Monday, March 28, 2011

Beat the carbon tax before it gets here

Buy this book:

The CSIRO Home Energy Saving Handbook – How to save energy, save money and reduce your carbon footprint

The CSIRO Home Energy Saving Handbook is a practical guide designed to help Australian households reduce their carbon footprints and take action against climate change.

Click for a radio interview by one of the CSIRO authors, who talks about how we can save an average of 50% off our energy bills.

Andy Pitman mops up misinformation mess

The proposed Carbon Dioxide tax has caused big fossil fuel to put a lot of misinformation about carbon dioxide out into radio-land. Every shock-jock around the country is plugging denier talking points. It's clear Big Denial is in campaign mode, facilitating Tony Abbott's "people's revolt".

Luckily, we have Professor Andy Pitman, Centre director for ARC Centres of Excellence for Climate System Science at the University of New South Wales, to help us with clean up some of the misinformation.

Professor Andy Pitman talks to Drive with Louise Maher:
666 ABC Radio, Canberra, 3:00pm - 6:00pm

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Tony Abbott supports a carbon tax

It's hard to believe than Tony Abbott ever endorsed a carbon tax, even tacitly, given the ferocity of his sustained attack on Julia Gillard for announcing her government's intention to set a carbon price next year in anticipation of an emission trading system.

But endorse it he did, on page 172 of Battlelines, the book he wrote after the Liberals lost office and before he took over leadership of the opposition in the spill that cost Malcolm Turnbull the top job by a singe vote. The issue was the ETS that Malcolm had fought so hard for.

Tony's words are cautious, but the meaning is clear:

"...many now think that a carbon charge scheme directed at the least environmentally efficient producers would be simpler and fairer than an emissions trading scheme."

The description, "carbon charge scheme" is hilarious, given that he battered Rudd's ETS with his "great big new tax" positioning. The guy means 'carbon tax'; he doesn't mean 'carbon price', as you need to have a price in order to have an ETS.

Given this, and the multiple positions that Abbott has held on climate change, it's quite obvious that Abbott's line of attack on Gillard is rank opportunism. Throw in the hard to ignore fact that the opposition does actually share the same emissions reductions objectives as the Gillard government, and one is left wondering about the Abbott's credibility. No wonder he has worked so hard to paint Julia as a liar. A case of projection, perhaps?


Crikey has detailed Abbott's many stances on global warming, and included another example of Abbott's endorsement of a carbon tax:

Still, a new tax would be the intelligent skeptic’s way to deal with minimising emissions because it would be much easier than a property right to reduce or to abolish should the justification for it change.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Liberal's global warming history: fair weathered and fickle

Rod Tiffen is emeritus professor, government and international relations, at the University of Sydney.He catalogues the Australian Liberal party's shameful record on climate change and pens a devastating critique of their performance over time:

The Liberals were the first main party to wholeheartedly embrace the challenge of global warming. In 1990 Andrew Peacock, and again in 1993 John Hewson, went to the electorate with a commitment to cut Australia's greenhouse gas emissions by 20 per cent by the year 2000.

In December 1997 the Howard government signed the Kyoto Protocol, which the prime minister described as an ''absolutely stunning diplomatic success''. He celebrated that Australia was able to ''make a massive contribution to the world environmental effort to cut greenhouse gases'' but had done so in a way that would protect Australian jobs.

Between 1997 and 2002 the Australian government, while trumpeting what a good bargain it had achieved, had no doubts about anthropogenic global warming and was committed to reducing it.

In 2002 the government reversed itself, refusing to ratify Kyoto, even though it argued it would still meet its commitments. Its rationale was diplomatic rather than scientific: it would only be part of an agreement that included the world's biggest polluters. It is unlikely it would have adopted this course if George W. Bush hadn't withdrawn the United States the year before. Neither leader had felt impelled to share their intentions with their electorates at the preceding election.

From late 2006 Howard realised that for political reasons the government needed to improve its credentials on global warming. (In his memoirs Howard declares himself agnostic on climate change, which is perhaps the reason all his discussions focus on the politics rather than the substance of the issue.) The government sprang into action, so much so that the environment minister, Malcolm Turnbull, claimed Australia led the world in policies on climate change. The government went to the 2007 election proposing an emissions trading scheme, apparently with unanimous internal support.

Under the first opposition leader, Brendan Nelson, the party adopted a classic harassment strategy. It did not question the need for an emissions trading scheme, but instead focused on any possible cost or inconvenience that would come with it.

Under the second opposition leader, Turnbull, there was more involvement in trying to frame a bipartisan policy, with detailed bargaining between government and opposition rarely seen in Australian politics.

But then a group of Coalition party members dramatically broke ranks. After the issue had been part of Australian politics for two decades, in 2009, probably for the first time, there were senior Liberals prepared to publicly deny the science. The factional chief Nick Minchin declared that climate change sceptics probably constituted a majority in the party. Suddenly, instead of conformism, there was a very public and uncompromising stance against Turnbull.

Tony Abbott won the leadership by a single vote, and the party had been split down the middle on the Rudd government's ETS. However, only Turnbull publicly signalled his difference from the new party policy, which was in direct contradiction to the previous position all had publicly adhered to.

Partly because his militant oppositionism unnerved Labor, bringing reversals from Kevin (greatest moral challenge of our time; let's put it off indefinitely) Rudd and Julia (public forum) Gillard, this stance served the Coalition well in the lead-up to last year's election. Abbott's ''Direct Action'' slogan remained largely uncosted and its environmental effectiveness unexamined, while the diplomatic isolation into which his stance would cast Australia also went unremarked.

From July on, there are likely to be majorities in both houses of Parliament supporting action to combat global warming, and the Prime Minister has committed herself - seemingly irreversibly - to introducing a carbon tax.

These mongrels should hang their head ground-zero low with shame:

We can expect loud and unanimous outrage from the Liberals on the perfidy of Labor and the Greens, but whenever the substance of global warming is discussed or the complexities of policy responses to mitigate it arise - Turnbull aside - they will seek to be as mute and inscrutable as their 1960 Laotian counterparts.

Turnbull aside... who is the stand-out Australian politician from the major parties in showing the conviction of his beliefs with respect to carbon mitigation. I believe this will stand him in good stead in the future. Gillard is on notice. Not from Tony "climate change is crap" Abbott, who has two conflicting positions. But from the Liberal who has not used up his moral capital.

Watch this space. Climate change politics is the most fascinating politics of all, including Australia's, as even the doyen of the local denier press has noted.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Ice sheets melting faster than predicted

... causing a greater rate of sea-level rise:

The pace at which the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets are melting is "accelerating rapidly" and raising the global sea level, according to findings of a study financed by NASA.

The findings suggest that the ice sheets - more so than ice loss from earth's mountain glaciers and ice caps - have become "the dominant contributor to global sea level rise, much sooner than model forecasts have predicted".

This study, published on Tuesday, the longest to date examining changes to polar ice sheet mass, combined two decades of monthly satellite measurements with regional atmospheric climate model data to study changes in mass.

Your blog is a load of crap

I received this in my comments section of my last post.

The Sciolist said...

since you are running this awesome blog.....maybe you can just read what i have to say on global warming and tell me wat u think......

12:07 AM EST

Thank god you are a denier, because I don't have time to guild the lily. I make no apologies if this is harsh; If you want my opinion, you'll get an honest one.

Firstly, you lose points for dishonesty. I like the fact that the title, "The Sciolist" is rare word, but don't expect everyone to look it up. I only bothered because you asked me to review it. But, it is a misrepresentation of the content of your one page blog:
sci·o·lism [sahy-uh-liz-uhm]
superficial knowledge.

1810–20; Late Latin sciol ( us ) one who knows little (diminutive of scius knowing; see conscious, -ole1 ) + -ism

You don't have 'superficial knowledge'-- you indeed have no knowledge. You don't know little -- you know nothing but AGW denier talking points that are stuffed into your bloated denier brain from 20 year of fossil-fueled propaganda. No amount of cherry-picking from Shakespeare, in that sickeningly cheery, pleasant voice of yours, can save you:

Shakespeare wrote in Henry VIII: “Heat not a furnace for your foe so hot that it do singe yourself.” By the way, didn’t he also write in Hamlet: “The air bites shrewdly, ‘Tis very cold”
"By the way, didn't he..." Save it, it's so transparently an attempt to project reasonableness. An attempt that is missing a question mark, though. Yes, I get it -- you are introducing a reasonable tone to present the denier's reasonable sounding premise that if global warming is happening, how come it gets hot and cold at the same time?

Well, I don't have time to waste pointing out how stupid that idea is. Suffice to say you do it yourself when you use Svante August Arrhenius' early identification of global warming:

...who in 1896 wrote on how the excessive carbon emission could result in an overall global rise in temperature

See, you know nothing. And painting James Hanson as Brutus? That's overreach, even for a Tea-Party denialist freak. OK, maybe not. Enough with the Bard, already.

But your main error of fact is this clanger of chauvinism:

Now, let’s go to the Northern Hemisphere where better part of the human civilization resides.

I would argue the opposite. There may be fewer in the Southern Hemisphere, but we all know we are better than you lot, particularly us Australians.

And, that is here I stopped reading. But, I'll pick up from where I left, last time. OK -- your blog has potential, even though you are a denier.

Saturday, March 05, 2011

Dumb, dumber, and dumbed right down

I doubt my challenge to Andrew Bolt Blog's winged monkeys will be published in the readers' comments section following another post about Tim Flannery's alleged failed climate change "predictions". This time Bolt is piggy-backing off Clive James, a part time denier.

So here it is for posterity:

Except it's a lie, a denier's canard, a propagandist's fit-up. It’s a lousy deception that relies on an uncritical audience's poor brain-power and poorer prejudice to evade challenge.

Flannery never once said that a particular city would unconditionally and certainly run out of water by a certain date since passed, which is what he is regularly charged with. Tellingly, no one can produce a quote to this effect. Repeat: I predict with absolute certainty that no one will be able to produce this mythical quote that agitates deniers so.

What they will find are quotes about potential scenarios and probabilities, sometimes containing conditional logic. Quotes containing auxiliary verbs carefully used to express possibility, such as "may", and "could", but not the predictive "will" that Andrew Bolt and other deniers sadly waste much of their productive lives accusing Flannery of. Quotes with "if... then" statements of such pure logic that they can be understood by computers and children, but not by ABB readers. E.g., something like, "If Perth doesn't build a desalination plant soon, then the city could run out of water within XXX years." "If the drought continues for XXX years, then city Y will be a ghost-town by ZZZZ.

In these working examples, intelligent people would investigate whether the condition had been not met before declaring the 'prediction' wrong or right - did Perth build a desalination plant, or not? Did the drought break or not?

How insulting that these fossil-fuel pimps lie so brazenly to push their poisonous merchandise on us, our children and grandkids. How miserable that they gut language of its logic. There is a special place reserved in infamy for these failed human-beings, these manipulators, these doubt-merchants. And it is filling up fast.

Yes, I am stirring. But the highly respected Laurie Oakes is not stirring about the sad turn to US style politicking that scummier elements of the Australian polity are taking:

WINGNUTS are coming out of the woodwork. The mad and menacing phone calls to independent MP Tony Windsor are just one indication.

There are plenty of others, especially online. The carbon tax and Tony Abbott's call for a people's revolt have crazies foaming at the mouth.

You see it on the "Revolt Against the Carbon Tax" Facebook page, for example.

Like this message from a Gillard-hater about a rally in front of Parliament House being planned for March 23.

"Just like Egypt we stay there and protest continuously until she and her cronies, Bob Brown greens etc, are ousted! We have got to get rid of this Godless mistress of deceit."

Hosni Mubarak was a dictator while the Gillard Government is democratically elected, but it doesn't seem to matter to the fanatics.

Rather, he is worried. Personally, I don't think Australia is close to being that far gone yet. Mind you, Laurie is the guy with his finger on the national pulse and I'm just a stirrer in blog-land tilting at wind-bags.


I did get my challenge published in comments (alias "Big Ted") and, as predicted, no one could provide evidence to support Andrew Bolt and Clive James. I, therefore, took the opportunity to stick the knife in further and deeper. I am starting to see how denial is such a fascinating condition where deniers know they are being lied to but are ok with it as long as their world-view is reinforced. We see this with religion, for example, where two or more internally logically contradictory positions may be held at the same time (e.g., homosexuality is asserted to be 'evil' yet homosexuals are also part of God's creation, so how could homosexuality be evil?), but the honesty here is that religion is premised on faith, or suspended disbelief.

But with climate change denial, it's the deniers themselves who charge their stated enemy with being part of a 'green faithful'. Why, even our esteemed Opposition leader, Tony Abbott, makes that charge. From his own website, in a speech against unions, he says: "...People who think that unions are just another sectional interest, who heed climate change science rather than green religion, "

As we have seen from our experiment on the denizens of Andrew Bolt Blog, deniers clearly are projecting, in the psychological sense of the word, when they fling accusations around against the alleged 'global warming religion'. It is their own irrational beliefs that they are refusing to countenance when they attack others. They should be called-out every single time, until this debate is characterised by common sense, and common courtesy. I know I do my bit ;-) even though I stirr.

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Hidden carbon price: We already pay $170 a tonne

Every since Gillard's unsurprising statement a week ago that there will be a carbon price set by the end of next financial year (in preparation for an ETS in a few years) there has been Federal mayhem. Death-threats, comparisons of Gillard to Gaddafi, and shrieks of outrage as Tony Abbott marshals his "People's Revolt" via angry, right-wing shock-jockery and his Liberal troops hyperbolate the morning's talking point all over the MSM.

From all this noise, one fact stands out at me. It's why the Coalition's 'government-picked-winner' approach must be never be put into practice:

Australians are paying a hidden carbon price of about $170 a tonne through a range of inefficient renewable energy programs. Wouldn't it be more sensible for the community to pay an explicit one that creates the conditions to lower greenhouse gas emissions through a market-based scheme?

Set a carbon price to prepare the economy for an ETS that will let the market do all the hard work of pricing. Why is it that Labor/Greens are pushing a market approach to reduce emissions, while the Liberals are still planning to smuggle in their command-controlled model should they stymie the Government's plans? To quote Barnaby Joyce this week:

"Every day just gets weirder and weirder,"

It sure does.