The American presidency:
Michael R. James writes: Re. “Rundle: Buffalo, NY — where you can really test the US pulse” (yesterday, item 5). In his piece, Rundle may be a tad harsh with his picture of Buffalo. It is not as prosperous as its heyday but there are a lot worse places. In 2010, Forbes rated Buffalo the 10th best place to raise a family in America. I wasn’t there long enough but it seemed a pleasant enough mid-sized city on the lake.
Today it is perhaps most well known for its medical centre. Because it was the first cancer centre in the USA it attracts patients from all over the country for pioneering and specialist treatments. The Roswell Park Memorial Institute (RPMI), now renamed “RP Cancer Institute” is known throughout the world as a repository and source of cell lines used for research (one of only three such centres in the world). For these reasons it became a centre for research on the human genome, which was the reason I visited back in the 90s (with a side trip to Niagara which Rundle did not mention is essentially a suburb in the north of the city).
Thus Rundle may have been closer to the truth when he wrote of “the US pulse” in Buffalo. I would speculate that the medical and biological research sector (in ensemble called the Niagara Medical Campus) — the biggest employer and economic driver in the city — may have played a role in rejection of the Paul Ryan Republican plan on Medicare. Ryan has done the electorate the service of showing those confused by the Tea Party chant of “keep your government hands off my Medicare” what “reform” really meant.
And this city, more than most, would know it was not benign. But it also raises the question of how representative is this result of either regular Republicans or Tea Partiers?
Keith Thomas writes: Here we go again. Please, please spare us the minutiae of the US presidential race this time. It’s lazy derivative journalism, feeding off the reports of other journalists, bloggers, Tweeters and commentators. The ups and downs of candidates themselves become the focus rather than the real issues confronting America’s society, economy, environment empire and resource depletion.
For goodness’ sake, the “race” is merely about celebrities in a foreign country. We don’t need to know anything about this prolonged beat up till the presidential candidates have been selected. And I don’t need to hear anything about the Tea Party-ists.
Guy Rundle is verbose, but I wade through his reports because he’s clever and insightful and has a wealth of recent history at his fingertips. So, put him on a series of real assignments, preferably those that impact most directly on Australia’s future.
Above all, get him out of America till late 2012.
John Hunwick writes: Re. “Reality check: the narrowness of the carbon price debate” (yesterday, item 2). Bernard Keane as usual neatly summarises the position in relation to the carbon price debate. One element of that debate did not come through as strongly as it might — the urgency of taking action IF we want our descendants to inherit an earth anything like a smoothly function unit that we inherited.
A carbon price needs to be set that is somewhere between $25-$50 per tonne — large enough to display to businesses that this issue is huge and significant, but not so large as to cause some form of immediate meltdown. Once such a price has been established it then must start to rise within (say) two years at an agreed rate that will bring the price up to something approaching $100/tonne by about 2030 if not earlier.
The need for this is based on the fact that ecological systems do not respond quickly as do physical ones, but once activated move inexorably to a state that is difficult to predict in advance. Many biologists (and others) believe that the window of opportunity for taking at least some form or pre-emptive action against specific unforeseeable results that will be only too obvious in 2025, if not earlier, is closing rapidly closing (perhaps as early as 2017-18).
We need such action urgently and it must be such as to make significant change right from the start.
John Dowling writes: Climate change … Change is a constant all over this universe, right from its Big Bang beginning! From nano-systems to great galaxies, change is happening.
On this planet change has been happening; before we got here and long after we’re gone; tectonic plate, volcano and solar activity etc … Live with it!
As to the impact we humans are making (and Australians specifically) the science debate is far from conclusive. So let’s continue it without derision of “the other side”. Let’s explore all the facts and all the options and fix it with natural and technical remedies.
There is no simple (carbon tax) solution. A complex array of solutions may work. There are plenty working on them, some here, most overseas.
A Royal correction:
Kim Lockwood writes: Re. Yesterday’s Editorial. At least Jim Frecklington wouldn’t call the Queen “her Royal Highness”. She’s Her Majesty. Hubby and kids etc are highnesses.
CRIKEY: In a piece published on the Crikey sports blog dated May 18, Jamie Johnstone of BigFooty suggested that Mark Hawthorne be sent back to business, “or preferably, even further.” Mark Hawthorne is Deputy Editor of BusinessDay, he moved back there eight months ago. Crikey has amended the blog post to reflect this.