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Paxter

Aussie Thread: Democracy Sausage

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Haha yes I've enjoyed watching this story unfold from afar. It reminds me a little of the cricket saga from last year: Australian fans incensed at South Africa for poor on and off-field behaviour only for their team to get caught sandpapering the ball on the field.

And now Smith has returned as the golden boy once again! All is forgiven...

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It didn't take long for the right-leaning media to turn against Berejiklian. One moment she is a hero, delivering an unlikely majority for the Liberals and winning "her own mandate". Next minute she is seen as a traitor for supporting an abortion bill that merely brings the law into line with (for the most part) existing medical practices. 

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10 hours ago, Paxter said:

It didn't take long for the right-leaning media to turn against Berejiklian. One moment she is a hero, delivering an unlikely majority for the Liberals and winning "her own mandate". Next minute she is seen as a traitor for supporting an abortion bill that merely brings the law into line with (for the most part) existing medical practices. 

I think (and hope) that the surge against Berejiklian will pass. From my personal point of view the bill is okay insofar as it updates the law as to what's already happening. Although I don't agree with terminations beyond 22 weeks, I'm not a diehard activist about it, and it doesn't sully my view of Gladys. Once this bill is done and dusted, and we go back to infrastructure openings and so forth I think it will settle down again.

In some ways that's the good part about four-year terms for state governments - there's enough time to ride out the ups and downs without having to worry about the next election around the corner.

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Hmmm Alan Jones having a go at our PM over climate change. As much as he's an odious cretin, and it seems a climate change denier to boot, the stats he presented aren't wrong. NZ's carbon emissions have gone up proportionally more since 1990, so AU is doing better in terms of change in per capita emissions, and assessing a country per capita is reasonable in terms of thinking about what a country needs to achieve. The only problem is on a per capita basis Australia has the 2nd highest per capita emissions out of all "western" nations (Canada is the highest), and it's emissions are more than double that of New Zealand on a per capita basis. And there are a few countries with 1990 emissions significantly higher than Australia per capita that are now lower than Australia (eg. the USA), which means they are a lot lower than their 1990 emissions.

So it's fair to criticise NZ, that we need to work a lot harder to bring emissions down. But Australia needs to work a helluva lot harder. And neither NZ or Australia can claim to be the best performer in this regard.

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3 hours ago, The Anti-Targ said:

Hmmm Alan Jones having a go at our PM over climate change. As much as he's an odious cretin, and it seems a climate change denier to boot, the stats he presented aren't wrong. NZ's carbon emissions have gone up proportionally more since 1990, so AU is doing better in terms of change in per capita emissions, and assessing a country per capita is reasonable in terms of thinking about what a country needs to achieve. The only problem is on a per capita basis Australia has the 2nd highest per capita emissions out of all "western" nations (Canada is the highest), and it's emissions are more than double that of New Zealand on a per capita basis. And there are a few countries with 1990 emissions significantly higher than Australia per capita that are now lower than Australia (eg. the USA), which means they are a lot lower than their 1990 emissions.

So it's fair to criticise NZ, that we need to work a lot harder to bring emissions down. But Australia needs to work a helluva lot harder. And neither NZ or Australia can claim to be the best performer in this regard.

So you are penalised for living in a sparsely populated country? Rather penalise countries that are over populated, meaning they overburden the resources of the geographical territory they have jurisdiction over.

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Probably the other thing that comes into the environmental equation is that Australia is one of the biggest (if not the biggest) exporters of coal in the world. So regardless of the level of our own emissions, it's also clear that we're enabling other countries. Now, I agree it is not really something we're responsible for (and hey, if we've got exports to sell and people are buying, it's not real easy to say no, we don't want your money). But regardless of whether we're responsible for the global coal production or not, the fact we're a key player in it is something that lessens Australia's standing in environmental terms.

As far as Alan Jones goes...his audience lap it up, but they are mostly ageing as well and it's clear he is becoming more irrelevant as time goes on. He'll always maintain some base sort of popularity (for all the anti-political-correctness people) but I think his influence is already on the wane.

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Posted (edited)
11 hours ago, Free Northman Reborn said:

So you are penalised for living in a sparsely populated country? Rather penalise countries that are over populated, meaning they overburden the resources of the geographical territory they have jurisdiction over.

Yeah I tend to agree that "per capita emissions" are probably not that relevant and get talked about too much. Countries like Canada and Australia are doing much more harm exporting fossil fuels to more populated countries than burning them themselves. 

ETA: Personally Jones doesn't bother me that much - I see him as a symptom of shitty Australia rather than a cause of shitty Australia. 

Edited by Paxter

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Australia (and the U.S.) have historically been somewhat resistant to ratifying international climate agreements havent they? Am I recalling correctly if i say they didn’t ratify Kyoto despite their high emissions?

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3 hours ago, HelenaExMachina said:

Australia (and the U.S.) have historically been somewhat resistant to ratifying international climate agreements havent they? Am I recalling correctly if i say they didn’t ratify Kyoto despite their high emissions?

This should be of help.

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Posted (edited)
4 hours ago, HelenaExMachina said:

Australia (and the U.S.) have historically been somewhat resistant to ratifying international climate agreements havent they? Am I recalling correctly if i say they didn’t ratify Kyoto despite their high emissions?

Australia is in both Kyoto and Paris. Compliance/likelihood of compliance is debatable.

Edited by Paxter

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2 minutes ago, Paxter said:

Australia is in both Kyoto and Paris. Compliance/likelihood of compliance is debatable.

Which ever party is in power they'll use some accounting trick to say they've achieved the targets. I'd put the possibility of actually achieving them in spirit at zero right now.

Same problem as the US. Too many rural jobs dependent upon resource extraction, and no government leadership on the issue.

19 hours ago, Jeor said:

Now, I agree it is not really something we're responsible for (and hey, if we've got exports to sell and people are buying, it's not real easy to say no, we don't want your money).

A line used by cigarrette companies, drinks manufacturers, pharmacutical companies, betting agencies, and basically all drug dealers.

Take zero responsibility for the social harm and just take the money. What could go wrong?

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Posted (edited)
6 hours ago, Impmk2 said:

A line used by cigarrette companies, drinks manufacturers, pharmacutical companies, betting agencies, and basically all drug dealers.

Take zero responsibility for the social harm and just take the money. What could go wrong?

Do people always pay the carbon offset for every airline ticket they buy (or not travel by airline, as the case may be), or buy Fairtrade goods all the time, or decide to pay extra money for everything all the time because most cheap stuff in shops is made by slave labour?

If individual people can't take responsibility for their own practices in view of the social good (something that I think is the key sticking point in climate change), I think it's tough to expect larger institutions to do so. Government is really the only place where it can happen, because only government has a sufficiently big stick to force people to do so (as they have demonstrated with smoking, gambling, etc), but we're not going to get very far at the moment in this age of populism.

To be honest, I'm not sure what the answer is to the climate change issue. I just think that expecting people to take responsibility for the social harm they cause is an unrealistic starting point.

Edited by Jeor

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Posted (edited)
5 hours ago, Jeor said:

To be honest, I'm not sure what the answer is to the climate change issue. I just think that expecting people to take responsibility for the social harm they cause is an unrealistic starting point.

I think where you take individual responsibility (at least in democracies) is at the ballot box. It’s not unrealistic to vote for parties with sensible climate policy. Unfortunately it’s just not happening in Australia at the federal level and we are left with a drongo waving a lump of coal in Parliament.

Edited by Paxter

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On 8/16/2019 at 2:59 PM, Free Northman Reborn said:

So you are penalised for living in a sparsely populated country? Rather penalise countries that are over populated, meaning they overburden the resources of the geographical territory they have jurisdiction over.

Given most of the difference in emissions per capita is because of what's used to generate electricity for the majority of Australia's population and industry, being sparsely populated is not really the issue.

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Posted (edited)
On 8/17/2019 at 4:27 PM, Jeor said:

Do people always pay the carbon offset for every airline ticket they buy (or not travel by airline, as the case may be), or buy Fairtrade goods all the time, or decide to pay extra money for everything all the time because most cheap stuff in shops is made by slave labour?

If individual people can't take responsibility for their own practices in view of the social good (something that I think is the key sticking point in climate change), I think it's tough to expect larger institutions to do so. Government is really the only place where it can happen, because only government has a sufficiently big stick to force people to do so (as they have demonstrated with smoking, gambling, etc), but we're not going to get very far at the moment in this age of populism.

To be honest, I'm not sure what the answer is to the climate change issue. I just think that expecting people to take responsibility for the social harm they cause is an unrealistic starting point.

I'm not one to shy from personal responsibility for carbon footprint. And yes a massive cultural change needs to occur on a global scale to really get on top of the problem. It's also not entirely a black and white issue as humans can't simply cut off all use of fossil fuels overnight.

However I push back against the idea that the major suppliers of fossil fuels bear no responsibility going forward. There's only one use for thermal coal, and we have a pretty good idea how much more carbon we can put into the atmosphere before we get into seriously bad territory. If we continue to open up new mines, and sell in record quantities with what we know, we are (in my opinion) very much complicit in the results.

ETA: There's a bloody good reason banks, insurance companies, and other financial institutions are shying away from supporting new mines. They're terrified of the potential litigation risk arising from all of this.

Edited by Impmk2

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15 minutes ago, Impmk2 said:

I'm not one to shy from personal responsibility for carbon footprint. And yes a massive cultural change needs to occur on a global scale to really get on top of the problem. It's also not entirely a black and white issue as humans can't simply cut off all use of fossil fuels overnight.

However I push back against the idea that the major suppliers of fossil fuels bear no responsibility going forward. There's only one use for thermal coal, and we have a pretty good idea how much more carbon we can put into the atmosphere before we get into seriously bad territory. If we continue to open up new mines, and sell in record quantities with what we know, we are (in my opinion) very much complicit in the results.

ETA: There's a bloody good reason banks, insurance companies, and other financial institutions are shying away from supporting new mines. They're terrified of the potential litigation risk arising from all of this.

It's the whole who is responsible for the drug problem thing. Is it the addicts (the users of the fossil fuels) or the pushers (the mining companies and their govts)? The users have alternatives to feed their need, if they put an urgent plan in place to get off their addiction by implementing these alternatives, then the pushers won't have a market to sell to before long. So addressing the demand side should be self correcting. Hammering the supply side only threatens to strangle and impoverish the users by making them go cold turkey.

The pushers do bear a great deal of responsibility for telling the addicts that there's nothing wrong, climate change is unsettled science, there are good people on both sides, the climate is always changing etc. And they should be held to account for that.

for Australia itself, aside from people feeling ooky about it, are there any actual practical reasons why Aus can't go nuclear? You mine the stuff everyone else uses, so the waste can literally be put back from whence it came (with some concrete housing). Most of Australia is seismically safe for nuclear generation, so what is the downside? New Zealand is less able to go nuclear since we have quite a few earthquakes. Even though you can probably build quake-safe plants it's still a bit more risky.

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I think the practical impediment to nuclear is the significant capital investment required and the long time frame to build a plant and bring it on line - by the time we could actually do that there is every chance we've improved renewables to the point nuclear isn't needed or desired anymore. And we're in such a good position for renewables that we really should be spearheading development but you run into the real reason we won't do either of them - political reasons.

Also there are some pretty major ethical question marks around mining and Indigenous land rights as it is without then handing the land back after we've loaded it up with buried nuclear waste and the landscape ruined by the mining. Yeah we are already terrible on this but that doesn't mean we should ignore further infractions.

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The whole coal industry thing aside (and yes I know it is still the major part of the problem), the government could probably get some small wins by regulating various areas a bit more - e.g. with some phase-in element, pass laws that ensure each new home or commercial property has to be carbon neutral, etc. There are already regulations about having water tanks and so forth and they could do a bit more around that. Have more laws around single-use plastics, water restrictions / conservation, etc.

None of those would technically cost the government much (if any) money, and while the actual practical impact of them might be disputed, it would probably be a way of beginning that culture change that @Impmk2 mentions.

State governments need to also keep on improving public transport to make it a more palatable alternative to commuters, too.

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17 hours ago, Impmk2 said:

ETA: There's a bloody good reason banks, insurance companies, and other financial institutions are shying away from supporting new mines. They're terrified of the potential litigation risk arising from all of this.

My understanding is that reputation risk and future regulatory risk (e.g. carbon tax) inherent in new mining projects are the main factors at play in the banks' decisions. I don't think legal/litigation risk is a key factor.

Separately, I think it's a shame that we haven't gone down the nuclear path. I know it's not perfect from an environmental perspective, but the technology has been there for decades (unlike renewables) and it doesn't have any baseload-related issues. The French were on to something!

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21 hours ago, karaddin said:

I think the practical impediment to nuclear is the significant capital investment required and the long time frame to build a plant and bring it on line - by the time we could actually do that there is every chance we've improved renewables to the point nuclear isn't needed or desired anymore. And we're in such a good position for renewables that we really should be spearheading development but you run into the real reason we won't do either of them - political reasons.

Also there are some pretty major ethical question marks around mining and Indigenous land rights as it is without then handing the land back after we've loaded it up with buried nuclear waste and the landscape ruined by the mining. Yeah we are already terrible on this but that doesn't mean we should ignore further infractions.

The ethical questions only exist if you continue mining (anything) without consent and compensation of the indigenous people. I think, really if indigenous Australia had been brought into the global community via contact and trade and no colonization they would almost certainly be engaged in some extractive activity. The Earth provides the means of sustenance and bounty for the people of the land, extracting value through sustainable mining is not at odds with indigenous values. Confiscating and occupying land, extracting value in a way that does permanent harm to the environment and not compensating the original owners who were never recognised as owners (or even as humans) in the first place, is what runs counter to indigenous values.

From breaking ground to coming on line it takes a bit less than 4 years, apparently. I would think having a nuclear power plant online within 4 years is not a bad timeframe for taking a large chunk of coal and gas burning out of the power generation network. If you add that to also putting wind, solar etc generation in place in the same timeframe you have a massive reduction in emissions within 5-6 years. That's a very good timeframe, and would make you pretty much an example to the rest of the world for ridding yourself of your coal and gas addiction.

It's a bit rich for nuclear power to be politically problematic in Aussie when you provide the raw material to other countries for that exact (and other more nefarious) purpose.

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