Malcolm Turnbull has gambled with his leadership future by saying ‘back me or else’ to his skeptical backbench on climate change.

This issue, as he puts it, is negotiate to make the dreaded ETS more sensible or oppose Labor’s ETS, get wiped out in a double dissolution election and leave Australia with deeply flawed legislation.

However, according to Lenore Taylor, Turnbull yesterday left open the possibility of a conscience vote. “We in the Liberal Party do have a tradition of allowing people to vote according to their conscience and to depart from the party line and cross the floor, if you like, in circumstances that are of particular importance to them. Now that is a right that like many rights has to be exercised with great discretion, and less frequently,” he said.

The bush is terrified of any ETS, which is a boon for the skeptical Nats and a big threat to Labor.

Dennis Shanahan’s story of ‘Farmer Pete’ tells an interesting tale which helps to explain the sensible skeptism of many people in the bush.

Henry has been reading The Climate Caper by Garth Paltridge, and will review it as soon as possible. Paltridge is a distinguished scientist who looks at the evidence carefully and in a way that an old economic modeler like Henry can understand. He concedes that CO2 build up has had some influence on climate warming, but points out that how much is very much in doubt.

This fact-based skepticism is far more compelling than the usual block-headed approach of climate change deniers who resort to tales of self-seeking conspiracy and attacks on the character and honesty of climate change worriers/believers.

Note also in sensible circles there is explicit acknowledgment that the divergence of the CO2 line and the temperature line since about 1998 might be due to (the temporary) dampening effect of increased reflective particles in the atmosphere and/or a decline in sunspot activity or other natural forces that we simply do not understand.

As George Will says: “Environmental Cassandras must be careful with their predictions lest they commit what deniers among the climate alarmists consider the unpardonable faux pas of denying that the world is coming to an end”.

Dare we say some sensible clarity is emerging on a complex debate riven by scientific uncertainty and claims and counter-claims of conflict of interest?

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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