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Expanding coal exports is bad news for Australia and the world

In the coming months our new federal government will be promoting a massive expansion in Australia’s coal exports. In all likelihood they’ll hail it as “good For Australia”. It isn’t. Most of us are familiar…

We need to look at the economic and social cost of our coal. Beyond Coal and Gas

In the coming months our new federal government will be promoting a massive expansion in Australia’s coal exports. In all likelihood they’ll hail it as “good For Australia”. It isn’t.

Most of us are familiar with the damage coal mining, export and burning does to the environment. We know it affects health, contributes to climate change, risks groundwater supplies and threatens the Great Barrier Reef.

For many, that damage is offset by what they see as social and economic benefits, here and abroad. But in almost all cases, those benefits are exaggerated or non-existent.

How much carbon dioxide are we exporting?

The Australian Bureau of Resources and Energy Economics expects (p. 106) that Australia’s black coal exports in the financial year 2013-14 will be 350 million tonnes (Mt).

With an energy content factor of about 27 GJ/tCoal, and an emissions factor (including oxidation factor) for CO2 of about 88.2 kgCO2-e/GJ, this gives 2.38 tonnes of CO2-e (CO2-equivalent) from every tonne of coal burnt.

The effects of methane and nitrous oxide released from coal combustion bump it up to 2.39 tCO2-e. That implies that the combustion of our coal exports will release around 836 Mt CO2-e. To put that figure in perspective, Germany’s CO2emissions in 2011 were just 807 Mt.

Greenpeace estimates the mega-mines planned for Queensland’s Galilee Basin alone would produce some 705 million tonnes of CO2 each year. That’s enough to chew through around 6% of the CO2 the entire world can release to keep warming to 2C above pre-industrial temperatures.

Burning coal causes billions of dollars in damage

Our coal exports are causing massive environmental, social and economic damage. These costs are not factored into coal’s export price.

In May the US Government revised its estimates for the net present value of global damage caused by CO2 emissions. These models may significantly under-estimate the costs of damage, but the results are sobering.

By these conservative US Government estimates, our current coal exports are causing between A$11 billion and A$103 billion of damage globally each year (in 2013 dollars). None of this is included in the coal export price.

When we consider that total revenues from exports in FY2013-14 (p. 94) are expected to be around A$41.5 billion, and actual profits are a much smaller fraction of revenues, we can be confident that the unpriced damage caused by our coal exports is likely to be significantly greater than the profits made from those exports.

If our coal exports were to reach 1000 Mt by 2020, they would be producing around 2390 Mt of CO2 and up to A$370 billion in global damage each year.

Pricing this damage could fund the repair

It will be argued of course, that this reasoning doesn’t take into account the economic benefits from the energy produced from the coal. True. But the export price should be higher to internalise the costs of damage – otherwise markets will continue to give misleading signals.

Correcting the market failure of externalised costs could be done either in Australia with an export tax, or in the importing countries with an import tariff or domestic price on carbon.

If Australia imposed an export tax itself, as Peter Christoff suggested, then the Australian people would capture the benefits of that revenue stream. We could fund climate adaptation measures, clean energy and disaster risk reduction in Australia. We could pay our international climate finance obligations to the poorest developing countries to help them to adapt to climate change.

The coal boom damages our economy

Treasury officials and researchers such as Richard Denniss and Matt Grudnoff have shown the resources boom helped to push up our exchange rate.

This caused significant damage to tourism, tertiary education, manufacturing, agriculture and other clean export industries – a classic example of the so-called Dutch-disease. These industries employ vastly more people (Table 06) in far more widely dispersed locations than coal mining.

Leisure tourism has also been hard hit, not only by the higher exchange rate, but by higher labour costs and difficulties attracting skilled staff.

A massive expansion of coal mining would make capital and labour even more expensive for other industries – exacerbating the crowding out effects already seen in the first phase of the mining boom.

Australia Institute researcher Mark Ogge has said: “Consultants for Clive Palmer’s China First coal mine in the Galilee basin estimated, in the company’s EIS, that this effect of driving up labor costs would mean 3,000 jobs will be lost in other parts of the economy, with manufacturing being the hardest hit.”

Powerful coal interests distort our political system

Guy Pearse and Clive Hamilton blew the whistle on the influence the fossil fuel industry has on Australia’s climate change and energy policies. Powerful coal mining companies and their lobbyists distort our political economy, and the expansion of the industry will only make the problem worse.

The tourism and education sectors are together just as significant export earners for Australia, and employ far more people, than coal mining.

But there is no equivalent to the giant mining companies in those sectors to make large political donations, or to fund well-orchestrated lobbying and media campaigns promoting their interests.

Our coal undercuts clean energy in developing countries

The argument is often made that if we really cared about the poor we’d export a lot more coal – but this is purest nonsense. It ignores the devastating costs of climate change and respiratory illnesses to the poor, and makes it harder for developing countries to transition to a clean energy future.

Wind energy is already competitive with new coal-fired power stations in India and solar is expected to be competitive by 2018.

The World Bank no longer funds coal fired power stations in developing countries and analysts at Goldman Sachs are already warning that coal export terminals are a bad investment because expected global demand for thermal coal has been over-estimated.

Australia should halt its plans to expand its coal production and exports – it enriches a few at the expense of millions and will inflict immense damage both on our own country and on the rest of the world.

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  1. Mark McGuire

    climate consensus rebel

    Poorly Researched Quote:"... analysts at Goldman Sachs are already warning that coal export terminals are a bad investment because expected global demand for thermal coal has been over-estimated."
    July 2013: Why on Earth does Goldman Sachs own a coal mine in Colombia? http://www.salon.com/2013/07/22/goldman_sachs_has_no_business_partner/
    Any claim that mining coal is responsible for changing global climate has been disproved by this latest statement from the BBC: Rare Solar Cycle Has Cold Implications…

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    1. Tony Thomas

      Writer for Quadrant Online and Quadrant print monthly

      In reply to Mark McGuire

      How can coal exports be causing such allegedly costly climate damage when there hasn't been any statistically significant warming for the past 17 years? (As acknowledged by IPCC chair Pachauri, The Australian, 22/2/13).

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    2. Mike Swinbourne

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Mark McGuire

      ".....Any claim that mining coal is responsible for changing global climate has been disproved by this latest statement from the BBC:...."

      No Mark, it has not. But you are partially correct, which for you is a first. Mining coal does not change the global climate; burning it does.

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    3. Mark McGuire

      climate consensus rebel

      In reply to Mike Swinbourne

      Hi Mike.
      Thanks for noting my "first" here at the conversation. You can mine coal, burn coal or stick it in your christmas stocking for all I care. It still doesn't change the fact it has NOTHING to do with a more southerly positioned jet stream that is the reason why the UK has recently seen a return of cold snowy winters and a run of poor summers. It is the sun, Mike, not carbon(sic). Unless you can prove that wrong? Alternatively, you can continue flaming me.

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    4. In reply to Tony Thomas

      Comment removed by moderator.

    5. Mike Pope

      logged in via email @hotmail.com

      In reply to Mike Swinbourne

      No Mike - mining coal also makes a contribution to global warming because in the process of extracting coal, methane is released. As we all know, during its residence in the atmosphere, methane has global warming potential of ~72 times greater than CO2. That makes it a potent and dangerous by-roduct of coal mining.

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    6. Mark McGuire

      climate consensus rebel

      In reply to Dr Graham Lovell

      Dr Graham Lovell,
      From the end of the acknowledged cooling phase of 1976 to the current AGW as announced by James Hansen in 1988, it is no more than 12 years, which is a "subset of a long series" as well. Why does it only take 12 years to identify AGW, but 17 years of hiatus is too short to question it?

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

      sole parent

      In reply to account deleted

      There has been no stagnation in the temperature of the oceans, and unfortunately when sea ice melts at the rate it has been doing over arctic summers, the ocean absorbs more heat than usual, heating arctic air temperature as well. thawing of tundra in northern russia, canada, greenland, iceland etc is now releasing unprecedented amounts of CO2 and methane, which will heat the planet further.
      Accurate data of average temperature increases
      http://www.nodc.noaa.gov/OC5/3M_HEAT_CONTENT/
      This is an accurate depiction of changes to the arctic, including why it is considered serious
      http://climate.nasa.gov/news/958
      Coal and gas expansion in Australia will only make climate change worse.
      http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Environmental_impact_of_the_coal_industry&action=edit&section=11

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    8. Dr Graham Lovell

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Mark McGuire

      Thanks for your feedback.

      I seriously doubt that Hansen identified AGW from 12 years of data, but if he did, it was an extraordinary achievement.

      I have modelled the temperature anomalies data for 163 years, and it totally supports the IPCC hypothesis. (Check out the link for a nice graphic of this.)

      If Hansen did his work with just 12 years of data he has to be put into the genius category. I wish all my predictions would work out as well as his have done!

      I am a late-comer to this debate…

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    9. David Arthur

      resistance gnome

      In reply to Mark McGuire

      Hey McGuire, jet streams affect weather in Europe on a seasonal basis only. Mind you, you know what's driving these jetstream changes? Global warming, that's what.

      When does "rebel" become "own worst enemy"?

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

      sole parent

      In reply to Tony Thomas

      Quadrant plays a big part in the organised denier movement in Australia, and reports inaccurate and false science to the public. Quadrant should not be taken seriously in this debate at all.

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    11. David Arthur

      resistance gnome

      In reply to Peter Smith

      Which came first - ignorance, or writing for Quadrant?

      Perhaps writing for Quadrant doesn't explain ignorance so much as ignorance being a prerequisite for writing for Quadrant.

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    12. David Arthur

      resistance gnome

      In reply to Mark McGuire

      Hansen's been expecting global warming due to increased atmospheric greenhouse gases since his undergraduate years, when he learned about John Tyndall's work in the 1850's.

      1998 might be when you first heard of it.

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    13. Mark McGuire

      climate consensus rebel

      In reply to David Arthur

      Quote:"Hey McGuire, jet streams affect weather in Europe on a seasonal basis only."

      Thanks Dave for that info.

      Quote Met: "But a more southerly positioned jet stream is the reason why the UK has recently seen a return of cold snowy winters and a run of poor summers."

      Which season would that be?

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    14. Mark McGuire

      climate consensus rebel

      In reply to Dr Graham Lovell

      Thank you sir for your time. It was a an extraordinary achievement from Hansen.
      Complete list of global cooling headlines-1970: http://www.populartechnology.net/2013/02/the-1970s-global-cooling-alarmism.html
      Hansens 1988 Projections (realclimate): http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2007/05/hansens-1988-projections/
      No Warming From 1979 To 1988:
      http://stevengoddard.wordpress.com/2013/03/30/no-warming-from-1979-to-1988/

      Your challenge for an alternative hypothesis is beyond my abilities. I can only link someone else's which I find convincing considering how little is known about our dynamic climate. The very least being clouds: "From a Technical University of Denmark press release comes what looks to be a significant confirmation of Svensmark’s theory of temperature modulation on Earth by cosmic ray interactions." http://www.dtu.dk/english/News/Nyhed?id={ABB2F1B4-F5F7-4452-BB39-9818EA7CB8F9}

      Many thanks for your time to help me understand.

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    15. Mark McGuire

      climate consensus rebel

      In reply to Alice Kelly

      Hi Alice. Thanks for that link. It would appear that it is not a comprehensive, accurate explanation. Here is an update. August 21, 2013: Arctic May Not Be Altering Jet Stream: Study. http://www.climatecentral.org/news/new-study-questions-arctic-warming-extreme-weather-links-16375
      A quote from your link: "Accelerated warming in the Arctic is decreasing the difference in temperature between the Arctic and the Northern Temperate Zone." link: UAH Arctic Temperature Anomaly: No Arctic warming for the past eight years http://stevengoddard.wordpress.com/2013/09/09/another-global-warming-canary-freezes-to-death/

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    16. David Arthur

      resistance gnome

      In reply to Mark McGuire

      It'd be their winter, Mr McGuire, and the more southerly jet stream is a consequence of rapid heating in the Arctic (ref1 "Impact of sea ice cover changes on the Northern Hemisphere atmospheric winter circulation", Jaiser et al, Tellus A, 2012, ref2 "Arctic warming, increasing snow cover and widespread boreal winter cooling", Cohen et al, 2012 Environ. Res. Lett. 7 014007, http://iopscience.iop.org/1748-9326/7/1/014007).

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

      sole parent

      In reply to Mark McGuire

      Mark according to the first article you referred me to "the main reason behind this is that the Arctic has warmed ay twice the rate of the rest of the northern hemisphere."
      Also, it would be important to look at what the "new" research concludes. Elizabeth Barnes actually says in her research, "The results presented here have important implications for climate and climate change research, as shifts of the eddy-driven jet are associated with changes in weather and, if they persist, will affect the…

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    18. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Mark McGuire

      Mark, perhaps if you were to actually read what was said here you would be less risible.

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    19. Dr Graham Lovell

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Mark McGuire

      Thanks for your response.

      According to my modelling, the world is in a cooling phase, of about 0.4 °C per 1000 years.

      The more recent virtual doubling of the atmospheric levels of GHGs means that this "cooling" cannot be seen at all in the temperature record of the late 20th century (although I suspect that the current phase of the long-term oscillation can still be found mathematically).

      It is easy to see that the "non-warming from 1979 to 1988" is a non-issue. You will notice that on the…

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    20. David Rennie

      IT Consultant

      In reply to Tony Thomas

      Lloyd, or the Australian misrepresented Pachauri who chose not to argue with his ignorance but pointed out that the short time frame was unscientific. Lloyd, or the Australian, didn't highlight that part of the interview.
      Lloyd actually claimed 'no warming', The likelihood of statistically significant warming in 15 years is low because other factors including, ENSO, Solar Cycles and aerosol emissions are far more likely to be the cause of temperature variations in the short term
      Science has identified 30 years as a reasonable period for identifying climate trends, it is the deniersphere that focuses on short term variations.

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    21. David Rennie

      IT Consultant

      In reply to Mark McGuire

      Mark,
      temperatures have been rising since the 1950's after a brief decline from the second world war to the 1950's. The 'acknowledged cooling' is simply a statistical misrepresentation that presents the longest period from the 1940's when the trend line was downwards, however all of this decline occurred in the 1940s and early 1950's. The trend was upward from the mid 1950's.
      Deniers will of course continue to peddle this trash because honesty eludes them.

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    22. helen stream

      teacher

      In reply to Dr Graham Lovell

      Dr Graham Lovell...

      You say there's been a trend from 1850 to the present, with the temperature having increased by 0.838 degreesC?

      Are you claiming that temperature measurement at the start of your trend was as precise and covered as large a part of the earth as it does now?

      Tree rings have proven unreliable as proxies , as have others like ice cores---and much of the earth wasn't measured back then , and where it was, precision and consistency weren't key--- so what is your confidence…

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    23. Dr Graham Lovell

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to helen stream

      Thanks for your great response.

      In regard to the evidence, as a historian I am used to dealing with limited and sometimes somewhat unreliable evidence. In my field, you have to collect those pieces of evidence that are available and make sense of them.

      Yet, despite your assertions, ice-core records have not been rejected by the scientific community, nor have tree ring data, neither have measurements taken by dedicated meteorologists over the last 163 years. Reject them if you want to, but…

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    24. Dr Graham Lovell

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to account deleted

      Yes, we need a new paradigm for sustainable consumption.

      Although there is a mechanism for pushing the "peaks" away, and that is price, but the question is whether price will rise fast enough to still leave anything behind for the following generations.

      Yet forecasting what is going to happen is always difficult, and the Club of Rome prognostications of everything running out by the year 2000, or so, represent the classic example. We just keep finding more stuff.

      Similarly, the projections…

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    25. Trevor S

      Jack of all Trades

      In reply to Mark McGuire

      " Mike, not carbon(sic). Unless you can prove that wrong?"

      Your argument is that the physics and measured data is wrong ?

      "What they found was a drop in outgoing radiation at the wavelength bands that greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane (CH4) absorb energy. The change in outgoing radiation is consistent with theoretical expectations. Thus the paper found "direct experimental evidence for a significant increase in the Earth's greenhouse effect"."

      http://www.skepticalscience.com/print.php?r=35

      So if all those guys were wrong, as you state, where is the heat that must be there, going ?

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    26. helen stream

      teacher

      In reply to Dr Graham Lovell

      Dr Lovell...

      With no evidence other than that I question whether temperature was measured 160 years ago with the same precision as achieved now---- you infer that I think everything from the past is worthless.
      That's some assumption!

      And it could not be more wrong. As a conservative , I'm the last person to discard or downgrade anything from the past for that reason alone.

      If it's better than now, it's better than now---end of story---change merely for change's sake is abhorrent to me…

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    27. Dr Graham Lovell

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to helen stream

      Once again you have provided a stimulating response.

      I have read the report in your Schindell link. http://www.giss.nasa.gov/staff/dshindell/Shindell_House_testimony_3_16_10.pdf

      This report is extraordinarily interesting, and at first glance I cannot see anything with which I would disagree. I thought that the significance of diesel fuel as a source of black carbon was particularly interesting.

      In this report it is indicated that cutting black carbon is likely to slow the rate of warming…

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    28. Doug Hutcheson

      Poet

      In reply to helen stream

      "... much of the Arctic melt and that of the glaciers and permafrost, is caused by black carbon[ soot], nothing to do with CO2 ..." How much, exactly? Do you have any science to back this up? BC certainly plays a rôle, as do solar cycles and cosmic rays, but the science to date has shown these are all making tiny changes and the real driver of current warming is the level of GHGs in the atmosphere.

      BC emitted by burning Australian coal will have less impact than the simultaneous emission of GHGs. Our coal exports are doing harm.

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    29. Bernie Masters

      environmental consultant at FIA Technology Pty Ltd, B K Masters and Associates

      In reply to Doug Hutcheson

      Doug and Helen, some quantification of the impact of black carbon/soot has been done - see http://berniemasters.blogspot.com.au/2013/01/black-carbon-far-more-powerful-source.html . This estimate found that black carbon (in comparison with the greenhouse gas warming caused by CO2) was responsible for about 40% of the heat trapped by CO2, so we can reduce the amount of heat being absorbed in the atmosphere and reduce the rate of glacier and sea ice melt and improve air quality, etc, by tacking this black soot problem.

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    30. Doug Hutcheson

      Poet

      In reply to Dr Graham Lovell

      "Technology will come to our aid": Dr. Lovell, I admire your optimism, but doubt wishful thinking will be converted to realistic action. Given the length of time the science of AGW has been developing, I would have hoped a solution to our dilemma would have appeared before now. YMMV.

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  2. John Newlands

    tree changer

    Exporting coal while pretending to care about global emissions is akin to a meth dealer teaching Sunday School. The excuse that it helps the poor reeks of colonialism as if they are only capable of Dickensian technology. Give them the coal for free as foreign aid in that case.

    A couple of years back ABARE no S used the CO2 multiplier 2.4 for thermal coal so that each tonne burned created 2.4t of CO2. For coking coal the multiplier is about 2.8. For LNG the multiplier is about 2.9 despite the…

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  3. Craig Myatt

    Industrial Designer / R&D

    This is a sensible and thoroughly researched article. We should be having more not less of these discussions, and push against any political resistance to the discussion. Let's ask these hard questions, like how do we make income, if not from coal? Clearly we cannot continue to export emissions.

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  4. Dr Graham Lovell

    logged in via Twitter

    Sure. Put an export tax on coal exported to India so that Australia can get higher tax revenue at India's expense, and then we can share our new largesse with the developing world. Hardly a great argument, I would have thought.

    Try doing that to China, and see what the political reaction will be from the largest nation on earth.

    Those who want to make Australia the climate policeman of the world need to take some humility pills.

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    1. Peter Smith

      (None)

      In reply to Dr Graham Lovell

      Humility? India nearly drowned after the last flood. If they won't bring in a suitable carbon price, then we'll tax it at our end. They'll quickly realise it's better

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    2. Dr Graham Lovell

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to account deleted

      I find it hard to believe that you don't think that this is being the "climate policeman".

      Furthermore, it is not up to Australia to charge the imputed cost of reducing carbon dioxide, and then pocket the proceeds, or even under the idealistic scheme depicted here, to use it for global altruism.

      This seems to self-define hubris. And we are a country of only about 20 million people! We must be very special.

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    3. Dr Graham Lovell

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Peter Smith

      Yes. I agree that it would be OK for India to charge a carbon price. But I would rather try to convince them that to commit an act of economic war in order to force them to do it.

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  5. david leitch

    research analyst

    Tis article makes good points including the inevitable contradictions of exporting coal whilst pricing carbon domestically. Of course we are going to fix this contradiction by getting rid of the domestic cost of carbon. Sigh!

    However where I think the author has overstepped the mark is in the broad claim that a rising exchange rate is bad for the economy. It's bad for some parts of the economy but very good for others. Just ask a consumer or an importer.

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  6. Peter Smith

    (None)

    We need a rising thermal coal export levy if the destination doesn't have a suitable carbon price or uses CCS. We also need to (re)explore coal-free steel manufacturing (i.e. with gas/hydrogen) and try to foster this cleaner, advanced industry in Australia rather than letting it go off-shore.

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  7. Christopher Seymour

    Business owner

    One issue totally ignored in this article is that about half of Australia's coal exports are metallurgical coal. There is no real alternative to coal for reducing iron ore to metal. And without metal, how are you going to build all those windmill towers?

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    1. Mike Jubow

      forestry nurseryman

      In reply to Christopher Seymour

      Christopher, in the iron age and right through to the 20th Century, iron was smelted by (by some societies) with charcoal made from dense timbers and steel was made from the iron with charcoal also. I reckon if we grew several million acres of Eucalypts we could go back to that in about 60 plus years. At least the CO2 thrown into the atmosphere would be renewable CO2..

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  8. Mark Lawson

    senior journalist at Australian Financial Review

    This is deep green stuff, with the author going as far as seriously quoting Greenpeace sources. I always had a lot of problems with the contention that port developments along the coast would affect the barrier reef area. Sure you can mount an argument for farming run-off affecting the reef (fertilisers), but excavations seriously affecting conditions in international waters? For heaven sake what are they using in the construction phase that would get into the water as far out as the reef? There may certainly be a case for controls but its stretching a point to block port developments altogether. The Federal Government has has the power to block and has done so over any perceived threat to the reef (Alpha project), but the blocks have been temporary perhaps because no one could come up with a convincing case for an effect on the reef.

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

      sole parent

      In reply to Mark Lawson

      Here's some more deep green stuff for you to read Mark, a bit different than brown stuff. It's all a great read. "Doubting Australia: The roots of Australia's climate denial" . Right wing media bloggers and "institutes", lobbyists, mining companies, politicians, all organised in a co-ordinated attack on the science and any legislation which would get in their way. News corp employs some of them on a regular basis. Their effectiveness will not last forever. Lies do not remain a secret.

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    2. Mark McGuire

      climate consensus rebel

      In reply to Alice Kelly

      From your link, Alice: "With a massive coal and mining industry backing him, Australian Prime Minister John Howard’s government was the perfect breeding ground for climate denial." Your anger seems mis-placed. http://newsweekly.com.au/article.php?id=5257 quote:
      "The last dark deed of the Howard Government was the passage of the National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting Act in October 2007. That act is the auditing basis of the carbon tax.
      Mr Howard’s plan was to get the auditing system bedded down, then start taxing. Labor’s carbon tax would be a couple of years behind schedule if Mr Howard had not laid the bureaucratic foundations for it."

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    3. Jon Brodie

      Research scientist

      In reply to Mark Lawson

      The reality is that agriculture is responsible for producing about 6 million tonnes of sediment discharged to the GBR lagoon each year. This is in addition to the about 2 million tonnes discharged naturally (hence a total of 8 million tonnes on average). Through Reef Rescue expenditure of about $50 million up to 2011 we managed to reduce this by about 400,000 tonnes per year. Current plans, assuming most of the port expansions go ahead, will see at least 100 million tonnes of sediment as dredge spoil…

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  9. robert roeder
    robert roeder is a Friend of The Conversation.

    retired

    I read recently that the heat is being transfered to the deep oceans, the ambient temperature is secondary to the oceans, if the water warms disaster will follow.
    Debate on this topic in Australia will be irrelevant for at least the next three years the people have voted, bums pointing skyward indicate our potential for future penetration.

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    1. Christopher Seymour

      Business owner

      In reply to robert roeder

      One of the problems with getting action on climate change is the arrogant rudeness of the proponents. I would vote against a carbon tax because it has absolutely no effect on climate change. Climate change is serious and potentially catastrophic for continued human civilization on the planet. We need a real action plan, not totally ineffective ones. Anyone who came up with such a plan would I am sure get the support of the electorate.

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    2. Dr Graham Lovell

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Christopher Seymour

      There is a scheme that would work, which would be (almost) painless, could be implemented without international agreement, and would not damage our manufacturing and other industry. I hope you would vote for it.

      The scheme requires a "fully-rebatable carbon levy". It starts with a carbon price of $10 per tonne, progressively growing to $40 tonne over 10 years.

      The revenue from the scheme is fully rebatable to consumer and business users of electricity through their electricity account. The…

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    3. robert roeder
      robert roeder is a Friend of The Conversation.

      retired

      In reply to Christopher Seymour

      I agree Christopher, populist policies rule here in Oz this is what you get when a large group of uninformed people blow in the wind, throw in a dash of self interest and presto. Fortunately we are positioned in the southern hemisphere a sub tropical Tasmania sounds nice the fish have caught on already.

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    4. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Christopher Seymour

      Any actual suggestions there, Christopher, or do you just prefer to stanbd back and criticise schemes based on a mixture of the best available science and the 'best' available conventional economics?

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  10. David Rennie

    IT Consultant

    An export tax on fossil fuels would generate a strong income stream for the government, coming from the industries benefiting the most from polluting the planet. It could replace the current impost on electricity and perhaps provide money to pay for the coalitions direct inaction plan.

    It would cause a slight increase in coal prices, probably as little as 10% of the value of the tax because the Australian companies involved would not be able to pass the tax on to the buyers. It would not be…

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  11. Bernie Masters

    environmental consultant at FIA Technology Pty Ltd, B K Masters and Associates

    This article is written by a political lobbyist who works for a political anti-everything conservation group (the ACF). It incorporates a shallow scientific analysis of the climate change problems facing the world with an even shallower economic analysis of one of Australia's most important export industries. Overall, a very disappointing article that adds nothing other than emotion to an already overheated and largely irrelevant debate on an issue that has lost focus.

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    1. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Bernie Masters

      You see, Bernie, when you fall back on cheap snideness like 'a political anti-everything conservation group' all you really expose i sthe emptiness of your words.

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    2. Bernie Masters

      environmental consultant at FIA Technology Pty Ltd, B K Masters and Associates

      In reply to Felix MacNeill

      Felix, I was a member of the ACF in the 1970s when it was taken over by more radical elements. I remained a member for a while thereafter and stayed on their mailing list for decades up until a couple of years ago when I finally couldn't take their incessant and overwhelming negativity. They really are anti just about any human development activity or proposal. I invite you to look at their website and come back and tell me of their positive campaigns that show they have a real understanding of sustainability: the balance between competing economic, social and environmental costs and benefits.
      In many ways, they're like the Greens who have changed their focus from pro-environment to anti-development.
      Even David Suzuki has apologised to his supporters after 30 years of his relentless negativity and accepted that the way forward is to achieve positive, sustainable and holistic change.

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  12. John Newlands

    tree changer

    Assuming the CO2 price will be $24.15 for a few more months X 2.4 that would add $58 or 73% to the current spot price of thermal coal of about $80/t. In theory carbon tax being revenue neutral we could send the buyer a cheque to their wildlife fund. In practice they will get the coal elsewhere. This is where the suggestion by Prof. Helm of Oxford, economic Joseph Stiglitz and others comes in.. carbon tax goods imported from China and India.

    Unless the Chinese get their emissions down from 10 bn tonnes to say 2 bn the West's domestic carbon programs are feeble. We should club together ie Europe, Nordic countries, California etc to put the squeeze on the greenhouse rogues. Aside from harbour dredging there is likely to be another Shen Neng incident where the GBR is damaged. That and warming.

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    1. Dr Graham Lovell

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to John Newlands

      John, I sympathise with your objective of arguing for getting GHG emissions down, but I have more trust that you appear to have in the power of argument.

      I may be a polyanna, but left to their own devices I expect that most nations will respond to the challenge. It is already happening, as you noted with EU, non-EU nordic and California. It is also very significant that China have set cap on coal consumption at 4 billion tonnes, which is their current level. In Australia, at least we have the…

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    2. John Newlands

      tree changer

      In reply to Dr Graham Lovell

      Much of that Chinese GHG is on behalf of the West so a carbon tariff shares the pain...we buy less they sell less or try to make stuff with less emissions. Mother Nature doesn't care that our per capita emissions are higher. We emit 0.5 Gt for 23m people while China emits nearly 10 Gt for 1,351m people but some of it on our behalf. We even supply the ingredients like WA iron ore and Qld/NSW coking coal.

      Starting yesterday everybody should be cutting CO2 by 1-2% per year. I favour an international CO2 price but not gamed with absurdly generous freebies.

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    3. Tony Xiao

      retired teacher

      In reply to Dr Graham Lovell

      As you rightly say, Australia's responsibility is to carry its own burden.
      Australia burns more coal per capita than both China and India combined and then some.
      A quick look at the 2012 data on coal consumption shows that Australia burns 5.5 short tonnes per capita, China 2.94 per capita and India 0.64 per capita.
      And this doesn't even account for the percentage of coal burnt as a result of global outsourcing of production to both countries..
      While exporting coal may be bad news for the world, so too is Australia's coal consumption. .

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    4. Bernie Masters

      environmental consultant at FIA Technology Pty Ltd, B K Masters and Associates

      In reply to Tony Xiao

      Tony, using your figures and assuming Australia's population is 23 million, China's is 1.3 billion and India's is 1.1 billion, this works out to these countries burning the following tonnages of coal each year:
      Australia 119.6 million tonnes
      China 3.822 billion tonnes - 32 times more than Australia
      India 704 million tonnes - 5.9 times more than Australia

      To Alice and others, I'm not a climate change skeptic or denier, nor am I a pro - or anti-coal campaigner. Instead, I'm asking what I believe…

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    5. In reply to Tony Xiao

      Comment removed by moderator.

    6. Dr Graham Lovell

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Bernie Masters

      I too think we should take a Bex and lie down.

      Why don't we agree to follow the IPCC's lead, as outlined in its 1990 Scenario C? This appears to be the one most likely to be internationally adopted. We are also currently on track to achieve it.

      It is a "hold the line until relief arrives" strategy. It means that every nation does its bit, by reducing its carbon intensity as much as technology allows. This means following a path of substituting coal-fired electricity with gas, adding wind-power…

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    7. Chris Sherley

      Lecturer/researcher of marketing at Charles Sturt University

      In reply to Bernie Masters

      Bernie, I presented a very similar argument to the head of the DCCEE and the advisors for Combet, Swan and Gillard just after they passed the carbon tax legislation. They basically told me that it was not what the Bob Brown wanted and that it wouldn't be seen by those on the left as achieving anything.

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    8. Bernie Masters

      environmental consultant at FIA Technology Pty Ltd, B K Masters and Associates

      In reply to Chris Sherley

      Thanks for that interesting insight, Chris. In 1999 or thereabouts, I wrote to Greens senator from WA Dee Margetts and suggested that the Greens should support the GST proposals of John Howard (he needed one extra vote in the senate) but with conditions attached such as no GST on solar hot water systems, rooftop PV systems, fuel efficient cars, insulation, etc. After no reply and me sending a 2nd letter, she finally replied saying 'the Greens will save the environment in their own way' or words to that effect. What a missed opportunity to nudge Australians into being more environmentally friendly!

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    9. Chris Sherley

      Lecturer/researcher of marketing at Charles Sturt University

      In reply to Bernie Masters

      Hi Bernie, yes unfortunately environmentalists have been divided by the typical human obsession with institutional ideology. Jon Haidt calls it the "Sacred Cow" effect (I apologise to Jon if I have misquoted him there!). Where people become so entrenched in their beliefs that they cannot consider different solutions to problems.

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    10. Gary Murphy

      Independent Thinker

      In reply to Bernie Masters

      "What we should be doing is spend our time and money and effort on trying to help countries like China and India to not make the energy-consumption mistakes we've made..."

      That is the argument for internationally tradeable permits. Where it is cheaper to pay developing countries not to increase their emissions (by building more expensive renewables instead of fossil fuels) and protecting their forests than by replacing already existing fossil-fuel generators with renewables in developed countries.

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    11. Bernie Masters

      environmental consultant at FIA Technology Pty Ltd, B K Masters and Associates

      In reply to Gary Murphy

      I agree with you on this, Gary, but there is no international tradeable permits scheme in operation nor sadly will there be for many years. Also sadly, I'm starting to read reports saying that some developing countries are using the REDD scheme as a rort - they accept money from wherever to protect their rainforests but still go ahead and clear them for housing, cattle farming or palm oil.

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    12. Gary Murphy

      Independent Thinker

      In reply to Bernie Masters

      Well obviously we should stop these schemes from being rorted - I don't think it is sufficient reason to scrap them entirely.

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  13. Nicolas Bertin

    Physicist

    I didn't know there were so many climate skeptics here... The sun hypothesis is what it is, an hypothesis. Meanwhile the snowcaps melt, methane is released by permafrost thawing at an alarming rate, and yes, burning coal like crazy is making it worse. What's making it even worse is deforestation, which prevents trees from absorbing the excess of CO2 in the atmosphere. So not only are we releasing more CO2 than we should, we're destroying the safety device that nature provided us.

    And as said…

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  14. David Arthur

    resistance gnome

    Another problem with expanding coal mining is that it is deadset stupid to trash your country when your heirs and successors will need somewhere to live long after you're gone.

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  15. Doug Hutcheson

    Poet

    "That’s enough to chew through around 6% of the CO2 the entire world can release to keep warming to 2C above pre-industrial temperatures" and the problem is that a rise of even 2°C is likely to have calamitous impacts upon our way of life. 2°C is a political feel-good target, not a scientifically reasoned limit.

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    1. Dr Graham Lovell

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Doug Hutcheson

      Yet there seems to be logical flaw in Greenpeace's argument.

      The Galilee Basin coal will only increase the amount of CO2 released if it is not a substitute for coal from another location. Coal from Indonesia is lower quality, and generates more emissions (of various kinds) than Australian black coal. The substitution question complicates the mathematics.

      The real question is not the mining of the coal, but its burning, as other responders have said.

      Mining goes up, and then goes down; undersupply is followed by oversupply. As a result, investment in coal looks very risky at the moment, especially if China achieves its 4 billion tonnes cap, India finds a non-coal path to its energy needs, and Japan resumes large-scale nuclear energy based electricity.

      I agree (again) that the IPCC 2 °C target is political. It is what they believed could be done. With goodwill, I expect that we will do better than that, but as you say, there will still be deleterious consequences.

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

      sole parent

      In reply to Dr Graham Lovell

      And the long term consequences of Australia's "green coal" are just as devastating to the biosphere Bernie. We are tying ourselves to an industry which will have to fail, because the consequences of burning it will become increasingly obvious to everyone on the planet, and we are contributing to failed future economies, and an environment which will turn against us."revised its estimates" "underestimates the cost of damage", are two links in the article above, you could read.

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

      sole parent

      In reply to Dr Graham Lovell

      The 'superior' quality of Australian coal is raised in coal circles to imply it's somehow better, it's not. It's still coal, and emits both CO2 and methane, during mining and electricity production. The argument is a fallacy promoted by coal miners in Australia.

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    4. Dr Graham Lovell

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Alice Kelly

      All coal has different characteristics, and results in different amounts of CO2 from burning, and different levels of methane from the mining process.

      It all depends upon where you are coming from in addressing this issue. If someone is ideologically committed to zero coal, as you appear to be, then it doesn't matter whether one coal has less or more environmental impact than another.

      On the other hand, if we follow the IPCC's approach to this matter, then incremental improvements are still important.

      For me, I would rather back an approach that is likely to get worldwide acceptance, while still keeping temperature increases to a "manageable level", rather than going for an approach that is likely to generate considerable political backlash, and therefore be counter-productive in the long-term.

      Of course, there is a place for a variety of approaches. That is the beauty of living in a democracy.

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    5. Chris Sherley

      Lecturer/researcher of marketing at Charles Sturt University

      In reply to Alice Kelly

      Alice I understand what you are saying, however just to clarify, the green coal argument is not a fallacy, it is a somewhat misunderstood/misrepresented concept. The idea is that by using highly efficient mining and burning techniques we may be able minimise the total environmental impact while we begin a slow transition to renewable sources of energy. It's quite similar to the idea of using black coal over brown. It's not a full solution but one of many steps (along with increasing the investment in renewable and nuclear energy capabilities) that will help create long term, and stable changes to a renewable economy.

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    6. Bernie Masters

      environmental consultant at FIA Technology Pty Ltd, B K Masters and Associates

      In reply to Alice Kelly

      Alice, coal ain't coal as other posters have suggested. The ash content is mainly inorganic waste which adds to the cost of extraction and transport while leaving larger volumes of waste to dispose of. Sulphur is burnt to sulphur dioxide which, if not scrubbed from the exhaust gases, enters the atmosphere and combines with rain to form acid rain, with significant implications for soil fertility and waterway health. Mercury emitted by power stations appear to be the world's primary source of mercury pollution, with implications for children's health. There are also issues relating to the amount of particulate matter emitted from various coals which contribute to localised air quality issues as well as adding black carbon or soot to the atmosphere where it has a role in absorbing heat and adding to the greenhouse effect.
      So the quality of coal is very important and fortunately Australian coal is of high quality and certainly of much better quality than most Chinese coal, for example.

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

      sole parent

      In reply to Chris Sherley

      Yes Chris, and using algae to filter the gas is a good idea, I understand the partial truth of what is being discussed, however we are at the present adding to the problems of global warming and acidification etc. Until newer technology is used for coal, it's all dirty, whether by different %'s or not. There are emissions released during mining. Also we should not assume that ten or fifteen years in the future, renewable energy will not have made another efficiency leap, and that people will be lining up to use coal. We are so tied to it, that we are blind to inherent problems which may leave us vulnerable to actions undertaken by other countries. I believe it would be prudent to think about where big growth is occurring now, world wide, and unfortunately this will not happen now for 3-6 years.

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    8. Bernie Masters

      environmental consultant at FIA Technology Pty Ltd, B K Masters and Associates

      In reply to Alice Kelly

      Alice, you say "There are emissions released during mining" which is true but there are emissions released during the production of materials needed for solar PV cells (silicon, aluminium), solar hot water systems, wind turbines, etc. For all of these products, including coal, what's needed are whole-of-life or life cycle assessments of all aspects of their design, production, use and ultimate disposal or recycling. So it's a bit unfair to only accuse mining of emitting GHGs during production but not tar the other more environmentally friendly products with the same brush.

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    9. Chris Sherley

      Lecturer/researcher of marketing at Charles Sturt University

      In reply to Alice Kelly

      Alice, I agree that we are compounding the problem, but as Bernie said Australian coal is much cleaner than many other sources of coal so until other countries no longer demand coal then simply removing our coal from the market would actually increase total global emissions from mining! Also, it's very important to remember the economic principal of everyday goods and that clean air is in fact and everyday good. If you simply cut off such a large part of our economy (coal mining) than Australians (per capita) would have less wealth, the inevitable outcome of that is a decrease in taxpayer demand for the "green" every day good.

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    10. Trevor S

      Jack of all Trades

      In reply to Chris Sherley

      "the green coal argument is not a fallacy,"

      Yes it is, if the 2 degree is the target is used. When you realise that goal is unachievable and you accept the need for 4 degrees as the "next" target, we needed to reduce at 3 - 4 % a year in Annex 1 countries from yesterday.

      So when you realise that, not only is it a fallacy, it's lunacy. Nearly all the concentration is on supply side change when the only thing that will work is demand side because it can happen tomorrow.

      Professor Kevin Anderson puts it more adroitly here:

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RInrvSjW90U

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    11. Chris Sherley

      Lecturer/researcher of marketing at Charles Sturt University

      In reply to Trevor S

      Trevor, perhaps you didn't read the rest of my post? I said that it is a starting point in a long term transition. Moving beyond that, I also have some very talented and well educated friends in both the mining side of the argument and the environmental academic community that all agree green coal IS a feasible and in the short term desirable strategy, so I'm afraid I must disagree with you. As for your 4 degree target, if 2 degrees has been unachievable than maybe looking at more practical strategies (as opposed to those driven by mad green ideology) would be a better way of mitigating total impact? Btw that question was redundant, I know that that is the only feasible solution. As for Professor Anderson, I would be very happy to discuss the issue with him.

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    12. Doug Hutcheson

      Poet

      In reply to Dr Graham Lovell

      'keeping temperature increases to a "manageable level"': Dr. Lovell, what do you regard as a manageable temperature increase? Even the 2°C often touted is feared to likely cause considerable damage to our various economies and ways of life.

      Is it true that land surface temperature is modelled to rise beyond the global average of land, sea and cryosphere? Will a 2°C average rise mean 3°, 4°, 5° or more over land? Irritatingly, I cannot lay my hands on the source for this claim, so I apologise for being unable to give a link to the science.

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    13. Doug Hutcheson

      Poet

      In reply to Chris Sherley

      "slow transition to renewable sources of energy"; "long term, and stable changes": Chris, how long do you think we have to make the necessary changes? We can't afford to dawdle too long over argumentation and inconsistency.

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    14. Dr Graham Lovell

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Doug Hutcheson

      Good question.

      Under IPCC 1990 Scenario C, the temperature increase was mooted to be 1.9 °C by 2050. They predicted further increases up to 2.4 °C by 2100.

      Since then, the IPCC formula for warming from CO2 has changed a little (downwards), to which also has to be offset a very slow long term cooling trend, and also the effect of additional cooling aerosols (such as sulphur).

      The net result, according to my calculations, would be a net global temperature increase of 1.25 °C by 2050 if we…

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    15. Chris Sherley

      Lecturer/researcher of marketing at Charles Sturt University

      In reply to Doug Hutcheson

      Doug, yes you are right. And we tried the alarmist, idealist, fast pace, propaganda driven strategies remember? Day after Tomorrow, Inconvenient truth, Cate Blanchet lecturing us from the TV about the carbon tax, so on and so forth... All these things achieved in Australia were a decrease in public support. And please before you start rebutting that claim, I have three papers being published at the end of the year and into next year which show that that is the case so unless you have multiple academic…

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    16. Doug Hutcheson

      Poet

      In reply to Chris Sherley

      "alarmist, idealist, fast pace, propaganda driven" - ah, Chris, your bias is showing.

      "The truth is, the average Australian (the people that control the majority of the vote) WILL NOT vote for rapid, ridiculous and lifestyle hindering changes, that's the truth." Agreed, no question, the greater population has been sold the myth of AGW being just an "alarmist, idealist, fast pace, propaganda driven" cult. Having been sold that line by the MSM, especially but not exclusively by that benign and caring…

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    17. Bernie Masters

      environmental consultant at FIA Technology Pty Ltd, B K Masters and Associates

      In reply to Doug Hutcheson

      Doug, I'm a news hound. I watch 2 sometimes 3 TV news each night; I'm on 2 or 3 news emailing lists from a couple of mainstream sources; I read 12 to 14 local and state newspapers a week and maybe once a fortnight I might buy The Australian. For most of these news services, coverage of climate change and related issues effectively changed after Rudd returned from Copenhagen in 2009 saying that no one else was interested in the issue. So you can't blame the Murdoch media for its less than sympathetic reporting and editorialising on the issue. It's actually the mainstream media that has chosen to ignore the alarmist views of both sides, with Murdoch being the obvious exception on the anti-GHG side and the ABC being the obvious exception on the pro-GHG side.
      You give too much credit to Murdoch for an outcome that he wanted but only had a lesser role in.

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    18. Doug Hutcheson

      Poet

      In reply to Bernie Masters

      Bernie, the news services often referred to as Limited News and Faux News lead the pack of baying hounds trying to run down AGW and silence its supporters. Mr. Murdoch sets the agenda and his minions willingly obey. When was the last time Murdoch news outlets accurately reported the actual state of the science?

      Murdoch spreads his influence across the globe; ABC is restricted to operating in Australia: looks like Murdoch is in a position to do more damage, non?

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    19. Bernie Masters

      environmental consultant at FIA Technology Pty Ltd, B K Masters and Associates

      In reply to Doug Hutcheson

      If you visit News Corp's website, you'll see that Murdoch's tentacles stretch primarily into the UK, USA and Australia. If you are crediting him with the ability to significantly influence government policies and/or public attitudes in the remaining 187 or so nations on the planet that walked away from Copenhagen 2009, then I believe you're allowing your emotional opposition to him to cloud your thinking.
      In Australia, Murdoch is about as influential as the ABC but that's not, in my view, why Australians turned off climate change issues in recent years. It was Rudd's claim that climate change was the single most important issue facing humanity and the subsequent rejection of that claim by the world's governments at Copenhagen in 2009.

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    20. Chris Sherley

      Lecturer/researcher of marketing at Charles Sturt University

      In reply to Doug Hutcheson

      "No, there is the radical alternative that people of influence start telling the truth about AGW" - Oh Doug, I don't think you've been a part of this conversation at all. Just to clarify, I am an environmentalist, I spent a number of years researching and working towards making a real change in Australia.

      See unfortunately for us non-poets Doug we are forced to live in the real world. The one where "poets" don't get to dictate policy, where a radical shift in the economy will result in a major…

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    21. Doug Hutcheson

      Poet

      In reply to Chris Sherley

      'Doug we are forced to live in the real world. The one where "poets" don't get to dictate policy'. Chris, could you list all the occupations whose members are not allowed to express opinions about policy? I thought the whole point of democracy was to give every voter the power to contribute to the national debate on policy.

      "alarmist, idealist, fast pace, propaganda driven" are words culled from your post. If you are unable to see the pejorative nature of your words, colour me surprised.

      Simple…

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    22. Dr Graham Lovell

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Doug Hutcheson

      Doug, feel free to express your opinions; that is open to all occupations in a democracy, poets and historians not excepted.

      However, let us put your question another way. If you saw a co-ordinated threat to our material well-being would that not also deserve some attention? Decarbonising the world is just that very threat: it would be an economic disaster, not just for Australia, and totally unnecessary.

      As I have already argued, we are not facing an "asteriod-like" threat, but one that is…

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    23. Doug Hutcheson

      Poet

      In reply to Dr Graham Lovell

      Soooo Dr. Lovell ... I am entitled to express my opinion, but not to help formulate policy? Sounds like the mantra of the Born To Rule elite. Contrary to your preferences, Australia is one place in the world where "little people" like me can and do make their voices heard, over the chatter of vested interests.

      By ignoring the best available advice and tuning in only to those who religiously oppose action on global warming, science deniers are asking us to trust their judgement. I clearly see a…

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  16. Jon Brodie

    Research scientist

    A major flaw in this analysis is not pointing out the distinction between coking (metallurgical) coal and thermal coal. While we all wish to continue to use steel and aluminium and coking coal is essential for this purpose we have no alternative to mining coking coal and thus its greenhouse effect is not able to be abated. On the other hand thermal coal is completely replaceable immediately by nuclear, solar, wind etc. So my own position with respect to export of coal from a greenhouse perspective (only) is that we should export as much coking coal as possible (through well managed ports etc!) (it's also much more valuable) but no thermal coal.

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  17. David Rennie

    IT Consultant

    Simple Questions for Deniers?.
    When was the last time a thirty year temperature trend ended in a decline?
    Ans: 1972 (ie 41 years ago)
    When was the last time a 30 year temperature record ended in an increase of less than 0.1 degrees per decade?
    Ans 1992 (ie 21 years ago)
    When was the last time a science denier accepted the scientific evidence relating to climate change.
    Ans: The year dot. . ie more than 2000 years ago.

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    1. Doug Hutcheson

      Poet

      In reply to David Rennie

      "When was the last time a science denier accepted the scientific evidence relating to climate change?" David, even that paragon of the denialisti Chris Monkton has conceded that AGW is real, albeit with reservations:

      ""Is there a greenhouse effect? Concedo [concedo / concede]. Does it warm the Earth? Concedo. Is carbon dioxide a greenhouse gas? Concedo. If carbon dioxide be added to the atmosphere, will warming result? Concedo."
      http://jonova.s3.amazonaws.com/monckton/climate-freedom-hancock-background.pdf

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    2. David Rennie

      IT Consultant

      In reply to Doug Hutcheson

      Once deniers refused to admit there was warming, then they refused to admit it was anthropogenic, then they decided to describe it as catastrophic and claimed it wasn't catastrophic.

      I agree the debate now is about the level of forcing involved with scientists debating whether it is 2X or 4.5X or somewhere in between. However that is a debate about the extent of warming not the existence of warming.

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  18. helen stream

    teacher

    You obsess about climate change , and 'global damage caused by CO2 emissions', the Barrier Reef etc as if warming is still occurring, when you must surely know that warming isn't occurring now.

    Why do you do that, considering the earth has not been warming for at least 15 years---a fact even admitted by some of the world's most prominent warmist climate scientists like Hans von Storch and James Hansen ?

    Your total disregard for Australia and Australians is breathtaking.

    You obviously want…

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

      sole parent

      In reply to helen stream

      "The earth has not been warming for at least 15 years"? 85% of the earths surface is water and ice.
      Your argument is false.
      http://www.nodc.noaa.gov/OC5/3M_HEAT_CONTENT/
      Could you show me research which states that "the most important factor in the Arctic melt and the melting of the glaciers and permafrost is black carbon (Soot)", and has "nothing to do with CO2, or the burning of fossil fuels"
      Or are you mis-quoting a study of black carbon and soot which could explain the demise of the little…

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    2. David Rennie

      IT Consultant

      In reply to helen stream

      Helen,
      It is disappointing to see so much nonsense written by some one who claims to be a teacher.

      Lets just look at the two statements you make "the earth has not been warming for at least 15 years" and "that there's been no significant warming for more than 15 years".
      While the second statement is true, it is only measure of atmospheric temperature not the overall temperature budget.
      Scientific assessments of temperature use baselines of 30 years to eliminate short term fluctuations…

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    3. helen stream

      teacher

      In reply to David Rennie

      Sorry to disappoint you, David Rennie.

      You agree that there's been no significant warming over the last 15 years, but you seem to be saying that's not long enough to be a trend.

      Warmists certainly didn't wait the 30 years you suggest before announcing a global warming trend they claimed was catastrophic and caused by fossil-fuels emitting CO2---even though some of the most prominent of them, like the late Steven Schneider, were just five minutes before , doing their best to alarm the world…

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    4. Doug Hutcheson

      Poet

      In reply to helen stream

      "attempting to demonstrate alternative theories":Helen, the greatest failure of the AGW deniersphere is that no one of the supposedly huge numbers of dissenting climate scientists has managed to come up with an alternative theory that explains all the evidence.

      This lack is surprising, considering the global acclamation and, no doubt, the Nobel prize that await such an alternative theory.

      All the deniers have been able to do is pick away at the few pieces of evidence that are still subject to debate, offer no alternatives and grumble when serious people don't take them seriously. Where are all the denialist scientists when they are needed? Missing in action, by the look of it.

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    5. David Rennie

      IT Consultant

      In reply to helen stream

      Helen,
      Significant warming when used by scientists is a term that means that the warming can not be ascribed to CO2 with a 95% confidence. It does not mean no warming. In fact the years 2001-2010 were 0.21 degrees warmer than 1991-2000 according to the WMO.

      Scientists use a 30 year trend because of the significant short and medium term fluctuations because of the influence of solar cycles, ENSO etc which are typically double the decadal increase due to CO2. Three to five year trends…

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    6. Bernie Masters

      environmental consultant at FIA Technology Pty Ltd, B K Masters and Associates

      In reply to David Rennie

      David, living as I do in south west WA, Helen's reference to 'the great climate shift' made a lot of sense, even though I hadn't heard the term before. From 1976 to 1977, the weather pattern (especially of cold fronts moving upwards from the Southern Ocean) moved dramatically south by (my estimate) 50 to 100km. The result was a scientifically measurable decline in winter rainfall in SW WA that has continued to the present day.
      Previous explanations for this southward shift of the weather pattern have talked out the end result - warm cells over the tropics have expanded in size and strength, pushing mid-latitude weather features further south, for example. Helen's 'Great Climate Shift' is the first explanation I've seen that explains why this increase in warm tropical cells actually occurred.
      I'm clearly not a climatologist nor a meteorologist but her explanation makes some sense and I'd be keen to find out from her where I can get more information about the great climate shift from.

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    7. David Rennie

      IT Consultant

      In reply to Bernie Masters

      Bernie,
      There's some good stuff on Wikipedia with references to the articles.
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abrupt_climate_change
      This article seems relevant.
      http://horizon.ucsd.edu/miller/download/climateshift/climate_shift.pdf
      You might also find this interesting
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/El_Nino
      Particularly look at the Southern Oscillation index graph on the right hand side. Which shows a significant period of La Nina's from the 1950's to 1975 then a significant period of El Ninos…

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  19. Greg North

    Retired Engineer

    Aside from any solar cycles or artic ice melts and thawing effects or whatever else is still relatively unkown of or not able to be accurately quantified, the reality is that our coal industry is part of a greater international market and if Australia did not keep maintaining and even expanding exports to places like China who in particular are regularly building new coal fired power stations, there would be expansion elsewhere and the Australian economy would have even more troubles and limited…

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  20. Neville Mattick

    Grazier: ALP Member at A 4th Generation Grazing Station

    Thank you for this information Brett - great links and material - I am informed if not a little further tense as a result!

    Everyone should recall which recent Prime Minister faced a $22M anti Resources Super Profits Tax advertising barrage, Labor's mistake was to fall for the spin and remove him from office especially when it was a policy in the National Interest.

    Mind you I had peers tell me they feared for their small towns (eg: Wollar http://bit.ly/17xy1Lu ) if mining had an RSPT and some even suggested a lift in the GST or include Food so the mines could continue without an Tax Reform.

    It is an irony to most of my peers, even when I point out to them that the recent mineral boom has cost their farms millions of dollars in lost opportunity alone; -41% due to the parity plus AUD - still they voted COALition. http://bit.ly/17FJYzv

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  21. Nicolas Bertin

    Physicist

    I'm quite shocked at the number of uneducated comments here. Earth is warming up, it's a scientific fact. Desputing that isn't being a climate skeptic, it's being misinformed. It's not because there's more ice in the Arctic this year than in 2012 that the trend is broken, far from it. And it's not because you had one crappy summer that you can dispute global warming. You need to think global scale, and long term (several decades) effects. A single year doesn't make a trend. What's debatable is the cause. But the fact that it's there isn't.

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