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Thus Spake Mungo: It’s a tech wreck

Scott Morrison’s government of denialists and cowards has found a new evasion to dodge the reality of climate change: it is re-running a favourite buzzword: technology. Or, as ScoMo puts it, ‘You want to get global emissions down? … You need technology that can be accessed and put in place, not just here in Australia, but all around the world. Meetings won’t achieve that, technology does. And I can tell you taxes won’t achieve it either.’

Apart from the ridiculous belief that accessing technology somehow comes without cost to end-users – tax-free – this blind faith in science last week is in marked contrast to the years of dismissing it when the very existence of climate change has been queried by the coalition, including by Morrison himself when it has suited him.

Now, apparently, it is not only to be accepted, it is to be the solution. Even if Morrison is still reluctant to utter the words ‘climate change’ he is finally talking directly about tackling reducing emissions.

But is he actually serious?

His cheerleaders have thrown themselves behind the rhetoric – this, they say, is the long-awaited road map they, and everyone else, has been longing for. But if so, it remains a roadmap without a destination, without milestones or landmarks, without a recognisable path and without even a clearly defined starting point.

One of Morrison’s many problems is that he can’t actually tell us what is entailed in the science and engineering, beyond vague thoughts about carbon capture and relying on natural gas to replace coal

My dictionary gives the primary meaning of technology as ‘the branch of knowledge that deals with the science and engineering or its practice as applied to industry; applied science…’ One of Morrison’s many problems is that he can’t actually tell us what is entailed in the science and engineering, beyond vague thoughts about carbon capture and relying on natural gas to replace coal – except we are in no hurry to replace it, and his coalition partner actually wants to ramp it up.

And in any case, while this may marginally reduce emissions, it can never bring them down to the net-zero by 2050 demanded by the scientists. Morrison vision is yet again, for miracles – that the new technology can be discovered or invented and that it can and will be implemented in time for the disastrous future to be averted.

Well, it may be – but if it is, it will be no thanks to Morrison and his serial procrastinators. Even now the prime minister speaks in terms of accountancy and marketing – he insists that he will never commit to a program without telling the public the precise cost to the economy. But the very essence of science research and application is that the costs – and also the benefits – are by definition unquantifiable.

Morrison talks glibly about the billions of dollars needed to restore the countryside after drought, fire and flood, and seems unfazed at the prospect of handing out taxpayer funds in compensation

However, what can be estimated is the cost of ducking the issue, the continuing damage of the extreme weather events which have already had a terrible impact on Australia with the certainly of more and worse to come. One International panel says failure will lead to a decline of 25 per cent in productivity. Morrison talks glibly about the billions of dollars needed to restore the countryside after drought, fire and flood, and seems unfazed at the prospect of handing out taxpayer funds in compensation – fair enough, but surely a prudent leader would be taking out some insurance for the future.

Prevention is better than cure – assuming that cure is possible, that the injuries have not already proved irreversible

Prevention is better than cure – assuming that cure is possible, that the injuries have not already proved irreversible. But even now, there is little point in throwing money at treating further disasters that could have been avoided in the first place. But ScoMo’s signature tune is the echo of hoofbeats receding in the distance as the stable door bangs open in the wind.

And the argument that Morrison can not or will not provide an estimate of the cost of reducing emissions is patently absurd, given the vast resources of his bureaucracy. Indeed, he doesn’t even need that as a starting point.

The Business Council of Australia, a conservative bunch dragged reluctantly to the realisation that its members will suffer if nothing is done, has done a back-of-the-beer-mat calculation based on the preliminary costs and benefits of Snowy 2.0 to suggest that cutting down Australia’s emissions to zero will run to about $22 billion a year until the target is met. This sounds like a lot of money – hell, it is a lot of money.

We have been repeatedly warned, business as usual will be a lot more expensive, and the price will keep rising every year, every day, of continuing delay

But as we have been repeatedly warned, business as usual will be a lot more expensive, and the price will keep rising every year, every day, of continuing delay. So if technology is in fact the answer – and even the BCA admits it is very much a second best, that by far the most effective and the cheapest remedy is an emissions trading scheme, which the coalition parties will refuse to countenance even in the mildest form – we had better get on with it.

But once again there is a catch. As Andrew Leigh, one of Labor’s more thoughtful analysts has pointed out, getting the sluggards in private enterprise – including, especially, the Business Council – off their collective arses will be an exercise that makes building Snowy 2.0 the merest doddle.

The giants of private enterprise have made it clear for years that they are not just immune to the blandishments of innovation and technology, they are not interested in investment at all. Their priorities, indeed their entire schedule, is based on avoiding risk in any form; much better to concentrate on mergers, takeovers, cost-cutting and delivering easy profits.

If the government can get away with bluff and bluster, distraction and procrastination, and keep being re-elected, what is the point of trying to implement Morrison’s empty rhetoric

And it makes a cynical kind of sense: after all, if the government can get away with bluff and bluster, distraction and procrastination, and keep being re-elected, what is the point of trying to implement Morrison’s empty rhetoric? If his constituents – the voters – can be satisfied with regular supplies of bullshit, surely a smaller quantity of that plentiful commodity can be enough to keep the shareholders quiet.

So the Morrison roadmap is little more than a pious hope – no more explained than the policy Anthony Albanese reaffirmed last week and which Morrison has dismissed and derided. But Albo has at least joined the science, most of the rest of the world, and the Business Council in committing to a zero-emissions target by 2050. ScoMo cannot even do that. Even if the troglodytes in his own party room could be persuaded, his loyal coalition partners will never let him.


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16 responses to “Thus Spake Mungo: It’s a tech wreck”

  1. Barrow says:

    Yes Albo reaffirmed labors intentions but at what
    Cost Mungo ? How much “Mr Shorten “will your
    Energy policies cost Australia, well taxpayer’s!!
    Shorten answer was” arrogant ” about half of our
    Annual budget comes from the resource Industries
    Taxes included! How will welfare recipients
    Cope ? Where will the funding come from to
    Support welfare if the target is Zero – emissions?
    By 2050 . Mungo could you please ask Albo
    That Question? As reporters have already
    With no response. Sound familiar!

  2. Jack says:

    “But the very essence of science research and application is that the costs – and also the benefits – are by definition unquantifiable.”

    So very correct Mungo.

    Imagine if in 1876 Alexander Graham Bell was asked to provide accurate details of costs and benefits of telephone technology. Impossible to accurately predict !

  3. Mungo, what is it that we haven’t done to deserve
    all these troll-like creatures pretending to be our
    country’s guiding force? I don’t ‘get it’. It’s all
    starting to look like an Adam’s Family Reunion
    versus The Simpsons.

  4. Ken says:

    Mr.Straight and Narrow ,
    “what Cost Mungo ?” Have you any idea what this country has been through this summer ?
    This is the cost of doing NOTHING….and this is just the start and it doesn’t matter a SH..T how much Taxes are payed by those who are creating the problems that are killing our planet . If Scumo’s lack of concern and action are allowed to continue we will be faced by a climate that is far beyond the capabilities of natural processes to contend with ( and not all the technology or all the kings men will matter a damn ) and the planet may well die . Money won’t fix that !
    There is NO plan and certainly no plan ‘B’
    Get serious ! G”)

  5. Ray Armstrong says:

    How DUMB is Labor? They’re gonna fall into the same old trap as before-announcing impossible to cost policies years before an election. The latest? A zero emissions by 2050. Now that may sound good BUT it gives the Looters over 2 years to ask how ya gonna pay for it, how many jobs will it cost, electrcity prices…all bullshit questions we know BUT ENUFF TO SCARE THE HORSES and with the help of Palmer’s and Gina’s millions mount a huge negative campaign! In the present scenario-fires, unemployment, wages, the economy, climate change. emissions, ministers sacked etc etc, Labor should be 15 points ahead. Lanor tactically bereft as usual!

  6. Ginga says:

    Stephanie I love the Adams Family.. seriously now… they had personality, ingenuity.. uniqueness & while don’t don the black look much ch anymore, my gothic fae well, deeply admires a good Morticia moment or 50!!

    Mungo.. you have excelled yourself…

    Comment with respect to these horrendous excuses for human beings playing political card games at the expense of everything is….
    Extremely deficient! It’s a big does of Alzheimer’s occurring & this issue is their loop.
    They are stuck. Stuck in a track that was popular, new, novel when vinyl was a baby.
    They have exceeded their use by date & they haven’t even started. Just like coal, these people are already redundant.

    Time to change the record…..

  7. Tweed says:

    Blah blah blah, whats the cost, Labor Labor Labor, whats the cost, blah blah blah ????
    Enough of this rubbish, Australia has had enough of this LNP media stenographer rubbish!
    Is anyone in the media going to stop being LNP stenographers and point out that the LNP’s own State Govt’s of NSW, TAS, SA and all the other States, as well as Europe, Britain, NZ, Canada and the rest of the world have the same Labor 2050 climate Targets?
    It is only the Trump and Morrison bankrolled by the fossil fuel cartels that are out of step?
    Australia stands waiting for the media to do its job and hold this Abbott/Turnbull/Morrison Govt to account? This now completely ridiculous ATM charade!
    Everyone knows the LNP is completely compromised by it’s own coal lobbyist members, it is incapable of any action on climate and it is time the media and everyone in the country acknowledges this irrefutable fact!
    The rest of the world has watched the Australian climate and envronmental catastrophe unfolding and are looking in amazement at this crab walking loud mouth, Hawaiian holidaying charlatan Morrison as he just wings it from one disaster to the next!
    It’s time to stop thinking of this as the hottest summer in the last hundred years, to realising it’s the coolest summer we will have for the next hundred years!

  8. Ivan Ransom says:

    Mungo, you’ve hit the nail on the head again. The corporate “wisdom” of our captains of industry is motivated by panic-driven fear that their nakedness will be put on public display. “New blood” comes from the same old incestuous gene-pool and so we suffer the kleptomaniac behaviour of the banking/finance industry, gulag conditions in aged care facilities, education and health systems meant only for the rich, wages theft, …. and on and on it goes ! … Oh ! And then there’s this sense of impending doom in suspecting that they may have stuffed their planet.

  9. There’s ‘blood on the wattle’ & it’s ‘time’ we
    admitted it. Kleptomaniac going ons have
    this country wading through an ominous
    giddy-fit of jerks & loafers. All is not lost if
    we just listen & follow the science that’s
    out there. Professor Euan Richie, Deakin
    Uni, says we are not in a ‘new normal’ &
    that we must divest from fossil fuel. Since
    we will see even more tragic events it’s
    not just bushfires getting worse – it’s heat
    -waves, droughts & extreme rain events
    as well. Prof Rod Keenan [University of
    Melbourne] points out how policy makers
    need to focus reducing green emissions
    to avoid long term impact. Yes, I’ll utter
    Climate Change through the winds &
    dust storms because it’s a ‘land & sea
    mantra.’

  10. Joachim says:

    Yo Barrow. We still waiting for your Abbott / Turnbull / Morrison led Coalition Government to tell us their plan and the cost for the 26-28% reduction by 2030 that they signed Australia up for. Oh wait we got it, ‘Accounting Trickery’ with so called Kyoto Credits – Fantastic, Great move. Well done Angus and Scotty from Marketing!

  11. Barrow says:

    Yes agree , Captain Planet ! 26 – 28% reduction
    Not a unreasonable ask . The Coalition should at least disclose a plan to lower emissions.
    However 28 % of 1.3 percent Australia’s contribution to Global Warming not hard to Achieve
    Really Joachim, incidentally still got your car ?
    Computer? Turned of your electricity at home ?
    I mean would go against all that you stand for to rely on fossil fuels ? Would it not Joachim. Irony !

  12. Why haven’t we invented ‘lip glue’!

  13. Wanda says:

    Ha! Loved this: “But ScoMo’s signature tune is the echo of hoofbeats receding in the distance as the stable door bangs open in the wind” – well said!

    Yes indeed. ‘Tweed’ has hit the nail on the head: “It’s time to stop thinking of this as the hottest summer in the last hundred years, to realising it’s the coolest summer we will have for the next hundred years!”.

    We have the most corrupt Federal Government in Australia’s history – when will the traditional Liberal voter’s realise this? Identity politics has ruined common sense and our ability to impartially assess the merits of party’s policies, and has perhaps terminally weakened our democracy…

  14. Barrow says:

    They dare not to speak of the government in a negative way in communist countries Stefanie
    Or differing “views” otherwise they may have to
    Invent ‘ lip glue’ ! not in Australia Stefanie
    Its called freedom of speech and expression .
    And for the record agree 100% transition away
    From fossil fuels for our energy needs .
    Nuclear is certainly a alternative , 75% of france
    Is powered by Nuclear , however the transition
    Away from fossil fuels presents some real
    Challenges ! Where do you think the materials “steel” aluminium etc ”

    Comes from to build wind farms and solar panels
    For Renewables ? Not to mention half of our GDP
    Comes from the resource Industries directly or indirectly and that is a FACT !

  15. Sad but true… democracy died around the time
    of ‘the children overboard’ bed-time story. It’s
    written on the winds. We need to shape up
    while not shutting up because we’ve been
    used & abused by lily-livered bludging goons
    who’ve already sold this country for some
    fancy parliamentary seat & a fist-full of bonds.
    A wish – can’t we borrow NZ’s ditch crossing
    PM to help set things okay into the future?

  16. Barrow says:

    Stefanie if this NZ prime minister is so popular!
    Why is it the case that in all likelihood she will be a one
    Term Prime Minister !!

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