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Australia is hot, dry and risky, so why cut climate action?

The Abbott Government’s proposed repeal of Australia’s climate legislation will be heard through history. This action is being taken at a time when the rest of the world is moving in the other direction…

Messing around with climate change makes no sense. Michael Lloyd

The Abbott Government’s proposed repeal of Australia’s climate legislation will be heard through history.

This action is being taken at a time when the rest of the world is moving in the other direction. As the effects of climate change become clearer to the Australian public, the political legacy of this act of repeal is likely to be seen as a historic mistake.

The repeal will remove the principal instruments of government policy that can credibly reduce CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions. Going out the door will be an emissions trading system that places binding limits on emissions on key sectors, and would place a price on carbon, and an effective clean energy finance system that is already having an effect.

The present system is as fundamental a reform as Medicare and the floating of the Australian dollar. The replacement is direct regulation and limited funding that all independent analysts agree cannot reduce emissions to the same extent nor as cost-effectively.

Instead, the repeal seems very likely to result in emissions exceeding 2000 levels, and far away from even the least ambitious goal of a 5% reduction from 2000 levels by 2020 that the present system is designed to achieve.

Doing something serious about climate change means putting a limit and a price on carbon: all economists know that and it has been a finding of successive IPCC reports on the economics of reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

To disagree about whether the price should come from a tax or a trading system is one thing. Repudiating the very idea of a carbon price is quite another. This is where climate denialism hits the real world of policy - a denial of one of the core policy instruments needed to reduce emissions is in effect denial of the need to act.

The outbreak of denial in Government ranks about the well-established connection between wild fires and increased heat extremes from climate change adds to the surreal aspects of this debate. That a Minister resorts to Wikipedia to justify his position of no connection between climate change and wildfires is nothing less than a repudiation of the world class climate science community in Australia.

It is more than extraordinary that this is happening in 2013 when the IPCC has just released its Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) on the physical basis of climate change, with the last decade warmer than any before it, climate impacts visible around the world and Australia in the middle of its hottest-ever year.

Sadly, the huge fires that have burnt out of control in New South Wales are a portent of what is to come: these fires are big, early and consistent with the predictions of climate models coupled to fire danger index systems. Climate scientists have a duty to point this out to the public: the more carbon we put in air the more climate impacts we will get.

Australia is among the regions expected to experience highly adverse effects from increased heat extremes, more extreme droughts and sea level rise, even at warming levels of only 2C.

A year from now, the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon will host a Head of Government Summit on climate change as one pillar of “ambition” including targets and actions by countries. Australia and other nations will be expected to come to this meeting with bold new pledges to reduce emissions to levels that can hold warming below 2C.

The Abbott Government will face its first real test on climate policy internationally in a couple of weeks at the international climate talks in Warsaw. One of the main issues will be the willingness of governments to increase the level of ambition on climate action.

It will be interesting to see whether the Government even sends a minister, given that it plans to put forward its repeal of the climate policy legislation while the Warsaw Conference of Parties (COP) is underway. The absence of an Australian minister at a COP would be highly unusual. Given this would be due to efforts of the new government to dismantle the legislative basis for Australia to increase its level of ambition, would speak for itself.

We know that it is scientifically, technically and economically feasible to hold the increase in global warming below 2C. We know with certainty there are more than enough measures governments can mandate to get us off the present path towards 4C. But in the end these will need binding limits on emissions across all key sectors and a price on carbon.

Politicians may try to run from climate change, but the laws of physics that drive the climate system cannot be repealed. They permit no hiding place: not in the deepest seas or the highest mountains and certainly not in the highly vulnerable landscapes and marine environments of our country.

The Prime Minister should perform a real act of leadership. He should inform the country that climate science is solid and - while no single event can yet be attributed to global warming - the extreme and unusually early fires in Sydney are a signal of what is to come unless we all knuckle down and work on reducing our emissions.

In the same breath, he could warn the country, based in the current forecast of the season ahead, that the next six months are going to be unusually hot, dry and risky.

And he will send his environment minister to Warsaw with the message to accelerate international action, confirming Australia stands ready to play its part.

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  1. Mark McGuire

    climate consensus rebel

    "Politicians may try to run from climate change, but the laws of physics that drive the climate system cannot be repealed." Unless you have a carbon(sic) tax, apparently.

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    1. Robert Tony Brklje
      Robert Tony Brklje is a Friend of The Conversation.

      retired

      In reply to Mike Hansen

      Not if you are in marketing, then "sic" just sort of looks cool and gives an air of intellect, it doesn't seem to be working.
      I can't help but sense the feeling that the Liberal party's public abandoning of science in favour of greed is being seen as the last gasp of exploit all capitalism in Australia and that Tony Abbott is looking more and more like a political fossil of a bygone era, a fuel for ignorance and greed that should have best been left underground.

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  2. John Phillip
    John Phillip is a Friend of The Conversation.

    Grumpy Old Man

    Bill, you seem to have all the facts needed to make a judgement about the government's policy. Can you validate your position by identifying the quantitative difference that their policy will make to climate change compared with a carbon tax. That is the ONLY thing that matters.

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    1. John Phillip
      John Phillip is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Grumpy Old Man

      In reply to Mike Hansen

      Thanks Mike. I am well aware of those statements. However they do not answer the question.
      This shouldn't be too difficult. If you accept that we have a carbon budget surely the people who are promoting those targeets klnow what the difference in effect between the various policies are. All I am asking is that they state the quantitative difference.
      If they are unable to do that how can they justify their position?

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    2. John Phillip
      John Phillip is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Grumpy Old Man

      In reply to Shaun Molloy

      Thanks Shaun. I am surprised that you think a question about the effects of a given action is irrelevant. The goal of climate action is to reduce co2 emissions and thereby reduce or halt the rise in global ave temps to 2 degreesC. How can you compare or recommend a course of action without knowing what its effects will be?
      Having said that, the link provided is excellent. Thank you. It has taken two years to get this close. I'll look at the site closely today and see if it gives me the info I have been after. That might allow me to respond to your er more politically motivated last para. Cheers.

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    3. Geoff Henley

      Research Associate in Health Statistics at Flinders University

      In reply to John Phillip

      John,
      A lot of people advocate for a carbon tax, but when pressed for an answer as to how much difference such a tax will make to global temperatures, they have no answer.

      They can present all sorts of models regarding reductions in carbon emissions, but you actually still have to replace current energy sources with cheap and reliable non-CO2 producing sources. From a technological point of view, this still appears to be a long way off. Hence, it is still rather speculative whether a carbon tax or ETS would have any signifcant effect in reducing carbon emissions.

      The other aspect is regarding how sensitive global temperatures are to changes in atmospheric C02 concentrations. Some research suggests a low sensitivity in which case even a significant reduction in CO2 emissions may have a negligible impact on global temperatures.

      There is still much to learn't before adopting policies in some vague hope than they might achieve something.

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    4. John Phillip
      John Phillip is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Grumpy Old Man

      In reply to Geoff Henley

      Thanks Geoff. That seems to be the impression I get from these blogs. If the results of proposed action taken by Austrlalia were to make a real difference, I think it would be getting crowed from the rooftops. Shaun has provided me with a link to something that bears further investigation in this regard so it'll be very interesting to see what that brings. I don't know about you but I am totally fed up with some people attacking the government's proposal without being able to answer that simple, fundamental question. I believe (and this is yet to be born out) that the actual facts will show that we will have neglible effect on global temps - this would really highlight the lie underlying Bandt's tweet of the previous week.

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    5. John Phillip
      John Phillip is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Grumpy Old Man

      In reply to Mike Hansen

      Mike, you've referred to an article that proposes a specific carbon budget for Australia. In order to compare the effects of the different climate policies, isnt it just a simple matter of determining quantitatively there effects on this budget? If that figure is put in the context of global emissions we should be able to determine the net overall effect we'll have on AGW. This figure could then be used to inform people of the effect that their action will or won't have in terms of the 2degreeC target.
      Carbon is spoken about as the driver of AGW and for that to happen there has to be a direct correlation between CO2 and temperature. This is the assumption underlying the various policies, is it not?

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    6. John Phillip
      John Phillip is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Grumpy Old Man

      In reply to Mike Hansen

      Ok Mike, what effect on global temps will Australia's action have? Nice cherry pick with the quote by the way.
      Your attempt at diversion is pretty poor:
      "Where in the current carbon price policy and the subsequent report from the Climate Change Authority is there the claim that Australia by itself can mitigate global warming?"
      I haven't said that they have ANYWHERE! What I am asking is for you to quantify the difference we can make - try doing that BEFORE you accuse me of trolling.

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    7. Geoff Henley

      Research Associate in Health Statistics at Flinders University

      In reply to Felix MacNeill

      The IPCC impartial? LOL.

      For evidence of the lack of impartiality of the IPCC, one need look no furtehr than its Chairman, Rajendra Pachauri

      This is a man who:

      Mistakenly proclaimed that all those who contributed to the 4th IPCC report were "Nobel Laureates."

      Claimed that the IPCC reports referenced only peer-reviewed research when 30% of the references in the 4th report were grey literature.

      Joked that “climate sceptics should be given a one-way ticket to outer space” -- and has accused them of believing that "asbestos is as good as talcum powder – and I hope they put it on their faces every day.”

      Accused those who pointed out the obvious error regarding the Himalayan glaciers as practicing "voodoo science"

      Claimed in reference to the IPCC 5th report 'My God, we are going to have to take action much faster than we had planned.'"

      These are not the actions of an impartial observer but someone pushing a political agenda.

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    8. Mike Hansen

      Mr.

      In reply to John Phillip

      @John Phillip

      You are trolling. Your question is meaningless. The answer would be equally meaningless. You are like a parrot. Learn some new lines.

      There are no national boundaries on global warming. Australia does not have its own atmosphere. We need to reduce our emissions in concert with the rest of the world.

      The denier argument that Australia's emissions are too small to matter is nonsense. Total emissions from countries with emissions comparable to or less than Australia's (~1.5%) is around 25% of global emissions. If they act, then the effect will be substantial in the context of the global carbon budget.

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    9. Mike Hansen

      Mr.

      In reply to Geoff Henley

      Hilarious.

      Once upon a time, the troll Henley used to turn up to pompously lecture all and sundry on his caricature of the "scientific method".

      Now all he does is shop around the latest gossip that he has trawled from the climate crank blogs.

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    10. Geoff Henley

      Research Associate in Health Statistics at Flinders University

      In reply to Mike Hansen

      So, got any evidence that Pachauri didn't say these things? Probably not.

      Just label someone who disagrees with you a troll. How unimaginative.

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    11. MItchell Lennard

      Researcher - Distributed Energy Systems

      In reply to John Phillip

      Hi John,

      The answer you are after is not that difficult. We ( thats the Australia we) produce about 1.5% of the worlds C02 emissions and on top of that our fossil fuel exports are worth another few %. ( the fossil fuel exports aren't counted in our international obligations today but in 50 years will be a significant issue for our kids who have to address our moral culpability).

      Anyway if we stopped all of our CO2 emissions tomorrow we would have little impact directly on the course of Global…

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    12. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Geoff Henley

      Um, are you planning to make a substantive point at any stage, or merely toss around a few random out of context pieces of doubtful data?

      Of course if one assumes that the IPCC is the slave puppet of Dr Pachauri you would have about one sixteenth of the beginning of a weak point, but they are all highly qualified, respected scientists.

      The other bit you tend to forget is that holding a view based on evidence and experience, and as a result of having examined that evidence dispassionately is not the same as 'impartiality'. Otherwise, you're going to have to accuse every scientist who has concluded that Darwin was fundamentaly correct with prejudice because, obviously, s/he must have pre-judged the situation.

      You see you just can't use evidence of someone having drawn a conclusion and stated their position as evidence of having prejudged the situation or failed to be impartial and rational.

      It's that damned time machine problem again.

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    13. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Geoff Henley

      For someone who likes to lecture others on scientific method, the challenge 'any evidence that he didn't?' has to be the howler of the decade.

      I'm so glad Mike managed to winkle that one out of you - it's made my day!

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    14. Alice Kelly
      Alice Kelly is a Friend of The Conversation.

      sole parent

      In reply to John Phillip

      John your comment above has been answered many times before. There is no relevance to your one question. You then state that "that is the ONLY question", really? Who says? You? The world is acting, we are now going backwards, or perhaps you can show me relevant economic advice that the "approach" put forward by the opposition makes good sense, a majority of climate change economists. It's not for me to prove anything, you are the one questioning the article , prove your doubt please.
      "Are you going on faith". Define what you are talking about please John.

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    15. Geoff Henley

      Research Associate in Health Statistics at Flinders University

      In reply to Felix MacNeill

      The point is that the author claims that "the rest of the world is moving in the other direction" without providing any evidence to support that claim.

      The fact is that most countries don't have a carbon tax and of those that do, most only apply to local regions or have a tax set way below that of Australia ($1 per tonne in some cases). Collectively, these taxes and schemes don't appear to amount to very much and basically are likely to have negligible impact on the global climate.

      That's the point!

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    16. Henry Verberne

      Once in the fossil fuel industry but now free to speak up

      In reply to Geoff Henley

      "The other aspect is regarding how sensitive global temperatures are to changes in atmospheric C02 concentrations. Some research suggests a low sensitivity in which case even a significant reduction in CO2 emissions may have a negligible impact on global temperatures."

      Please supply a link to the the peer-reviewed research on which you base the above statement.

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    17. Henry Verberne

      Once in the fossil fuel industry but now free to speak up

      In reply to Geoff Henley

      How about you produce the evidence that Pachauri DID say those things?

      After all, you cannot prove a negative. But your very comment indicates you understand very little of science or you are being deliberately manipulative.

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    18. Henry Verberne

      Once in the fossil fuel industry but now free to speak up

      In reply to MItchell Lennard

      A clear response to the shonky but seemingly plausible argument parroted by some on this site: "and how much will reducing Australia's emissions result in lower temperatures?".

      I can see through the manipulative attempts to cast doubt on the need for action. But that is the hall mark of the deniers: first try to cast doubt that AGW is happening; the next fall-back is to suggest it is will not be bad (eg Geoffrey Henley); finally the last is to advocate doing nothing or very little until the whole world acts in concert.

      Most of these people are probably paid to spread misinformation (although that is difficult to prove).

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    19. John Nicol

      logged in via email @bigpond.com

      In reply to Henry Verberne

      Henry Verbene

      Dear Henry,

      I am a physicist and spectroscopist who does understand the arguments surrounding the likelihood or otherwise of CO2 causing further warming through increases in this gas within the atmosphere.

      All of the scientists I know in Physics, Chemistry and Geology, whose fields of expertise belong in areas which relate to the "theory" of global warming do NOT find through their much earlier work and experience that carbon dioxide will cause the increase in temperature which…

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    20. John Phillip
      John Phillip is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Grumpy Old Man

      In reply to Alice Kelly

      Alice the question hasn't been answered ONCE in two years. The closest is a comment below where the respondent notes that if Australia stopped all CO2 emissions the change to global warming would be minimal. If that is a fact, then bagging the Abbott government because their policies will lead to catastrophe is nothing more than rhetoric and hyperbole. Yet, many on these pages are prepared to indulge in such criticism. ( An additional bonus is that it highlights the complete asses the Greens are making of themselves on this point - but that's just a bit of personal pleasure at the expense of the 'holier-than-thous' .)
      If you believe we should take further action because it sets a good example, then by all means argue that point. To dress it up as being vital to hold warming below the 2degreeC target is somewhere between fanciful, wishful thinking and an outright lie.

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    21. Mike Hansen

      Mr.

      In reply to John Phillip

      "childish name calling" What - because I identified you as a troll?

      You are a hypocrite who indulges in personal abuse in lieu of argument.

      Here you are calling someone a "simpleton".
      https://theconversation.com/is-the-ocean-broken-19453#comment_243586

      That abuse is not even an "ad hominem" because that fallacy is associated with presenting an argument. There was no argument, just abuse.

      Here you are calling me "too damn thick". Again no argument, just personal abuse.
      https://theconversation.com/are-the-nsw-bushfires-linked-to-climate-change-19480#comment_245090

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    22. Mike Hansen

      Mr.

      In reply to John Phillip

      @John Phillip

      You are a troll. Like Gerard Dean the subject matter comes from Andrew Bolt.

      Your question has been answered at least twice here. But you will go onto the next article and pretend that no one has been able to answer your question.

      In 2000+ pages of the full IPCC WG1 report, no one has thought to calculate the effect that emissions cuts in a single country will have on global average temperatures.

      Why? Because the question is meaningless. As would be any answer. We have…

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    23. John Phillip
      John Phillip is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Grumpy Old Man

      In reply to Mike Hansen

      That's tight Mike. And like the zealot you are, you don't give the context do you? You've been abusing and defaming respondents who you don't agree with and to whom you have no answer. You fall into the category of zealot because you'll crow about the science being settled yet remain unable to provide any sort of factual response. You cant even see the nuances of the argument and get past your slogans. A couple of respondents have provided thoughtful and worthwhile replies. Unfortunately you seem only capable of offering your particular brand of Kool Aid. Keep chanting the mantra Mike and watch and wonder why so many are getting turned off the message.

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    24. Mike Hansen

      Mr.

      In reply to John Phillip

      I have pointed at examples of your abuse via links.

      All my comments follow a pattern - argument followed by a link with evidence. You should try it - you would also be less likely to achieve lift off from your desk with all that frantic hand waving.

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    25. John Phillip
      John Phillip is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Grumpy Old Man

      In reply to MItchell Lennard

      Thanks Mitchell. I think you have identified the role Australia plays in terms of global emissions. As to the economic hit we take, I would argue that the vitriol that has been directed at the government has been based on the assumption that their mitigation action will lead to temperature increases. The government needs to balance that economic hit with the economic needs of the country and the international political 'example' it will set. So, when we are arguing over the extent of our mitigation policies, we should be explicit about what exactly it is that we are doing.
      Individuals and agencies who claim that the LNP policy (for example) is climate crime or will cause more bushfires are not engaging in honest debate. Rather, they are deceiving people as to the level of technical influence that we have in order to 'convince' them that a particular policy/action will change the course of the climate trends. Cheers

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    26. Mike Hansen

      Mr.

      In reply to John Phillip

      MItchell Lennard said "if we stopped all of our CO2 emissions tomorrow we would have little impact directly on the course of Global warming"

      I am assuming that Mitchell meant that if only Australia stopped emitting.

      I pointed out that the question is meaningless as would be the answer
      "There are no national boundaries on global warming. Australia does not have its own atmosphere. We need to reduce our emissions in concert with the rest of the world."

      There are two answers. Obviously I prefer…

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    27. N Wilson

      Biologist

      In reply to Mike Hansen

      I don't pay much tax and it makes ZERO difference to the budget (far less than the 1.5-2% of Australia's emissions).

      So I will stop paying tax and refer the ATO to those people who endlessly revert to the 'it doesn't matter what we do, because it is so small' argument on greenhouse emissions.

      Of course, most countries are small emitters. In 2009, only 6 were above 2% of the total. Add all the small emitters up though...

      The savvier (and more cynical) deniers are aware of this tyranny of small decisions and use it to try to derail action. Others are duped.

      Oh and what happened to the common wisdom that everyone should do their bit? Thrown out with the bathwater of denial...

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    28. Mike Hansen

      Mr.

      In reply to John Phillip

      "Individuals and agencies who claim that the LNP policy (for example) is climate crime or will cause more bushfires are not engaging in honest debate."

      Dismantling all of Australia's carbon mitigation infrastructure is a climate crime. And it will be seen that way by future generations who have to wear the consequences.

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    29. Mike Hansen

      Mr.

      In reply to N Wilson

      @N Wilson

      The argument initially comes from the shock jocks Alan Jones and Andrew Bolt who are paid big bucks to come up with arguments that appeal to small minds.

      If you said to the same people that Australia should not send troops to the next imperial adventure because our troop numbers would be too insignificant to make a difference you would be publicly flogged for being "un Australian".

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    30. John Phillip
      John Phillip is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Grumpy Old Man

      In reply to N Wilson

      I understand the concept, Mike. I just don't like the deception that goes with it. If those insisting on greater reductions (in Oz) were honest about the effect we could have on climate change and acknowledged that it was just a case of 'leading by example' or similar, I wouldn't have a problem with it. Unfortunately that's not the case and a type of 'guilt' industry is being built around the issue -shaming people into action but not doing it truthfully.

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    31. John Phillip
      John Phillip is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Grumpy Old Man

      In reply to John Phillip

      Additionally, you assumption that anyone who is aware of this 'tyranny of small decisions', as you put it, is a denier is bogus. The argument is about the size and extent of 'their bit' and people need to be honestly informed in order to make their decisions on that point.

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    32. Des Stackpole

      Post hole Digger

      In reply to MItchell Lennard

      Mitchell's argument may elicit further requests for evidence. In this case, strategic analysis of the likely response of other countries to our beacon, modulated of course by their perception of the temporal slide (that's my guess) in Australia's economic position. I can feel a model coming on. Could get messy.

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    33. Mike Hansen

      Mr.

      In reply to Des Stackpole

      John Phillip's argument is a desperate and rather pathetic attempt to mount a defence of Abbott's climate policies.

      Essentially he is arguing that a Prime Minster Bandt would have the same national and foreign carbon mitigation policies as PM Abbott.

      He should post that comment at Andrew Bolt's blog - all of Melbourne would hear the laughter.

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  3. Alice Kelly
    Alice Kelly is a Friend of The Conversation.

    sole parent

    There is no reason for any government minister to want to go to the international meeting in Warsaw. The idea that the Government believes in climate change and is an active participant in global action on CO2, is an oxymoron.
    The plan being enacted by them, to slash all specific scientific information and advisory bodies, and a price, and funding for green energy for electricity is reprehensible. "Direct action", flouted as effective in Australia, will be discreetly, or otherwise, seen as absolute crap. Whoever goes will be a stooge for a set of nasty irresponsible decisions, and will probably have to have, very thick skin.

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    1. Mitch Griggs

      B Sc. Undergraduate. at La Trobe Uni Melbourne

      In reply to Alice Kelly

      I concur with Alice.

      Indeed the current government's approach to the issue has been a significant lack of any real policy and can only be described as dangerously inadequate in setting the necessary precedents and conditions for any real changes in the future.

      It further saddens me to think of the impact this will have on our standing within the global community as the effects of climate change continue to become more severe.

      I would suggest that you write to the minister, although his research standards and apparent commitment to the issue would suggest you needn't bother.

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    2. Alice Kelly
      Alice Kelly is a Friend of The Conversation.

      sole parent

      In reply to Mitch Griggs

      Mitch, I write to the ABC now, all the time, because I don't believe they've had a particularly relevant approach so far. They seem stuck with seeing CC as too much politicised fighting, but don't themselves seem to be able to understand the reality of the science. They keep discussing climate change as a dumb debate themselves. They have started to talk to real climate scientists. But I complain when the discussion is "ordinary". I have been writing to Bill lately. Hope you do the same?

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  4. Peter Turner
    Peter Turner is a Friend of The Conversation.

    Thinker

    I' afraid that no-one in the government is listening regarding Climate, even Malcolm Turnbull who seems to have put his ambitions way ahead of his (expressed) principles.
    It is hypocritical in the extreme for the current govt to claim a mandate to repeal when for the first three years of the Labor govt they persistently thwarted that govt's clear mandate to introduce an ETS.
    Perhaps the only thing we can do is to target individual cross bench senators to persuade them of the absolute need for a price on carbon.

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    1. Alice Kelly
      Alice Kelly is a Friend of The Conversation.

      sole parent

      In reply to Peter Turner

      The family first member from SA doesn't believe in CC, and nor I think do most of the others. They're not of the calibre of Tony and Rob. Nick Xenophon is probably the only person who could be in a position to influence any of these unknown new senators. Palmer is an obstacle, and trying to collect senators to form a block. It's pretty horrible.

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    2. Alice Kelly
      Alice Kelly is a Friend of The Conversation.

      sole parent

      In reply to Robert McDougall

      Robert, I could use a lot of others, but I'd be deleted. I agree with Robert Tony Brklje, the Government is relying on a smoke screen of past supposed conservative economic relevance, but we now have economic and environmental vandalism. This new government will be seen poorly, because it's carbon policy is worse than an embarrassment.

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    3. Georgina Byrne
      Georgina Byrne is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Farmer at Farming

      In reply to Alice Kelly

      Indeed it is. It is likely to one day be worthy of consideration by the International Court of Criminal Justice... as a crime against all humanity, starting with the poor saps who voted them into such power in the first place. The fact that a fossil fuel magnate could buy his way into the balance of power in the senate should be putting the fear of God into them but I guess they welcome it as more support for their criminally negligent behaviour. Then there is the small matter of bringing the country's reputation into disrepute. Hard not to despair, that's for sure especially when sitting in the countryside contemplating a fire season experts say will be a horror.

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  5. MItchell Lennard

    Researcher - Distributed Energy Systems

    Thanks for the article Bill,

    I appreciate the sentiment but I think the approach of telling Tony Abbott what he should do is a complete waste of time.

    The Abbott government has taken the issue of Climate Change and specifically the ETS and used it ( very successfully) for crude political short term gain ( a technique Rupert's Boy learnt from his mentors approach to asylum seekers). This government will not change its approach, and in fact the more people who complain in places like the Conversation…

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    1. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to MItchell Lennard

      I hope you're right, Mitchell, but I fear that the situation may be more urgent than you imply. Nonetheless, the fact that urgent action might be NEEDED is, as you imply, no guarantee that it will be taken.

      I think you're largely right about what will happen and what needs to be done in the interim...I just fear the awful cost this irresponsible delay will cause.

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    2. Mike Jubow

      forestry nurseryman

      In reply to MItchell Lennard

      Michell, You have stated the case far better than I ever could have. Though I do take a mild exception to your statement," A few years of stupidity and failed leadership is annoying , and frustrating, but its going to happen from time to time over the longer period". Frustrating in the extreme where delay is going to mean we will have to make deeper cuts in our emissions at a probable much higher cost to all of us.

      You may have given a bit more alliterative impact to your statement, " We can re-instate an ETS pretty quickly in a few years when we have moved through this period of political mediocrity", by adding "mendacious, moronic', to the statement thus," We can re-instate an ETS pretty quickly in a few years when we have moved through this period of political mendacious, moronic, mediocrity".

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    3. Robert McDougall

      Small Business Owner

      In reply to MItchell Lennard

      i had surmised that nothing much is likely happen until the baby boomers (sadly) no longer vote. Not intending disrespect to baby boomers.

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    4. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Robert McDougall

      None taken.

      However, while you are statistically correct, don't underestimate the substantial minority of us boomers who helped get many of the environmenal organisations up and running and put many of the issues on the agenda (quite frankly, along with our own elders, too).

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    5. Robert McDougall

      Small Business Owner

      In reply to Felix MacNeill

      We all stand on the shoulders of giants. Once again i mean no disrespect, but going on my own beloved mothers form, too busy enjoying retirement to put much thought/attention to politics and such. Much more entertaining planning the next oversease cruise.

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    6. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Robert McDougall

      No, sadly, you are correct and there was no direspect.

      I only wanted to point out that there are allies in my generation - mostly rather tired and battered but occasionalluy possessing a little trench wisdom. (I emphasise 'occasionally')

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    7. Georgina Byrne
      Georgina Byrne is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Farmer at Farming

      In reply to Robert McDougall

      Not this mother of baby boomers! I'm not alone either...the young have a lot to answer for as well...hard to get many of them away from the lure of sports and celebrity issues long enough to take any notice of the real physical world around them...even those with a University education...mind you unlike our generation they were not blessed with free tertiary education and few electronic distractions.

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    8. Robert McDougall

      Small Business Owner

      In reply to Georgina Byrne

      lol, i would say we are all responsible for the situation, i personally believe the distractions are on purpose. It's hard to change, particularly if it's the pattern of decades.

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    9. Henry Verberne

      Once in the fossil fuel industry but now free to speak up

      In reply to Robert McDougall

      Don't tar us all with the same brush please Robert :D.

      I can only speak for myself and I am fully supportive of significant action on climate change as I have read the peer-reviewed science.

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  6. Geoff Henley

    Research Associate in Health Statistics at Flinders University

    "This action is being taken at a time when the rest of the world is moving in the other direction."

    This statement is a complete furphy and indicates that the author has done little research in this area.

    Now for a more realistic appraisal :

    http://www.theaustralian.com.au/opinion/columnists/the-great-climate-fiction/story-e6frg76f-1226741257158#mm-premium

    "There is not one significant national carbon tax or emissions trading scheme operating anywhere in the Asia-Pacific.

    But here…

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    1. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Geoff Henley

      Nice collection of fallacies, irrelevant factoids and lies there, Geoff.

      The great advantage of 'The Australian' is that you can always rely on them doing your non-thinking for you, without even having to go to the trouble of inventing nonsense yourself.

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    2. MItchell Lennard

      Researcher - Distributed Energy Systems

      In reply to Geoff Henley

      Hi Geoff,

      Your assessment of who is doing what is interesting but not really important. We could have a big discussion about the ethical rationale for Australia to act early ( before other countries) and we could have a good discussion on why a well designed ETS is a good management mechanism.. but lets not.

      Rather than us all shouting at each other why don't you start off by explaining a solution that you would like to see tried. Don't worry about outlining the faults with other peoples ideas for a solution, just quickly outline one thing you think we could do , either to mitigate risk ( an adaptation measure) or to de-corbonise either energy production or agriculture.

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    3. Geoff Henley

      Research Associate in Health Statistics at Flinders University

      In reply to Felix MacNeill

      "Nice collection of fallacies, irrelevant factoids and lies there, Geoff."

      So you make assertions without a shred of evidence to back them up. Still, this is not suprising from your typical warmist.

      Seems you are under the spell of anti-Murdoch hysteria which pervades the hallways of the ABC, the Conversation and others.

      Give the Australian anyday over the greenie-groupthink inspired drivel which often passes for journalism at Fairfax, the Guardian, the ABC and others.

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    4. Geoff Henley

      Research Associate in Health Statistics at Flinders University

      In reply to Felix MacNeill

      So (unsurprisingly) you can't provide any credible evidence to refute any of the claims in my original post.

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    5. Robert McDougall

      Small Business Owner

      In reply to Geoff Henley

      yes, that is entirely what they were, claims. With an "opinion" from a columnist to back you up, you go gal!

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    6. Geoff Henley

      Research Associate in Health Statistics at Flinders University

      In reply to Robert McDougall

      So (unsurprisingly) you as well can't provide any credible evidence to refute any of the claims in my original post.

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    7. MItchell Lennard

      Researcher - Distributed Energy Systems

      In reply to Geoff Henley

      Come on Geoff,

      I don't wish to refute your claims, call you a troll or be nasty or anything,

      I wish to give you the opportunity to make a positive contribution, so once again here is the question..

      ….Don't worry about outlining the faults with other peoples ideas for a solution, just quickly outline one thing you think we could do , either to mitigate risk ( an adaptation measure) or to de-corbonise either energy production or agriculture….

      I think making a positive contribution by suggesting a solution would be good for you and everyone else.

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    8. N Wilson

      Biologist

      In reply to Geoff Henley

      Australia and New Zealand

      China's 1st pilot scheme in 7 provinces started (bigger than most national schemes would be) and more planned (2016). Full implementation sometime, but maybe not this decade.

      USA regional schemes, including California this year are coming on. The California one is bigger than most national schemes.

      It is true some are planned, but not yet running. South Korea (2015), Vietnam (?2018), Thailand (voluntary only, 2014), India (2014) etc.

      The 'end of history' line that everything has to be done by now is a central tactic of the deniers, including those writing for the degenerated Australian.

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    9. Geoff Henley

      Research Associate in Health Statistics at Flinders University

      In reply to Robert McDougall

      Ho hum, so you still can't refute any of the claims in my original post. Boooorrrrriiinngg!

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    10. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Geoff Henley

      No Geoff, I just have better things to do with my time than teach the bleeding obvious to those who wouldn't listen anyway. Grow up and do your own homework.

      If you bothered, as I do regularly, to read quality literature written by actual experts that is available to lay readers like you and me, rather than prattling on about 'greenie-group-think...' you might be able to form a rational judgement. It takes a little effort, but it tends to help prevent you looking quite so silly.

      Come back when you've bothered to do some homework, rather than just repeating others' insults.

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    11. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to John Phillip

      See my comment to Geoff above.

      Go do your own homework and stop being helpless.

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    12. Robert McDougall

      Small Business Owner

      In reply to Geoff Henley

      not trying to darlin, i merely express my opinion, not trying to convince you of it (that would be futile and seems to be your objective, and your insistence that i somehow conform to your demands is your projection not mine).

      BTW in your original post you rely on the "Opinion" of the author of the article to provide credibility to your claims and then wax on about a number of assertions without credible references other than the "Opinion" YOU believe is correct.

      Don't see the hypocracy eh?

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    13. John Phillip
      John Phillip is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Grumpy Old Man

      In reply to Felix MacNeill

      Ha, ah, felix you made the assertion therefore the onus is on you to prvide the evidence. It's pretty easy to claim everything you disagree with is wrong if you don't have to back it up. So really all you're doing is being rhetorical. You seem to run away and hide behind that excuse a lot, Felix.
      Perhaps you can put or shut up.

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    14. John Phillip
      John Phillip is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Grumpy Old Man

      In reply to Geoff Henley

      Yea Geoff. I think it's painfully obvious that there are many people who drink the Kool-aid and don't actively seek to understand what is going on. They can repeat a bunch of slogans but can't quote the data behind them and certainly are incapable of critical thinking. Oh well, we live in hope.

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    15. Henry Verberne

      Once in the fossil fuel industry but now free to speak up

      In reply to Geoff Henley

      I think others have already answered your "questions". I note you offer no positive solutions of your own.

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    16. Henry Verberne

      Once in the fossil fuel industry but now free to speak up

      In reply to Geoff Henley

      Still nothing from you! Must not have anything to write that will stand up logical scrutiny.

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    17. Henry Verberne

      Once in the fossil fuel industry but now free to speak up

      In reply to Geoff Henley

      The Australian is hardly an authoritative source.

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    18. Geoff Henley

      Research Associate in Health Statistics at Flinders University

      In reply to Henry Verberne

      "The Australian is hardly an authoritative source."

      And neither are The Age, The SMH, The Guardian, the ABC, the BBC, the Conversation, Wikipedia, David Holmes, the Climate Change Authority and a host of others.

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    1. Paul Clark

      trooper

      In reply to Ian Alexander

      All of the TV Networks, 7,9,10, SBS and Sky News Australia, and especially the ABC, still give a lot of air time for global warming. The Fairfax media is also of the left and supports AGW, despite Gina Rinehart's involvement.

      The Australian has shifted from strong supporter of global warming to a more central position. So that's one shift to the right, and maybe Murdoch is responsible for that.

      But by and large media is still dominated by the left, with TV shows like 10's The Project, 7's Andrew O'keefe, ABC's Q & A, Media Watch, Insiders, etc, and radio shows like ABC's Jon Faine..all worried about global warming.

      Bolt and Alan Jones are rarities in media these days.

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    2. Monica's wicked step

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Paul Clark

      "The Australian has shifted from strong supporter of global warming to a more central position. So that's one shift to the right, and maybe Murdoch is responsible for that."

      Exactly WHEN was The Australian a strong supporter of global warming? Certainly not while I have been reading it. I finally ended my subscription when Jane Fraser devoted her column to rehashing false statements about global warming eg that volcanoes emit more CO2 than humans. If you think that The Australian has a "centrist" position, then you must be looking at its position from a very extreme place, probably the "right."

      From The Guardian today:
      "There were 97% of comment pieces in the Herald Sun which either questioned or rejected the view of the vast majority of climate scientists – which has ironically also been measured at 97%".

      http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2013/oct/30/one-third-of-australias-media-coverage-rejects-climate-science-study-finds

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    3. Geoff Henley

      Research Associate in Health Statistics at Flinders University

      In reply to Monica's wicked step

      "There were 97% of comment pieces in the Herald Sun which either questioned or rejected the view of the vast majority of climate scientists – which has ironically also been measured at 97%".

      So the Guardian is still spruiking the 97% fallacy. Maybe one day their reporters will learn some basic statistics.

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    4. Geoff Henley

      Research Associate in Health Statistics at Flinders University

      In reply to Mike Hansen

      "just 34% of articles across all News Corporation titles acknowledged the science as valid"

      or more correctly

      "66% of articles across all News Corporation titles questioned the theory of CAGW which has been proposed by the politically-motivated IPCC".

      Now we're getting somewhere.

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    5. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Geoff Henley

      Geoff, seeing you're the one who believes in negative proof, please provide proof that the 97% figure is a fallacy.

      [Note: that word was 'proof' not spleen and opnion.]

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    6. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Geoff Henley

      We're getting to the most startlingly and multiply inaccurate statements I've ever read.

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    7. Geoff Henley

      Research Associate in Health Statistics at Flinders University

      In reply to Felix MacNeill

      Since CAGW advocates seem to have a thousand different definitions for what the 97% represents, I will base my remarks on the assertion in line with the IPCC that “97% of climate scientists believe that most of the warming since the 1950’s is due to human activities”.

      This assertion is based principally on three studies – Doran et al., Anderegg et al. & Cook’s consensus study (which essentially supercedes Oreske’s earlier study).

      Doran et al:
      Based on a relatively small sample (around 77…

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    8. MItchell Lennard

      Researcher - Distributed Energy Systems

      In reply to Geoff Henley

      Come on Geoff,

      Comments will close shortly so how about just having a go at one positive contribution…

      just quickly outline one thing you think we could do , either to mitigate risk ( an adaptation measure) or to de-corbonise either energy production or agriculture….

      I can see you enjoy wheeling out what is obviously a powerful intellect, so use it to try and suggest one positive thing we can do.

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    1. Robert McDougall

      Small Business Owner

      In reply to Michael Pulsford

      ahh , but the tobacco companies are working through those lobby groups, and have passed the same tactics over to fossil fuel companies, nothing like the smell of asbestos in the morning either.

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    2. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Michael Pulsford

      Interesting that the government is mooting legislation to try to make actions like divestment illegal. That suggests there probably is something in what you're saying.

      Markets for Change is another good example.

      Then again, the work of that notorious pinko-greenie-anarchist John Hewson, though more moderate and middle of the road, is also very promising.

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    3. Mike Hansen

      Mr.

      In reply to Michael Pulsford

      It is also the reason why they want to kill the Clean Energy Finance Corporation. The super funds are under enormous pressure to divest but in a small country like Australia, there are a limited number of investment opportunities that meet the risk profiles that the funds require. The CEFC was designed to mediate between renewable energy developers and investors so that the appropriate profiles could be provided.

      This is a government of and for the fossil fuel and mining companies. The climate science denying trolls are merely the "useful idiots".

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  7. Rene Oldenburger

    Haven't got one

    Six years of ALP, plus all the rhetoric on climate change, introduce a carbon tax. Few weeks after the ALP lost Government and we have bushfires around Sydney and the finger is being pointed at TA and the NLP

    Obviously whatever the ALP did in the preceding 6 years wasn't enough to stop these bushfires

    Perhaps people should start blaming the ALP for not doing enough

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    1. Alice Kelly
      Alice Kelly is a Friend of The Conversation.

      sole parent

      In reply to Rene Oldenburger

      Rene, in case you didn't know, fire in south and south eastern Australia, is one of the risks associated with climate change that we have to prepare for. Other countries have been identifying risk pertinent to them, and have been preparing long term for future climate change events. New York is preparing their sub-way for high water surges associated with storms etc.
      You could look at figure 2 in this article which studies high fire danger days between 1973 and 2010 for Australia. Victoria is the…

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    2. Rene Oldenburger

      Haven't got one

      In reply to Alice Kelly

      Alice, interesting episode of Four Corners - power lines seem to be a major problem during hot spells and from what was said this has been known for quite some time.

      You can have all the policies in place to stop climate change but these above ground power lines will continue to pose a threat

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    3. Henry Verberne

      Once in the fossil fuel industry but now free to speak up

      In reply to Rene Oldenburger

      We can chew gum and fart at the same time Rene! Effective action to reduce the risk of catastrophic bushfire requires action on a multitude of fronts.

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    4. Rene Oldenburger

      Haven't got one

      In reply to Henry Verberne

      Glad you can chew gum and fart at the same time, I would say putting these power cables underground would be a high priority in high risk areas, but it obviously isn't

      Next thing will be the floods again and no one thinks of actually building some more levees or dikes around the already known water ways that will cause these floods.

      Screaming global warming at every opportunity doesn't do much unless you actually do something about the obvious things that are staring you right in the face

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  8. Whyn Carnie

    Retired Engineer

    There is no need for politicians to run from climate change. they only need to do what they are best at, procrastinate, and they will see the next global cooling cycle come along. It must be very confusing to our politicians and economists to be told all manner of contrived temperature records are being broken due to climate change.

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    1. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Whyn Carnie

      Yup, those wicked contrivers at the BoM, NASA, WMO, etc.

      Shameless, fiendish, contrivers. Just as well there are no independent scientists left alive to provide the evidence to demonstrate their wickedness.

      (Excuse me while I take a yawn break.)

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  9. Peter Fry

    retired

    Good article.
    Something that could be pointed out more often is that much of the actual global warming that is occurring is being absorbed by the ocean – which after all dominates the surface of the globe and contains most of the life on the planet.
    The effect of the warming ocean of course can be to generate greater storms but it also has an effect on life cycles in the oceans. In the Atlantic, Indian and Pacific Oceans there are now vast jellyfish blooms which can take advantage of warming water…

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  10. John Nicol

    logged in via email @bigpond.com

    The Author -- Bill Hare

    Dear Bill,

    You say:"The Prime Minister should perform a real act of leadership. He should inform the country that climate science is solid and - while no single event can yet be attributed to global warming - the extreme and unusually early fires in Sydney are a signal of what is to come unless we all knuckle down and work on reducing our emissions."

    1. Why should he be dishonest and something he does not believe to be true?

    2.Why should he believe it to be true…

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    1. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to John Nicol

      Why would anyone bother to waste flak on this, John? You shoot yourself down in flames so competently.

      By the way, have you started writing your Nobel Prize acceptance speech?

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    2. Henry Verberne

      Once in the fossil fuel industry but now free to speak up

      In reply to John Nicol

      try reading a bit more widely John. See skepticalscience.com for some peer-reviewed science rather than the obvious propaganda line you are pushing.

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    3. MItchell Lennard

      Researcher - Distributed Energy Systems

      In reply to John Nicol

      Hi John,

      While I am not able to agree with you on the science I do appreciate you being very clear about your position on the science and how this informs you conclusions about the need for action.

      The significant concern many people have regarding action on greenhouse gas emissions is driven by many though processes ranging from short term self interest, fear or just being overwhelmed by the concepts. In order for us to have a sensible discussion it is important that we come to terms with what drives peoples concerns.

      I applaud your clarity on outlining your concern about the science, I wish more people ( especially our elected representatives) could explain their underlying motivation.

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    4. Mike Hansen

      Mr.

      In reply to MItchell Lennard

      @Mitchell Lennard

      If John Nicol was just another confused old guy on the internet you could have some sympathy for him.

      But he is the chairman of the climate science denier outfit, the deceptively named Australian Climate Science Coalition and bullshitting about climate science is what he does pretty much full time.

      Here he is deliberately lying about the latest IPCC report. This is not confusion. This is deliberate misrepresentation after he had been previously informed that he was wrong…

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    5. MItchell Lennard

      Researcher - Distributed Energy Systems

      In reply to Mike Hansen

      no worries Mike,

      I know John Nichols view of the science is wrong, and I have seen the manner in which he goes about confusing the discussion…

      but at least his position is clear … he doesn't agree with the science and hence he sees no reason to act…

      Its this clarity of position that I am keen on….

      I will not ever convince people like John, but I can point out to others where his science is wrong when that is required. Further I can say that John does not want to act as he does not agree about the science.

      I would like to be able to say this about our Prime Minister but I cannot because he has not been honest about his view of the science and he has not be honest about his real desire to act.

      Its this clarity and this braking down of things into little understandable bits that is important.

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    6. John Nicol

      logged in via email @bigpond.com

      In reply to Henry Verberne

      Henry Verbene

      Thank you very much for your comment but I prefer to read the original papers and as widely as I can, rather than the carefully selected interpretations of what the quite meaningless publications from the climate geographers picked out by the editorial section of Skeptical Science.

      The basis of global warming theory lies in the fundamental spectroscopy of carbon dioxide, yet NONE of these papers from the climate units, or any where else, which are populated by advocates of the…

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    7. John Nicol

      logged in via email @bigpond.com

      In reply to Georgina Byrne

      Georgina Byrne

      Thank you for your little contribution.

      I guess you would describe yourself as a minimalist. Certainly the many farmers that I have known from the Gulf to Charleville, from Emerald to Dalby in sheep and cattle, Grain and cotton, would be sufficiently articulate to provide some significant contribution to any discussion.

      Unfortunately you have given me nothing to comment upon so I shall leave you here with just my best wishes and the hope that it rains soon out at your place, as I guess it must be getting pretty dry.
      Regards,
      John Nicol

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    8. John Nicol

      logged in via email @bigpond.com

      In reply to MItchell Lennard

      Mitchell Lennard

      Hi Mitchell,

      Thank you for your comment and your clear statement of your position also.

      Hopefully we will meet again here, or on another forum where we again may exchange our ideas without rancour, which unfortunately does fill these pages all too often,
      Best wishes,
      John Nicol

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