Cathy Bannister writes: Re. Who turns a buck from climate change? I personally own half of a thriving energy efficiency company. So, yes, Christian Kerr, I turn a buck from climate change. But what my husband and I earn from the business is peanuts compared to the money that our clients are able to save through energy efficiency. Christian assumes that “accommodating zealots” can only cost businesses money. If everyone invested in energy savings measures in their own homes, they would get a much better return than they get on their bank accounts. The amount that the average business loses through inefficiencies is enormous. The potential is there for everyone to turn a buck. It’s only head-in-the-sand, closed-minded fools who still believe that accommodating efficiencies and cleaner technologies will be at a net cost. And I don’t even have to go into the more ephemeral environmental cost-benefit analysis that we usually hear, but naturally that’s important as well. That said, (and I am speaking for myself and not my husband here) I resent like hell Christian’s implications that green businesses are only in it for the money. Of course, I appreciate money to feed the kids and pay the mortgage, but I’m also motivated by saving the world. I suppose Christian would prefer us to be ferals, painting slogans in weedkiller on Parliament House lawns or chaining ourselves to bulldozers, rather than working with people for the good of everyone, himself included? But then, those sorts of greenies are much easier to stereotype and attack, aren’t they Christian?

Mark Heydon writes: Re. Hair shirts don’t stop climate change (yesterday, item 7). Christian Kerr talks about the seeming need to point out the bleeding obvious and then goes on to praise the rightness of John Howard talking about the failure of “old Kyoto” and committing that if “everybody is in, I’m prepared to lead Australia in”. I agree that the Kyoto treaty was close to useless (though isn’t partly right better than 100% wrong?) but far from praising Howard for stating the bleeding obvious, why are we not criticising him for abdicating responsibility for bringing in a better international agreement? Howard is essentially leaving it entirely to others to design the way forward, and saying Australia will join up once the hard work is done. Some leadership! As for “getting on with the job” by announcing “$60 million clean energy projects”, can’t Christian see this is a bandaid approach to a problem that requires a well thought out strategic solution?

Anthea Parry writes: Christian Kerr may have left his hair-shirt at the drycleaner’s, but he’s got some pretty half-arsed ideas about how to cut energy consumption. Rather than driving an economical vehicle, has Christian considered catching a tram? How about wearing a jumper, rather than turning on the new gas heater? Or better still, building passive solar houses. Or solar hot water, rather than gas, when the old electric system dies? I’m beginning to think Christian hasn’t read anything about saving energy since the early 80s. Perhaps Crikey subscribers could all chip in and get him a subscription to Grass Roots magazine for Christmas.

Bill Chandler writes: You are right! Hair shirts do not actually stop climate change, but the scientific evidence shows that they both insulate against rising temperatures, and are flame-retardant. So please don’t knock hair shirts. For some decades now I have had a nice little business going selling them, and we free-enterprisers have to stick together. However, for an independent journalist, you have rather gone out on a limb in describing John Howard’s approach to climate change as “absolutely right”. It seems to me more like a scrambling attempt at catch-up, a belated attempt to fill a gaping leadership hole, but it might be politically successful when even people like you are overawed by the odd $60m thrown belatedly at a grab-bag of projects. Stern’s economic figuring has rather more credibility. Also don’t underestimate the importance of repeating the “bleeding obvious”. Otherwise most politicians and journalists are going to be left mute. Now, that could be a really positive contribution to reducing world temperatures.

Peter Lloyd writes: I have come to realise that the otherwise thoughtful and reasonable Christian Kerr seems to have some sort of mental block on environmental issues, but his defence of John Howard’s policy U-turn as “simply getting on with the job” is so ludicrous that it ought to get Crikey back into the pre-Budget lock-up all on its own. Howard has been a climate change denialist for many years, and he is the last world leader to even admit the problem exists. The energy policies of the last ten years, from the one John and Meg forged together, right up to the “Solar Cities” program, have been designed to finance the worst polluters while ensuring genuine renewable technology went nowhere. Solar may not be the answer, but I’d like to know just how much generation could be obtained with a panel on every roof. Alas, the Liberals only want nuclear: a position that presumably sits well with Christian if only because of the angst it will cause among the Greens.

Stilgherrian writes: Christian Kerr seems surprised that we “need to be told the bleeding obvious” about global warming (yesterday, item 7), and says it’s “common sense” to take action such as driving economical vehicles, using low-consumption lights, ditching the old fridge etc. If it’s all “common sense” – that is, we all innately know this somehow – perhaps Mr Kerr could confirm that he, personally, has already taken these bleeding-obvious common-sense actions?

Mike Chamberlain writes: Re. Hair shirts don’t stop climate change. Today’s climate change piece by Christian Kerr was uncharacteristically rational for Crikey. More of this please.

Martyn Smith writes: In yesterday’s Crikey, Alan Kennedy referred to Andrew Bolt as “that other Global Warming Idiot Savant”, clearly inferring that Christian was the other one. Well put Alan – and most of the rest Christian writes is pretty idiotic too. It escapes me whether Christian believes the tosh he writes or whether he just does it to entertain the likes of Gerard Henderson etc and annoy those of us who are looking for news, not propaganda in our favourite news source. Please could Crikey put all Christian’s rantings in one section so that those of us who want to read something sensible can skip it.

Christian Kerr writes: Correspondent Cameron Bray invented a quote from me to add a bit of punch to his letter yesterday – “Greens are economic Neanderthals”. I suppose he thinks that’s justified if Gaia is at stake.

John Busby writes: Re. The Stern Review. Using the Acrobat search facility I failed to find any reference to oil and gas depletion in its 600 pages, which will limit the ultimate release of CO2 well below the plotted predictions of the Stern Review. The hope is that fossil fuels will run out before we pass Lovelock’s climate “tipping point”, but we will still see the Third World die-off in mid-century predicted by “The Limits to Growth” in 1972. Economists have attempted to put down the findings of “Limits”, so it is not surprising that Stern ignores the biggest problem we face, viz., the dwindling of economically extractable resources. Australia has not got its head round this yet. It is selling its gas to China and Japan, ignoring the fact that it is now a net importer of oil and will eventually have to resort to coal liquefaction and gasification to keep things moving. Stern addresses the wrong problem – Gaia will look after itself.

Jesse Richardson writes: Re. John Arthur Daley (yesterday, comments): “I am sick and tired of John Howard being attacked for resisting … Kyoto”. Mr Daley, you may not wish to be a pioneer, but I am glad for those who were, and are. It may be true that we have to pay an economic price for signing Kyoto, but that’s kinda the point: it’s called doing the right thing even though it doesn’t serve your own greedy, selfish agenda (bear with me the rest of you – this is a strange concept for many Howard-lovers). The measure of how much we care about something can be known by what we’re willing to sacrifice for it. If Australia and/or the USA ratified Kyoto, it would very much increase pressure on India and China; but this should be beside the point anyway – if we care about the environment, for our children and the rest of the planet, we should do all in our power to protect it. The ultimate assassin of your argument, though, is that the Stern report puts into quantifiable economic terms that which we should already have known: we should worry about the long term, not the short term.

Michael James writes: Re. Don’t be a pioneer. Australia with its marginal climate could face more widespread devastation than any country that rises more than seven metres above sea level. We have the motivation. Australia with its wealth in space, smarts, and money has the means. Conclusion is; that if Australia can’t reduce carbon emissions enormously, no-one can; sink back onto your couch and choose your poison, complacency or despair. Selling our second generation of solutions to the world won’t impoverish us, the myriad appropriate technologies it’s going to take will be hot items. This thinking means we drop the idea of domestic nuclear power. What does Australia have to add to this technology? With so many remote communities we should already be the world leader in remote area micro power generation. Solar is already cheaper than diesel as soon as you have to cart the diesel. Solar is only going to get cheaper, diesel is only going to get more expensive. Get the policy in place today to put us where we want to be in five years.

Brad Ruting writes: The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration map replicated by David Green was quite revealing (yesterday, item 8). Not only is most of the world hotter than the 1961-1990 base period average, but the only large land-area that is significantly cooler is, funnily enough, the United States. Perhaps this is why their government is so unconcerned with signing the Kyoto Protocol or taking serious steps to mitigate climate change?

Graeme Major writes: John Howard allocates $90m for chaplains in schools, and $60m to save the world. Somehow that balance of priorities does not sit comfortably with me. 

Richard Hurford writes: Re. my comments in Tuesday’s Crikey on school chaplains and section 116 of the Constitution: Max Wallace of the Australian National Secular Association argued (yesterday, comments) that the DOGS High Court case defined separation of church and state in Australia out of existence. I don’t agree. Although there is no complete separation like the US, a partial separation remains. He (and the DOGS case) focus only on the “establishing a religion” prohibition. However, I am more concerned that John Howard’s proposal might contravene the “no religious test” prohibition. As far as I am aware, this has not been litigated. Mike Burke questioned (yesterday, comments) why chaplains for schools would be prohibited if chaplains in the three armed forces are OK. Armed forces chaplains could contravene the section. It depends on how they are appointed. Is anyone vetted and excluded because John Howard disapproves of them or their religion? I don’t think so. I also doubt anyone would have ever challenged the constitutionality of the role in the past. Who would deny a soldier the comfort of a chaplain when facing death for their country? Not me. I’m not going to the High Court for that. It’s Howard’s proposal that only Government approved mainstream Catholic, Protestant, Jewish or Islamic clerics can receive the federal funding (and Wiccans, Wahhabis and Scientologists can’t) that smells like a religious test. Picking favoured religions. To me, that is the classic example of the kind mixing of church and state that our founders did not want to occur.

Ken McLeod writes: I wonder how many of the critics (invariably right wingers such as Gerard Henderson and Miranda Devine) of Chris Masters’s Jonestown have actually read the book before arriving at their conclusions. I’m currently reading it and sometimes think that they must have read some other Jonestown or I live in a parallel universe. Likewise I wonder if the critics of global warming like Christian Kerr have actually read any of the science papers or just limit their “studies” to the gibberish of other right-wing doubters.

John Arbouw writes: Re. “‘The mining boom is over’ says Costello. Not so fast, says everyone else” (yesterday, item 1). Your comments on Costello and the end of the Chinese buying boom miss the point. Howard wants to give the punters another tax cut in May and Costello is merely talking down the expectations. It has nothing to do with the real world. It only another political chapter in the Howard/Costello saga.

Stephen Turner writes: For the ABC to cancel The Glass House, as it achieves some of its best ratings ever, and insist that it has nothing to do with the accusations of bias, is extremely difficult to believe. If this is what the ABC thinks it has to do to gain government favour, then the ABC will virtually cease to exist as a legitimate organisation. Because these right wing ideologues (it probably applies equally to left wing ideologues as well, but they’re not the ones in charge now so who cares) will never be satisfied, no matter how much you bow to their wishes. They will demand more and more changes until the ABC is effectively gone, which is probably their plan anyway. As for The Glasshouse, why is it so hard for some people to understand that political satire will always attack the party in power most of all, and we’ve had the Liberals for ten years now (twice the life of the show). In some ways, they should be pleased that a comedy show has provided a more consistent level of attack than the Opposition, no doubt part of the reason they’ve stayed in office so long.

Adam Schwab writes: Nick Shimmin (yesterday, comments) claimed that “every nutty statement by Fred Nile, Peter Jensen or George Pell [must be] representative of Australian Christians, since [I] clearly believe[s] Sheik Hilali speaks for all 300,000 Muslims.” Well, to an extent, the comments of Pell, Jensen and Nile do represent the communities they lead (of course, not all Catholics agree with Pell on every matter, while many moderate Muslims vehemently disagree with Hilali’s despicable comments). But however, “nutty” Shimmin believes they are, I cannot recall Pell, Jensen or Nile ever being reported as defending rape in a sermon to their congregants.

Mike Burke writes: Re. “Neil Robertson is the only Australian to win a world-ranking/professional snooker tournament. Ever.” (yesterday, comments). Horace Lindrum won the disputed “official” world snooker championship in 1952. Quibble about whether the breakaway events were the “real” world championship, but Lindrum’s name is in the records as world champion for the official governing body in 1952.

Barry Everingham writes: Reports from Canberra’s snooty Royal Golf Club this week reveal details of a luncheon attended by 150 former Australian ambassadors and high commissioners and their wives to talk over old times. Crikey’s National Capital snoop says that current foreign minister Alexander Downer’s speech was “an exercise in buffoonery which had most of the guests writhing with embarrassment”. The saving grace was a well reasoned and sensible report from current head of Downer’s department, Michael L’estrange, which rescued the main event from mediocrity. It will be another two years before the superannuated Excellencies meet again.

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