World Youth Day and George Pell:

Christopher Ridings writes: Re. “Cardinal Pell’s (white) baby push is environmental madness” (yesterday, item 9). WYD organisers must surely be praying for Cardinal Pell to be afflicted with severe laryngitis during the rest of the Pope’s visit. Not only is the Cardinal’s plea for more Western (only) babies environmentally stupid, it is the most blatantly racist remark heard in years from an Australian church leader, albeit unaccountable to any other Australian, and we would do well to be severely embarrassed by this crass blast from the past. It is insulting to the many young pilgrims from non-Western countries braving Sydney’s cold to come here. Among them could well be a future pope, if by then they have the good sense to elect a married woman.

James Harper writes: Willem Schultink (yesterday, comments) takes exception to Bernard Keane’s labelling of Christians as “superstitious people“. He doesn’t explain why such a label would be wrong and upon checking in the Concise Oxford Dictionary I can see why: “superstition: 1) credulity regarding the supernatural. 2) an irrational fear of the unknown or mysterious. 3 misdirected reverence. 4 a practice, opinion, or religion based on these tendencies.” Sounds like Christianity to me and certainly not the intellectual sloth that Willem accuses Bernard of.

Steve Robinson writes: It has been very interesting watching, from the sidelines, some of the commentary around World Youth Day and Bernard Keane’s criticism’s of it — in particular his attack on superstition. It should perhaps be noted in passing that the Latin “superstitio” is (according to Max Weber) the Latin translation of the Greek “ecstasies”. This latter term was contrasted within early church teachings with “religio” which stood for all that was good and fine and properly Christian — whilst “superstitio” was everything that which Christianity wished to distance itself from — all that nasty pagan and pre-Christian enjoyment of the body and so on — witness George Pell, Fred Nile et al for contemporary examples of this world view. In any case the distinction between “religio” and “superstitio” remained in place up until the Enlightenment when those French ruffians like Voltaire started to brand the Christian religion itself superstitious. Imagine! It’s a funny old world really — plus ça change…

Chris Davis writes: I disagree vehemently with Walt Hawtin (yesterday, comments); in responding to Bernard Keane’s rightful assertion that too many laws are made to force some concept of Christian morality on all people. I don’t care if the rest of us are 25% or ultimately the 75% that don’t regularly attend a church — why do these types always insist on telling others how to live and to raise their children. Walt, the Pope and many others should happily live with their families and their Christian morals, and let others happily live with their own secular morals. Go Bernard for one his best articles I have read.

Noel Courtis writes: Has WYD really upset Crikey for some reason? Maybe upset your travel plans? It appears to be a large number of young people, and some not so young, enjoying themselves. If they were all drunk and shooting up drugs would you be happy? I know it has upset some people with the road closures etc but from here is Brisbane it seems a happy event!

Crikey’s green paper:

Peter Wood writes: Re. “Crikey’s green paper: these are the climate options” (yesterday, item 2). A cap and trade scheme is not more or less market based than a carbon tax — the difference is that a carbon tax involves the regulator setting the price, leading to a reduction in emissions; a cap and trade scheme involves the regulator setting the amount of emissions, with the market determining the permit price. The issue is uncertainty — nobody knows how much emission reductions you will get for a given carbon tax level, and nobody knows what the carbon price will be for a given level of the cap. The problem with a pure cap and trade scheme is that it is very difficult to choose an emissions reduction trajectory when much of the recent science suggests that it would be prudent to reduce emissions as quickly as possible to a level somewhere around zero. The best way to introduce a carbon price is therefore a hybrid scheme where there is an emissions cap and a price floor, but no price cap. Garnaut has made some valid criticisms of hybrid schemes where the price floor is maintained by the regulator buying back permits. But there is another way of having a price floor — firms simply pay an extra fee when they exercise their permits, based on the amount of their emissions. The carbon price then becomes equal to the sum of the permit price and the extra fee. This is similar to having emissions trading scheme and a carbon tax.

Keith Thomas writes: Bernard Keane missed the big climate option: restore the Earth’s natural processes — which have the potential to sequester easily all the carbon from global fossil fuel emissions. Before we felled the original forests and destroyed rich soils (beginning with the [once] Fertile Crescent), nature was extracting from the atmosphere every year up to 40 times as much CO2 as we now emit annually from fossil fuels. To date we have released some 300 GTC from fossil fuels and we release a further seven GTC each year. Even today nature biosequesters 60-70 gigatonnes of carbon (GTC) annually. The famous saw-tooth Keeling graph shows how, for six months every year, the forests are still ahead of our game. By restoring healthy natural forest cover by 200 million hectares, Australia could biosequester 25% of the world’s annual carbon emissions. Is this too gentle, too green? Is it too difficult to admit that nature knows best?

The Wilkins Ice Shelf:

Stephen Luntz writes: Re. “Can somebody please explain the Wilkins Ice Shelf” (yesterday, item 11). Unlike most of the people who label themselves “sceptics” on Climate Change, I think Richard Farmer really is interested in getting the truth. He’s just looking for it in the wrong place. If you want to know why the increase in ice around parts of Antarctica doesn’t undermine predictions of global warming you don’t need to look at data on exactly how much ice change there is, you look to see whether this actually contradicts the climatologists’ expectations. Answer: it doesn’t. As usual, you can get most of what you need at Real Climate. Here’s the most pertinent piece. The short version is that a combination of changes to ocean currents and airflow around Antarctica mean that warming there was always expected to lag far behind the rest of the planet. Ozone depletion has also played a part. The fact that Antarctic temperatures are not changing much is just what the most sophisticated models suggested would happen. If anything it should bolster our confidence that these models have the rest of the planet right.

Greg Samuelson writes: Did Richard Farmer actually speak to a real scientist at Colorado’s National Snow and Ice Data Center or NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies to help him properly comprehend their charts, or does his research involve just sitting at his desk and Googling stuff? If the latter, Crikey should seriously consider dispensing with his “services” as a climate change commentator.

The battle for Warringah:

John Goldbaum writes: Re. “Liberals saddle a Trojan horse for Warringah election” (yesterday, item 10). Although Jason Falinski would make a wonderful mayor, councillor or MP, Warringah will send him packing. As a boy who grew up in North Bondi, I would like to remind Jason of the age-old rivalry between the two stretches of beach. Surfers from the northern beaches used to taunt us with the question: “Why are Bondi boys so girly?” The answer was: “Because they are far from Manly.”


Ronald Watts writes: Thank you, Peter Logue (yesterday, comments), for pointing out the error in my data source on fugitive emissions from coal mining. That source is now crossed off the list. It must be a glum time to be a steaming coal miner, though, if geosequestration is its salvation. The coal-fired electricity industry has to throw out two thirds of its valuable product (viz energy) and will struggle in a carbon-constrained world. Geosequestration can only make this number worse. Apart from the industry’s own cash, there isn’t an investment rush into geosequestration, unlike many other energy options. It’s hard to imagine coal as energy being competitive in 10-20 years, the time proponents think geosequestration will take to work, but I hope I am wrong.

Glenn Mine:

Peter Lloyd writes: Re. “Milne: dwarf off the drip turns grumpy” (Monday, item 10). A common thread links The Australian’s attacks on the ABC and Fairfax, and the attempts by Glenn Milne to remain relevant: the fact is the print arm of News Limited, while it can rouse a rabble against Muslims and provide a vent for the unthinking and transitory “issues” relevant to footy fans, has a rather limited ability to influence the real political agenda. News is completely tabloid and partisan, but it cannot influence people because its tabloids latch too easily onto brainless, short-term positions such as confected outrage at the cost of petrol, while The Oz is prone to pushing irrelevant hobby-horses of its Bill O’Reilly-in-print columnists, all of whom have become so discredited by recent events as to be risible. Fortunately for our democracy, and despite their otherwise-constant attacks on it, many Labor leaders have come to understand that they don’t have to talk to the Glenn Milnes or Alan Jones of the world, and neither they nor the public gain anything by their so doing. I very much hope this will lead to the withering of these idiots, and their replacement with thinking, independent journalists, of whom there are in fact many at News, it’s just they have to work quietly.

Top Gear is tops:

Adam Paull writes: Re. “Media briefs and TV ratings: Quadrant denial, BB founder’s new plan” (yesterday, item 20). Come on Glenn — you’re continual digs against the popular SBS program Top Gear are becoming a little tiresome. You don’t like the show — we get it. Bemoaning that it is “dominated by expensive cars that go fast” is a just a bit hard to take seriously — the show is ABOUT expensive cars that go fast! The name of the show is the first clue… It’s as ridiculous as complaining there is too much Crime Scene Investigating in CSI, too many myths in Mythbusters, or even too many cows in The Famer Wants a Wife. As for calling it “a sort of Big Brother for revheads,” that’s pistols-at-ten-paces stuff — what an insult! There are a million differences between the two programs, not the least of which is that Top Gear is still going to be on air next year…

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