countries that’s exactly what has happened.
Similarly, when she talks about health, she is so focused on laying out her argument that she doesn’t bother to check the facts. Consider:
“Turning all that coal into electricity required another layer of othering too: this time for the urban neighbourhoods next door to the power plants and refineries. In North America, these are overwhelmingly communities of colour, black and Latino, forced to carry the toxic burden of our collective addiction to fossil fuels, with markedly higher rates of respiratory illnesses and cancers.”
Where’s the proof? For females in the US, whites have a higher rate of cancer than blacks, with Latino’s significantly lower again and American and Alaskan native Indians lower still! For men, blacks have the highest cancer rates, with whites a little lower and again Latinos and American and Alaskan native Indians lower again.
There may be pockets around power plants where rates are a little different but where’s the data?
As for respiratory diseases, the biggest most serious of these is COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) and yes, rates of COPD are higher for non-whites. But what’s the problem, is it mining?
Here’s what a major 2013 US study says: “Because smoking is the dominant risk factor for COPD and contributed to about 80% of COPD deaths in 2000 to 2004 much of this disease is potentially preventable.”
With regard to cancer, Klein makes the same mistake made over many decades by the anti-nuclear movement. They seized on the fact that radiation can cause cancer and entirely ignored more recent findings that radiation is a much weaker cause of cancer than lifestyle factors like smoking, alcohol, red and processed meat, and being fat and inactive.
Climate science is a little different from some sciences in its emphasis on ranking causes. Plenty of science is focused on tiny details but the climate gurus have to look at a vast array of quite different problems and try to rank them.
Klein cites a paper by Hansen on sea level rise; but when she starts discussing climate science she begins with a faux pas.
“Fossil fuels aren’t the sole driver of climate change – there is industrial agriculture, and deforestation – but they are the biggest.”
Industrial agriculture is a very misleading description of a major part of the climate problem. A more accurate description would be simply “methane from sheep and cattle”.
The 1.4 billion cattle on the planet are unprecedented and have driven a considerable component of the deforestation as well as emitting large amounts of methane as they digest their feed. And what about the “industrial” adjective? Cattle in feedlots generate less methane than cattle eating grass. Industrial methods of animal production are horrid for the animals but far less bad for the climate.
Klein assumes that the cause of the dominance of fossil fuels in our energy supply is otherness, oppression and racism. But I’d rank ignorance very high up on the list of reasons. Klein’s shorter essay illustrates her ignorance about cancer and other health issues and this ignorance very clearly misinforms her narrative.
If you want to take part in charting a course to reduce climate destabilisation, then sympathy with the oppressed isn’t enough. Klein’s essay ignores nuclear power and the obvious role of the anti-nuclear movement in the dominance of fossil fuels.
We could have gotten rid of the fossil fuel industry decades ago, back when climate change was first recognised as a serious issue by the world’s climate scientists; the 1990s. But we didn’t.
The fossil fuel industries thrived because they had no competition and were far better than wood. They were safer, cleaner, and yes, even healthier. They thrive today because people like Klein look at nuclear power without bothering to compare its health and safety record with anything else. Not coal, not wood, not anything.
They just say “Oh gosh, this is scary, radiation can damage your genes and nuclear plants are … well … just plain big and built by big companies!”
As it happens food is also energy and it has an environmental impact and it also damages your genes; meaning that some foods and some diets can cause cancer. Foods can shred DNA … quite literally … causing single and double strand breaks; just like radiation; only they are far more potent.
But ignorance about the big causes of cancer meant that fear of the little causes proliferated in a knowledge vacuum, and any nuclear project was hit by demonstrations and legal challenges and a rolling barrage of increasingly bizarre safety requirements.
So the big energy companies said, “Gosh nuclear is hard, let’s just keep on with coal”. And everybody relaxed and got on with building bigger houses and writing bigger books and going on more holidays and generally having a real nice time. Even the coal miners.