Submission to the Victorian Greenhouse Strategy

by Michael Gunter

stra'teg|y generalship, the art of war; management of an army or armies in a campaign, art of so moving or disposing troops or ships or aircraft as to impose upon the enemy the place and time and conditions for fighting preferred by oneself [ f. F strategie f. Gk strategia generalship] Concise Oxford Dictionary 7th Edition

"It's the ENERGY Market, Stupid"

Australia has become "the greatest share owning democracy in the world". The growth of superannuation schemes in recent years has further alienated Australians from the control of our own money. Another name for this is greed by proxy.

The conventions of neo-classical economics are using this wealth to greedily exploit the Earth's natural capital as never before at recklessly unsustainable rates. Resource depletion, water pollution, salinity, soil degradation, the ozone hole and the enhanced greenhouse effect are the "inevitable" consequences.

Although many ordinary Australians own shares, the real distribution of wealth is increasingly concentrated in the hands of a few, especially in terms of the control of the wealth. Thus globalisation and neo-classical economics are failing to deliver on the promise of prosperity for all: the American dream is in danger of becoming our worst nightmare.

Because global financial capital is destroying the planet for future generations, it has cast itself into the role of enemy of ordinary mums, dads and families. When we invest in shares and superannuation schemes, we lose effective control over what our money is used for, and through global capital markets it is almost universally being used to destroy the Earth's natural capital, such as prehistoric sequestered carbon (so-called "fossil fuels"), clean water, clean air, forests, even traditional agricultural lands are being destroyed by greedy agri-business practices.

Elected governments in Australia's federal, independent, sovereign pseudo-republic gain their ultimate authority and legitimacy from the people who elect them, not from the corporations who lobby them after election day, and who fund the election campaigns. Governments must begin to claw back the oversight, if not the detailed control, of their economies from clutches of unbridled capital. The present situation is tantamount to terra nullius from the perspective of capital influx, with governments around the world lamenting that they are powerless to guide, direct or control the money as to what it is used for. The seductive attempt of global capital to set-up shop in our region with ecologically unsustainable projects must be resisted through 100% transparent public assessment processes. Otherwise we have surrendered our sovereignty completely.

History and climate science have now shown brown coal utilisation at present levels (per capita) in Victoria to be just such an unsustainable activity. If Sir John Monash were alive today, the great military strategist would immediately see the dangers of foreign control, the loss of sovereignty and the potential risk to the long-term ecological sustainability of our culture and people. He would be appalled at how we let our defences down, and let the enemy march in without a fight.

The Cain Government exacerbated massive emissions growth with more brown coal generation, and massive long-distance transmission losses to Portland, only to produce large quantities of perfluorocarbons in the Alcoa pot lines. Perfluorocarbons live for a thousand years in the atmosphere, and have a greenhouse forcing effect six thousand times greater than carbon dioxide. Corporate welfare continues each year to the tune of $200 million with the hidden payment of this amount by electricity consumers to Alcoa through the Portland Smelter Agreements. The Australia Institute has put out an economic analysis only this year which details that the Australian economy would actually be better-off if the aluminium smelting industry did not exist on our shores. And of course, it is the taxpayer who will carry the cost of storms, floods, droughts, bushfires, and skin cancers in addition to subsidising Alcoa's wholesale electricity purchases. Transfer pricing adds insult to injury.

Capital markets and Western-style governments have a woeful record of reckless "develop at any cost" attitudes and actions. Governments have failed to protect our common wealth, and allowed economic control to fall into the hands of the enemy planet wreckers. As environmental degradation becomes increasingly obvious to all, pressure from small investors will mount for the utilisation of our financial capital in truly ecologically sustainable investments. State and Federal governments must show true leadership and urgently play a facilitating role in this by putting financial markets on notice to focus only on the rapid evolution of an ecologically sustainable, job-creating infrastructure. In this way, our evolving multi-cultural society may be supported for another 60,000 years on this continent. In only 0.3% of that time span we seem to have destroyed most of the assets that were in place at the time of European invasion. We need a vision of how to give back the 99.7 per cent of the time that we have stolen from future generations.

Reductionist Agendas and Victoria's Energy Future - "Divide and Conquer"

The Victorian Greenhouse Strategy Discussion Paper (VGSDP) has fallen into the trap of dealing with Victoria's energy future in the context of existing infrastructure. The vertically integrated infrastructure of the former SECV persists today as a fully integrated real-time electric energy delivery system: one hundred times every second, 360,000 times every hour, fleeting pulses of electric energy are created mostly in coal-fired generators and simultaneously "consumed" by the machines of industry and by the myriad consumer gadgets which litter our homes like confetti. This electric circuit concept (i.e. reality!) of generation and consumption occurring in the same instant seriously calls into question the value of the VGSDP analysis/break-down of the problem into "energy supply" and "energy use". This seems like an exercise in blame shifting by the polluters: If we had a comparably priced 100% sustainable source of electricity supply, then obviously the only imperative for consumers would be to restrict usage to conserve their savings: there would not be a problem with electricity consumption from the greenhouse point of view!

The VGSDP analysis therefore runs the risk that the reductionist approach will cloud our perceptions of the best options, strategies and actions to take. Indeed the analysis assumes the indefinite perpetuation of the existing infrastructure1, when in fact the only ecologically sustainable means of providing for the legitimate energy needs of Victorian residents might be something completely different.

Constructive Engagement in Electricity Competition

Victorians, as investors of capital, and as consumers of electricity, must not be tricked and deceived by the clever spin of powerful vested interests into believing that they can ignore the potential risks to future generations in order to have an acceptable lifestyle now. Victorians need to see the enormous opportunities for empowerment and independence available by engaging constructively (and with outstanding economic efficiency) in the selective BYPASS of the existing monopoly electricity transmission and distribution networks.

Below are a few examples of strategies that home owning investor/consumers must adopt to wage a successful war against the burgeoning emissions growth that threatens the lives of their descendants:

Our quality of life is enhanced knowing that we are acting responsibly towards future generations, and most reasonable entities (people, corporations) should accept some lifestyle adjustments if a consensus emerges that it is the only ethically responsible course of action for a global citizen. If added inducements are needed, it is not beyond the bounds of possibility that an International Court of Justice in The Hague may allow a court case to proceed against rescidivist greenhouse emitters on the basis that their continued activity constitutes a crime against humanity in the form of "trans-generational genocide"5: after all, climate science computer modelling is running the "fast forward button" allowing us to see our own future in ways that our parents and their lawyers never dreamed of.

The bleak future vision of computer climate models provides a powerful driver for the present generation to redouble our efforts to compete effectively against present-day polluters so that market forces put them out of business. The biggest impediments are our lack of imagination, and our gullibility to believe the lies and hype of the energy industry incumbents' propaganda machines. If they made bad investment decisions, then their investors must accept the losses, as any realistic capital investor must ultimately do. There is no room for more corporate welfare or bail-outs of losers. Tell them to go and talk to Alan Stockdale for a lesson on the true meaning of the word inevitability. The future of the human gene pool is at stake.

Melbourne 15th November 2000

About the author: Forty-something baby boomer Michael Gunter is a committed environmental activist and electricity industry "insider" who owns the Breamlea Wind Generator and operates it by remote control down an 80 km telephone line, selling SEDA-accredited Green Power to CitiPower. As primary parenting person to three children since March 1987 he has invested heavily in the future of the human gene pool by inter alia "wiping pooey bums" for ten years, and is not prepared to see that investment undone by any entity or entities which may be negligently destroying the irreplaceable substrate on which the human gene pool relies: the Earth's healthy biosphere is that irreplaceable substrate. He routinely neglects housework to turn his Kensington home into a living renewable energy laboratory and inventor's workshop. He has been a member of the Alternative Technology Association since 1985, and is also a trustee of the Renewable Energy Development Trust. He has never studied engineering at tertiary level, neither does he have any trade qualifications as an electrician. However in 1970 he obtained a Special Distinction in HSC (now VCE) Physics. In monitoring his solar hot water system for eighteen years, he observes that the system can be run on only 600 kilowatt-hours/yr of electric boosting in Melbourne's climate. A qualified medical practitioner, he worked in hospital medicine for ten years before the parenting /green activist "career move." He writes for ReNew magazine.

1 Consider the foolhardiness of Basslink in this context: People still think that Tasmania's use of electricity to heat water is OK because it comes from hydro-electricity, but the Basslink proponents have conveniently omitted to tell Tasmanians that their off peak storage electric water heaters will suddenly become "responsible" for up to 2 million tonnes per year of CO2 emissions as soon as Basslink becomes operational. NGIL is not offering to buy the carbon credits for all the new emissions that Basslink will very probably encourage by extending the market reach of cheap baseload coal power, so the burden falls..........on the Tassie taxpayer??



4 Listen to the RealAudio at

5 See also the "right to life" argument especially developed for Catholic Premiers and Catholic Herald-Sun editors at Ten million billion unborn souls are telling us to stop trashing the planet (it's in the Appendix - red text at the bottom of the document)

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