July 29th 2017


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Articles from this issue:

COVER STORY The rise and rise of Old King Coal

EDITORIAL Behind Donald Trump's endorsement of Poland

CANBERRA OBSERVED Cory Bernardi claims strong flow to his ranks

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS Liu Xiaobo's extraordinary courage remembered

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS Why we must fight for freedom: Trump in Poland

HEALTH Gardasil(R) and the man upon the stair, Part II

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS Death of caliph will hasten end of Islamic State

MUSIC What's in a tune: minor change makes a major difference

CINEMA Spider-Man: Homecoming: Reboot on a domestic scale

BOOK REVIEW Moves that may push our constitution over

BOOK REVIEW Exposing the transgender agenda

LETTERS

GENDER POLITICS Edmund Rice Education Australia proposes transgender sex-ed

GENDER POLITICS Melbourne mum goes viral on 'Safe Schools'

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LETTERS




News Weekly, July 29, 2017

Climate variables, energy constants

Tom King (“Energy sense”, Letters, News Weekly, June 3, 2017) seems to believe that, instead of recycling the carbon dioxide we produce back to the atmosphere where it originally came from, we should hide it away, thus preventing plants from accessing it and using it to grow faster and to better resist drought. This is clearly not in our interest.

The idea that a trace gas in the atmosphere, amounting to 0.04 per cent, less than 1/20th of the amount of argon in the atmosphere (and who’s ever heard of argon in the atmosphere?) could control the climate, given all the factors which affect it, is clearly absurd.

These factors include variations in solar activity (the prime cause of variations in the climate), convection, conduction, evaporation, condensation, the type and coverage of clouds, wind, ocean currents, urbanisation, and the type and extent of vegetation. It is difficult to understand how anyone could take this theory seriously, let alone actually believe it.

Time to move on to the next scare!

John Rodda,
Pakenham, Vic.

 

Leaving aside the very real concerns about the new class of “climate scientists” who excuse themselves from the usual rigour of the scientific method, an even bigger tragedy is the application they and the economists make of quantitative method to produce their predictions.

Have you ever seen a model where the author has thoroughly argued causality? Have you ever read a statement that says that the model has 20 variables and by multiple regression state that we are able to predict just 40 per cent of what is to happen? Do you ever see statements of accuracy of input measurements and of predictions?

I once heard a scientist on ABC radio say that the sea would rise as much as two metres – worst case scenario. When asked by the journalist for best case scenario, he reluctantly replied “two millimetres”. What of course he should have stated was that the accuracy of his model was such that his prediction was for a rise of one metre, +/– one metre. That is, the model was so poorly predictive that it was useless.

My engineering experience leads me to opine that one cannot know whether global warming is due to anthropological impact or just natural long-cycle variation in factors undiscovered. One would want to be cautious about assuming that all trends would continue linearly or by some imagined construct for the next 50 years. So my advice would be “do not act now, wait 20 years to see whether the theories and models are proved predictive”.

Turning to the electricity market, the Finkel report is deficient particularly because he has not sought the advice of engineering knowledge and experience. Take for example the preference for gas over coal. What matters is the efficiency of burning the contained carbon to produce energy.

An old coal-fired steam turbine will have an efficiency of about 33 per cent, for all its capital intensity. A gas-fired gas turbine is less efficient, but when operated as a combined-cycle plant (gas turbine, waste heat boiler and steam turbine), may have an efficiency approaching 60 per cent. But this combined cycle plant can be run on coal, if the coal is gasified, and reach almost the same efficiency.

There should be no renewable generating capacity that cannot stand up economically and functionally, when the total cost of integrating it into the grid are taken in to account. This includes storage, control, monitoring and the cost of gathering widely distributed generation units.

Jack Gardner,
Subiaco, WA

 

As a master plan consultant to 16 governments, I have been telling our government now for over 20 years to develop a master plan for essential infrastructure services.

Other countries have listened and have planned in advance of needs, and now they don’t have the problems being faced in Australia.

This is what happens when government bureaucrats and politicians move into areas of expertise they know nothing about. Politicians don’t fly our F-16 fighters, they leave that to the fighter pilots; neither should they try to fly blind through master planning either.

Unfortunately, Australia does not have a master plan till 2050, when the Australian Bureau of Statistics predicts a population of 42.6 million people for Australia. That means 20 new cities each of 1 million people must be developed, with the additional power sources to supply the houses and industries in these new centres.

If it not planned and executed progressively from now on, then expect our power problems to become worse than some third-world countries, where load shedding is a daily occurrence.

I made a presentation to the National Civic Council in Melbourne in 2011, to show how this could be done, using our then $38 billion of Australian super funds – which are at present invested overseas, helping other countries, not Australian infrastructure, or Australian jobs – to create an AIDbank (Australian Infrastructure Development Bank).

Dr Jeffry Camm,
Newtown, Qld.

 

It was just a pie!

It was most encouraging to read the article (News Weekly, June 17) from the president of the Rule of Law Institute of Australia responding to Alan Joyce’s petulant hissy over the pie episode.

A lifetime ban on the pieman flying Qantas does not, as Robin Speed says, accord with the rule of law. In addition, there was absolutely no connection between the incident and the safety of passengers, crew or an aircraft, factors alone which should be exercising Joyce’s mind. For Joyce to claim it was a “criminal assault” is absurd fiction.

It’s always helpful when the legal profession speaks up, as Mr Speed has done, and gives us factual, legal arguments and a good dose of common sense.

Julia Patrick,
Darling Point, NSW




























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