Drove to Melbourne and back a few weeks ago. Haven’t driven interstate for decades; haven’t owned a car for about eight years. Could I still drive? Still not sure because the Hume Highway offers little challenges. Two generous lanes, dual carriageway, all the way. Rest areas aplenty.
Not long out of England, many decades ago, I worked for the Queensland Main Roads Department and was stationed in a camp near Cardwell. A new long section of the Pacific Highway [Correction, as reader miltonf points out, it was the the Bruce Highway in that neck of the woods] was being laid next to the crumbling existing road. One lane each way. I asked the foreman why the opportunity was not taken to build a four-lane highway. You don’t understand, he replied patiently. Australia’s a big country with relatively few people.
Since then, the population has more than doubled. Still, Australia hasn’t shrunk in size, and the population remains small in the scheme of things, yet now we can afford modern motorways. And there’s more. From motorways to urban side roads. A perfectly serviceable laneway near where I live was dug up by the local council a little while ago and the bitumen replaced with fancy paving. How have such wonders been possible?
Let me guess, I don’t believe the Greens or Teals or even Laborites ask themselves this singular question. If they did they might conclude that cheap, abundant and reliable energy has played a vital part in our ascending prosperity. Essentially they are Cargo Cultists. They see what we have but don’t see how it was wrought. This will turn out to be a fatal blindness for them and, most particularly, for us.
When you don’t appreciate how things are made, and how hard it is, your plans (however unrealistic and unachievable) become your reality.
Plans to build nine times the existing number of wind and solar farms, to crisscross the country with 13,000 to 28,000 kms of new transmission lines, to construct new dams and pumped hydro, to become the world leader in green hydrogen production and export. These are paper constructs. Back-office imaginings. Meanwhile coal-power stations are actually being demolished. Real power out; imaginary power in. This won’t end well; to put a euphemistic gloss on it.