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

killer blows? « Previous | |Next »
August 18, 2011

I have to agree with Giles Parkinson's judgement in Climate Spectator that the conservative's political strategy in Australia is one of opposing a carbon tax and a cap-and-trade scheme, undermining a clean energy policy, and attacking piece by piece, state-based incentives for to encourage the emergence of a renewable energy industry .


This strategy is expressed very clearly around solar energy. Though Australia has more sun than any other country there is a deep seated opposition to solar power. There is also a determination to scale back any support for renewable energy (including wind energy) in WA, NSW and Victoria. The impression that is given is that the conservative's energy policy is that electricity is, and should be, produced from coal fired power stations.

That is Australia's future. So the renewable energy industry has to be strangled at birth by creating a variety of log jams despite all the talk about the transition from coal to gas to ensure that Australia achieve its 2020 targets. In WA, where mass deception about global warming is widespread in the media, that rhetoric looks more like talking up the North-West Shelf gas as Australia's next big thing.

The economic justification for conservative's conception of Australia's future is the neo-liberalism antagonism to strong environmental mitigation targets because it is defined as a big constraint on economic and political autonomy of corporations and a broad regulation of the market. This antagonism results in a deep-seated anti-ecological and anti-social bias because it favours the profits of the corporations now, not the long term public interest. The result is a degradation of the physical and biological environment.

Thus the flow of pollutants into the underground water tables or aquifers created by the 'fracking' process of extraction for coal seam gas (CSG) is held to be a cost that, with the right discount rate applied, is almost negligible alongside the immense benefit of the energy we extract from CSG. If the tactic is to keep economics and ecology separate, the result is that governments are no longer trusted on the issue.

As Jeff Sparrow highlights that:

what makes neoliberalism distinctive is its virulent hostility to any authority or values other than the market... In neoliberal theory, the laws of supply and demand regulate morality and aesthetics just as surely as they regulate everything else. What sells is, by definition, good, and vice versa.

That means neo-liberalism is hostile to neo-conservatism and the latter's emphasis on religion, tradition, nuclear family, and culture and it trashes everything the neo-conservatives hold dear. So the hostility to the left (renewable energy is used to hold the free marketeer's and neocon's alliance together.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 11:20 AM | | Comments (8)


The coal seam gas issue pits two conservative constituencies — farming and mining — directly against each other. So it will be difficult for Tony Abbott to be all things to all people.

Given the long history of special treatment for mining extended by Australian governments of all persuasions, the states and Commonwealth. The miners will win in spite of the environmental issues around coal seam gas.

We should remember that the mining industry is one of the Liberal Party’s biggest donors.

And the Gillard Government has come down squarely on theside of the miners. Farmers, do not, and should not have a right of veto over mining on their land.

The Coal seam gas companies have told a Senate hearing they will use their legal rights to force their way on to land where farmers refuse access.

None of the companies had yet found a way to deal with the millions of tonnes of waste salt produced each year other than to bury it.

The CSG industry would also extract up to 300 billion litres a year from the Great Artesian Basin according to the National Water Commission.

The Australian is at it again with its meme that the Greens run the Gillard government. This time it is Dennis Shanahan:

Essentially, the Greens are simply opposed to all fossil fuels and want to shift to 100 per cent renewable energy for baseload electricity as soon as usual, the Greens had pushed an uncompromising agenda, cast a real shadow on investment and left Labor looking less enlightened on climate change as well as captive to their coalition partner.Labor can't win support while the Greens continue to call the shots.

This is how The Australian represents a public debate about shifting to a low carbon economy, closing down some of the dirtiest and inefficient coal-fired power stations in Victoria and South Australia, and using gas as a transitional fuel:
The advocacy from the Greens...has the potential to chase away investment in electricity generation.Such energy investment is desperately needed to upgrade our national power system, ensure energy security and reduce carbon emissions.

The reality is that Greens are advocating increased investment in renewable energy (solar and wind).

Although it was in a different time and place, President Carter put in place all kinds of legislation which was purposed to encourage extensive research and development of renewable energy sources.

One of the first things that Reagan did was to abolish all of that.

Hence of course the "need" to invade Iraq.

The political debate is conducted in terms of polar opposites: It has to be CSG or farming; or a mining tax or no mining tax; or a 'carbon price' or 'no carbon price' .

It's tiresome. I turn off. I find the aggression, insults and sophistry distasteful. It causes me to despair.

Gas is compared with coal under the assumption that it will displace coal in the transition to a carbon-constrained world. It is seen as crucial for Australia to reach even its relatively modest targets of reducing emissions by 5 per cent by 2020.

The coal seam gas industry finds itself dealing with issues on three separate fronts – the farm gate, underground aquifers and its emissions profile.

Funny how the whole political landscape could change because one bloke had a couple of shags in a motel with a pro. I wonder how much A Current Affair and Womans Weekly have offered the pro for her story?