The Pursuit of…

It seems that most people would allow that one of their most common pursuits is of happiness but it seems to me that happiness is, by its nature, and ephemeral thing.  For me the pursuit of contentment makes more sense.  Happiness comes and goes as events occur but the pursuit of contentment may result in the maintenance of real contentment.

I have to admit that contentment has eluded me so far but I may find it one day and if I do I will be able to say to myself that my life has not been wasted.  I have achieved some things in my life that I find highly satisfying and when I exercise the rights and privileges pertaining to those things I an both happy and content.  But there is too much in my life that pushes happiness and contentment away from me.

When I was very much younger I used to find contentment in wandering in the Australian bush.  I always saw kangaroos in their natural state, snakes in theirs, goannas and the occasional echidna.  There were no koalas where I lived back then.  I used to wander at night as well as during the day and way out there where there were no lights of towns and cities the night sky was magnificent and uplifting.  It inspired thoughts without limit.  The Milky Way and the full moon made nights almost like days, there was even some colour to be seen around one.

The bush was is quiet at night, very passive; it seemed to be very content in a way that attracted and influenced me and still does so many years later.

Coal

Coal has been used for a long time to generate electricity and has contributed substantially to the amount of carbon dioxide in the air.  Roughly a third of Earth’s global warming is due to burning coal.  Coal is no longer necessary to provide electricity and all our needs can be fulfilled from renewable resources, wind, solar and wave.  Unfortunately our government has not the wit to relieve itself of vested interests that want to see coal being used to provide a electricity in Australia indefinitely into the future.

Coal is becoming increasingly unpopular outside Australia, so much so that its value is rapidly declining and at some point in the future it will become essentially worthless.  It appears that no Australian bank is willing to provide funds for the development of new coal mines and that no power-generating company is likely to invest in building new coal-fired generations stations even though our government is willing to subsidise them.  Our conservative, or should I say reactionary, federal government is still willing to donate billions of dollars to guarantee the continued use of coal.  The populace has largely voted with its rooves which are being given over at an ever greater rate to host domestic solar generation systems and battery backup for these systems has become extremely popular.  The actual demand for electricity from the coal powered grid has decreased over the last several years.

The very simple fact is that coal is no longer necessary and it is a pretty nasty substance when burned, releasing a range of gases into the atmosphere.  Mining coal is also a dangerous occupation, especially in underground mines where radioactive radon is released and where air can become a host for large amounts of dust that can cause silicosis, a very unpleasant disease.

What’s Eating Australia?

Right now one answer is India.  Our conservative politicians bend over and take it up their rears when India wants to turn Australia into one great big coal mine (Adani) but when Australia wants something from India we don’t get it and well our ratbag government just bends over again and take it up their bums and they expect all of us to do the same.

Coal is rapidly becoming a commodity that no-one wants!  Already burning it to make electricity costs more than renewables and this disparity will only become more in favour renewables in the future.  Adani may open it’s great Australian hole and then find that what comes out of it will be unsellable.  And this will be at the cost of the total loss of the Great Barrier Reef.  The Reef is already seriously damaged and in some substantial area damaged beyond recovery but it is still worth more to Australia via tourism and medical science than any coal mine, no matter how big, could ever be.

Australia’s coalition government is craven, disunited, stupid and fearful.  They hate the poor and middle classes but love the rich no matter how immoral or corrupt the rich may be.

Of course Adani is not the only thing eating Australia.  We are far too close to the USA and we really need to be more independent, to stand up for ourselves and not ask the US “How high sire” when they tell us to jump.  Especially but not exclusively now while the USA has Trump as President and Trump’s cabinet which reflects the President’s idiocy, ignorance and prejudice.

Honestly, I would prefer China as our closest ally over the USA!

Australia and the Syrian Civil War

Australia’s government and official opposition have publicly announced their support for the recent retaliatory strike by the USA against a military airport in Syria.  The retaliation was because of the use of chemical weapons by, presumably, the Syrian armed forces.  Many innocents were killed in the Syrian military action and yet I find it hard to believe that there will be any positive outcome for the US strike.

Using 79 cruise missiles which must have cost at least US$500,000 each the US has expended US$45,030,000 and within days the attacked base had returned to operations.  The US military action has been described as “proportional” but has achieved very little in fact, essentially nothing really.

Only a fool would advocate putting western military forces on the ground in Syria and as a result of the pointless attack using cruise missiles and the utter disaster that would result from putting western forces on the ground it must be clear that the only possibility for peace must be by negotiation.  Of course negotiation can only be successful if the sides, and there are more than two of them, are able to share some common goals and it is absolutely clear that no such common goal exists.

Lacking both a military solution and a negotiated solution the Syrian civil war is destined to continue and the targeting of civilians, hospitals and schools by the Syrian armed forces and government will continue unabated.  What a miserable failure humanity is!

Australia’s Politicians

Our politicians have only one goal.  That goal is to be elected to govern and then to stay in government for a long time.  They have zero interest in any other goals!  They have no interest in our education policies which are somewhat disastrous.  They have no interest in creating Australia as a renewable energy powerhouse, preferring to leave Australia to pollute not just our own air, rivers and seas but also to pollute the rest of the world by way of coal exports.

Australia’s education system needs to be a needs base system whereby schools are financed according to their needs and not according to prejudice and privilege.  We need to move to from the long existent and failed top down system to a bottom up system as actually recommended by the Gonski Report.  Gonski did not recommend increasing funding to schools overall but rather to moving to a bottom up financing system.  The reasoning behind this is to ensure that schools get the funding they need rather than the funding that various interest groups want.

Australia is well positioned geographically and intellectually to become a renewable power giant in the world but federal government policy favours so called “clean coal”, an essentially ineffective but very expensive technology over renewables.  Federal government policy has also forced natural gas prices in Australia so high that gas burning power plants are now too expensive to run.  This is a result of world parity pricing and allowing our gas generators to compete in the Asian markets where prices are very high.  Australia went from being the cheapest gas supplier to being by far the most expensive and now domestic users are being forced out of the market by very high prices.

There was a time, not so long ago, when the shutting down of old and dirty coal burning power plants was to result in gas-burning power plants that could be rapidly started at need and just as rapidly shut-down when peak power needs had receded.  This would cover our energy needs as the transition from coal to renewables was proceeding.  Now this is impossible because gas is just too expensive.  Meanwhile our federal government insists that the faults with our electricity generation lies with renewables but this claim has been extensively debunked.  Still our climate change-denying government continue to insist that renewables are the problem when in fact the problem lies entirely with federal government policy.

The opposition is not sensibly responding to these crises either.  They originally corrupted the introduction of the Gonski report, doing nothing whatsoever about  the top-down system that Gonski recommended.  Like the government, they continue to support this malformed policy, probably because they are too afraid to adopt and promote the rational and sensible bottom-up policies that Gonski recommended.  They could make mince-meat of the government but they wont!

Similarly the government remains unchallenged on coal with the opposition even supporting the continued mining and burning of coal for Australia’s energy needs and allowing the export of coal in a market where the price of coal continues to decline because the rest of the world has recognised it as belonging in the past.  The more coal mining Australia allows the less the price of coal will become.  Coal mining is a pursuit that can only end in tragedy.

The Australian Labor Party (ALP), the official opposition at least supports a price on carbon but that’s about as far as they are willing to take good energy policy.

There are those who think that Australia should “go nuclear” possibly in the mistaken belief that uranium is a renewable resource.  It isn’t and if Australia and the world continued to grow and construct power plants the supply of uranium would likely last very roughly 60 years.  After which we be left with a significant amount of highly radioactive material that would be around for hundreds of thousands of years.  The nuclear answer is just too expensive and limited.