Bolt and Fairfax:

Andrew Bolt writes: Re. “When Fairfax moves, will Andrew Bolt be an outside broadcast?” (yesterday, item 16). I did not say I was “disgusted” by The Age‘s alleged refusal to have me in their new studio to do my weekly spot with 3AW. The one quote put in my mouth is inaccurate. Nor did I make any “assertion” that The Age was scared.

The reason for me doing neither thing was the reason I gave your reporter — that I in fact had not heard that Fairfax had banned me from its building. I said only that IF this were true, I’d be astonished that my mere presence would inspire such fear. I did not use the word “disgusted” even then, because the proper reaction would be amazement, amusement or — in my case — a certain smug pride.

Asylum seekers:

Keith Binns writes: Re. “Asylum seekers: territorial security versus electoral suicide” (yesterday, item 13). Jeff Sparrow is spot on both in his application of Matthew 25 and in his reference to Bonhoeffer. (Who, by the way, paid with his life for his principles. He was hanged with piano wire by the Nazis just a few weeks before his camp was liberated.)

Rudd should be ashamed of himself. I’m still waiting for Rudd to stand up and encourage the best in people rather than pandering to the worst.

Keith Perkins writes: At least they’ve stopped calling them Illegal Immigrants!

Tax cheats:

Nigel Brunel writes: Re. “Tax Office won’t prosecute Australia’s worst tax cheat” (yesterday, item 1). Outrageous — one law for the “filthy” rich and another law for the rest of us. This thieving pillick should be outed and let the court of public opinion deal with him.

First Dog:

John Taylor writes: Re. “First Dog on the Moon” (yesterday, item 6). When it happened to me for the first time, some months ago, I thought my sense of humour had gone berserk. Yesterday it happened for the second time. Am I going mad? Has my sense of humour reverted to bizarre?

Yesterday for only the second time, I understood what First Dog was about and it was actually funny!

The Fundamentally Supine Authority:

Marcus L’Estrange writes: Re. “No more nights out for British mortgage owners” (yesterday, item 23). Glenn Dyer should have read that the term Financial Services Authority (FSA) in the UK really means the Fundamentally Supine Authority and that any edict put out by the FSA in supposedly supervising capital in the UK, is as useless as an ashtray on a motorbike.

Clarification:

Glenn Dyer writes: Re. “RBA says it would have been ‘possibly imprudent’ not to lift rate” (yesterday, item 3). In yesterday’s Crikey I mixed up my debt and deposit guarantees and the Reserve Bank’s attitude to them. RBA Governor doesn’t like debt guarantees of the sort we now have. The bank is in favour of deposit protection, so long as they are appropriately designed.

Climate change:

James McDonald writes: Brett Gaskin (yesterday, comments) wrote:

Much of the discussion around the ETS seems to be about who will be paying for the emissions generated by big business. The argument is focussed on how much taxpayer money will be given to various industries to “purchase” the right to pollute.

How exactly does paying for the pollution make it go away? Is there any point of having a system of trading emissions allowances if we are still emitting the same amount of climate changing stuff? Surely the objective is to reduce the amount of stuff we generate, but there is not much discussion about this.

That’s right, it won’t stop pollution, any more than motorway tolls will stop commuters who have no other way to get to work. But emission control is only one way to reduce the CO2 in the air.

A combination of power-station efficiency upgrades and biological sequestration can probably achieve far more in the medium term. Sequestration could potentially boost farming productivity as a side effect. See the Wentworth Group’s latest proposal, Optimising Carbon in the Australian Landscape.

Terrestrial sequestration is the nearest thing to a magic bullet we’ll ever see in global problem-solving. It’s having your cake and eating it too. It’s walking and chewing. It’s removing carbon atoms from the air and using them to grow more trees and more food for the six billion and rising, rather than trying to pump the gas into rock reservoirs.

The Wentworth Group of Concerned Scientists suggests:

At a global scale, a 15% increase in the world’s terrestrial carbon stock would remove the equivalent of all the carbon pollution emitted from fossil fuels since the beginning of the industrial revolution …

CSIRO estimate that the Australian landscape has the biophysical potential to store an additional 1,000 million tonnes of CO2e in soils and vegetation for each year of the next 40 years.

If Australia were to capture just 15% of this biophysical capacity, it would offset the equivalent of 25% of Australia’s current annual greenhouse emissions for the next 40 years.

They go on to outline practical ways of including terrestrial sequestration in a carbon abatement scheme.

If Turnbull has done one significant thing in his role as opposition leader, it’s to put an amendment on the table whereby farmers can be rewarded for contributing to carbon abatement. Without penalizing them for emissions that are avoidable only by shutting down their farms — which would be equivalent to making people pay an externality tax for eating.

The farming sector may have a lot more to offer in solving the greenhouse problem, and more interest in doing so, than many people have been giving them credit for.

Send your comments, corrections, clarifications and c*ck-ups to [email protected]. Preference will be given to comments that are short and succinct: maximum length is 200 words (we reserve the right to edit comments for length). Please include your full name — we won’t publish comments anonymously unless there is a very good reason.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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