tip off

Climate policy: when adults squib it, youth should take direct action

In the absence of action on climate change from our political class, young people are entitled to wonder whether ‘direct action’ of their own can end the rip-off being perpetrated on them and on future generations.


Greg Hunt is an adult sent on a youth’s errand.

It’s easy to think the opposite. With that boyish appearance, high voice and youthful enthusiasm, the Environment Minister can seem like the work experience kid mistaken for the boss. But Hunt is a seasoned political grown-up: a person who understands that you can’t be too wedded to your ideals if you’re going to make your mark in politics. People throw his master’s thesis on climate change at him as though politicians — or any vaguely intelligent individual — should for a lifetime adhere to the views they held in their early 20s. That’s unfair, and misses the point that Hunt has only done what most politicians who have any chance of actually wielding power have done, which is allow one’s positions to be dictated by political expedience. Moreover, in any event Hunt no longer relies on the ivory towers of academe for his knowledge about climate change, in preference for the greater rigour of Wikipedia.

Take Prime Minister Tony Abbott, for example. Abbott may or may not believe in anthropogenic climate change, but the point is he doesn’t care either way; his positions — and at various times he has held every possible position on climate change and what to do about it except, oddly, the one he ended up adopting as policy — have been dictated by political expediency.

Similarly with former prime minister Kevin Rudd, who insisted climate change was the greatest moral and economic challenge of our time and then offered a feeble scheme to address it, watered it down even further under pressure from lobbyists and then walked away from it entirely. For Rudd, climate change was purely a weapon with which to attack the Coalition, first under John Howard and then Brendan Nelson and Malcolm Turnbull. It worked so well that he broke the Liberals in two. The Liberals promptly turned to Abbott, who repaid the favour in spades to Rudd and then Julia Gillard. Abbott’s ridiculous scare campaign on the carbon price was no more politically amoral than Kevin Rudd’s politicisation of the issue.

So Hunt, by virtue of political expediency, now has to stand at media conferences and advocate climate change measures for which he ought to need several Botox injections in order to maintain a straight face. This week he insisted that his “Direct Action” policy could start straight away, without legislation, an entirely accurate statement insofar as the winner-picking part goes: Direct Action is in essence a giant industry handouts program that can be allocated under existing appropriations without drama.

More problematic is the baseline emissions component, under which — notionally — businesses could be fined for exceeding their baseline emissions — so long as it doesn’t inhibit business growth. Exactly how this dilemma will be resolved is a matter for a White Paper in coming months. You can bet any baseline emissions scheme will be carefully structured to ensure no one but the most egregious polluter risks being fined, but either way, it will need legislation.

Our youth are entitled to wonder whether … they should take some direct action of their own. Action to shut down the loaders and ports that export coal.”

Direct Action will have little impact on emissions, and certainly far far less than that required to meet Australia’s minimalist bipartisan 5% reduction target, which is why Treasury costs the program much higher than the Coalition will budget for it. Moreover, Hunt’s programs have already been nibbled away at in the Coalition savings program, and will undoubtedly face heavy going in the Expenditure Review Committee between now and the next budget. Hunt’s colleagues know Direct Action is a figleaf for climate inaction, and at several billion dollars it’s a hideously expensive one to maintain.

Hunt’s best hope is that, in the absence of a carbon price, the Australian economy continues to grow below trend and we fail to address the gouging of government-owned electricity companies, whose ongoing price hikes have played a useful role in curbing electricity demand in recent years. In that context, gold-plating and over-engineering have been a longer-lasting, more effective carbon price than the real thing.

In the longer term, however, the planet will continue to warm and our summers will become more extreme. Australia’s world-beating carbon addiction will go on, the first-mover opportunities for investment in renewables will continue to be squandered and the cost of ending Australia’s carbon addiction — which will have to happen at some point in coming decades — will continue, as Treasury has explained, to grow with every delay. Most of all, Australia’s capacity to drive international agreements to stave off very dangerous levels of climate change — levels that will inflict colossal economic damage on Australia by the end of the century — will be undermined.

Climate inaction is thus a direct wealth transfer from our children and their children and subsequent generations to ourselves, in the higher costs of adaptation and reducing the emissions intensity of the Australian economy. It’s a cost we have consciously selected through politicians like Kevin Rudd — who at least had the good grace to admit his mistake — Tony Abbott and Greg Hunt. Business-as-usual politicians convinced their own personal and partisan political ends are more important than the giant rip-off they’re perpetrating on subsequent generations.

What did you do when we could still have stopped it, our grandkids might ask about climate change, to which we can only answer “we took the easy, the expedient, way out. We put mediocrities and clowns like Hunt in charge. We placed the almost negligible cost of abatement action ahead of the massive costs you’re now paying for through higher taxes, more expensive insurance, lower economic growth.”

Sorry, kids, but we squibbed it. Squibbed it when it wasn’t even a hard choice to make for anyone with a basic grasp of maths.

In a world governed by Rudds and Abbotts and Hunts, in which a functional carbon pricing scheme will actually be removed and replaced with a nonsensical scheme even the creators of which know is a joke, our youth are entitled to wonder whether, in the absence of genuine political action, they should take some direct action of their own. Action to shut down the loaders and ports that export coal. Action to shut down coal-fired power plants. Actions to shut down the electricity-greedy industries we prop up, like aluminium smelting. Such action will be expensive, and damaging, and inequitable, and dangerous, but in the absence of real policies from political adults, it’s better than a status quo that will punish our youth as future taxpayers and citizens.

Better than what we adults have been able to manage.

  • 1
    Posted Thursday, 24 October 2013 at 1:39 pm | Permalink

    Very good article BK - I fear history will judge us very harshly on this issue and in time they will look back and ask “Exactly why did people vote out the ALP for Tony Abbott?

  • 2
    Posted Thursday, 24 October 2013 at 1:51 pm | Permalink

    Bernard I suspect you have some passion for this argument, good on you.

  • 3
    Posted Thursday, 24 October 2013 at 2:00 pm | Permalink

    Excellent article. Straight to the essence of the issue.

  • 4
    Burt Chris
    Posted Thursday, 24 October 2013 at 2:11 pm | Permalink

    Bush fires in Australia? Whatever next? What we do in Australia is completely irrelevent to a solution that would have the smallest impact on a global basis. The carbon tax here has proven to be unpopular and ineffective so the people have decided a different approach to be preferable. BK as per normal practice ignores their veiws and dismisses anyone who has a different view.

  • 5
    Trevor Kerr
    Posted Thursday, 24 October 2013 at 2:21 pm | Permalink

    :))) Bernard
    Like to venture an opinion on the mood in the Turnbull household today, after Hunt’s routine? The canvas is all yours, 70% of the outlets will be looking the other way.

  • 6
    Roger Clifton
    Posted Thursday, 24 October 2013 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

    Before we urge the youngsters to wreck their studies, their careers and their relationships with old friends and extended family, we oldies should remember the lessons hard-learnt during the anti-Vietnam unrest.

    Most powerfully, youngsters can use their vote. Persuading their contemporaries is the safest and most effective activity for young revolutionaries.

    Even then, as many religious groups did in the 1970s, there comes a time when the oldies must stand up and back a youngster who has got him/herself into trouble on principle.

    We oldies must face the music too. Why did we use the weasel word “reduce”, when we should have used the word “replace”? Why did we aim our armchair attacks at coal, but never at gas? Why did we fail to provide non-carbon electricity to essential industries like aluminium smelting?

  • 7
    Hunt Ian
    Posted Thursday, 24 October 2013 at 2:34 pm | Permalink

    Burt Chris makes some short completely wrong comments. Yes, what Australia does on it its own will not reduce global warming much. No doubt Burt Chris has tramped on many lawns reasoning that what he does to the lawn by himself will not affect it much. Burt Chris has got to grasp that what will slow global warming is concerted action by everyone, especially the bigger polluters, which includes Australia. By faking it, we undermine the confidence that every country needs to have that others will do something if we do something.

    As Brian Toohey points out in the AFR, any action must concentrate on supporting new technologies that will make demand for electricity elastic (Greg Hunt: it is inelastic only if you assume constant technology) and reduce other sources of emissions and, as he does not point out, accelerate the introduction of these new technologies by imposing the cost of permits on polluters, with the number of permits reducing over time. Done on a global scale this will prevent or temper the unfairness to future generations that BK rightly sees in the embrace of Abbott & Co and business groups. But then business rules, as Tony points out with his audit process, which will take up and recommend all the “good” work that business has already done in anticipation of the return of “their” government. Bernard is right: our younger generations need to demand that we don’t leave them with a lousy future. good luck to them.

  • 8
    Posted Thursday, 24 October 2013 at 2:41 pm | Permalink

    Australian contains a large fraction of the planet’s fossil fuels reserves. The policies Australians choose will have a significant impact on the planet’s future climate.

  • 9
    Posted Thursday, 24 October 2013 at 3:06 pm | Permalink

    Hunt Ian - You beat me to the logic flaw form Burt Chris - it is like me saying I shouldn’t have to apy tax because my small tax amount wouldn’t effect anything.

    Burt Chris - “Bush fires in Australia? Whatever next?” How many bushfires of this scale have we had in October?
    And please see Hunt Ian’s comments.

  • 10
    zut alors
    Posted Thursday, 24 October 2013 at 3:09 pm | Permalink

    A good piece, Bernard.

    It’s particularly galling to hear politicians (such as Barnaby Joyce on Q&A last Monday) spouting that non-renewable forms of energy guarantee jobs. Jobs!! That four-letter magic word which they hope will shut down any intelligent debate.

    Joyce’s dumbo response assumes nobody would be employed in the renewable energy industry - apparently it would be bereft of staff and run itself. The logic is to stick with outdated 20th century mentality and practices which brought the planet to this precarious point.

  • 11
    Posted Thursday, 24 October 2013 at 3:15 pm | Permalink

    Well you and your di@kead mates put that di@khead and hio mates in, so thanks a lot B Keane. According to you it will be 16 years before we get a government in that even understands the problem. Good work.

  • 12
    Posted Thursday, 24 October 2013 at 3:23 pm | Permalink

    BTW Bernard you forgot to mention that Gillard also ‘squibbed’ it and it required the Greens and Independents holding a political gun to the ALP’s head before they acted like grown-ups.

  • 13
    Warren Joffe
    Posted Thursday, 24 October 2013 at 3:25 pm | Permalink

    @ Jimmy

    I don’t like to rely on Andrew Bolt whom I don’t regularly read but this quote has just been sent to me from what, apparently, is a more extensive attack on the ABC’s coverage of the bushfires:

    Claim: “It’s certainly the first time bushfires of this magnitude have happened in October,” reported Lateline. Added Radio National’s Fran Kelly: “We’ve always dealt with fire, but not necessarily in October.”

    Fact: In October 1928 the Sydney Morning Herald reported Sydney was “encircled by bushfires”.

    In October 1948, the Herald reported “the village of Termeil, 12 miles from Ulladulla, was practically destroyed” …

    In October 1951, 100 bushfires raged around Sydney in what the Herald described as “the worst in history”. NSW has in fact had more than a dozen big fires in October or earlier in the past 90 years.

  • 14
    Pedantic, Balwyn
    Posted Thursday, 24 October 2013 at 3:25 pm | Permalink

    An excellent article Bernard in most ways, but somewhat harsh on Rudd. If my memory serves me well there was bipartisan agreement, including under Howard, on taking action to address climate change; with Turnbull supporting Rudd’s CPR Scheme. Abbott proceeded to oppose all legislation to address climate change and came up with the Great Big Tax campaign to beat up on Rudd. Abbott surely politicised the whole matter, exploiting a natural desire to keep money firmly in our own pockets (regardless of compensation)and of course a general dislike of those smarter than ourselves, like scientists!

  • 15
    Posted Thursday, 24 October 2013 at 3:43 pm | Permalink

    Warren - I am not saying they have never happenned but I think the critical point is “of this magnitude” - a vllage being knocked off in 1948 is hardly the same as what has happenned here.

  • 16
    Posted Thursday, 24 October 2013 at 3:46 pm | Permalink

    It’s OK Bernard, we Gen Ys and Zs will pay for the economic impacts of climate change with the savings we make on pensions and aged care (shortly after the “compulsory euthanasia for anyone born before 1970” laws take effect).

    Seems only fair.

    I am joking, for anyone who’s missing the sarcasm detection area of the brain.

  • 17
    Tom Stayner
    Posted Thursday, 24 October 2013 at 4:09 pm | Permalink

    Spot on Bernard. Just one thing though: if it makes sense for “youth” to take this kind of direct action, why not “adults” as well? Plenty of civil disobedience tends to include enthusiastic participation from older generations - our elders behaving like elders, if you like - and I reckon it would only benefit from more. (See the Knitting Nannas Against Gas for a very non-threatening example from the campaign to stop CSG.)

  • 18
    Warren Joffe
    Posted Thursday, 24 October 2013 at 4:13 pm | Permalink

    @ Jimmy

    One example out of three which might favour your argument isn’t a great score. And it is only “might”.

    We are of course going to experience all sorts of events as bigger than ever before simply because of increases in population and in the number of houses in fire or flood prone areas and, indeed, the size of houses.

    I doubt if there were ever more than 100 people lost in an aircraft accident before the 1950s. So one could easily exaggerate the danger of commercial airlines in the late 20th and early 21st centuries by simply citing numbers of people killed in the worst airline disasters. But we all know that flying, despite the growth of traffic, is safer than ever.

  • 19
    Posted Thursday, 24 October 2013 at 4:20 pm | Permalink

    Renewable energy, well hydro, was a bigger percentage of our electricity production in the 1960’s than all renewables are today.

    Think about it: in 5 decades, the proportion of coal in our energy mix has risen inexorably. Coal now produces about ten times the amount of electricity it did in the 1960’s.

    More ‘wind and solar’ is doing nothing but giving some people a nice inner glow. Emissions may have dipped due to a drop in demand, but the fact is we are coal junkies.

    The Brits have just signed up for a French/Chinese funded and built 3.2GW of nuclear, which will run for 60yrs (as against 25-30yrs for offshore turbines).

    We can pretend solar and wind are making a difference, or face the facts, on their own they just enabling more fossil fuels, not replacing them.

    And that nuclear power from Hinkely Point, it’s electricity will come in under the strike price of all current renewable technologies.

    Think about it, or just keep mumbling the same mantras that have stopped us from ditching coal.

  • 20
    Posted Thursday, 24 October 2013 at 4:22 pm | Permalink

    Errant apostrophe…”its”

  • 21
    Posted Thursday, 24 October 2013 at 4:45 pm | Permalink

    Warren - My original question was “How many bushfires of this scale have we had in October?” You said their had been 12 “big” fires in 90 years - I wouldn’t say that is a lot but also from the info provided by you I can’t know what “big” is in comparison to what we have experienced now - did any of those fires have a 300km front?

    What I do know (and I am sure you do too) is that Mr Blot is a master of the half truth and only arguing part of the opposition argument - he points to other fires knowing that most of his readers (if not all) won’t do the research to see if those fires were as bad as he said.

    Also in opposition to your “greater population” argument is “the greater resources/technology” argument - how many fire fighting aircraft did the 1928 fire fighters deploy? How much worse would htese fires have been if we were using 1951 technology?

  • 22
    Posted Thursday, 24 October 2013 at 4:51 pm | Permalink

    Warren - When I googled “Sydney fire October 1951” I got an article from October 24 1951 - Which said “scores” of firemen fought 3 fires in teh southern suburbs of sydney, the most serious swept through 400 acres of scrub between loftus and Engadine and had a front “2 miles wide”.

    Another fire burnt out 60 acres.

    Not sure if this is “the worst in history” Mr BLot referred to but it doesn’t seem as bad as the onces we have now.

  • 23
    The Hood
    Posted Thursday, 24 October 2013 at 4:54 pm | Permalink

    Bernard you say we are led by clowns like Abbott and Hunt but I believe they are more puppets than clowns. It’s who is pulling their strings that counts, the vested interests who have been working hard to turn around public opinion since 2007. I am talking about Uncle Rupert, an asortment of other billionaires, the big energy companies and their industry associations and the numerous so called think tanks all working tirelessly to confuse voters on this issue to the point that mediocrities, like Abbott can waltz into office on a climate change policy of Direct Inaction.

  • 24
    Percy Pigeon
    Posted Thursday, 24 October 2013 at 5:36 pm | Permalink

    Careful Bernard, you’re starting to sound like you’re inciting ‘eco-terrorism’.

    Have you read ‘Green is the New Red’, by American journalist Will Potter?

  • 25
    Posted Thursday, 24 October 2013 at 5:41 pm | Permalink

    My town and my family nearly burned down this because the same electrical poles and wires that I have been screwed for 1000% increases to my bill to replace, touched and unleashed hell.
    If these arsehats are serious, they will take my $3000+ a year and bury their fur@king rolls royce cables like most civilised countries and like they should have done in the past. What cased black sunday? Oh…. was it power lines touching? ArSeholes the lot of them; and you made abbot number one mover and shaker; well tell your mate we mountain folk are not happy

  • 26
    Tamas Calderwood
    Posted Thursday, 24 October 2013 at 5:48 pm | Permalink

    In the longer term, however, the planet will continue to warm and our summers will become more extreme. “

    There has been no global warming for 15 years.

    The world has warmed just 0.8C in the past 150 years.

    That 0.8C warming came in three roughly equal spurts: 1860-1880, 1910-1940 and 1975-1998, despite Co2 emission being higher in the latter periods..

    Why are these facts ignored?

  • 27
    Posted Thursday, 24 October 2013 at 5:56 pm | Permalink

    I agree with Pedantic #14, Bernard. You are far too harsh on Rudd and the Labor government he led, and I don’t think the facts support your argument.
    Rudd introduced an admissions trading scheme (ETS) twice into the Senate, where it was defeated both times. How about you blame the Greens for that, since they voted against it twice? Was it a perfect scheme? No. But it could have been amended along the way, and at least we would have had something.
    Should Rudd have called for a double dissolution over this issue? Perhaps, although the Senate just elected, with its collection of ‘strange’ people, would suggest that he made the correct decision not to do so. Probably would have ended up with a Senate twice as bad as this one, since the quota to be elected would have been around half! Therefore, Rudd had no choice but to drop the ETS at the time, because he couldn’t get it through the parliament, even after he had “watered it down”, as you put it. I am outraged that you lump Rudd together with Abbott and Hunt, when the latter two don’t even believe in climate change, regardless of what they say to the public. The Labor party has had a policy to deal with climate change for over twenty years, but as always, politics is the art of the possible.
    However, the remainder of your article I agree with. The sooner some of these stupid voters accept the inevitable, the better chance we have of reducing the effects of dangerous climate change, and limiting the damage for our grandchildren and their children. Selfish lot around today!

  • 28
    Posted Thursday, 24 October 2013 at 6:52 pm | Permalink

    Great article Bernard, although I take issue with you’re lumping Kevin Rudd with Tony Abbott. Kevin Rudd made a bad decision in 2010 after trying to implement the plan that he agreed with the Coalition but which the Coalition subsequently reneged on. And Kevin Rudd did go to the 2013 election with a plan for an ETS. BUT Abbott and company have withdrawn Australia from any meaningful action on Climate Change, most likely for a decade or more.

  • 29
    The Hood
    Posted Thursday, 24 October 2013 at 7:04 pm | Permalink


    There has been global warming over the past 15 years. The rate of INCREASE in average surface temperatures has been slower than pre 1998, that is all and the increase in temperatures in the oceans continues to rise unabated. Try and look at the big picture and not cherry pick one data set and then misinterpret the trends.

  • 30
    Posted Thursday, 24 October 2013 at 7:17 pm | Permalink

    I think everything should be on the table in weaning the country off Coal, including nuclear. Nuclear has problems but they are outweighed by the urgency of the need to ‘decarbonise’ over the next few decades. We’ve got plenty of room to store the waste, which while long lasting is small in volume. As for the dangers of nuclear materials falling into the wrong hands - I think that horse has long since bolted.

  • 31
    Posted Thursday, 24 October 2013 at 8:08 pm | Permalink

    Unfortunately, if we ceased using fire tomorrow, the accumulated carbon dioxide is still pushing the world towards tipover point when the Russian & Canadian permafrost regions turn soggy. When they release their stored methane it will have far more deleterious effects than CO2.
    This leaves the “Lomborg” option, plan to cope coz it ain’t goona cease just coz Tony Canute sez it’s krap.

  • 32
    The Hood
    Posted Thursday, 24 October 2013 at 9:04 pm | Permalink

    AR good point, this is the scary part of it all. Last week I was at a climate change workshop and an expert was pointing out that a 2 C increase in global average temperatures actually means 16 degrees increase in the arctic regions. The climate models don’t include the other greenhouse gas inputs from tipping points like permafrosts emitting megatons of methane, they only model man made inputs. All our modelling is very conservative to avoid easy shots from the denialist industry. By the way I work for a major water utility, an engineering and scientific organisation, we aren’t having a debate on climate change, we are working out how to deal with the impact.

  • 33
    Mark Duffett
    Posted Thursday, 24 October 2013 at 11:49 pm | Permalink

    Who are we outsourcing our aluminium smelting to, then? Will the planet thank us for it?

    First mover advantages on renewables”? That ship sailed years ago. Try asking Germany how it worked out for them (hint: all the tech and manufacturing is headed for China).

    It’s all very well calling for 1968-esque yoof to the barricades, but a vague mention of renewables doesn’t begin to address the question of how best to replace coal. We continue to vainly await the turning of the Keane analytical mind to the issue. He could do worse than to start here: zerocarbonoptions.com

  • 34
    Posted Friday, 25 October 2013 at 1:30 am | Permalink

    Greenpeace just tried something along these lines. It didn’t work out for them. Nonetheless, go for it, kids. Can’t wait to see all of you bludging hippies thrown in gaol.

  • 35
    Mike Flanagan
    Posted Friday, 25 October 2013 at 8:53 am | Permalink

    Oh so right Bernard, but oh so tardy Bernard!

  • 36
    Posted Friday, 25 October 2013 at 9:34 am | Permalink

    Patriot; Greenpeace tried something and achieved their aims. They publicised the insanity of drilling for oil in pristine environments, we need to be reminded constantly of such folly such as the 2010 BP Deepwater Horizon disaster and the Exxon Valdez in Alaska.
    This time Greenpeace got free, often front page, coverage in the world media, forced politicians of those arrested as “pirates” to explain why they are not interceeding for their citizens and now the Russkies have downgraded the charges to ruffians (?). Destruction of the environment will not only affect bludging hippies, but also rampant capitalists and everyone in between.

  • 37
    Posted Friday, 25 October 2013 at 9:36 am | Permalink

    Well said Bernard. Rudd, like Beazley with asylum seekers, was weak when challenged by Abbott on the ETS, but Abbott and Hunt have been the drivers of the lies about Carbon Pricing.You are right, they must be fought on the streets. This is the only way some steel may be put in the spine of Labor, but under the rightwing factional leadership of Shorten, that may be a quixotic dream.

  • 38
    Des Bellamy
    Posted Friday, 25 October 2013 at 9:39 am | Permalink

    We can’t all afford to buy hybrid cars or instal solar panels. But the best way to combat climate change is simply with our knives and forks - stop eating animal flesh, drinking the breast milk and eating the eggs of other species. The ABS reports that 10% of our greenhouse gas emission is from enteric fermentation - cows and sheep belching and farting. That’s 55 million tonnes we can save just by eating healthy, vegan foods.

  • 39
    K.D. Afford
    Posted Friday, 25 October 2013 at 10:41 am | Permalink

    It is seriously time for some protest marches by the youth, they are the ultimate sufferers of our political ignorance. When the Minister needs Wikipedia to see what is happening, the same involved in disbanding the climate commission, we must concede we have an idiot at the wheel.
    Time for reaction.

  • 40
    Posted Friday, 25 October 2013 at 10:52 am | Permalink

    They publicised the insanity of drilling for oil in pristine environments, we need to be reminded constantly of such folly such as the 2010 BP Deepwater Horizon disaster and the Exxon Valdez in Alaska.”

    Come now. I’m sure most everyone knows of these things and has an opinion already. Give the great unwashed a bit of credit. They’re not empty vessels waiting to be filled with Greenpeace’s truth

  • 41
    Posted Friday, 25 October 2013 at 11:36 am | Permalink

    I give the great unwashed no credit, it was them that voted in the current crop of flat earthers, one of whoms quotable source of scientific authority is wikipedia (and who populated the site- Lord Monckton?), obviously Hunt isn’t aware of the Bureau of Meteorology site which tells a different story for Australia based on fact and observations.

  • 42
    Warren Joffe
    Posted Friday, 25 October 2013 at 11:52 am | Permalink

    @ BK

    Never have you disclosed such grandiloquent fantasies of your vastly superior intelligence. You really need to justify what your readers infer from

    Climate inaction is thus a direct wealth transfer from our children and their children and subsequent generations to ourselves, ……… It’s a cost we have consciously selected ……the giant rip-off they’re perpetrating on subsequent generations.

    What did you do when we could still have stopped it, our grandkids might ask about climate change, to which we can only answer “we took the easy, the expedient, way out. We put mediocrities and clowns like Hunt in charge. We placed the almost negligible cost of abatement action ahead of the massive costs you’re now paying for through higher taxes, more expensive insurance, lower economic growth.

    Sorry, kids, but we squibbed it. Squibbed it when it wasn’t even a hard choice to make for anyone with a basic grasp of maths.”

    The connection you completely fail to make in this lofty emission is between it being OUR (Australian) grandchildren and the policies which should be adopted. A basic grasp of maths would appear to make it at least possible that you could see the point of assessing (a) whether anything is going to prevent climate change from already unavoidable increases in emissions and continuing feedbacks; (b) whether anyone will be better off in Australia or anywhere else because we, in Australia, spend money on abatement of emissions here rather than on other measures to cope with the possible consequences of climate change [do you know what even IPCC scientists say is the realistic outcome when you blithely say “when we could still have stopped it”**?]

    We price ourselves out of any business which depends for its competitiveness on cheap power and where does it actually leave us? You and I mightn’t feel it much, or our grandchildren, but opportunity costs are logical inevitabilities so please show us some maths, albeit not as simple as you would like if you take care over the values of parameters and variables. Who bears the brunt of our moral choice to spend on feeling comfortable about our AGW stand? Could you persuade them that your choice for them was right in the long run - assuming the understand a little maths, and logic?

    **apologies for citing Bolt again [same communication as yesterday] but have you some alternative view of the fact alleged by Bolt in

    But so what? Both Abbott’s “direct action” scheme and Labor’s carbon tax would at best cut the world’s temperature this century by 0.0038 degrees, according to IPCC author Professor Roger Jones.”

  • 43
    Posted Friday, 25 October 2013 at 12:53 pm | Permalink

    In a changing world, one can always rely on PatrIdiot to go lower the a snake’s belly.

  • 44
    Posted Friday, 25 October 2013 at 12:57 pm | Permalink

    What a great article. This is the legacy we leave for our children. A almost unliveable world. And the bufoons we have elected just keep the show going.

  • 45
    Posted Friday, 25 October 2013 at 1:01 pm | Permalink

    A little more of this kind of thing /before/ the election might have been nice, and in particular a bit more argument in favour of the last government’s implemented policies. A bit more noise from people with a media supplied loudhailer might have made it a little harder for Abbott to scare everyone into putting him in charge of the next couple of years.


  • 46
    Lubo Gregor
    Posted Friday, 25 October 2013 at 1:22 pm | Permalink

    I don’t know if Hunt has any kids, but something is telling me that it won’t be Rudd’s, Abbott’s and Hunt’s children and grandchildren that will be: “paying for (their fathers political games) through higher taxes, more expensive insurance, lower economic growth”…

  • 47
    Posted Friday, 25 October 2013 at 2:26 pm | Permalink

    Warren Joffe@42.

    What you and most other psuedo-realists don’t understand is that people who actually *get* climate change (and it’s a fair bet that Bernard does) are acutely aware of the issues you raise, and have spent well over 15 years grappling with a range of possible targeted solutions.

    It’s the bloody-minded intransigence of the denialist crowd that has made, and continues to make any potential solutions impossible to implement.

    The nub of it is that policies that look stupid and naive today would have been far less controversial and painful for the economy if implemented when they were first proposed.

    Now it’s too late.

  • 48
    Posted Friday, 25 October 2013 at 3:22 pm | Permalink

    Grand-kid: “So, what the f*ck happened?”
    Grand-dad: “I dunno. CBF? If inaction was greed, I didn’t see a bloody dollar out of it. I can barely afford this adaptation tax as it is. Hey - close the window, the geo-engineered sulfur’s bad today.”
    Grand-kid: “Was the sky really blue?”

  • 49
    Harry Rogers
    Posted Friday, 25 October 2013 at 3:27 pm | Permalink

    Warren Joffe,

    You make very relevant points however, emotional rhetoric is the tenor of discussion on this subject these days particularly in Crikey.

    Bernard, who generally is quite considered in his arguments, now appears to have fallen prey to the “preaching to the converted lynch mob” as a solution to a problem which need to be worked through on the basis of outcomes..pretty much the way mankind has successfully survived for thousands of years.

    However people have always loved the basis of “we’ll all be ruined said Hanrahan!!”

  • 50
    Warren Joffe
    Posted Friday, 25 October 2013 at 4:55 pm | Permalink

    @ Rohan

    You actually strengthen the force of the points I was making (which you may or may not have understood). Your “I wouldn’t be starting from here” line doesn’t deal with the reality that has to be faced by decision makers today, in and for Australia. For example it is a genuinely important question to answer whether it would be better to spend the marginal half billion on trying to ensure that future outer suburban developments were effectively fire proof rather than on increasing the proportion of electricity generated by wind power (when there is wind), or perhaps on storage of solar generated power and the production or purchase of the equipment needed to deal with large quantities of DC current….