Letters to the editor: New years, climate change, coal costs
When is the new year? Here are some facts
NEW Year has various dates in nations and history and is really just a number on the wall. In the Middle Ages: January 1 was abolished.
In medieval Europe, however, the celebrations accompanying the new year were considered pagan and un-Christian like, and in 567 the Council of Tours abolished January 1 as the beginning of the year.
At various times and in various places throughout medieval Christian Europe, the new year was celebrated on December 25 (the false birth of Jesus date), March 1, March 25 (the Feast of the Annunciation) and Easter (Passover, The Bible New Year).
In the Gregorian calendar, January 1 was restored. In 1582, the Gregorian calendar reform restored January 1 as New Year's Day. Although most Catholic countries adopted the Gregorian calendar almost immediately, it was only gradually adopted among Protestant countries.
The British, for example, did not adopt the reformed calendar until 1752. Until then, the British Empire - and their American colonies - still celebrated the new year in March.
Chinese New Year is a date in January, and is a year of some creature.
One time 11 days were added to correct the seasons and it's supposed to count from Christ's birth but we know it is wrong here too for Him to be born 6,5 or 4 BC. He was born at the right time. The calendar is wrong. It's really just a number on the wall.
Faith in the Creator's solution
EVEN though I try not to get embroiled in the climate change/global warming/rising oceans brouhaha and release even more human-generated hot air into the atmosphere, it is impossible not to wonder if those advocating either way will ever run out of steam defending their ill-informed agendas.
Facts fly all over the page, which leaves me 'out in the cold' even in a Queensland summer!
My question is; if the evidence one way or the other was irrefutable and the unlikely scenario of agreement was reached, could there then be a consensus on the best way to correct the situation that we have got ourselves into?
Given the time (?) it has taken to do the alleged damage to the environment, could it be mended before we are all drowned by rising waters or scorched by harmful rays? Would total reforestation of the whole of Australia help and is there anyone naive enough to believe that is even remotely possible?
As a Bible believer, it has been incumbent on me to be a 'good steward' of all that has been created but that doesn't mean to say that I have no environmental footprint. Instead of experiencing the angst that many readers display, I have an uncomplicated faith that our Creator is able and will sort out this situation before long.
We do get our knickers in a twist at times, don't we? Drive safely and sanely and look to having a very happy new year!
Coal costs don't stack up in the long run
TO ALL those people who believe that energy generated by coal is cheaper than renewables, consider the following. To comply with our commitment to the Paris Climate Agreement, which we should do if we are a good global citizen, we have to limit our CO2 emissions. To achieve this, any new coal-fired power station would need to have Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS).
Glossary for the following. LCOE is the levelised cost of electricity which includes all costs from planning to dismantling of the facility. Capacity Factor is the ratio of the average output to the maximum output stated as a percentage. This is included in the calculation of the LCOE, it accounts for variations in wind and sun, maintenance and when demand is less than maximum output.
The report, CSIRO Electricity Generation Technology Projections 2017-2050, published December 2017 contains the following. LCOE for 2030 and 2050 in $ per MWh at 2017 dollars. The report had ranges for each entry, I have taken the mean for simplicity.
Black coal with CCS $140, $135; large scale solar $50, $30: wind $50, $55: solar thermal $80, $60.
Capacity Factors, again I present the average percentage: Black coal with CCS $85; large scale solar $26; wind $39; solar thermal $42.
To be fair, the renewables do not include energy storage which would increase their LCOE. Energy storage is increasingly being provided, which indicates that it is becoming economical to do so. Australia mainly uses lithium batteries, the costs of which the Federal Government's Australian Renewable Energy Agency predicts will fall to half the 2015 by 2025. New battery technologies will probably be cheaper than lithium when fully developed.
Other technologies are cheaper but not yet widely used in Australia. According to the Australian Electricity Marketing Operator, pumped hydro would cost about half the battery cost and solar thermal about 60 per cent of it. I know of one solar thermal station planned for South Australia. Pumped hydro stations are planned for the old Kidston gold mine pit in Queensland, one is planned for an old iron mine in South Australia. The daddy of them all is the Government's plan for the pumped hydro Snowy Mountain Scheme.
Increased need for better science knowledge
SUSAN Cunningham hit the nail on the head about high school science and climate change deniers. There are sometimes so many basic points they misunderstand, that in responding to them it is difficult to know where to start.
One of the points seems to be in mixing up the physical and chemical properties of carbon dioxide. The problem with increasing levels of CO2 and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, such as methane, is their physical properties. Some gases are able to absorb and re-emit infrared radiation (heat) and therefore increasing levels stop the rate at which energy from the earth is lost.
We then get into the point about the total percentage of carbon emitted by human activities being small compared to the total amount of carbon in nature. This is true. The percentage of total carbon in the atmosphere as CO2 is small. It is a question of balance. What is happening is that by various human activities we are changing what is going each way in the equation. When we burn things we add more CO2 and when we cut down forests we reduce the rate of removal from the atmosphere.
It is an extremely complex system and there are still many unknowns about the degree of buffering we can expect from processes we do not fully understand yet.
There is a risk that we will create positive feedback systems that further increase the rate of change such as the melting of the Arctic Tundra, releasing methane, or the loss of ice cover causing less heat to be reflected. Again, a basic understanding of high school science makes this easy to understand for most people.
The idea that increased levels of CO2 lead to increased plant growth also needs to be challenged. Some plants, under some conditions, will grow faster if there is more CO2. However, CO2 is not the only nutrient. Other rate-limiting factors are the availability of nitrogen and water. If the idea was true that plants will take up any extra CO2 produced then why has the level of CO2 risen in the atmosphere already? Would it not have stayed the same?
One of the changes in the ABC over the last five years has been the contraction of science programming. I understand that it may not be everyone's cup of tea, with many preferring such things as reality TV for entertainment, but I really feel that high-quality science programming from our public broadcaster, as well as a strong science curriculum in schools, is vital if we are to make good decisions as a society.
It is also notable that only a handful of members of parliament are from a science background (lawyers and people from the arts seem more attracted to a political career) and that this is the first government for a very long time that does not have a dedicated science minister.