In the wake of “Ten Bucks a Litre”

2 08 2013

Dick Smith’s show was pretty well everything I expected.  Dumbed down, too short, and too much flying by Dick……  All you can really expect from TV, even the ABC, is infotainment.  The biggest plus is that it might at least make a few people think about the predicament facing us in the future.

There were some howlers.  Like the electric car that will store daytime solar energy in every house to be fed back into the grid for night time useage, I guess like powering Brett Narten’s family needs of four TVs, oodles of halogen downlights, three aircons, a ginormous fridge, a dryer……..  but of course he would have to give up his V8 Crummydoor.  Oh hang on…  no he couldn’t….  the electric car’s batteries would be flat in the morning!  But Dick thought it was the way of the future.

Then they point out that for this household to be ‘self sufficient’ using solar panels (all 36 x 250W I presume, and half of them on the wrong side of the roof, which is too small anyway…) with storage batteries would cost $80K!   As I pointed out to our Korean wwoofers who were watching too, if they reduced their consumption to our levels, it would only cost $8000……  but no, there was no mention of energy efficiency in this show, it was all about how we can keep all the crapola going using whatever hi tech gizmos are available, and we were shown quite a few….  and then last night on TV, I saw the latest gizmo……  ta dum….  a 100 inch TV!  That’s right, a TV as wide as a standard ceiling is high….  for $8000.  Which would probably need $8000 worth of panels and batteries to run too.

Was I the only one who laughed out loud when they showed the ‘scrubber’ that removed 1% of the CO2 from the exhaust stack of a coal fired power station?  And then totally omitted to show us how it was safely stored…?  Or the nuclear power station that’s been turned off in the UK which can’t be decommissioned yet because the cost of doing so is so prohibitive nobody wants to pay for it..??  Oh wait….  that was never mentioned….

But no matter, Dick continued flying around the planet on his merry way, not once mentioning the energy cliff, or that we are fast running out of time to build ANY of the so called solutions…..

And the bit about the inventor turning sawdust into oil……  how clever.  All you need are oil powered machines to cut the trees, turn them into sawdust, and move the stuff to the plant, only to turn it into…  oil!

Trust me, post oil, ALL the sawmills will operate just like they did 100 years ago, burning sawdust to drive steam engines….

The bit about the Leigh Creek and Pt Augusta coal mine was interesting too.  Even though one of those huge Tonka Truck was shown (with Dick taking a ride with 197 tonnes of coal on board..) there was no mention of the colossal amounts of diesel those things consume, or how we will deal with that issue when the oil runs out… Nor how Olympic Dam will operate.  Unless of course it uses the shale oil from Arckaringa…. but of course if it does then the price of Uranium will skyrocket making the cost of nuclear power high enough to need metering!

On the roeoz forum I run on Yahoo, a member wrote

“Back in ’52, when we arrived in Australia, they shipped us (Mother Sister and me) off to the little whistle stop town of Copley,  (to join my Father) 12 miles south of Leigh Creek.  Leigh Creek is now 12 km south of Copley.  They kept digging it up and moving it along.  That coal must be the worst coal imaginable.  Even worse than brown coal.  You put a lump of it on the fire and it glows for a while and then you’re left with a lump of stone as big as the original lump of coal.
At Port Augusta, where I did my High School, the powerhouse ground it up, as fine as talcum powder and then blew it into the furnaces.  My Father worked there in their drawing office.  A Southerly wind blew it all over the town and gave it a good powdering.  I suppose the ash, including the fly ash, after they put in precipitators, ended up spread around the place.  Environmentally sustainable?  I don’t think so.  The thermal solar idea?  Yeah, Right.”

There were some astonishing pluses too though.  Dick actually said people living in outer suburbs could one day be stranded there in energy slums if they couldn’t drive to work or the supermarkets…..  I was actually amazed that the ABC editors let that one through to the keeper……

The most disappointing bit for me was that for someone who’s aware of limits to growth, and in particular with regard to population, Dick made no mention at all of reduction in consumption.  Whether voluntary or forced on us by Gaia.  Maybe, just maybe, the ABC editors got in the way.

Discussing these issues has to happen, and hopefully this show is the first tentative step of many to come……