Tim Fischer goes to Rome:

John Goldbaum writes: Re. “Fischer’s costly new job in Rome rewards Mr Nice Guy” (yesterday, item 8). What a shemozzle! Tony Abbott should have been appointed our ambassador to the Vatican. He already speaks their language. Tim Fischer can’t even speak ours. Tony could have been billeted by Amanda Vanstone in Rome. That would save one million dollars on a new ambassadorial residence. All he would then need is a $77 per day food and trinket allowance, just like World Youth Day. His column in The Australian could be given to a priest or brother who has more hands-on experience in religious affairs.

The Murray Darling:

Russell Boyd writes: Re. “How to do a “murraydarling” i.e.: absolutely nothing” (Monday, item 1). Congratulations to those who feel agriculture takes more than its fair share of water from the Murray River; you are winning the war against farmers. The combined effects of drought and zero water allocations over the past two years have now finally forced farmers from their farms. In the small NSW Riverina town of Barham, there are now only three dairy farms remaining, out of an original thirteen. Under changes brought in by the Federal and State Governments, new water distribution regulations mean some farmers no longer have a water allocation and therefore cannot sell their farms. Some farmers are simply walking off their land, unable to go on, now completely ruined. Worse is the fact that as a nation, we have deserted our farmers. Blame the drought, blame the farmers if you will, but this is a very bleak situation for all of us. When farmers no longer produce as much milk and agricultural produce as before, prices will skyrocket, putting basic food items out of the reach of many in our communities. And city people in particular will wonder how it all happened. When we are forced to settle for Chinese milk powder, in lieu of fresh milk, I hope we all remember how the situation came to pass. Desert the farmers at our peril.

Mark Heydon writes: Re. “Tips and rumours” (yesterday, item 6). Crikey published: “I am puzzled by the interest John Brumby has in the Murray Darling water. I believe that the northern boundary of Victoria is the southern high water mark of the Murray River”. Obviously the Victorian intransigence in dealing with the issue is a blatant grab for more land!

Emissions trading:

Andrew Baxter writes: Martyn Smith (Monday, comments) doesn’t get it. A bad emissions trading system could easily set us back further than none at all. Currently Rudd’s is heading more towards spin, industry appeasement and (astonishingly yet again) massive windfall handouts to spectacularly profitable polluting industries with no doubt a pathetic emission reduction target coming up. The key political challenge of climate change policy is being able to show leadership in the face of corporate intimidation. Currently Rudd and Wong are failing the test that Garnaut set for them — i.e. resist the demands of corporate rent seekers. The current trajectory of the Green Paper will provide the grotesque spectacle of Australia’s worst polluting industries who have aggressively lobbied against action on climate change for over a decade, rewarded with free permits and subsidies while the very sectors we need to encourage — e.g. public transport, renewables and energy efficiency are penalised. Rudd had massive support for real action on climate change when elected, it’s not too late for him to act in the public interest rather than narrow corporate interest but time is running out. Rudd and Wong don’t get it and they are letting the carbon polluters hijack the policy debate a la John Howard. People outside the Canberra political elite get climate change — it’s the insiders and the major party pollies who can’t shake their cult of big business worship that don’t.

Tom Richman writes: Re. “Mungo: Now for the argy bargy on carbon trading” (Monday, item 13). So the big refiners et al have threatened to go offshore or stop investing if they don’t get ETS compensation. That sounds like blackmail to me. And isn’t blackmail illegal?

World Youth Day:

Timothy Condren writes: Re. “WYD wash-up: NSW put on a great party (even if it snubbed most)” (yesterday, item 13). Having gone to Catholic Schools, been a regular church goer etc — I’m wondering where the news is in 500,000 Catholics going to the races? Most of the Priests probably had tickets to the members’ enclosure.

Christian Kent writes: What happened to The Oz yesterday? Two meagre sheets of paper for the front section (eight pages)? Any less and it would be a wraparound for the business pages. Not that I’m complaining. WYD’s over; if there’s no news, there’s no point filling it with stuffing.

Disappointed in Crikey probing:

Neville Mills writes: Re. “Briefly Business: ABC not ABC, petrol, new NAB loan” (yesterday, item 26). In yesterday’s Crikey there is a link to an article in the WSJ questioning why there is no outrage in the US aimed at Wall Street and the regulators. It begs the question, “Why has Crikey been so slow to criticise the Treasury Secretary and head of the Federal Reserve.” They are incompetent and largely to blame for a monumental financial crisis that the world did not have to have. Despite this there has been practically no harsh criticism from the Australian media. This is not surprising as they are so often gutless and loathe to challenge the US. I am surprised and disappointed that Crikey is in the same boat.

Triple threat global warming cage match:

Mark Hardcastle writes: Tamas Calderwood (yesterday, comments) rightfully condemns arguments on global warming that are “inconsistent”. Yet he seems unaware of the inconsistency involved in cherry-picking data from the observed temperature record. On Friday Calderwood ignores the strong underlying warming trend to infer an end to global warming, saying “world atmospheric temperatures have plateaued since 1998”. Then on Tuesday (after being presented with similar “plateaus” in 1981, 1991 and 2005) he dismisses the “average” drawn from the same data-set, saying that the “statement that temperatures since 1998 are above average is meaningless”. Calderwood next skewers a straw man by setting up the fantasy argument that carbon-dioxide “is the sole reason for recent temperature increases”. Genuine sceptics ought to acknowledge the difference between this straw man and the genuine conclusion that human induced increase in greenhouse gas concentrations is responsible for “[m]ost of the observed increase in global average temperatures”.

Harold Thornton writes: Tamas Calderwood feigns incomprehension about my response to his first foray into climate change denial. Ironically, my earlier piece pointed to the anti-scientific nature of his and indeed most climate change denialism, where union night debating points substitute for the hard yakka of observation and scientific method. Calderwood’s latest “gotcha” arguments are comprehensively rebutted by the Garnaut Review Draft Report, chapters 3 and 5, and particularly pages 49-52. Garnaut also helpfully provides a list of sources for the further reading Calderwood (I have no doubt) won’t be bothering to do.

Glen Fergus writes: Please don’t just blindly regurgitate denyosphere misinformation. These things are easily checked. Atmospheric CO2 is indeed ~380ppm, but the claim that it contributes “less than 10%” of the natural greenhouse effect is deliberate misinformation. That figure is the immediate reduction which would result from instantaneous removal of all CO2. The actual reduction would be a vastly greater once the atmosphere cooled in response and dropped nearly all of its water vapour. A clearer way to view the question is to consider how much greenhouse effect would remain if all active gasses except CO2 were removed. The answer then is 25% (IPCC 1990). Also, the net CO2 “production” from natural systems was exactly zero until we got started (the concentration was constant), so human production now could hardly be 5% of that, could it?

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