So you think there might be international action on climate change? The United States is the biggest emitter of carbon dioxide in the world. So without action by by the US Government, the idea of an international agreement on climate change is simply a joke.

And a sick joke it will prove to be if the predictions about the likely result of next month’s Congressional elections prove correct. Republicans are strongly fancied to take control of the House of Representatives and are given a 50% chance of controlling the Senate as well. Yet the chances of a Republican dominated Congress taking action to stop global warming are virtually nil.

As the New York Times explained in an editorial yesterday:

With one exception, none of the Republicans running for the Senate — including the 20 or so with a serious chance of winning — accept the scientific consensus that humans are largely responsible for global warming.

The candidates are not simply rejecting solutions, like putting a price on carbon, though these, too, are demonised. They are re-running the strategy of denial perfected by Mr. [former vice-president Dick] Cheney a decade ago, repudiating years of peer-reviewed findings about global warming and creating an alternative reality in which climate change is a hoax or conspiracy.

The first installment. The New South Wales government is doing Prime Minister Julia Gillard a favour with its attempt to renege on a deal done at the Council of Australian Governments. Of itself the COAG decision on making uniform laws on occupational health and safety is of little interest to most voters and on the issue itself there is not a vote to be won or lost. But there are votes to be had by attacking the extremely unpopular NSW Labor Government on virtually anything. Gillard will benefit by acting tough on this issue and she will benefit even more when Premier Kristina Keneally is trounced at next year’s election.

Down the Japanese path. A rather ominous graph accompanies a review of the United States economy this week by Mary Daly, vice-president at the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.

19-10-2010 deflationrisk

Japan’s experience beginning in the early 1990s, notes Fsly,  underscores the risk of getting into a long period of sustained disinflation. Japan fell into deflation in the mid-1990s and has yet to recover.

A g-nital slip of the tongue. I don’t know what it is about French politicians. Last month it was former justice minister Rachida Dati speaking of of “f-llation” (the French word for “f-llatio”) instead of “inflation” during an interview on foreign investment funds. This week it is France’s interior minister who has become an internet hit after he mistakenly spoke of “g-nital prints”. Brice Hortefeux meant to say fingerprints — empreintes digitales in French — but instead said empreintes genitales.

19-10-2010 HORTFEEUX

Peter Fray

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