Wong’s ETS:

David Gothard writes: Re. “Wong’s ETS is better than nothing, but not by much” (yesterday, item 3). Why should we choose a complex system when there is an obvious better solution? The simple answer is to use the Tax system. Levy a tax on those companies that produce Greenhouse gases on a rate per tonne produced. Include factories, electricity plants and vehicles. Use the funds derived to subsidise (by lower taxation) those industries which produce their products with nil or limited greenhouse gas.

Result will be a change in the prices of goods. Adjust the tax rates so that non-polluting products become cheaper and attract customers, and extra profits for these industries. Those who do not act to reduce their output of carbon dioxide will have to raise their prices, whilst those who do take action will be able to sell their product with lower prices. The consumers will very quickly favour the lower priced products.

A very simple solution but most effective. Overall, the tax could be adjusted so that there is nil cost to the Government and the solution will work automatically.

Geoff Russell writes: Rather like Nigel Brunel (yesterday, comments) I thought that when the Government announced their intention to introduce an ETS, that as long as they got something up and running this would be a great start and the details were of little consequence. I was wrong.

The degree to which the Government has got its CPRS wrong raises the serious prospect that for all their hand wringing and ashen faced sincerity, they don’t get it, never did get it, and have been simply telling porkies to us all. 5% is dismal, cap and trade is dismal because it sets a floor as well as a ceiling, and free permits are dismal.

That they have allowed and encouraged expansions of both coal and cattle only reinforces my belief in their mendacity.

Peter Costello:

Julian Gillespie writes: Re. “Turnbull walks the path of Opposition Leaders past” (yesterday, item 10). Yes, Peter Costello is an unfortunate man who is letting his mischievous “do nothing and let everyone else create my history” child run away with itself, while allowing it to be falsely portrayed that he is the cat with Malcolm as the mouse.

Ultimately this is a silly betrayal and a needless waste of time in everyone’s short lives. But his party is allowing him to roll in his own bitterness, so he must still instil fear and respect, though a misguided respect that appears to be based on outdated principles of loyalty.

Those principles need a radical revision, but being unwritten and “conventional” in so many respects, they have the ability to linger like the smell of a person long after they died. Malcolm, I believe, has this man’s measure and will simply sit through this tantrum until in one great huff, Peter the child, shrugs and walks out of the room…

WorkChoices:

Ava Hubble writes: Re. “Ideology can only hamper the opposition’s IR stand” (Monday, item 2). I know I keep on about this, but why is it, when discussing WorkChoices, that politicians and the pundits continually fail to mention Australia’s growing army of casuals? These workers virtually have no choices or rights or access to benefits like sick pay. Research reveals that one in three Australian workers is now engaged on a casual basis.

Yet Rudd, Gillard, Turnbull, Tanner et al seem oblivious to their plight. Increasingly, over the years, while politicians have argued about work choices and unfair dismissal legislation, small business and big business have increasingly taken advantage of the option of employing staff on a casual basis.

These workers can be legally dismissed at five minutes notice.

Abortion:

Russell Egan writes: Re. Yesterday’s editorial. The Federal Government is racking up $90b of debt and all of a sudden it is now also Australia’s foreign policy responsibility to fund safe abortions in developing countries? Can we please focus on domestic priorities for once instead of how we can fund the lifestyle choices of developing countries? Sometimes I think Crikey is just an offshoot of the Greens.

Public Health Association of Australia’s Jenny Ejlak writes: Re. “Australia gets an F for sexual and reproductive health” (yesterday, item 20). My article in yesterday’s Crikey contained reference to the AusAid guidelines continuing to have restrictions on abortion. This was written and submitted just before Minister Stephen Smith announced his decision to lift the restrictions. The Public Health Association of Australia welcomes the Minister’s decision and has sent him a letter of thanks and congratulations.

Doom and gloom:

George Worthington, Chief Economist, Asia-Pacific, IFR Markets, writes: Re. “Shoppers’ self-esteem edges lower” (yesterday, item 27). Sure, a net 84,000 jobs were lost in the year to January…” Does Glenn Dyer just make these numbers up? Looking at the data, the number of people unemployed rose by that number. Not the same thing at all. In fact the ABS says that 100,700 jobs were created over the period. Unemployed + Employed = Labour Force (up 185k).

Soon there won’t be any need to exaggerate what is likely to be a depressing situation, but in the meantime let’s get the facts right.

Online voting for CEOs:

Ralph McKay, CEO, BigPulse.com online voting, writes: Re. “Director’s club gorges on fees bonanza” (yesterday, item 30). Why is public company CEO remuneration out of control? Political leaders are paid a tiny fraction in comparison, as are top managers in the non-profit sector. We are told it’s necessary to compete in the international CEO market. Just how efficient is this CEO market?

The listed companies managed by the CEOs compete for capital in the global equities markets. This is free market capitalism at its best — competition regulated for transparency and fair play. It’s the most efficient mechanism known for setting the fair market value of a company. Yet the market for public company CEOs the world over operates more like a rigged market. Shareholders get a non-binding vote on a deal already done by the board behind closed doors. A choice between one and none is not a choice. And it’s not a real vote in more ways than one.

The democracy of the parliament killed off real democracy in the equities markets with compulsory super. The financial institutions dominated by the super funds control the voting rights. Vast amounts of capital are transferred from ordinary workers to the super funds along with their voting rights. How many super funds ask their members how they should vote with their capital? Those with super can answer. However diligent the super funds may be they have failed on the CEO pay issue. The outrage at CEO pay is coming from the ordinary worker, forced to hand over capital along with their voting rights.

An enlightened board could set an example by inviting anyone with a published biography and asking price to nominate for CEO then invite shareholders to participate in a secure preferential vote. No vote is wasted and a fair market result is guaranteed. Dissatisfied shareholders might call for competitive offers and a vote on the entire board plus CEO team.

However it will not be a fair vote until the superannuants are all invited to vote their share of the capital — a kind of reverse proxy back to the real owners. When offered a choice the vast majority of people choose online voting over paper voting. Online direct voting is already common place in the non profit sector.

It’s vastly more secure with an audit trail, flexible, convenient, green and much cheaper than paper voting. Yet it’s rare for public company boards to offer direct voting even by paper. It’s entirely practical to offer superannuants an online vote on the relative portion of their shares.

Technically it’s a straightforward application of existing well seasoned technology.

Coal:

Greenpeace spinner Dan Cass writes: Peter Logue (Tuesday, comments) just adds fuel to the fire of concern about the undue power of the coal industry. Logue admits that big coal is “lobbying the Government for fair treatment as an emissions intensive, trade exposed industry”.

In the context of climate change, coal is not “an” industry, it is “the” industry. Coal is the core problem, and once we solve it, everything else becomes relatively easy to fix. As everyone knows, “fair treament” for coal is code for getting free hand-outs to keep polluting, while millions of ordinary Australians are penalised for doing their bit to cut their emissions through voluntary action.

If the ACA is serious about climate change, it would have a “Plan B” to cope with the fact that CCS is not scalable in time to have any serious impact on cutting emissions.

What will the ACA do to transition justly, out of coal? I challenge you Peter, to reveal your just transition Plan B or admit that the ACA puts coal profits above the environment and the economic future of coal workers.

Your industry has a long history of disdain for its own workers and their rights and there is no evidence of a change of heart now.

Hitler, Gandhi, Churchill et al:

Niall Clugston writes: If I can pedantically quibble with Bruce Graham’s “pedantic quibble” (yesterday, comments), I’d dispute his suggestion that Hitler was not inspired by the British Empire. He was, and also by the American frontier, exemplified by his love of Karl May’s Westerns. And unlike Graham, I’m sure he’d heard of Gandhi. Incidentally though Mussolini might have suggested shooting him, Gandhi described the Italian dictator as a “superman”. But that’s politics.

Peter Lloyd writes: Just an addition to the recent to-and-fro about who suggested the British shoot Gandhi. Given that the Mahatma almost single-handedly destroyed the British dream of a secular, united subcontinent, with his shameless appeal to Hindu nationalism and a false dream of an old world utopia, and given that Pakistan has nuclear weapons and no prospect for it’s educated, progressive minority to take power from the religious, superstitious, gun-toting rural majority, the day could soon be upon us when the world will pay a very high price for Gandhi’s success.

Ken Lambert writes: In regards to my response (Tuesday, comments) to Guy Rundle’s rant about the “imperial” racist Winston Churchill, these gems are required reading:

Winston on the Amritsar massacre of 1919 in which 379 Indians were killed and 1500 wounded:

It is an extraordinary event, a monstrous event, an event which stands in singular and sinister isolation … the most frightful of spectacles, the strength of civilization without its mercy.

Adolph Hitler to Britain’s Foreign Secretary Lord Halifax in 1937:

Shoot Gandhi, and if that does not suffice to reduce them to submission, shoot a dozen leading members of Congress, and if that does not suffice, shoot 200 and so on until order is established.

Pedants, I plead guilty to including three non-Pink bits of Africa in my litany of post-Colonial horror shows. While none of the Colonial regimes were pretty by western democratic standards, the British were without doubt, the most benign. The Winds of Change have blown harshly over Africa, leaving just about every country in worse condition relative to its former master than when it was liberated from Colonial rule.

Climate change sh-t storm:

Mark Byrne writes: Below is a chart of the data that Tamas Calderwood (yesterday, comments) claims as evidence that there is no climate crisis. The top chart is the temperature of the Lower Troposphere (TLT), which is used to approximate surface temperature. I’ve added the bottom chart of the Temperature of the Lower Stratosphere (TLS) for comparison.

Notice that the Lower Troposphere is warming while the Stratosphere is cooling. This is consistent with Greenhouse induced warming. The property that makes a gas a “greenhouse gas” is that it slows (interrupts) heat (IR radiation), more than it slows the transfer of visible light (sunlight).

As sunlight hits the earth it is absorbed and re-emitted as heat. The transfer of heat from the earth to space is slowed by the increasing concentration of greenhouse gases. The distance travelled by heat increases (while bouncing around a blanket of greenhouse gases which extend higher into the atmosphere).

The longer it takes for heat to escape, the higher the temperature rises at the surface (thus temperature increases in the lower troposphere). The temperature decreases in the stratosphere mostly because the heat from the earth is taking longer to reach the stratosphere.

The spike in stratospheric temperature in 1982 and 1993 were due to massive volcanic eruptions. This increased the concentration aerosol particulates that reflect and emit radiation back to the stratosphere before it hits the earth. Similar to a volcano has been and exposition of dirty industry in Asia. As one might expect there has been a coincidental slowing of stratospheric cooling during the expansion of Asia’s dirty haze.

Several scientists such as Barry Brook believe that (together with ENSO ocean cycles and solar cycles) this grim haze has masked the full power of greenhouse warming. Brook has speculated that a recession induced downturn in Asia’s aerosol pollution will unmask some of this hidden warming.

Tim Marsh writes: Yet, meanwhile, on Planet Reality Tamas Calderwood, we have warming rapidly approaching the +/- 0.5deg 10,000 year anomaly range (in which humans have flourished), we have the Antarctic melting, the Arctic probably won’t recover, droughts that are no longer exceptional, the UK MET warning of catastrophic warming, permafrost melt continuing, oceans are still acidifying and absorbing less carbon; tra-la-la — still nothing to see here, move along (*cough, cough*).

On top of the population explosion (2 Billion waiting on western consumer way of life, anyone?), and further warming (no, there won’t be more arable land exposed from ice retreat), reports are increasing of under-estimation of the effects of warming. Glacier NP ice free way ahead of predictions, sea levels rising faster than predicted, NASA expects a temperature record to be set in the next two years.

The GISS data for 2008 is out and shows although 2008 was the coolest since 2000, the 10 warmest years on record exist within 1997-2008. The warming of Siberia continues unabated. CH4 is a time bomb waiting to explode (70 billion tonnes of CH4, 1000 billion of CO2).

I tried to do a bit of a summary of all this, which you can find here.

Tamas, I applaud scientific rigour, but this is not funny anymore, seriously.

There is too much evidence now for warming to be debated without parallel action. The risks of inaction are too high. I am going to bust my bum to stop this happening, to ensure my kids have a beautiful planet and a snow season. People who seek to deny, delay and obfuscate better get on board and be part of the solution, or get out of our way, because we will be relentless and ceaseless without remit in our quest to do all we can to ameliorate this. Move out of our away or be blasted out of the way.

One Planet Earth, Tamas.

Wayne Robinson writes: Please stop publishing Tamas Calderwood whenever he writes on climate change; he is starting to get just slightly monotonous. Or better still, just list his name, and we can fill in the rest of the details ourselves, without adding to our internet download limit.

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