Industrial

Have the old ruined the planet for the youth as they prepare for the school climate strike tomorrow?

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As the school climate strikes are prepared for tomorrow, it is worth reflecting on the recklessness of the older generations…or not…

At the store check out, the young cashier suggested to the much older lady that she should bring her own grocery bags because plastic bags are not good for the environment.

The woman apologized to the young girl and explained, “We didn’t have this ‘green thing’ back in my earlier days.”

The young clerk responded, “That’s our problem today. Your generation did not care enough to save our environment for future generations.”

The older lady said that she was right our generation didn’t have the “green thing” in its day. The older lady went on to explain: Back then, we returned milk bottles, soda bottles and beer bottles to the store. The store sent them back to the plant to be washed and sterilized and refilled, so it could use the same bottles over and over. So they really were recycled.

But we didn’t have the “green thing” back in our day. Grocery stores bagged our groceries in brown paper bags that we reused for numerous things. Most memorable besides household garbage bags was the use of brown paper bags as book covers for our school books. This was to ensure that public property (the books provided for our use by the school) was not defaced by our scribblings. Then we were able to personalize our books on the brown paper bags.

But, too bad we didn’t do the “green thing” back then. We walked up stairs because we didn’t have an escalator in every store and office building. We walked to the grocery store and didn’t climb into a 300-horsepower machine every time we had to go two blocks. But she was right. We didn’t have the “green thing” in our day.

Back then we washed the baby’s diapers because we didn’t have the throw-away kind. We dried clothes on a line, not in an energy-gobbling machine burning up 220 volts. Wind and solar power really did dry our clothes back in our early days.

Kids got hand-me-down clothes from their brothers or sisters, not always brand-new clothing. But that young lady is right; we didn’t have the “green thing” back in our day.
Back then we had one TV, or radio, in the house — not a TV in every room. And the TV had a small screen the size of a handkerchief (remember them?), not a screen the size of the state of Montana.

In the kitchen, we blended and stirred by hand because we didn’t have electric machines to do everything for us.

When we packaged a fragile item to send in the mail, we used wadded up old newspapers to cushion it, not Styrofoam or plastic bubble wrap.

Back then, we didn’t fire up an engine and burn gasoline just to cut the lawn. We used a push mower that ran on human power.

We exercised by working so we didn’t need to go to a health club to run on treadmills that operate on electricity. But she’s right; we didn’t have the “green thing” back then.

We drank from a fountain when we were thirsty instead of using a cup or a plastic bottle every time we had a drink of water. We refilled writing pens with ink instead of buying a new pen, and we replaced the razor blade in a razor instead of throwing away the whole razor just because the blade got dull. But we didn’t have the “green thing” back then.
Back then, people took the streetcar or a bus and kids rode their bikes to school or walked instead of turning their moms into a 24-hour taxi service in the family’s $45,000 SUV or van, which cost what a whole house did before the “green thing.”

We had one electrical outlet in a room, not an entire bank of sockets to power a dozen appliances. And we didn’t need a computerized gadget to receive a signal beamed from satellites 23,000 miles out in space in order to find the nearest burger joint.
But isn’t it sad the current generation laments how wasteful we old folks were just because we didn’t have the “green thing” back then?

Please forward this on to another selfish old person who needs a lesson in conservation from a smart ass young person. We don’t like being old in the first place, so it doesn’t take much to piss us off… Especially from a tattooed, multiple pierced smartass who can’t make change without the cash register telling them how much.

Something kids will fear way more than climate change

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Is there one thing greater than climate change that can cause children irreparable harm? Yes. Perhaps the kids attending the school climate strikes tomorrow ought to consider that the very smartphone devices that they can’t put down are also harmful to the environment. Will these kids happily give up their smartphones in a quest to save the planet? Will these kids be willing to give up Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter to save their own lives? Not in a million years.

An abstract of a report on the impact of technological devices on GHG emissions by Belkhir & Elmeligi, titled, ‘Assessing ICT global emissions footprint: Trends to 2040 & recommendations is as follows,

In light of the concerted efforts to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions (GHGE) per the so-called Paris Agreement, the Information and Communication Industry (ICT) has received little attention as a significant contributor to GHGE and if anything is often highly praised for enabling efficiencies that help reduce other industry sectors footprint. In this paper, we aim at assessing the global carbon footprint of the overall ICT industry, including the contribution from the main consumer devices, the data centers and communication networks, and compare it with the to the total worldwide GHGE. We conduct a detailed and rigorous analysis of the ICT global carbon footprint, including both the production and the operational energy of ICT devices, as well as the operational energy for the supporting ICT infrastructure. We then compare this contribution to the global 2016-level GHGE. We have found that, if unchecked, ICT GHGE relative contribution could grow from roughly 1–1.6% in 2007 to exceed 14% of the 2016-level worldwide GHGE by 2040, accounting for more than half of the current relative contribution of the whole transportation sector. Our study also highlights the contribution of smartphones and shows that by 2020, the footprint of smartphones alone would surpass the individual contribution of desktops, laptops and displays. Finally, we offer some actionable recommendations on how to mitigate and curb the ICT explosive GHGE footprint, through a combination of renewable energy use, tax policies, managerial actions and alternative business models.”

The study found that the relative emissions share of smartphones is expected to grow to 11% by 2020, exceeding the individual contributions of PCs, laptops and computer displays.

In absolute values, emissions caused by smartphones will jump from 17Mt to 125Mt of CO2 equivalent per year (Mt-CO2e/yr) in that time span or +730%. Most of this occurs at the production stage. Nevertheless with mobile carriers encouraging shorter cycles to upgrade this will only get worse.

ICT will grow from 215Mt-CO2e/yr in 2007 to 764 MtCO2-e/yr by 2020, with data centres (storing all those photos) accounting for about two-thirds of the total contribution.

For comparison purposes, the entire carbon footprint of Australia was about 550 MtCO2-e in 2018.

CM guesses these kids ought to be walking to school too. It is a great lesson in what real sacrifice means. At least they got the day off school.

Long Way Up for Harley

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Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman are apparently planning to ride electric Harley-Davidson Livewire motorcycles from South America to Los Angeles. CM loved the first two series – even bought a BMW R1200GS Adventure in the knowledge of what the bike could do. CM rode to every prefecture in Japan on that bike which to date has been one of the fondest memories of living there 20 years. Experiencing different cultures and places that contrast the crowded cities of Tokyo, Osaka and Nagoya.

The duo is looking to replicate the successful formula of ‘Long Way Round‘ (riding from London to NY) and its sequel ‘Long Way Down‘ (riding from John O’Groats to Cape Town). Unfortunately, the latest offering is unlikely to whip up the same cult status of the originals. Why?

The first two chapters focused on serious hardcore off-roading through the likes of Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Siberia and Africa with all manner of struggles, mishaps and adventures along the way. BMW’s GS series motorcycles did a roaring trade off the back of the success of this trip. It was beta tested to the extreme. It remains BMW’s best selling motorcycle even today.

Unfortunately, given the diabolical long term decline trend in unit sales at Harley-Davidson, it is unlikely that an electric bike with a limited range and next to no luggage carrying capability will make sense in resurrecting the former glories of Milwaukee’s divine franchise. Although it is in line with the rudderless board at H-D which CM has made reference to multiple times.

Harley is planning to launch an adventure bike to compete with the BMW GS, so why hasn’t it chosen that so the brand can promote capabilities which would bring far more attention to the brand’s new capabilities? Will it camp or just check into 5-star hotels with wall sockets?

Sorry, but a bulk of Harley owners want to be seen as leather-clad rebels, not soy latte sipping trendies. Harley-Davidson is probably one of the very few brands that customers are willing to tattoo to their bodies. That is brand power! Furthermore, the whole point of owning a Harley was to enable owners to hide in their mancaves looking and tinker for hours to get peace and quiet from the trouble and strife. Plugging in the Livewire to a wall socket is not the game-changer product Harley needs and will only force husbands to discuss for hours whether ivory or off-beige would be the best tile colour for the bathroom. It will be the worst decision of his life and force a trade-in to fossil-fuel power. 

Harley would be better off buying a scooter maker if it wants to go down the electric route. If Harley analysed its own history it would recall it tried to patent its distinctive sound. How soon it forgets.

The Long Way Up move looks like a massive marketing exercise whereby Ewan and Charley are getting a small fortune to promote a bike that won’t transform Harley in the slightest. CM understands Harley needs to totally revamp its approach to markets but electricity is as far removed from its core brand proposition as to beggar belief.

CM has always said that Harley needs to get back in touch and listen to its core customer base, the very thing Willie Davidson did in the dark days when Harley nearly went bust in the 1980s. That seminal but simple strategy by the founder’s grandson saved Harley.

Often the most sensible business strategies focus not around trying to be something they’re not but celebrating and embracing exactly what they are. Brands have spent a lifetime emulating Harley. Why channel a wonky Taiwanese white goods maker who dabbles in Uber Eats carrying commuter junk?

Atlassian should back the Minerals Council of Australia, not knock it

Atlassian co-CEO Mike Cannon-Brookes (MCB) has apparently been on a campaign trying to get the already left-leaning board of BHP to ditch ties with groups like the Minerals Council of Australia. But why?

CM believes that nothing shows the prosecution of a cause than leading from the front. MCB should use the might of Atlassian’s $32 bn market cap and seek to buy a controlling stake in BHP whereby it can behave like an activist shareholder and achieve those goals from within. A bit rich to demand a company like BHP fold to the whims of another listed corporate which has no direct business with it. That would be terrible governance for BHP to pay MCB any mind.

How would MCB react if BHP CEO Andrew Mackenzie turned around and demanded that Atlassian cut ties with ANZ for being embroiled in the Hayne Banking Royal Commission? MCB would rightly tell him to take a hike.

One doubts that MCB has much of his superannuation buried in BHP shares but why pick on the Minerals Council of Australia? After all, if he had a good look at what Australia’s mineral industry enables, Atlassian should be a backer not a knocker. Why not influence the debate by being part of it?

Here is a list of 30 things Australian minerals companies provide, including vital materials used in wind farms and solar panels, the very forms of renewable energy MCB wants Atlassian to rely on 100% to power its future. MCB’s Tesla is reliant on Aussie minerals to make the batteries. So does his smartphone, tablets, laptops and desktops. And so do the white goods that chill his food and the copper pipes that deliver hot water in his lovely mansion in Sydney. His dentist uses those minerals to maximise his oral hygiene.  The list goes on.

No one can take away the success MCB has achieved in the corporate sphere. However, it would appear that being an expert in the software world doesn’t always translate to being a sage on the environment much less hold any authority to dictate the boardroom discussions of a company that is more crucial to its existence than the other way around.

Chopping down a tree with a herring

How wonderful to have the elite try to lecture on our behaviours. Sir Ian Boyd, the UK Government’s chief climate scientist, has proclaimed that Brits must eat less meat, buy fewer clothes and reconsider heading off to Malaga on EasyJet during the summer break. He suggested that zero net emissions by 2050 will be unsustainable unless the government stops focusing on economic growth. Must have been talking to NZ PM Jacinda Ardern.

Unfortunately, politicians who run a campaign based on crimping economic growth won’t last very long in office when more constituents fall foul of such changes. Never mind, Sir Ian is likely to escape any hardships.

Sir Ian made reference to New Zealand, which has made a lot of effort to include wellness into the economic metrics. Despite the fact that evil Australia explicitly lacks “social wellbeing” in the wording of the official paperwork, CM has already shown the land down under outstrips NZ on a per capita basis across the desired metrics of mental health and so forth that Ardern champions.

Unfortunately, Sir Ian may get his wish, although not perhaps the way he intended. He can make reference to the fact we’re all consuming too much but the reality is that central banks have helped trade us into a corner that relies on front-loading ever more consumption to prevent the economy from imploding. Sadly, when the peons catch the brunt of this, they will be demanding the government dump environmental policies in favour of reviving the economy because marvelling at wind towers won’t fix their malaise. Jonathan Rochford of Narrow Road Capital sums this up nicely,

Just as the first step for an alcoholic is to admit their addiction and the damage it has done, central banks need to start by admitting they have gone too far with monetary policy and have caused substantial economic damage. An apology is owed to savers that have been punished for their prudence and to a generation of young people that have been substantially disadvantaged in their quest to purchase property without incurring excessive levels of debt. Central banks also need to admit that they have tried to use monetary policy to solve problems it simply wasn’t suitable for.”

Everything is a trade-off. However, ceding more control and regulation to governments and central banks around the world that have failed us so terribly to date have no track record to be demanding even more restrictions.

That means if governments want to hit “zero emissions”, stop telling the public how they must comply. Refrain from telling auto-makers they must be all-electric by 2040. How about just giving them the target and letting them decide by what means they will overcome the technological hurdles. That is how ingenuity is created, not by some new quango that will impose ever greater restrictions for next to no palpable return other than inconvenience and shared misery.

Monty Python described it best in the Holy Grail. The Knights of Ni demanded that King Arthur chop down the mightiest tree in the forest with a herring. Sir Ian is expecting that of industry and the Britons themselves. Understandably the “It” word that eventually tortures the Knights of Ni to their demise is actually sustainable “economic growth.”

Why Gerry Harvey’s comments on diversity obsessed companies speak more about our superannuation fund managers

Harvey Norman is currently valued at over $5.1bn, which is c.4x the combined value of Myer and David Jones. Good on Gerry Harvey for getting stuck into the stupidity of diversity quota obsessed boards. He is right. Why are certain funds requesting Harvey Norman hit these soft and irrelevant targets adopted by David Jones & Myer so they can invest under their self imposed ESG guidelines? Surely any company’s performance (assuming they aren’t illegally exploiting child labour) should be all that matters to shareholders? If it works without this gender balance nonsense why fight to change a winning formula?

If anyone is ever fortunate enough to meet Gerry Harvey’s wife, Katie Page (the CEO), it isn’t hard to work out that her gender wasn’t a selection criteria. Fistfuls of competence were. She gets it and not for one fleeting second could anyone ever get the idea that she plays up to the gender card. An utterly pleasant, generous and intelligent individual.

If Gerry Harvey & Katie Page thought Harvey Norman shareholders’ best interests were served by an all female board it would done so based on skill and ability to add value. The gender wouldn’t even be a factor.

Have you noticed why Harvey Norman hasn’t followed the group think pervading all the other companies who pulled their adverts off the Alan Jones Breakfast Show? Because Harvey Norman doesn’t pretend to judge the personal political beliefs of its customers. They only wish to provide the best possible goods that meet market demand, not chase imaginary pixies in the quest to morally preen. However it perfectly describes the decision making processes inside less competent boards when they blindly follow the herd rather than independently validate scenarios based on data, relevance and common sense. We now know over 40 companies didn’t.

The only diversity required is that of thought – not gender, race, sexual preference or religion. However don’t be surprised to see locals run Harvey Norman’s overseas businesses – driven by the fact they understand local conditions better than a helicoptered expat.

Maybe it is high time these superannuation funds actually decide to do some homework on the companies they invest in. To drop this focus on nanny-state driven diversity targets and actually look at the companies themselves as “businesses”.

CM guarantees that the companies that focus on this socially constructed diversity balance nonsense will severely underperform when tough times approach. Because decisive leadership in a crisis can be found with leaders like Katie Page, not with those companies that put everything else but ability as the key selection criteria.

The bigger concern down the line will be that these CSR/ESG and equality obsessed fund managers will have parked so much money in the wrong names that the retirements of millions of Aussies will be severely crimped by this muck. Let there be no mistake – super holders will not thank these woke investors for chasing irrelevant internal constructs over viable businesses when reality dawns that they have much less than they anticipated for retirement. Maybe that is what CM should have said to the ATO when he set up his SMSF.

73 days to drop fossil fuels

73 days? CM thought we had 12 years. If that’s the outcome then it’s time to party hard. Well 73 days actually equates to the upcoming national election in Canada although Canadian Green’s leader Elizabeth May has made the bold prediction that unless Canada transitions off fossil fuels by the election date it faces unsafe levels of heat and a climate catastrophe.

Will Canadians be so afraid of heat that they’ll vote in such lunacy given the overwhelming drubbings handed out to parties with a “carbon” agenda in provinces like Alberta and Ontario?

The only hot air Canadians need worry about is that coming from her mouth.