ALP candidate for Moreton, Graham Perrett, writes: Re. “An electoral own goal or Hardgrave’s hard luck story” (yesterday, item 9). The ALP plebiscite that confirmed the candidate for Moreton occurred on 9 October 2006. I won this with 75% of the vote. Even before the plebiscite I had been campaigning solidly throughout Moreton since the beginning of 2005. I started street stalls last weekend and look forward to working hard to make sure the good people of Moreton receive a dedicated, honest, hard working, relevant, local voice down in Canberra. Eleven years is too long to listen to the broken record of broken promises that is Hardgrave.

The Australian’s Opinion Page Editor, Tom Switzer, writes: Re. your item yesterday (Tips and rumours – item 5): It is true that I am married to Malcolm Tunbull’s media adviser, and I do believe in full disclosure about these matters so that readers are not left in the dark about any potential conflicts of interest. Which is why the disclosure was made in Janet Albrechtsen’s column on Wednesday. See the second last paragraph: “I must confess to being surrounded by Turnbull admirers. My husband is a long-time friend and supporter, while the editor of this page is married to Turnbull’s media adviser. These boosters might all be wrong. But it will surely be fascinating to watch.” Due to a production error, it was taken out in the second print edition, but it remains online. Also, while I was critical of a left-liberal bias at the ABC, I did not, contrary to your item yesterday, slam ABC journalists such as Maxine McKew for being “Labor hacks”. I merely said that her decision to work for the Labor party is hardly surprising, given that an internal and incestuous culture, with its deeply entrenched set of soft-left opinions, colours much of the public broadcaster’s output.

Damien Toogood writes: I have a solution for the housing and environmental crisis; the reintroduction of an urban planning model that is age old, sustainable, energy efficient, cheap and sociable. A desirable and spacious attached house can be built on 90 square metres of land. This density of housing then supports a network of shops, movie theatres, workplaces etc etc that are within walking distance. Or at very least far less spread than the average suburb. Utilities and infrastructure costs for the community are low. Pollution and energy usage is lower. Heating and cooling costs and lower. Water usage drops. Meanwhile, Sydney expands on the premise that a house has to occupy a minimum 350 square metres of land. Urban planning is based on the car, not on communities. Surely if blocks were smaller, the cost of infrastructure passed to buyers would plummet, as would the cost of the land and the house itself. The cost to the community of freeways, schools etc etc would plummet. Our mentality has to shift from quantity of land to quality of living. Just because we have a vast continent and beautiful coastline doesn’t mean it makes economic or environmental sense to spread ourselves out as far as the car will allow.

Mike Martin writes: Stuart Glazebrook (yesterday, comments) appears, in questioning man-made global warming, to be suffering from gross adverbial and adjectival over-sufficiency and a severe shortage of facts. He asks for “one irrefutable, non-emotive, scientifically incontrovertible element of proof that man has contributed” to global warming. Science does not provide irrefutable, incontrovertible proof of any scientific theory. This is why physicists continue to scratch their heads over, for example, Einstein’s theory of relativity (which of course contradicted Isaac Newton’s theory of gravity). A century after relativity theory was formulated and long after its successful application to the design of nuclear bombs, scientists are still wondering if there is something seriously wrong with it. The consensus view about global warming that Glazebrook disparages is in fact a consensus that, despite all efforts to date by sceptical scientists, nobody has come up with a better explanation for current climate change than that it is due to increasing concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, and that the increasing concentration is substantially due to human activity. It is unclear whether Glazebrook denies that global climate is changing, or just that the change is substantially a consequence of human activity. If the former, the Bureau of Meteorology has on its website a useful collection of trend charts and datasets which he might like to consult.

Mark Byrne writes: Stuart Glazebrook claims that the evidence for man-made global warming is derived from little more than complex computer models. This claim fails to acknowledge the basic physics of heat trapping greenhouse gases. Svante Arrhenius didn’t use computers when in 1896 he calculated that doubling atmospheric CO2 would cause a temperature rise of five degrees Celsius. Glazebrook also requests “one irrefutable, non-emotive, scientifically incontrovertible element of proof” that man has contributed to global warming. This is quite a limiting request, simply because any scientific theory, such as the theory of gravity and theory of evolution are explained with a sequence of evidence, rather than a single element of evidence. However, given Glazebrook’s lack of acknowledgement of the relationship between CO2 and temperature, I would nominate for him, the robust correlation between CO2 and temperature as demonstrated by the analysis of Antarctic ice cores running from present to 400 thousand years ago (graphic link). At the risk of exceeding Glazebrook’s limit, I’d add that current CO2 concentrations now exceed all records for ice core data.

Chris Cormack writes: Mr Glazebrook’s comments highlight the polar nature of current debate in Crikey and more widely on human induced climate change. As a fact we know that over the last few years the Earth has been warming (as compared to the last 150 years at least) and we also know that the concentration of carbon dioxide, methane and other so-called greenhouse gases have been increasing in the Earth’s atmosphere. We know that many of our activities contribute to this increased gas concentration. While we can’t say for sure that our emissions contribute to this warming, on the balance of probability the majority of climate scientists believe that they do. As the only way to find out if the dire environmental consequences predicted by climate modelling are true or not is to keep doing what we are doing and see what happens, it seems prudent to take some action. What we also know is that with incremental change to our lifestyle/energy production/travel methods etc. we can probably seriously reverse this pattern of emissions in 40 to 50 years. Where the debate is in Europe and in many US and Australian boardrooms now is: how can we make the most of this? Where are the opportunities? What is the cheapest source of greenhouse gas abatement? How can reduce our emissions? Sure, it’s probably a fad, but capitalism thrives on innovation and the next area of innovation seems to be green – renewable energy, sustainable development, energy efficiency, carbon trading and the financial/trading systems and capital that follows it. A corollary is the improved energy security situation and the development of new industry (perhaps even export !). But it seems to me that it comes down to which dire circumstances you believe – dire climatic outcomes of the IPCC or dire economic outcomes that those who believe a move toward emission reductions will bring. Both are probably overstated, but even a large blip on the economic radar in the 2010’s will probably mean very little to us or our kids or grand kids compared to major climatic change in 40 to 50 years’ time.

Daniel Patman writes: Re. Stuart Glazebrook’s comment (yesterday, comments), a safer risk management strategy would be to prove us humans aren’t causing global warming; only then can we justify continuing our rapacious ways. Over to you.

Gail Lane writes: Re. “Howard drops Australia’s affair with multiculturalism” (yesterday, item 2). Richard Farmer’s comment about the underlying xenophobia of Australians is a bit of a sweeping statement. I readily admit to being a tad concerned about the extent of political correctness in this country, and feel increasingly uneasy that fundamentalist religious beliefs – of whatever stripe – appear to be undermining our sense of community and in the process creating divisions and suspicion in our society, and the perception that our relaxed way of life is under threat. Multiculturalism has failed because of the refusal of some immigrants to let go of their previous way of life and conflicts to embrace the lifestyle they, presumably, came here to enjoy. Unfortunately, it is these failures that have overshadowed the positive achievements, which never make the news.

John Goldbaum writes: I refer to Christian Kerr’s “Political bite-sized meaty chunks” (yesterday, item 8) where he refers to the bunch of DICs running the Department of Immigration and Citizenship. Does that make Kevin Andrews a DIC-head?

Mike Burke writes: Yesterday’s editorial stated, “… even The Chaser‘s Chas Licciardello, who draped himself in an Australian flag outside a Sydney courtroom after being found innocent on a charge of offensive behaviour”. What is it about journalists that leads to their apparently universal inability to understand the most important and, indeed, the most simple, fundamental premise of our legal system? Chas Licciardello was not “found innocent on a charge of offensive behaviour”. He was found “not guilty”. He always was innocent. If journalists are either too stupid or too obtuse to get that simple concept right, what business do they have to be writing about it?

Cameron Stuart writes: Re. Optus customer service. I have to disagree with Adam Schwab (23 January, item 17) and his criticisms of the customer service provided by Optus. While the staff are not perfect, they are far and away superior to the the cloth-eared clueless twits employed by Telstra and Vodafone. In the decade Optus has been my mobile carrier, it has been an overwhelmingly positive experience for me. Never have i waited for longer than five mins for my call to be answered.

Bill C writes: Re. Crikey’s new editor (yesterday, editorial). Has anyone told Christian that Crikey is now to be edited by a Green?

Send your comments, corrections, clarifications and c*ck-ups to [email protected]. Preference will be given to comments that are short and succinct: maximum length is 200 words (we reserve the right to edit comments for length). Please include your full name – we won’t publish comments anonymously unless there is a very good reason.

Peter Fray

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