So Who Are The Stupid Ones Down In Australia?

On Saturday, there was a big national election in Australia. All seats for the parliament were up. The incumbent Prime Minister, running for re-election, was Scott Morrison of the Liberal Party (we would call them conservatives). The opposition Labor Party, whose candidate for PM was a guy named Bill Shorten, explicitly ran a campaign focused on the issue of climate change.

Going into the election, all polls had Labor ahead (although some by margins as small as 2-3 points). But in the end, Morrison and the Liberals (in coalition with other small parties) won a clear, if somewhat narrow, victory.

Labor clearly thought that running on the issue of “climate change” was the sure route to victory. They frequently referred to the contest as the “Climate Change Election.” They accused the Liberals of lacking any credible plan to attack climate change. And they devised detailed proposals that they called their “Climate Change Action Plan.” Here is a summary; and here is the full Plan. The idea was to force massive cuts in Australians’ CO2 emissions in an effort to “save the planet.” From the Overview in the Plan:

Failure to act on climate change will expose the Australian people and environment to devastating costs for our economy, society, security, health and environment. Experts at the ANU, University of Melbourne and CSIRO estimate failing to keep global warming to below two degrees will eventually cost the average Australian household $14,000 per year.

The promised “action on climate change” boiled down to a forced reduction in Australia’s CO2 emissions by 45% (on 2005 levels) by 2030, and “net zero” emissions by 2050. And how was that to be accomplished? At the top of the list was the usual prescription — a massive switch to “renewables” (wind and solar), plus batteries, as the main sources of power, in lieu of fossil fuels:

Between 2018 and 2050, it is estimated that $11.5 trillion will be invested in new power generation, with $8.4 trillion of that in solar and wind. . . . Renewable energy plus storage is . . . the cheapest source of new energy, offering immense opportunities for Australian businesses and households to reduce pollution while also reducing their power bills.

Analysis of the election results shows what you probably suspect: the areas with the wealthier and better-educated people went largely for Labor, while the Liberals won in rural and working class areas, including many areas that are home to Labor’s traditional blue-collar base. The New York Times had an analysis on Sunday, headlined “It Was Supposed to Be Australia’s Climate Change Election. What Happened?” Excerpt:

[Morrison] and his Liberal-National coalition won thanks not just to their base of older, suburban economic conservatives, but also to a surge of support in Queensland, the rural, coal-producing, sparsely populated state sometimes compared to the American South. . . . [Morrison’s] message resonated strongly in Queensland, where the proposed Carmichael coal mine would be among the largest in the world if it is approved. . . . But in other parts of Australia, particularly among the urban educated left, [the coal mine] faces fierce opposition. 

Yes, it was the educated elite against the stupid hicks. And if the New York Times did not make that distinction completely explicit, plenty of other commenters did. For example, John Fund at National Review came up with these two gems on Twitter:

Cathy Wilcox, a newspaper cartoonist, tweeted: “It seems unfair that the morons outnumber the thinking people at election time.” Broadcaster Meshel Laurie concluded that “Australians are dumb, mean-spirited, and greedy. Accept it.”

So only the “morons” and the “dumb” could possibly vote for the Liberals. After all, Australia needs to “act” on “climate change” in order to “keep global warming to below two degrees,” which will “cost the average Australian household $14,000 per year.”

Really? The population of Australia is about 25 million — about 0.3% of world population. Its carbon emissions are currently about 1.3% of world carbon emissions. Even if you believe that CO2 emissions are an existential threat to the world, Australia’s emissions barely get to the level of a rounding error in the overall world picture. And the small Australian percentage of world emissions is already shrinking rapidly, not because Australia is decreasing its emissions, but because the emissions of the rest of the world are rapidly increasing as places like China, India, and Africa bring electricity to their citizens. Just the increase in emissions in the rest of the world has recently been far exceeding Australia’s total emissions on an annual basis. The idea that Australia can somehow stop “climate change” even by completely eliminating its 1.3% of world carbon emissions is actually far beyond mere “dumb” or “moronic.” It’s completely delusional.

As is the idea that Australians can “reduce their power bills” by opting for energy from intermittent wind and solar to replace fossil fuels. Has anybody noticed that places like Denmark and Germany that have gone the route of massive adoption of wind and solar have managed to triple their citizens’ power bills? Add to that list the state of South Australia, which is the self-proclaimed Australian champion of “renewable” energy, and has managed to get its percentage of electricity generation from wind and solar up around 40% by aggressive building of wind and solar facilities and forcing the closure of coal plants. And it has been rewarded with consumer electricity rates that are “the highest in the world,” again about triple average U.S. prices. If you want to understand why consumer electricity rates soar as the percentage of power coming from intermittent renewables increases, read my series on the subject here. Basically, the answer is that as intermittent renewables increase, you either need 100% fossil fuel backup (i.e., a full redundant system), or massive batteries that will cost you in the trillions. In the political debate running up to the recent election, the sophistication of the arguments of the proponents of renewable energy ran to the level of “hey, the wind and sun are free!”

I’ll let you decide who are the “smart” ones, and who are the “dumb” and the “morons.” Funny thing is, fancy university educations aren’t much help on this issue.