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Gillard doesn’t get climate change

Julia Gillard doesn’t get climate change, and those hoping the Labor Government will make a marked policy shift will once more face disappointment.

Over the weekend, the new Prime Minister spoke of her commitment to “build a consensus” before acting. As there’s already strong support across the community for an emissions trading system, it’s not apparent whose consensus she will seek.

If she means climate deniers, their minds are closed. If it’s the fossil fuel corporations, we know they will do only what they are forced to do. It was the Rudd Government’s willingness to obtain their “consensus” with massive cash hand-outs that destroyed the integrity of the CPRS.

It is not consensus that Australia needs on climate policy, but leadership.

The new PM also went out of her way to state: “I believe climate change is real. I believe that it is caused by human activity.”

Why say that? It implies that not believing in human-induced climate change is a legitimate position. And since when did accepting a body of scientific fact become a matter of “belief”?

Gillard’s softness on climate policy can perhaps be understood from her political roots. Since the 60s and 70s, when activists from the new social movements flooded into the ALP aiming to promote change through mainstream politics, Labor has divided into two broad camps, those sympathetic to environmentalism and those indifferent or hostile to it.

Many in the party resented the influx of well-educated activists who, while committed to the party’s principles, did not share its working-class and trade union culture or the political outlook it gives rise to. The rights agenda of the social movements — anti-discrimination, equal pay and so on — was over time integrated into the party’s culture, but environmentalism has never been fully accepted.

There are still those who regard environmentalism as a middle-class indulgence of inner city professionals, and resent the way a trendy preoccupation has taken attention from the real issues of social justice, education and jobs.

Although environmentalism was more readily embraced by the left of the ALP, the divide crosses factional boundaries. There are plenty on the “workerist” left who still regard it as a soft issue that has to be accommodated for electoral reasons only. Some, like Martin Ferguson, are actively hostile, although antagonism more often manifests at a state level. Over the years, Labor Governments in NSW and Tasmania have reserved their most bitter attacks for the Greens rather than the Liberal Party.

Notwithstanding her affiliation with the left, Gillard’s family background and her political associations put her on the side of old Labor. No-one who has any sense of the seriousness of climate change could argue, as Gillard did, for the complete abandonment of the commitment to emissions trading.

And while we now know the NSW right will support someone from the left to take the reins of the country, someone from the left with a strong commitment to environmental protection would probably have been too hard to stomach for the faction that led the charge to kill off the CPRS.

Gillard won her spurs prosecuting the iconic issues of old Labor, industrial relations and education. While undimmed in importance, these concerns are backward-looking, while those who “get” the environment are forward looking.

For perhaps around half of the population, somewhere along the line they experience a little “click” of recognition on climate change, something that says “Hey, this is serious.” It doesn’t turn them into greenies, but it does explain why in surveys a majority always puts environmental protection before economic expansion.

Many in the senior ranks of the ALP have experienced this little click — Bob Hawke, Lindsay Tanner, Bob Carr, Carmen Lawrence, Sharon Burrow, to name only a handful — but many have not — Martin Ferguson, Gary Gray, Simon Crean, Wayne Swan, Julia Gillard and almost all of the NSW right including Mark Arbib and Paul Howes.

There could be no more disturbing portent of the Gillard government’s unwillingness to take global warming seriously than the decision last week to approve the export of brown coal from Victoria.

For pure environmental vandalism, exporting the dirtiest form of energy is matched only by extracting petroleum from oil sands. There could be no clearer sign that, whatever form of window-dressing the Gillard government engages in, it will be business as usual for the coal industry for a long time to come.

Over the last few months many voters alarmed about climate change deserted Labor for the Greens. Polls suggest that over the last few days most have returned to Labor in the hope that Gillard will be more resolute than Rudd. She will do her best to keep them hoping until the election.

In all likelihood the realisation that Labor under Gillard will be as reluctant to act as Labor under Rudd will not take hold before the federal election. But we can be sure they will feel bitterly disappointed in the months that follow the election — unless, with the balance of power in the Senate, the Greens can force the Gillard Government to go much further than it intends.

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  • 1
    Tom
    Posted Monday, 28 June 2010 at 1:24 pm | Permalink

    Who is more bonkers Bolt or Hamilton?
    Who would you want to have dinner with? - Neither
    Who ‘cherry picks’ only data that support their argument? - Both
    Who is ‘self appointed’ and glibly speaks for us all? - Both
    Who lends more to the argument? - Neither
    Who wishes both of them would shut up and bugger off? - Me for one!

  • 2
    Mack the Knife
    Posted Monday, 28 June 2010 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

    Couldn’t agree more Tom.

    No matter how much she loves an ETS its impossible to get one through in the present legislative environment and eliminating coal production is easier to demand than implement.

    Who is this Clive Hamilton anyway?

  • 3
    Sancho
    Posted Monday, 28 June 2010 at 1:44 pm | Permalink

    Got to agree, Tom. I’m usually sympathetic to commentators speaking from a progressive, pro-environment position, but I really have no time for Hamilton. It’s a shame he’s so sanctimonious, because he’s quite a talented performer otherwise.

  • 4
    Syd Walker
    Posted Monday, 28 June 2010 at 1:46 pm | Permalink

    @ Clive

    >>> “As there’s already strong support across the community for an emissions trading system, it’s not apparent whose consensus she will seek.”

    There is, I believe, strong majority support for effective action on reducing emissions.

    That support should not be conflated with specific support for an ETS.

    As Clive Hamilton is well aware, there are other approaches to reducing emissions that are widely supported and do not entail a market in emissions permits.

    He may favour an ETS, but should not pretend the ETS proposal has more widespread support than is actually the case.

    There is also more than a touch of blatant arrogance in the statement:

    >>>”since when did accepting a body of scientific fact become a matter of “belief”?”

    Why not answer your own question, Dr Hamilton?

    Was it since the era of the Ptolemaic system?

    Or before?

  • 5
    Bellistner
    Posted Monday, 28 June 2010 at 1:51 pm | Permalink

    unless, with the balance of power in the Senate, the Greens can force the Gillard Government to go much further than it intends.

    Which is why we must still vote The Greens first in both The Senate and House of Reps. Betting that the Labs will now go with a ‘greener’ ETS (insofar as the CPRS was in any way Green, rather than a Taxpayer-funded excuse to pollute), just because Rudd is on the outer, is a fools gamble, for my money.

  • 6
    David
    Posted Monday, 28 June 2010 at 1:53 pm | Permalink

    Who is Clive Hamilton?

    http://www.clivehamilton.net.au/cms/index.php?page=About

  • 7
    Michael James
    Posted Monday, 28 June 2010 at 2:05 pm | Permalink

    Ah, poor Clive, still lamenting that the Gillard Government and the electorate live in the real world, rather than his utopian fantasy where his concerns are the most important item on the global agenda.

    Sorry Clive, the adults are busy trying to repair a damaged global economy, deal with a couple of major diplomatic flashpoints, fix the boat people siise and get re-elected.

    Once they are fixed they might turn their attention to other matters. Until then, don’t call them, they will call you.

  • 8
    Fran Barlow
    Posted Monday, 28 June 2010 at 2:12 pm | Permalink

    I believe the best proposal we could put know on a price on co2 emissions would have the following elements:

    1. Define dirty energy by reference to the average CO2 intensity of anthracite coal (stationary) and CO2/BTU of petrodiesel (transport)
    2. Allow tax deductibility for the proportion of cost saving in relation to dirty energy. Thus,if the energy mix one paid for was 75% of the intensity of “dirty energy”, one would get 25% of it tax deductible
    3. Withdraw subsidies for all dirty energy usage
    4. Hypothecate funds clawed back under 2 and 3 to pay means tested assistance in tax-free and welfare exempt cash or service (eg public housing, food bank) to those in the bottom 60% of income earners — so it is revenue neutral.

    The advantage of this is that it would effectively make dirt energy an after tax expense,whereas clean energy would be before tax. It would make energy saving and efficiency cost-rational. It would stimulate demand for energy saving and clean energy development

    It would also be administratively simpler, since you would not have to do much more than audit claimed clean energy usage, thus simplifying compliance. Payments to low income earners go through an existing system. All businesses would pay and there would be little scope to game the system. Different arms of the bureaucracy would not be pulling in opposite directions — (subsidising and then taxing/limiting)

    Politically, it can’t be called a “Great Big New Tax” and the presenting feature would be low income and low middle income earners being paid or getting services. The Liberals, who on paper oppose subsidies would be hard pressed to oppose it. A regulatory regime limiting emissions could still be progressively imposed.

    Being a regulatory measure, it also wouldn’t require senate approval, since it could be implemented at the minister’s discretion, though it would be worth putting to the senate. The government could implement it early — perhaps as early as January 1 — as an amendment to the budget.

  • 9
    DodgyKnees
    Posted Monday, 28 June 2010 at 2:32 pm | Permalink

    The “strong support” comes mainly from Australians, like Clive Hamilton, who have an understanding of the science.

    Unfortunately there’s a too significant fraction of voters with “fragile support” who are spooked by irresponsible politicians shouting Great Big Tax, Absolute Crap and cherry picking scientific opinion from nutters on the short end of the bell curve.

    Abbott, Bernardi and Co. should be Hamilton’s target. Attacking Gillard simply exposes his primary motive of getting the odd extra seat for the Greens.

  • 10
    Liz45
    Posted Monday, 28 June 2010 at 3:07 pm | Permalink

    At my age(21 and some months) I don’t get conned any more. I’ll still give my first vote to The Greens, as I agree with all their policies, not just on climate change. It should be noted, that while the majority of people want action, they don’t want to pay (more) for it! Even though I’m only on a pension, I don’t mind contributing by higher energy costs, as long as I’m assured, that the money is used for the benefit of my grand kid’s future, and everyone elses’ as well!

    I pay some towards my energy bills each fortnight - only way to manage. I don’t know how pensioners and others cope if they have to pay market value rents - I’m lucky to be in public housing, and I’m most fortunate re position and type of unit - a villa? (best kept secret in the area?)Some pensioners are forced to pay 80% of their income on rent (heard this during discussion prior to last Sept’s increase)- I don’t know how they survive - particularly if they don’t have family to support them!They should be subsidised by the more affluent in my view.

    I believe what the scientists assert. I just want the govt/s to get on with it!

  • 11
    godotcab
    Posted Monday, 28 June 2010 at 4:05 pm | Permalink

    In Gillard’s first Press Conference, she promoted a ‘price on carbon’.

    That might be a signal that she would consider a simpler, better carbon tax rather than setting up a complex trading market for the screen jockeys to play with.

    The electorate should be told again, and forcefully, that all will have to pay - agriculture included - sometime, and that the longer we prevaricate, the more we will have to pay, and the more it will hurt.

    Gillard isn’t a long time greenie, granted. But she is a smart woman, and she will understand this. She is also a great communicator, and she could explain this as well as, or better than, just about anyone else out there.

    But first, she has an election to win…

  • 12
    kuke
    Posted Monday, 28 June 2010 at 4:16 pm | Permalink

    Clive’s spot-on: “business as usual for the coal industry for a long time to come.”

    India has a good idea - a $1.2/tonne tax on coal . I’d sooner see a carbon tax before a RSPT, after-all, the former’s far more essential and the latter only makes it harder.

  • 13
    zut alors
    Posted Monday, 28 June 2010 at 4:21 pm | Permalink

    Gillard should do a deal with the Greens for a carbon tax and take it to the imminent election- that’s what I call true consensus. She couldn’t lose and it would be yet another delicious way in which to shaft Abbott.

  • 14
    Martin
    Posted Monday, 28 June 2010 at 4:47 pm | Permalink

    Part of the problem is that Gillard and too many other government ministers are lawyers who appear to think that the laws of physics can be negotiated just like laws that politicians make. Unfortunately Planck’s radiation law, the Beer-Lambert law and the other laws that govern the physics of global warming are not going to change for anyone. The huge physics experiment humans started during the industrial revolution is running out of control. The earth is warming rapidly, Greenland and Antarctic ice is melting at an accelerating rate,
    (http://www.agu.org/pubs/crossref/2009/2009GL040222.shtml), the sea is acidifying, and the sea level is rising. We need to start reducing GHG emissions very rapidly and very soon.

  • 15
    tee
    Posted Monday, 28 June 2010 at 4:55 pm | Permalink

    Congratulations are in order Clive.

    The word around is that Gillard is appointing you as Australia’s Climate Change Ambassador in the Taliban controlled Kunar Province of Afghanistan.

    If it’s true you’ll do our country proud and it could be a life changing event for you is so many ways.

    Travel light as you’ll be parachuted in seeing it’s far too dangerous to use the regular road.

  • 16
    Tom
    Posted Monday, 28 June 2010 at 5:05 pm | Permalink

    @Zut Alors - Seemingly Like Mr Hamilton you believe a majority would vote for a single issue of a new carbon tax. Mr Bolt and Mr Abbott would give you odds on that, as would I (which is not to say I don’t agree it shouldn’t happen) .

    Here’s a question for you, Abbott will go to the polls on immigration, economics and climate denial. Gillard will go on the calculated effect (interpreted to best effect) of the economic stimulation package, silence on the issue of immigration (electoral suicide to do anything else), the education revolution, centralised health and a firm commitment to review “our position on this vitally important area” ..which will not include a carbon tax before China, India andthe US agree to match it.

    Which package will Mr/Mrs ‘middle Australia’ will vote for?

  • 17
    Roger Clifton
    Posted Monday, 28 June 2010 at 5:13 pm | Permalink

    Thirty years ago our experts advised our politicians what was going to happen to the climate and the changes needed to policy. They had done their job, the pollies have yet to do theirs.

    They could at least elevate their position on coal to the Taliban’s position on opium:
    that it is okay to export it, as long as we don’t smoke it ourselves

  • 18
    zut alors
    Posted Monday, 28 June 2010 at 5:23 pm | Permalink

    @ Tom

    I’m not too sure about Abbott using economics as one of his strong points - especially with a shadow treasurer who wasn’t game to front a properly briefed Press Club after Abbott’s limp reply to the Budget speech. Sure, Joe will give you the details - as you LEAVE the Press Club luncheon.

    Gillard can deliver the National Broadband Network. And if the PM manages to swing a deal with the mining companies and reduce tax on small business, top up super funds and commit to some badly lacking infrastructure projects then Tony Abbott will be left in her dust. He’ll be going to the election with an additional tax on business (to pay for an overly generous parental leave plan) and a policy to cancel the NBN - not big inducements to vote for him. We all want improved broadband services, don’t we?

    And Abbott is bound to make a fool of himself anytime soon therefore a lack of meaningful policies may be the least of his problems.

  • 19
    Tom
    Posted Monday, 28 June 2010 at 5:44 pm | Permalink

    @Zut Alors - Don’t disagree with anything you say, my point was more to the supposition that there is (or isn’t) a significant enough proportion of Mr and Mrs MA whose number one item on the policy wish list is a carbon tax. Post Copenhagen (opinion) we are in limbo on the basis that if the de-facto world government can’t agree and make something happen there is no great need for Australia to do so, therefore, no carbon tax.
    Of even greater regret and shame than this though is we seem to be looking at a re-run of Howard Vs Beasley on who can be ‘toughest’ on refugees (illegal or otherwise). That both parties pander to the undercurrent of institutionalised racism 10 times harder than they address the issue of the environment must mean something (?)

  • 20
    Posted Monday, 28 June 2010 at 6:06 pm | Permalink

    Gillard doesn’t get climate change”

    And you failed to get Higgins.

  • 21
    Marty
    Posted Monday, 28 June 2010 at 6:11 pm | Permalink

    Yes, and many of the readers leaving comments don’t get climate change either!!!

    Climate change calls for a positive response from everyone, all parties, all beliefs, all cultures.

    If you don’t already know that, then admit it, you don’t get it…. there is no argument for or against, only action as a response.

    I suppose the sky may or may not exist, and maybe water could not be water!!!

    It’s fun to try, but you either are awake and aware or you’re really somewhere else in Dr Who land, perhaps?!

    cheers

  • 22
    Jillian Blackall
    Posted Monday, 28 June 2010 at 6:17 pm | Permalink

    Many in the senior ranks of the ALP have experienced this little click — Bob Hawke, Lindsay Tanner, Bob Carr, Carmen Lawrence, Sharon Burrow, to name only a handful — but many have not — Martin Ferguson, Gary Gray, Simon Crean, Wayne Swan, Julia Gillard and almost all of the NSW right including Mark Arbib and Paul Howes.”

    I didn’t realise that there was that level of reluctance to address climate change in the ALP. Scary. I thought the problem was only on the Coalition side, apart from Martin Ferguson.

  • 23
    Syd Walker
    Posted Monday, 28 June 2010 at 6:55 pm | Permalink

    Having now watching Gillard’s Laurie Oakes interview, in which she discussed climate change policy, I think the approach she is taking has promise. Time will tell if the ALP, under her leadership, once again comes up with a crock of shit supportable only by ‘moderates’ in the Coalition - or whether she will use this opportunity to re-think the policy and attempt to design and implement a serious (as opposed to cosmetic) strategy for reducing Australia’s emissions rapidly.

    The time is ripe for her to take the latter course - probably more so than it was in 2007.

    The coal and mining industry - working with their mates in the ALP - were always going to try at least once to rort the ALP’s greenhouse emission policy, once Labor got back into Government. Rudd could have prevented that - but didn’t. Perhaps he lost track of the detail and listened only to a cocoon of self-serving advisers, who sold him the Ferguson-Wong ETS? It’s odd he didn’t give Bob Brown and Christine Milne the opportunity to explain the substantive problems to him face to face.

    In any event, by the time Rudd and Gillard ditched the ETS policy, it was not worth saving and was liable to piss everyone off, especially conservationists!

    I’d like to see a rising carbon tax, redistributive measures to ensure the poorest don’t bear the principle burden of change and massive investment in long-term infrastructure building so our economy and way of life is redesigned for sustainability over the course of a couple of decades. I’d view ETS schemes as potentially useful for specific sectors, such as within the power industry - but not as the over-aching policy mechanism, as previously proposed.

    As a footnote, Roger Clifton is wrong about the Taliban IMHO.

    The Taliban, when in power, was actually quite willing to make dramatic reductions in the opium harvest, and achieved that result with US State Dept and UN support…. until the invasion of 2001 completely reversed their success in reducing harvests. If, after that, they have played a role in opium export, it has been (a) the type of thing resistance movements do when other options are closed off, and (b) a quite minor involvement compared with American-backed warlords.

    If we want peace, we need to guard against recycling disinformation about the Taliban, the Government of Iran and others targeted by war propagandists.

    See http://sydwalker.info/blog/2009/04/29/laughing-off-the-oblivion-express/

  • 24
    Rena Zurawel
    Posted Monday, 28 June 2010 at 7:54 pm | Permalink

    As long as we cannot even afford a national grit there is no point to discuss anything else. We have no national policy on most matters. And I am not a supporter of a big government. There are things though, that should be on national agenda as they do affect us all. At present, we have not three, not four - but five tier government with the media, interest groups, and ‘international pressure’; all of them with different concept of local priorities.

    I remember some years ago Prospect Road in Adelaide was declared ‘a nuclear free zone’. Fascinating idea! And very efficient, too.

  • 25
    Rohan
    Posted Monday, 28 June 2010 at 8:34 pm | Permalink

    Jillian, I lost any remaining impression that the ALP was necessarily less inclined to climate scepticism (whether of the hardcore anti-science type or the accept-in-theory-but-not-in-practice type, it makes no difference) after Rudd was interviewed very early on after he’d made his “great moral challenge” statement and was banging on about the importance of ratifying the Kyoto Protocol.

    In very quick succession he got a bunch of fundamental facts wrong - our 2012 emissions target, the base year the target was measured against and how our target compared with other key countries. The fraud was so blatant, because no-one who has given more than passing attention to the issue could have stuffed up that badly.

    Ever since, I’ve determined that I’d happily preference Liberal over Labor if they offer a stronger and more credible climate policy.

  • 26
    jonb2
    Posted Monday, 28 June 2010 at 8:46 pm | Permalink

    I’m burning some old growth Sassafras logs just to celebrate the demise of Rudd.

    But I’ll be burning 2000yr Huon pine when Gillard loses….

  • 27
    Jillian Blackall
    Posted Monday, 28 June 2010 at 8:47 pm | Permalink

    Rohan,

    In relation to your comment, “Ever since, I’ve determined that I’d happily preference Liberal over Labor if they offer a stronger and more credible climate policy.”

    I would say the same, but unfortunately it seems like neither of the major parties is taking climate change seriously.

  • 28
    Kerry Lovering
    Posted Monday, 28 June 2010 at 10:02 pm | Permalink

    Everyone knows the climate always changes but whether that is a bad thing or a good thing has really not been explored by scientists, economists or all you posters — certainly not by Clive Hamilton who is not a scientist .

    And just to remind you all “the science is NOT settled”
    Even the UK Royal Society is climbing down.
    We can only hope that people will learn some geology — and study history to discover the world was colder only 150 years ago with people skating on the Thames and hotter about 500 years ago in Greenland. And Guess what ? (to use a Ruddism)
    People adapted and liked the warmer climate.

    European countries are getting rid of subsidies on hopeless renewables like wind farms. Spain is removing subsidies on solar and even here we hear that companies selling solar hot water etc are complaining they are not getting enough taxpayer funded subsidies.

    Gillard is hopefully going to tread very carefully with a reasonable carbon tax.
    As most of us know an ETS would have been disastrous.

  • 29
    kuke
    Posted Monday, 28 June 2010 at 10:13 pm | Permalink

    Burning some old growth Sassafras logs” - is that code for making e?

    As I’ve posted elsewhere on Gillard/the ALP moving on climate change: “But do not trust to hope. It has forsaken these lands”.

  • 30
    Nicholas Folkes
    Posted Monday, 28 June 2010 at 10:37 pm | Permalink

    Clive Hamilton “doesn’t get climate change”. The climate changes everyday and it is not anthropogenic.

    The myth of anthropogenic global warming has been smashed, exposed as a fraud. Now we have the climate bed-wetters pushing “climate change”. They are liars and scaremongers and in my opinion should be locked up in a nuthouse.

    Imagine the harshship of an extra $4,500 tax per tax payer for a non-existent problem. In most families both parents work just to stay ahead of mortgage repayments and expenses yet the Socialists want to put the final nail in the coffin of struggling Australian families.

    Turnbull, Rudd and the like are very comfortable compared to the average Australian worker. Turnbull’s fortune is in excess of $200 million and Rudd’s ‘Employment Plus Guru Wife’ is worth in excess of $150 million. Extra tax burden on them would be like buying a latte down on Queen St, Wollahra, not so for Bruce and Sheila.

    It is worth remembering that John Key, N.Z. Nationalist PM is going to introduce an ETS to fill the pockets of his banking mates at Goldman Sachs. Key and Turnbull are both Goldman boys and will make a fortune in trading air.

    Kuke, put another log on the fire for me too mate. I’m tired of the lies and deceit of Co2 hysteria.

  • 31
    Rohan
    Posted Monday, 28 June 2010 at 11:22 pm | Permalink

    Profound. The climate has always changed. How could all those climate scientists be so dumb as not to recognise that?

    I bow before your obvious mastery of science, economics, psychology and human geography.

  • 32
    Alexander Berkman
    Posted Tuesday, 29 June 2010 at 12:10 am | Permalink

    @ Nicholas nutjob…..please, back in the kennel with thee…. as for the ALP and environment policy. Is it not bleeding obvious that both parties represent the ‘big’ end of town whether it’s those crying poor billionaire miners, old growth forest rip and burners, road building emperors or develop develop develop developers, the LIB & ALP are their to represent their wishes.? How many former ‘big wig’ pollies are struggling on their pensions, super and appointments to all sorts of corporate boards, particularly the ones they helped out with policies while in govt? Neither party is truly interested in the inevitable , undeniable fact that we live on a planet with FINITE resources and that no matter what the loony ‘we humans don’t cause any climate problems wingnuts say’, you cannot continue to pollute, destroy, burn, mine, consume and pillage the earth the way we glorified monkeys are doing at our current rates. Sustainability is a catch phrase thrown around to impress yet when coming from the mouth of either party or a corporation it has as much meaning as a meal labeled fresh frozen… lies lies and more damn lies. Until such time we stop believing the absolute shite peddled by the business as usual corporate press we are on a road to nowhere fast (apologies to david byrne) . Inevitably we must put a price on carbon, we must put a price on methane (animal industries account for 18% of the world’s ‘greenhose’ gases and is equal to all the world’s transport combined) and we must look to changing our economy to a truly sustainable one. One that doesn’t measure the health / wealth of our country by growth but by conservation of resources and renewable energy. Edward Abbey said ‘growth for growth ‘s sake is the same principle of a cancer cell’ and Australia it seems , whether ruled by the ALP or the Libs will need a heavy dose to cure our addiction….

  • 33
    Liz45
    Posted Tuesday, 29 June 2010 at 12:38 am | Permalink

    @ALEXANDER B - Hi Alex - Couldn’t have put it better myself? Funny how, when scientists ‘say’ something we like, for instance a new drug or treatment for cancer, or information about how a part of the body could perform better, or a new drug for asthma, we are alert and pay attention, but when scientists warn us about climate change, some people, without a scientific background, and with a VESTED INTEREST promote their views as proven facts?

    @NICHOLAS - What I’ve heard, is that the idiot nay sayers are just spruiking nonsense; don’t reference their assertions, and the msm with the same vested interest promote them and their lies. How many so-called experts denying climate change and human beings’ role in it once worked for tobacco companies, and lied about the harmless cigarette?

  • 34
    Alexander Berkman
    Posted Tuesday, 29 June 2010 at 12:58 am | Permalink

    Hi Liz

    been a while, bubs is filling up my time nicely! Totally agree with what you said about scientists - so true - hey you need a flu injection - YES YES -hey you need to stop consuming so much and contributing to climate change - NO NO. It is all about vested interests and the massive corporations that rule this world will stop at nothing to lien their pockets no matter what cost to the planet and what effect it will have on generations to come. And when all is said and done (gotta love that pollie speak) the minority of ‘people’ (I use that term loosely - how about soulless human lifeforms) who own the majority of wealth is this country will still get governments to do their bidding whether they be ALP or LIBs and if either of the two big players don’t play to the correct song sheet then they launch and all out media war as demonstrated by the ‘super’ profits tax. Then with the populace , its all about (as chomsky outs it) manufacturing consent, convincing the people to believe that what is the best interest of their political & economic masters is also in their own best interest…so so simple, so so demoralizing… so so Australia 2010

  • 35
    willnotbeshutup
    Posted Tuesday, 29 June 2010 at 7:54 am | Permalink

    @willnotbeshutup She may not be faring well in climate change, but how is she faring at home? http://wp.me/pXIwk-1U

  • 36
    David
    Posted Tuesday, 29 June 2010 at 10:46 am | Permalink

    @willnotbeshutup….The muck throwing has started, didn’t take long…however 75% who have responded to the snap poll have no problem with her relationship status. This is one anti Gillard campaign that wont go anywhere.

  • 37
    Fran Barlow
    Posted Tuesday, 29 June 2010 at 11:51 am | Permalink

    Nicholas claimed:

    Everyone knows the climate always changes but whether that is a bad thing or a good thing has really not been explored by scientists, economists or all you posters — certainly not by Clive Hamilton who is not a scientist .

    One might stop right there, secure in the knowledge that the person who posts this is either utterly and recklessly ignorant or deceitful. It really has been explored by scientists. Some of these climate changes (e.g. the End Permian event) have acquired the descriptor extinction events. There are five such events recognised, and this doesn’t include the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM) which radically reconfigured life on the planet 55.8 million years ago. Basically, everything with a mass above 35kg departed forever. Right now, temperatures are rising faster, and off a higher base than the PETM.

    What Nicholas also avoids is why they are rising. Plainly, human agency was not a factor in the PETM. It is a factor now, and that is salient, unless we plan to survive something likely, at best, to prejudice human life chances on the planet on time scales relevant to us. The “it’s changed in the past” meme assumes we don’t care about being wiped out or suffering a serious setback as a species. I wish the advocates of reckless indifference to human survival — an existential question if ever there was one — would have the honesty to say this explicitly.

    How amusing it is that for sections of the right, a carbon price counts as existential but human life chances do not.

  • 38
    Syd Walker
    Posted Tuesday, 29 June 2010 at 12:21 pm | Permalink

    Well said Fran!

    I call them ‘climate gamblers’.

    Incidentally, as I’ve been unsuccessfully trying to point out for years, the term ‘climate deniers’, of which Clive Hamilton seems so fond, is utterly inappropriate.

    It implies that people who dispute the mainstream scientific consensus on climate change are likely to lose their jobs, be subjected to physical violence, suffer persecution in jail or even assassination. That’s not true. It is what has happened to people who cast doubt on aspects of the mainstream version of World War Two history. But it’s never happened to climate change sceptics, not as far as I’m aware.

    There is no need to instill paranoia in ‘climate change sceptics’ - or even in the most arrogant ‘climate gamblers’. There’s no need to resort to any underhand tactics at all.

    The prevailing scientific consensus can stand on its own merits.

  • 39
    Damo
    Posted Tuesday, 29 June 2010 at 12:46 pm | Permalink

    Refusing to believe in the ever increasing evidence of AGW, sounds like Denial to me.

  • 40
    Liz45
    Posted Tuesday, 29 June 2010 at 1:15 pm | Permalink

    @ALEXANDER - Hi again Alex! Glad you’re having a good?exhausting at times? time with your baby girl. Enjoy this time - it goes so fast - take lots of photos and have millions of cuddles - all lovely stuff! I can understand why people buy their first video camera when they have a new baby- it helps capture the lovely memories! A pity digital cameras weren’t around 40+ years ago, and so cheap too! 10+ megapixels under $100 - amazing.

    I agree with all you’ve said. I feel pretty depressed about the pursuit of money at the expense of human beings and the planet. I just hope that there’s more young people with your outlook, than there are those greedy bastards who don’t even care about the future of their own children. You have a great motive for protecting the planet and all the lovely things you want your little one to experience, including fresh air, plants and animals?

    The govt of NSW is so hypocritical(like the other states, no doubt?). It refers to climate change etc but does very little in order to save energy and water, and just keeps on saying ‘yes’ to more coal mines. There’s so many in the Hunter region(Newcastle area) that they’re causing serious medical problems including an increase in cancers! The ocean is ‘full’ of ships waiting to take their turn to fill up with coal for overseas. We’re exporting climate change while being derelict here. I just hope it’s not too late!

    Just wait until that litte one finds her legs! Then you’ll know what busy is!

  • 41
    Fran Barlow
    Posted Tuesday, 29 June 2010 at 1:46 pm | Permalink

    Personally, I have no problem with the term anthropogenic climate change denier, but it is such a mouthful that I generally don’t use it.

    Other terms like fossil fuel apologist or filth merchant advocate, used with caution, can be equally good. Scientific/intellectual nihilist also works because, bearing in mind that there can never be absolute certainty in science, their position, taken consistently would deny all scientific knowledge. Equally, in so far as one expects public policy to be evidence-based and use rigorous models, refusal to countenance such a basis for policy casts them as advocates of policy based on administrative fiat.

    If there is something to object to in the advocacy of those who support atmospheric GHG emissions stabilisation and reduction, it is our tendency to lump together the disparate and heterogenous elements composing the oppositional community. As I see it there are several interacting components:

    1. High level public policy advocates, who are simply doing the bidding of those stakeholders who see their interests as tied up with what tort law would call conversion of the commons by wrongful user. For the most part these are those whose asset derive value from fossil fuel usage
    2. Culture warriors who see the struggle to reclaim the commons as some sort of socialist power grab. This would include ostensible “libertarians” of the Randian-right and those who simply want a stick to beat US-liberals over the head with so that the Republicans can recapture office
    3. Paleo-conservatives who fear that a decline in the value of oil would weaken the US as a global power
    4. Those simply duped into existential fear by 1-3 above; christian creationists; those (typically only semi-literate and numerate people) who attach authenticity to social and geographic locality and fear or distrust “furriners”, scientists, government bureaucrats, people who aren’t local or just look funny.

    Groups 1 - 3 are very well connected, but they could not do their work without the footsoldiers in group 4, and it is worth bearing this in mind when this last group swears blind that they aren’t being paid by Big Oil. They aren’t. They are simply unfortunate and culturally marginalised. Trying to reason with people in group 4 almost never works because their position goes to who they are and what they fear. Their (unrealistic) desire is to have things stay as they are, and since that can’t happen, determined cognitive dissonance (denial) and solipsistic and self-referential socio-spatial animus is what they reach for. “Where’s all the global warming the Goracle talks so much about?” they wail. “I’m freezing my butt off here in Arkansas”.

    The others aren’t persuadable either, but one can refute them and embarrass them before the uncommitted, and offer arguments that honest people can use elsewhere.

  • 42
    Syd Walker
    Posted Tuesday, 29 June 2010 at 2:18 pm | Permalink

    I think the sociology of ‘climate change scpeticism’ is an interesting and complex topic. I agree there are a range of groups and tendencies that have come together in a curious coalition.

    I’ve been keeping an eye on sites that cover ‘conspiracy-related’ topics for a decade or so. That is, aggregator websites covering topics such as 9-11 scepticism. An example is whatreallyhappened.com

    That website has also, in recent years, jumped onto the ‘climate change scepticism’ bandwagon, to the disappointment of visitors such as myself.

    To be charitable, I’d say that climate change scepticism resonates with much of the American right-wing libertarian tradition of property rights, freedom from government ‘interference’ and distrust of international treaties.

    There are less charitable explanations.

    One thing that merits comment, in my opinion, is the curious role of the Murdoch media. In the USA, Murdoch’s Fox News is in the forefront of ‘climate change scepticism’. In Australia, his payroll supports the likes of Andrew Bolt. Yet Murdoch also allows coverage of other, mainstream views on climate change. One might say he facilitates a semblance of free debate on the climate change issue (but not on Fox!!!).

    Murdoch made headlines when, several years ago, he publicly acknowledged that he believes anthropogenic climate change is a genuine concern. One might imagine he’d give the mainstream consensus a push along since then. Instead, it’s as though News Corp rather enjoys the squabble.

    What a contrast with News Corps’ performance in the lead up to recent wars such as the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, when every single Murdoch editor around the world, as far as I could tell, supported the boss’s pro-war line.

  • 43
    Liz45
    Posted Tuesday, 29 June 2010 at 3:17 pm | Permalink

    @SYD WALKER - I heard Murdoch say he believed that humans had/were causing climate change too, but of course, as with wars, it’s in his financial interests to not support changeing our behaviours, and as he’s heavily involved with all that supports war - oil, weapons and corporate wealth in general, I’m not surprised at the role he plays, or the fact that his employees tow the line also? It’s called self preservation. I just get angry when they try to pass themselves off as journalists? Because they’re not a journalist’s bootlace! They all worship corporate wealth and power, even the ABC people don’t operate as investigative journalists! Most frustrating and disappointing! Oh for John Pilger and others who aren’t beholden to corporate wealth and don’t suck up to anyone!

    I heard someone say that something is only a conspiracy theory if it’s not true. Re 9/11 there’s so many unanswered questions, that with all that I’ve read, I’m not convinced that at least, the White House knew about it and did nothing to prevent it. When people are shocked at the idea that they could allow their own citizens to die, I just remind them of Pearl Harbour, Vietnam and the thousands killed in Iraq & Afghanistan - it’s not as though they’re ‘real people’ is it? They’re only the military people - they can get more where they come from? Gullible fools! If the US govt really cared about them, they wouldn’t send them to slaughter and be killed, and they’d look after them better when they return - damaged, and pay them what they pay their mercenaries with Blackwater or Halliburton etc instead of forcing their families to have to rely on charity to survive - Bush reduced their pay packet and conditions?

    I think that the pollies should have to lead the troops into battle, or send their own kids - then we’d see how hypocritical they really are, and how much they value their troops?????Very few wars I suggest! They didn’t get my kids!

  • 44
    OBlizzard
    Posted Tuesday, 29 June 2010 at 3:49 pm | Permalink

    GODOTCAB

    That might be a signal that she would consider a simpler, better carbon tax rather than setting up a complex trading market for the screen jockeys to play with.

    A simpler, better carbon tax which produces either a significantly greater deadweight loss to society or doesn’t meet environmental targets due to government setting an inefficient price level (which it inevitably would without market forces) and has virtually no environmental integrity? That one?

  • 45
    Rich Uncle Skeleton
    Posted Tuesday, 29 June 2010 at 4:26 pm | Permalink

    Nicholas, I know the extreme right believe scientists should be locked away but that’s why they’re the extreme right. It was also very salient of these scientists to practise this fraud during the hottest global 12 month period in recorded history and at a time when the sun, usually the main driver of climate, is in a period of abnormally low activity. It’s almost like Co2 is adding to the greenhouse effect and warming the planet after all.

  • 46
    Douglas Mackenzie
    Posted Tuesday, 29 June 2010 at 5:00 pm | Permalink

    Although I am not a ‘climate scientist’, I am a geologist and I am very familiar with the evidence that relates anthropogenic (and other) greenhouse gases to global warming and climate change. The close correlation between the sharp upturn in average global temperatures and a rapid rise in atmospheric CO2 concentrations since about the turn of the 20th century is convincing. There are, certainly, many ‘ups and downs’ in the graph, but these are, in effect, “statistical “noise” (short-term fluctuations driven by natural forcing mechanisms): the overall trend is inexorably - and disturbingly - upward.
    What is even more disturbing is:
    (1) That the global atmospheric (and ocean) temperatures had been trending downward (with the normal fluctuations caused by forcing factors such as the Earth’s solar orbit and precession, and solar activity) from about 120,000 years ago.
    (2) That this trend began to turn upward during the Industrial Revolution of the 19th century (coal consumption began to increase rapidly from about 1850), and steepened markedly from about 1910 (when petroleum consumption also began to increase rapidly with the mass production of the motor vehicle).
    (3) That to the best of our knowledge, rates of increase in atmospheric CO2 and global average temperatures have, especially since 1910, been more rapid than at any time in at least 400,000 years of recent geological history - and probably much longer than that.
    (4) That there are no signs of lessening in the rates of increase in the consumption of fossil fuels or in the overall trend in increasing global temperatures.
    (5) That the polar ice caps (and many glaciers) are melting, both seasonally and over the longer term, at rates that are unprecedented in recorded human history.
    (6) That the Arctic tundra has begun to thaw: This has the potential to release up to 400 million tonnes of methane, a far more potent greenhouse gas than CO2, into the atmosphere over a very short time frame.
    The (double-barreled) question then becomes: Whether or not the scientists and their interpretations and predictions are absolutely right, can we really afford to take the chance? And would it not be prudent to take out an insurance policy and take serious measures to improve energy efficiency, reduce our reliance on the consumption of fossil fuels, and move towards renewable sources of energy? Australia is blessed with almost limitless resources of the latter - notably solar and geothermal energy.

  • 47
    Douglas Mackenzie
    Posted Tuesday, 29 June 2010 at 6:13 pm | Permalink

    Woops! It should read “billion tonnes (of methane)”, NOT million, in my item 6.

  • 48
    Posted Tuesday, 29 June 2010 at 6:36 pm | Permalink

    DOUGLAS MACKENZIE: And, what would you do with the following?

    Senator Steve Fielding paid for his own trip around the world, in order to find out the truth abut Global Warming.

    On arrival, back in Oz, he was interviewed by Neil Mitchell (radio shock jock) who asked Fielding what he had learned about Climate Change?

    It doesn’t exist,” replied the midget-brain. Why not? asked the spin doctor. Because God didn’t invent it. Was the approximate answer.

  • 49
    Douglas Mackenzie
    Posted Tuesday, 29 June 2010 at 7:01 pm | Permalink

    @Venise Alstergeren. Unfortunately, Steve Fielding has little understanding of science. Nor, I strongly suspect, does he want it. If his beliefs bring him comfort, let him have them, but he should not be in a position to help put the future of all of us at risk. At present, as a “climate-change denier” in the Senate, he is in that position.
    People such as Neil Mitchell, Andrew Bolt, Alan Jones and Piers Akerman are, in a way, even more dangerous because they influence public opinion so much in the demography where it can be so effective - the (all too commonly poorly-informed and/or uninterested) swinging voters.

  • 50
    Douglas Mackenzie
    Posted Tuesday, 29 June 2010 at 7:08 pm | Permalink

    And another thing. Rich Uncle Skeleton is correct: Levels of solar energy reaching the Earth have been relatively low for many years, and have actually been on a (slightly) declining trend since about 1960. At the same time, average global surface and atmospheric temperatures have been rising quite rapidly (in the context of Earth’s natural/”normal” climatic cycles).

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