Gary Price writes: Re. The Stern report. It is bizarre and deeply disturbing that scientists can warn for years about heat, drought, and inundation; we can be devastated by unusual hurricanes and cyclones and be on the verge of running out of water; and still the government and political commentators can be skeptical about the “gloomier predictions” of climate change. But when an economist speaks, we listen. Global GDP might fall by 5%! Man the pumps! Climate change is an “externality” – not a simple textbook one, but one involving uncertainty and future generations. Things economists are unused to considering, apparently. Maybe population and limits to growth are worth considering as well.

Cameron Bray writes: Re. “The Stern Gang strikes at the future” (yesterday, item 12). Only Christian Kerr could rubbish a 600 page economic analysis of climate change by an ex-World Bank economist by… claiming climate change is propounded by people who know nothing about economics. His “article” yesterday is comprehensively valueless. It consisted of: a) a logical fallacy: “Y2K didn’t exist, therefore climate change doesn’t exist” (ignoring that Y2K didn’t happen because companies spent tens of millions remedying the issue. So not only is it a rubbish analogy, even at face value it supports the opposite view to his). b) an ad hominem attack irrelevant to the actual story: (“Greens are economic Neanderthals” – a sidebar of monumental irrelevance considering he was allegedly commenting on a report by HM Treasury by a respected economist). c) A long quote from someone else’s website. (wow, did you Google that all by yourself or is it on your favourites list?) The issue that Christian is writhing like a snake on a pitchfork to avoid is that the Stern report was commissioned by the Treasury of a major industrial country so that they can have a clear, rational, economic assessment of climate change and its implications. And then design policy, based on real data, with a clear view of the costs and the benefits. And that a G8 country is doing so draws attention to the pitiful void in analysis and decision making from the ostriches of the Howard Government and their cheers squad.

John Jeffreys writes: I would like to remind Christian Kerr that the main reason the “Y2K apocalypse” did not eventuate was the billions spent making sure it didn’t. Maybe this is the lesson we need to heed.

Stephen Turner writes: Re. “The Stern Gang strikes at the future”. A “lovely” piece of work from Christian Kerr yesterday … not only does he continue as a leading denier of global warming, now he tries to link (however lacking in seriousness he may have been) a major report on the issue to a noted terrorist group. Sure, the surname fits, so why not call them “The Stern Gang”? Never mind that the Stern Gang were the leading pro-Zionist terrorist group in the late ’40s (regardless of their motivation, blowing up trains and assassinating diplomats made them terrorists), let’s go with that anyway. At best, a too-clever-by-half headline, at worst, another pathetic smear against anyone who wants to take the issue seriously. I thought Crikey was supposed to be above that sort of shrill idiocy, but maybe that’s just the parts not written by Kerr.

Alan Kennedy writes: Christian Kerr’s attacks on global warming are becoming tedious. If he could cite a body of evidence against the almost universally held view that man is responsible for the warming and that dire things are already flowing from this he may have a case. But as Media Watch showed the other night when it skewered that other global warming idiot savant Bolt, facts and science play no part when the sceptics gather. Christian, if you want to mount a case give us the science, don’t download gibber from some other site which knows as much about global warming as you do – zilch.

John Arthur Daley writes: I am sick and tired of John Howard being attacked for resisting signing the Kyoto agreement. We have a population of 19 million while China and India, who also refuse to sign, have a combined population of approx 2.5 billion. My old boss had a picture on his wall of pioneers being slaughtered by Indians in the old West. Underneath it said: “The only things the pioneers got was arrows in their backs.” And he would say to me: “Don’t be a pioneer.” Us signing the Kyoto agreement will do nothing to persuade China and India to sign but it will impoverish us. If 2.5 billion people fart and pollute every day, coupled with the fact that they are building coal fired power plants at the rate of knots, it would be far more polluting than any moves we could make to stem our modest pollutant output.

Allan Hansard, CEO Tree Plantations Australia, writes: Scientific evidence is telling governments that future policy in addressing climate change must consider the value of the tree plantation sector. In light of the Stern report on climate change, Australia has an opportunity to lead the world in addressing climate change by encouraging the development of carbon storing tree plantations and the use of timber products. A report released recently by the Forest and Wood Products Research and Development Corporation (FWPRDC), on research by the CRC for Greenhouse Accounting, highlights the importance of forests and wood products in addressing Australia’s climate change needs. The Australian Greenhouse Gas Inventory reported that Australia’s net annual greenhouse emissions are 565 million tonnes of CO2, of which over 90 million tonnes is emitted by the agriculture sector. According to the FWPRDC report, Australia’s plantations and commercial forests removed a net 43.7 million tonnes of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Tree plantations are also addressing land degradation problems and also revitalising communities facing rural decline by providing an alternative and profitable land use.

Tony Ryan writes: With all these clever pundits and gurus applying either mufflers or resonance to stern warnings of global warming, could one of them explain to me… with 95% of industrial and MV CO2 being emitted in the northern hemisphere and with only a 5% per annum oceanic and atmospheric mixing between the two; just how it is that the southern hemisphere deteriorates equally? 

Anne Lampe writes: Re. “The case for outing Jones is unconvincing: Gerard Henderson” (yesterday, item 3). I read Gerard Henderson’s observation that Mike Carlton has married a woman young enough to be his daughter and thought, “so what?” It happens every day. Morag Ramsay is not a schoolgirl, in fact she is close to 30 years of age. Her marriage to Mike Carlton is a great deal different to Alan Jones being enchanted by impressionable schoolboys while being their teacher/sportsmaster/mentor. Can I detect a thread of jealousy in Henderson’s sour attack on Mike Carlton? Would he like to be attractive to young women? Had Mike Carlton lived with and married a male near 30 years of age, would that have been a cause of sour remarks by Mr Henderson? I’ll bet, though, Mike Carlton is the sort of bloke who would not have treated such a liaison as a big secret. And I don’t recall him being found by the Australian Broadcasting Tribunal to have taken cash for comment.

John Kotsopoulos writes: “So Mike Carlton reckons it’s quite OK for him to be interested in a young female (now his wife) but that it is quite reprehensible for Alan Jones to be (allegedly) interested in young males. How homophobic can you get?” writes Gerard Henderson. I used to think that Henderson was boring as batsh-t. I would now like to add that I think he is also losing the plot, if this statement is any guide. Fancy equating an (alleged) interest by a teacher in underage and non-consenting male students with an interest by an older male in a younger female which has led to marriage.

Steve Johnson writes: Gerard Henderson has taken Chris Masters’s apparently factual declaration that Alan Jones is gay, and compared it directly with Senator Bill Heffernan’s malicious and fundamentally false attack on Justice Michael Kirby, where Heffernan accused Kirby, under the protection of the Federal Senate, of using a Commonwealth car to trawl Sydney streets for male prostitutes. How can these two disparate events, one researched and apparently factual while the other is a loathsome and admitted lie, even bear comparison? How can Henderson then build an argument that the “liberal-left intelligentsia” have gone missing from Jones’s defence? What defence is necessary? That Jones is gay, as opposed to his having been falsely accused of procuring prostitutes using a Commonwealth car?

Peter Kemp writes: Gerard Henderson holds forth in his usual turgid, excruciatingly boring style, that those of the “liberal-left intelligentsia” who have “outed” Alan Jones as a poof are homophobic. Ignoring the fact that Mike Carlton and the others named by Gerard were not the ones to first report or speculate on Jones’s s-xuality, I am more interested in Gerard’s comment that by satirising Jones’s apparent fascination for young men, Carlton is a hypocrite. Gerard, satire can never be guilty of hypocrisy. Satire has no values by definition. Impossible and doomed to failure as it may seem, perhaps Gerard could try his own hand at satire and humour and then he might understand this. Perhaps the likely miserable failure of any such attempt on Gerard’s part would in itself be pretty funny and worth a read.

John Taylor writes: My first thought, when I heard the Federal Government had $90 million to spend on some undetailed religious effort in schools, was that the money would be better spent on air-conditioning in all the schools in the west of Sydney where 40+ temperatures in summer addle brains. But my very practical daughter, who teaches in one of these schools, said: “be good if they supplied us with enough pencils first”.

Max Wallace of the Australian National Secular Association writes: Re. Chaplains in schools. Richard Hurford (yesterday, comments) has missed a critical fact about the High Court’s interpretation of s.116 of the Constitution in his attempt to relate it to the chaplaincy issue. The fact is a constitutional challenge to the funding of chaplains in schools is not possible even though the legislation allowing it will have a religious purpose. This is because the High Court defined separation of church and state out of existence in the 1981 Defence of Government Schools (DOGS) case. In the US this kind of legislation could be challenged as unconstitutional. It could be seen as an “establishment” of religion in defiance of the meaning of their First Amendment. But our High Court defined “establishment” in s.116 of our Constitution to mean no more than the setting up of a religion as a national entity, an “established” church’ that identifies with the state. Therefore, all kinds of aid can be given to religion and it is not unconstitutional. An example is the $20m given to the Catholic Church for the Pope’s visit for World Youth Day in 2008. The Prime Minister has been saying because there is no established church there is separation in Australia. He should know that is not correct. As Treasurer, he was one of three Ministerial Respondents in the DOGS case. The US does not have an established church and its Supreme Court strikes down these kinds of attempts by their Congress to advance the cause of religion using taxpayers’ money.

Mike Burke writes: In his rush to question, and implicitly condemn, Howard’s proposal to fund chaplains for schools, Richard Hurford clearly isn’t aware that the Government already funds chaplains in the three armed forces. Government lawyers should know that. Now, with that in mind, where is the problem, exactly?

John Wilkinson writes: Could “Chaplains in schools” be the payback to Family First for their support for Coonan’s recent media legislation? Nah, I’m getting too cynical… then again.

Mark Duffett writes: Re. “Time for some perspective on the Sheik” (yesterday, item 6). Mirko Gagaric’s outrage that the Sheik has been “pilloried by the media and the community far more than any religious or community leader who in recent times has been guilty of actual s-xual misconduct against women and sometimes even children” is itself outrageous. Is he seriously suggesting that “getting hammered front and centre in the media for nearly a week” rates higher on the punishment scale than a prison term? In any case, the treatment of Peter Hollingworth, in a somewhat analogous situation, instantly springs to mind as more severe than that meted out to the Sheik. Moreover, Mr Gagaric is wrong to assert that the reaction against Hilaly is motivated by anti-Muslim feeling. Had an Australian Christian of equivalent stature (say George Pell or Peter Jensen) used exactly the same words as the Sheik, in the same context, the negative reaction would have been every bit as vociferous.

Ilan Lewis, President of Australian Lawyers for Animals, writes: Though there has been little comment on the point I wish to express my outrage at the comments of Al Hilali. His insinuation that hungry cats are like rapists is disgraceful. Cats deserve our love and respect; street cats or even feral cats are a problem which we as a society are responsible for. Hilaly should be prosecuted under Animal Protection legislation for inciting violence against animals and further deported for insulting the millions of feline fanciers in this fine country, Australia.

Damien Toogood writes: Re. “Since when has “asking for it” been un-Australian?” (yesterday, item 2). Guy Rundle falls into the common expat trap of trashing Australia while in absence. In my lengthy tours of duty in Shanghai, London, LA, Singapore and Malaysia I saw this frequently. To the point, growing up in a Catholic household in Cronulla, I never had a priest refer to women as “meat” from the altar, or excuse rape as a response to overtly s-xual clothing. I was never, implicitly or explicitly, led to believe by my surrounding community that these attitudes were acceptable, and this is 25 years ago in suburban Sydney. And please, “values that shaped us as a nation”? I guess Guy is one of those expats who holds court in Soho pubs with tales of how immigration/multiculturalism etc are a failure in the antipodes.

Nick Shimmin writes: Adam Schwab’s criticism (yesterday, comments) of my comments in Monday’s Crikey about the double standards of the commentariat magnificently prove my point. The Werribee boys he so conveniently dismisses as “17-year-old deadbeats” disqualify themselves as representatives of the Western Christian community in Adam’s mind, but somehow that wasn’t the case when some Middle Eastern “deadbeats” performed similar disgraceful acts in Sydney. They WERE representative of their community, but white boys somehow aren’t. With Adam’s preposterous logic, I assume I am therefore entitled to find every nutty statement by Fred Nile, Peter Jensen or George Pell as representative of Australian Christians, since he clearly believes Sheik Hilaly speaks for all 300,000 Muslims. Face up to it, Adam, your double standards are even more atrocious than most of your fellow pundits. But you, like the rest of your ilk, are not very good at facing up to your own community standards.

Sharon Hutchings writes: Re. Animal agriculture and climate change. I appreciate the point made by Keith Hammond (yesterday, comments) regarding the developing world’s reliance on animals in agriculture, however it was specifically the impact of meat production in developed Western countries that was the focus of my comments. Countries like Australia and the USA consume and produce an excessive amount of animal products. On the issue of methane and CO2, reports I have read estimate ruminant methane to be about 90 Tg (megatonnes) per annum, and a report on Siberian permafrost gives a figure of 1.5 Tg (megatonnes) for methane from permafrost. Of course as global warming increases, more permafrost methane is emitted, and the more it thaws, the greater the damage, and if not stopped, total catastrophe.  There is more information on that from the National Center for Atmospheric Research (Boulder, USA). I’m simply saying that for individuals living in countries like Australia, eating fewer animal products and replacing them with nutritious plant foods is one of the most effective actions to reduce your greenhouse gas pollution.

Chris Core, webmaster for, writes: Re. “Little Aussie master of the long pot sets green baize alight” (yesterday, item 4). Guy Rundle reported that Neil Robertson “is the first Australian to win a major international snooker title since 1990.” In fact Neil Robertson is the only Australian to win a world-ranking/professional snooker tournament. Ever. The 1990 reference comes from the fact Neil is the first Australian to appear in the final of a world-ranking/professional tournament, since 1990. But no Australian has previously won a professional tournament – Neil is the first.

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