As Australian Conservative Politicians Laugh about COALPHOBIA the rest of us quietly install our cheap and effective Solar Systems.

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Whether or not you believe in global warming is irrelevant.

The sun is free and if you are lucky enough to live in Australialand we get a lot of it.

In fact, we sometimes get too much – it helps to make us the skin cancer capital of the world, wreaks havoc with the paintwork on our red cars, breaks down our washing pegs, turns our hair to straw and our washing to cardboard but we still love it because it’s FREE energy. ¬†Yay!

The other week, with Sydney just about to experience its hottest days on record Scott Morrison indulged himself in a little show-and-tell, bringing a lump of coal into parliament, declaring that ‘coal is our future’ and laughing heartily at the Lefties, accusing them of Coalophobia for wanting to move away from this black gold.

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You can’t blame them on one hand. It would be fair to say that Australia was built on Rock and Coal and it is equally fair to say that thousands of Australians still rely on our coal industry for their weekly wage packets but are they reason enough to keep us locked into a technology that is running out of steam?

I think not, especially given that these days many of us are employed in industries that didn’t exist 50 or even 20 years ago – there are plenty of opportunities out there for jobs and growth building but coal ‘ain’t one of them. Surely with a bit of fore-thought and planning we can create a clean energy jobs market, I mean the solar panels don’t make themselves, they have to be installed, maintained and improved. ¬†Then there’s other clean energy engineering problems to be solved, improvements to be invested in and minds to be engaged.

Australia is in danger of falling behind.

Actually Australia already is behind in terms of government leadership because while the coal is being passed around the parliament a quiet solar revolution is unfolding in and around suburbia and nobody gives a shit about what the pollies think or whether they or anyone else believes in global warming, climate change or coalophobia. People are just doing it because it is cheap.

Two years ago we purchased our property out west and a rough estimate for installing enough solar and battery storage for a family of four was $40-$50,000.  Last week I was quoted around $15,000.  Amazing!

We are not yet fully ready to install solar out west as we are yet to build our house but it is coming. ¬†Talking to our suburban friends and neighbours they are already ahead of us. After taking advantage of government subsidies and rebates a few years back now that the rebate has all but run out the next logical step is storage and unplugging from the grid. ¬†Again I’m not talking here about a colony of greenies living in a woodland forest far, far away from reality. I’m talking engineers, doctors, nurses, ¬†teachers, ¬†builders, ¬†architects, therapists and shop assistants. ¬†People who just got a calculator and worked out that they will be better off going it alone.

And that worries me a bit.

My lefty side comes out right about now and says that’s all very well for those of us that can fork out the $15K or whatever, those of us that own their own house and can make a long-term investment but what about the renters, the elderly, the young and the broke? ¬†Aren’t they the people who the government should be looking after?

Sadly it looks like these guys are left with coal and coal-fired power stations that are old and suffering from under-investment because their rich investors are taking advice from their insurance people and waiting to see what new and sustainable energy policies are coming into law.  As more and more people take themselves off the grid the cost of supplying those left increases.  Lose, lose for the government.  Oh dear.

Now I get why Australian politicians are doing what they are doing but it won’t wash for too much longer because¬†people need power and no matter how much money the government pushes into clean coal advertising, clean coal is going to reach a point where it is just too dear when compared to the ever decreasing costs of solar. Sure you can throw in the diversion of ‘base load power’ and ‘jobs’ and whatever but that won’t wash for long either as soon everyone will know someone who lives a life of luxury off-the-grid with no power bills and anyway, solar is only one possible future solution, it just happens to be quite an obvious one for this sunburned country to excel at.
On that note, Australia has so much to offer the world in terms of alternative energy sources, so much so in fact that only a dinosaur would stick to coal. ¬†And look, a dinosaur is exactly the meme good old progressive politician Cory Bernardi chose to make his point earlier this week. ¬†He’s clearly a man to watch……

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Climate Skeptic? That doesn’t get you out of cleaning up.

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So¬†Pauline Hanson is back and¬†this time she’s fighting the ‘Climate Change Agenda’ which apparently is this:

“Climate change has and will continue to be used as a political agenda by politicians and self-interest groups or individuals for their own gain. We cannot allow scare mongering by people such as Tim Flannery, who make outlandish statements and are not held accountable. Climate change should not be about making money for a lot of people and giving scientists money. Lets know the facts and scientific evidence to make a well-informed decision as to how best to look after our environment.”

More here. 

Now like many (but not all) Australians¬†Pauline Hanson does make me feel more than a little uncomfortable at times. ¬†I can’t believe that she can get this far with logic and rhetoric like this but she has and that has given her some legitimacy that I feel compelled to pay attention to. ¬†So what about this Climate Skepticism?

Well basically I’m not going to start an argue that goes ‘Global Warming is a thing and everyone believes in it so you should’ as that is childish and not entirely true. ¬†As a scientist I can get my head around the fact that pumping pollution into the air (that we breathe) and having it land on the ground (where our food grows) or in a water (that we drink) is a bad thing. ¬†That burning certain things releases¬†energy in the way of heat and that heat can become trapped in the environment and warm it up. ¬†But that’s all I know for sure. ¬†The rest, the ‘what happens next’ is based on scenarios and modelling that may or may not turn out. ¬†Some parts of the environment might turn out to be more sensitive to this pollution and extra heat while others less so. Some areas might even thrive. ¬†Then there is the reality¬†that nature its self can come out and surprise us and there is also the little matter of the sun and its solar energy which pumps out variable levels and intensities of radiation, none of which we can do anything about. ¬† So what am I saying? ¬†That while I am happy enough with the rationale behind the science of global warming, I am also happy to admit that there are forces larger than us (humans) with greater powers of influence than we have, that can undermine our efforts at any time.

But that’s just life!

I’d like to see the discussions about the environment moved from it being ‘Climate Change’ to ‘Environmental Health’ ¬†or something similar. ¬†I actually blame the likes of Al Gore for turning what should be an important conversation on manners, respect and human decency into a power struggle of THEM vs US (them being the polluters and US being the greenies). ¬†While I appreciate that concern over the state of the environment didn’t start and won’t end with Gore or his brand of Climate Change cowboys I do feel that something went terribly wrong when it all became a market opportunity. ¬†Oh how we love the sound of green tills ringing…..

Coming back to my idea of environmental health/ stewardship I see it like this. ¬†We don’t have to believe that our house is infested with super bugs and crawling with insects and rats before we take action and clean up after ourselves. ¬† We generally wash the dishes before they become a festering pile of muck, ¬†take our shoes off rather than tramp dirty mud across the carpet, ¬†wash our bed sheets before they start to stink of old feet and vacuum up the cat hair before we end up hospitalised with hairballs. ¬†Why should our outside environment be any different? ¬†Our environment is an extension of ourselves after all.

Unlike the 1970’s, 80’s or even 90’s¬†we now¬†have cleaner ways of doing things, ways that don’t put pollutants into the air, soil and water. ¬†Solar power is a good idea because it is clean, whether it STOPS GLOBAL WARMING or even slows it down a little doesn’t really matter and any belief either for or against that should not stop people giving it a go (in my opinion). ¬† Economically I understand that the big end of town are worried about things like electricity getting more expensive if we change anything, ¬†about noise or the appearance of things like wind farms or the shear wackiness of turning your own excrement into biosolids and burning them on your fire. ¬† But prices of these ‘alternative energy sources’ are coming down, right at a time when coal is becoming less viable and I can’t imagine any scenario where someone could make the burning of coal for energy cleaner and more environmentally friendly than harnessing the power of the sun. ¬†And for those saying ‘you can’t just rely on the sun, it’s not as reliable as coal or nuclear I’d say that storage technology is addressing that and in many cases it is now as reliable AND MUCH CLEANER.

So what I’m saying here is this, ¬†renewable energy is not called clean energy for nothing. ¬†Forget climate change and just focus on clean vs dirty and see how that feels.

Australia is the lucky country but I’d not like to see that luck run out because we couldn’t be arsed to grow up and start cleaning up after ourselves.¬†We have a country full of smart engineering minds, ¬†hectares of space, ¬†thousands of hours of sun and wind and a country that would breathe a lot easier if the air was that little bit cleaner.

Let’s not let semantics get in the way of a cleaner future.