Category Archives: Government

LIMITING HIGH ENERGY USERS

Energy was rationed in war-time to conserve scarce supplies. Less severe scarcity was dealt with by allowing the price to rise. A person’s energy consumption was mostly unregulated, without limits on demand. 

The Paris Agreement in 2016 . . .

‘. . . set out a global framework signed by 192 nations to avoid dangerous climate change with a long-term goal of keeping the increase in global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels; to aim to limit the increase to 1.5°C, since this would significantly reduce risks and the impacts of climate change; the need for global emissions to peak as soon as possible, recognising that this will take longer for developing countries; to undertake rapid reductions thereafter in accordance with the best available science, so as to achieve a balance between emissions and containment in the second half of the century.’

Under this agreement, nations ‘volunteered’ to limit emission levels. A small number of nations emit most of the emissions and these high emitters would observe the same growth limits as low emitters. Nations causing most warming would have the same proportional restriction as those causing least. 

The focus on so-called greenhouse gases, having warming qualities which are hypothetical, are associated with energy emissions from combustion, either by direct release in combustion or indirectly from intermediate products such as electricity, during and after use. Thermal energy emissions are more significant but not included.

The burden of emissions reduction would fall on developed nations with the highest per capita electricity consumption, with self-indulgent demand such as for air conditioning, whereas poor nations might possibly have no electricity connected and need the growth desperately? In developed countries, most energy is consumed as electricity and petrol.

In a developed country, the restriction of emissions growth could conceivably limit the use of a third family car, whereas in an undeveloped country, a carless family could have use of its washing machine limited, requiring more manual labour. Is this an equitable difference?

There is no precedent for the limitation by The Paris Agreement, of demand for energy, or any commodity, in order to make a contribution to reducing universal external costs of climate change. It is an unprecedented restriction of energy growth with disproportionate effect on developing countries. At best, it is a bold attempt to rein in emissions growth but heavily weighted against low energy users who need that growth to develop.

At worst, the regulation of emissions limits standards of living, because emissions are associated with combustion and energy consumption, as is the standard of living. 

Do people have a right to limitless energy consumption, as they do to oxygen from the air? Per capita emissions in developed nations are much larger than in undeveloped nations who would be cutback proportionally. Could the developed nations cutback their emissions without preventing developing countries attaining a similar standard of energy use? Could emissions cuts depend on emissions, in the same way that income tax rates depend on income. Emitters should have to suffer greater cuts proportional to their high energy use. High polluters should have to compensate low polluters.

An energy consumption tax is needed, whose function is to penalize high personal consumption of high-emission energy and subsidise low consumption, low-emission energy.
If you agree, tell your politician.

My other writing on growth, energy and rights is at https://martinknox.com

CAN THERMAL POLLUTION BE FAIRER?

Suppose countries’ heat energy inputs to the environment would be proportional to their electricity consumption. This is shown for a selection of countries in the table on a per capita basis. Their growth in electricity consumption is given over the past 35 years. Would the fairest way be to 1) assign cuts in electricity consumption to get an equal percentage reduction in per capita consumption or 2) for high consumers to pay compensation to low consumers? My purpose is to demonstrate thermal pollution can be fairly assigned by arbitrary reduction of growth in per capita electricity consumption.

Source: ourworldindata.org My writing on growth is at https://martinknox.com

Countries could reduce thermal pollution by taking a percentage cut in per capita electricity consumption or high users could compensate low users. Presumably World citizens have rights to an amount of thermal pollution?

VARY SOCIAL AFFINITY BUT NOT HUMAN RIGHTS

Some time ago I posted a piece questioning whether humans are more like bees or Australian brush turkeys. https://wp.me/p1z4yo-lM Bees are gregarious and nurture their offspring, whereas brush turkeys never meet their parents and lead solitary lives except for mating. Most humans are between these extremes.

To evaluate human developments, particularly those that control behaviour, such as political and economic systems, it is helpful to have agreed humankind’s destiny there. They could provide for hive-like sociality, or isolation, or alternate between the two.

It is difficult choose which way is best for humans. Tradition could express atavistic longing for the kinds of group living evolved by primates and hominids. Some humans in lockdown from the pandemic have suffered a deficit of communal care by traditional standards. Others have enjoyed more than usual.

There are many considerations other than tradition and pandemics. People can be individualistic and selfish, or altruistic and kind to strangers. There is a spectrum of ‘social affinity’ with people and nations varying widely. Countries ideally accept tourists’ selfishness but they may find observing local customs of tipping service off-putting, or even offensive. 

Strengths of bonding between people and within communities can increase or decrease with hardship, wealth and war. It is possible that as material prosperity increases, individuals become less group-minded. Conversely, dislocation can foster selfishness.

It is unlikely that human psyches can flex enough to change their position very far along the spectrum. We would not expect a brush turkey to take to living in a beehive, nor a bee to be content to live estranged from its kind like brush turkeys. Perhaps the amount of sociality for humans should not be a monotheism, but we will enjoy living with diversity, both in local communities and within a community of nations.

Totalitarianism exists where humans are subjected to a central dictatorial authority, with civil society replaced by atomised individuals, who feel isolated, superfluous and fearful, without rights. There are too many nations where such conditions exist, including several superpowers. These offensive regimes can be mitigated by attention to human rights.

To avoid totalitarianism, a person must have their rights respected, such as to have a fair trial. Will bees in a crowded hive inevitably have fewer rights than free-roaming brush turkeys? Humans in densely populated countries need as many or even more rights than in sparsely populated countries like Australia. Isolated individuals may have fewer encounters with others but they could be as harmful and as cruel. 

In summary, the social affinity of individuals is part of the fabric of life and can differ between countries. People have different experiences and need to be tolerant of others within sectarian cultures, especially under totalitarianism, where individuals need rights at least as protective of them as of isolated individuals in other countries. There are turkeys everywhere.

My writing on this and other topics is at https://martinknox.com

Brush Turkey

AUSTRALIAN REPUBLIC POSSIBLE?

In the past, partisan conflict in Australian has been quelled by constitutional intercession of the nation’s monarch resident in the UK, Queen Elizabeth. In my futuristic novel The Grass is Always Browner, it is speculated that secular government of Australia in the year 2250 would have come under the democratic control of members of an Indigenous Dynasty, who are traditional custodians of the land. Vicki and Abajoe’s epic love story is action-packed with scenes that extrapolate recent social, religious, economic and technological themes. Issues of regional security, drought, population growth, immigration, food supply, climate change and political rivalry are explored. This is speculative fiction that will get you thinking about what could lie ahead for this land as it considers an alternative head of government.

https;//martinknox.com

<span>%d</span> bloggers like this: