the online presence of Don Keayes

Category: environmentalism

The real consequences of being Green

I love being green. I live in a pond, after all, so it’s pretty much what I do. But even I am sick and tired of the “environmental movement” hijacking sensible management in favour of cash-grabs and power.

Tim Blair wrote such a wonderful piece on this topic yesterday that I’m forced to quote it here in full:

New South Wales has a long tradition of exporting trash to Queensland. This is generally referred to as Schoolies Week.

But we also export actual garbage. Huge reeking truckloads of it, hauled for hundreds of kilometres along highways by diesel-burning semis before being deposited in Queensland garbage dumps.

Naturally, this environmentally-harmful circumstance came about due to a desire to improve the environment. The NSW Waste and Environment Levy was introduced during the 1990s, requiring waste facilities to pay for the garbage unloaded at their sites. “The levy aims to reduce the amount of waste being disposed of and promote recycling and resource recovery,” the government’s website reports.

Problem is, the levy keeps going up. It’s now reached a point where recycling and resource recovery are giving way to elemental market forces. “The government here has created a waste levy of $95.20 per tonne,” Tony Khoury, executive director of the Waste Contractors and Recyclers Association of NSW, told the ABC last week. “It’s increasing by $10 plus CPI every year.” And Queensland, which imposes no waste levy, suddenly becomes an option.

“When the waste levy in Sydney was $70 per tonne, there was no talk of waste going to Queensland,” Khoury continued.

“When the levy was $82.20 per tonne, there was talk of waste to Queensland.

“At $95 per tonne, the trucks are on the road.”

And thus we have the latest case of environmental do-goodery leading to both greater costs for consumers and no environmental benefit. This is an almost universal outcome for any environmental initiative. Consider Labor’s carbon dioxide tax, which was supposed to change Australian buying habits. “There will be price impacts,” Prime Minister Julia Gillard promised in 2011. “The whole point of pricing carbon is to say that goods that have got a lot of carbon pollution in them get relatively more expensive.”

Now the government is gloating that the impact of the carbon tax is sufficiently concealed so as to have no impact on consumer behaviour. What with a welter of wealth-shifting compensation arrangements, the “whole point”, as the Prime Minister put it, has been missed.

Similar examples abound. Solar power sounds just dandy, until you strip away government rebates. There’s also the matter of where most solar panels are manufactured. China’s environmental record with photovoltaic cells is remarkably anti-environmental. Last year villagers in Zhejiang stormed a solar panel maker accused of dumping toxins in a local river. Local solar fans have the blood of innocent fishes on their hands.

Wind turbines are great for … well, I’m not sure they’re great for anything, unless you enjoy turning birds into mince ‘n’ feathers. Or setting fire to bushland, as sometimes happens when these pointless turbines ignite.

Battery-assisted hybrid cars offer marginal fuel economy advantages, but this is offset by complexity of manufacture and eventual disposal. And the greater purchase cost, which basically erases all of your fuel economy benefits. It’s much cheaper to buy a used V8.

The introduction of bike lanes in Woolloomooloo sure helped the environment. Too bad they were built so wide that they stopped buses from using Bourke st.

Remember the Port Kembla sea-power experiment that scored nearly $3 million in federal funding? It sank after just two months, causing a 45-minute power outage as it gurgled towards the ocean floor.

South Australia’s ban on sales-point plastic bags led to a boost in purchases of plastic bin liners. The same thing happened when Canberra banned plastic bags. Also, Canberra shoppers began driving to nearby Queanbeyan, where no ban applied.

Nobody is immune from the tyranny of unintended green consequences. The faith’s leader, former US vice president Al Gore, went on a greening binge a few years ago after investigators discovered that his Nashville mansion was a massive energy gobbler. But, as the Beacon Center of Tennessee reported in 2008: “Despite adding solar panels, installing a geothermal system, replacing existing light bulbs with more efficient models, and overhauling the home’s windows and ductwork, Gore now consumes more electricity than before the green overhaul.”

Gore has always been a perfect symbol of the green movement: wealthy, bossy, impractically idealistic, hypocritical and utterly unaware of various economic realities. But now, thanks to NSW environmental regulations, he finally has a rival.

The next time someone pitches up some kind of clean-green planet-saving notion, simply imagine the likely outcome. History is your guide. Instead of ecological harmony, an accurate image of life under green law may be found as you drive along the Pacific Highway.

It’s a semi-trailer, blowing diesel smoke and loaded with garbage.


What’s with the Right?

I’m back! The pond has now been fully cleaned and is healthy again so we can all get back to business. And the first order of said business … what’s with the Right?

Stick with me for a while and you’ll soon gather that my perspective is broadly conservative. I have Libertarian tendencies and abhor hypocrites of any and every flavour. Which is why I just don’t get NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell lately.

Last week I attempted to gather all the shopping trolleys and car bodies from the muddy depths of my pond and have them recycled into more useful articles. Thinking I was doing myself and the environment a huge favour, I collected nearly one tonne of scrap metal only to find that the price here in Coffs Harbour is just $45 a tonne. That wouldn’t have been so bad, but before I can be rewarded for actually doing the hard yards for the environment, the EPA takes $35 a tonne so it can continue regulating my efforts.

What to do? I rang a bunch of scrap metal businesses, each of which told me they were not collecting any steel at present because it cost them more in fuel and labour to collect and sell the stuff than they receive for doing so. I checked out the local council’s “Waste Management Facility” but the recyclers went out of business 18 months ago and it now costs $180 per tonne to dump the stuff (of which, you guessed it, a significant proportion goes back to the state government as an “environmental levy”). Oh, and don’t forget the GST on top of it all. No wonder so many people dump their junk in National Parks!

So my issue with the Right is this: why aren’t you guys getting rid of these ridiculous restrictions on community-mindedness and entrepreneurial effort? I understand why the ALP and Greens of the Left want to keep unionised bureaucrats in power, but you guys are supposed to be against all that! Mr O’Farrell … DO SOMETHING! NOW!

Paul Howes finally gets it

Writing in today’s Sunday Telegraph, National Secretary of the AWU Paul Howes finally gets what the rest of us have known for ages … that in the real world the Greens are poison.

The Greens … have carefully built a political brand based on social conscience and concern for the environment. The benign, smiling face of Bob Brown convinced many that the Greens and Labor could co-exist as two sides of a harmonious progressive political movement.

But beneath the marketing spin, the Greens are run by hardliners who believe they know better than anyone else. Beneath the marketing spin, the Greens are fundamentally opposed to the core values of the labour movement. They openly want to crush the jobs of hardworking Australians in the very industries that support our national prosperity.

Of course, it’s all a bit rich coming from a guy who seems to have very little problem with the lowest paid employees in the country handing over their hard-earned so that union officials like his good self can live very lavish lifestyles indeed. [And that’s even before we get to Craig Thompson’s hookers!]

Oh, and then there’s his Party’s alliance with the Greens in order to form government … didn’t he know what the Greens were about before now, or was he in fact willing to put up with it while his own interests were being served? What Mr Howes has finally woken up to seems not to be the damage the Greens are doing to workers, but how his Party’s ‘marriage of convenience’ to them has effectively torn up his ticket to ride the parliamentary gravy train again next year. I think that’s the real message in this classic line:

The Greens juggernaut is now threatening to cause serious long-term damage to the cause of the labour movement and progressive politics in Australia.

If only Mr Howes and people like him would realise that all ‘progressive’ politics is about gaining and maintaining power at the expense of everybody else – friends included. And just as there’s no honour among thieves there are certainly no scruples on the totalitarian side of politics. The ALP is no exception!

Pond Life

There’s so much going on about the pond that I’ve decided to combine a few stories into single posts entitled “Pond Life”. Clever, eh?

1.   Those who seek to advance the Green agenda generally want to live their lives as fascists while we’re all supposed to be thrilled with socialism at our end of things. They’re nothing but a bunch of freeloading hypocrites! As though you needed any more evidence than you’ve already seen here and elsewhere, check out this story from the UK’s Daily Mail about New York Mayor Bloomberg:

You couldn’t make it up, but New York Mayor Bloomberg’s latest contribution to a greener environment is to attach a full-sized room air conditioner unit to the side of his SUV.

The low-tech solution to Mr Bloomerg’s famous dislike of the heat in fact causes less pollution than running the vehicle’s own air-condtioning while its engine is idle.

And in full view of confused and amused tourists and passers-by, workers outside City Hall yesterday attached the familiar looking air-conditioning unit to a specially designed out-sized box on the passenger window of the New York Mayor’s car.

Great photos of the reckless waste of taxpayers money are included at the link.

2.   Those who seek to advance their own situation while seeming to be acting in your children’s’ best interest are nothing but low-grade rent seekers. The Centre for Independent Studies has an excellent piece that shows just how far above the law Leftist unionists consider themselves to be:

Last week the NSW Teachers Federation went on strike to protest the state government’s changes to the operation of public schools affecting 750,000 students and their families.

Regardless of the merits of the protest, the issue at stake here is one of legality. The industrial action was deemed illegal by the NSW Industrial Relations Commission, but union officials decided to ignore the ruling and strike anyway.

Good points. There is no “universal right to strike” in this country, so

Unions cannot simply strike over any employment or political issue that affect its members. The matter must be within their enterprise agreement and the strike must be during the bargaining phase. Furthermore, the union must gain majority support from its members via a secret ballot, and obtain consent from the Industrial Relations Commission. If the commission rejects the bid for protected action, this ruling must be accepted.

If businesses, governments and labour institutions start ignoring illegal strike action, Australia will slide back to the bad old days when unions took strike action at will, disrupting businesses and inflicting losses in utter disregard for the law.


3.   And finally, in case you missed The Hon Dr Craig Emerson MP Minister for Trade and Competitiveness’ attempt to sell the Carbon [Dioxide] Tax we were promised would not be introduced I’ve included the link. In contrast, you may wish to see how grown ups approach the responsibility of governing our nation. (The good stuff is from 4:10 onwards)

Green means political, elitist and wrong

Martin Durkin’s bio says he is a documentary film director and TV producer. More than that he is a thinker and student of history and his blog is about as good as anything anywhere.

I’ve just been reading his excellent posts on the Green-elitist Archbishop of Canterbury and the reasons why totalitarian regimes like the Nazis love the Green agenda.

It’s pouring down here on the pond, so how better to spend a day exercising the mind in the comfort of a sheltered spot.


The 26 ethical flaws of AGW propagandists

JoNova has always been the primary source of intelligent discussion on the Anthropogenic Global Warming/Global Warming/Climate Change/Extreme Weather Events nonsense.

There’s really nothing more that can be said about Rupert Wyndham’s excellent prose to Bishop Langrish on the matter than what she wrote this morning. Wonderful stuff!

Progressives or Regressives?

A fabulous quote from somebody I’ve never heard of before (aren’t they the best, though?). It’s a joy to see how many ‘normal, everyday’ people are waking up to the realities of the Leftist agenda now.

Recently it came to me. The “progressives” claim to be leading us into the brave new world of the future, and accuse us patriots of living in the past and being afraid of change. But they, especially those of the watermelon (green on the outside and red on the inside) variety want to suddenly and drastically reduce the world population to the level that existed thousands of years ago. They want to redistribute wealth (but not George Sauron’s) and end private property (but Gory Al can keep his huge mansions). In other words, they want to create a world where a small wealthy elite will rule over landless serfs (that would be us, or any of us allowed to exist at all)…like in the Middle Ages. They want most of the world returned to a wilderness state, as it was thousands of years ago. They want to stamp out Christianity and Judaism and replace them with pagan worship, as in ancient Babylon. They want to deindustrialise the world, forcing us to labor with primitive tools.

The “progressives” are attempting to lead us into the past.

William B Stoecker

Putting your money where their mouth is

Here on the pond it’s pretty much every organism for himself. I say himself, because there’s no such thing as political correctness when life really is all ‘frog eat frog’. But I digress … What interests me about those who claim an interest in the quality of my environment is how much of other people’s money they spend on things that make their friends rich, and how little of their own money they spend on actually cleaning up the mud.

US Congressman Tom McClintock (R-CA) made an excellent statement as he debated an amendment on HR 5325 (Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Appropriations Act):

“But that’s still not a reason for taxpayers to foot the bill.  It’s a reason for the actual research and development to be paid for by the companies that will profit from this long-promised breakthrough, and if they’re not willing to finance it with their own money, we have no business forcing our constituents to finance them with theirs.”

I love it! At a time when his country’s economy is sinking into the mire, Congressman McClintock argued that he could save nearly $1.5 billion by ending a failed federal government direct-investment program and reallocating those scarce resources toward productive ventures that maximise America’s energy potential:

If we’re serious about an “all of the above energy policy” we’ve got to stop using taxpayer money to pick winners and losers based on their political connections, and instead require every energy company to compete on its own merits as decided by the customers it attracts by offering better products at lower cost. For too long we have suffered from the conceit that politicians can make better energy investments with taxpayer money than investors can make with their own money.  It is this conceit that has produced the continuing spectacle of collapsing energy scandals epitomised by the Solyndra fiasco.

At least Solyndra was funded from a loan program in which the public has a chance to get some of its money back when these dubious schemes go bankrupt. This amendment eliminates direct spending that funds commercialisation projects for ideologically pleasing technologies and the politically-favoured firms that make them – money taxpayers have no chance of recovering after it is spent. This amendment, and the two that I will take up shortly, protect taxpayers from being forced into being venture capitalists by incompetent politicians, it gets government out of the energy business and requires all energy companies and all energy technologies to compete equally and on their own merits.

Well that seems fair. I hear on the grapevine that, just as it does here in Australia, most of the money goes to wind, solar and car subsidies. Apparently the multinational mega-corporations who bankroll the Left side of politics have convinced lawmakers that the UN’s Agenda 21 trumps common sense; it’s now necessary to nurture these new and promising technologies in which they have an interest and stop spending other people’s money on stuff that actually works. Only Congressman McClintock makes an excellent point,

But they are not new and they are not promising. Photovoltaic cells, for example, were invented by French Physicist Edmund Becquerel in 1839, and in more than 170 years of technological research and innovation and billions of dollars of taxpayer subsidies, we have not yet invented a more expensive way to generate electricity. So we hide its true costs to consumers through subsidies taken from their taxes.

Moreover, as I wrote a couple of posts back, solar power is not only ridiculously expensive but far more polluting than the coal- and gas-fired power we’ve been enjoying at low cost for decades. Sadly, the amendment failed by a factor of about 2 to 1.

Holy smoke!

Who knew that all those weeds growing by the side of my pond were fully entitled to be reaching … well … Biblical proportions? Yes, it’s Hemp History Week in the US and I found this little tidbit at the Tenth Amendment Center.

Apparently industrial hemp–as opposed to marijuana–is a different strain of the cannabis sativa plant that does not contain high levels of the psychoactive compound THC. Although it’s illegal to grow in the US these days, and strictly controlled here in Australia,

President George Washington, President John Adams, President Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin all grew hemp on their personal farms. Benjamin Franklin also owned a hemp paper mill, which produced paper from the fibers of the hemp plant. The string he used in his electricity experiments is rumored to have been made from hemp. In addition to the Declaration of Independence, the first draft of the Constitution was also written on hemp paper.

Since hemp grows beautifully on complete wasteland, wouldn’t it make sense to start using it in the reclamation of otherwise unusable soil?  And if we’re worried about all our forests being chipped for paper pulp, shouldn’t we consider how a hemp field will produce four times as much usable fibre as a similar area of plantation trees? Hemp is a fabulous source of methanol, a fossil fuel alternative that doesn’t need to be grown on prime cropping land as the present alternatives do. It can be used to make biodegradable plastics, clothing and other textiles, and its seeds can be used as a rich source of Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids. Apparently hemp is the only plant known to contain vitamin D and has never been shown to produce an allergic reaction in humans.

That’s all fabulous but here’s the bit that caught my eye:

Some scholars at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem claim that hemp was actually mentioned in the Bible.  They believe that the word ‘calamus’ [aromatic cane in modern translations] in Exodus 30:22-25 is a mistranslation into English of the Hebrew word kineboisin which actually means cannabis or hemp. If this translation is correct, the anointing oil God commanded Moses to make was made, in part, from hemp oil.

“The Lord said to Moses, “Take the finest spices: of liquid myrrh 500 shekels, and of sweet-smelling cinnamon half as much, that is, 250, and 250 of aromatic cane, and 500 of cassia, according to the shekel of the sanctuary, and a hin of olive oil. And you shall make of these a sacred anointing oil blended as by the perfumer; it shall be a holy anointing oil.” (ESV)

Awesome! You can have an equally spiritual experience with the non-THC strain and feel good about yourself at the same time.

Clean energy’s dirty secret

As you probably know already, we frogs are particularly susceptible to environmental changes. The quality of our air and water is important to us so we like to keep abreast of the … ahem … Green literature.

ImageJust imagine my shock, then, to read in Ozzie Zehner’s new book that the use of solar panels does nothing at all to offset greenhouse gases or curb fossil fuel use.

In fact, according to this University of California – Berkeley visiting scholar, in order to reduce the production of the naturally-occurring CO2 needed for my lillypad to grow a few solar panel manufacturers are pumping huge amounts of hexafluoroethane (C2F6), nitrogen trifluoride (NF3), and sulfur hexafluoride (SF6) into the atmosphere.

Hexafluoroethane has a global warming potential that is 12,000 times higher than CO2, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). It is 100 percent manufactured by humans, and survives 10,000 years once released into the atmosphere. Nitrogen trifluoride is 17,000 times more virulent than CO2, and SF6, the most treacherous greenhouse gas, is over 23,000 times more threatening.

The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reports that these gases are now accumulating within the earth’s atmosphere at a rapid rate: concentrations of SF6 have been rising exponentially and a paper published in Geophysical Research Letters demonstrates how NF3 levels have been rising at a whopping 11 percent per year.

“If photovoltaic production grows, so will the associated side effects. Even worse, there’s no evidence that solar cells offset fossil fuel use in the American context.”

Instead Zehner advocates other conservation measures, the most expensive of which right now would become cost competitive long before today’s solar cell technologies. “If limiting CO2 is our goal, we might be better off directing our time and resources to those options first; solar cells seem a wasteful and pricey strategy,” he says.

I’d lend you my copy but it’s probably better you get your own at Green Illusions.