Call for driverless Australia by 2030

I’ve been saying it for a while: a driver-less society is coming. It could soon be illegal to drive in Australia, because the robots will do it so much better!

Smart cars are coming, but what about smart roads?

Telstra’s chief scientist, Dr Hugh Bradlow, thinks Australian roads should be driverless by 2030.

He tells RN Drive that Australia’s road infrastructure needs a rethink if we’re going to keep pace with driverless technologies.

ABC Environment podcast


But not only this, Elon Musk has opened Stage 1 of his Gigafactory for super-efficient bulk manufacturing of lithium batteries for EV’s! The world in 2014 produced 30 GW lithium batteries, but Elon’s factory will produce 50 GW a year from 218, and 150 GW per year in the 2020’s. That’s a 5-fold increase on every single lithium battery used for phones and laptops and toys today! Elon plans to be selling 1.5 million EV’s a year by the 2020’s. He is the Steve Jobs of cars and space!

Posted in Sci-Fi, Science-Singularity-Robotics, Transport | Leave a comment

Solar PV toxic waste being dumped

Online Opinion has another article suspicious of nuclear waste dumps in Australia, and  suspicious of the political process to get one. I wrote the following comment in reply.

Shock! Horror! An industrial process has dangerous waste by products!? Wow. This is somehow news?

Solar PV uses the “heavy metal cadmium, which is both a carcinogen and a genotoxin, meaning that it can cause inheritable mutations.”

“Many of the solar panels that now adorn European and American rooftops have left behind a legacy of toxic pollution in Chinese villages and farmlands.

The Post article describes how Luoyang Zhonggui, a major Chinese polysilicon manufacturer, is dumping toxic factory waste directly on to the lands of neighboring villages, killing crops and poisoning residents. Other polysilicon factories in the country have similar problems, either because they have not installed effective pollution control equipment or they are not operating these systems to full capacity.”

But FOE LOVE Solar PV! Surely, following the same logic, we should ban Solar PV the way they’ve banned nuclear because there are some waste products?

The bottom line? I’d rather LIVE in a high level radioactive waste bunker than live in a quaint Chinese village next to a Solar PV factory. Why? Because the high level waste bunker would be over-engineered to the nth degree for safety because everyone is so utterly paranoid about the word ‘radiation’, (newsflash: people are radioactive!), while the Chinese solar manufacturers are just dumping cadmium in the river or neighbour’s farm.

The project of civilisation has wastes. We know how to deal with it. Let’s build the fastest way to wean off fossil fuels, which is nuclear, and get over the fact that there will be a tiny amount of waste. (Approximately 1 golf ball per human lifespan, cradle to grave!)

Posted in Renewable energy, Solar, Waste | Leave a comment

I’m furious with the world-wide grid!

This is madness! There are Chinese proposals before the World Economic forum that they want to build a world-wide super-grid costing $50 TRILLION dollars up to 2050. This is all in the VAIN hope that it will convert ‘unreliables’ (as I call wind and solar) into reliable, baseload electricity.

How much money is that?

Dr James Hansen (the world’s most famous climatologist) says we should build 115GW of nuclear reactors a year. There are various plans for assembly line nukes, and $3 billion / GW is not a stretch. So 115 reactors a year for 40 years times $3 billion = just under $14 trillion. That’s the POWER SOURCE DONE, without any extra money wasted on a hypothetical, fairy-land worldwide grid.

So that’s $36 TRILLION saved on NOT BUILDING THE SUPER GRID, let alone all the EXTRA money wasted on unreliables. Remember, they’ve still got to build dozens of times more wind and solar than nukes because… you can’t rely on wind and solar. But it gets worse. I’ve seen credible plans for GenIV Molten Salt Reactors coming off the assembly line for somewhere between $1 to $2 billion per GW!

This is SAFE, baseload, reliable electricity that doesn’t need a ‘super-grid’ to help it along. It’s reliable. It could plug into today’s grid, just as coal (sadly) does today.

This is just one reason why Dr James Hansen says that believing in 100% RENEWABLES is like believing in the Easter Bunny or Tooth Fairy.

Posted in Renewable energy, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Flash fiction: Dragoncall

I’m normally a Science Fiction sort of guy. Peter F Hamilton space opera, Neal Stephenson Cyberpunk, Greg Bear futurist, and of course the literary Ian M Banks. But I also want to write Sci-Fi, probably in the popular young-adult dystopian “Who will be my girlfriend at the end of the world” genre. (Yes, because the world doesn’t have enough Hunger Games and Mazerunners and Divergents!) I have about 150 pages of backstory, plotting cards, and character notes. But very little writing. It’s the first page, then the first chapter. They keep changing. There’s just so much pressure on the first page, and I can’t seem to get the appropriate voice, character mix, plot mix, ideas mix all into that critical first page! But I digress.

My lovely wife suggested I try Flash Fiction. Now there’s pressure! Character and voice and story in 100 words! So I did. I entered an online competition based on the following picture. The story had to be about dragons or magic rocks. Fantasy. It’s outside my regular genre, but I’m still — of course — a fan! Story below picture.


Dragoncall. (99 words)

Shame burned the boy’s cheeks. He had dropped the ceremonial knife in the sand! The pain had been intense, but blood finally dripped from his wrist onto the ancient leathery rock, warming the surface.
“Will He come?” the boy asked.
The old man’s blue eyes smiled sadly from a weathered face.
“A thousand boys have tried,” he said, staring down at the rock. He looked up, sniffed the air and scanned the horizon. “It’s too quiet,” he said.
So the boy called and sang for an hour, but nothing.
The boy wept, tears splashing the stone.
The rock thundered!


Posted in Sci-Fi, Writing / English | Leave a comment

Pro Nuclear March

In my inbox this morning:

June 2, 2016 — With 13 nuclear plants at risk of closing and taking the United States backwards on climate change, a coalition of environmental groups is announcing a historic pro-nuclear protest march from San Francisco to Sacramento, June 24 – 28.

“If we lose all 13 of the nuclear plants at risk of premature closure we will wipe out three times more clean power than all of our solar provided in 2015,” said the March’s Lead Organizer, Eric G. Meyer. “If you care about renewables, clean energy and climate change, you should support keeping nuclear plants open.”

In Illinois, a coalition of anti-nuclear groups including by Environmental Law and Policy Center (ELPC), Sierra Club, and NRDC blocked legislation that would have saved two of the state’s nuclear plants, Clinton and Quad Cities.

ELPC has said it wants to replace the nuclear plants with natural gas, and gradually wind and solar. “Everybody looks with excitement when a new natural gas plant is built,” ELPC head, Howard Learner recently told a journalist when explaining why he supports closing Clinton and Quad, an extraordinary statement coming from a self-professed environmental activist.

“Anti-nuclear groups should be forgiven for they believe nuclear energy is something it’s not, and can’t see it for what it is,” said Alan Medsker of Environmental Progress, Illinois. “But we cannot allow them to shut down Quad and Clinton. It’s time for Sierra Club, the Citizens Utility Board and Environmental Defense Fund to break from ELPC. There’s still time to pass legislation that would invest not only in renewables but also protect our largest source of clean energy.”

If Clinton and Quad close, 1,500 workers will lose their jobs and carbon emissions will increase the equivalent of adding two million cars to the road. The proposed subsidy for distressed nuclear plants is less than half the cost the wind production tax credit.

Nuclear plants around the country are closing prematurely because they are excluded from the various federal subsidies and state mandates for solar and wind. If nuclear were included in state Renewable Portfolio Standards, or received a fraction of the subsidy for wind or solar, nuclear plants would be economical.

“The evidence is clear: nuclear is far more effective at replacing fossil fuels and reducing pollution and carbon emissions than solar and wind. To exclude it from any clean energy standard in the face of irreversible climate devastation is simply unethical,” said Meyer.

“It’s a mathematical certainty that closing nuclear plants results in more fossil fuel burning and emissions,” says Oscar-nominated documentary filmmaker Robert Stone, whose award-winning film “Pandora’s Promise” documents the conversion of many environmentalists from anti-nuclear to pro-nuclear. “California’s reputation as a leader in the fight against climate change is at stake if Diablo Canyon is shut down.”

“It’s vitally important for any of us that care about the environment– progressives or conservatives– to share that message with Governor Jerry Brown,” said Richard Rhodes, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Making of the Atomic Bomb. “People fear nuclear power largely because they associate it with nuclear weapons, but the two don’t equate. Nuclear power is not only an important part of the answer to climate change. It has outstanding public health benefits as well, greatly reducing air pollution.”

The March will occur in the run-up to a Tuesday, June 28, California Lands Commission meeting, where Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom and two other members could deny a critical permit to Diablo Canyon, California’s biggest source of clean energy.

March coalition members includes Mothers for Nuclear, Thorium Energy Alliance, Environmental Progress, Pandora’s Promise, and Energy for Humanity — all are organizations independent of energy companies and interests.

“We can’t let irrational fears put our children at risk,” said Mothers for Nuclear co-founder, Heather Matteson, an environmental activist who was once anti-nuclear but changed her mind and now works as a reactor operator and procedure writer at Diablo Canyon.

The 13 nuclear plants at high risk of premature closure produce three times more electrical power than the US produces from solar. Diablo Canyon produces 11 times more power than the world’s largest solar farm, Solar Star, will produce.

Rather than simply replacing fossil fuel use, as nuclear plants do, plants like Solar Star increase the demand for natural gas when the sun is not shining which is on average more than 75 percent of the time.

Eric G. Meyer, 28, quit his job as a nurses union organizer and drove to San Francisco from Minnesota last month to be the Lead Organizer of the March. “My heart breaks every time they announce nuclear plant closure,” said Meyer. “We’re going to fight hard to save every last one of those 13 plants. This is going to be remembered as the summer that we saved our largest source of clean energy.”

Posted in Nuclear, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Water box grows trees in desert

This water-box extracts dew from the night time air and siphons it down underground where it will slowly release it to plants. They’ve used it in Dubai to help saplings grow where there is 50C days, sand storms, and camels! This is instead of desal. We can grow forests in the desert!
Posted in Biochar, Biodiversity loss, Food, Geo-engineering | Leave a comment

Tax cuts to the rich?

A comment from an economically informed mate:

It’s sad but the Libs seem to have imbibed US Republican Party economic policy. Supply side economics has been discredited for a long time amongst the economic community but remains a powerful policy amongst pro-business politicians and parties.

The idea is that tax cuts pay for themselves because the economic growth caused by the cuts ends up increasing tax revenue overall.

The original Supply Side economists weren’t too sure what the original tax rate needed to be for this to work, but it seems that it had to be very high in the first place.

Tax cuts for the rich (ie reducing the highest marginal tax rate) were introduced in many countries in the early 1980s. Reagan introduced it in the US whereas the ALP introduced it in Australia.

Historically, the pre-1980s top marginal tax rate hovered between 60-70 percent. In the UK it was famously set at 95%, which caused lots of problems and was derided by a song by The Beatles called “Taxman” and forced a number of bands (including the Rolling Stones) to go into “Tax exile”.

In short the highest marginal tax rate can be too high, but it can also be too low.

The tax cuts in the early 1980s also ushered in a period of big deficits and debt by governments that has continued to today.

Posted in Economics, Politics, Uncategorized | Leave a comment