The three E or triple E test for sustainable energy policy

Is the policy sustainable on Economic, Engineering and Environmental criteria?

The North Shore Climate Realist collective is developing a discussion paper on the application of the triple E criteria and the preliminary finding is that the unreliable or intermittent energy sources (solar and wind) fail on all three.

Submissions are welcome.

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11 Responses to The three E or triple E test for sustainable energy policy

  1. Muddy

    Rafe, I think that morality needs to be inserted into the considerations here, given that morality seems to trump (no pun intended) all other rational criteria according to the most devoted. I mean this seriously, rather than sarcastically, though I’m struggling to put forward an example at the moment. I’m not sure about engineering, but morality – a moral imperative – could certainly be paired with the environment and economics.

    It’s late, and I’ve had a brain-sucking day, but I’ll try to think of an example tomorrow. In the meantime, consider that using some of the same language as those who demonise us may help to blunt some of their claims (that conservatives, or realists, don’t care about the planet, or children, etc., etc.).

  2. Muddy

    Let me clarify: I’m talking about the sales pitch, rather than the nuts and bolts of the data. The endoftheearthers have managed, via a slick (though prolonged) sales pitch to convince the decision-makers to metaphorically remove one or more of our country’s bodily systems to make us ‘healthier,’ so it must be possible to use similar tactics to sell the opposite.

  3. Rafe Champion

    What about a fourth E. Ethical?

  4. Shy Ted

    And a fifth E – eat only what you can grow.

  5. BoyfromTottenham

    “Is the policy sustainable on Economic, Engineering and Environmental criteria?”
    This is a trick question. The key word here is “SUSTAINABLE” – not the 3 “E”s. This previously innocuous word has been weaponised and is now used by environmentalists to trump Economics and Engineering when it suits them. Any rational person would expect any major policy or project to be objectively evaluated on economic and (where appropriate) engineering grounds, as they have been for about 150 years. If a policy or project fails either of these tests, it should be binned as a waste of taxpayers money. Introduce a third, subjective, value-laden criteria into major decisions and the result is almost certain to be worse – either a good project gets rejected or a bad project gets approved. The word ‘sustainable’ is so vague as to be meaningless, but by injecting the concept of ‘sustainability’ into policy and project evaluations over and above the 3 Es renders rational decision-making largely irrelevant. Which no doubt suits those who wield it.

  6. Muddy

    Our opponents are selling a product; asking us (or proxies) to exchange something for something else. Let’s put aside the fact that what we are receiving is illusory. Our competitors seem more successful in the marketplace selling their product than we have been with ours. What have they been doing that we haven’t, and can we use some of the same, or similar tactics, to either increase the sales of our product, or undermine theirs?

    We have allowed our competitors to position us. That is, they have broadcast to the market that our product is deficient, and that we ourselves are shonky business people whose integrity and motivation is questionable. Our cognitive and emotional intelligence is limited. We are concerned only about ourselves and personal financial rewards. On the other hand, purchasing their product will advertise to the world that the purchaser has worth, value, and integrity.

    We need to begin repositioning, firstly ourselves. I wouldn’t recommend an aggressive frontal attack on our opponents yet, but rather using similar words and concepts that they successfully use to demonise us and our product, to humanise the same. Language matters. Why? Let’s make an analogy: If you’ve heard from family and friends, or on social media, that a certain fast food restaurant is poor value for money and delivers a substandard product, when someone suggests you go there to eat, the identification of that restaurant will retrieve the memory from your brain of the multiple occasions when you received negative feedback about it. So even though you don’t yet have personal experience of their product or service, that cumulative impression will influence your decision to sample their product. Similarly, because we stabilisers have been demonised so often about our product, there will be a cognitive barrier in each individual who has been exposed to that demonisation, which will prevent, wholly or in part, any willingness to absorb information about the product they have been told is to be avoided at all costs. Having great data and a persuasive argument to present will mean little if a pre-existing cognitive barrier has to be overcome first. We need to begin to prepare the ground for a later assault by weakening the mortar of those cognitive barriers that allowing our opponents to position for us has built. Part of that can be achieved by mimicking (to a degree) the language that our competitors use.

    I’m not suggesting that Five Dock do away with the hard science, but rather they also focus on selling the product better than has been done in the past. Hence my suggesting of using morality to appeal to those cognitive barriers that may stiffen or become electrified if they sense ‘denialist’ language.

    I don’t think that introducing another element as a stand-alone will help.

    I realise this has been long and waffling, but I consider that one of the most important and commonly ignored deficits of the conservative side of any argument, is that little thought is given to how that argument is delivered, and how it is perceived by the receiver. Our opponents appear to have a far better understanding of the human mind, whereas we think that everyone has the ability and willingness to understand rationality and logic. This does mean I think the latter two need to be discarded, but rather that the tools used to convey them could do with sharpening.

    Clear as Muddy?

  7. Muddy

    Replace ‘Five Dock’ with ‘North Shore’. Who knows where I got the former from.

  8. Jim Simpson

    Or better still Muddy, establish a similar Group on the North Shore under the name of “The Climate Realists of North Shore’ or ‘Northern Beaches’ if you prefer & get together on a regular basis as do we at Five Dock (ie weekly)!

  9. Muddy

    I wasn’t clear with my last post: It was intended as a correction to my longer post wherein in the first sentence of the fourth paragraph, I wrote ‘Five Dock’ instead of ‘North Shore.’ I have no idea who is who or what or why, but I wished to correct a mistake lest it reveal me as possessing even less of a clue than previously thought.

    I’ve stated many times that I’m not particularly literate in the sciences and economics, but that my interests lie in history, human psychology, and how both can be leveraged to assist the conservative bastions to hold out the battering waves of cultural primitives.

    My apologies if my attempted correction came across as an insult. I don’t yet know enough of that language to insult regular users.

  10. Muddy

    I’d like to officially blame my confusion about identities on Rafe. Hopefully my initial contribution still makes sense.

  11. Boambee John


    Very simple argument.

    How is it moral to force the poor who cannot afford (or, if they live in multi-story apartment blocks) cannot in practice use solar panels to subsidise those who are in a position to use them?

    How is it moral to make electricity so expensive that old and very young people are at risk of dying of hypothermia?

    How is it moral to increase the cost of food for poor people by converting food crops into motor fuel?

    Many more such questions on the morality of our current energy policies could be used to prepare the battlespace.

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