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View Diary: A Tale of Myopia from Bali (125 comments)

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  •  this would be why I'm a member of the Green Party (2+ / 0-)
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    Meteor Blades, SarahLee

    one of the many reasons at any rate - as the Australian Greens have said that Australia must look to phase out its exports of coal, and of course, its domestic coal fired power stations.

    to answer your question more broadly -

    the ALP has committed strongly to developing 'clan coal' technology (oxymoron alert), focused mainly on geosequestration and reducing the outputs of C02 from the burning of coal through such methods as burning it in pure oxygen, which from memory knocks something like 25-30% off C02 emissions. Australia has a large-scale plant in QLD iminently ready to demonstrate this at commercial scale.

    In terms of our moral obligation, I would say that despite largely supporting it personally, the Australian Greens position on planning to phase out coal exports is simplistic, when you consider that if we seriously want to deny the most readily available means of power to places like China and India, I would think we have an equal moral obligation to help them rapidly develop alternative methods of energey generation.

    You probably don't remember me, but I certainly remember you as an adamant supporter of nuclear power, something else that Australia is obviously pivotal to globally, sitting on just less than 40% of the world's entire accessibly uranium deposits. Suffice to say that when it comes to India and China, I find myself quite torn as to whether it's appropriate to support phasing out coal while at the same time personally believing that Australia's uranium export industry is equally dangerous to the planet. My end position is that if we could just get as much investment in solar, geothermal and wind as we have in vested power industries like coal and nuclear, my concern would be a moot point. The realpolitick I haven't personally settled on yet.

    Australia is actually about the only country in the world on track to meet its Kyoto commitments - Australia negotiated (again from memory) for an allowed 8% increase on its 1990 (or could have been 2000?) emissions, and we are within 1% of that - which makes Howard's refusal to ratify it, thus denying us as a country access to all the other benefits of signing Kyoto (tech trade, CO2 market etc etc) even more stupid.

    Australia has largely achieved this through states putting an end to significant amounts of land clearing, particularly in Queensland and NSW.

    And by the by, I don't think Australia's coal exports are particularly relevant to the personal negotiating power our new PM & Climate Change Minister will have, which was the main thrust of my comment.

    "This just can't get more disturbing!" - Willow

    by myriad on Sun Dec 09, 2007 at 08:22:24 PM PST

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    •  You guys are in a subsidence zone (0+ / 0-)

      aka desert belt. What is the potential for concentrated solar?

      •  in a word (0+ / 0-)

        huge. Even with the absolute starvation-diet of public investment and incentives from the now EX-Howard government (you've got no idea how good it feels to type that!), there are still some significant projects underway with solar thermal, solar arrays etc. But the blunt truth is we were leading the world in solar as little as 10 years ago, and still should be if it wasn't for crippling Howard policy that has seen a huge proportion of our cutting edge science go offshore for development - the only heartening side of that being much of it to China. but how dumb is it (no offence, just in context) that Germany leads the world in solar?!

        There are also absolutely massive amounts of geothermal energy we can tap, enough its estimated to supply us with current energy needs for the next, oh 150,000 years. The problem that they are still working to overcome is that it is massively deep - about 3km from memory  - which means huge work to get water down there to get steam, etc etc.

        "This just can't get more disturbing!" - Willow

        by myriad on Mon Dec 10, 2007 at 12:08:33 AM PST

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    •  Two forms of baseload electricity supply (0+ / 0-)

      Fossil fuels and nuclear power.  Hydro is insignificant in Australia, I am told.  So you Aussies, to ensure a reliable source of baseload electricity, are burning coal because you are opposed to nuclear power.

      It seems that CSP and geothermal might be able to supply some baseload.  For your sake I hope so.

      Anyone seriously concerned about greenhouse gas emissions surely has to consider the worldwide safety record of the world's single largest displacer of greenhouse gas emissions, nuclear power.  Its emissions over life cycle are about the same as the life cycle emissions of wind (think of all those concrete wind-turbine bases and all the coal combustion to make them). Even counting nuclear accidents that have occurred, nuclear power has the lowest deaths per terawatt year of electricity generated.

      Meanwhile, your coal and American coal and other coal is causing around 2 million deaths per year; 400,000 in China. I don't know what the rate is in AU but in US it is 24,000 deaths per year.  Deaths per year from commercial nuclear plants generating electricity in US: zero in five decades.

      Jesse Ausubel, head of environmental sciences at Rockefeller University, did a comparison of all energy sources in terms of environmental impact and found that the cleanest and greenest and safest source per square meter is nuclear power. The European did a comparison study about 5 years ago that came to the same conclusion.

      The IPCC predicts average global temperatures to rise enough by 2050 to put 20-30% of all species at risk for extinction.

      by Plan9 on Mon Dec 10, 2007 at 10:32:01 AM PST

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      •  I'm not interested in going around the merry- go- (0+ / 0-)

        round with you, so I'll keep this answer brief.

        Particularly for Australia, the argument that only fossil fuels or nuclear can provide baseload is highly questionable. (& incidentally contrary to your sources, we do have some existing hydro - my entire state is powered with it for starters, and there is the Snowy Hydro scheme).

        We have no nuclear power plants, and a recent study commissioned by pro-nuclear Howard led by a pro-nuclear nuclear physicist concluded that it would take 20 years to establish nuclear plants here, they'd have to be massively publicly subsidised and they could provide maybe 25% of our baseload. Hardly compelling. But perhaps more critically, to be competitive (if we ignore the issue of massive public subsidy to establish a nuclear industry, build the plants and insure the populace who would live near them), carbon would have to be priced at $60/tonne. At that price wind and solar are more than competitive, as would geothermal be.

        In contrast despite the brain drain we still have a significant solar research and development capacity, and thermal arrays, solar tower and other concentrated solar commercial-scale trials will be on line in 5-10 years.

        As a last by-point, I note that German scientists have just found that children living within (from memory) a 30km radius of their nuclear power plants have massively elevated rates of developing leukemia and other cancers.

        "This just can't get more disturbing!" - Willow

        by myriad on Mon Dec 10, 2007 at 12:13:42 PM PST

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