Thursday, February 01, 2007

Still the Lucky Country

Somewhere along the way over these last ten years, I lost that feeling that comes with buying into to the sentiment that Australia is the Lucky Country. I felt we had surrendered the title in Kyoto. But c'mon ozzy, how spoilt rotten am I? It's not like we're the really unlucky country.

I looked up how much we had worth in energy resources:


We have 73 billion tonnes of identified in situ black coal resources, enough to last over 200 years at current rates of export, according to the Australian Coal Association. That is $A4.9 trillion worth. A tidy nest-egg.

In 2005 we exported 30% of the world's coal. And 30% of the global resultant carbon dioxide emissions. Not so cool. It's a bit like crapping in your nest.


Before returning to upbeat, I do want to point out that it is this externalised cost that we have to factor in - the coal we export today that comes back to us in debilitated climate in our 50th annual reporting cycle. The Stern Report reckons that unchecked rates of carbon dioxide emissions will set our global economy back by 25% by then.

Using this measure our coal nest-egg is really only worth $3.6 trillion.

Still. That's good. Maybe not quite up there with the big swinging dicks, but certainly "relaxed and comfortable". Mission accomplished down under.


Call me old fashioned... I think we should be keeping all our uranium reserves our own bloody secret, not telling India and China how much we have! Indian army: 890,000 active troops, ranking at #3. Chinese army: 1.7 million active troops, ranking at #1. Australian army: 54,000 active troops, ranking #68. Think I am chicken, punk? No. of countries in this picture that posess nuclear weapons: 2. Do you think one of those two is us?

Shhhhh.Walk around quietly, hide the size of your stick. Don't sell sticks.

Not a fair treatment of the subject of uranium? Ok, here are more serious estimates:

Australia boasts something like 40% of the world's uranium, or 28% of recoverable reserves depending whose statistics you read.

Coal will last us 200 years. Australia has enough uranium to last... well, one global newclear war, really. In economics this is known as a trade externality, and in the military, as blowback.

Solar energy

All I can find on Google is this quote, which I believe to be accurate since Dr Davis Mills told it to Kerry O'Brien on the 7:30 Report tonight:

The amount of solar energy hitting Australia in one summer day is about half the total annual global energy use! Prof. Martin Green

In 2004 the worldwide energy consumption of the human race was estimated as 15 TW by the United States Energy Information Administration.[1](TW=1012 Watts). We export 30% of the the world's coal at $24.5 billion per annum. Coal provides 3.5 TW annual energy globally. Extrapolating out, the world's coal market is worth $81.7 billion p.a., and the world's total energy bill (minus externalities) is worth four times that at $326.8 billion in coal terms.

My rock-climbing logic gets me to this heady summit -- the amount of solar energy hitting Australia is worth about $163.4 billion, with no externalities, in one summer day!

Ah, that lucky country feeling is starting to come back again. As if we couldn't harness the solar energy if we set our minds to it? We are so bloody ingenious a nation that we give away our best civilising innovations and innovators, mainly to California. Like the blackbox flight recorder, the car-radio, and the refrigerator.

And, Dr David Mills.

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