Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Climate change heavyweights duke it out

Here is one contest I am going to enjoy big-time: Garrett vs. Turnbull.

Garrett vs. Turnbull
Photo SMH     
Malcolm Turnbull, to the right, is a self-made millionaire, seemingly an independent thinker, ex-journalist, and until I moved he was my local federal member of parliament. The amount of money he spent to get the gig was exciting and instructive. He is the type of guy you naturally like, however it's early days for him in politics - he has plenty of time to be disliked. One way that is going to be hastened is by his unblinking support for nuclear energy and Howard's 'clean-coal' energy. Prime Minister Howard first whetted him on the water ministry, and then quickly combined this portfolio with climate change. He did this to neutralise Labour's obvious strength in Peter Garrett as federal opposition minister for the environment.

Peter Garret. If you need an introduction there is not much help for you. In the '80's he was the lead singer for Midnight Oil, one of Australia's biggest rock bands. Social justice never rocked like it did with "The Oils"; they even made some my Jesuit-inculcated values seem cool to a late teen. He was a committed environmentalist in the 90's and early noughties, becoming the president of WWF Australia. Now he is a star Labor recruit, front and center on the issue of climate change.

Parliament resumed yesterday and Labor came out attacking the government on their ten years of neglect facing up to the reality of climate change. They scored an early hit when Howard, despite a claimed recent 'conversion', could not push past the legacy idee fixe that has always dominated his thinking on global warming - "the jury is still out" on the link between fossil-fuel emission and global warming. He later recanted, saying he thought the opposition was talking about the link between the drought and climate change. As a particular Jesuit used to sing out when he saw it... "Bullshit!". But this did not happen until way after Turnbull had come out of the gates fast, determined to take it to the opposition. Unfortunately, he came across as too try-hard, painting the opposition as global warming "fundamentalists", and "purists". The big, scary bald ex-rocker was made to seem eminently reasonable, without trying. That is not to say that there wasn't something to admire in Turnbull's effort and eloquence.

The battle continued today: :::[SMH]

Garrett vs. Turnbull. Round Two

The way I am scoring this is 1 point for a blow landed, 3 points for a heavy blow, and minus 2 points for spin (I'm really sick of it). And or course I will also give 1 point if a contestant is realy clever or funny regardless of content. I'll also give a point for good use of pathos.

1 point to Garrett
Mr Garrett, Labor's climate change and environment spokesman, said the government's scepticism and inaction on climate change was risking Australia's environment.
3 points to Garrett
He said China was doing more than Australia to cut greenhouse gas emissions.
3 points to Garrett
Lack of government support had forced Australia's top solar energy scientists to go overseas.
3 points to Garrett, plus 1 more for the laugh
The government's report on emissions trading, which was released today, was a mere nine pages.
1 point to Garrett for wry humour and 3 points for the combination jab and uppercut.
Mr Garrett said the government was uneasy and confused when dealing with the issue.

The problem was Prime Minister John Howard's own misconceptions about climate change, which were highlighted by his remark that a four to six degree temperature rise would leave some people less comfortable.
1 point to Garrett for the laugh and 3 points for the combination jab and uppercut.
The prime minister called Labor climate change purists and fanatics, Mr Garrett said.

He should include the Australian Medical Association, big business, the National Farmers' Federation and security experts.

"The jury is in and the science is clear," Mr Garrett said.

"The planet is heating. The time for action is now. Our children and grandchildren deserve no less."
I can't bring myself to score Turnbull's dissappointing reply blow-by-blow. I am picking an arbitary -7 points for spin, opaque logic and common-garden mendacity unworthy of the man's intellect. Here are some samples:
Mr Turnbull said Labor had promised to impose a 60 per cent cut in emissions by 2050, but wouldn't say what the economic costs and consequences of the policy would be.
Care to tell us what the consequences are of not achieving those cuts, you cheeky old silver-tongued silvertail? According to the ex-World Bank economist and Chancellor of the Exchequer, Sir Nicholas Stern, the economic cost of not achieving the emissions reductions will be a fifth of total global economic GDP by 2050. Turnbull should know this. He must.
Mr Turnbull said Labor's solution was for Australia to impose on itself a target that would have massive economic consequences, but would have no effect on global warming unless it was matched overseas.

Solutions had to involve China, India and the United States.
That hoary old chestnut is why Australia has not already made the change to its economy that it should have 10 years ago. The logic is pathetic and mean... we are going to keep littering because everyone else is - how grown-up? That's why I scored him minus seven.

I know that Turnbull can do much better. I want him to. I like him. I find him refreshing compared to our other pollies, especially the Libs. I want him to put up a contest, but based on the facts. Based on real solutions and not spin and cheap point-scoring.

Garrett: 19 points. Turnbull: -7 points. Not a good start for Mal. C'on baby - make it interesting.


1 comment:

Raghu said...

Yesterday I had a chance to see Lateline on Australia Network Channel.Tony Jones was speaking to the man who was awarded the Australian of the year award.
He thinks it's time that Australia starts acting now or face the ramifications in the future.I do agree with him fully that Australia should act immediately and invest in more cleaner and environmentally friendly sources of energy.
And about India and China, it's true that there share of the green house gas emissions is the highest put together, but people have to understand that they are still developing nations and the developed nations like US and Australia should lead the others by abiding to the Kyoto Protocol.