Sunday 25th of September 2022

back to the future...

coal future is bright

A new report from the CSIRO mapping Australia’s innovation and investment priorities out to 2030 has put its energy focus squarely on fossil fuel exports and the technologies required to best exploit them, under a number of different possible future scenarios.

The report, published on Tuesday to mark the launch of the CSIRO’s new business advisory service, appears to put Australia’s premier science and research organisation in lock-step with the Coalition government, whose stated preference is to keep the national economy firmly tethered to coal and gas, despite the global trend – and scientific mandate – for rapid decarbonisation.

And, like the Coalition’s 2015 Energy White Paper and recent Budget, the 66-page report barely mentions climate change, ignores 2°C emissions scenarios, and gives scant mention to the numerous renewable energy technologies many consider will be a key ingredient of the global effort to avert dangerous climate change – something the CSIRO’s own Cape Grim Baseline Air Pollution Station has now confirmed we are not doing nearly fast enough.

It also appears to reflect the new corporate direction the CSIRO has taken under the leadership of former US venture capitalist Larry Marshall, which has so far included the sloughing off of as many as 110 of the organisation’s world-leading climate researchers.

The CSIRO report, Australia 2030, is based around four “plausible and divergent scenarios,” each based on different combinations of social, economic, environmental and technological drivers, and each designed to be “purposely extreme”, to provide a sharp contrast between different potential futures and illustrate the trade-offs involved for the five major sectors of Australian business and industry: food and agriculture, healthcare and pharmaceuticals, manufacturing, mining and METS, and “oil, gas and energy.”

The scenarios include Digital DNA – where we see a dramatic shift towards digital services driven by the “internet of things” (see table below); Mining and Dining – effectively a business as usual scenario, where a second wave of the resources boom underpins Australia’s economy; and Clean and Lean – where economic growth is decoupled from the environment, and countries can successfully pursue both objectives.

The final scenario, called Weathering the Storm, pictures a world where geopolitical instability has increased, driven by climate change and regional conflicts over access to land, food and water – all of which leads to prolonged global economic stagnation.

Under this latter, nightmarish scenario – something that may well emerge given the slow pace of decarbonisation and the rapid changes in climate – the report heralds an energy future for Australia that still revolves around fossil fuels.

“With volatility and uncertainty surrounding most industries, the energy market relies on tried and tested energy sources such as coal rather than further developing the potential of renewables,” it predicts.

“High oil and gas prices coupled with regional conflicts in oil supplying areas like the Middle East has also increased the attractiveness of coal.”

These conditions, the report says, will mean that “technologies that allow coal to replace oil or gas as a fuel will facilitate heightened demand for Australian coal.”

An example of one such technology offered in the report is a Direct Injection Carbon Engine – an adapted diesel engine that converts coal into a water-based slurry that maximises electricity generation and extends the life of the engine.

Interestingly, things don’t pan out too differently for Australia in the Mining and Dining scenario, except that the energy and technology focus shifts a little in favour of gas.

“With increased global energy demands, continued energy security concerns in Asia and minimal renewables to complement this demand, Australian exports for oil and gas have increased substantially,” the report imagines.

“While coal is still an important export for Australia, it is LNG that is the largest export market, with higher oil and gas prices making unconventional gas economically viable.”

“To meet the demands of this booming resources sector, businesses and governments have invested heavily in infrastructure and efficiency gaining technology. Noting the increase in global demand, low-cost international producers enter the market to capture some of the growth, but are not large enough (or efficient enough) to heavily impact Australia’s comparative advantage of being rich in resources and knowledge,” the report says.

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exxon in the dock...


A Massachusetts conservation group says it will sue ExxonMobil for failing to protect the Boston harbor area from an old, leaky oil terminal that spews toxic material into nearby rivers, charging that the company's dual role of climate change expert and denier makes it uniquely culpable.

The landmark action by the Conservation Law Foundation is apparently the first to link a fossil fuel company's policy on global warming to a particular, localized environmental threat.

At issue is ExxonMobil's Everett marine terminal, an oil transfer and storage facility - a tank farm with three berths for ships to dock - a few miles northwest of Boston at the junction of the Mystic and Island End rivers. 

The terminal and surrounding area are built on landfill, which is at or close to sea level, and will be completely submerged in the foreseeable future as sea levels rise due to global warming, according to Bradley Campbell, president of the Conservation Law Foundation, which sent ExxonMobil anotification letter yesterday alleging numerous violations of clean water and environmental laws at the Everett facility, a required first step before it files a lawsuit in federal court. 

read more:

see also: not if, but when... in this is not fiction — be afraid.

turdball government caves in to its paymasters...



The corporatocracy of Australia moves from nobbling our ABC to crippling CSIRO's reporting on sea-level rises, as the Turnbull Government caves in to its paymasters. Peter Boyer reports.

THE DEMAND by CSIRO management that its leading sea-level scientist, John Church, explain why he shouldn’t be sacked is as unbelievable as it is outrageous.

On an individual level, it is an appalling way to treat the person who has done more than anyone to put CSIRO at the forefront of sea-level studies and whose name, on research paper after research paper, has become virtually synonymous with world-leading climate research.

Church was at sea, aboard the new marine research ship Investigator on a transect from Antarctica to New Zealand, when told over the satellite phone that he was on a redundancy hit-list. He has until mid-June to put a case against his termination.

More than 300 staff are losing their jobs at CSIRO. Church’s oceans and atmosphere unit is losing 74 positions, with hundreds more positions going from the land and water, agriculture, minerals, food and nutrition and finance units.

The climate science losses are happening mainly in Melbourne, Canberra and Church’s home city of Hobart, with positions also going in Queensland, the Northern Territory and Western Australia.

CSIRO has long led the world in modelling Southern Hemisphere climate. The current threat to that capacity has been met with dismay from leading institutions and thousands of scientists around the world, expressed in multiple letters to prime minister Malcolm Turnbull.

'Thrown on the scrapheap': Global sea-level expert John Church made to walk the plank by CSIRO via @smh

— Greg Jericho (@GrogsGamut) May 14, 2016

It’s been a matter of Australian pride that our CSIRO is recognised globally as a great scientific institution. Now, thanks to a cavalier chief executive and a hapless, clearly dysfunctional board, we’re seeing that good name trashed. The impact will be felt for many years to come.

Disclosure: I have known John Church for many years. Our children shared a school and our paths have crossed many times over the years.

But I know that many share my high opinion of him. His scientific intelligence and unmatched grasp of his chosen field brought global acclaim, but all who know him put highest value on his open, equitable demeanour and his decency, honesty and modesty. He’s surely everyone’s model scientist.

Ever the loyal employee, he remained mute over recent years as his organisation suffered repeated funding cuts. But chief executive Larry Marshall’s declaration in early February that CSIRO no longer needed to observe, measure or model climate was a bridge too far.

The day after Marshall announced his proposed restructuring, Church publicly stated that the job cuts would severely diminish Australia’s ability to fulfil its commitments under the Paris climate agreement.

As he told the ABC’s Gregg Borschmann the day after Marshall’s announcement.

“I’m very saddened for the younger scientists who really are important for Australia’s future, and for the message that this sends to the world about doing environmental science in Australia."

He said that as the leading Southern Hemisphere developed nation, Australia’s science investment attracted Northern Hemisphere resources “to help address issues important to Australia and its neighbours”. Those resources and the capacity to use them effectively have been put at risk.

Church has previously said he expected to lose his job. He now says that while he will point out “errors of reasoning” in the case for the redundancies, he does not intend to argue for his retention. As he told me yesterday

“I am not sure I can work with the current management."

The news will be a shock to scientists around the globe who assumed his professional stature would protect him. The CSIRO redundancies are doing irreparable damage to Australia’s scientific reputation — a reputation earned not over a decade or two but generations.

Turnbull gov shocks world over sacking John Church (NASA: 1 of top 10 scientists in the world) #CSIROcuts v. NYT

— Sandi Keane (@Jarrapin) May 20, 2016

The most disturbing aspect of the sackings is the silence of CSIRO’s putative master, the federal government. Turnbull, science minister Christopher Pyne and environment minister Greg Hunt have all declined to comment.

Appointed under former PM Tony Abbott, Marshall was smart enough to link his plan to “use innovation to help Australia navigate climate change” to Turnbull’s own “innovation nation” ideas.

But Turnbull could have stopped the job losses with a phone call. Although much damage has already been done, that is still an option. His failure to intervene may cost him political capital in the election, but more to the point, it will cost the country.

From the prime minister down, this is a disgraceful performance that brings shame to Australia.

This article was originally published on 26 April 2016 in SouthWind and is reproduced with Peter Boyer's permission. You can follow Peter on Twitter @PeterBoyer8.

@hannj666 Selling off ABC & SBS is IPA agenda items 50 & 51 also IPA wants to privatise the CSIRO!!! OPPOSE NOW—GET RID OF THIS GOVT.

— Robyn J Holden (@sagunasws) January 6, 2015,9013In the years to come, Abbott, Turnbull and their low-bow midgets will be called Climate Criminals...


india? time to stop buying and using coal...


A city in northern India has shattered the national heat record, registering a searing 51C – the highest since records began – amid a nationwide heatwave.

The new record was set in Phalodi, a city in the desert state of Rajasthan, and is the equivalent of 123.8F and comes as a heatwave sweeps the nation.

It tops a previous record of 50.6C set in 1956.

“Yesterday (Thursday) was the hottest temperature ever recorded in the country ... 51C in Phalodi,” said BP Yadav, a director of India’s meteorological department, on Friday.

Temperatures in northern India regularly hit the high 40s in May and June – the hottest months of the year – but topping 50C is unusual.

The record for India is thought to be 50.6C (123F), recorded in 1956 in the northern town of Alwar (pdf).

The weather office has issued warnings of “severe heat wave” conditions across large parts of India’s northern and western regions through the weekend.

Hundreds of people died during a heatwave in 2015, mainly caused by dehydration in the southern part of the country.

India declares a heatwave when the maximum temperature hits 45 degrees Celsius, or five degrees higher than the average for the area in previous years.


India? Global warming is real. No need to tell you this, but your government and industrialists still see fossil fuels as a way to "economic freedom". It's not. All these are going to do is cook your people, year after year, record after record. It's time for ALL THE COUNTRIES ON THIS LITTLE PLANET to stop using fossil fuels that create emissions of CO2. India included. 

This is more serious than you can realise. Our own Australian government is in denial and is sinking into unbelievable stupidity by destroying the CSIRO. Idiots.