Things you can do about global warming now we have a new do-nothing government (same as the old one)

Australia’s brilliant First Dog On The Moon on climate action (courtesy of The Tree), deemed by me to be relevant in the aftermath of an election that has delivered New Zealand another three years of National-led government, and therefore little prospect of serious action on climate matters. I’ll have a slightly less amusing reaction to the result in due course…

28 thoughts on “Things you can do about global warming now we have a new do-nothing government (same as the old one)”

  1. I have continued intermitantly transcribing the Great Climate Voter debate and during tomorrow will join the beginning of the debate to the bit I presented earlier – 1 hr, 17 mins and 20 seconds total so far.

    Tedious though the process is it has focussed my thought more on whatever topic is being discussed, and shown up too more of the fallacies being argued, particularly on the part of National, but I would hesitate to ascribe to Tim Groser individually, the too apparent disconnects evident in National’s position and policies on climate change that he has to defend..

    The first of these questions was the debate on leadership. When Helen Clarke went on about leading the world I regarded that as hyperbole but the total abdication on that front by National, affirmed as policy, is simply a mask for doing nothing that will impede fossil fuel development and profiteering in NZ. However, during the debate on this the question “What results in leadership?” was not asked.

    My answer is that anyone who is thinking about and investigating ways and means to reduce emissions and take back carbon is likely to exercise leadership. I would qualify that by saying that, on any large scale issue, someone fitting the above description could be better described as a self-initiating service oriented member of a world group, participating in the group interplay, sharing a common purpose . Now who do you think, during that debate, and elsewhere, displays best the above qualifications?

    Following is the transcipt of the leadership discussion

  2. The Great Climate Voter Debate On Leadership
    Note: content inserts by me are in square brackets, byplys in curved brackets.

    Samantha Hayes: 04: 44 I want to begin with a general question on New Zealand’s approach to climate change. The government’s position is that we do not belong as a world leader on climate change. Mr Groser, why not?

    Groser: 04:56 Kia ora tatau Good evening ladies and gentlemen. First let me say congratulations to the persons and organisations that have put this together. I mean I know you are not all core national party voters OK but I do believe activists play a very important role, particularly in bringing issues that have been buried under the surface of technical discussions up to the level of political debate, not just in our country, around the world. I’m not going to spell
    this out. it is up to you to consider but the role of an activist is to raise the profile of an issue that’s been buried. From here on in you need to reflect, I would suggest, on a more subtle question about political effectiveness – I’m not going to go beyond it and give you my views – I just put that before you.

    Hayes: 05:48 Minister Groser, I would like you to answer the question if you can.

    Groser: On the issue of leadership there are two dimensions to this, domestic and international. On domestic I don’t think we should obscure the point – ou’re right Sam. We explicitly accepted in 2008 on the basis that we were not trying to lead the world, you might want to say fast follower but that’s quite explicit. I don’t think the other paeties here are in that position.

    When it comes to the international dimension I would argue very differently,
    I think New Zealand’s exercised increasing thought leadership on the
    international level, both in terms of the international negotiations – we
    now play a very significant role in the international negotiations. That’s
    why in the last three years we have been invited to the big boys club, the
    major economies forum, one of the only two non-members that are. It’s why we have established an entire new international organisation on the science of climate change, the Global Research Alliance, it’s why I have forged an international alliance of countries to try and press for fossil fuel subsidy reform so I think that’s a dual answer, on the domestic front quite
    explicitly we are not trying to provide the number one leadership. On the
    international front I think we’ve stepped up to the mark.

    Hayes: 07:08 OK it sounds to me like minister Groser is saying we shouldn’t lead at home but we are leading abroad. Is that a bit of a change, do you think Mr Parker, on the government’s position because they were strongly saying we should not lead the world on this issue?

    Parker: they told the electors they weren’t going to if elected so they
    didn’t hide that from New Zealand when they were elected but I think at one level international politics around climate change is a deeply depressing issue. The same people are in negotiation not much further forward than when I had a bit more hair on the top of my head. (Norman peers at Parker’s hair – laughter) You can look at it in a depressing way or you can say that no one country can do this alone including New Zealand but we can either be a source of despair like the rest of the world or we can be a source of hope. Given our advantages, given our environmental ethic, our richness in renewable resources, our rule of law, our democracy, and our traditions, I think we should be a leader. (applause)

    Hayes: The counter argument that you often hear about this issue is that
    New Zealand is responsible for only zero point two percent (0.2%) of global
    emissions. Given that, Doctor Norman, why shouldn’t we be world leaders?

    Norman: 08:23 Climate change is the biggest threat against the planet,
    also the biggest opportunity. The question for us in New Zealand is do we
    want to be part of the problem or be part of the solution. Under the
    current government New Zealand is part of the problem. We’re getting in the
    way of international negotiations. I’ve got in front of me the World Bank
    chart of the price the different countries have on carbon. At the top is
    Sweden at $200 per tonne. At the very bottom is New Zealand at $1 per
    tonne. Of all of the countries [on] this table, currently the world bank
    puts us at the bottom below Mexico, Japan, you name it. Currently we are
    running last.

    This is a great opportunity. Those countries that become efficient in the
    use of carbon will be those that prosper in a carbon constrained world. The
    way you do that is put a price on carbon now so that as you go into the
    future actually economically you’ld be better off and you play a part in
    solving this giant problem that we have of climate change.

    Hayes: 09:22 The Greens have a flagship policy on the carbon tax. We’ll
    come to that when we talk about the emissions trading scheme but I want to go back to minister Groser. You talk about being a world leader but I would argue and others would argue that perhaps we are not even doing the basics. Under your government, under your 5 years as climate change minister, emissions will increase going into the future so is that five years of failure.

    Groser: Well let’s be very clear about this. The figures that Russel Norman
    quoted are grossly misleading because no country outside Europe other than New Zealand now has a comprehensive price on carbon. The Mexican scheme is a very specialised trial scheme over certain parts of their energy sector. Only new Zealand, outside Europe has a price on carbon. Only 7 % of global emissions are covered by either a tax, a cap and trade, or an ETS style scheme. I think we are absolutely doing our share [We havn’t got one] and when you look across the Tasman at the train wreck that’s been there through extremist politics I think that’s the model we should be seeking to avoid.

    Hayes: 10:34 The minister just called you [Norman] on your figures there.*
    Mr Minto would you like to respond?

    Minto: I would like to respond by saying we shouldn’t be just shuffling
    around with the rest of the world. This is the great moral issue of our
    time if you like. On other international issues New Zealand has punched
    well above our weight and we should be doing it again on this issue –
    giving women the vote, social welfare in the 1930s, the anti-apartheid and
    anti-nuclear issues New Zealand was the mouse that roared and we should welcome this as a great opportunity for New Zealand to again lead the world. I think that would be something that would liberate this whole issue. We have to fight this issue when it’s relatively easy to fight. If we leave
    it, the longer we leave it, the harder the fight gets, the bigger the
    changes and we head for global catastrophy. (applause)

    * [ Current NZ carbon price: $4.80 ]

  3. I didn’t know there even was whole grain free trade uranium. We’ve just been using “natural” uranium. At least that’s what the label says. We just make sure it isn’t “plumped up” with a lot of excess water and shovel it into the centrifuges. It makes great bombs. But every time another reactor melts down we wonder: is there something better out there?

    Where can we get some of this whole grain uranium?

    1. We got certified GE free whole grain free trade uranium in our local bio coop. Of cause you always bring your own recycled brown paper bag to the shop… 😉

      Meanwhile somewhere on the planet somebody completed and commissioned a new coal fired power plant this week, like all the other weeks….

      We should recycle more paper bags…

        1. Well spotted. On the lower shelf we have “free trade” nuclear waste. Is going cheap these days, just about free really, ample supply and no takers generally. Shoppers must bring their own led bag though as brown paper bags are known to spontaneously compost when filled with the stuff…. 😉

          1. Is nuclear waste “free”?

            A large part contains unburnt Uranium and other elements that can be recycled into nuclear fuel. It just depends on the relative costs

            1. … [cost] which are very high, considering that you must safeguard that spend nuclear fuel for many generations, generally thousands of years…. so probably, if you had a safe option to store indefinitely said nuclear waste, you would be paid handsomely to take it…. so yes, the waste would not only be free, in fact, you get paid to take care of it.

            2. So… the wind + solar power installed now and in the pipeline does not work because of all the storage we had to build to buffer it? Funny, given that we have not built any significant buffering storage for wind. In the UK we have quite modest pumped storage by the standards of other grids, and that was built decades ago when there were no plans for wind farms.
              Do you ever do a quick ‘is it risible’ audit for the straw man arguments you chuck up here, or does your compulsion not allow for such constraints?

            3. Do you ever tire of being wrong, andy?

              But then, what does Paul Krugman know about economics, eh? He’s just a hippy watermelon, right?

            4. OK, so my claim that nuclear waste contains unburnt Uranium is wrong?

              The reprocessed uranium, which constitutes the bulk of the spent fuel material, can in principle also be re-used as fuel, but that is only economic when uranium prices are high


              Were there other comments that you took objection to?

            5. Yes. The correct description for what happens to nuclear fuel is “spent” not “burnt”, so “unburnt Uranium” is wrong. You are wrong about everything, andy. Everything. Maybe occasionally by accident you say something that is factually correct, but everyone makes mistakes.

            6. The term “unburnt uranium” is a commonly used synonym for “unspent uranium”

              A simple Google search will reveal this


            7. Andy: Indeed the EROEI issue is a fascinating and terrifying one. I advise you to apply the same logic to fracking and some of the other desperate ideas of continuing the fossil fuel age past the peak easy fuels point.
              Indeed, solar and wind have a lower EROEI. But once again, your black and white, all or nothing attitude to solving our problems perturbs your reasoning. We can not run our current energy consumption habits on a future of solar and wind alone. Society will need to adapt is needs also. And solar PV, just to make an example, is well aligned to the daily electricity demand profile as we discussed a while ago. You do not need storage to make a very reasonable contribution in a distributed generation model.
              Solving our energy mess will require a mix of many strategies. And yes, once the fabulous thorium reactors are available commercially, I am sure we will make use of those too.

            8. It is just that sort of wishful thinking that commissioned the THORP plant at Sellafield here in the UK. Ever since then it has pissed money down the drain with no end in site thanks to the kind of negligence that gave rise to a sump full of radioactive acid (I know, straight from a B movie) because they took so long to notice a leak.
              But in the interests of balance, lets not overlook the hurt feelings of those who do not understand how wind turbines work and are ideologically (or just psychotically) driven to lie about them.

            9. Thanks Beaker, and since I do not know how wind turbines work (they go round and round, some of the time) perhaps you could debunk the BNC article I just posted.

              Edited for brevity

            10. Generating andyS, or in your parlance, when ‘they go round and round’ (I now have an image of you as Mr Gumby in my minds eye). An onshore wind turbine typically generates 85% of the time, and this would be better described as most of the time, rather than ‘some of the time’.
              If we are going to continue to answer your remedial questions, could you have the courtesy to take notes and try to avoid repeating the same ones over and over.


            11. Beaker,
              There is nowhere in the literature that refers to this 85% figure.

              Please feel free to provide references

            12. I do not have a reference as this comes from my own personal experience of working in organisations that have actual running wind turbines, and from having commissioned independent generation projections based upon 18 month plus of site specific wind data (10 min averages) from a mast with 5 + anemometers up to hub height, air pressure, direction, temperature, the works.
              You could perhaps google “wind turbine 85% time”. there you will see ranges of 70 -85% and 80 to 85%, the wider range probably being cautious by including smaller turbines with their correspondingly much lower potential energy capture and lower hub heights. Utility scale onshore turbines with 70 to 100m diameter and hub heights of 60m plus are going to feature at the top end of this range.
              Perhaps this could be an interesting maths project for you and your kid rather than the pointless and innumerate mugs game you claimed to be undertaking, estimating wind generation using a crude national wind speed dataset at low level and with no descriptive statistics.

            13. Wind turbines apparently generate electricity 85% of the time, yet on average the capacity factor is around 21% according to Wikipedia

              How are these numbers related?

            14. The net capacity factor of a power plant is the ratio of its actual output over a period of time, to its potential output if it were possible for it to operate at full nameplate capacity indefinitely. To calculate the capacity factor, take the total amount of energy the plant produced during a period of time and divide by the amount of energy the plant would have produced at full capacity. Capacity factors vary greatly depending on the type of fuel that is used and the design of the plant. The capacity factor should not be confused with the availability factor, capacity credit (firm capacity) or with efficiency.


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