American Conversations Part I

Hopefully the punditry is wrong and descent into a Romanesque end isn't the final curtain call, writes Tim Humphries

It began with an interview I did with Libertarian radio host of the popular LRM.FM program Liberty Conspiracy with Gardner Goldsmith. The touchstones of North and South Korea plunged our cordial conversation into Trade, International Relations, Currency and the Economic drivers of same both at home and abroad.

The interlocking histories of Australian, American and Chinese involvement on the world stage also figured prominently. However what grabbed my attention was the idea that America was sliding from the world stage and that her pre-eminence was being usurped by China.

Competing academic debates and visions of Chinese Power in the 21st Century amount to precisely naught if we do not acknowledge the pivotal and relevant role China is playing. With American debts topping 1.17 trillion in November 2012 the question remains where to next for China's biggest customer?

The first instinct would be to answer "straight to the debt collection agency!". However there is a deeper issue at play. This relates not just to the reality of America, but America's vision of itself.

My thinking immediately returned to the question of pre-eminence and the potential for China to replace America as the dominant International hegemony within the next fifty years. Many analysts more experienced then yours truly would scoff at such suggestions. 

However all markers seem to indicate the inexorable rise of China will continue long into this decade and confirm the oft repeated and at times annoying Orwellian mantra that this is the "Asian Century".

Funnily enough as Gardner Goldsmith's North Eastern accent washed over the Skype line and explored the Libertarian angles around our discussion, I suddenly remembered the words of Clive James who said poignantly of America:

Shining because of its decay, ablaze with its consuming fires, a multiple injection of phosphorescent amphetamine's into a sky sick with brilliance, New York [America] is the world's most stunning proof that where there is light there is always darkness. And it's because the darkness runs so deep it burns so bright.

With such an image burned upon my literary retina, I suddenly realised the symbolic importance of my discussion with my New England friend.

Today's America is much like Times Square in New York City. Ablaze with financial, trade and strategic manoeuvres they flash across the screen and burn bright upon the International passersby.

America may seem powerful, however its debt ridden position is reducing that power to the residual glow that flickers and pulses from the decrepit media receptacles that spew forth the decaying and all consuming cultural fire that Clive Jame's words so brilliantly allude to. 

Hopefully the punditry is wrong and descent into a Romanesque end isn't the final curtain call.

Timothy W. Humphries is Assistant Managing Editor of Menzies House and writes from Brisbane, Queensland. 

See Clive James' Postcard of New York for more:



Australia leads the way – to poverty

In 2009-2010 Australia gave $41.1 million in foreign aid to China. In 2011 the Gillard government said they would remove China and India from the foreign aid program. But, you know what Gillard does. 2012-2013 we will give China $18.1 million.

Why are we padding the pocket of the largest commodity consumer on earth? China is the largest manufacturer of solar and wind products in the world. But, they don't use them in China. They don't give a tinker's cuss about Co2, they never did and they never will. But Australia charges down the road to poverty. GC.Ed.

One thing is clear: China's solar and wind power industries have grown at warp speed. Since 2008, production capacity of both photovoltaic (PV) modules used to assemble solar panels and wind turbines has doubled annually. China now dominates the world in manufacturing of PV modules and wind power equipment, producing far more than the domestic market can absorb. For instance, in 2010 China produced 8 gigawatts (GW) of PV modules, but only about 5% were used domestically; 95% would have to be exported. 

Read more:

Around 6.6 billion tonnes of hard coal were used worldwide last year and 1 billion tonnes of brown coal. Since 2000, global coal consumption has grown faster than any other fuel. The five largest coal users – China, USA, India, Russia and Japan – account for 76% of total global coal use.

Read more:

European Union probes China on solar panels

BEIJING (AFP) – China said Thursday it "deeply
regrets" a European Union decision to probe claims solar panel products
were being sold by Chinese firms below cost and warned of problems potential
penalties may cause.

EU ProSun, a group of more than 20 European solar panel
makers, in July called on the European Commission to impose tariffs to punish
its Chinese rivals who it suspects "dumped" goods and received
subsidies from Beijing.

The European Union said Thursday it has decided to start an
anti-dumping investigation after evidence provided by EU ProSun showed the
Chinese products have had "substantial adverse effects on the financial
situation of the Union industry".

Read more

Fact vs Fiction: China & Clean Energy

Senator Christine Milne, Deputy Leader Of The Australian Greens:

Australia is in danger of being left behind as China moves to position itself as a key player in carbon markets whilst investing heavily in renewable energy, clean technology and electrification of the vehicle fleet

The Economist this week – China's Polution Visible From Space:

World Health Organisation guidelines suggest that PM2.5 levels above ten micrograms per cubic metre are unsafe. The boffins have found (as the map shows) that almost every Chinese province has levels above that. Indeed, much of the country’s population endures air so foul that it registers above 30 on the PM2.5 scale, with Shandong and Henan provinces topping 50. Because these readings reflect the average pollution that a typical resident in a province is likely to endure during a given year, they underplay the sharp spikes in pollution that are seen on particularly dirty days, when spot readings go much higher. That is why Beijingers should take little comfort from the fact that the capital’s pollution measures only 35.  

Tim Andrews

h/t Instapundit

Give Me More Cash: Obama seeks $1.2 Trillion Debt limit rise


President Obama, in a one-sentence letter to House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner, the top Republican in Congress, said "further borrowing is required to meet existing commitments."

The proposed increase would push the US debt ceiling to $16.394 trillion.



Even before the euro crisis, people were worried about Europe’s pension bomb.

State-funded pension obligations in 19 of the European Union nations were about five times higher than their combined gross debt, according to a study commissioned by the European Central Bank. The countries in the report compiled by the Research Center for Generational Contracts at Freiburg University in 2009 had almost 30 trillion euros ($39.3 trillion) of projected obligations to their existing populations.

Germany accounted for 7.6 trillion euros and France 6.7 trillion euros of the liabilities, authors Christoph Mueller, Bernd Raffelhueschen and Olaf Weddige said in the report.

And according to JP Morgan…


Australia is "vulnerable" to recession in 2012 as the global economy deals with the potential ramifications of the worsening European sovereign debt crisis.

JPMorgan chief economist Stephen Walters said the Australian economy was not as well placed now compared to the start of the downturn, given the nation's fiscal position.

There is no way Wayne Swan will get the budget back into surplus by 2012-2013.

And more bad news according to Citigroup…


China’s economy is likely to slow sharply this year as the country's recent growth has been unstable and driven by credit and property bubbles, a senior Citigroup private bank executive said yesterday.

Train wreck

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Greg Sheridan Demolishes Malcolm Turnbull

Greg Sheridan, the highly-respected Foreign Affairs Editor of The Australian, eviscerates Malcolm Turnbull for being devoid of values, well outside the Australian Mainstream (and certainly to the left of Labor, let alone the Coalition), and "overestimated intellectually", in a hard-hitting piece in the Weekend Australian. Some extracts:

MALCOLM Turnbull has delivered two important speeches on China that help explain why he was such a disastrous Liberal leader and why he should never be considered for the leadership again.

The two speeches were to the London School of Economics in October and to Asialink this week. They contradict Liberal Party policy, they contradict Liberal leader Tony Abbott and Liberal foreign affairs spokeswoman Julie Bishop, and they show Turnbull as well to the left not only of his party but of the Gillard government, and indeed of Kevin Rudd. They suggest Turnbull's values and world view are in many respects outside the mainstream of his party, and on some key matters outside the mainstream of Australian life.

Yet in other ways the speeches are not left-wing. Rather they are devoid of political values at all. It is worth noting that in two long speeches about China neither the words, nor the concept, of human rights received any mention.

But I think Turnbull is overestimated intellectually. His is the kind of intelligence which can be relied upon to have read the most fashionable books of any moment, but you wonder about his ability to take the longer view, his sense – or lack of it in this case – of any strategic culture.

This nonsense from Turnbull does not constitute serious strategic thinking. But politically it suggests a lot of Turnbull-centred turbulence may well lie ahead for the Liberal Party.

Read the whole thing. 



China to Waste $1.9 Trillion: Wind Power Set for Full-Blown Growth

Andys RantEven the Chinese have been sucked in to tackling imaginary CAGW.



Wind power is set to meet 17 percent of China's electricity demand by 2050, according to goals set by the Energy Research Institute under the National Development & Reform Commission and the International Energy Agency. The country’s installed wind power capacity will reach 200 million, 400 million and 1 billion kilowatts, respectively, by 2020, 2030, and 2050, according to the roadmap report jointly released by the two agencies on Wednesday.

China will invest a total of 12 trillion yuan ($1.9 trillion – $47.5 billion per year) in the next 40 years to achieve this goal.

I honestly thought the Chinese were smarter than this – I figured they'd hit the mother lode by exporting wind turbines to suckers like us.

Given the average Wind Turbine pumps out (when there is wind) around 1,500 kilowatts my back of the envelope calculations tell me that China by 2050 will need to manufacture and install over 666,665 Wind Turbines.

Now the typical build specifications of a standard 1,500 kilowatt wind turbine are as follows:

The rotor assembly for one turbine – that’s the blades and rotor – weighs over 22,000 Kg and the nacelle, which contains the generator components, weighs over 52,000 Kg.

All this sits on a turbine tower constructed from 80,000 Kg of rolled steel plate and in turn all this (blades, rotor, nacelle and tower) stands on a concrete base constructed from 26,000 Kg of reinforcing steel which also contains over 190 cubic metres of concrete (that’s over 190,000 litres of concrete).

Each and every wind turbine has a magnet made of a metal called neodymium. There are 2,500 Kg of it in each turbine.

Therefore, 666,665 wind turbines would need 53.3 billion Kg of rolled steel plate for the tower plus a further 17.3 billion Kg of reinforced steel and 126.6 billion litres of concrete (equivalent to approximately 50,665 Olympic pools) to make the reinforced concrete base.

Each turbine blade is made of glass fibre reinforced plastics, (GRP), i.e. glass fibre reinforced polyester or epoxy and on average each turbine blade weighs around 7,000 Kg each. Given each wind turbine has three blades then 13.99 billion Kg of GRP is needed.

1.6 billion Kg of the rare earth mineral (does enough of this stuff exist?) neodymium would also be needed.

To create a 1,000 Kg of pig iron, you start with 1,800 Kg of iron ore, 900 Kg of coking coal 450 Kg of limestone. The blast furnace consumes 4,500 Kg of air. The temperature at the core of the blast furnace reaches nearly 1,600 degrees C (about 3,000 degrees F).

The pig iron is then transferred to the basic oxygen furnace to make steel. An amazing 127.1 billion Kg or 127 million tons of iron ore would be needed to be mined alone to supply the steel required to manufacture these wind turbines.

63.5 billion Kg of coking coal and 31.77 billion Kg of limestone would also need to be mined.

Now imagine the amount of Carbon Dioxide emissions released in the manufacture of 666,665 wind turbines and we haven’t even considered the manufacture of the thousands of pylons and tens of thousands of kilometres of transmission wire needed to get the power to the grid. And what about the land space needed?

A typical wind farm of 20 turbines can extend over 101 hectares of land. So China will need to find approximately 3.36 million hectares or 33,666 Km2 of land or an area half the size of Tasmania. 

When you think about it, there are two accidents of nature that have made it much easier for human technology to advance and flourish. One is the huge availability of iron ore. The second is the accessibility of vast quantities of oil and coal to power the production of iron. Without iron and energy, we probably would not have gotten nearly as far as we have today.

You see, renewables like wind turbines will incur far more carbon dioxide emissions in their manufacture and installation than what their operational life will ever save.

Maybe it’s just me, but doesn’t the “cure” of using wind turbines sound worse than the problem? A bit like amputating your leg to “cure” your in-growing toe nail?

And as for the Chinese spending $47.5 billion a year for the next 40 years on wind turbines proves they are just as dumb as we are in tackling imaginary CAGW.


UK Green taxes could force one in four into fuel poverty

Energy industry analyst Martin Brough, of Deutsche Bank, warned that a quarter of households could be driven into fuel poverty by 2015.

While we follow stupid Greens polices expect to see more Australians forced into fuel poverty too.


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Reproduced exclusively with permission from Andy’s RANT!

Barnett thinks Chinese understand business and WA better than the Kanberra Komrades Kommunity (KKK) aka ALP

WA Premier Colin Barnett says relations between Western Australia and the Gillard government are at a low point, and the Premier has begun forging closer links with Beijing rather than Canberra as economic power shifts to the resource-rich state.

Mr Barnett told the Perth forum, attended by 350 business leaders, that Western Australia's closer ties with China were occurring because 60 per cent of Australia's exports to the Asian superpower were from his state. China invested more in Australia than in any other country. Of that investment, about 80 per cent went into Western Australia.

Mr Barnett said Western Australia accounted for 44 per cent of Australia's exports, equal to the sum of exports from NSW, Victoria and Queensland.

Is that the sound of the secession clock I hear ticking?

Andy Semple

Speak without fear and Question with Boldness

In the news…

Premier Mike Rann won the South Australian election, but not before a few Liberals took some key seats off Labor (including the one where Premier Rann lives – which isn't in his electorate). Some dodgy tactics were employed by Labor though that have had local talkback radio chattering all week.

Meanwhile, business is concerned in Tasmania about the implications of a hung parliament there, with 10 Liberals, 10 Labor and five Greens elected at the weekend.

In the NT, reports are emerging of people who are getting pregnant just so they can access the often controversial baby bonus.

Osama bin Laden has resurfaced threatening the United States with more deaths if they execute the mastermind of the September 11 attacks, as if he wasn't planning on it anyway.

Earth Hour is on this weekend, but some activists from the other side of the debate will be celebrating Human Achievement Hour instead.

And finally NASA has had an ordeal with slow Australian internet. They might need to come back after we blow $43 billion on a new network, but by the time that eventually gets delivered it will probably be, once again, outdated.

Have a great weekend!