Big D Industrialists
We’ve probably all heard/read about it now, Mike Cannon-Brookes of Atlassian fame made a bid for AGL which they roundly rejected because - well, because he was going to use his purchased clout to make them shut coal-fired power stations down considerably earlier.
What interested me was that it actually generated negative comments on Twitter.
A tweet appeared soon after, something along the lines of “it’s not ideal for billionaires to throw their weight around and try and get involved in running things.”
It made me sad to read that.
First - this is Mike, the man that made the offer:
MCB and his company Atlassian have made a great big inroad into the online software development and management field with more facets now than you can shake a stick at, and he didn’t get there by being stupid.
Why he’d make a bid for AGL and try to shut down their coal-fired power seems easy to me - one of the things he must know is what’s already writ in stone, that the planet’s become really hot and it’s going to get a lot hotter, a lot sooner, than anyone expects. Kuwait is already feeling it.
I imagine that Atlassian needs customer that are, well, alive, and, y’know, capable of paying. Climate refugees tend to have other priorities (and quite likely much less wealth) after their displacements, because that kind of move costs resources
Speaking of that. Have you noticed something? Q: How do you know what has real value in the world? What truly represents wealth? A: It’s whatever people are striving to get their hands on. So what’s considered to be wealth nowadays? Go on, take a guess, write it down, then read on.
Have you written it down? I’ll wait a bit more. . .
Tithes of produce were used to measure wealth. Then these were replaced to a degree by precious metals ands stones.
That “gold standard” was recently replaced by the fiscal equivalent of vaporware: the fiat currency standard that most of the world now operates on.
That produced a “this dollar is worth whatever I say it is” mindset and economy, and that tangentially triggered the Global Financial Crisis a bit over a decade ago.
Because fiat was wealth; and everyone wanted it; and predatory loans are the only way to get enough wealth together to buy your house or your business.
What are we pursuing nowadays? People are scrambling for cryptocurrency. And cryptocurrency is generated by intensive cryptography operations on literally millions of computing units. And that costs? Energy.
Think on that for a few seconds . . .
Back To The Article:
Energy is the new currency. Those Kuwaitis - they are among the wealthiest people in the world for that reason. And they are used to squandering that energy at a profligate rate. They are currently squandering huge amounts of energy to keep their buildings cool, to obtain water. Everyone owns and drives a car or fifty. Their ‘underclasses’ of immigrant workers die in the heat.
When they finally acknowledge that Kuwait is unlivable they’ll just spend their wealth to buy new homes somewhere in a more habitable zone. That could be my town or whatever - the where doesn’t matter.
But they’ll continue the lifestyle wherever they are, for as long as they are able, and they’ll not give a toss about the new locality’s environment, customs, laws, or police. After all, they can afford small private armies if they feel the need.
Nope, that stuff is not just in movie plots. Loads of industrialists from all over the planet have ‘security teams’ on their estates and retreats already, armed and trained. If that’s not a small private army then I’m blowed if I know what is.
The point is that Big Ds ($$$) will always reign supreme. And as the heat belt spreads, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia aren’t going to be the only extremely wealthy (and some possibly extremely unscrupulous) people who are going to become enforced climate refugees.
Back to MCB’s takeover bid. There’s never a plan but there’s another plan within it. He’s committed some amount into a renewables and battery company as part of the effort to shut coal plants the heck down.
MCB’s view expressed on TV is that the quicker we ditch coal the better, and I reckon he’d probably replace some of AGL’s core structure with the very batteries and technologies he’s investing in. Shutting coal fired power down is an admirable goal as far as I’m concerned.
Buy your own baseload batteries with your own power company (which by the way is currently the single largest polluter in Australia and rivals places like NZ or Ireland’s total pollution - and that is one reason it was chosen for this offer) as long as we get more battery baseload out there.
I’m betting he also already has quite a few investments into wind turbine, solar power, and alternate energy companies as well - I can see it making perfect financial sense and if I had the money I’d be doing the same thing.
It will contribute to decarbonising and reducing the rate of warming, and while most companies are jollying us along with a “she’ll be right, Paris Agreement, we have thirty years” kind of patter, the truth is (if you read the news and notice these things) that we’re already 90% stuffed right now, and thirty years ago was already too late.
Musk similarly took a punt and offered to install (what was at the time) the biggest baseload battery in the world into the South Australian grid. The punt paid off, Musk got paid, and the SA government and grid got paid back over the space of not much more than two years.
Come to think of it, several baseload batteries were added after that little lesson was learned, and most of them were a world record holder until we ordered the next one. We have been going hell for leather at making ourselves renewable which is why I’ll shortly analyse why AGL didn’t take the offer.
Companies are getting out of fossil fuels faster than the proverbial rats off a sinking ship. But this ship’s a bit of a Klein bottle. We can’t get out of it. We need to get it shipshape again, no matter who leads the charge.
Why Am I Supportive Of This Bid?
This, for a start:
Coming soon to a multitude of spots on YOUR planet, please stand by and expect some warmth and disruption as those images above play out year after year.
The things in that image above didn’t come about because some government decided to make fertiliser and virtually enslave third world people to make products and clean up at least the most profitable of their wastes. No government decided that more and more fossil fuel was a good idea. Governments were bought and kindly requested to support those endeavours.
Wealth (and those that wield it) have always ruled the world ever since the first Big Troglodyte divided up The First Big Kill, and the wealth it represented swayed a few more hunters to come with him on The Next Big Hunt.
It’s ALL down to billionaires waving their mighty Ds (aka $$$s,) which is something they’ve always done - contrary to the naively expressed opinion that this is most often not a good outcome. We know it, we know we should oppose the accumulation of so much wealth and the accompanying power - but we should also show some discrimination about which Big Ds we support and which we block. And that can be far worse when it’s a corporation. Which brings us neatly to AGL . . .
What About AGL?
AGL are my energy provider, which is why this particularly caught my attention and held it. They’ve always presented themselves as clean energy and cleaning up their act more and more. That started me looking at the company a bit and realising that they were actually crap at clean energy, but at that stage I had no idea just how bad they actually were.
So I was sort of hoping that MCB’s offer was going to get taken up because then I could feel better about getting my energy from Australia’s worst energy company.
But there’s the rub for renewables - just why did AGL prefer to stick to their business model rather than take up what was after all a quite generous offer? Why AGL rejected it shows how much value they perceive in milking this particular dead horse cash cow. THAT is what we’re up against.
Coal infrastructure is still in place and still cheap. The only way to release that stranglehold is to price fossil fuels out of the market. Make it too expensive to be attractive, even if AGL was splitting into two companies so they could get two shots at the trough.
The rich oil sheikhs - the only way to slow their wealth gathering down is to stop using fossil fuels. If Cannon-Brookes or Elon Musk or anyone else is willing to make that happen then I’d say we should support that.
All the bullshit (and it IS bullshit) that AGL are expressing about how splitting the company will be better for their shareholders - notice that WE aren’t in any way involved in their equations. That alone is a big indictment against them. But of course they’re only one corporation among thousands. None of them give any more of a toss about us - other than that we’re the source of their income.
What they’re saying is that the shareholder profits are more important than our (and the shareholders’) futures. Because a corporation is at its core a non-human entity, THAT is where I draw the line. MCB is human and has human concerns, whereas AGL is a corporation and actually acts like it too.
This article is part of the actions I’ve been taking and I hope it makes you want to take action too.
Every one of us needs to get out and do stuff - I write a few dozen emails a year to politicians, clearly expressing which actions are going to get my vote, and hopefully it’ll penetrate even those famously thick skulls if enough people do it. Go to the GetUp site and sign up, then sign petitions that do good things. Read news, and not just the headlines but also the articles further down the list. Sign up for an environmental action group. Just don’t sit there while greed kills what’s left of the planet.
Write to your local Member or Premier. Say that you are disappointed that AGL felt enough support from the government that they could choose to reject that bid and that you’d appreciate it if your elected government officials applied pressure to AGL to accept, or at least bring their shutdown plans to a much earlier date.
And I’m also going to put this out there, I’m trying in my small way to make a difference by developing inexpensive easy ways of recycling, and could always do with some help from you.
Also, I’ve put up a newsfeed page where all the other pages I write for are listed with the latest articles shown so you can stay up to date with all of it.
Or even subscribe for email updates. And if you really want to help me out, send people to that newsfeed page or to one of my articles that you liked.
Cheers. Now get off the bloody lawn!