Sunday, 4 October 2015

The heat IS on

When I was a testosterone fuelled teenager, first getting into fangled music that my parents had
banned me from listening to, I really liked a song by Glen Frey, of The Eagles fame, The Heat is On.
Some song of the streets of LA, released in 1984, and like most younger folk, I didn't pay too much attention to the lyrics.
However a short time later I began work for Greenpeace in Canada, and one of our bimonthly magazines, was headlined 'The Heat is On'.
I read the cover story with interest, and it was the first scientific examination that I ever read of the phenomenon we now call global warming.
As I read saucer-eyed of the threat facing our very existence as humans with a viable biosphere on this planet, Glen's song lyrics came back to me, and as I put down the magazine, I remember thinking then, 'well you got that right Glen, the heat is indeed on'.
Now that magazine come out in 1989, and I mention that because one thing that never fails to fire my rockets these days is that we are still having to argue about it.
Global warming is real, it exists.
Only the weak, the greedy, the foolish and the ignorant are still trying to push the climate denialism wheelbarrow.
I find it immensely frustrating that there are still fucking idiots on this Earth trying to claim global warming does not exist.
I find it difficult to get my head around their thought processes, such as they are.
I think at first the climate denialists were hoping that if they held out long enough that suddenly the 97% of scientists who held consensus that global warming was real would suddenly announce that 'Oh sorry, we made a mistake, global warming isn't real, the Ga-billions of tonnes of coal we are burning is having no affect whatsoever on the planet's climate'.
However as the years went by, the weak the foolish and the ignorant slowly had to understand that the scientists weren't wrong, and in fact, quite the reverse, every year that went by only added more fuel to the global-warming-is-real fire [pun intended].
So then I believe the weak, the foolish and the ignorant had a change of tactic.
Instead of holding out for the day when the scientists would be shown to be wrong, they underwent a private conversion, and began....., well not believing in it, but understanding that some millions of others believed in it.
Thus they decided to try things anew, instead of waiting for a reversal in thought, they instead began, or rather continued, frantic delaying tactics, using climate criminal organisations like the IPA, fuelled by the Koch Brothers in the US particularly.
Now they would use the delaying tactic to frantically sell every last atom of carbon they could before the taps got turned off.
Clearly the Australian federal government are a big part of this, arch-lovers of coal as they are.
Plus all the minerals councils of course, and various bodies and individuals across the world, all involved with the promotion of climate denialism to make money.
The problem with that is that to achieve this farcical attempt to keep mining coal and gas up to the end, you have to have an ignorant populace.
And these days, clearly, the populace is anything but that.
With thanks to great organisations like, for instance, the Climate Council, here in Australia, we are anything but ill-informed.
So the heat IS on, and it's up to Australians to finally start closing coal mines and gas fields.
If you wish to keep coal mines open, then you are wilfully admitting you are weak, foolish, and/or ignorant, not to mention greedy.
So who's first for the chop?
In the field of coal, Whitehaven are most likely, this is the organisation that with malice aforethought set out to destroy Leard Forest in the far north-west of NSW.
To say this was/is an act of the most appalling barbarism barely hints at the scale.
Leard Forest is/was the last remaining White Box Gum Grassy Woodland in good order on this Earth.
Soon it will be gone, and then we will be left with the appalling realisation that we let Paul Flynn, CEO of Whitehaven, and his evil empire make an eco-system extinct to mine coal for five years then go broke.
I find it difficult to even write of this heart ache without the tears prickling the backs of the eyes.
Such destruction for no reason.
Anyway Whitehaven are carrying a billion dollars in debt, and their market cap is less than than 952 million, and so they are unlikely to last.
Furthermore, the production costs of thermal coal in Australia are now down at US$57, while the coal price is at US$62, so they are making US$5(A$7) per tonne.
As Maules Creek is rated a ten million tonne a year operation this mean they are making US$50 million a year, and so at this rate it will take Whitehaven 20 years to even clear their debt, and of course by that time Leard Forest will be long gone.
Destroyed utterly and forever.
As I've written elsewhere in social media, it is just so wrong that we have have to rely on companies going broke to have the environment protected.
As for the world of gas, we are a little closer there to a couple of other evil companies, Santos and Origin, having the receivers walk in their front doors.
Santos particularly are down to the wire all right.
Santos are carrying a debt load of $9 billion, and have a market cap of $4.5 billion.
So buckling under a debt load, they then began selling their LNG gas from their GLNG plant in Gladstone Queensland into a depressed market with low prices and tepid to limp demand.
Santos will struggle to clear their debt in this environment and may end up selling this Gladstone plant.
Origin face a very similar problem, starting export form their gas plant with limp demand. They are in a similar financial position as Santos however, carrying $12 billion in debt with a market cap of $6.8 billion.
So once again we hope for both Santos and Origin to go bankrupt.
Bankruptcy for both these companies would be a good thing for Australia, all Australians.
Here for instance is just some of the pollution being released by Santos from their Gladstone plant.
Additionally, the destruction of the Bowen  Basin and the Darling Downs is ongoing and endemic, so two of the big three CSG companies in Queensland going bankrupt is a good thing for Australia, make no bones about that.
It's a long and tiring fight with no end in sight anywhere soon.
The federal government, now under Malcolm Turnbull, love coal and gas as much as the previous one of that utter fucking shit bag Tony Abbott.
The Queensland state government of Anna Palaszczuk is fully in love with coal and gas, and are in reality little better than Lawrence Springbourg.
The NSW government of Mike Baird are so bad I run out of descriptors trying to describe the depths of their depravity.
Having said all that, I still feel we, the good gang, are gonna win.
Coal is clearly finished, and the climate denialists can try all they like, but the market has already spoken, and the smart money is getting out.
This is probably best exemplified by Peabody Energy.
Mostly when you come to the end of days for an industry, it is the biggest companies that survive longest.
So with coal, if that is indeed the case, then they are finished as the biggest of all, Peabody, has lost 90-98% of its value over the last five years.
What went wrong?
Well basically the price of thermal coal tanked in a carbon sensitive world, and so Peabody, and all the other coal holes going around, began shedding shareholders, and eventually they are down to where they are now.
One short step from having the receivers called.
If Peabody goes, that is the end for US coal.
This was best exemplified I feel in the movie Other People's Money with Danny DeVito and Bridget Fonda. (also a thin excuse to bring in a new kind of picture).

In the movie Danny plays a liquidator. He goes around finding companies with a healthy balance sheet and then strips them of their tangiable saleable assets, sells those, and makes a shedload of money.
The plot centres upon a company from New England, Maine I believe, called New England Wire and Cable (NEWaC).
Larry sees they have no debt and moves in to strip the company.
Bridget, the niece of the CEO, played by Gregory Peck, is a lawyer in New York, and she begins working to attempt to stop the takeover by Danny Devito.
Okay, so it comes to the pinnacle of tension on the movie, with the annual general meeting of New England Wire and Cable.
Gregory Peck gets up and gives his speech, mentioning all the people who will be put out of work If NEWaC is bought by Larry and stripped of its assets.
He talks of how it's a family business and how its been the heart of the town for seventy years.
As he sits down, you the viewer, are completely on his side, and totally wish for the shareholders to vote against the sale of the company to the nasty boy Danny DeVito.
Danny DeVito gets up to make his speech and he then makes this telling point.
Says Larry the Liquidator that it is not him that is going to kill NEWaC, but fibre optics. While they make wire and cable, no one uses their product anymore. Then he adds this biter:
"You know, at one time there must've been dozens of companies making buggy whips. And I'll bet the last company around was the one that made the best goddamn buggy whip you ever saw. Now how would you have liked to have been a stockholder in that company? You invested in a business and this business is dead."
And so it goes with Peabody, and all the coal companies, they are the buggy whip manufacturers of the new age.
And soon they will all be gone, and the best thing you can do if you are an investor is make sure that you are not the last shareholder out the door.
As for gas, the gas companies have a newer product, but are likewise already finished, and that's largely due to the dramatically, nay drastic reduction in the cost of renewables.
You can read more here in this article.
However the salient points are that gas attempted to position itself as the transition fuel, away from coal via gas.
"We are cleaner" said gas.
India's PM Narendra Modi opens a solar farm.
Incorrect, sadly for gas.
They are no cleaner, and as a Facebook friend David Paull pointed out: "Gas as a transition fuel is the biggest con ever".
It certainly is a con, and the peak gas hole body in Australia, APPEA, have attempted to exploit this fallacious view unmercifully.
However the problem is that now the ponzi scheme that CSG-to-LNG is is being exposed, and as mentioned above Santos and Origin, as two examples, are going to the wall.
It is also becoming clear that gas is only acceptable as a transition, cleaner fuel, if they are no alternatives.
Well now there are.
Renewables have come down in price, and they are 100% cleaner than gas and coal.
This is relevant because the last bastion of coal, on Earth, is Asia, particularly China, and then India.
While they have been planning more coal fired power stations, I am now of the opinion that they will never be built.
The reason being that the price of renewables is now homing in on coal - currently the cheapest form of electricity generation - and soon the governments of China and India, will realise that rather than build a new coal power station, they might as well build a new renewable power station.
A BLEVE - boiling liquid expanding vapour explosion.
One of the less attractive aspects of gas as a fuel.
This is already underway, and with the ongoing price of renewable dropping, we will see more and more renewable built with sanskrit and cantonese writing on the side.
So gas is already history, its dangerous to transport, releases huge amounts of CO2, and is already no longer viable as a transition fuel as renewable power has caught up with it on price.
So there you have it, if you still support coal and/or gas, you are weak, ignorant and foolish.
I can only hope you wake up to yourself before life on this planet becomes unvaible.
As Glen Frey told us 2000 words ago.
The heat IS on.

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