This is
asking for trouble, but… I remember my science teacher mum getting furious at
TV ads that described products as “scientifically proven”. Science doesn’t
prove things. It draws on evidence and then puts up hypotheses. Some scientists
are taking fluctuations in temperature to warn of global warning – the way
others, in the early seventies, took climate variations as a sign of a coming
ice age.

So I copped
a serve yesterday from Vice President of the Australian Conservation
Foundation, Dr Peter Christoff. Big deal. It goes with the turf. Not that the
content of the serve wasn’t interesting. It was more to do with my questioning of
the hypotheses of global warning than any comments over the sanctimony or
otherwise of the Business Roundtable for Climate Change.

Those comments
remain. Members of the Roundtable are labelling themselves green while
feeding
on the greenhouse gas generating growth of China and India. It’s an
important observation – one that I’m not aware has been made elsewhere
– and a reflection of a key aspect of environmental debate in general.

I don’t
share Monty Burns’ views on green issues – but at least they’re clear unequivocal.
Most other contributions to environmental debate – from scientists, activists,
economists, governments and companies – are driven by symbolism or have their
real meaning obscured by a coat of green wash.

This is
because any serious discussion of our future energy needs and sources and the
use of natural resources in general – let alone the idea of actually doing
anything more than talking – is so complex and difficult. So, here’s
a challenge to the Roundtable members. Let’s see another report – an audit of
your investments in greenhouse gas increasing activities globally, rather than
just the one document with a pointless domestic focus.

After all,
if we reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Australia by ten per cent over the next forty
years – a major local achievement – it will still only be at best the
equivalent of a reduction of around 0.1 per cent of total global emissions.
That’s meaningless – purely symbolic if you’re interested in anything more than
making Roundtable members and the ACF look good for a few days.

Talk about
reducing greenhouse gas emissions comes cheap. Actually doing it doesn’t –
particularly since even if Australians bear the enormous cost of aggressive
early reductions, they will only make the most infinitesimal differences to the
dire predictions of climate change Christoff and other activists are using to try
and scare us into action.

PS There’s
a nice little story on Australia’s first uranium exports in The
Canberra Times
today. Presumably it’s been clipped at the Chinese Embassy and the Indian High
Commission.

Peter Fray

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