Climate change:

Viv Forbes, Chairman of the Carbon Sense Coalition, writes: Re. “The weather gets the better of desultory climate gabfest” (yesterday, item 12). The Turnbull decarbonisation plan aims to reduce 2020 emissions to 90% of the 2000 level. But we have moved on from the year 2000. To get back to 90% of 2000 would require a 20% cut on today’s activities. Moreover, the population by 2020 will be at least 30% above that in 2000. So the Turnbull carbon cuts will need to be more than 33% per capita.

Emissions are produced by everything we do — if we use electricity, steel, cement, timber, cars, trucks, planes, ships, trains or food from farms, we will always produce emissions. Even people sleeping on the beach burn carbon food energy and emit carbon dioxide. How is each Australian going to trim carbon usage by 33%?

2020 is just a decade away. There is no chance that wind, solar, geothermal or carbon burial will overcome their technical, engineering, infrastructure, environmental, transmission, economic and stability problems quickly enough to generate significant quantities of emissions-free base load electricity in that time.

That leaves only three ways to achieve the Turnbull cuts — the Green Option, the Secret Plan or the Unspeakable Option.

The Green Option requires less use of modern technology – a return to candles and chip heaters, wood stoves and wind pumps, charcoal burners and steam engines, sulkies and bicycles, horse power and sailing clippers, possum stew and kangaroo tail soup, mud bricks, shingle roofs and cement floors made from ant bed and cow manure. Some things will disappear unless Malcolm has plans for airships lifted by political hot air, for night-time power generated from moonbeams using lunar panels, or for vegie-steak produced from algae growing in backyard ponds of poo.

Reducing population will definitely achieve cuts in emissions without cuts in living standards. Is that the Secret Plan?

Or of course we always have the Unspeakable Option — a crash program to build nuclear power plants in the Latrobe, the Hunter, the Barossa, the Fitzroy and the Pilbara.

Compared to these options, maybe a bit more harmless carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is not so bad after all?

The Wong plan and the Turnbull plan are Plans for Poverty.

Both should be rejected.

Les Heimann writes: Re. Yesterday’s editorial. It is not the best of times — it is the worst of times — for those who expect politicians to translate an ideal into reality. It is also quite naive to fleetingly contemplate that any politician would translate a popular stance into an unpopular solution. Such a noble ideal to embrace saving the earth from polluted destruction — who wouldn’t grab hold of that one?

However, in order to actually make it happen someone somewhere has to pay. That is unpalatable to any politician.

Meanwhile the Xenophon’s of this world reveal themselves as — politicians! The Green’s (bless them) are constant in demonstrating the all care no responsibility attitude.

The Crikey editorial once again is right on the mark. So let’s all prepare for the voyage to boldly go where no one has gone before — space; the final frontier. Let’s pollute that too. But please keep up the level of cynicism — we all know the bastards won’t ever do anything — they are just not honest — Don’s Party where are you!

Martin Gordon writes: Many years ago a Yes Minister program summarised the characteristics of a good policy, they were that it be “Simple, cheap, popular and quick.”

The Coalition alternative proposal for emissions trading (from Frontier Economics) is simpler, cheaper, and more effective in reducing emissions and easier for industry to digest, so would meet the popular and quick criteria. The Labor Governments second emission trading scheme that they insist must be passed to suit their election agenda looks pretty ordinary by comparison. The Labor reaction was telling, label the Coalition scheme with an epitaph (a mongrel) rather than argue on the facts. They can’t bang on the facts or the law, so they are banging on the table it seems!

Whilst Malcolm Turnbull may have damaged himself over utegate, at least he is putting something serious on the table. Credit to him.

Will Labor resort to a policy argument or a campaign of personal denigration and labels. Why do I think it will be more spin than substance?

William Fettes writes: In response to Peter Bent (yesterday, comments), I think his reaction to Tuesday’s editorial was rather confused. The usage of opinion data in Crikey’s foreword was very plainly and straightforwardly used to contrast the staggering degree of constancy in public beliefs about carbon emission-induced climate change when compared to the atmosphere of uncertainty and doubt manufactured by conservative media outlets. The piece made no explicit appeal to authority from such opinions, and nor did it purport to marshal such opinion in reifying scientific truth.

Crikey has long since made clear that it regards the climate change debate as well and truly over, so if the opinion data is playing any secondary, persuasive role in bolstering the abatement side of the debate, it can only be to underscore that public opinion is on the side of pre-established axioms of climate science.

Moreover, it’s worth clarifying that the word “consensus” in this debate does not represent popular consensus in the naive sense Bent is dismissing as an epistemologically flawed basis for science. Rather, it refers to the central role played by peer-reviewed journals in modern scientific enterprise in terms of setting the parameters of scientific endeavour, occluding and synthesising research via the scientific method. Accordingly, journals are the proper place where scientists do Bent’s “weighing of scientific evidence by dispassionate data collection and analysis” not in political editorials.

David Mortimer writes: I want to register my feelings in this matter. I do not believe in global warming. It is like Y2K, but more expensive. However, it cannot be turned back, and if we must do something to appease believers, then let it be a tax. At least it will fund the huge deficit, and will keep Goldman Sachs and Macquarie out of the picture. ‘Nuff said.

Noel Pearson:

Chris Lehmann writes: Re. “Wild Rivers get murkier and murkier” (yesterday, item 9). Noel Pearson may very well write the occasional op-ed piece for the Oz, but he also is a regular contributor to The Monthly, and also has had a compendium of his columns reviewed in the same publication recently.

So Bernard Keane, I think you blokes need to make your mind up. He (and those associated with him) are either rotten, no-good, right wing leaning, shifty conservatives … OR … he is a genuine intellect who is a independent, passionate and polarising advocate for Aboriginal issues, with a message of self determination, and self respect, outside the Whitlam era model of entrenched, generational, crippling and never ending welfare which has destroyed the community life of Aboriginal communities throughout Qld, NT, and WA. Who also gets published and reviewed in the pre-eminent left wing “thought-bubble” magazine in this country.

I think he is a bloke who is a free thinker and does not easily fit into a neat political category, and he regularly writes quite penetrating articles about non indigenous issues (his article in the July Monthly on the GFC is one). He once remarked in an interview that he had “been offered more safe seats than Volvo” by the Labor party. I reckon that left wing writers, commentators and pollies just take the Aboriginal vote and policy area as their bailiwick, and are aghast when someone challenges this orthodoxy.

More power to his arm.

Inglourious basterds:

Jeff Ash writes: Re. “Rundlle: inglourious basterd Scheungraber captured. Hooray?” (yesterday, item 10). I’m looking forward to the howls of disapproval with Guy Rundle’s article. I think it’s something that needs to be said but most of the mainstream media is too afraid of the backlash to highlight a glaring truth. I’ve always wondered what the Simon Wiesenthal Center is going to do when there are no more nonagenarian “war criminals” to hound?


John Taylor writes: Re. “Dum dum de dum: Labor marries the religious right” (yesterday, item 2). Former Democrats Senator Brian Greig says 60% of Australians support gay marriage. I like the other one: 46.72% of statistics are made up on the spot.

Peter Fray

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