Ketan Joshi on technology, climate, politics and culture - GMPOOG - 05

1:26:34
 
Share
 

Manage episode 287346899 series 18736
By Dan Ilic. Discovered by Player FM and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Player FM, and audio is streamed directly from their servers. Hit the Subscribe button to track updates in Player FM, or paste the feed URL into other podcast apps.

🤑 CHIP IN TO OUR PATREON https://www.patreon.com/ARationalFear
📨 SUBSCRIBE TO OUR EMAIL LIST: http://www.arationalfear.com/
🎟️ SEE A RATIONAL FEAR AT MELBOURNE INTERNATIONAL COMEDY FESTIVAL: https://www.comedyfestival.com.au/2021/shows/a-rational-fear

Once a month on A Rational Fear on the podcast feed we present a different kind of show:

Greatest Moral Podcast Of Our Generation is a long form conversation with a climate leader from around the world.

This month Dan Ilic talks with Ketan Joshi is one of Australia's great thinkers on energy, climate change, politics and technology. This is a great wide ranging chat about all those topics.

📝 Bitcoin is a mouth hungry for fossil fuels

🐦 Ketan's most underrated tweet from 2020

📗 Ketan's book: Windfall

Links mentioned in the climate news:

📺 Salla — The Coldest Town in Findland's bid video for the 2034 Olympics: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-olympics-bid-salla/salla-coldest-town-in-finland-to-bid-for-2032-summer-games-idUSKBN29V2I8

📺 Brisbane Bid Video for 2038 Winter Olympic Games: https://youtu.be/He0vdIqn_1Y

TRANSCRIPTION FROM A ROBOT:

Unknown Speaker 0:00
This podcast is supported in part by the birth of foundation.

Dan Ilic 0:04
Hello, Lynn.

Linh Do 0:05
Hey Dan. Longtime no chat.

Dan Ilic 0:06
I know I know we took a summer break a siesta over summer, but now we are back.

Linh Do 0:11
We are back. 2021 still feels like 2022 not gonna lie still working from home

Dan Ilic 0:17
not 2022 but 2020 as well, is that what you meant by two?

Linh Do 0:22
We actually still in 2021, I had clearly been very optimistic, projecting myself into the future.

Dan Ilic 0:27
Now for those who are new around here. This is the greatest moral podcast of our generation. It's a monthly long form chat with leaders on climate action from around the world. It appears right here on the irrational fear feed and this week. I'm very excited about this conversation. Lin you haven't heard or you haven't heard it yet, but I can't wait for you to hear it. It is with mega energy climate nerd technology brain katan Joshi, and he is like my favourite person about climate and the environment and technology on Twitter. Do you follow him?

Linh Do 0:58
I do follow him. And I recommend people ask me the question of Oh, how should I engage on climate? I'm always like, so this this guy. This is like how do you follow him? Sometimes he tweets about Norway because he lives there now. But like 90% of the type of climate and like good stuff,

Dan Ilic 1:14
that Firstly, I guess we should get the climate news out of the way I'm recording my end of the greatest moral podcast of our generation on gadigal land and the eora nation what whose land are you on?

Linh Do 1:23
Lynn wonderland of the well wandering people of the Kulin nation,

Dan Ilic 1:26
sovereignty was never ceded. We need a treaty. Let's stop the shop.

Unknown Speaker 1:29
Despite global warming. irrational fear is adding a little more hot air with long form discussions with climate leaders. Good.

Unknown Speaker 1:42
This is called Don't be afraid the heat waves and drove greatest mass extinction. We're facing a manmade disaster, podcast, climate criminals.

Unknown Speaker 1:57
ration

Unknown Speaker 1:59
all of this with the global warming and a lot of it's a hoax book, right, a small

Unknown Speaker 2:03
podcast about generation for short, all right,

Dan Ilic 2:08
let's get stuck into the climate news. So the last couple of months, I guess there's been a hell of a lot of it. Let's just do some highlights recently, I reckon. Despite everything, the federal government, you know, supporting gas supporting fossil fuels, it looks like they can't even do that properly. I don't know if you've seen this piece by Reuters is a great scathing opinion piece, basically saying Australia's energy policy is in such disarray. While they are trying to support fossil fuels and completely negging on renewables, they haven't even managed to support fossil fuels enough to keep Exxon from closing their oil refinery in altona. In Melbourne 2020. There were non oil refineries in Australia, but now there's only two for the whole country.

Linh Do 2:51
COVID really did impact clearly a whole bunch of different sectors. And it's so funny, right? Because we definitely say the Australian Government is one of the biggest supporters of fossil fuels all around the world, to the point where the European Parliament is about to vote on something soon to punish polluters, I a people like Australia, it's, you know, we're being punished for internationally, but back home, still not doing a good job. And

Dan Ilic 3:11
that's incredible. And you know, who's next after the EU, apparently, Japan is going to import is going to be doing some climate tariffs work as well. But of course, it is a bit more of a tension there because Japan is a much bigger trading partner with Australia than than the EU is But still, to have the EU, implement tariffs and then Japan implement tariffs. And Kerry is now talking about implementing tariffs from the United States. So all of our biggest trading partners are going to be punishing us for not acting on climate.

Linh Do 3:40
We're so wedged in that we're not even quite in a corner anymore. And we're not even really in the picture in the game, you've essentially got the four biggest economies in the world saying, Hey, we're gonna do stuff on climate businesses that operate here, we're going to respond, what are you doing Australia?

Dan Ilic 3:53
You may remember Around this time, last year, there was going to be talk about a gas powered recovery from COVID. And things like that. Well, let me tell you, the a mo the organisation that basically is the industry body for running the energy in Australia ran a workshop with a whole bunch of stakeholders floating how a gas powered by gas, lead recovery is going to work. And it turns out that half of the stakeholders described it as completely not useful. Which is extraordinary to see. So you know, this, it's so interesting to see how the government has come through and said, We want to do this gas powered recovery. But the industry's like, Nah, that's really shit idea. We're not gonna do any of that.

Linh Do 4:36
Well, when your normal friends aren't even willing to back You're right. I recommend you can't keep calling them your friends anymore. And we definitely are saying it's the biggest owners of fossil fuel. So like a GL and whatnot, some of the finance, like none of them want to touch any of these projects.

Dan Ilic 4:50
Yeah, it's really interesting, like two thirds of the participants in the AMA said that they would prefer to do make Australia a hydrogen superpower and that's pretty exciting, too. Know, the industry is like more buoyant about climate action than the government is.

Linh Do 5:06
Yep. The Australian Federal Government has more than one pickle to deal with at the moment. Hey, so maybe they are slowly going to be so wedged in that they're gonna have to start responding. Was

Dan Ilic 5:14
that a pun Lin? were you telling you, it took me about a certain kind of pickles is a small one. Excellent. Last month at the National Press Club, the pm actually stated a preference for a movement to 2050 target. insiders next week, Catherine Murphy said that she totally believes that scomo would love a net zero by 2050 target. But and he would totally sign the liberals up if it weren't for the National Party. Apparently Canada enjoys a holding him back. And it's so strange to see like if the liberals and the coalition take those people away from from their party and they do sign up to a net zero 50 target then that would almost be more progressive on climate than labour. It's so it's kind of it's this strange games like labour does want to show their cards and be aggressive on climate because they'll get attacked by the coalition. But the coalition deep down I've only got like three or four troublemakers that are holding the rest of the party ransom.

Linh Do 6:06
Again, you think that as Prime Minister of Australia, you might be able to do something on climate but it's clear that this like coalition that they've got going on is it's still a coalition. Each house feels like strange bedfellows at this moment in time.

Dan Ilic 6:18
I don't know if you saw this story, and New Zealand's chief environment advisor has said that we need to up the ticket prices for New Zealand flights to prevent tourists from coming to New Zealand.

Linh Do 6:28
When he first saw the headlines, I couldn't tell if it was some sort of nimbyism and some sort of luck. We've like sorted out COVID no one come here. But then I read the details. I was like, ah, interesting. It's actually a really good step, I think and it helps embed some of the learnings that we've had over COVID. Right. The Travelling is a privilege, not a right. And if it's a privilege, how do we actually pay for it when most of the world never get to fly anywhere?

Dan Ilic 6:50
I mean, it's pretty interesting that they have this chief environment and advice for a New Zealand the cool quote is controversial though it may be I'm in favour of putting off some people from coming to New Zealand. I just don't believe the idea that the number of international visitors to New Zealand can grow and grow and grow without limits. I just don't believe that it's credible. All right. So if a higher price for the privilege of flying to New Zealand, put some people off good.

Linh Do 7:12
I reckon that makes sense. Because you know, what if travel is now all about experiences, and all of that sort of stuff, the more rare and precious you can make something like the more people want to be instagramming about it. So if there's not a million Instagram photos from New Zealand, but only a couple of 100,000 they just gonna get far more traction. I'm all for this idea.

Dan Ilic 7:30
And Lin Brisbane might have some stiff competition for the 32 Olympic Summer Games.

Linh Do 7:35
That's right. And I'm pretty keen to head to Finland, not just for Santa Claus, but also the coldest town in Finland. A pretty cold country is keen to harness the 2032 not Winter Olympics, but Summer Olympics because you know, climate change is heating the world up.

Dan Ilic 7:48
Here's a little taste of there being video.

Unknown Speaker 7:54
Coming soon,

Unknown Speaker 7:55
what a great video. I

Dan Ilic 7:56
mean, they did show volleyball beach volleyball being played in the snow, do you think there'll be ready in time to get rid of that snow for the 2032 Olympics?

Linh Do 8:04
pretty optimistic. What's the difference between snow and sad, you know, small little particles, I can say if we don't tackle climate action, Finland, they're going to be the hearts of the next Olympics.

Dan Ilic 8:14
You know, it's really interesting, rational fear we made a sketch, like 2014 remember when Sochi hairy

Linh Do 8:21
head of the time

Dan Ilic 8:23
derivative in Sochi held the Winter Olympics and they ran out of snow in Russia. Like import they like would stockpiling snow for four weeks before and then they would try to make snow but they couldn't get enough snow. Anyway, so are we at irrational fear. We made a video for Queensland holding the 2038 nuclear winter games.

Linh Do 8:46
You're basically your profit. The International Olympic commission should bring you on board as a staff member they should do away with their voting system and just have to predict where it will the Olympics will be held in the future.

Dan Ilic 8:58
You don't want to do I'm going to fly in the video sketch to the end of the interview with Qatar joshy. So you'll you'll hear it in the podcast but also I'll add the link in the show notes so you can watch it later. Right now though, I'm gonna play you my conversation with Qatar Joshi.

Unknown Speaker 9:11
You're listening to the greatest moral podcast about generation.

Dan Ilic 9:17
Our next guest on the greatest moral podcast of our generation is one of the most gifted science communicators that we have in Australian media. crotons writing is funny, sad, and it cuts through with clarity. He doesn't mince words, and he never misses his targets, of which there are many. And I hope we get to talk about all of his targets on this podcast. It could turn joshy Hello, Tom, thanks for joining us on the greatest moral podcast of our generation.

Ketan Joshi 9:41
Hi, it's good to be here. Yes, we will just list all of my enemies

Dan Ilic 9:46
one by one. Let's start off with we started off with

Ketan Joshi 9:51
That's a hard one. If you want to talk about what I've been reading about over the past few days show

Dan Ilic 9:56
Yeah. What have you been reading about?

Ketan Joshi 9:58
Um, I've been reading about Bitcoin.

Dan Ilic 10:02
I'm so glad I'm so glad you brought this up because I want to ask you questions about NF T's and how artists are going to ultimately destroy the Earth.

Ketan Joshi 10:13
Okay, so do you want for your listeners? Do you want like a rundown of what the basics of this whole thing?

Dan Ilic 10:18
Yes plays. This is one of the one of the topics I wanted to pick your brain about. Because let me just let me just kind of flag with you. I have been dabbling in NF T's I've been trying to buy artwork from Australian comedians. And I've lost about 200 bucks plugging money into Ethereum wallets, and then trying to get a theory and wallets to connect with platforms to buy NF T's and it just hasn't worked. But I've been thinking about, as, I don't know, if you realise this kitten, but when you've got a podcast about climate change, it's not incredibly profitable. So I've been trying to figure out ways to take the sketches we do an irrational fear and monetize them with ease. At the same time fully realising the irony, the irony that I could be making things worse for the planet. So please enlighten me as to what the hell is going on with NF T's and intellectual property and how that intersects with climate change.

Ketan Joshi 11:15
Yeah, okay. So there's a lot of like, this is actually a little bit like climate change in that there's people trying to explain it through through analogies and metaphors, I'm going to try and avoid that because you know, it get you kind of, you just end up swimming around in like, you know, mixed metaphors. And it's very confusing and scary, basically, the way I've always understood, so I so just a bit of background, I used to work at the CSI role, specifically in the data science part of the business called Data 61. So we did, we actually did a bit of stuff on blockchain technology, and its various uses. And it's described as a distributed ledger, which is basically imagine you've got an Excel spreadsheet on your computer. Imagine that that spreadsheet replicates across 1000 100,000 computers at the same time. So if you put the word pou into a cell in your Excel spreadsheet, that would who appears in 100,000, other copies instantaneously, right?

Dan Ilic 12:11
Oh, so it's just like Twitter, great.

Ketan Joshi 12:14
That is distributed ledger. So it is, it is a pretty fancy way of doing especially and because copy of it is replicated across so many things, then if one person makes a change to it, then it's sort of copied across. So with that means there's a high level of trust in this, there's no single authority that you sort of have to rely on. Now, Bitcoin sort of operates on similar technology, right? You have this distributed ledger, but what you do is they've taken that technology and tried to make a currency out of it, that means you have to have something, some challenge to get value from this currency, you can't just kind of randomly distribute imaginary tokens of currency. So what they came up with is, well, what we'll do is create a process that is incredibly hard. And by making it so difficult, what happens is it takes some amount of work to acquire one of these coins, a Bitcoin, and it's called proof of work. That's the name of it. That's the name of the technology. And the best way I've seen it described is, imagine if keeping your car idling 24 seven, solved, the imaginary Sudoku is that you can exchange for heroin.

Dan Ilic 13:29
So you said you were gonna get into metaphors. But that is a very accurate metaphor, I enjoy that.

Ketan Joshi 13:35
It is my one loud metaphor. And I'm gonna spend it on that one on that tweet, because it was fantastic. So basically, to win a Bitcoin, you have to generate as many random numbers as you possibly can, it takes a lot of computational power. And that amount of computational power increases, because you need to actually have a balance between who is winning this currency who's winning these tokens, and the amount of computational power that's in the system, which means the system actually adapts as you get more and more computational power, which means basically, bring it all together, it takes more and more energy to get the next coin. Yeah. And so what you end up with is the situation in, you know, all of this sort of technology aside, you end up with this reality of you have these vast, vast quantities of server farms, sitting there just like buzzing with noise and hate just spinning out as many random nodes as they possibly can to get as much of this currency as they can. So it's called mining, they call it Bitcoin mining. And so when you see things like Bitcoin consumes as much energy as this particular country, it's because it does, like it takes that much literal, physical electrical power to run these computers to generate these transactions. Every time new coins are discovered. It takes even more How to get to the next point, right? A bit more. Yes, yeah. And so all of these dynamics, I'm simplifying, because I'm simplifying all of these dynamics very, very heavily. But the basic consequence is that by design, proof of work, and Bitcoin requires a lot of energy. So if you want to change that, if you want to change it from requiring a huge amount of energy to requiring not much energy to change the design, and actually there are people working on this, right. So there are different ways you can prove, you could introduce difficulty without having the difficulty being that you just consume ludicrous quantities of energy, right? You can have other forms of difficulty, right? There's different types of these things called proof of stake, for instance. So how many bitcoins that someone already have in their virtual wallet or something like that, right? reading into these, there's actually some hope, essentially, that you can have these things, not consuming world melting amounts of energy.

Dan Ilic 15:55
So what you're saying is that we could possibly fund this podcast by selling bits of it, and also not destroy the Earth at the same time.

Ketan Joshi 16:04
Yeah, so so it just that brings it back to what you were describing earlier, which has been described as like crypto art or non fungible tokens or NF T's very inaccessible names, basically, it's generating the serial number of a unique piece of work. So it can be a tweet, or it can be a piece of art or whatever. And that serial number is stored on a blockchain right, which means it's, it's on that spreadsheet that's replicating across a trillion billion different computers, which means when as soon as you generate it, you put you put the serial number you put this tweet is owned by Tom joshy, he paid 100 bucks for it. It's this sort of very highly trustable system, right? Which is, which is pretty good, right? Like this is something that is obviously a lot of value to artists is to have a more discreet, like almost like copyrightable sense of ownership for the art that they create,

Dan Ilic 16:55
to deal in the digital space where you create something and it goes up and you hope it goes viral. But there's no monetary gain from anything. Speaking as someone who has gone viral so many times if I had one cent for every time I've gone viral, absolutely be able to buy a new car. But

Ketan Joshi 17:13
yeah, I mean, this is what people have been trying to do with like, you know, when you see a viral tweet on Twitter, and below it, someone's written like, you know, here's my SoundCloud or whatever, like, please send me some cash. Like they'll put the code off the link there and say, can you please just help fund my you know, getting through university?

Dan Ilic 17:30
Whatever Katon? I don't know, if you realise you are. You're just outlining my business plan. So that's exactly what we do on irrational fear. We will we will go viral. Usually, this is this is no, this is no secret to irrational fear listeners. But we will create a sketch put it up on Twitter and I will write who made this. And then right underneath it, I made this subscribe to the podcast.

Ketan Joshi 17:57
So this is a real source of frustration. And like Bitcoin, it raises this fundamental question. And it's not it's not limited to Bitcoin, it's actually something that the whole energy and climate world is facing. right at this moment, which is basically is this worth it, is what we're doing worth it. So is the value that you get from copywriting. And paying for a piece of art worth the X number of kilowatt hours that was required to process this transaction. And crypto operates on a slightly different system to Bitcoin. It has the same fundamental sort of proof of work system, but it's slightly more efficient. Because you're not playing this random number game. It's actually it's actually going through this process where a whole bunch of different transactions get bundled, bundled together, it's still relatively high consuming, right, like it's still a relative decent amount of energy. And I was just looking at this one chart this morning from this website called Digi economist, and they look at the power consumption for the thing that runs crypto on NF T's which is called aetherium. Yeah, and it's it's still pretty high, you know, it's not quite as high as Bitcoin. But, you know, like that, there is still sort of some options for bringing that down. Yeah. But fundamentally, there is still this really, like almost really hard to solve problem underneath at all, which is that it requires a lot of energy. And of course, the problem with consuming a lot of energy is that we live in a fossil fuel world, predominantly fossil fueled world. Yeah. And to consume a lot of energy. You just have to consume a lot of fossil fuels.

Dan Ilic 19:32
Yeah, I've seen so many, countless numbers of vice documentaries about warehouses in China and, and orders crammed with AMD RISC chips that are all like mining Bitcoin. And there's like dude with their shirts off like plugging like plugging cables here and there. And then and then there's on the other side in rich countries like Iceland. You see these, these stories about Bitcoin factories that are built in Iceland in real Cold air is to use the natural cooling of the of the environment to to mine Bitcoin and using geothermal technology to kind of power these, these Bitcoin mining factories, but it's such a, it's it's such a headache like you're just like, you know, you, you think one thing is going to save the planet but ended up just completely destroying it.

Ketan Joshi 20:23
This is this is why this is why I kind of got sucked into it a bit because there's actually nothing really like it. There's nothing where the ratio between how much energy it consumes. And to be honest, it doesn't really seem to have clear societal benefits, right?

Dan Ilic 20:40
Yeah, you've got all these or you got all these like blockchain edge Lords who were talking about how Oh, you know, we're only at 00 point 3% of what we've explored with blockchain. I think it's gonna have exponential growth. I'm like, well, that's so much more energy

Ketan Joshi 20:56
efficient thing. Good.

Dan Ilic 20:58
Yeah, it doesn't seem seem good.

Ketan Joshi 20:59
Yeah. Well, it's actually worth mentioning the the renewable versus fossil energy thing, because something you hear a lot is basically, that Bitcoin miners will hunt out the cheapest and most surplus energy, right. So, of course, you know, renewable energy has gotten a lot cheaper over the past decade, wind and solar in particular. But what we're actually seeing is that there isn't surplus wind and solar, wind and solar being deployed and very carefully managed ways around the world, such that they do what they're meant to do, which is displace fossil fuels, instead of just sort of feeling this like rising addition of Bitcoin mining demand, and then leaving the fossil fuel system as it is like, that's not a good thing. That's not a good outcome. Yeah. And so what they're actually drawn to is hydro, in particular. And in China, what you find is that there are hydro assets that aren't particularly well interconnected into other parts of China, which means they have potential output, if so, reservoirs that are sort of like full Yeah, that they could never, they could never really set that could that is way more than local demand, right? So the logic of Bitcoin miners as well, we kind of just, you know, we like, flow into those into those bits of surplus and consume that. So, you know, it's like, it's not really changing the situation at all. And it's not quite how that manifests in the real world. Yeah, because what is happening is that every part of the renewable energy world that is like stranded or surplus, what we're finding is that we actually need to connect it up to the world to start displacing fossil fuels. I mean, China is a particularly great example of where there's a lot of coal happening. So those renewable assets need to be going towards displacing fossil fuels. So if they're stranded, that's not a good thing. And to lock them into being stranded by saying, we'll give you a revenue stream, from your surplus from from mining Bitcoin is basically diverting that action to link it all together, to start pushing down on fossil fuels. Yeah, that's not a good thing. And then, on top of that, this is whole push within the Bitcoin mining community to actually specifically use fossil fuels so actively and consciously seek out fossil fuel mining operations, so so oil and gas, and to say, well, you guys, through the process of extracting oil and gas from the ground, you get this thing where methane leaks from these sites, right. So what they do is either they just let it let me think seep into the atmosphere, which is extremely bad. Or they burn it off, which is slightly less bad. This is all in the process of extracting fossil fuels, which eventually get burned. What is the logic in actively seeking out fossil fuels in that case, so So what they're saying is like, well, because all of this waste product, all of this waste me, young, these mining sites will either be released or burned, we may as well just burn that burn that waste to mine Bitcoin. So fine, you can see these videos, and it's not a secret, you know, they're very sort of open about it. You see these videos of like these shipping containers at oil and gas fields. And they'll just slowly pan the camera around from like, you know, this sort of classic like oil drilling thing, you know, they've got like the big weight on one end. Yeah. And they'll pan they'll pan around from that oil drilling thing to this shipping container that's buzzing, you know, like, like, it's full of Hornets. And it's full of like LED lights. And it's a little seven farm that's mining Bitcoin, because they're taking the gas, but they're still burning gas. And, yeah, when you burn gas it creates it creates greenhouse gas emissions. So the net impact of what they're doing is, it's either nothing or it's worse because when you look at the websites of these companies, they're like, Look, we're actually doing this to help the optics of the fossil fuel industry, the venting and flaring problem of methane at these sites has been under has been the subject of criticism for a long time. In you know, Biden's administration, the US is like we have to crack down on all these like waste methane issues at these sites. So the Bitcoin miners come in and they're like, don't worry about the waste. Just burn you can just burn the fossil fuel to mine Bitcoin and it's actually an environmental benefit.

Dan Ilic 25:27
Has anyone? Is anyone seriously trading off that though? Is anyone seriously putting that in a press release saying that, you know, hey, you know, where the where the do Gooding oil company that's flaring off our methane to mine Bitcoin?

Ketan Joshi 25:40
Yeah, it's not just the companies that are sort of, you know, offering this as a pathway but like the, like these massive giants like Ecuador. So, you know, Ecuador being the state owned oil company here in Norway, where I live. They, they have been investing in this because they're like, we're actually we're actually solving the problem.

Dan Ilic 26:04
I never thought I never thought I'd say this, but I can next year I will heading out to election i can i can just say Scott Morrison saying we're going to have a Bitcoin led recovery. A blockchain lead recovery.

Ketan Joshi 26:15
Oh my god. Yeah. So I mean, actually, you know, they're actually awesome. I saw a tweet yesterday like another another Norwegian oil and gas company announced their intention to sort of invest in Bitcoin not not specifically using methane to generate it, but to just did they taking the cash that they have, and just investing in Bitcoin, with some weird promises about using stranded renewable energy assets, but no clarity on what they mean. Yeah. And someone you know, someone tweeted at like all the Australian oil and gas companies like Woodside HCl and origin being like, Hey, guys, why aren't you doing? This is a great idea. So so to bring it all together? Yeah, basically, what I've been been finding out is that, first of all, it contains a lot of energy. I think people sort of know this, like they've seen it in articles, you know, they've read about all the comparisons. That's a little mystery. But with Bitcoin mining, in particular, there seems to be this like energy pushing them towards fossil fuels. And it's because what they are drawn towards is not zero emissions power, they are drawn towards cheap stranded power. And oil and gas mining operations actually fit that bill really nicely. Demand for fossil fuels is going to decrease very significantly. And so if these Bitcoin miners step up and say, well, don't worry about all the, you know, people not wanting your fossil fuels, will take them, the price of those fossil fuels will drop very significantly due to due to the fall in demand. And they will probably be there to be like, well, don't worry about your coal mine, your gas mine, your oil extraction thing, we'll just take that energy that you're extracting, and use it to mine Bitcoin. And they can kind of say, Well, you know, they'll sort of like frame it in this like tortured logic of, we're actually doing an environmental benefit. But really, they're monetizing the this sort of side this like waste stream from the fossil fuel industry. So anyway, I've written a sort of very long post about this, because I think it's actually a very nice summary of a relatively important debate that we're all having, which is like, how do we manage energy? You know, do we live in like a high energy world, low energy world who gets it? How do we connect up renewable energy? How do we figure out what to do with fossil fuel companies? Like do we congratulate them if they're doing something that sounds vaguely like it's environmentally beneficial? Or do we remain critical of them? All these questions are really big and important. I'll publish that pace. Probably later this week. I'm not sure when this podcast will go out. But if anyone wants to read three to 4000 word, rant for me about this. I don't know why you would want to, then yeah, it'll be published soon, we'll be able to buy it an open seat on IO as a nifty question. Yeah, I mean, the crypto art thing as well is is an interesting cultural comparison, because Bitcoin is just full of libertarians. Yeah. You know, plenty of whom are not particularly influential types are right. Yes. Yeah. And so well, yeah. And also, you know, also not particularly open minded towards, like collective climate action and like government regulation, fossil fuel companies and things like that. But then, like, the art community is very, very different. You know, like, it's really, of course, it's a lot of environmentally conscious people, people who you would sort of think are a lot more into like climate action and environmental justice and things like that. And of course, you see a very different reaction. Now you see a lot of backlash from with In the arts community against the sort of like, I guess, the excesses of this, but then there's also a lot of people who are like, well, don't throw the baby out with the bathwater. Because if we can really bring the energy consumption down, the concept is really sound and really beneficial for a lot of people who would like to get paid for the stuff that they're doing. So there is some work, you know, to try and rescue I guess, to try and cleave it away from the Bitcoin libertarian world and into this like, basically like a useful technological tool to help artists get paid.

Dan Ilic 30:33
I think that's where that's where I am right now, as I create, I like thinking like, you know, how, how do we use this to get paid, but how do we also not not destroy the Earth at the same time? I think it's really interesting that you kind of mentioned that, that the oil industry, the fossil fuel industry, are using Bitcoin as a delay tactic, considering they are the kings of delay tactics and your your book in your book windfall. It's just, it's just like 400 pages of delay tactics. I think I think that some, I think one of the one of the things I love about your writing patterns, is just how clear it is, and how often you return back to first principles all the time, I really appreciate that. Like, I think you whenever you talk about coal, you kind of talk about it, how it's just the sunlight trapped in a rock, or you're always talking about climate change, about how the government is slowly trying to kill its citizens. And one of my favourite motifs is an idea how you, you kind of return to again and again and again about how it's just a handful of powerful individuals that are responsible for the position that we're in. And one of the things one of the, my, my favourite senators in the book is about house when you're articulating Australia's last decade of climate action, and he said it was squashed into the boot of a callous few lately protecting their own manufactured realities. It's such a when you when you kind of write like that. And when you return back to first principles, the obfuscation kind of floats away. And you're kind of left with this bare naked truth as to kind of the position we're in and the absurdity that the Australian Government is in is in, in particular, where what have you learned by moving to Oslo? And looking back at Australia?

Ketan Joshi 32:17
Yeah, this is this is something I've been thinking about a lot recently, because what is happening this year is this global environment, this like sort of global climate meeting in November called cop 26. Conference of Parties, it was meant to be the it's the sort of the five year check in. And it was meant to be last year 2020, obviously, delayed due to COVID-19. It may not even happen this year, if if the vaccination stuff goes slowly. So that means that the whole world kind of stands up in their podiums and says, Well, this is where we're at with climate change. And so that means Australia also stands up and says, this is where we're at, we're checking in, it's been five years, six years since the Paris Agreement started. And that means the sort of trapped world that every country has been living in, you know, looking at their own climate politics.

Dan Ilic 33:16
What are you trying to say every country has their own version of the camera bubble?

Ketan Joshi 33:20
Is that what you're trying to say? Yeah, basically, essentially, yeah, this is something else that's actually become very clear is that as I have existed Australia's timezone, it's actually pretty tough to get people to think about different countries, when they're when they're really sort of into their own in their own particular area. I mean, maybe I think maybe America might be the worst offender of this, because they sort of, there's a lot of things that happen in there that they treat is like the first time that it's

Unknown Speaker 33:46
like, no, no.

Ketan Joshi 33:48
Many of these things have happened elsewhere.

Dan Ilic 33:50
Yeah. And the matrix is early in the metric systems, the big one there, I think.

Ketan Joshi 33:54
Yeah, absolutely. But what what Australia is going to is finding out this year and what we'll what we're only at the very start of, and will become more intense as the year goes on, is that a lot of things have become saturated, and because they're saturated, people get people lose their sensitivity to how bad and horrific The situation is. So to give you an example, in the UK, in the past few weeks, this coal mine that was proposed is called Cumbria. And it's like this. On the scale of UK is coal mines. It's it's relatively big, right? Because coal mining in the UK has declined over the over the past century, to almost nothing. There's a couple of really small ones. And of course, coal fired power generation in the UK has also declined to almost nothing. It is functionally no longer really playing a role on the grid in the UK. This coal mine has been proposed. It's an underground coal mine. I was looking at the discourse around it, and it's Intense right like this, the local council, the UK Government, climate activists, investors, the debate on this one Coal Mine is just like this really, really launched focus. And I was looking at it and I was like, hmm, Gee, I wonder how that coal mine compares to like Australia's current, like list of planned coal mines, so nonoperational coal mines in Australia, but the ones that are sort of at various stages of like, you know, getting towards operation, and I put it onto this chart, which is basically looking at the number of mega tonnes of output of coal per year from each coal mine,

Dan Ilic 35:39
will I need to get it? Well, I need to get a skew bag for the rest of the Senate.

Ketan Joshi 35:45
Well, I'll try not to describe it too vividly. But basically, it's like this tiny little red dot and like Australia's planned coal mines, several orders of magnitude greater. I found that really stunning, right? Because it's not like the level of outrage and emotion within Australia's leadership within political circles is is equivalently larger than the level of outrage at this one tiny planned coal mine in the UK? And of course, like, the reason is obvious, right? Is because that plant coal mine in the UK is new. It's like a new unfamiliar thing for UK people to go, Oh, my God, a coal mine. Are you kidding me? Like, why? Why are we building a coal mine? That's bonkers. Like we, you know, we're holding, we're hosting cop 26 at the end of the year, and you're building a damn coal mine. And then, you know, you look at Australia. You know, just to give one single example, though, is this amazing? This is amazing court case being brought against the Australian Federal Government, on the grounds that expanding a coal mine, expanding a planned coal mine. And just the expansion of this coal mine dwarfs the magnitude of this coal mine in the UK. And, and like, that got some attention that this court case being brought by a group of teenagers, but it didn't get anywhere near the magnitude of attention that the Cumbria Coal Mine is getting in the UK, and its saturation, right? Like, it's just like this, you know, it's not like people don't care. It's just that if they were to care by the same order of magnitude, then they wouldn't be able to function as human beings, right? Like the like, you just you would be so overwhelmed by how much you should care about, about like the production line of new coal in Australia. Yeah. And the other thing that's worth noting is that this production line of new coal extraction in Australia, is globally very, very significant. There was this report last year from the International Energy Agency that looked at the coal production in different countries. And they're like, Look, there's a few countries in the world that are just going to be the engine of new coal production in coming years. And Australia is one of them. There's other countries like Indonesia, actually, Germany is up there, as well, because Germany really seems to be big on coal mining is a couple of others. I can't quite recall from the report, but Australia is basically a key player. Right? And oh, and sorry, of course, China, it but China uses a lot of the coal that it produces, right? It's not a big net exporter. Australia is one of the countries that actually supplies it to elsewhere in the world. So that is really the sort of the key thing that I felt looking back on Australia, because it's this barrage, this daily barrage over new things, that because it obviously becomes extremely difficult to maintain outrage about because it's just so proportional II, massive in Australia, and compared to other countries where, like the UK, for instance, where the horrific stuff still happens, but it happens more frequently, which means which lets you have the emotional capacity to go, oh my god, and you call mine and talk about this. Whereas in Australia, you get this phenomenon where like with coal mining, for instance, you kind of have to concentrate all of your feelings onto one symbolic example, like the Carmichael coal Adani, coal mine, Donnie.

Unknown Speaker 39:13
Yeah, yeah.

Ketan Joshi 39:14
Yeah, it's like the only way you can emotionally manage because if you were to spread it equally across all the coal mines planned in Australia, you would never have the you would melt into a puddle. The brain capacity. Yes. Yeah.

Dan Ilic 39:27
It's one of those things like to communicate it you need just like a very simple emoji and the stopper Danny thing really symbolises that and even though stop Danny's actually stopped everything happening in the Galilee basin. That's kind of that's kind of in the Galilee basin is filled with hundreds of cold coal companies all vying for the coal underneath underneath the Galilee basin. Yeah, Ben Adani is the easiest Danny's like this Dinis, like the signpost that we all rally behind and even when they change the name to bribe us, we still you stop it down because I don't know, I

Ketan Joshi 40:00
just use the all of the wrong things that are done in the past. I treat them as a completely new company. So that's basically why I write the way I do in a sense, because I, because I always want to. I want to try and describe things in a slightly different or literal way. We often rely on shorthand to talk about this topic, because of course, like it's just a, it's just a weird new complex sciency, you know, economic like, Techno political thing. Yeah. So if sometimes you just sort of read describe what you're talking about in a slightly different way, then it just resets that emotional exhaustion,

Dan Ilic 40:43
it almost makes it sound, you know, climate action, and going carbon neutral sound completely achievable as well. Like, I think one of the one of the things you constantly mentioned in your book is, is like you re, you return to again, and again, is saying that no, even if one molecule of co2 equivalent is stays in the ground, that's great. You know, like, when you when you put it down, when you put it as my noodle is that you like, Oh, yeah, shit, yeah, that's what this is all about. It's about keeping the stuff in the ground,

Ketan Joshi 41:12
that sort of links it back to renewable energy in my own advocacy of renewable energy, because we can confirm that, you know, grids are finite. Like, if you if you have 100, people demanding electricity, and then you know, 50 of those people get it from wind and solar, whereas they otherwise would have got it from coal and gas, then that's an emissions reduction, we can confirm that this, oddly enough, was actually almost controversial last decade, like this is something you know, wind and solar were kind of treated as like a sideshow of like, Oh, you know, they're there. But they're generating so randomly that we don't really know they're there, whether they're reducing emissions a lot. It's kind

Dan Ilic 41:50
of strange. Like, I feel like there's a couple of conversations happening at different levels of government in Australia with that is still the case, like in federal government, you have a whole bunch of right wing conservatives who who kind of have that same, it's still that same dialogue, that same conversation, whereas a lot of other conservatives are kind of kind of on the renewables train at a state level. And you kind of see the shift in mode in conversation, the main, if you will, that renewables aren't reliable is kind of disappearing.

Ketan Joshi 42:23
Yeah, I split it in the book, I split it into three sort of categories, right. One is price. One is like grid security or reliability, and the other is emissions. And so it's just been this three pronged fight to prove that, like, renewables can perform those three functions. And so, in each of those three, the balance of discourse has been in exactly the wrong direction. Like you had this, like, you, I'm sure, you know, your listeners will recognise this is like whole decade of like, renewables are too expensive, that no one can afford them. And of course, what we what we're discovering now is that the majority of price falls and electricity prices in Australia, I'd usually to renewables

Dan Ilic 43:03
renewable energy. Yeah,

Ketan Joshi 43:05
won't last forever, of course, but it's actually it's pretty damn good that that's happening. The next thing has been grid reliability. You know, South Australia had its blackout. And then suddenly, everyone was like, Oh, see, you know, wind and solar cause blackouts. And now we're realising that strong to this one.

Dan Ilic 43:20
This was really fascinating. In your book, you spent a lot of time dissecting the 2016 blackout in South Australia, why did you just disband? Why did you decide to spend so many pages dissecting? What was it five seconds of grid problems in Australia?

Ketan Joshi 43:37
My long suffering editor actually convinced me to pare that down the book actually would have been substantially longer.

Dan Ilic 43:46
And I say, as a reader, I really enjoyed it. It might have been my favourite part of the book.

Ketan Joshi 43:51
Yeah, because because it was the it's actually my favourite. No, sorry. It's my second favourite part of that. But my favourite part is the community and issue pot, which maybe we can come to later. Yeah, the mismatch between reality and discourse that was the greatest, I think it has had the most noticeable impacts on the way energy policy happens in Australia. So back then back in, like sort of 2016 2017 the narrative was like, if you build more wind and solar, it's gonna cause blackouts. I promise you it's going to cause blackouts. What was happening is that a lot of wind and solar was being built because it was incentivized under the renewable energy target, and blackouts, grid stress were increasing, because climate change is happening and heat waves are becoming more intense and longer. bushfires are impacting parts of electricity infrastructure like transmission lines. And that means there's more more stress on the grid. And coal, coal and gas fired power stations are getting older and less, they're becoming more susceptible rather to moments of great stress. So all these moments were like heat waves That just blatantly worsened or intensified by climate change, causing calling gas plants to basically shut down or power lines to get wrecked. Those were all blamed on wind and solar, because they were like, well, CCC hypothesis has been proved, like we told you that the presence of wind and solar would cause all these problems. This has actually changed somewhat since then, what we're going to see now is over the next few years in Australia, it's going to shift away from a narrative about renewables and towards the closure of coal and gas fired power stations, right? It will initially be mostly about coal, because there's this phenomenon that is about to happen in Australia's grades where coal simply loses its profit, profitability, wind and solar are so cheap, as a fundamental of the way they operate in that you don't have to extract the fuel that they use, you get it from the atmosphere and space, then coal simply can't compete. Because it's more expensive, you need to dig a hole out of the ground and transport it. This is without a carbon tax, without any, you know, without any form of carbon pricing essentially, in Australia at all. So this, this is something that's going to accelerate. And what is going to happen is that these companies that operate these, these, these power stations will say, this is really bad. All of our coal fired power stations are going to blip offline, and it's going to cause chaos, there's going to be blackouts, there's going to be price rises, because renewables, wind and solar will not be able to pick up the slack. So it's sort of an extension of that of that debate from like, sort of the mid 2015 onwards, that wind and solar can't provide reliable power, but it's going to be it's not going to be used as a reason to attack wind and solar. It's going to be used as a justification for keeping coal plants running longer.

Dan Ilic 46:55
And that means for subsidies. Yeah, yeah.

Ketan Joshi 46:59
Yeah, this is my prediction. I think that this is the way it's going to go over the next like one or two years. And you're already sort of starting to see some signs of it like is in what we what we know, for absolute Sure, is that Australia will not align to ambitious, strong climate targets, unless it's shut down shuts down its coal fired power plants before they're set to retire. Because every coal plant has it has a date on it, that it's like it that it retires. And you can put those dates into a spreadsheet and say, if they run to that day, what are the emissions? And then you can say what emissions Do we need to be under to align with climate targets. And of course, letting those coal plants run to the end date means we blow past our carbon, we emit way more than we should, if you were to sort of assign a 1.5 degree global target to Australia. So there's just no there's absolutely no escaping that math. And think back to last year, where a coal fired power station in New South Wales called Adel a relatively big one is usually close in 2022. For very, very close, right, like this is this is right around the corner. The reaction from the government was initially, we have to keep this open. We need to extend its lifespan for another five years. That did not go down particularly well, because the even the owners were like, I don't think we can do that. It was just the quantity of government money that would have been required. It was it was beyond the pale even for that. So then they said, Look, what we think is that the the owner of that coal fired power station should be forced to sell it to someone who will agree to keep it open. And Australia's government like toyed around with that idea for a while it didn't work. And the latest that we saw was Scott Morrison and Angus Taylor standing up in front of the cameras and saying, Listen up energy market, you have been very naughty. This coal plant is due to shut down very soon. And we feel that the replacement capacity hasn't been put in place. So we so we are threatening to build a 1000 megawatt gas fired power station as a punishment. Because you've been so naughty, and you haven't built you haven't replaced the capacity of this coal fired power station, that we're going to build another fossil fuel power station to replace it as punishment. So you can so what the reason is, is because

Dan Ilic 49:27
the gas the gas powered recovery is blackmail to keep the coal industry going. Is that what you're saying?

Ketan Joshi 49:34
Ah, look, it's confusing. I can't quite follow your logic if the gas fired recovery. But essentially, essentially, the The reason I bring this up is it's actually a really nice example of how big the absolute key debates This is really extremely central to Australia's entire climate issue is shutting down coal fired power stations before For them in to retire. When a coal plant when a coal plant reaches its retirement date, the government can't even handle it shutting down on its minister.

Dan Ilic 50:11
It sounds it sounds like the government is so sick, like absolutely sick. Like it's that they've got an illness.

Ketan Joshi 50:19
Yeah. So so this is what I this is kind of links back to what I mean when I say like saturation, right? Because such a such a bad situation of like, they can't even handle the absolute baseline basic starting point of this issue, to control emissions to where they need to be controlled to that. You look at the way it's covered stuff like this. And people it's like, almost like people just don't want to and when I say people start I mean, I mean, you know, I guess like the bulk of like coverage in like News Corp and like large media outlets, you know, they sort of almost can't deal with how bad the situation is. They sort of like cover it like, yeah, I guess Hey, let's go up and suggested 1000 megawatt gas fired power station, environmental groups criticised it. Yeah. Next one, let's move on. Yeah. And it's like, if you can imagine the, I guess, like trying sort of related back to COVID-19. And the tone of like, emergency not not just from Australian citizens, but from media outlets to you know, the sort of really, those this air of like, this is an actual emergency and it needs to be treated as such. You know, bad decisions were criticised as, as such, you know, that, like it didn't really matter, that people would be seen as being too biassed in favour of saving lives from the impacts of COVID-19. They did it anyway, because they felt is journalists, you know, it was their sort of duty to serve the public interest and criticise bad policy decisions on the grounds of protecting the lives of people vulnerable to the impacts of this disease. The very same logic of like, well, the government ought to be criticised on the grounds that they're allowing the emissions of the substance which causes harm to human life doesn't really come into play. And it's frustrating. Another good example is actually, the next biggest sector of Australia's emissions is transport. Australia, you know, it's just a lot of cars, a lot of big cars, not as much public transport as they could be in big cities, not as much active transport like walking and cycling as they could be in the big cities. And consequently, Australia has very high transport emissions, even relative to the population. The upside is that decarbonizing transport is just as much is just as feasible as power, right? Like we have the technology, you know, bicycle hills, like ebikes, public transports, electric vehicles, electric buses, all these sorts of things, long distance transport as well. There's a lot of different options available. Australia could start now very easily on decarbonizing transport, and a few months ago, this long awaited plan came out from Australia's government and it was just this huge struggle they just like, we're not gonna bother, like we're just going to electric vehicles will probably eventually get cheaper, right? That's that's completely in arguable and they're sort of looking at that they're sort of holding that and going, Hey, look, you know, electric vehicles are gonna get cheaper. So why is everyone panicking. And of course, the reason that we're panicking is that you need to put some force into the system. Yeah, make it go quicker

Dan Ilic 53:35
to make go quick, because we're running out of time. And I really enjoyed, I really enjoyed that kind of attitude that I saw on Twitter from a lot of conservatives like see, we don't need to help the sector, the sector is going to sort itself out. And then, of course, two years ago, when there was an election going on, you had mykhailiuk cash, gay trainees are gonna lose their use and lose their weekends if labour has its way. It's such a peculiar fact up argument, that it just makes my head hurt so bad. It's incredibly frustrating to see that some states treasurer's, like in South Australia and New South Wales, are even considering putting a tax on on a vase. Like why would you want to put an economic disincentive to buy an Eevee at this juncture,

Ketan Joshi 54:24
this is a very sort of salient problem to me, because, you know, I live in Oslo, in Norway and Noy has, you know, easily leads the world and the deployment of electric vehicles, but it's actually really interesting when you dig into the policy mechanisms that we use, right? So it's this really fine balance between at the very start, you have relatively strong incentives for abs, but you actually need to need to go through this process is Evie start filtering into the fleet of private vehicles in a country, you actually then need to kind of flick it the other way around a little bit and start to rebalance. The level of like taxation, so things like, there was this great interview with the head of the Norwegian electric vehicle Association where she talks about the fact that of course, every single thing that people do has some impact on society. So even using a private vehicle, even if it's electric, you know, that has, you need to use a road. To do that there's infrastructure that must be maintained, you pay a toll when use certain road tires emit particulates, that sort of thing. But there's also benefits relative to a combustion engine vehicle, of course, there's no air pollution in the greenhouse gas emissions is quieter, there's less air pollution, all that sort of stuff. So you need to then have this balancing act of like, don't let ABS be entirely excluded, because there are some impacts from usage of a private vehicle or, you know, most of the activities, of course, that humanity that like people do in cities as well. And what has happened in those states in Australia, is they've just mucked up the order quite badly. So they've started, they've started with the strict, like, you know, they started with a disincentive. And then they're like, we'll get to the we'll get to the step one, after we've done Step six, like so. And it's like, no, that's gonna Of course, that decreases the deployment of electric vehicles. I interviewed the head of the Norwegian Navy Association about this. And they're like, you just kind of see like the look on their face. It's like squinting at you like, they're like, why are you doing this in precisely the wrong order?

Unknown Speaker 56:36
That's crazy.

Dan Ilic 56:37
So you are a prolific tweeter. And your tweets are some of the most enjoyable tweets, particularly around energy and environment. Probably, I would say the best Twitter person to follow if you want if you're into environment stuff. One of my favourite tweets was you publishing a story from the Australian and it was like a bad a KPMG report. And he said consequences of mining now considered major threat to mining says, say miners, and for me, that was probably the most underrated tweet of 2020 and should have should have got far more tweets than the 43 retweets I got. I don't know when you hit 20. Do you think? Do you think this is definitely gonna be a 43? Or this is definitely gonna hit 500? Like what what was going through your mind when you hit tweet when you hit tweet on that one?

Ketan Joshi 57:22
I never, I can never tell the my often my crappiest tweets send out the most popular and my best ones end up the least appreciated.

Dan Ilic 57:30
And one of my I think I kind of made a connection today is like there was some data pulled together by KPMG, which made me think about today's big energy news story about the federal government spending $9 million on consultants to work out how best to subsidise the gas industry. And those consultants weren't KPMG. And clearly, Boston Consulting Group is happy to come up with different kinds of information for the game. Yeah,

Ketan Joshi 57:58
it's actually I intend to write about this one right about this one, too, because it's a really, really fascinating story. And it's great work from the Australia Institute for for, you know, having that scoop and sort of getting those documents that tell them, my writing is split into two halves at the moment. One is one is, you know, sort of renewables focus, like grid energy technology stuff. And the other half is actually critique fossil fuel industry critique. And also like in general sort of climate plan critique, because what we're seeing a lot of is, is not just fossil fuel companies, but many other companies, is sensing the change in the wind and going, Oh, okay, well, we need to come up with a climate plan. What do we do? You know, like, do we, we need to reduce our emissions from a company, you know, whatever the company is, and you've got this whole spectrum of like, really, really good ones, where people are very, you know, very consciously recognise that their environmental footprint. Actually a good example of a good one is Google, surprisingly enough, I fully expected them to go for, you know, greenwashing crappy plans, but they've got a fantastic plan where they, where they match, they actually turn their data centres into demand matching for renewables. So it actually helps ease the integration of renewable energy. So bad one, isn't actually there was a really good article last year, I can't find it, because I needed to write my thing. But it examined Boston Consulting group's own net zero plan. And what they, and they have this, you know, with every one of these netzero plans, what happens is you get this really sort of like, flashy media thing, where it's like, Look, you know, here's another one. Here's another company, you know, showing that they're sort of caring about climate change. And often these are actually really good signals, these netzero plans, so they do hit they do do some good in that everyone's kind of watching this happen, and they're going like, Oh, fantastic, you know, now we now we need to do it. But then the next step after everyone kind of agrees that we all need to do this is to dig into the details of that plan and say, well, actually you need to improve this particular thing. Boston Consulting Group did this really interesting thing. And then zero plan where they don't really change the number of flights that they consultants take very much. They kind of just fill it in with offsets, right. So this is either like planting trees, or having a technology that sucks carbon carbon from the air. Those are the kind of the two types of offsets, they call them natural technological offsets. There's a lot of controversy around both with with the tree stuff, obviously, you need to actually have something that removes carbon permanently. Obviously, we got it from the ground, we've got it from deep underground. And if you kind of just have it on the surface, in a tree or in the soil, very unstable, re released back into the hemisphere. There's also some controversy around you know, there's a lot of projects that are sort of sold is like, we're building this we're planting this tree specifically because you paid us to do it. But of course, that tree may have been planted anyway. So it's not additional, there's no additionality is the word. Carbon removal has a lot more hope going for it. But it's it's a long way off. And then often the promise of carbon removal just get to us. As like, you know, we'll just continue burning fossil fuels, because we recommend like 2049, someone will just have this amazing technology that will just suck all the carbon out that we've spent 29 years releasing, it's like

Dan Ilic 1:01:09
the same, the same, the same kind of false promise of carbon capture storage, just like Yeah, exactly. Yeah, we've got these two, we've got these two plants, and we think they're working, but we're not quite sure, but they don't really work. But we'll just say we've got them. So it means we don't have to do anything for another 15 years.

Ketan Joshi 1:01:23
Yeah, and I often often produce these charts with like, here's how much they've released. And here's how much they've captured. And it's just like a ridiculous. visible, we've got to like squint at your laptop or phone. So So BCG offset their flights, you know, show instead of saying we're gonna figure out a way to fly less, they just said they just call it in with trees, and they will just continue, will largely continue doing what we're doing. But it will just have we're just commentaries and it's like, okay, that's actually that's actually not a particularly great thing to do. Because it's not reducing the amount of carbon that's being added to the atmosphere, the planting of trees is probably a good thing. And it certainly helps. But then you can't have that as the thing that you're relying on, you actually need to reduce your emissions as well. Yeah. So bcj were on my radar last year. And then there are a lot of companies that work is enabling for the fossil fuel industry without actually being specifically digging up fossil fuels themselves. Of course, the other category is like public relations, like marketing, advertising, things like

Dan Ilic 1:02:23
that, I was gonna say Can Can could could be CJ possibly lower their carbon emissions by not working for the Australian Government and working out how to burn more fossil fuels.

Ketan Joshi 1:02:34
You know, it's not captured in their annual report, like you won't see, here's a list of our clients. You know, here's Exxon Mobil, here's the Australian Government, blah, blah, blah, you won't see that sort of stuff. And there's a lot of actually really good groups. There's one in Australia called calms declare, there's another one as well. I've completely forgotten the name. But basically what they

Dan Ilic 1:02:51
thought of another one called a podcast declare as well.

Ketan Joshi 1:02:55
Oh, yeah, yeah, I've seen I've seen that Twitter account. Yeah, it's good. I mean, like this is basically, this is really important stuff. Because I think to some degree, we underestimate the impact of particularly advertising. You know, like consultancies, obviously, play a pretty big role in this sort of stuff. Like you can see the impact there. With BCG in the Australian Government, their marketing and advertising is going to become a much much bigger thing as decarbonisation moves from like grid stuff, like, you know, huge wind and solar farms out in rural areas, and into our homes. So like cars, you know, the type of stovetop that you have decisions that you make around like, where you put your money, you know, like which super which super funds, you put your money and that sort of thing. All of this is actually becoming way more individual. And so marketing and Mass Communication are going to be really, really big things this decade, the I was just tweeting this morning about the gas industry, they they really don't want people building new homes without connections to the gas network. The more people choose not to connect their new home to gas, the less value their infrastructure has, and it's freaking them out. Because you know, induction cooktops work amazingly well. You don't fill your home with fossil fuel protected like you don't know burning a fossil fuel inside your damn heart.

Dan Ilic 1:04:12
You're not putting me in your house where you live.

Ketan Joshi 1:04:16
There's an interesting side issue right equity of course, like I've been a lifelong renter,

Dan Ilic 1:04:22
you and I are similar in similar positions where like it'd be all well and good to be able to do renovations to place we live to have an induction stove top to have electricity beaming from our rooms to our homes and doing all these ones and having a having a Tesla in the driveway. First of all, I've got to get a driveway. And yeah, so like to do all these things when you're when you actually don't have the power to do any of that yourself. If you're not a homeowner, that's a very different game to play. As a consumer myself, I try to make choices that are that thoughtful like a carbon offset my car even though I even though I'm totally aware of the nature of carbon offset, it still makes me feel good.

Ketan Joshi 1:05:10
No, it's certainly something that you should do. I mean, like, as long as they're, as long as they're like high quality, you know, as long as they're verified, and that you are in a situation where you can't afford to purchase an electric car, or, you know, you live in a certain spot where you can't live your life without, like, it's not feasible for you to walk or catch, you know, use a bicycle or catch public transport. And in Australia, of course, there are many, many, many instances of where that's the case for most people, then I think there's absolutely nothing wrong with deciding to try and do some other action it doesn't need doesn't even have to be an offset, you know, you can like funds like a community solar organisation, or you know, you can you can purchase greenhouse electricity, like, there's a bunch of different things that you can do, that don't have to be a one for one emissions cancelling thing that really helped a lot. This is actually a really important point because the debate between individual action and like systemic regulatory action on climate change really rebounds between these two things, and people just get caught up in this rebounds, right where they just like getting buffeted around like, Oh, my God, I feel bad for not doing too much in my life that I don't know I don't feel bad at all. Because it's the corporation's you know, that should be doing it. Oh, no, I feel bad again, Oh, my God. Like, don't let yourself be emotionally battered around by this by this constantly shifting focus, right? Because

Dan Ilic 1:06:28
as you say, as you say, you should feel good for doing something good, you should feel good because you didn't put molecules in the air. So that's that's exactly

Ketan Joshi 1:06:35
right. So so the actually, the gas industry is a really good example of this. Because there's a dimension, right, there's a spectrum, where we actually get more room to make the to make emissions, lower emissions decisions in life, because of regulation, right. So the example I often use is, I live here in Oslo, I cycle my kid to childcare. But I only do that because somebody fought to get bike lanes in Seoul. And this is actually a really recent phenomenon. And Oslo suddenly, in the past few years, that bike lanes have become ubiquitous in the city. And if they weren't there, I would not be doing this, it freaks me out, I would probably be driving a car. And if I didn't have the option to drive an electric car, I'd probably be driving a fossil fuel car. Because I need to get my kids to childcare. And so it's the I've made a decision. Like I could still drive a fossil fuel car if I wanted to. But the reason that I've made the decision, this lifestyle change is because somebody fought in Oslo's council to get this like option available to me, with the gas industry as well, they are looking at marketing and advertising campaigns to get people to have gas in their homes, because it will impact regulation, because they want like a body of people out there who will stand up and say, I like my steak when it's cooked by fossil fuels. And I don't like my steak when it's cooked by electricity from those wimpy wind farms and like they need that their to be able to say, Well, I want this state government to introduce a policy where they're not going to allow the banning of gas connections, for instance, and this is happening in the US, entire states are creating these things called ban bands, which is basically Yeah, this is wild. So they're banning the banning of gas connections. That's such

Dan Ilic 1:08:24
an American thing. That's such a magazine.

Ketan Joshi 1:08:26
Yeah, similar thing is actually happening with plastics. So there are pre emptive bands of plastic bag bans, where they say you're not allowed to stop people from using plastic bags. single use single use plastic bags, because that's too much of a of a, you know, it's impinging on the freedom of whatever it really you know, of course, it's there to produce the to, to protect the petrochemical industry producing the raw materials for those plastic bags, right. But it's a growing trend, and they need and they need widespread public support. Because these are all really local issues. Now, particularly with gas network stuff, they're going to be really local issues. So they need people to be like having warm feelings towards their warm feelings towards gas and gas connections. And you can tell I've obviously been doing a lot of reading and writing about about the gas industry. But it feels kind of relevant, you know, because Australia's doing its whole gas fired recovery thing.

Dan Ilic 1:09:26
About a year ago to get the gas industry we're putting together events with influences to make people feel good about gas. So they had these wellness influences doing yoga and meditating next to a gas fired fireplace where they were breathing in me shade and particulate matter. In the sake of wellness to kind of sell gas to a whole bunch of you paid Evans types.

Ketan Joshi 1:09:51
They cited some studies where they said that looking at a flame creates psychological wellness and therefore You shouldn't be putting gas in your home. I'll give you another example, that some, you know, it's sort of within COVID, because it's sort of relevant. Last year in America, this council in California was looking to implement a ban on new gas connections, and the gas lobby in this area, threatened to bus in protesters, and sent a message saying, if you go ahead with this, what we will do is busing protesters to protest your your attempts to ban gas connections. And that that is going to spread COVID-19 in your in so they specifically used

Dan Ilic 1:10:43
weaponized COVID-19

Ketan Joshi 1:10:44
respiratory disease as a threat to force people to have the option of having another respiratory illness from having gas burning inside your home with inadequate ventilation. So, like, you can tell why I've been so obsessed with this particular like, you know, phenomenon around the world, because the gas industry starting to get pretty dirty about this stuff, right? Like they're getting really, they doing like, do you remember sort of like the old coal PR stuff from like, the 2010s? You know, where they would do like ads, you know, with a lump of coal spinning in like, you know, bright light and that sort of stuff? Yeah, yeah, they would, they would do all these, like, you know, filthy astroturf things and get like, you know, dodgy operators to come in and do PR. So like, all that sort of coal stuff from the 2010s to get the gas industry starting to kind of do a bit of, that's a really significant thing, I think we can actually prepare ourselves a bit for it, by knowing how all of these things are gonna go and kind of knowing how they operate. And that's why I write about that stuff so much, because I want to be like, Look, we know, we can actually predict very reliably what's gonna happen here. And so watch out for it and don't fall prey to the, to the lines of reasoning that they'll they'll be using.

Dan Ilic 1:12:05
Yeah, we actually made a parody on irrational fear of the little black rock, I think was gonna call it was called magical Black Rock is saying, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. Let me play that parody for you. Now, hang on, here we go.

Unknown Speaker 1:12:21
This can provide endless kinds of environmental destruction. It'll create carbon emissions, respiratory disease, and more waterfront land than ever before, delivering more than 50 million people the motivation to move from their countries to ours, it creates jobs for 1000s of machines, built by people all over the world. due to falling demand. It's the cheapest it's been in over a decade, but consequences of using it will still look expensive. Because if we use it as fast as we can, our world will look just like this little black rock. Whatever is good for humanity. This shit is the opposite.

Dan Ilic 1:13:02
A guy that was that was 25th. September 7 2015. Yeah,

Ketan Joshi 1:13:07
Yeah, Yeah, I will. I'm certain we'll get a you know, long, slow focus on gas bottles, you know? Yeah, I know the well, the wellness, the influences stuff is the is the modern version of that of that little black rock.

Dan Ilic 1:13:23
I think it's gonna be the steak. It's gonna be cooking the steak, that'll that'll be the one that gets

Ketan Joshi 1:13:27
this. There's actually a few. There's a few partnerships that the gas industry does with I think it's like, some cooking shows in Australia. Is it Mastership? Like I remember which ones, but they do like, they get like, you know, the chef's from those shows to be like, Oh, no, I always cook with fossil fuels.

Dan Ilic 1:13:44
It makes sense. Master chefs, Master chefs set up is all guest stars, I've noticed and lasted over them. So it's one of those things where it's like, Wow, look at that. Look at that naan bread being like, completely blown out on that guest. It's really incredible. I should really let you go. Because you know, you're a busy man with the world to save. And I'm not. But I do have questions from a couple of my Patreon supporters. Susan from Patreon asks, What are your thoughts about the most likely power sources for the aviation industry over the next 50 years?

Ketan Joshi 1:14:16
Yeah, this is actually one of the this is really one of the toughest areas to sort of talk and think about with with climate action, because it's another one of those areas where you have to think about the potential of technology not not like what what it currently is. Because there's just no alternative to jet fuel. Forget for transporting people across oceans, across land, obviously, you can, people can travel along the grounds in a high speed train or a car or whatever. But across oceans ships can't really do it. The electric ships really, actually progressing a little faster than I thought there's a few really great electric ferries here in Norway. actually do surprisingly large distances already. But you know, it takes a lot of resources and materials to make the batteries for those things

Dan Ilic 1:15:07
I saw mask mask was going to stop building fossil fuel powered ships in 19 2030, I think

Ketan Joshi 1:15:14
there's some good stuff going on. And actually around this hydrogen, hydrogen is produced from a bunch of different you can make hydrogen from budget for things, but you can make it from electricity, which you can generate from renewables. And when you burn hydrogen advance cleanly, it just produces water. So it's actually a pretty, pretty good option, but you just need to develop the technology to to make engines that run hydrogen. And it's an option for planes as well. But the challenge for both batteries and hydrogen is basically energy storage for planes is that they post pretty heavy and they're both hydrogen is volatile. And so you need to have, you need to have the technology to store it in a plane safely. Batteries are far heavier. So you need to have the balance between the weight of the plane and the weight of the battery,

Dan Ilic 1:15:59
what we can do is to charge their phones before going on a plane and then plug it into the plane. And then passengers can use their energy

Ketan Joshi 1:16:08
may not last very long. Yeah. I mean, I guess it really just makes sense that, um, transporting people through the air requires a pretty wild amount of energy. What is more likely to be the best pathway for aviation is keep going, we'll let technology keep developing it, but cut off the excess of usage. And so a lot of that is actually business travel, a huge, huge proportion of total flights around the world. I think it's like 30 to 40%, I can't quite remember the exact number I need to check it is from business travel.

Dan Ilic 1:16:39
I was really grateful. Two weeks ago, I had to do a presentation in Canberra. And I was quite thankful I didn't have to go. And I could do it over zoom to seven important people in Canberra. And I could just do it from my bedroom where I am right now. And I was like, Well, you know, the only thing I've got to do is put on a tie. And I'm ready to go. And, you know, I think we've all been in COVID times that, that telecommuting and you know, stuff like video conferencing can replace a lot of that unnecessary travel.

Ketan Joshi 1:17:05
Absolutely. And the other problem, of course, is is frequent flying. So it's people who people who fly way more than you and I would ever fly. And that is also a pretty large proportion. And the problem here is course is that airlines understand that this is a very large proportion of their revenues, people who fly when they don't really need to, or really, you know, like not this isn't, you know, stuff when they're going on holidays and stuff. So this kind of overlaps with the business thing of like, you know, a crazy melting group when I haven't have a meeting and they just fly their people, you know, from New York to Los Angeles to have that meeting.

Dan Ilic 1:17:35
Yeah, maybe instead of having a gold and platinum, they should have like, brown level, you know, you've got it should gold to brown. Yeah, yeah,

Ketan Joshi 1:17:44
this is actually this is actually a sort of proposal is to have like an incentive programme for infrequent dragonflies are very nice to get rid of marketing incentives for flying essentially, which which will cut off a very large amount of demand. And of course, that would be a politically fraught thing down the line. The airlines would not be a very happy with this approach, particularly Not now.

Dan Ilic 1:18:08
One of our discord, community members adds rights. You read a lot about technology replacing coal plants with wind and solar and phasing out IC engines in favour of electric this leads to two questions. will this happen quickly enough? And even if they get replaced with renewables slash electric inside of 15 years? Is it enough? Or do we need larger systemic changes? I don't think it's, I don't think it's a quick question.

Ketan Joshi 1:18:37
Quick, I'll give you a quick answer, though. I mean, you need systemic changes to reach that rate of change, there's no doubt about it, you need to have systems in place that intervening in what may have previously been thought of as like relatively free markets. So what actually goes links back very nicely to the coal closure thing, because the owner of a coal plant won't shut it down early, unless you force them to. And to get that 15 year time frame, that's actually going to be a really, really tough systemic deep change to make. So the other side of it, of course, is that simple replacement isn't sufficient, you actually need to push down on the demand side of the equation to so that's I mentioned active transport and public transport for, it's actually a really nice example of where you need to reduce the demand for the usage of vehicles. So people own a car, but they don't use it as much as they normally would. That is also climate when right. So this is actually a really tricky thing to sort of wrap your head around because we often conflate machines existing and the use of machines. China, for instance, is actually building a fair few new coal fired power stations, but they're using them less than less. So obviously, it's not, you shouldn't be building new coal fired power stations, that's extremely bad. But keep in mind that they also use them less and less because competition from renewables is

Dan Ilic 1:19:54
increasing. peeping Neil on the discord also writes, what does he think about direct Technical intervention to reduce co2. And he says, technology solution trees won't cut it, he says. So yeah, the idea of reducing co2 with the technological device, how far away is that,

Ketan Joshi 1:20:14
on the scale that we need to this, you've got to, you've got to sort of split it out into two categories. One is getting rid of everything that's already been emitted. And the other is dealing with stuff that we're about to or that we, that we think we almost certainly will emit. So so so of course, if you ask a company like shell, they'll be like, yeah, we're not going to decarbonize very quickly, there's still a lot of admitting that we're going to do. But if you ask, if you look at if you look at ambitious climate plan, there actually is still some emissions that are gonna happen. So you know, I don't know, like a rescue helicopter, filled with jet fuel that you need to save someone from hanging off a cliff, she'll have some carbon emissions that you want to you want to remove. So and then, of course, this is historical emissions. And there's a lot you know, what are we up to last year, you know, 36 Giga tonnes in that in that single year of carbon dioxide. So not not all greenhouse gases just come with oxide. We currently last year, we removed 0.04 ish. Maybe missing a decimal point there. But you get to the proportions.

Dan Ilic 1:21:18
It's like, I don't know why I'm laughing like it's one of those things where it's like, I shouldn't be laughing. I should be being very angry. But it's a sad laugh. Yeah, I think that's what irrational fear does.

Ketan Joshi 1:21:30
What, what, what I think is actually a really important argument in favour of carbon removal is is actually a justice question. So the burden should be on those who have done the most emitting over the past century. And that's North America. That's Europe, and Australia, Oceania, some degree, all of these sort of three chunks of the world that have done a lot of historical emissions. So not the yearly amount. But if you look at the atmosphere as a stock, it's like a bucket of stuff who's contributed the most of that bucket of existing stuff that's in the atmosphere? That I think that's important. I think that's a justice question. And so shouldn't be led by fossil fuel companies, though,

Dan Ilic 1:22:05
do you think it'll get to a point where, you know, 50 years down the track, the global community will be saying, well, historically, when the rich countries need to start mopping up their historical emissions, and really paying for it, this kind of exporting mass exporting of co2 equivalent from countries like Australia, which we build out riches on, is suddenly going to be the biggest Achilles heel that we have politically in the in the, in the world.

Ketan Joshi 1:22:31
Yeah, the problem, the problem there is that Australia actually doesn't have particularly good carbon storage opportunities, somewhere like Norway has actually has really good carbon stored opportunities just for sequestering underground. There's a lot of sort of existing, like oil science offshore here in Norway. And so they're sort of trying to get ahead of the curve and and offer it as a, you know, business to say, well pay us and we'll and we'll, you know, we'll take your ship full of capture carbon and store it on the ground. And there's two sides that one is the one is the bad side, which is that fossil fuel companies may use that activity as justification for more emissions. And there's the good side, which is that we actually need to remove carbon from the atmosphere, because for the same reason that we don't emit, in that we need to reduce the stock of this substance in the atmosphere that that traps heat on Earth. So you've got to maintain both in your head at the same time, same time. Yeah, in that something good is going to be misused. It's going to be used as a delay tactic to keep the fossil fuels burning. Yeah, yeah. Yeah.

Dan Ilic 1:23:34
It's a Tom, thank you so much. Look, I it's been an absolute pleasure talking to you. I've been a fan of yours for ages. And it's really, really great to get all nerdy with you. I think about two years ago, I went on a bit of a journey to try and learn as much as I can about this space. From my very small kind of comedy point of view. And it's in your one of the first book people that people turned me on to and haven't regretted following you on Twitter, and

Ketan Joshi 1:24:02
I love your work. I of course, I've been really enjoying the particularly like the, of course, like the fossil fuel industry, when you skewer them through through that comedy work. It's really fantastic. And it just, it just fills me with not a lot of things when it's dry these days, and sort of the dark humour of that is just fantastic to me, and makes me feel really happy. So thank you for that.

Dan Ilic 1:24:23
Well, thank you. Well, without people like you, doing the hard work and writing the great work that you do, then I've got nothing to read to make jokes about. So thank you.

Unknown Speaker 1:24:35
GM, the greatest moral podcast of our generation. Welcome to Brisbane.

Unknown Speaker 1:24:40
capital is seven Queensland and bid city of the 2038 nuclear winter games thanks to industrial growth at all costs. Queensland is live life to the extreme and there's nothing more extreme than our weather. But every Cyclone has a silver lining last year Brady Denise From Ian, chalky Philippa good true Tiffany Melinda Shiro Rochelle and Dave Neely made space for new stadiums and sporting facilities and now we're ready for re rebuilding again. With the southward spread of Deva southeast Queensland now has the lowest rate of denki fever in all of southeast Queensland. But don't worry if you do catch it some of the best funded doctors in Australia just over the border in New South Wales, thanks to rising sea levels. in Brisbane, everyone shares waterfront views with some of the most ancient and deadly locals around it's now even easier to take a boat to the Great Barrier Reef Memorial oilfield it's just been refurbished and moved into the habit of speaking of water, the water wars of 2025 are a thing of the past. We now have a roster. Clean water will be available to farmers Mondays and Tuesdays coal seam gas miners Wednesdays and Thursdays residents on Fridays and theme parks on Saturdays Sundays and public holidays. But going wild can work up an appetite grabber by two weeks, literally just a bite. Queensland supermarkets now have round the clock military God ensuring the orderly distribution of rations and thanks to the Queensland government's banana buyback scheme, the cost of bananas is no longer than others. You know what they say? Queensland beautiful one day of the year otherwise by the Campbell Newman reeducation facility

A Rational Fear on Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/ARationalFear

See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

119 episodes