Prime Minister John Howard has rejected Labor leader Kevin Rudd's claim that climate change is the overwhelming moral challenge facing Australians.
Which has me wondering - what is Howard's idea of the overwhelming moral challenge facing Australians subsequent to our lovely experiment with ditching habeas corpus for David Hicks, and tearing up our United Nations obligations to refugees? Methinks gay Muslim Aboriginals who throw their stem-celled children overboard for native title could soon be co-opted for Howard's next bogeyman. Eat your babies now or face the ensuing Prime Ministerial pillorying!
Mr Howard said Australia was a minor emitter of greenhouse gases and could not influence the global climate by acting alone.
Mr Howard ignores the leverage that we could bring to bear on the world's biggest emitter, the United States, by totally isolating them if we signed the Kyoto Protocol. As our two countries are the only two hold-outs left, it is disingenuous in the extreme for Howard to suggest we would be acting alone, or indeed that we have no influence on the global climate.
A minor emitter? Australia is actually the world's biggest emitter per capita: We produce 27.2 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent per person per year. This is enough to fill 27 family homes. The figure is 27 per cent higher than the amount produced by American citizens and more than double the average figure for people living in most other industrialised countries.
Lastly, we are the world's biggest exporter of coal - none of it clean. It may be convenient for Howard to say the coal gets burnt elsewhere, however these externalised costs do come back to us in climate change. That's why they call it global warming.
The prime minister said he rejected the Labor Party's zealotry about the issue.
If only. The issue of global warming has been in the political pipeline for 20 years, when the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was established in 1988. Imagine if we had listened then?
If only the Liberal Party presented a decent opposition to the Labor and the Greens on climate change. Then the electorate would have a real choice.
Mr Howard said such an approach also obscured the need for balanced government decision-making and fed ideological demands with kneejerk policy reactions.
Mate - until last year, global warming was not even on your radar. Anything you cobble together now is, by definition, 'knee-jerk' - like throwing around $200 million trying to get 'illegal' Indonesian loggers and their militias to stop logging while ignoring the activities of our own virgin rainforest loggers because they are you mates come election time. And you can't deflect the charge of ideologue yourself when you have studiously ignored the science behind global warming, and allowed our fossil-fuel industry to set our climate change policy.
Then there is this duplicity...
"As the Productivity Council has warned, there are potentially very serious costs to Australia from acting alone,'' Mr Howard said.
...contradicting this one:
"I will not sub-contract our climate change policy to the European Union.''
Which one is it? Are we worried about the "very serious costs" from "acting alone", or are we refusing to act with the European Union?
Anyway, we are getting distracted. If you accept the science, Mr Howard, then it is clearly a moral imperative to do everything possible to pass on to your children and grandchildren a similar or better environmental heritage than the one you inherited. It's immoral to do otherwise.
If only because no economy can exist outside it's natural environment.
Chuckled over this comment from a Road to Surfdom reader:
Global Warning Climate Change Environment Science Australia Kyoto Energy