Farms Not Fossil Fuels Op Ed (and comment war!)

This Op Ed was published on Crikey’s ‘Rooted’ blog on Tuesday, giving rise to the War-And-Peace-Epic 11,000 word comment war I’ve included below for shits and giggles.

Don’t be fooled, Mantle are in it for the money

Few could accuse Mantle Mining company director Ian Kraemer of lacking rhetorical ambition. Attending a public meeting in Bacchus Marsh last week to explain his plan to turn local farmlands into a brown coal mine, Kraemer was keen to talk up his environmental credibility. ‘Brown coal’, he told locals present, ‘has the ability to be the saviour of the planet’.

Now, given brown coal’s status as one of the world’s most polluting fossil fuels, this seems an odd statement. Yet Kraemer is adamant it can be defended. Mantle, he says, plans to use a special technique developed by another company, Exergen, to remove moisture from the coal, thereby reducing its greenhouse emissions by up to 40%. Given that countries such as China and India are likely to use brown coal for some time to come, he argues, it makes good environmental sense to help them to burn it in a cleaner way.

But can we trust Kraemer’s reasoning here? To begin, let’s examine the claim that Exergen’s coal-drying technology will reduce greenhouse emissions from burning brown coal by up to 40%. A quick review of the company’s very own promotional material shows how deceitful that figure really is.

First, this figure fails to take into account the emissions involved in the coal-drying process, which itself involves substantial energy use. So while there may technically be less emissions in China when the coal is burnt, there will be more here when it is dried. Second, it compares the emissions of burning Exergen’s dried coal in a hypothetical brand new state-of-the-art coal plant against the emissions from current coal plants in the La Trobe Valley. Yet virtually anything will seem clean in comparison with the decrepit dinosaurs currently choking the ‘smelly valley’. And finally (and perhaps most importantly), there is no indication anywhere that Exergen’s figure has ever been scientifically tested or independently verified. Simply put, Kraemer’s claims about Exergen’s technology are at best misleading and at worst blatant lies.

But for the sake of argument, let’s suppose that Exergen’s coal-drying process really could do something like what Kraemer imagines, and provide at least a small reduction in emissions. Would there then be any good reason for mining Bacchus Marsh coal rather than leaving it in the ground?

Of course not. For if this technology is truly an economically viable way of reducing brown coal’s emissions, then coal-reliant countries will flock to it, with or without Victorian exports. And if it is not viable, it will simply not be deployed. Either way, the global effort to tackle climate change will be far better off without the additional emissions from digging up, drying-out, transporting and burning brown coal from Bacchus Marsh.

So let no one be fooled. Ian Kraemer is no environmentalist. He and his company are blindly seeking profit in Bacchus Marsh at the expense of valuable agricultural land, its owners rights, and a safe climate future for us all. It is galling that he has the temerity to claim the moral high ground while doing so.

Comment War!

‘Craig Felton’ in Blue, Me in Black

Firstly, the coal drying process does not involve substantial energy use, which is why the technology is such a breakthrough in emissions reduction. In the presentation that is linked it says it uses less than 2% of the energy in the coal whereby competing technologies use around 20%. On your second point the 40% reduction figure is the difference between the existing Latrobe power stations and an existing design for a supercritical power plant like those in NSW, as the Exergen fuel effectively converts the brown coal into a black coal substitute. A massive 60% reduction is possible to bring the emissions in line with gas turbine generation using the Exergen fuel in a newly developed CSIRO coal engine; this is a paradigm shift for coal fuelled power generation.

On your final point the CSIRO are involved in the development and are Australia’s own scientific research body, to claim that the process is not scientifically tested is misleading. There are many good reasons for deploying this technology at the existing Maddingley Mine located at Bacchus Marsh. There is compensation for affected landowners, revenue from royalties for the construction of schools and hospitals, job opportunities for local residents, millions of dollars of investment flowing into the regional economy, and developing a technology that can reduce carbon emissions by up to 60% from brown coal power generation from which Victoria is almost totally dependent and India is expected to double its emissions output over next five years.

If you take a look at this CSIRO presentation on the technology here http://www.ret.gov.au/resources/Documents/enhancing/Day%201/Innovation%20Minerals%2017.00-18.00/Louis%20Wibberley%20Ultra%20high%20efficiency%20power%20.pdf on page 4 there is a chart showing your suggested approach to emissions reduction in green and an alternative approach outlined by the CSIRO in yellow. The area in between those two lines is the massive amount of additional emissions that you are advocating for in your approach to a carbon constrained future.

Is brown coal really the planet’s saviour? If you are of the opinion that the expected doubling of emissions over the next 5-10 years from developing countries being lifted out of poverty will cause catastrophic climate change; and brown coal could be used in a way to create very highly efficient power to nullify that massive increase, then the answer is clearly yes.

Craig, not sure your critique is well placed. The question marks I raise about the technology are all valid, notwithstanding subjective interpretations of ‘substantial’ – a CSIRO powerpoint is not the same thing as a peer-reviewed experiment, and as you admit, Exergen’s figure compares new power stations with old. But the main point of the piece is what follows ‘…if this technology is truly an economically viable way of reducing brown coal’s emissions, then coal-reliant countries will flock to it, with or without Victorian exports. And if it is not viable, it will simply not be deployed. Either way, the global effort to tackle climate change will be far better off without the additional emissions from digging up, drying-out, transporting and burning brown coal from Bacchus Marsh.’ As far as I can see, nothing you’ve said refutes this in any way.

Hi Paul, I disagree with your assumption that the CSIRO do not know what they are talking about. Technology is not developed through peer review, I think you may be confused with Climate Science.

Take another look at Page 4 of the presentation, the area in-between is the additional emissions that you are advocating for. The development of this techonology will actually reduce emissions significantly over time. What is the point on taking the moral high ground on climate change if what you are proposing is actually going to produce more emissions?

In my article the point I make is that even if the technology is viable, as is highly doubtful, coal-reliant countries will use it with or without exports from Bacchus Marsh. And if it isn’t vible, it won’t be taken up the way Exergen and you imagine. Either way, the climate is better off by leaving Bacchus Marsh alone.

Moreover I am not assuming the CSIRO doesn’t know what they are talking about. I’m saying let’s see some scientific proof of how much emissions are actually reduced when we take into account all the emissions involved of the drying process plus transport, and we compare apples with apples in terms of the power stations.

A few times now you’ve said that your interlocutors are ‘advocating’ a higher emissions scenario. This is false. We are advocating leaving Bacchus Marsh coal in the ground. If Exergen’s tech really works to lower emissions in a cost effective way, then by all means, let them pitch it straight to the countries that you and Exergen assume will be taking it up wholesale, and let’s leave Bacchus Marsh alone, and hey presto – the winning ‘scenario’.

Clearly the climate would be better off with higher efficiency power generation; that is a no brainer. If all that is left to your argument is -someone else should do it, that train of thought is obviously working so well for global action on climate change, no wonder there is no coordinated effort.

Nobody said the climate wouldn’t be better off with high efficiency generation.

The argument is this – no matter how effective or otherwise Exergen’s tech is (leaving aside the unanswered questions about it’s dodgy comparisons, plus the emissions from the drying process and transport) – the climate will be better served by leaving as much brown coal in the ground as possible. If the technology is really an economically viable way of reducing emissions, other countries will jump at it. If it isn’t, they won’t. Either way, the best thing to do for the climate re. Bacchus Marsh coal is obviously just to leave it in the ground where it belongs.

When it comes to climate mitigation, every country should ‘do it’. And the best way for us to do it here is clearly to leave Bacchus Marsh alone.

If you care about climate change, then you want to see as little brown coal be burnt as possible, even with reduced emissions. So of course you want to see as much left in the ground as possible, and of what is burnt, as much burnt cleanly as possible. Right?

Your argument seems to be that by mining Bacchus Marsh coal, drying it, exporting it and having it burnt overseas, all of a sudden energy producers in coal-reliant countries will start deploying this technology uniformly. But unless doing so will save them money, i.e. under an international carbon price, these companies will not do this. And if it will save them money to do this at some point, then as I have said, they will jump at the tech with or without coal exports from Bacchus Marsh. And still the climate wins by keeping Bacchus coal in the ground.

As far as I can see, the only argument you can make here is that the Bacchus Marsh exports will lead to advances in the technology. Which is obviously an argument based on a huge (and irresponsible, given the stakes involved in climate change) presumption.

What other countries are you talking about? Australia does not supply over a dozen countries across the world with thermal coal for the fun of it. These countries need it to supply their populations with affordable and reliable power, without it the result would be poverty and possibly famine. You clearly have no idea of the importance of Australia’s role in other country’s energy security.

There is an inherent cost saving in higher efficiency, so it will be deployed regardless of an international carbon price. Developing countries are expected to double their coal consumption and hence their emissions over the next 5-10 years regardless of your opinion, our best chance to act on global climate change in Australia is to supply the cleanest fuel and power generation technology possible.

If you cared about climate change it would not matter whether current fuels were replaced with brown coal or pink marshmallows, as long as emissions were reduced significantly.

So now it’s not about climate change, now it’s about providing the world with affordable and reliable power to avert ‘poverty and possibly famine’. Bacchus Marsh coal! So versatile!

If you now want to switch argument and argue that it is only by increasing brown coal exports that we can alleviate poverty and famine, I guess we can have that discussion, though I fear we may be entering the realm of the absurd, as we would no longer be discussing the points raised by the original article.

On your second paragraph, swell, let the deployment begin. As I’ve said numerous times now, if it’s really a cost effective way that the brown coal that will unavoidably be burnt can get burnt more cleanly, then it will inevitably be used on such coal and emissions will be reduced. But that is still not a climate change argument for digging up Bacchus Marsh brown coal, because as i’ve also said, the best scenario for the climate regarding that brown coal is to leave it in the ground where it belongs.

I don’t think I am switching arguments; it is the same as far as I am aware. I am explaining the important role Australia has in global fuel supply; and now Victoria’s role in regards to greatly reducing the emissions of these fuels. It has the right type of coal to be used in ultra-high efficiency generators, the technology and expertise as has been demonstrated so far progressing towards commercialisation, and the political will on climate change.

If all that is left to your argument is -someone else should do it on coal that will be used anyway, that train of thought is obviously working so well for global action on climate change, no wonder there is no coordinated effort. How do you expect other countries to lower their emissions when we can’t even do it for ourselves using the technology we have invented? Is your idea of good policy implementing a tax but not allowing the problem to be fixed with affordable practical solutions?

“let the deployment begin” I agree.

Craig, welcome back. Your posting coincides remarkably well with the working week. Can’t help but suspect that you are in the employ of one of the companies discussed in the thread. If so, you should probably say so. But hey, even someone with a vested interest can have the right arguments (though not often), so let’s examine yours.

“I don’t think I am switching arguments; it is the same as far as I am aware.”

*wry smile* First you were arguing that the Bacchus Marsh mine would help lower global emissions. In response to the argument that the best possible scenario for global emissions would be to keep Bacchus Marsh coal in the ground, you switched to the line that the world needs our brown coal to avoid ‘poverty and possibly famine’. You then switched again, arguing that the Bacchus Marsh mine is important in preventing jobs from going offshore. Hard to keep up with the goal post shifts, but nonetheless entertaining.

“I am explaining the important role Australia has in global fuel supply; and now Victoria’s role in regards to greatly reducing the emissions of these fuels. It has the right type of coal to be used in ultra-high efficiency generators, the technology and expertise as has been demonstrated so far progressing towards commercialisation, and the political will on climate change.”

Australia exports a lot of coal. We know. But over at Mantle/Exergen they aren’t trying to reduce the emissions of those fuels, are they? They are trying to create a brown coal export market from Bacchus Marsh on top of the black coal we already export. So regarding the emissions of those ‘fuels’ stored under Bacchus Marsh, they (you?) are actually trying to increase emissions. From nothing (present scenario) to butt-loads (your favored scenario of digging it up, drying it out, transporting it, burning it).

‘If all that is left to your argument is -someone else should do it on coal that will be used anyway, that train of thought is obviously working so well for global action on climate change, no wonder there is no coordinated effort.’

If you’re going to start cutting and pasting from your previous posts I think I may as well just cut and paste what I responded to them the first time around. Pity anyone reading through the comment board.

The argument is this – no matter how effective or otherwise Exergen’s tech is (leaving aside the unanswered questions about it’s dodgy comparisons, plus the emissions from the drying process and transport) – the climate will be better served by leaving as much brown coal in the ground as possible. If the technology is really an economically viable way of reducing emissions, other countries will jump at it. If it isn’t, they won’t. Either way, the best thing to do for the climate re. Bacchus Marsh coal is obviously just to leave it in the ground where it belongs. When it comes to climate mitigation, every country should ‘do it’. And the best way for us to do it here is clearly to leave Bacchus Marsh alone.

‘How do you expect other countries to lower their emissions when we can’t even do it for ourselves using the technology we have invented?’

As I’ve said repeatedly, if this technology can actually help other countries lower their emissions, then great. And if it can do so while saving them money (as you’ve argued is the case), doubly great. The reason not to deploy the technology here is that we don’t need it to lower our emissions. We’re not building new brown coal plants anymore (thanks carbon tax), and no one (even at Exergen or Mantle) is pretending that Hazelwood or Yallourn are going to start using the tech at their plants. So how will it lower Australia’s emissions? It’s a technology that can only feasibly lower emissions overseas, and that is why it should only be deployed overseas, if at all.

And that, my friend, is why the brown coal under Bacchus Marsh is not ‘the saviour of the planet’.

Paul, If you want to make more assumptions than you already have, go right ahead, you have already protested first and asked questions later. Perhaps you should do some reading instead of chaining yourself to office furniture. It is good to be able to point out how wrong those assumptions are, so thank you for writing your blog.

I do not work for either company but I am quite happy to say that I am a shareholder, as I have done years of research on the best ways to reduce the emissions that will be pumped out of Asia over the coming decades and am convinced that low cost, low emissions transitional technology is the way forward. It is good to see that Australia’s own CSIRO share those views, but according to you they must also be concerned about their own hip pocket.

The difference between you and I though, is I am actually contributing towards something that will make a difference to global emissions reduction, you however as has been pointed out, are doing a Tony Abbott by saying no, no, no and are trying to stifle the development whose actions are trying to lead to many billions of tonnes of CO2 to be released unnecessarily .

(Please read this bit several times to save myself repeating it as it debunks your last remaining argument)This technology cannot be deployed internationally until it is proven commercial. Victoria has the right type of coal to be used in ultra-high efficiency generators, the technology and expertise as has been demonstrated so far progressing towards commercialisation, and the political will on climate change. If you think there is a better candidate, by all means let me know?

I have not shifted the goal posts, have you considered that there may be more than one reason why the development of this technology is beneficial, or is only one reason allowed?

“But over at Mantle/Exergen they aren’t trying to reduce the emissions of those fuels, are they?”

Umm yes they are. They are not spending millions of dollars to develop power generation technology to reduce emissions more than the most efficient gas turbine generators for fun.

“leaving aside the unanswered questions about it’s dodgy comparisons”

I have already answered these questions regarding the comparisons, if you would like me to go the effort of repeating them without cutting and pasting, let me know so I can rewrite it.

“The reason not to deploy the technology here is that we don’t need it to lower our emissions.”

We don’t need to lower our emissions?? Now I have heard everything…. Could you please write another blog with the subject “we don’t need it to lower our emissions” Again do no research on the topic and leave it full of assumptions so we can debate some more this week.

Ah, Craig.

“It is good to be able to point out how wrong those assumptions are,”
“I do not work for either company but I am quite happy to say that I am a shareholder”

So my assumption about you having a vested interest was correct. Sweet. Thanks. I guess we’ll get to what I was wrong about soon… (?)

“It is good to see that Australia’s own CSIRO share those views, but according to you they must also be concerned about their own hip pocket.”

Nah, didn’t say that about the CSIRO did I? Perhaps you can show me where. Or perhaps you are making something of an assumption?

“The difference between you and I though, is I am actually contributing towards something that will make a difference to global emissions reduction, you however as has been pointed out, are doing a Tony Abbott by saying no, no, no and are trying to stifle the development whose actions are trying to lead to many billions of tonnes of CO2 to be released unnecessarily .”

Beautiful. Are you familiar with the concept of a Freudian slip Craig? Because I certainly am, as you say, trying to “stifle the development whose actions are trying to lead to many billions of tonnes of CO2 to be released unnecessarily”. Glad to hear you acknowledge it. You may want to think about taking some deep breaths before you begin typing next time.

“(Please read this bit several times to save myself repeating it as it debunks your last remaining argument)This technology cannot be deployed internationally until it is proven commercial. Victoria has the right type of coal to be used in ultra-high efficiency generators, the technology and expertise as has been demonstrated so far progressing towards commercialisation, and the political will on climate change. If you think there is a better candidate, by all means let me know?”

I read extremely carefully. Now you. Then we can then start cutting and pasting again.

Victoria might have the right kind of coal, but your whole argument is premised on the belief that the tech will be deployed all over Asia. Therefore the right kind of coal also exists elsewhere. If it doesn’t, we may as well shelve the tech right now. So Vic having the right coal is not a factor.

Likewise, political will is also not a factor. The tech may have benefited from government assistance until now, sure. Like Doug I happen to think that reflects the coal industry’s political pull more than anything, but I can concede that. But now we are talking about a mining company (and investors like yourself) eyeing profits from a brown coal export market from Bacchus Marsh. So here’s a question, why can’t the tech be deployed elsewhere until it’s proven commercially in Bacchus Marsh? What part of Exergen’s promo materials doesn’t translate to Mandarin or Hindi? Are there no other nations with investors and CEOs as altruistic as you and Ian ‘Bob Gillard’ Kraemer perhaps?

As far as another candidate for deploying the technology goes, all I can tell you is what I’ve now said countless times. If, putting all doubts aside, the tech can really lower emissions in an economically viable way (a prerequisite for it being deployed in other countries, as you’d have to agree), then companies will be lining up for it soon enough, and you’ll finally make that sweet money you so lust after. If it can’t, then it won’t be deployed anywhere and its only legacy will be some long and entertaining comment threads on the internet. Either way, the best thing for the climate will be to leave as much brown coal in the ground as possible. Bacchus Marsh’s included.

“I have not shifted the goal posts, have you considered that there may be more than one reason why the development of this technology is beneficial, or is only one reason allowed?”

It is when you answer a refutation of one of your arguments with an assertion of another that you get accused of shifting the goal posts. More than one argument is certainly allowed. But crawl before you can walk Craig. Let’s establish at least one valid argument from you first and not get ahead of ourselves.

“I have already answered these questions regarding the comparisons, if you would like me to go the effort of repeating them without cutting and pasting, let me know so I can rewrite it.”

Please don’t, your answers were wholly unsatisfactory the first time around. Nowhere is there any valid numbers bout how much the tech actually lowers total emissions after you take the drying process, transportation, CCS not being ready till 2030 and the new against old plant comparisons into the mix. You haven;t answered these things because no one has yet. But sure, it’s the planet’s saviour. Sure.

“The reason not to deploy the technology here is that we don’t need it to lower our emissions.” We don’t need to lower our emissions?? Now I have heard everything…. Could you please write another blog with the subject “we don’t need it to lower our emissions” Again do no research on the topic and leave it full of assumptions so we can debate some more this week.”

Yep. Again, deep breaths and read carefully. When there are extra words in a sentence it can change their meanings. I didn’t say ‘we don’t need to lower our emissions??’ I said ‘we don’t need IT (as in, Exergen’s technology) to lower our emissions.’ They are close, it’s true – there are a lot of the same words in them, but the two sentences actually have quite different meanings.

The reason we don’t need this tech to lower our emissions is that it doesn’t work with black coal, nor with the brown coal plants we have here, and we are not building any new brown coal plants thanks to the carbon price. That’s why the tech is earmarked for exports, and that’s why you’re all waffling on about reducing emissions in Asia. So I’ll repeat it, as you’ve said nothing to refute it – we don’t need the tech to lower our emissions here.

In fact, even if it the tech worked the way you claim and we were going to build the plants that use it, all it could possibly do here would be to transform a non-economic resource that would be left in the ground into one that could be dug up and burnt. And as I’ve been at pains to point out, brown coal tends to emit more CO2 when dig it up and burn it than when you leave it in the ground.

So no, the difference between us is not what you pretend. The difference between us is that you are a vested interest looking for profit at the planet’s expense and I’m someone who has no vested interest but who feels a moral duty to oppose your destructive greed.

“So my assumption about you having a vested interest was correct. Sweet. Thanks. I guess we’ll get to what I was wrong about soon… (?)”

You assumed I worked for one of the companies involved in the project, because of the times at which I relied to your posts. So I was correct that your assumption was wrong.

“Nah, didn’t say that about the CSIRO did I? Perhaps you can show me where. Or perhaps you are making something of an assumption?”

You did not say it explicitly, but the CSIRO and I are both invested in the same goal, therefore by assumption of my motives must also be matched by that of the CSIRO. So you are either incorrect about my motives or that of the CSIRO.

“Beautiful. Are you familiar with the concept of a Freudian slip Craig? Because I certainly am, as you say, trying to “stifle the development whose actions are trying to lead to many billions of tonnes of CO2 to be released unnecessarily”. Glad to hear you acknowledge it. You may want to think about taking some deep breaths before you begin typing next time. “

It was not a Freudian slip, as I have pointed out pointless times; the International Energy Agency (IEA) predicts China and India with double their coal energy use by 2030. The chart on page 4 of the presentation shows the additional emissions that you will want to be released by stifling the development of cleaner tech.

“Victoria might have the right kind of coal, but your whole argument is premised on the belief that the tech will be deployed all over Asia. Therefore the right kind of coal also exists elsewhere. If it doesn’t, we may as well shelve the tech right now. So Vic having the right coal is not a factor”

The fuel will cost more than standard high polluting brown coal dug up and burnt in old power stations, and other countries have no incentive to change their high polluting ways. Australia as one of the top coal export countries has a responsibility to not only supply coal to reliant countries with a cleaner fuel but also supply the processing and power generation technology to other countries. Australia is at the forefront of this technology development and cannot be deployed until it is proven commercial, and the best place is to prove this is where the scientists are, that is here in Australia.

“It is when you answer a refutation of one of your arguments with an assertion of another that you get accused of shifting the goal posts. More than one argument is certainly allowed. But crawl before you can walk Craig. Let’s establish at least one valid argument from you first and not get ahead of ourselves.”

Your only remaining argument is that it should be done somewhere else; using your analogy we need to crawl before we can walk, yes we should prove it is commercial here first.

“Please don’t, your answers were wholly unsatisfactory the first time around. Nowhere is there any valid numbers bout how much the tech actually lowers total emissions after you take the drying process, transportation, CCS not being ready till 2030 and the new against old plant comparisons into the mix. You haven;t answered these things because no one has yet. But sure, it’s the planet’s saviour. Sure.”

Yes they have been answered. The result is less CO2/KW even if compared to the best modern black coal plants. Transportation is a strawman because that is the same for either fuel.

“Yep. Again, deep breaths and read carefully. When there are extra words in a sentence it can change their meanings. I didn’t say ‘we don’t need to lower our emissions??’ I said ‘we don’t need IT (as in, Exergen’s technology) to lower our emissions.’ They are close, it’s true – there are a lot of the same words in them, but the two sentences actually have quite different meanings. “

Go back and read your post, your exact words were ‘we don’t need to lower our emissions’.

“The reason we don’t need this tech to lower our emissions is that it doesn’t work with black coal, nor with the brown coal plants we have here, and we are not building any new brown coal plants thanks to the carbon price. That’s why the tech is earmarked for exports, and that’s why you’re all waffling on about reducing emissions in Asia. So I’ll repeat it, as you’ve said nothing to refute it – we don’t need the tech to lower our emissions here. “

Wrong again, geez this is tiring point out where you are constantly wrong. It would halve our current emissions if the new high efficiency generators were to replace the old. Even the new fuel could be used in part to replace existing coal. It cannot be fully replaced as the boilers cannot handle the higher heat, but it would still drop the current emissions output.

“So no, the difference between us is not what you pretend. The difference between us is that you are a vested interest looking for profit at the planet’s expense and I’m someone who has no vested interest but who feels a moral duty to oppose your destructive greed.”

If I was simply after ‘destructive greed’ I would invest in one of the companies already shipping out black coal from NSW or Queensland, not one that will lead to the development of a paradigm shift in power generation. That’s the problem , you are so blinded by your own ideology that you can’t see that this has the potential to significantly reduce global emissions from its current course.

Craig.

“You assumed I worked for one of the companies involved in the project, because of the times at which I relied to your posts. So I was correct that your assumption was wrong.”

Nah mate. I assumed you had a vested interest and considered it likely you worked for one of the companies involved. Still do actually. But I was never sure, how could I be? You’re just a faceless name on the net to me. That’s why you find the question mark in my statement “them (you?)”. It indicates uncertainty. I can understand it may have been a bit subtle, but it’s there nonetheless.

“You did not say it explicitly, but the CSIRO and I are both invested in the same goal, therefore by assumption of my motives must also be matched by that of the CSIRO. So you are either incorrect about my motives or that of the CSIRO.”

I don’t think the CSIRO and yourself are invested in the same goal. I don’t think the CSIRO’s goal is to make money from Bacchus Marsh coal. Is it? I think you may have that wrong.

“It was not a Freudian slip,”

I think it might have been. Here again is what you said: you said I am trying to “stifle the development whose actions are trying to lead to many billions of tonnes of CO2 to be released unnecessarily”. Read the words carefully and tell me that’s what you meant. It’s a peripheral issue, I know. Heck, I am making grammatical errors here too. But own it Craig, own it.

“The fuel will cost more than standard high polluting brown coal dug up and burnt in old power stations, and other countries have no incentive to change their high polluting ways.”

So you’re admitting it won’t be deployed all over Asia then? Ah well, back to the drawing board I guess.

“Australia as one of the top coal export countries has a responsibility to not only supply coal to reliant countries with a cleaner fuel but also supply the processing and power generation technology to other countries. Australia is at the forefront of this technology development and cannot be deployed until it is proven commercial, and the best place is to prove this is where the scientists are, that is here in Australia.

Ha. So it can’t be deployed unless it’s proven commercially. But isn’t it also true that it can’t be proven commercially unless it’s deployed? Seems like a paradox to me. Back to the drawing board again!

“Your only remaining argument is that it should be done somewhere else; using your analogy we need to crawl before we can walk, yes we should prove it is commercial here first.”

See this right here, as I’ve said, is really your only leg to stand on in this whole debate: If Bacchus Marsh coal isn’t dug up, dried and exported, the technology withers and dies and Asia sinks the world with its emissions. All because the environmentalists wouldn’t let you at Bacchus coal. I just don’t see why this would be the case. If the tech works (which I doubt) to lower emissions in a cost effective way, it works and if it doesn’t it doesn’t. If it makes economic sense for Asian generators to use it they’ll use it, if it doesn’t they won’t. And either way, best thing we can do is keep Bacchus coal in the ground.

“Yes they have been answered. The result is less CO2/KW even if compared to the best modern black coal plants. Transportation is a strawman because that is the same for either fuel.”

Transportation isn’t a straw man. You’re talking about starting a brown coal export market where there isn’t one currently. Therefore when Exergen talks about 40% reductions in emissions compared to La Trobe valley plants, in which transport is not a factor, it’s disingenuous for them not to include emissions from transport. Not to mention the drying process.

“Go back and read your post, your exact words were ‘we don’t need to lower our emissions’.”

Now that is just a lie. I went back and read it, and I said (cutting and pasting here) “The reason not to deploy the technology here is that we don’t need it to lower our emissions.” I invite anyone reading these posts to go back and check it as well. It is contained in the second last paragraph of post 50, on this page http://blogs.crikey.com.au/rooted/2011/09/06/is-brown-coal-really-the-planets-saviour/comment-page-1/#comments Again, this is a peripheral issue, but I just can’t believe your inability to admit that you’re wrong about anything. It certainly doesn’t bode well for your ability to make rational investment decisions that are environmentally responsible.

“Wrong again, geez this is tiring point out where you are constantly wrong. It would halve our current emissions if the new high efficiency generators were to replace the old. Even the new fuel could be used in part to replace existing coal. It cannot be fully replaced as the boilers cannot handle the higher heat, but it would still drop the current emissions output.”

What an absolute lie. Are you aware that only around half of Australia’s emissions come from electricity generation? And that most of that comes from black coal plants? But here you want us to believe that replacing all of that with plants that are only ‘nearly 40%’ better than the La Trobe Valley dinosaurs, (excluding the emissions of the drying process), and marginally better than black coal if at all, will “HALVE (my caps) our current emissions”. What an absurd claim to make. Who on earth do you suppose will be convinced by these arguments?

“If I was simply after ‘destructive greed’ I would invest in one of the companies already shipping out black coal from NSW or Queensland, not one that will lead to the development of a paradigm shift in power generation. That’s the problem , you are so blinded by your own ideology that you can’t see that this has the potential to significantly reduce global emissions from its current course.”

You think I’m blinded by ideology? Fine, go on thinking that. I can see now that as you can’t even admit to grammatical errors or misreading my posts, there is little hope of reaching you by way of rational argument, especially given how much you clearly have invested in the project. For what it’s worth, I think you’re blinded by the allure of getting in early on what you hope will become a huge earning export market for Victorian brown coal.

See you on the barricades.

“Nah mate. I assumed you had a vested interest and considered it likely you worked for one of the companies involved. Still do actually. But I was never sure, how could I be? You’re just a faceless name on the net to me. That’s why you find the question mark in my statement “them (you?)”. It indicates uncertainty. I can understand it may have been a bit subtle, but it’s there nonetheless.”

OK so I was correct that you were wrong about the assumption that I ‘likely’ work for one of the companies involved because of the timing of posts.

“I don’t think the CSIRO and yourself are invested in the same goal. I don’t think the CSIRO’s goal is to make money from Bacchus Marsh coal. Is it? I think you may have that wrong.”

My goal is not to make money from Bacchus Marsh coal, there are already coal miners shipping millions of tonnes out of NSW and Qld ports, if I wanted that then that is where I would be. I am here because of the opportunity to assist development of technologies that will significantly reduce carbon emissions.

“I think it might have been. Here again is what you said: you said I am trying to “stifle the development whose actions are trying to lead to many billions of tonnes of CO2 to be released unnecessarily”. Read the words carefully and tell me that’s what you meant. It’s a peripheral issue, I know. Heck, I am making grammatical errors here too. But own it Craig, own it. “

I see your point but you are wrong still. Bacchus Marsh is a drop in the ocean in terms of the world’s brown coal reserves. If the use of this coal can prove commercialisation then it will lead to the prevention of untreated brown coal being burnt overseas in old power stations. This will then prevent a huge ammount of emissions being released into the atmosphere over the same time. The use of Bacchus Marsh in this case will actually decrease global emissions.

“So you’re admitting it won’t be deployed all over Asia then? Ah well, back to the drawing board I guess.”

No I am pointing out that R&D costs money and these countries do not any incentive to change, so who is going to develop it? Are you suggesting we ship out all the Australians from the CSIRO and the several Australian universities who are currently working on this and related techonology?

“Ha. So it can’t be deployed unless it’s proven commercially. But isn’t it also true that it can’t be proven commercially unless it’s deployed? Seems like a paradox to me. Back to the drawing board again!”

It can’t be deployed off-shore until proven commercial, not that hard to understand. If you don’t want it at Bacchus Marsh name another suitable deposit in Australia, where the CSIRO and the Australian Universities who are the world leaders in this tech would have access to it.

“Now that is just a lie. I went back and read it, and I said (cutting and pasting here) “The reason not to deploy the technology here is that we don’t need it to lower our emissions.” Again, this is a peripheral issue, but I just can’t believe your inability to admit that you’re wrong about anything. It certainly doesn’t bode well for your ability to make rational investment decisions that are environmentally responsible.”

I am not going to humour you by admitting I am wrong when I am not. If I am wrong, answer me this IF “The reason not to deploy the technology here is that we don’t need it to lower our emissions.” THEN Why is the Government introducing a carbon tax?

“What an absolute lie. Are you aware that only around half of Australia’s emissions come from electricity generation? And that most of that comes from black coal plants? But here you want us to believe that replacing all of that with plants that are only ‘nearly 40%’ better than the La Trobe Valley dinosaurs, (excluding the emissions of the drying process), and marginally better than black coal if at all, will “HALVE (my caps) our current emissions”. What an absurd claim to make. Who on earth do you suppose will be convinced by these arguments?”

Well are you aware that 90% of Victoria’s electricity generation comes from brown coal? Now as I have pointed out the drying process is very efficient with 2% of the energy used within the coal, also the use of this fuel in modern black coal steam generators would be 40% better than “the La Trobe Valley dinosaurs”. You may have flunked maths in school, but get out your calculator and give it a go. Then replace the 40% with 60% if we were to upgrade to the DICE.

“You think I’m blinded by ideology? Fine, go on thinking that. I can see now that as you can’t even admit to grammatical errors or misreading my posts, there is little hope of reaching you by way of rational argument, especially given how much you clearly have invested in the project. For what it’s worth, I think you’re blinded by the allure of getting in early on what you hope will become a huge earning export market for Victorian brown coal.”

Let me put it this way, you think you can reduce global emissions with philosophy and protest. I think the way to reduce global emissions is to develop new technology. Ask yourself, was the Australian development of the buried contact PV cell made through philosophy and protest or was it made through technology development?

“OK so I was correct that you were wrong about the assumption that I ‘likely’ work for one of the companies involved because of the timing of posts.”

Ah Craig. That doesn’t make sense. If I think something is ‘likely’, then I am not proven wrong if it doesn’t happen (which is still not certain). I could be proven wrong, depending on how we choose to define ‘likely’, by a large enough proportion of cases in which that something doesn’t happen out of a sample of all cases in which it was possible. This is basic statistics. But you, my friend, have nailed wrongness square on the head with the above statement.

“My goal is not to make money from Bacchus Marsh coal, there are already coal miners shipping millions of tonnes out of NSW and Qld ports, if I wanted that then that is where I would be. I am here because of the opportunity to assist development of technologies that will significantly reduce carbon emissions.”

Craig, following up the basic statistics above, here is some basic logic for you. Let’s first agree on a premise – I propose that not everyone who is out to make money is solely focused on investing in black coal exports from the more northern states of Australia. Surely we can agree on at least this. Now, a second premise, supplied by you – you are not investing in coal exports from the more northern states. I can take you at your word on that. Now, I claim that you are out to make money in Bacchus Marsh. You counter claim that the fact that you aren’t investing in black coal exports proves you’re not out to make money. But it doesn’t, because of that first premise we agreed upon, because someone’s not investing in black coal exports doesn’t mean they are not out to make money.

“I see your point but you are wrong still.”

Again, your inability to admit you’re wrong about anything astounds me. You just made a mistake with your words. It happens, it’s OK. But let’s move on.

“Bacchus Marsh is a drop in the ocean in terms of the world’s brown coal reserves. If the use of this coal can prove commercialisation then it will lead to the prevention of untreated brown coal being burnt overseas in old power stations. This will then prevent a huge ammount of emissions being released into the atmosphere over the same time. The use of Bacchus Marsh in this case will actually decrease global emissions.”

That’s where you’re wrong. First of all, all coal, everywhere, can be called ‘a drop in the ocean’ in terms of the world’s coal reserves. That’s part of the problem, because there are money men all over arguing that ‘this is just a drop in the ocean’ instead of acting responsibly towards the environment.

Second, as I’ve said, your argument only works if the tech dies after a decision to leave Bacchus Marsh coal in the ground. I actually think that may be a good thing, because at best I can see technology like this enlarging the total amount of brown coal burnt sufficiently to negate any supposed benefits from increased efficiency, but still see no reason at all why that would be the case.

“No I am pointing out that R&D costs money and these countries do not any incentive to change, so who is going to develop it? Are you suggesting we ship out all the Australians from the CSIRO and the several Australian universities who are currently working on this and related techonology?”

Shipping out Exergen/Mantle investors would do us the world of good. But seriously, there has to be an incentive for other countries to use the tech otherwise what use is it? Exergen seems to think that they’ll use the tech when carbon is priced sufficiently internationally and it becomes economically beneficial for them to use it. I doubt that this tech will be their best option in terms of decarbonising, but even if it is, then there will be plenty of incentive for the tech to be rolled out where it might actually lower emissions.

As far as the R+D goes, I don’t have any problem with it happening here and hypothetically then principally benefitting foreign countries’ efforts to decarbonise. Western countries owe a huge debt of assistance to the developing world for our historical and current emissions, both for adaptation and mitigation purposes. If we could repay that in part by doing R+D that would be just.

Anyway, how much more ‘development’ does the technology need? Because if it is not at the point where it’s going to be cost effective and deployed, why invest in it rather than renewables, which are in the same boat but much more promising in terms of lowering emissions and actually could get us out of the mess we’re in re. climate change?

Everything I’ve read just convinces me more that the drying technology is just being jumped on as a way to make money from a resource that would otherwise be left in the ground, and that this is being dressed up as altruistic with all sorts of disingenuous and deceitful arguments.

“It can’t be deployed off-shore until proven commercial,”

There is no reason why this would be true. You say other countries won’t develop it as they have no incentive to change, but that is just false. Not even Exergen pitches this technology as something that will help Australia reach its greenhouse emissions targets. So there is actually more incentive in other countries than here.

“I am not going to humour you by admitting I am wrong when I am not. If I am wrong, answer me this IF “The reason not to deploy the technology here is that we don’t need it to lower our emissions.” THEN Why is the Government introducing a carbon tax?”

Pardon? First of all, you were wrong. Whatever neuroses precludes you admitting it, you were. Comically so, given your demand that I go back and read the words I’d written, which turned out to be precisely what I had thought they were. Anyone who wants to check the link above can verify this. Secondly, your question here is the single most incoherent thing you have said across the entire thread, and it belies the possibility of a simple answer. My point that the technology will not help lower Australia’s emissions (because we’re already not building any more new brown coal plants) has nothing to do with the government’s reasons for introducing a carbon tax (which is related to the threat of climate change and the need to decarbonise our economy). Your question makes about as much sense as asking ‘if frogs are green, THEN WHY is there only one ‘a’ in ‘Craig’. If you have something coherent you want to ask, you’ll have to try to express it in a way that makes some kind of sense. Can’t decode that one I’m afraid.

“Well are you aware that 90% of Victoria’s electricity generation comes from brown coal? Now as I have pointed out the drying process is very efficient with 2% of the energy used within the coal, also the use of this fuel in modern black coal steam generators would be 40% better than “the La Trobe Valley dinosaurs”. You may have flunked maths in school, but get out your calculator and give it a go. Then replace the 40% with 60% if we were to upgrade to the DICE.”

Ah, so by ‘our emissions’ you meant ‘Victoria’s emissions…from the electricity sector’. You should have said so. Right. If someone were to shut down the plants we have and build brand new state of the art plants , Vic energy generation could get cleaner. But that isn’t going to happen is it? Not even Exergen pretend it is. So why bother talking about that? So what if it ‘could’ lower emissions X amount in a hypothetical that’s not going to happen? Wind and solar could do much more exciting things in hypotheticals, but you don’t seem moved by what they could do. No, you’re ever the realist when renewables come up. But when the technology you happen to have a vested interest comes up, you want to wax lyrical about its amazing possibilities.
PS Actually I did flunk maths at school. But more recently got straight 1st class honours in statistical methods, so I’m not really bothered by your little insult.

“Let me put it this way, you think you can reduce global emissions with philosophy and protest. I think the way to reduce global emissions is to develop new technology. Ask yourself, was the Australian development of the buried contact PV cell made through philosophy and protest or was it made through technology development?”

No I don’t think emissions can be reduced through philosophy and protest. But I do think that a politically engaged and environmentally aware community is as much an essential part of lowering emissions as technology development. Keeps the profit-motivated folk like yourself in line.

Paul, your verbosity is verging on the ridiculous. Your original statement was:

“Your posting coincides remarkably well with the working week. Can’t help but suspect that you are in the employ of one of the companies discussed in the thread.”

As I have pointed out, my knowledge on the current subject comes from years of research on emerging technologies that significantly reduce emissions from the most affordable power generation fuel. This has led me to invest in a company that will be instrumental in the development of this technology. Therefore any suspicion on your part that I am in the employ of one of the companies discussed is incorrect. Here I am posting on a Saturday so let’s move on to more productive discussion.

“Now, I claim that you are out to make money in Bacchus Marsh. You counter claim that the fact that you aren’t investing in black coal exports proves you’re not out to make money. But it doesn’t, because of that first premise we agreed upon, because someone’s not investing in black coal exports doesn’t mean they are not out to make money.”

If the technology is proven commercially successful and allows it to be deployed globally, leading to greatly reduced global emissions, then even if I break even, it would satisfy me greatly knowing that I made a positive difference to the current CO2 trajectory. It may not fit into your world view, but I am not in it for the money, just as you did not write this blog full of misinformation for the money.

“Again, your inability to admit you’re wrong about anything astounds me. You just made a mistake with your words. It happens, it’s OK. But let’s move on.”

Again, there was no mistake with my words, I can see how it could be construed as such but, if the use of this coal can prove commercialisation then it will lead to the prevention of untreated brown coal being burnt overseas in old power stations. This will then prevent a huge amount of emissions being released into the atmosphere over the same time. The use of Bacchus Marsh in this case will actually decrease global emissions.

The stifling of development will lead to more emissions, even if it is a delay by accommodating your preferred solution of doing it somewhere else, which I do not believe is possible for the full fuel and generation technology development.

“Second, as I’ve said, your argument only works if the tech dies after a decision to leave Bacchus Marsh coal in the ground. I actually think that may be a good thing, because at best I can see technology like this enlarging the total amount of brown coal burnt sufficiently to negate any supposed benefits from increased efficiency, but still see no reason at all why that would be the case.”

I disagree and so does the CSIRO; there will be a point in time when renewables will be cost competitive and are deployed globally at a mass scale, this technology will reduce the emissions released significantly until that point of time. If you actually looked at page 4 of the presentation as I have asked repeatedly, you would have seen that this is the path way suggested by the CSIRO.

“Shipping out Exergen/Mantle investors would do us the world of good.”

So back to the question: If you don’t want it at Bacchus Marsh name another suitable deposit in Australia, where the CSIRO and the Australian Universities who are the world leaders in low emission power generation tech would have access to suitable quantities of suitable fuel for testing?

“But seriously, there has to be an incentive for other countries to use the tech otherwise what use is it? Exergen seems to think that they’ll use the tech when carbon is priced sufficiently internationally and it becomes economically beneficial for them to use it.”

I am not sure how much reading you have done on the proposed ETS, but from my understanding carbon credits would be paying other countries to upgrade their plants to use lower emissions technology. Firstly the fuel and technology needs to be developed and available, that is where Exergen, the CSIRO and Bacchus Marsh fit in.

“I doubt that this tech will be their best option in terms of decarbonising, but even if it is, then there will be plenty of incentive for the tech to be rolled out where it might actually lower emissions.”

Let’s assume it is the best option for the short term as per the CSIRO, then who do you suggest will provide the fuel to those countries that are currently coal reliant yet have no coal reserves themselves?

“My point that the technology will not help lower Australia’s emissions (because we’re already not building any more new brown coal plants) has nothing to do with the government’s reasons for introducing a carbon tax”

So let me get this right, if “we’re already not building any more new brown coal plants”, then what exactly are you protesting against HRL for? Surely this would be a waste of time if they are not building a plant?

“Ah, so by ‘our emissions’ you meant ‘Victoria’s emissions…from the electricity sector’. You should have said so. Right”

Ok so I was right. You look silly for calling me a liar now…

“No I don’t think emissions can be reduced through philosophy and protest.”

That is good to hear. Perhaps now that you have graduated Uni and enter the real world you might use your energy for more productive means, perhaps even work for a company developing technology to lower emissions.

“Here I am posting on a Saturday so let’s move on to more productive discussion.”

Proves nothing, still have my suspicions, but I agree, let’s move on.

“If the technology is proven commercially successful and allows it to be deployed globally, leading to greatly reduced global emissions, then even if I break even, it would satisfy me greatly knowing that I made a positive difference to the current CO2 trajectory. It may not fit into your world view, but I am not in it for the money, just as you did not write this blog full of misinformation for the money.”

Great. So when we smash through the 2 degree guardrail, small island states are lost forever and hundreds of millions of environmental refugees are looking for homes in a world running out of food and water, you’ll be able to sleep soundly at night knowing that at least you helped make brown coal as clean as black coal so it could be burnt for a little longer. As my Mum would say, Harumpf.

“Again, there was no mistake with my words,”

Again, yes there was. Anyone who doesn’t believe me, just check above. Boring. Moving on.

“The stifling of development will lead to more emissions, even if it is a delay by accommodating your preferred solution of doing it somewhere else, which I do not believe is possible for the full fuel and generation technology development.”

My preferred solution is actually a rapid and just global transition to renewables, even if they are not the cheapest in an economic system which fails to incorporate externalities, justice or ecological limits, to be funded mainly by wealthy industrialised nations like ours who have developed incredible affluence through the exploitation of fossil fuels. But if you want to substantially lower the number of options I can choose from, yes, I prefer leaving Bacchus coal in the ground. If there is a place somewhere in the world where this technology is actually compatible with a scenario in which our world can avoid a climate catastrophe, then I might support it. But nothing said so far indicates how and where such a place may be.

“I disagree and so does the CSIRO; there will be a point in time when renewables will be cost competitive and are deployed globally at a mass scale, this technology will reduce the emissions released significantly until that point of time. If you actually looked at page 4 of the presentation as I have asked repeatedly, you would have seen that this is the path way suggested by the CSIRO.”

I think the CSIRO presentation raises more questions than it answers. The graph you want to hold up as your central defence says nothing other than if you make coal more efficient, there will be less emissions from burning the same amount of coal. That’s just a tautology. The point is that the amount of coal blokes like you are planning to burn in the next 50 years will kill our planet. Even if you burn it slightly more efficiently. That’s what this about Craig. That’s why when Mantle mining shows up in Bacchus Marsh and says look, leave climate change to us, we’re going to do this slightly better – instead of really really really polluting, we’ll do it so it’s just really really polluting – people like myself and all the other posters here are going to fight them. People mapping out another 50 years of coal are mapping out the destruction of our planet. And people messing around making slight improvements on the worst case scenario and claiming them to be ‘the saviour of the planet’ are people selling the world a false solution – a phony lullaby to soothe our collective conscience while we blindly go about hammering the final nails into the ecosystem’s coffin.

“I am not sure how much reading you have done on the proposed ETS, but from my understanding carbon credits would be paying other countries to upgrade their plants to use lower emissions technology. Firstly the fuel and technology needs to be developed and available, that is where Exergen, the CSIRO and Bacchus Marsh fit in.”

Not sure about that. Will check. I know a bit about the ETS but I’m not across everything that counts as a carbon credit. Personally I doubt there will be credits for helping upgrade power facilities elsewhere, that would seem somewhat complex, though not a bad idea in principal. Still, if that is to happen, helping other countries build renewables, the only thing compatible with a safe climate future, would be far better than helping establish a global market in brown coal exports.

“Let’s assume it is the best option for the short term as per the CSIRO, then who do you suggest will provide the fuel to those countries that are currently coal reliant yet have no coal reserves themselves?”

I don’t think the CSIRO does think it’s the best option. I certainly didn’t see that in the power point you linked to. That powerpoint suggests that if you’re burning brown coal, it’s better to increase efficiency than do nothing. That’s all. If there are countries without brown coal reserves, then they are currently using black coal. We need to be helping them get off that asap as it will be the death of the ecosystem. But ‘helping’ them by replacing black coal plants with plants ‘nearly 30%’ cleaner (Exergen’s words) than La Trobe valley dinosaurs, minus emissions from drying, is an insanely ineffective way to be helping climate mitigation.

“So let me get this right, if “we’re already not building any more new brown coal plants”, then what exactly are you protesting against HRL for? Surely this would be a waste of time if they are not building a plant?”

Touche. But is HRL going to go ahead? That’s highly questionable. Most observers (including Loy Yang’s CEO) doubt it. And the carbon price is ruling out even black coal plants as we speak, except one in WA I believe.

“You look silly for calling me a liar now…”

Not really. You said it would halve our emissions. I think calling a portion of a portion (just vic, just electricity sector) of our emissions ‘our emissions’ to make the thing you’re invested in look good is probably disingenuous enough to be called a lie. But whatever.

“Perhaps now that you have graduated Uni and enter the real world you might use your energy for more productive means, perhaps even work for a company developing technology to lower emissions.”

Are you offering?

Heh. Seriously though, if you think about the problem of climate change, and how an actual solution to it might come about, no one can deny that what we have is not purely a technological problem. The technology exists for us to completely decarbonise the global economy right now, it’s just not being used.

And why? Well, the developing world wants the rich world to lead, because of basic justice – polluter pays. But the rich world isn’t leading – not because it can’t afford to, but because of a lack of political will. Politicians won’t do it because electorates aren’t demanding it, and electorates aren’t demanding it because people with vested interests turn them against it – which, it has to be said, is relatively easy for them to do, given that any real solution would actually does involve (notwithstanding Get Up soft sells) a large economic cost in the rich world. This is anathema to much of our population, which has been conditioned to equate wealth, consumption, employment and constant growth with their well-being.

So what is the solution? well, if you are an extreme optimist (I would say unrealistically so) you can hold out hope that technology might be able to save the day and that with no change in our consumption and pursuit of growth we will avoid catastrophic climate change. Current global emissions targets and the trajectory on which technology is currently decarbonising the global economy put the lie to this however. Long story short, relying on technological improvement alone and ignoring the political and cultural side of the issue is foolish.

So how do you change policy? And more difficult – how do you change a culture? Well, I’ve studied a bit into the psychological research on the topic. In the past, things that once were minority views, such as that black people deserve equal rights, or that being gay is OK, have been able to become mainstream, in large part because that minority who held the view went out and fought for what they believed in, and didn’t give up. When you hold fast to a position, and you’re right, society can come around. Society at large, it is theorized, wants to be right.

In todays world, people who advocate what I do – an urgent global transition to renewable energy funded mainly by the developed world, are a minority. But we are right. So it is up to us to do what has been done so many times before and keep fighting for what we know to be right until society comes around. Unfortunately, we don’t have long to do this, and unfortunately we might fail. But that’s just a reason to fight harder, and to choose hope – hope that humankind has enough good in us that the real solutions can be achieved.

Think about it. You may want to join us someday, and stop funding the false solutions that will lock in the destruction of this beautiful place we call the earth.