We inexorably beginning the decent into an era of darkness, a time when our expectations of being able to simply throw a light switch and have a room illuminated begins to wan. With Hazelwood power station now closed and a significant component of our previously cheap and reliable electricity supply gone and Yallourn as well as others also facing the chopping block, electricity costs will continue to rise and reliability will continue to fall. We managed to miss a bullet last year by not having major blackouts, with South Australia not being so lucky, but our time will come soon enough. The rush to renewables at all cost, or damn the costs as it seems to be, will mean that the days of cheap, plentiful and reliable electricity will become a distant memory. When children in the future ask what their parents used for lighting before candles, the answer will be electricity. Grandparents will tell incredulous stories of light appearing through invisible forces.
In our township, local letters to the media always seem to be claiming the need for more ‘climate change’ action, though I have no idea whether it’s just a very vocal minority making all the noise or an indication of a wider concern. Certainly people I come across on a regular basis don’t exhibit climate change fear and simply consider it a fuss about natural events over which we have absolutely no control. I often suspect that many of the very recent ‘tree changers’ from Melbourne suburbs have increased the number of warming worriers, given that it’s increasingly the metropolitan dwellers that appear to have become infected by the propaganda of fear pushed by the media. When we have a record early snow season, despite warnings that it will never snow again, it’s somewhat difficult to think that the planet is experiencing catastrophic global warming. Nonetheless, there are those who live in daily fear of roasting alive whenever they venture onto the streets and push for all manner of renewable energy so that Australia can turn off the heating switch.
Back in the old days, for those who can remember, the core business of councils was ‘roads maintenance, rubbish removal and basic infrastructure’, everything that supported the wellbeing of ratepayers. Now it seems that all of that has been contracted out and the basic responsibilities of a council towards its residents ostensibly handed to third parties, who have no vested interest in its citizens. Many government entities do this based on the argument that it’s not their ‘core’ business. All that councils (all councils) seem to be interested in are non-essential things such as art, ideology, social justice, politics and furthering councillors’ political ambitions. We moved some years ago from one of the worst rated councils, Wyndham, to one that is now fracturing at the seams as infighting and personal vendettas have forced administrators to take control. “South Gippsland council can ‘reflect on failure’ after suspension. The whole point of councils seems to have evaded our elected members as things fall completely into disrepute.
One of the things that just about everyone in Gippsland and most rural areas in Australia relies on are reliable weather forecasts, be it farmers or individuals like me that might be planning a camping trip into the High Country. Knowing what the weather is going to be in the forthcoming days or weeks can be imperative to some, especially farmers when it comes to planting and harvesting crops. Obviously the only source for Australian weather comes from the Bureau Of Meteorology (BOM). However, the BOM is, more often that not, thought of as the BOG (Bureau of Guesses), as such is the reliability of weather forecasts often ‘predicted’ by the BOM. Many people (and this comes from talking to local farmers etc) look at the BOM forecasts, laugh and plan for the exact opposite. Such is the high esteem in which the BOM’s predictive capabilities are held.
After what I thought was a fairly mild Summer, with only a few hot spells (20+/-C to 40C and back to 20+/-C in successive days), the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) once again declared it the hottest on record, as they always do. Despite the BOM’s usual prestidigitation, the bushfires only started in Gippsland with a vengeance come Autumn. For many days we lived in the smoke palls from numerous fires burning in our north and east, but fared much better than many who lost their homes in the Bunyip fires that raged north-west of our township. Any thoughts of going camping before the weather started to change were rapidly quashed as more areas to our north and east began to burn and eventually the High Country was ostensibly closed off to all visitors. Even locations in the south at Wilson’s Promontory were evacuated due to fires.
I visit a variety of science and technical websites each day/week just to find out what’s going on around the world in science and technology (a habit brought about by my last job before semi-retiring) and I just like science and technology. There’s a particular website that I check on daily and it struck me one day how ridiculous (or perhaps bleeding obvious) are some of the headlines that are presented in the website. There’s an entire group of specialists such as physicists, chemists, biologists etc that specialise in various areas of research and scientific endeavour and then there seems to be an amorphous group of people called ‘scientists’ that do everything else. It kind of led me to think of changing the headlines to see how much better they would read and also be far more catchy than what is currently bland and in no way informative. Obviously this is completely irreverent, but as I’ve noted before, sometimes I think you need to take the Micky out of stuffy organisations and the like. I’m not going to add any text to this story, but just show some screen shots of what has caught my eye, replaced with a minor wording change.
When we moved to our rural abode, one of the first things I enquired about from the local CFA was bushfire emergency planning, prevention and action recommendations applicable to our township. Being a bush traveller for decades, I’m well aware of the risks and safety precautions necessary even in Winter time when camping in the High Country and, while much the same applies in a township, I wanted to make sure whether there were any specifics I needed to be aware of so that I had all bases covered. Additionally, at the beginning of each Summer the CFA issues a number warnings and preparatory information for residents as a reminder that they need to be ever vigilant in the hotter months of the year, as well as having evacuation plans in place should the need ever arise. Having experienced and fought High Country bushfires and all too many times travelled through what remains of the bushfires, I was very cognisant of the potential dangers.
As we slowly risk becoming de-industrialised as effective, efficient and cheap energy sources are supplanted with the complete opposite, we now have to deal with an energy market that treats every customer with utter disdain. Energy providers are like banks, where they assume that existing customers will simply remain as customers because it’s too difficult to go looking for change. In many cases that may well be true, especially with the way banks provide information and when you’re often committed to credit card accounts, loans etc where to change means having to amend numerous payment accounts and experience other difficulties. Even the regular credit card replacement involves some angst as you sort through the necessary changes. When it comes to utilities, it’s a ‘little’ easier as you’re only transferring from one supplier to another and not changing your bank account, but that doesn’t mean it’s painless.
Living where we do and having only electricity connected, the price of which keeps rising insatiably, I get very frustrated when reading about all the supposed benefits of renewable energy, which never seem to eventuate. Once upon a time Australia had the cheapest energy in the world, but then things changed. For several decades now, we have heard how renewable energy is (or will shortly be) competitive with or even cheaper than traditional energy sources such as coal, gas or hydro, but we never see any tangible evidence of this happening. But what we do see are ever increasing power bills as cost effective sources of power disappear. Every year more wind and solar installations are approved, sustainable only due to taxpayer subsidies, yet no one seems willing to say enough is enough and that it’s time to exist without subsidies or admit that it’s not cost-effective and simply a boondoggle.
Across Australia (and indeed across the world), there has been a movement fighting the establishment and development of various forms of mining and energy production, including what’s known as ‘fracking’, which is a form of mining for oil and gas. It’s been a very strong movement in Gippsland in recent years, with a moratorium placed on any such mining for the time being by the state government, which has not reduced the feelings within the communities in Gippsland. Signs are on properties everywhere.