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

side show alley « Previous | |Next »
May 30, 2011

My judgement is that climate change is now the central public policy issue that needs to be addressed by the current Parliament. It looks simple on the surface doesn't it: both Labor and the Coalition claim a reduction target of 5 per cent from 2000 levels by 2020 and that they are simply arguing about the best mechanism to get there. It's either carbon tax leading to an emissions trading scheme, or direct action funded out of the budget.

Dig beneath the surface and it gets more complicated. Many in the Coalition are still deeply opposed to the IPCC's evidence of man-made warming, have adopted an anti-science position and demand that their personal opinion be taken as seriously as the objective evidence from scientific research.


The anti-science noise is from the carnival barkers at the seedy-looking sideshow in a tacky fairground full of astrofurfers. The main game is in the public policy arena and it is the negotiations taking place within the Multi Party Committee on Climate Change (MPCCC).

Here the debate is about a carbon price mechanism that could commence with a fixed price (through the issuance of fixed price units within an emissions trading scheme) before converting to a cap-and-trade emissions trading scheme. The last meeting issued a number of working papers, which I cannot find online.

The negotiations appear to be between the Gillard Government and Big business groups with the latter, as expected pushing for a very low starting price for carbon. The proposal would be something along the lines of a fixed price for three to five years followed by a floating price. If a low starting price is what is agreed to, then that means a step trajectory in the price of carbon to meet the 5 per cent from 2000 levels by 2020.

Of course, Big Business has no intention of trying to meet that target, nor the goal of preventing a temperature rise of more than 2 degrees Celsius – which scientists say is the threshold for potentially "dangerous climate change". Australia's emissions levels keep on increasing, the electricity generators and coal industry are talking in terms of an anti-carbon tax campaign and they want more coal fired stations to be built.

The hard reality is that Australia's seconomy runs on energy, and since most of that power continues to comes from coal, oil and gas, GDP and carbon emissions will be bound together in an economic growth lockstep---Australia's economy is expanding again and belching out more carbon.

In his final report ---Garnaut Review 2011--- Garnaut recommend polluters pay a carbon price of $26 a tonne, raising $11.5 billion in the first year of a carbon tax. Garnaut says 55 per cent of the revenue should go to households and 35 per cent to the polluting businesses as compensation.The remainder will go towards innovation and carbon farming, which will be offset by existing spending. The move to a full floating-price emissions trading scheme should be made in 2015

I await the howls of outrage from the special interests opposed to reform. They are unwilling to pay for the real cost of their carbon pollution--- ie., charging for CO2 emissions--- and are unwilling to invest in clean technology options. Their politics is one of continuing to not to pay a price for continuing to pollute. The Liberal Party supports them.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 9:53 AM | | Comments (22)


If we shift to the global economy then greenhouse gas emissions increased by a record amount last year, to the highest carbon output in history. Last year, a record 30.6 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide poured into the atmosphere, mainly from burning fossil fuel – a rise of 1.6Gt on 2009, according to estimates from the IEA.

Global greenhouse emissions are now close to being back on a 'business as usual' path. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's projections, such a path would mean around a 50% chance of a rise in global average temperature of more than 4C by 2100.

there is not much policy substance from the Abbott lead Liberals--- we can forget about the Nationals. The Abbott Liberals launch effective broadsides against the Gillard Government but they are hollow inside.

Aren't they supposed to be the alternative government who reckon that there will be an early election given the fragility of the minority Gillard Government?

Gary the latest gambit by the Australian denialist industry is this outfit which features all of the usual suspects, and all of the usual catch-cries about "freedom".

As usual the irony is that these one dimensional hollow men are the ones that are blinkered. Blinkered by their own uninspected essentially 19th Century one dimensional clock-work world view.

why is the Gillard Government doing so badly during an economic boom? Why is there so much discontent and resentment?

The Quadrant crowd continue to argue that:

(1), first, that the IPCC has failed to provide empirical evidence which shows that dangerous global warming is occurring, or is likely to occur.

(2) that IPCC speculations about the baleful influence of atmospheric carbon dioxide rest almost exclusively on unvalidated computer modelling that rests on unsubstantiated assumptions about the amplification effects of water vapour, clouds and other unverifiable factors

Their policy advice is that the prudent and most cost-effective national policy is to adapt to all climate events and change such events as they occur.

So the coal fired power stations continue to emit greenhouse emissions.

Thanks for that. Quadrant's position is that the debate is not about whether climate is changing, and of course the evidence is overwhelming that it is. Rather, the issue is whether human-related carbon dioxide emissions are causing dangerous global warming. And even if warming has occurred, that in itself is obviously not evidence that human emissions were the cause.

Bob Carter, David Evans, Stewart Franks and William Kininmonth say:

Reductions in fossil fuel usage aren’t called for, because the hypothesis and predictions of dangerous human caused global warming disagree with real-world observations. Science would likely have dropped the failed theory of anthropogenic warming, and moved on more than a decade ago, were it not for the pervasive and corrosive influence of politics on research funding, and related matters such as vote-trawling based upon environmental sanctimony.

Consequently, both the Gillard government and the Climate Commission are futheringe political cause of dismantling modern industrialised economies under the guise of a phantom global warming scare.

Here is a video described by Orac as:
"The best ten minute summing up of a scientific consensus I've seen in a long time".

In it there is reference to a scientific paper which has positively and definitively identified the increase of CO2 et al in the atmosphere as being generated by human activity particularly that of industry.
Apparently industrial CO2 has a different 'fingerprint' or 'signature to that CO2 [and it's mates] naturally produced by normal non-human processes and so the statement by Carter/Evans/Franks/Kinilworth above in Gary's quote is .... wrong, simply wrong. As in factually incorrect, that is, false.
Real world observations have shown that global warming is directly caused by human activity.
The reference in the video is about 2 minutes in and is to a paper by Prosenjit Ghosh and Willi Brand.
Clever science.
Shame some deny it out of ...ignorance??

Talk about sideshow. There's an ad coming out supporting the carbon tax, and the debate revolves around Barnaby Joyce's opinion of Cate Blancett. The only interesting thing about that is that Barnaby didn't get stuck into Michael Caton at the same time.

How are we supposed to have a reasonable debate over the various proposals? What will clowns like Barnaby Joyce and Tony Abbott do once the carbon tax is in place and the sky fails to fall in?

Well, of course it's a sideshow. Our reptiles know no other way.

That said, those clowns wouldn't be howling that populist nonsense if there weren't some votes in it for them. So WHY are they getting so much traction in the electorate?

From a advertising perspective Blancett and Caton were very good choices. The only thing I would pick is that Blancett sounds a little too American nowadays.If not for that I would say that the two could win an election as leader and deputy if they didnt have to campaign for longer that 3 weeks.
This is the mindset now. Its not whether an issue is right or wrong. Its whether and how it can be sold to the people.
Yep sideshow...think I'll take the chairlift back to where the cows are. The shit smells better there.

Oh my goodness, its Cate-Gate

One consolation is that the push in Australia for nuclear power as the way to address rising greenhouse gas emissions has become very muted since the nuclear crisis in Japan.

In Europe there has been a shift to phrase out nuclear power by Germany and Switzerland.

The assaults (slag and bag) on Cate Blanchett from the tabloid political right--the climate change deniers--- are less a "sideshow" and more a political freak show. They are political freaks because they deny the scientific evidence.

the deniers attacks are fuelled by deep cultural resentment and grievances. Barnaby and Abbott pander to the base. They have no interest in reform. They act for the miners and the electricity generators.

I think a lot of people arent really getting it about climate change.
You see a lot of people out there in the electorate including myself simply dont care about climate change. It doesnt matter to me and others whether the science is good or bad we are busy with things and arent really interested.
Both sides look like chooks running around with their heads cut off to me.
You cant assume that just because an issue is important to you it will be to others too.

"They act for the miners and the electricity generators."

But they've managed to convince the "battlers" that they act on THEIR behalf...

I presume 'battlers' means respectable and diligent working class? 'Battlers' refers to social mobility and aspiration; trying harder to escape from poverty, by climbing up the ladder of opportunity through working hard. A respectable and diligent working class suggests the traditional working-class ethic of self-respect and self-reliance,

What middle class people mean by working class now are the powerless low paid who are sustained by the welfare state? They are the "benefit cheats", the "bludgers", the dole cheats" etc.

"You cant assume that just because an issue is important to you it will be to others too."

Oh. What? huh... um ...ah ah... was someone screeching about asylum seekers and queue-jumpers? Sorry, I wasn't paying attention.

Les says: "You cant assume that just because an issue is important to you it will be to others too."

This is not my issue. What I said is that my judgement is that climate change is now the central public policy issue that the current Parliament finds itself confronted with and that needs to be addressed in this term.

The word 'judgement' implies an interpretation of which public policy issue that the current Parliament is considering above all else--climate change, pokies, asylum seekers, NBN etc. Climate change is where the action and heat are.

Dealing with climate change is what the events in this parliament are increasingly about irrespective of what is happening in the electorate.


"You" in my comment was used as one would say one. It wasn't directed at you personally.

Today I went horse riding
The horse didnt care about climate change either. We just enjoyed the day.

The Galileo Movement is an example of the political freaks.

They deny that the world is warming (the thermometers are in the wrong place). They scoff at the idea that human activity can cause warming (carbon dioxide is just plant food); and they even reject that global warming could be harmful (relax, do nothing - it's natural).

Instead, they fervently believe that it's all part of a secret ideological conspiracy by corrupt scientists using fake data to collude with greenies, socialists, libertarians and the United Nations to falsely alarm the gullible and enrich themselves by stealing our money and sovereignty.

Another carnival barker in sideshow alley is the NSW state government's whip in the upper house, Peter Phelps. Speaking in Parliament on Monday he said:

We should not be so surprised that the contemporary science debate has become so debased. 'One can see them now, beavering away, alone, unknown, in their laboratories. Now, through the great global warming swindle, they can influence policy, they can set agendas, they can reach into everyone's lives; they can, like Lenin, proclaim what must be done

Phelps quoted an unidentified writer whom he described as ''speaking about the rise of Nazism'' and its similarity to ''scientists agitating for a scientific organisation of society''.

Strange isn't it since the policy to address climate change is a carbon tax that leads into an emissions trading scheme, which is a market mechanism.