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"...public opinion deserves to be respected as well as despised" G.W.F. Hegel, 'Philosophy of Right'

a cynical moment « Previous | |Next »
September 3, 2006

If climate change a decade ago was conjecture, then today we are living with global warming caused by human activities. There is disappearing Arctic ice and permafrost, lethal storms and floods, disappearing glaciers, forest fires and fatal heat waves. The future is unfolding before our eyes.


If rainfall has increased over the last 50 years over northwestern Australia, it has decreased in the southwest of Western Australia, and in much of south-eastern Australia, especially in winter. The changes are consistent with an observed decrease in water supply to the reservoirs supplying the capital cities since the 1990s and near-record low water reserves.

Conseqently, farmers will be increasingly vulnerable as interannual droughts occur more frequently or are more intense in the future. Less secure water supplies would accentuate competition between users and threaten
allocations for environmental flows and future economic growth. Little is being said about needing to being cautious about investment in those exposed coastal regions that are increasing vulnerability to tropical cyclones, storm surges and rising sea levels.

An editorialist in The Australian notes that a draft report the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has projected a rise of 3C in average daily global temperature by the end of the century, assuming greenhouse gas emissions remain stable. It narrows the band of predicted temperature rises and all but eliminated the possibility of a 5.8C average temperature increase mooted when the group last met in 2001. In other words, according to the IPCC, the planet is heating up -- but nowhere near as much as once thought or feared. The Australian comments:

The report is particularly valuable as a rebuke to that radical and disproportionately loud fringe of greenies and leftists who treat environmentalism as a religion for whom humanity's sinful, decadent ways threaten to bring down the wrath of nature or the gods and must be changed. It is also further evidence that such alarmist scenarios such as the "hockey stick" theory (so named for the shape of the line on the graph it is taken from) are, well, overheated.

No worrries says The Australian. An increase 3 C is not the end of the world. All that required is water trading, encourage industries to develop technology such as geosequestration and clean coal to cut emissions at home, and develop a uranium fuel export industry to help nations such as China and India cut their own, much larger, greenhouse gas contributions. Those who suggest that the best course of action is to quickly and radically cut emissions ignore the economics and impact of such a move. History shows that the best way to help the environment is to encourage the prosperity that will finance the development of newer, cleaner technologies.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 11:39 PM | | Comments (0)