The Garnaut Review:
John Ward writes: Re. “Garnaut’s in and now Labor actually has to do something” (Friday, item 1). A NASA scientist named James Hansen offered a simple, straightforward and mind-blowing bottom line for the planet: 350, as in parts per million carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. It’s a number that may make what happened in Washington and Bali seem quaint and nearly irrelevant. It’s the number that may define our future. Twenty years ago, Hansen kicked off this issue by testifying before Congress that the planet was warming and that people were the cause. At the time, we could only guess how much warming it would take to put us in real danger. In the past five years, though, scientists began to worry that the planet was reacting more quickly than they had expected to the relatively small temperature increases we’ve already seen. The rapid melt of most glacial systems, for instance, convinced many that 450 parts per million was a prudent target. However, the data just keeps getting worse. We’re already at 383 parts per million, and it’s knocking the planet off kilter in substantial ways. So, what does that mean? It means that we’ve gone too far already. “The evidence indicates we’ve aimed too high — that the safe upper limit for atmospheric CO2 is no more than 350 ppm.” Professor Garnaut is basing his assumptions on 450 ppm. So where are we now? We are up the well known creek, in a barbed wire canoe, with a tennis racket for a paddle!
Ken Lambert writes: For those who get their science from Jane Fonda, Penny Wong must be a godsend. Her radio comment on the weekend that we should forget about nuclear power and leave it all to renewables betrays a cloud cuckoo land understanding of the numbers. Anyone who knows anything about Australia’s current and future demand for electricity would tell you that fossil fuels and nuclear are the only technologies able to meet the demand over the next 10 to 20 years. Some renewables are energy black holes (you put more in than you get out) which cannot survive without heavy energy subsidy from fossil fuels into the distant future. How crazy is that? Burn more fossil fuel than you need to so you can get less back from a wind powered solar panel! Ethanol from grain crops is an energy black hole – one of the silliest ideas yet – that’s why it appeals so much to George W Bush. And as for solar – the sun has not yet been persuaded to increase the energy it squirts on every square metre of the earth’s surface. That means mankind will always need to collect from huge and increasing areas to get anywhere near the demand for electricity now provided by central generation. So it’s wrong, wrong, wrong Ms Wong.
Willem Schultink writes: After Garnaut’s report, what excuse do we have for continuing to reject and neglect the only source of clean, non greenhouse gas emitting energy that can actually provide enough energy to meet the needs of our world – nuclear energy?
Richard Davoren writes: Re. “SBS’s “ad islands” are an inconvenient truth for Senator Conroy” (Friday, item 23). I am a regular viewer of SBS and I read with interest Glenn Dyer’s article. If I had the $5 million to spare I would pay SBS to take these advertisements off. It is the poor quality of the ads and the constant repetition that drives me insane. I can watch ads on the commercial channels and occasionally benefit by finding a cheap cut of meat or a super special at my local “bargain store”. But with SBS, every night I watch, I have to tolerate some poor wretch with prostate problems anything up to four times during a film. Or regularly watch some idiots playing piano to an audience of erectile dysfuntionists. Same tune always. And these are the better ads! The type of advertisements that SBS attracts are offensive at best. I doubt that the commercial channels would accept them as they would have their viewers reaching for the remote before the elderly gentleman has had his first two visits to the “bathroom”.
John Richardson writes: Re SBS’s “ad islands” are an inconvenient truth for Senator Conroy: Now that I appreciate how busy Shaun Brown, Carla Zampatti and the rest of the wrecking crew at SBS have been, wasting the corporation’s time and money spruiking legal justifications for their trashing of the organisation’s Charter & product offering, I can better understand why they have persistently refused to respond to questions directed to them on the same issue by members of the public, including long-time SBS viewers. Sponsored by the notorious little public vandal from Wollstonecraft, these luddites have provided us with yet another case study of management being seduced by the superficial attraction of gaudy short-term financial gain at the expense of the enterprise’s long-term health and value. I actually don’t care whether Conroy sticks to his principles or not, as I’ve already exercised the only power I have as a customer and simply switched-off. When the dopey advertisers ultimately wake-up to the fact that their audience has moved-on, they’ll vote with their cheque books, as they always do, and SBS will be finished.
Keating-esque behaviour in Parliament:
Martin Gordon writes: Re. “Parliament Question Time — a highlights package” (Friday, item 15). The furore over the cardboard cut-out PM Rudd brought the predictable apologists for the government to attack the Coalition. There is a (not particularly good) precedent for a PM not to attend parliament or answer questions and that was the last Labor PM Paul Keating. Arrogance seems to have arrived quickly with this government. It seems to be Keating in continuation.
Farewell Christian Kerr:
Chris Hunter writes: Re. “After eight fabulous years, it’s farewell to Christian Kerr” (Friday, item 6). Yup, sure got the tinge of regret in Stephen Mayne’s voice — Christian Kerr, Crikey’s man in Canberra — off to another workplace. It was amusing to read Stephen’s reminiscence of that early meeting with Kerr — Kerr’s audacity coupled with his obvious creative frustration needing an out — not the first Adelaide personality to take on a literary disguise. That Christian was “poached” tells more about Mayne than it does Kerr — I guess this all fits in with the “tinge of regret”, after all, was not Stephen Mayne Crikey’s “biological” mother? So the prodigal “son” has fled the nest, and no matter how gawky he may look in his new environment I certainly wish him well. As a die-hard green activist (sorry, but I don’t hug bloody shrubs) I too will miss him. He inspired debate. He was brave and (not that I called him on the dog and bone) his line was always open and I respect that kind of journalist. He was an iconoclast and whether or not he can genuinely continue as one in his brand new livery is anybody’s guess, but unfortunately I won’t be reading him.
Chris Graham writes: On the upside, now I finally have a defendable reason to read The Australian newspaper. Farewell Christian Kerr.
Robyn Foskett writes: Thanks Christian. Hope your new era is rewarding and satisfying.
Rundle in the US:
Mikey Hughes writes: Re. “US08: Old gray lady kicks American hero in the balls” (Friday, item 2). Guy Rundle should come with a warning. Rundle wrote: “…the attractive Ms Iseman, of whom the paper published a photo from some ball – looking so shiny you could have set fire to an ant-farm just by angling her at the sun.” If I had not just finished taking a sip of my diet coke when I read this I would have hosed down a very expensive monitor. I demand hilarity warnings on all Rundle correspondence from now on.
Guy Rundle writes: I thank John Boyd (comments, Friday) for his praise of Thursday’s article but his correction is in error. Euler’s constant is e. The number Boyd is referring to (0.577 etc) is the Euler-Mascheroni constant.
Leeanne Bland writes: I think Jack Vaisman’s response (Friday, comments) misses the point. Of course it is terrible that men once suffered in silence and of course men do need to know about the services. The question is: Do my five year old and seven year old need to know about it too? I don’t think they do. And as their parent, I think it should be my decision. This does not mean I am not frank with them, or that I am “uncomfortable” in discussing s-x with them. I am not. I always answer their questions honestly. And if they asked me about the ads on the billboards or shopper dockets I would explain that to them too. But I don’t think it is up to Jack Vaisman to make that decision for me. Yes, there is far more explicit material being hurled at children, but it is NOT appearing on billboards and shopper dockets. I control what my children watch on television and I control what web sites they surf. As for the clothing brand FCUK – fortunately my children aren’t aware of any other less socially acceptable word that looks similar to this, so there is no issue with it. No-one is denying that men need to know about these services. But billboards and shopper dockets aren’t the only way to communicate them.
Terence Hogan writes: Sorry to go on about this but to read Brett Davidson’s support (Friday, comments) of the clunky and distracting ABC logo is very disheartening and that “bug on the windscreen” thing just doesn’t, err, wash. Even otherwise admirable corporations need no encouragement to insist that their mistakes are triumphs, and this is simply a design mistake. Why six separate elements (three letters, a numeral, a blue square and a Lissajous curve)? Surely just a Lissajous followed by a numeral would be elegant and complete, and this compact design then subtly embossed in a similar manner to the Channel 7 logo. We know it signals the ABC and don’t need it spelt out to us.
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