Emissions trading and the Catholic Church:

Kieran Masel writes: Re. “Here come the rentseekers” (Friday, item 1). I think there is a link between the current debate about an Emissions Trading Scheme and the Papal visit. If you look at the details of an emissions trading scheme, it includes measuring and policing carbon emissions. This is very difficult, if not impossible. This reminds me of the Catholic Church selling indulgences in the early 16th century. Priests sold indulgences to parishioners so the parishioner would not have to serve time in purgatory for their sins. Worried parishioners could also buy indulgences for their dearly departed relatives so they also would escape damnation. This raised a lot of money for the Church and no-one could prove if the indulgence functioned as advertised. One of the worst offenders was Johann Tetzel. He would advertise his services with the slogan: “As soon as the coin in the coffer rings/ the soul from purgatory springs!” The carbon offset industry could come up with their own version of Tetzel’s slogan: “Just a quick swipe of the credit card/ global warming we will retard!” I don’t know if an emission trading scheme will stop global warming but it will make some people a lot of money.

Margaret Dingle writes: It is ironic that the road freight industry is being given a one year holiday from carbon pricing by excise reduction but the more energy efficient rail transport, apparently is not. I shed no tears, however, for the grossly favoured high emissions aviation industry. And I haven’t noticed public transport being mentioned as one of the sectors where the less rich members of the public will be compensated for carbon pricing. Since the motorists have effectively a five-year respite from carbon pricing, the intervening five years should see a rapid roll-out of a greatly extended and upgraded public transport system, so that at the end of five years, one of the “decisions” they can make will be to use public transport.

Mark Hardcastle writes: Tamas Calderwood (Friday, comments) can show that global warming stopped in 1998. Coincidentally global warming also stopped in 1981, then again in 1991, before stopping again in 2005. The odd thing is; will solar activity at the bottom of its cycle, and with the current La Nina cooling effect: why then are global temperatures still higher than average? Perhaps CO2 concentrations might be the underlying reason?

Harold Thornton writes: Tamas Calderwood keeps banging on about the need for “caution” and “pragmatism” in dealing with climate change. Let’s try his brilliant argument technique on another phenomenon where science meets self-interest: smoking’s relationship with lung cancer. My mate Shane smokes even more today than he did two years ago, and yet his health is just fine. And there are people dying of lung cancer who have never smoked. This inconsistency between recent observations and lung health predictions suggests that caution and pragmatism should guide our smoking policy. If we were to deny this empirical smoking data and embark on a crash program to cut smoking anyway, it sure would be a huge victory for the anti-smoking “mafia” (to use one of Tamas’s terms).

The Green Paper:

Martyn Smith writes: Re. “Spinning the Green Paper 1: a better sell than the budget” (Friday, item 8). Adam Kilgour’s item was a breath of fresh air. A very fair summation but I diverge from him when he says that all except the Opposition (of course) are showing the maturity to knuckle down and sort the problem. I think the “balanced scribes” in Murdoch’s press (they have a chip on each shoulder) and some in Crikey aren’t much different. Whilst it is par for the course to be criticised in politics I can’t remember any politician copping it quite like Kevin Rudd. From the moment he became Leader of the then Opposition ALP he, his wife, his honesty, efficiency and intestinal fortitude, even his deputy’s hair style, have been remorselessly and vindictively attacked by the press. His government has come to power at a very difficult time. It’s a relief that they are in charge rather than the former Government. In a democracy one has to take people (including special interest groups) along with you and this is what is called the art of the possible. We in Australia have been so lucky for so long it will take time for us to grasp that there is no longer a guaranteed free lunch. Rudd has to get this through to us. We will see if I am wrong, but I look forward to several of the media commentators including some in Crikey, eating “humble pie” in a decade or so when Kevin Rudd is praised for farsighted policies. Please give the man a fair go, he and we deserve it.

World Youth Day:

Thomas Flynn writes : Re. “WYD: Sydney converted, it’s time to rein-in Spain” (17 July, item 2). What a lot of confused malice in Nicholas Pickard’s article. He accuses Cardinal Pell of being a member of Opus Dei, as though that were something to be ashamed of. In fact the Cardinal was ordained to the priesthood for the diocese of Ballarat in 1966 which means he could not possibly be a member of Opus Dei because then he would have been ordained for the Personal Prelature of Opus Dei. Although some members of Opus Dei are ordained priest, men who are already priests cannot join Opus Dei. They might join the priestly society of the Holy Cross but so far as I know (and clearly neither does Pickard) Cardinal Pell isn’t a member of that either. As for the rest — the fact that Pickard can only see the Church in political terms through the prism of left and right — notions invented at the time of the French Revolution when the Church was 18 centuries old and inadequate to deal with politics (what is Kevin Rudd, left right or middle? and how does that explain both the Aboriginal apology and his reaction to the Henson photographs?), much less anything else — all this means that Pickard’s vulgar rants against “restorationist spirituality” (is there any other kind?) can safely be ignored. And if he is the one writing your anti-WYD editorials, well so much the worse for them.

Denise Marcos writes: World Youth Day is over. Thank Christ.

David Nolan writes: When will a media commentator state the obvious truth, that the Stations of the Cross was the greatest piece of overwrought, overdone, poor amateur theatricals this country has ever seen. Just imagine how it may have been if Cardinal Pell had had his way and Mel Gibson had been employed to direct it. What pap to put before a Papal person.

Graham Edney writes: Re. Rick Nehmy (Friday, comments). He does look like Ben Hur but shut your eyes when he’s reading a speech in English — he’s absolutely Dr Strangelove without the wheelchair.

Duncan Beard writes: Re. “Media briefs: Fairfax phony war, sign of the devil” (Friday, item 20). Crikey wrote: “We think he’s [World Youth Day pilgrim] probably just a fan of Judas Priest … which the Pope probably doesn’t approve of anyway…” I daresay that the Pope doesn’t approve of Judas Priest. The band’s lead singer, Rob Halford, came out in 1988, becoming the first heavy metal star to publicly declare his homos-xuality.

Jason Falinski:

Wendy Harmer writes: In Friday’s edition of Crikey, David Hand (Friday, comments) accuses me of writing “satire” about Jason Falinski. In fact, the quote he mentions: “Six days before Brogden quit the party’s leadership and made an attempt on his life, Falinski transferred his party membership from Vaucluse to Pittwater”, comes from the Daily Telegraph, not me. David Hand wonders why the media missed it at the time. They didn’t David. In fact, a cursory Google or two and I found it — here’s the link for your perusal.

Vader in Bondi:

Jeremy Bowell writes : Re. “Tips and rumours” (Friday, item 6). Regarding the “Spotted in Bondi” photo in Fridays “Tips and rumours”. Oops! Seems everyone has been fooled by the Darth Vader in Bondi photo. That photo was actually part of a series of photos taken in Iceland in June which can be found here. Still very funny though.

Tim Mackay writes: It threw me for a while because he was walking in the Eastern suburbs and not driving a Mercedes but I think that the guy in the black robes is a Jesuit. At least I think that’s how the other Catholic Orders traditionally see them. Thank you, now I finally understand why the Superior General of the Society of Jesus is known as the Black Pope.

Why doesn’t Batman dance anymore?:

Tony Carey writes: Re. “Video of the Day“. I really had a good laugh at the Batman clip, but it made me feel 10 years older! I think you mean 1966? Colour TV wasn’t even around in Oz in 1956. Keep up the good work and keep that Shark Repellent Spray handy!

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