|Greens Cr Michael Osbourne|
Opinion by Anthony Cox
NEWCASTLE Greens councillor Michael Osborne raised legitimate concerns about the coal industry and the Newcastle Port in his recent article.
But Cr Osborne also raised what I consider to be more doubtful points about renewable energy and man-made global warming.
The Pasha Bulker storm was not caused by global warming. An almost identical storm occurred in 1974, leading to the Sygna beaching.
These storms are the result of natural cycles produced by El Nino and La Nina and larger cycles called the Pacific Decadal Oscillation.
Prominent global warming scientists such as Richard Muller and science journals such as Nature are saying that global warming may decrease extreme weather events.
Globally-extreme weather events, particularly storms and cyclones, are decreasing. Global temperatures have not risen for 17 years. And, in Australia, the Bureau of Meteorology’s conclusion that 2013 was a record hot year for Australia is contradicted by three other main temperature indices that showed 2013 was not the hottest year.
Given the questions this information raises, it is premature for Cr Osborne to declare:
‘‘There is no doubt that unmitigated climate change will damage our economy, transform our lifestyles and irreparably impact on our natural environment.’’Cr Osborne’s advocacy of renewable energy, particularly wind and solar, is also problematic. Wind and solar are unreliable.
If you have a week of cloudy, windless conditions you would have no power if your only energy sources were wind and solar.
Wind and solar produce their power in surges. They can go from zero to maximum power and back again almost instantly.
This surge power cannot be easily transformed into the regular, even electricity flow that grids require. (see also Germany's Renewables a menace to Industry)
This unreliability and surge nature of power from wind and solar renders cost comparisons irrelevant. It doesn’t matter how cheap it is to build something if it doesn’t work.
The objections to coal by people such as Cr Osborne would be more helpful if they offered a better energy alternative to coal than the problematic energy sources of wind and sun.
One such alternative is thorium. Thorium reactors were operating in the late 20th century and have the immense advantage over conventional nuclear reactors of having much less radioactive waste. Thorium reactors are also not susceptible to meltdown scenarios.
Another advantage of thorium as an energy source is that it is plentiful, with Australia having the second largest reserves after India.
Putting aside what I believe to be the unsettled science about global warming, it would be an advantage to Australia and Newcastle to have a diversified energy mix with the alternative to coal being a proven and feasible one.
Thorium fits that description.