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How we lost 20 years on climate change action

Scientists have warned about the “greenhouse effect” for years. Now it is no longer a scientific nightmare; it has arrived. Lines from Al Gore’s famous movie? No. The Sydney Morning Herald published these…

The science on climate change hasn’t become less clear since 1990, but media coverage has. Garry Knight

Scientists have warned about the “greenhouse effect” for years. Now it is no longer a scientific nightmare; it has arrived.

Lines from Al Gore’s famous movie? No.

The Sydney Morning Herald published these words in mid-1988. The article detailed record-breaking heat and drought in North America and elsewhere, linking these weather effects with predictions for global warming and climate change (then called the greenhouse effect).

A review of the Fairfax mainstream and business press of the late 1980s and early 1990s found hundreds of articles focused on the risks posed by the greenhouse effect on topics as diverse as biodiversity and holidaying in the Maldives.

These articles all readily ascribed the cause of the greenhouse effect to industrial societies burning fossil fuels.

The science hasn’t changed, but the public story changed dramatically

I recently completed a study of climate change communication in Australia 1987-2001. I reviewed an extensive public record of news reports, government documents, early popular science books and interviews regarding the greenhouse effect.

I found there has not been a one-way road from lesser to better public knowledge of climate change science and available response in Australia in the last two decades. In fact the opposite has been the case and this is directly linked to the public narrative and framing.

The evidence shows that scientific findings - as documented by the IPCC starting in 1990 - remained basically consistent in their description of cause, risk and the need to respond throughout the 1990s.

However, communication from Australian policy makers and the media changed dramatically during the same period –– from expressing good understanding and a will to take action, to a confused and conflicted debate with clear correlations to the national response.

Almost no-one remembers the high point of good understanding that occurred in October 1990. That was when the Federal Government under Bob Hawke established an interim emission reduction target for the nation to lower greenhouse gas emissions 20% below 1990 levels by 2005.

Detailed state and national response plans were established. They canvassed every strategy known today, from efficiency measures and renewable energy to a carbon tax and emissions trading scheme.

But these plans were destined to wither under national competition policy that deregulated the national energy sector to focus on sales and profits rather than “demand management”.

When our values changed, so did the climate change story

The record shows a pivotal change occurred in social values and beliefs that set the public agenda from the mid-1990s on. Politicians and the press gallery, rather than scientists, more and more determined the daily narrative of what was “real”.

Guiding these values were:

  • the narrowed economic options of Australia’s destiny as a resource quarry
  • beliefs in the potential for a greenhouse gas techno-fix (such as clean coal)
  • beliefs in the fundamental divide between the monetary economy and the natural environment, with the latter framed as a cost.

Underlying are beliefs that humans are exceptional and outside the ecological laws governing other species. Such beliefs are widely held in western Christianity and therefore easy to target with coded language.

In the 1990s we added a panoply of beliefs about markets and their ultimate efficiency (so we could not make industry more efficient), embedded in neo-liberal, economic rationalist teachings.

Disciplinary beliefs also played a role. A notable group has been geologists, many of whom were taught that only on-ground measurement and evidence - not future modelling - is valid. This helped explain the enduring sceptic fervour that has confused the public.

Also influential was the impact of scientists communicating degrees of “scientific uncertainty” in the public arena. This is a concept that lay audiences frequently interpret as “don’t know”, and which greatly aided those who don’t want action.

The frames of climate change: from risk management, to too risky

Climate change up to the early 1990s was framed by politicians of both major parties as risk management for everyone. They focussed on Australia being an ethical global citizen responsible to future generations. Responses were framed as “win-win” for the environment and for new jobs. This reflected international response at the time.

After 1991, Paul Keating - and later John Howard - were preoccupied with the economy. Climate change action went on the back burner in the bureaucracy, eventually completing the transition to “can’t do” under Howard.

The reframed narrative became that Australia is exceptional: if climate change science is real, Australia should commit to minimal response because our economy relies on cheap energy and coal exports and we are not about to change.

Politicians became adept during this period at framing these messages with warm emotional values of nation and family –– evoking “us” against the “them” of greenies, Europeans, and the United Nations. These were portrayed as elites and outsiders trying to rob us of our jobs and businesses.

Understanding the coded language of the changed narrative, how it was done, is a lot about how people take up information, and that is another story that emerged from my study.

While the science findings have stayed consistent since at least 1990, politicians and the media re-framed their communication, and that radically changed public knowledge about climate change and the will to respond. Thanks to this change, Australia has lost 20 years of potential action on emission reduction.

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273 Comments sorted by

  1. Christopher White

    PhD candidate

    "Against stupidity, the Gods themselves contend in vain." (with apologies to von Schiller).

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  2. Gavin Moodie
    Gavin Moodie is a Friend of The Conversation.

    Adjunct professor at RMIT University

    I would add that the right wing ideological warriors started campaigning against acceptance of global warming because it was promoted by environmentalists, who they understood to be left wing.

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    1. Vince Andrews

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Gavin Moodie

      Exactly, unfortunately environmentalists have chosen a side with exclusion to the other, in fact some have an almost pathological hatred of the right.

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    2. Doug Hutcheson

      Poet

      In reply to Gavin Moodie

      I suspect the response has been caused more by the fact that doing something about global warming will require the expenditure of money and the intervention of government, both of which concepts are anathema to Tea Party wing-nuts. These are the people who are opposed to Big Gummint and think the free market can solve everything. Sigh.

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    3. Dianna Arthur
      Dianna Arthur is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Environmentalist

      In reply to Vince Andrews

      Unfortunate that the right was and remains completely hostile to environmentalism and the need for a collaborative approach towards solving the biggest problem facing humans created by humans.

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    4. Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

      Writer (ex telecommunications engineer)

      In reply to Dianna Arthur

      And even more unfortunately is that on the whole Labor are a party of the right.

      Like John Howard at the end, Labor know that they must appear to be doing something on climate change.

      But Labor's goal of reducing 1990 emissions by 0.5% by 2020 - with most being due to buying questionable overseas offsets, and Labor working hard to export as much coal and gas as we can, shows that they are in practice not much different from the Liberals.

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    5. Craig Thomas

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Dianna Arthur

      And even more unfortunately for Vince's idea, it is specifically conservative parties in the Anglo-Saxon world that remain wedded to the anti-science position, with virtually no other countries in the world having any side of their political spectrum involved in this foolishness.

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    6. Chris O'Neill

      Victim of Tony Abbotts Great Big New Tax

      In reply to Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

      "not much different"

      So you believe a Carbon tax doesn't make much difference? You're in agreement with Tony Abbott in that case.

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    7. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Chris O'Neill

      'Doesn't yet make enough difference' would be a fair criticism of the carbon price, but 'doesn't make much difference' is indeed too harsh and cynical, as Chris suggests.

      We've got to start somewhere...

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    8. Yoron Hamber

      Thinking

      In reply to Gavin Moodie

      And I would argue that it based on greed and keeping control over economical power structures.The slower the change the better the chance for major players to find a new spoon to place in our economical meat stew, keeping power structures intact. And in the mean time they get a free for all to continue raping our planet.

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  3. James Jenkin

    EFL Teacher Trainer

    The article suggests that thanks to 'neo-liberal, economic rationalist teachings' from the mid-1990s we became more interested in making money than trying to do what's right and good.

    Is there any evidence for this?

    The situation doesn't seem that simple. For example, under Keating and Howard volunteering rates and donations both rose.
    (http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/Lookup/by+Subject/4125.0~Jul+2011~Main+Features~Volunteering+rates~4410, http://cms.qut.edu.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0009/147915/acpns-current-issues-information-sheet-2010_2-20120125.pdf

    Perhaps the rise in climate change skepticism is more to do with the issue than the public's 'social values and beliefs'.

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    1. Tim Kottek

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to James Jenkin

      Interesting paper on donations - tax deductible kind, thanks.

      Help me understand how that might negate the main thrust
      "Guiding these values were:
      the narrowed economic options of Australia’s destiny as a resource quarry
      beliefs in the potential for a greenhouse gas techno-fix (such as clean coal)
      beliefs in the fundamental divide between the monetary economy and the natural environment, with the latter framed as a cost."

      Cheers

      Tim

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    2. Vince Andrews

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to James Jenkin

      The Carbon tax is the classic example, the people (end user) effectively pay the tax, but they do not get the carbon credits to trade should it even revert to an actual free trade ETS ( and I stress free trade) the carbon credits go to the so called carbon polluters who can and i suspect will make a fortune from it, as will the government. For the government it is a Quasi GST.

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    3. Peter Lang

      Retired geologist and engineer

      In reply to Vince Andrews

      Vine Andrews,

      Exactly. And that is only I tiny part of the issue with carbon pricing polices (both CO2 tax and ETS).

      The CO2 tax and ETS is highly divisive. Rational people recognise that these policies have no chance of being implemented globally - which is essential for them to succeed.

      For them to succeed, carbon pricing schemes have to be implemented in all countries, all sovereign states, and apply to all emissions sources, all emitters, and all of the twenty-three 'Kyoto greenhouse…

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    4. Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

      Writer (ex telecommunications engineer)

      In reply to Peter Lang

      Straw man arguments - but they clearly show that the reason Peter rejects so much is that for him this is a battle of politics (against the Progressives) and they are after world government.

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    5. Doug Hutcheson

      Poet

      In reply to Peter Lang

      Peter said "Emissions from every cow, sheep goat would eventually have to be included in the carbon pricing scheme".

      I think you will find that natural, biological sources and sinks of carbon are not the problem: it is the fossil carbon that has been sequestered out of the biosphere for geological time scales and which we are now injecting into the atmosphere that is tipping the scales. Cow burps and burning wood emit carbon, but new growth absorbs it again.

      It is only the combustion of oil, coal and gas that are causing our problem, although the warming we have so far caused is now melting tundra and clathrates in the Arctic, which is acting as a nasty positive feedback.

      It will be interesting/depressing to see the politicians squabble as the Earth warms, and warms, and warms ...

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    6. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Dhugal Fletcher

      Thanks Dhugal, I'd forgotten how delightful - and horribly prescient - that sketch was!

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    7. Craig Thomas

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Vince Andrews

      Vince, what you seem to be missing is this: it took one single financial quarter for the energy industry to respond to this tax and the results are in.
      1/ Profits are up
      2/ Carbon emissions are down
      This appears to be direct proof that the predictions of the right-wing ideologues and other advocates of doing nothing were 180 degrees wrong. Which is to say, unbelievably, completely and incompetently wrong.

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    8. Chris O'Neill

      Victim of Tony Abbotts Great Big New Tax

      In reply to Peter Lang

      "The CO2 tax and ETS is highly divisive. Rational people recognise that these policies have no chance of being implemented globally"

      Wonderful piece of irony there when this issue is a test of whether humanity as a whole is rational regarding its approach to Tragedy of the Commons.

      From http://www.pelicanweb.org/solisustv08n04page5.html :

      "The main error was to adopt a key proposition of the free market, and of Adam Smith’s, that man is a rational being who always acts in his own best interests…

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    9. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Chris O'Neill

      Powerful points, Chris.

      The main reason I'm inclined to support the carbon price is that, in clear and very common contradiction to Vince Andrews's claims about environmentalists (of which I'm proud to be listed as one) I'm not particularly dogmatically left wing. I think there are sufficient historical examples of the benefits of free market systems (provided they are managed with some legislation and balanced with a reasonable public sector) to warrant giving them a chance to fix the problem and prove their bruited efficiency.

      Of course if it does all get gamed into failure by cynical businesses or buggered by the Tea Party (aka two-thirds of the current Coalition and Martin Ferguson), then I'd be much more willing to become a dogmatic leftie and man the barricades - at least there would then be some pretty strong evidence of the necessity of doing so...

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  4. Tim Kottek

    logged in via LinkedIn

    How hard would it be to award Gold, Silver, and Bronze to the main contributers to the loss of time.

    Who might emerge like Churchill after the disastrous "Peace in our Time" Chamberlin?

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  5. Kim Peart

    Researcher & Writer

    Much appreciated insight into the carbon crisis debate, but I hope a larger picture can be considered.

    The scientific knowledge of the increased effects of CO2 in the air is a couple of centuries ancient.

    Clearly there was a pretty powerful momentum driving the ignoring of such a basic fact.

    The SF writer Isaac Asimov wrote of the prospects of drawing power directly from the Sun in his short story 'Reason' in 1941.

    Dr Peter Glaser proposed this alternative power method formally in 1968…

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    1. Arthur James Egleton Robey

      Industrial Electrician

      In reply to Kim Peart

      I am 100% with you on this one Kim.
      Further to your piece I add that we convert 10 units of oil energy into 1 unit of food energy. This has enabled us to grow the worlds population from 2.6 billion when I was born to 7 billion now.
      And the oil is going away. It is no magic pudding.

      Will we have losses climbing out of the gravity well? You Bettcha. Millions of deaths.
      Will we all live in plenitude if we do not get out of The Well? No.
      The Limits to Growth forecasts are quite clear. Death by Famine.
      We get to choose. Really bad or catastrophic.

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  6. Geoff Russell

    Computer Programmer, Author

    Interesting article Maria. I have a question and a comment.

    1. Were there any wide measurable changes in "scientific literacy" during the period?

    2. Jeffrey Sachs in "The Price of Civilization" defines a Commercialization Index. Australia is 2nd to the US on this measure and he uses it to discuss what he calls "The Distracted Society". I'm guessing this is a co-factor which plays well with the factors you are talking about.

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  7. Peter Yard

    Software Developer / Technnical Writer

    As I recall there was quite a bit of impetus for dealing with greenhouse gas emissions circa 1990. However, it seemed to me that people expected, as they always seem to do, that this phenomenon would manifest itself over a few years. I think this is a major problem with the way humans deal and fail to deal with issues on this timescale. Tell people the world will warm over the next 20 years and after 2 years they are saying, "well where is it?" Or they forget about it.

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  8. Tony Simons
    Tony Simons is a Friend of The Conversation.

    Dodgy Director

    The dishonesty and tactics of the deniers and sceptics has followed the same path as the Big Tobacco. Also the asbestos industry knew about the toxicity more than sixty years ago but not phased out till thirty years ago and like tobacco still pushed out into developing countries.

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  9. Ngoc Luan Ho Trieu

    logged in via Facebook

    The Federal Government under Bob Hawke implemented the one million trees planting program which was aimed to reduce the greenhouse effect.

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    1. Vince Andrews

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Ngoc Luan Ho Trieu

      The programme was more about river banks, renewable timber and paper, and saving old growth trees,. . .and It was I Billion trees, here's a quote,

      Bob Hawke made the ambitious pledge in 1989 as Australia buckled under the weight of severe land degradation, salinity and erosion. Although it sounded an impossible dream, more than 700 million were reportedly planted before the government lost the 1996 election and the program was scrapped

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    2. David Leigh

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Vince Andrews

      The facts however are quite clear Vince. The system, which was later promoted by the Managed Investment Scheme (MIS) was bastardised. Gunns Limited used the scheme to destroy massive amounts of native forest and replace them with plantation timber to feed it's proposed pulp mill. This has left Tasmania and parts of the mainland with a legacy. In most of Tasmania's water catchments, these trees shed leaves, which are toxic, several times more toxic than would occur in nature (South Australian Native…

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  10. Spiro Vlachos

    AL

    "While the science findings have stayed consistent since at least 1990..."

    Consistently alarmist?

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    1. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Spiro Vlachos

      In fact the scientific findings have, of late, shown that the IPCC issued material has been the exact opposite of alarmist: watered down by a sad mixture of fundamentally sensible scientific caution and the purely political need to create final reports that all nations would be willing to sign off on. The most up to date research indicates that things are worse and happening faster than most forecasts, so that the most accurate models, when compared with recent data, were the ones that were the most 'alarmist'.

      In short, rather than seeing 'alarmism' (I do await the moment when generalissimo Monckton issues a new magic word to his obedient minions) we have witnessed 'apathism'.

      Or, in plain words, Spiro, what you say is 100% arse-about, yet again.

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    2. Craig Thomas

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Felix MacNeill

      As Felix says, the mainstream scientists' work has been confirmed by reality, while the industry-funded mischief-makers are proven wrong on a yearly basis.

      2011 was supposed to be the coldest year since 1956, according to the denialist lobby. How very wrong they were.

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  11. Geoff Henderson

    Graduate

    Nice article Maria, great to see some historical perspective brought forward again.
    I recall seeing statistics that Americans, and later Australians, had lowered their concerns about global warming and climate change. This is consistent with Tony Yards post in this forum.

    Climate change happens slowly by human perspective, and even if we witness an horrific weather event, it requires an act of faith of near biblical proportions for that to be widely accepted as a consequence of climate change…

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  12. john tons

    post graduate student

    the media response was predicted/described by Monbiot in Heat - he forecast that the fossil fuel industry would use the same playbook that Tobacco used in counteracting public concern about smoking. Chomsky likewise in The Manufacture of Consent showed how vested interests have the resources to manipulate public opinion.
    The other dimension is that we have been encouraged to buy into the idea that nothing can happen until everyone acts. This has lead to writers like Gardiner, S. M. (2011). A…

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    1. Craig Thomas

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Edwina Laginestra

      Ooh, yes, that book is surely a must-have for anybody even remotely interested in contemporary politics.

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  13. Lincoln Fung

    Economist

    I would argue that the focus on Australia in terms of potential losses of time in climate change is a bit irrational and itself is ideologically dirven.
    Apart from the Howard government delay in ratifying the Kyoto, Australia in the international context has not performed too badly.
    The focus should be on the US rather than Australia, given that cliamte change is a global issue and only a global solution can be effective and efficient.
    Let's not slef bash to inflict unnecessary pain on ourselves.
    More importantly, let's not to lose the focus on the big picture in climte change and be rational.

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    1. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Lincoln Fung

      At one level, Lincoln, you'r eright about us not not performing too badly in comparison with others.

      However, when that general performance has been as mind-numbingly bad as we have witnessed, it's pretty cold comfort...

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    2. Eris McEncroe

      Software Designer, Author

      In reply to Lincoln Fung

      You make a valid point, Lincoln.

      Australia is a sideshow when it comes to climate change. Australian emissions are so miniscule that if Australia concentrates its efforts on climate change to addressing them it is condemning itself to irrelevancy and a zero virtual impact on the problem.

      If Australia wants to have a real impact on the problem it should concentrate on the two areas it actually does (or could) have a real impact.

      1) As an exporter of energy- both nuclear and carbon based…

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    3. Thomas Brookes

      Founder of the Australian Independents Movement

      In reply to Eris McEncroe

      Eris and Lincoln. Australia is not a "sideshow" when it comes to emissions. If you take the emissions just from the coal we export, Australia is the 7th largest polluter in the world, This doesn't take into account gas of which we are one of the worlds biggest. The estimates is once the terribly destructive CSG industry gets into full swing (if it isn't stopped), Australia will move into 4th place.

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    4. Eris McEncroe

      Software Designer, Author

      In reply to Thomas Brookes

      Thomas,

      Please read my post before you comment. I specifically say that where Australia is not a sideshow is in its exports of energy.

      What I say is that Australias own domestic emissions is a sideshow. I try and point out that concentrating on these, which is what we are doing, is a wasted opportunity.

      Please read what people say in full before commenting.

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    5. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Eris McEncroe

      Yes, Eris, I'd agree that our biggest hit comes from exporting coal and the like but, given that we are directly responsible for a percentage of emissions disproportionate to our population and are in fact about the 16th overal global emitter - and adding the fact that there is some reason to hope that providing 'moral leadership' (particularly as a wealthy developed country) will encourage others to join us - it's wrong to dismiss reducing our direct emissions as trivial.

      In the end, nobody can do more than they can do, and everybody must do no less.

      Besides, despite the dishonest rhetoric about Australia leading the way, we are far from doing so and, in fact, in greater danger of suffering the penalties of running late, if not being left behind altogether.

      We've got to stop seeing it as either/or - we need to do both.

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    6. Craig Thomas

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Eris McEncroe

      This is completely untrue.
      If we had had the political will to ignore the "do-nothings" during the 1990s, we would today have an export market for Australian-made wind turbines and solar plant and thus a very real impact in the global migration to decarbonised economies.
      Instead, Denmark, Spain, Germany and China have to supply us with this stuff, as we condemn ourselves to even further irrelevancy by continuing to listen to mischievous scoundrels trying to sell us on non-existent future nuclear solutions for energy generation.

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    7. Eris McEncroe

      Software Designer, Author

      In reply to Felix MacNeill

      I am sorry Felix, but it is either/or. We don't have unlimited resources.

      There are two ways of coming at the problem of climate change. The first approach looks at it at a practical problem to be solved. Anyone approaching the problem will ask themselves two questions:

      1) What is the problem?
      2) What is the most cost effective way of addressing it?

      To me the problem is dangerous climate change brought about by large scale GLOBAL emissions of CO2 and other gasses. The solution as I see…

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    8. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Eris McEncroe

      You don't need unlimited resources to chew gum and walk at the same time.

      We're not talking about 'wasting very large resources on reducing Australia's miniscule emissions' for at least three reasons: (1) the resources aren't great (Tony Abbott's massive mythical python notwithstanding), (2) it's not 'wasting', but rather investing as Craig Thomas wisely reminds us (hell, I'm typing this looking out my window at ANU where Kylie Catchpole and colleagues have developed some of the cleverest solay…

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    9. Eris McEncroe

      Software Designer, Author

      In reply to Felix MacNeill

      Firstly, Felix, the resources involved are vast. The primary effect of the cap and trade scheme we now have in place will be to drive massive investments in gas fired electricity generation. Similar efforts to reduce emissions around the world are driving the even more massive global growth in the gas industry and in particular the explosion of CSG. Planned investments in Australia alone are in the 100’s of billions.

      The Renewable Energy Target and similar mechanism has led to something like a…

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    10. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Eris McEncroe

      Eris, isn't this exactly what the carbon price and investments under the Clean Energy Future processes are designed to do?

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    11. Eris McEncroe

      Software Designer, Author

      In reply to Felix MacNeill

      "isn't this exactly what the carbon price and investments under the Clean Energy Future processes are designed to do?"

      Direct funding of R&D and supporting commercialisation of economicaly viable technology is a part of the Clean Energy Future processes, but only a small part. Considerably less than a billion pa will go to this. It should be more like 5. The carbon price will mainly drive the growth of gas generation and the CSG industry as I pointed out.

      So much of the money raised by the carbon tax is going into compensation of various forms or into protecting the industries that are taxec in the first place. It's action but the wrong action. A simpler, broader based and lower (and uncompensated) carbon tax would raise sufficient money to pay for what I suggest.

      We should also get rid of the renewables guarantee. It encourages the wrong investment.

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    12. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Eris McEncroe

      Now I do agree that the level of compensation to many 'trade exposed' industries has been excessive and wasteful (and, slightly troublingly, I seem to find myself in company with a great many economic rationalists on this score) but I think that, politically, there was really no choice but to accept this trade-off in order to get even this kind of basic legislation through.

      I still think it's better to start with an imperfect scheme than nothing at all.

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  14. Edwina Laginestra
    Edwina Laginestra is a Friend of The Conversation.

    Jack of all trades

    Thanks Maria, it was good to read this. I also did some research in the public narrative change a few years back, but focused later than you with 2005-6 being relevant for my research focus (which was looking at Kuhnian paradigm shifts with particular focus on climate change as the Al Gore movie, Stern Report and 4th IPCC report all came out around then and severe droughts were facing us around the country). It seems every so often there is an event(s) that brings the topic back into focus, followed by other happenings that then force it out of the public consciousness again - as outlined by Downs "ïssue attention cycle".

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  15. David Leigh

    logged in via Facebook

    A good insight into the political nose picking of Australian politics. I might add that following Bob Hawke's climate change policy attempts, came Paul Keating's plant 1-million trees campaign. This sounded good at the time until you realise that 1-million is nowhere near enough and that this campaign started the problems in Tasmania and elsewhere. Riparian strips of Eucalyptus nitens trees became whole dairy farms as well as opening the door to clear-felling of native forest to make way for yet more plantations. Why? Not to save the planet but rather to line the pockets of a few to build a pulp mill. Fortunately, the company behind this is no longer in existence. Take a look: www.theage.com.au/tv/Environment/A-Worm-in-the-Apple-4262515.html

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    1. John Holmes

      Agronomist - semi retired consultant

      In reply to David Leigh

      Not sure where the 'million tree' title for the project came from. In WA,it was the 'Billion Tree Project'. Yes it did contribute to increased tree usage, the paper work required was rather onerous. Overall, once we got our heads about just how to implement the project, and develop the 'sub catchment' concept, and then encourage farmers to have a go, it did have considerably better results in WA than it seems from your dour reporting out of Tas.

      It helped tap the desire of the inhabitants…

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    2. David Leigh

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to John Holmes

      You are right, of course, it was meant to be a billion trees, John. It all started up very innocently and yes, I was in WA at the time. Later, it became a method of shovelling bucket loads of investor cash and ATO money into a few pockets. I remember seeing signs, in WA, warning people not to enter areas of native forest, out near Bridgetown. Dieback was the reason given. The reality was then that Gunns timber had clear-felled large areas, away from the road, and installed a plantation of trees…

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    3. John Holmes

      Agronomist - semi retired consultant

      In reply to David Leigh

      Die back warnings are fairly ubiquitous in the forested areas for the SW, and have been so for many years prior to this particular initiative ('91 or there about's). It is a real problem here and if you plant susceptible trees you need some hygiene. Any suggestions of the miss use of such quarantine measures requires much greater proof. While working in the area, farmers did not comment that this was a problem of the misuse of Billion tree funds.

      However do not underestimate the envy factor…

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  16. Peter Lang

    Retired geologist and engineer

    The reason we've lost 20 years of change action is absloutely clear to anyone who can think rationally and logically.

    It's because 'Progressives' have been insisting on totally irrational policy responses. The policies the 'Progressives' demand have no chance of working the real world.

    'The 'Progressives' have been blocking progress for not just 20 years, but for 50 years.

    That is what's been preventing progress on reducing global GHG emissions.

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    1. In reply to Peter Lang

      Comment removed by moderator.

    2. Peter Lang

      Retired geologist and engineer

      In reply to Peter Lang

      I suspect supporting arguments will be required for my comment.

      Recall that nuclear power was clearly offered to the Australian voters at the 1993 and 2007 elections, but was rejected by the Australian electorate after strong anti-nuclear scaremongering campaigns run by the Labor Government (Maria Taylor’s research would have revealed that but she didn’t mention it).

      If the Coalition had won the 1993 Federal election and if nuclear power had been adopted and implemented at the rate potentially…

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    3. Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

      Writer (ex telecommunications engineer)

      In reply to Peter Lang

      One of the other reasons we have gone backwards in Australia is that there is no-where that climate change can be discussed without it being taken over by deniers.

      The Drum, Crikey, discussions in the newspapers - all are quickly dominated by deniers.

      I'm sure that this has been an organised campaign - with carefully thought out strategies and techniques. But of course there are people who have feed of this and write their own rubbish.

      Unfortunately The Conversation thinks it is doing well…

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    4. Dhugal Fletcher

      Critical Thinker

      In reply to Peter Lang

      A nuclear power proposal is like cutting your leg off in order to lose weight.

      It achieves the immediate goal with no view for the future consequences.

      It is like a clayton's position for conservatives, they can claim they proposed something that they haven't changed in decades and when progressives approach the problem in multiple ways with diverse solutions, they are ignored.

      Tired of the lies, deceit and outright made up 'facts' from conservatives of the last 20 years. Stop following whatever the US says and does and turn your brains on instead.

      There are better examples on every front: Scandanavia and Germany come to mind. We need to switch focus on following the US in a race to the bottom and making our own decisions for our own future.

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    5. Craig Thomas

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Peter Lang

      People who continue to spruik nuclear power either can't count or are paid propagandists.
      There is no economic rationale for investing in nuclear technologies: they are an abysmally expensive way to generate power, and create a new dependence on a different but even more finite fuel supply than burning coal does.

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    6. Alex Cannara

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to Dhugal Fletcher

      Not sure what Dhugal is saying about not following us in the US -- building new nuclear plants would indeed not be following us. It would indeed be following other wiser nations, not Germany, of course, because they're building a dozen new coal plants and even a 2.2GWe lignit-burning plant. Yes, Germany has effectively ruined it emissions progress and the Euro zone's too, just for the Greens' temporary success at showing how ignorance can drive politics.

      Hopefully the Brits will wise up and…

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    7. Dhugal Fletcher

      Critical Thinker

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      The UK can solve it's own problems, my interest is Australia's future. What the UK does is of far less concern to me. They dont have an enormous unused country with unbelievable solar, wind, wave and tidal opportunities.

      We do. And we're wasting our massive natural advantage. Australia should be the global leader in ALL these technologies. Why aren't we?

      Gen IV nuclear power plants are excessively expensive with serious long term issues. that's why they cant get any progress in the…

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    8. Alex Cannara

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to Dhugal Fletcher

      "Gen IV nuclear power plants are excessively expensive with serious long term issues. that's why they cant get any progress in the US"

      Actually not any more true than saying climate change isn't real. Politics in different countries causes different mistakes to be made. that;'s why US scientists are working with the Chinese and others to bring new nuclear designs to production.

      Local solar PV.hot-water is indeed part of the solution, long term, as are EVs, efficiency and improved storage. Wind, however, is wasteful of power, resources and subsidies, which is becoming increasingly apparent wherever it has been faddish -- the lates performance figures show that even maintenance isn't as advertized -- generator lives are about half the 25-year estimates made by developers.

      So, indeed we have to think carefully and do thorough research. When that's been done, wind gets blown away.
      ;]

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  17. Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

    Writer (ex telecommunications engineer)

    Over the last twenty years I think the media have changed significantly.

    In reporting politics it was mainly policy vs key views about the policy. So the news report would be written by someone working in that policy area. The opposition was not of much importance. Back then it was only when an election was called that the opposition would be given equal time.

    Most of our political news is now reported by those expert in the circus of politics. For the last two years it has been like we are…

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  18. Eris McEncroe

    Software Designer, Author

    I would contend that the author’s fundamental premise is wrong. We have not lost 20 years in dealing with climate change.

    Over the last two decades many hundreds of billions of dollars have been spent on ways and means to reduce carbon emissions. There has been a spectacular reduction in the cost of reducing greenhouse emissions as a result.

    Any attempt twenty years ago to seriously decarbonise the global economy would have resulted in a global economic catastrophe that made the GFC look like…

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    1. Eris McEncroe

      Software Designer, Author

      In reply to Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

      If you have nothing to add but applying labels and misquoting me I suggest you refrain from commenting.

      I have not denied the existence of a problem, indeed I regard it as serious. Nor did I say anything about waiting. I talked about the best approach to finding a solution. I believe in vigorous action.

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    2. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Eris McEncroe

      Eris, this is the biggest straw man argument I've heard in years - one generalisation piled on top of another and based on littl eother than personal prejudice.

      Of course there were a few people advocating silly extremes - there always are and always will be - but to characterise "environmentalists" as all being of this kind is either so absurd that one must doubt your rationality or so bigoted that one must doubt your sincerity. Your third paragraph makes me incline towards to former explanation.

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    3. Craig Thomas

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Eris McEncroe

      You're wrong, Eris. If we had sensibly invested in R&D and implementation of technologies 20 years ago, it is we who would be supplying the world with renewable hardware.
      Instead, while we dithered, other countries stepped into the breach and are now reaping the profits.
      And you appear to have failed to learn from this lesson by advocating yet more inaction.

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    4. Eris McEncroe

      Software Designer, Author

      In reply to Felix MacNeill

      Felix,

      you take objection to my third paragraph. Do you seriously contend that the world had the technology twenty years ago to largely decarbonise the global economy without serious dislocation to the global economy on a massive scale.

      Do you seriously claim that mainstream environmental groups have not been demanding we do just that for at least twenty years?

      Are you genuinely going to assert that a large proportion of the environmental movement does not believe that man's footprint on the environment is too large and that scaling back 'excessive consumption' is essential?

      Are you really going to pretend that a significant proportion of environmentalists do not see the developing world's desire to emulate western lifestyles as inappropriate and undesirable.

      Who is constructing the straw man here?

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

      sole parent

      In reply to Eris McEncroe

      Eris, Norway was one country whose economy was seriously reliant on selling minerals and oil etc 25 years ago. Just like Australias economy still is. They don't have the strongest sunshine, they decided to de-carbonise their economy 20-25 years ago. They developed their technology. They haven't fallen over yet, and have succeeded to cut their emissions by a massive 75%. They have maintained their standard of living, and consider that if they'd waited it would've cost more. South aust. has cut theirs by 25%, and their still going, but then they often lead the rest of aust. as a progressive state. You talk about western life-styles and the developing world, I suggest you consider the rampant over-development in mc mansions and trophy houses here, and whether our own "life-styles" are contributing to the problem.

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    6. John Holmes

      Agronomist - semi retired consultant

      In reply to Craig Thomas

      For example - A little while ago I was told that NSW electrified the West of that state and used enough cable to reach Perth twice. Had the supply been focused on local hybrid systems, we would have been able to supply the Pacific/Indonesia etc archipelagos as well areas our own remote areas with stand alone power systems. The design such systems is a coffee session discussion which goes no where in a large organization dedicated to a centralized grid. Just save 0.5% of the electrical losses in that system and you or the person who popularizes your ideas gets the promotion Suggest that we do not need a grid and...

      With out a major cultural change/ & or encouragement of innovations, that is where we stay.

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    7. Eris McEncroe

      Software Designer, Author

      In reply to Alice Kelly

      Your quoting of Norway is ironic, Alice. They may well have succeeded in reducing their own tiny emissions - there are only 5 million of them after all - but they funded it by massive exports of North Sea oil. In another words they made a marginal reduction in emissions locally by enabling a large scale expansion of emissions elsewhere. Moreover they now get almost all their electricity from hydroelectric generation. Are you in favour of building more dams, Alice? There’s lots of rivers in Tasmania…

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    8. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Eris McEncroe

      You are the scarecrow maker Eris, and you're just making more of them here.

      Nobody ever suggested that the world had the technology 20 years ago to instantaneously decarbonise the global economy. Nobody suggested that we should try to do that in one fell swoop. My objection to your comment doesn't depend on that absurdity. Your irrationality lay in using the argument that the technology wasn't yet perfect to support inaction. The technology 20 years ago was certainly good enough to make a damned…

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    9. Alex Cannara

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to Eris McEncroe

      Eris, your points re Norway are right. In fact they apply to all economies. We externalize carbon emissions by default. Correcting that with a production tax on embedded carbon is what would, for instance, make our US emissions reductions disappear via our Chinese imports made mostly via coal -- some of that coal we sent to them.

      This is important for anyone who wishes to understand how to deal with global emissions in a global economy...

      www.policyexchange.org.uk/modevents/item/fixing-climate-policy-with-professor-dieter-helm-cbe
      http://theenergycollective.com/rodadams/165286/dieter-helm-coal-critic-atomic-agnostic-natural-gas-enthusiast

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

      sole parent

      In reply to Eris McEncroe

      Eris you've proved nothing, say nothing. Your reply, contemptuous/sneering. What vigorous action Eris, who pays?

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    11. Eris McEncroe

      Software Designer, Author

      In reply to Felix MacNeill

      Felix you ask "So, building McMansions is a sound way of encouraging economic activity?"

      The utter contempt for your fellow Australian's that is embodied in the word "McMansions" is palpable. People who use it demonstrate that whatever they may say otherwise they really are interested in scaling back our economy and our living standards.

      The average size of the Australian home has increased over the years. The people building those homes think it is a good thing. The people living in them think…

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    12. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Eris McEncroe

      Eris, I think the hysteria of your response indicates the honesty and worth of your input.

      "The utter contempt for your fellow Australian's that is embodied in the word "McMansions" is palpable." That's meant to be rational?

      Eris, perhaps you could tell me when you're going to stop projecting and trying to put words into my mouth?

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    13. Eris McEncroe

      Software Designer, Author

      In reply to Felix MacNeill

      I am sorry, Felix, but if you can not see how condescending and patronising the word "Mcmansion" is then there is not much more I can say. I don't see how quoting the words you use is putting words into your mouth either. You did use the it.

      What do you actually think "McMansion" means, and what do you think it imples about the many Australians who live in them.

      If you think living in McMansions is a bad thing (and your words certainly imply that) then asking what other items that average Australians enjoy do you disapprove of also seems a legitimate question.

      So, no hystreria, no projection, could you please just answer these questions.

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    14. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Eris McEncroe

      Eris, if you believe that criticising badly designed, inefficient and unsustainable housing is patronising and condescending then I'm delighted to hear that there's not much more you can say.

      I return to your original comment:
      "The utter contempt for your fellow Australian's that is embodied in the word "McMansions" is palpable. People who use it demonstrate that whatever they may say otherwise they really are interested in scaling back our economy and our living standards."

      If that second sentence isn't projection, mind-reading and putting words into other people's mouths, then I'm damned if I know what is.

      I apologise to other readers of these postings for being so aggressive, but I find this kind of absurdity deeply offensive.

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    15. Eris McEncroe

      Software Designer, Author

      In reply to Felix MacNeill

      You really don't see it, do you?

      You didn't criticise badly designed, inefficient and unsustainable housing. You used a term "McMansion" that mocks the aspiration of working class and lower middle class Australians to live in decent sized homes.

      There is plenty of badly designed, inefficient and unsustainable housing in Australia. Some are small, some are large some are new some are old. That isn't what you attacked.

      You took offence at this:
      "The utter contempt for your fellow Australian's…

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    16. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Eris McEncroe

      Eris, it's a remarkable experience to have your mind read so comprehensively. I hadn't realised until now that you knew better than I do what I might happen to mean and intend by a particular word.

      Given that you can read my mind, you will probably want to respond to this thought:

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    17. Eris McEncroe

      Software Designer, Author

      In reply to Felix MacNeill

      Words have the meaning they have not the meaning you intend them to have. If you don't intend to imply your contempt for average Australians then you shouldn't use a word that drips with that contempt. Or did you think "McMansion" was a technical architectural term?

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    18. John Holmes

      Agronomist - semi retired consultant

      In reply to Eris McEncroe

      Problem is, 'how do we describe conspicuous consumption?' Is this is also part of the 'tall poppy syndrome', where those who seem to display their status/wealth/class with out showing humility are cut down in public discussion.

      I would also include the bloke with a supercharged V8 who does burnouts at 2 am in the parking lot at the pub across the street and then drives off on his rims as he has left all of his rubber behind on the ground, or in the smoke drifting across the suburb? He stopped and then the cops came. Justice!

      There is an implication of unwise investment/status seeking in the term. I wonder just what part such encouragements and promotion of such building had in the GFC.

      The discussion above is similar to what I listen to during the school holidays with bickering between my grand children as we care for them.

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  19. Dianna Arthur
    Dianna Arthur is a Friend of The Conversation.

    Environmentalist

    With all respect to the author - we have actually wasted over 40 years due to inaction on climate change.

    I agree with the overall thrust of the article and it is good to see an overview presented. However, due to limited data, limited vision and vested interests our leaders have failed to take any positive action on simply cleaning up our behaviour on this planet.

    "The fact is that around 1970 there were 6 times as many scientists predicting a warming rather than a cooling planet. Today, with…

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    1. Graham Palmer

      Retired

      In reply to Dianna Arthur

      If the delay in taking action is due in part to a battle between the left and the right it might be worth noting who are the true Conservatives.

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    2. Dianna Arthur
      Dianna Arthur is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Environmentalist

      In reply to Graham Palmer

      We will not be able to take constructive action until we move beyond the anachronistic 'left/right' divide and adopt true conservative measures to protect our planet.

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    3. Craig Thomas

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Dianna Arthur

      I agree - this retarded "Left" v. "Right" kind of tribalism is an utter waste of time.

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    1. Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

      Writer (ex telecommunications engineer)

      In reply to Spiro Vlachos

      Amazingly my first reply to Spiro was deleted by the moderators.

      Perhaps if I just say that Bjørn Lomborg is very controversial (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bjørn_Lomborg ) and that I recommend that readers of the article linked to by Spiro do some research into Bjørn's background before believing what he says.

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  20. Thomas Brookes

    Founder of the Australian Independents Movement

    A friend of mine who was in the Navy in the USA, told me the US Navy knew back in the 1950's about climate change and the thinning of the Arctic Polar Icecap. Part of his job was to monitor the thickness of the ice so US Navy Atomic Submarines knew at all times the thickness of the ice all over the Arctic Ice cap, so they knew the places where the submarine could punch the conning tower through the ice, in any emergency. He told me the ice has been thinning on average since at least back in the 1950's. They knew about the increasing carbon dioxide levels from Ice core samples.

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    1. Dianna Arthur
      Dianna Arthur is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Environmentalist

      In reply to Thomas Brookes

      Thomas, while your comment is anecdotal, your meaning is understood.

      Will truth be outed in time for humans as a viable species?

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    2. Tim Scanlon

      Debunker

      In reply to Thomas Brookes

      The head of the US Navy Oceanography has been saying the same thing and showing their data around the place for a while now.

      They have been directly using that data in day to day operations for a long time. When people speak of proof, I'd call that proof.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T3dcc0mV-n4

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  21. Geoffrey Henley

    Research Associate

    "Scientists have warned about the “greenhouse effect” for years. Now it is no longer a scientific nightmare; it has arrived."

    This statement makes absolutely no sense. Although that is not unusual for the SMH. The "greenhouse effect" hasn't just arrived. It's been around for millions of years. The 'climate change' debate is not about the existence of non-existence of the greenhouse effect. It is about the contribution of human activities to any changes in the concentration of GHGs in the atmosphere…

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    1. Dhugal Fletcher

      Critical Thinker

      In reply to Geoffrey Henley

      It's settled, only deniers and politicians claim otherwise to further their own ends.

      the only political argument is between conservatives who think we should charge on and continue destroying the world, because it's never bitten back before

      and

      Progressives who think we need to take action NOW, not when the mining and fossil fuel companies feel is an appropriate moment.

      We need to move away from out of date economic models that fail to make accurate predictions, that fail to include…

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    2. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Geoffrey Henley

      Geoffrey, apart from your silly pedantry in the initial quote (everybody knew perfectly well what was meant, particulary as "greenhouse effect" was put in inverted commas - it was, after all, an article in a non-tecnical newspaper, simply using the terminology that was in most common usage at the time) your citing of the embarrassing Donna Laframboise indicates your complete lack of understanding of how scientific reasearch is conducted and reported.

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    3. Craig Thomas

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Geoffrey Henley

      Lucky the IPCC isn't in charge of making anything up then, unlike its detractors who without exception are very much in the pay of political organisations influenced heavily by corporate interests and funded by thinktanks the likes of Heartland, which states its objective is to mislead people on climate change.
      What they do do, is collect together all the findings of the various honest scientists who work on this issue.
      It's nice that - unlike so many denialists - you admit the Greenhouse effect is real.
      You can probably therefore also bring yourself to admit the following:
      - human activity is emitting lots of CO2
      - that CO2 can be shown by isotopic analysis to be the cause of an increase from 280ppm to just under 400ppm today
      - the extra CO2 means more heat (obviously)
      - the amount of heat is agreed by all the world's experts to be likely to cause an increase in temperature within a range with 3 degrees C as the most likely value for a doubling of CO2.

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    4. Geoffrey Henley

      Research Associate

      In reply to Felix MacNeill

      Reply to Felix MacNeill

      Anybody with a basic understanding of science knows that the 'greenhouse effect' and 'climate change' are separate concepts. To imply that they are the same thing is a bit like saying that gravity and a falling apple are the same thing.

      In any event, there is a certain propensity for CAGW advocates to use misleading and ambiguous terminology in an attempt deceive the public.

      There is nothing embarrassing about Donna Laframboise's research. Her books and articles and thoroughly researched and well documented. Which is more than I can say about some of the rubbish published by the likes of Stephan Lewandowsky, Naomi Oreskes and co.

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    5. Geoffrey Henley

      Research Associate

      In reply to Craig Thomas

      Reply to Craig Thomas

      "human activity is emitting lots of CO2"

      The fact that human activities emit CO2 is not in dispute although 'lots' is a relative concepts.

      "- that CO2 can be shown by isotopic analysis to be the cause of an increase from 280ppm to just under 400ppm today"

      How much of this increase is due to human emissions and how much is due to increases in natural emissions (e.g. outgassing from oceans) is a point of some dispute.

      "- the extra CO2 means more heat (obviously…

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    6. Alex Cannara

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to Geoffrey Henley

      Good try Geoffrey, but hope your handlers aren't watching.

      The CO2 increase is indeed from our burning of fossil fuels at the rate of over 30 billion tons CO2/year now. And if you did understand isotopic analysis, then you'd know how all those tons are identified with us.

      In addition, about 40% of all our CO2 is in the oceans, acidifying them and beginning to cause problems in key fisheries. But you can pick a fight with a Norwegian I know about that, if you dare.
      ;]
      As for the rest of…

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    7. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Geoffrey Henley

      Geoffrey at what point did I 'imply that they were the same thing'? - that's a startling example of putting words into people's mouths - what I said was that it was a common/lay term used in a lay context that would generally be understood by the readers.

      If you can actually show the point where I suggested that they were the same thing, you might stand a slight chance of rescuing your reputation for being capable of rational thought, which you're doing a pretty good job of destroying in this silly post.

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    1. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Wade Macdonald

      There's heaps of stuff not covered in this necessarily brief article and, given that it was written in Australia for a largely Australian audience, it seems reasonable to focus on the Australian experience.

      I'm unable to understand the relevance of your comment.

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    2. Tim Scanlon

      Debunker

      In reply to Wade Macdonald

      So, you're telling me that extremes of climate are being felt in winter time as well? I mean, otherwise, who would have thought that it would be winter in the northern hemisphere at this time of year?

      That only confirms much of the predictions about climactic change as a result of altered heat transfer around the globe due to increased atmospheric greenhouse gases.

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    3. Dianna Arthur
      Dianna Arthur is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Environmentalist

      In reply to Tim Scanlon

      Yes Tim

      Extreme climate events are global.

      http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/11/science/earth/extreme-weather-grows-in-frequency-and-intensity-around-world.html?pagewanted=all

      "WORCESTER, England — Britons may remember 2012 as the year the weather spun off its rails in a chaotic concoction of drought, deluge and flooding, but the unpredictability of it all turns out to have been all too predictable: Around the world, extreme has become the new commonplace.

      Especially lately. China is enduring…

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    4. Wade Macdonald

      Technician

      In reply to Felix MacNeill

      Quote.... "it seems reasonable to focus on the Australian experience."

      When it suits no doubt. The conversation's readers would probably benefit from a more global picture than the recent narrow focus seen about OZ on here recently.

      Environmental variability has had its fluctuations before and some % of these recent extremes are probably attributed to homo erectus and carbon. Short, periodic climate variability has happened before on earth without the current carbon PPM and needs to be considered…

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    5. Wade Macdonald

      Technician

      In reply to Tim Scanlon

      Just as it is summer here Tim.

      My home city had one hot day in the mid forties but the rest has been normal for summer.

      Other areas have seen the average rise overall especially in the red centre and East of OZ. However, 'accurate' records in many of these areas haven't been around for long.

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    6. Tim Scanlon

      Debunker

      In reply to Wade Macdonald

      Rubbish. We have accurate records going back hundreds of thousands of years.

      And if you look at the recent temperature changes, they have occurred over a very short period of time, unlike the last temperature change of this sort that took tens of thousands of years.

      If you honestly think that the BOM didn't have major cause to raise its temperature reporting ranges after having chosen a range that would cover all foreseeable temperatures when chosen, then you really are in denial.

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    7. Wade Macdonald

      Technician

      In reply to Tim Scanlon

      Quote...."We have accurate records going back hundreds of thousands of years."

      Yeah? Not even the last 100 years have been all that accurate.

      Quote....One very interesting remark appearing in "Discussion" of the Torok paper is the possibility of a "non-climatic discontinuity" of observer practice in the days of fahrenheit (before September 1972) of only recording the temperature to a whole degree and that being truncated (eg 58.8 is recorded as 58 and not rounded to 59). The paper says…

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    8. Tim Scanlon

      Debunker

      In reply to Wade Macdonald

      So we don't have any other sources of climate data other than mercury bulbs. Wow.

      Guess all of those sediment, tree rings, ice cores, fossils, etc, etc, are just not a source of climate information stretching back hundreds of thousands of years.

      Keep digging Wade.

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    9. Wade Macdonald

      Technician

      In reply to Tim Scanlon

      Oh yes, those same methods that do reveal short, sharp natural climatic changes from the past Tim.

      All I am saying is that climatic variability is increasing in both directions and a part of which is likely due to the carbon PPM along with town growth factors etc. As for 'only warming' or warming rates higher than cooling rates?

      Have a look at the summer/winter and mean average charts for Perth here.....

      Quote....It's fallen by about .2C. The reduction obviously occurs because of the falling winter minima, not the rising summer maxima.

      http://www.waclimate.net/perth-cold-spells.html

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    10. Alex Cannara

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to Wade Macdonald

      Wade, just because you don't bother studying science doesn't mean that there aren't scientists.
      ;]

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    11. Wade Macdonald

      Technician

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      Alex, just because others don't resort to apocalyptic undertones or scorched earth policies doesn't mean you know more about climate history than anyone else.

      This is why you resort to 'ridicule' instead.

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    12. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Wade Macdonald

      What, Wade, in your paranoid construction of reality was being 'suited' by focusing on Australian material?

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  22. Mark Harrigan

    PhD Physicist

    It's because we are not serious about the issue. Neither the conservatives, nor Labor, nor the so-called Greens.

    To quote Ben Heard

    "Greenhouse gases are warming the planet to a very, very dangerous level. This is certain.

    Nuclear power performs the same job as coal in much the same way. This is certain.

    In doing so, it emits no greenhouse gas. This is certain.

    In 1998 Australia prohibited nuclear power. In what way did this help reduce emissions?

    Since then greenhouse emissions…

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    1. Ken Fabian

      Mr

      In reply to Mark Harrigan

      I think that mainstream politics must bear the full burden of responsibility; blaming a vocal minority is just blame shifting. As long as mainstream politics is obsessed with doing the least it can get away with it will be convenient to name their failures as failures of 'green schemes' and point fingers at The Greens.

      Mark, if you really believe nuclear is the best or only solution then a genuine bipartisan acceptance of the seriousness and urgency of the climate problem is an essential prerequisite…

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    2. Peter Lang

      Retired geologist and engineer

      In reply to Ken Fabian

      Ken Fabian,

      I disagree with your cause effect relationship. You see the issues about mainstream politics not accepting CAGW as the only issue that needs to be dealt with. Others don't see it thoat way. Thye see the main issue as their immediate problems of food on the table NOW, shelter NOW, health issues NOW, education NOW, security at home and on the way to work NOW, ... you get the message.

      In short there are many other pressing issues for ~99% of the world population than CAGW and GHG…

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    3. Ken Fabian

      Mr

      In reply to Peter Lang

      With a problem where the lag time between action and consequences is long, the impacts effectively irreversible and costing irreplaceable environmental capital that directly affects agriculture and food supply, making climate a low priority is an excessive concession that can't ever be taken back.

      Those who insist that the problem is not a priority or doesn't exist at all remain a far greater impediment to the nuclear solution than anti-nuclear activism. Their support for it will be lip service and they will not have the strength of motivation to seek to replace fossil fuels with it. They won't fight for it. Their criticisms of the Greens for failing to back nuclear will remain no more than politically expedient distraction from their own unwillingness to act.

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    4. Alex Cannara

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to Ken Fabian

      Reply to Ken Fabian.
      Exactly why responsible folks around the world have indeed been acting, Ken...

      http://tinyurl.com/4t5ojde

      HTTPcolonslashslash in fornt of these too (to avoid spam filter)..'
      tinyurl dotcom /7hatm2b
      asia.iop.org/cws/article/news/47111
      tinyurl dotcom /6vmaljn
      vimeo dotcom /39052604
      tinyurl dotcom /8ynwcqw
      tinyurl dotcom /bpcrmy7
      thoriumforum dotcom /indias-thorium-fuelled-dreams
      tinyurl dotcom /a6unr9a

      www.world-nuclear.org/info/inf81.html
      www.shout-africa dotcom /business/steenkampskraal-thorium-limited-seeks-funding-for-thorium-plant-project/
      www.upi dotcom /Business_News/Energy-Resources/2012/07/26/Saudis-Emirates-push-nuclear-power-plans/UPI-96201343332843/?spt=hs&or=er
      www.thoriumenergycheaperthancoal dotcom

      And so on. Just too bad we in the US are laggards with all the technologies we invented.

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    5. Peter Lang

      Retired geologist and engineer

      In reply to Ken Fabian

      Ken Fabian,

      Your comment is illogical and demonstrates motivated reasoning. The delay to progress is clearly caused by the so called 'Progressives' blocking of progress. They always do. You are not interested in solving the issues in a rational way. You just want to try to impose your ideological beliefs (that's how I see it).

      The problem is that your ideological beliefs are unacceptable to the vast majority of people. They are repugnant in many ways.

      If you were genuine, you'd be…

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    6. Dhugal Fletcher

      Critical Thinker

      In reply to Peter Lang

      So you think it's rational to swap one finite resource dependence for another?

      You think it's rational to choose a more expensive solutionthat is still in prototype (Gen IV nuclear or thorium) over a proven product that is widely used deployed (renewable)?

      You think it's rational to place the future inhabitability and viability of a huge area around a failed reactor at risk of becoming a nuclear desert?

      You think it's rational to continue to trust an industry that is more famous for it's lies and deceit than any good outcomes?

      You think it's rational to swap ignore the vast natural benefits that Australia possesses for EVERY kind of renewable energy solution?

      You think all those outcomes are progressive?

      'Rational' You keep using this word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

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    7. Peter Lang

      Retired geologist and engineer

      In reply to Dhugal Fletcher

      Dhugal Fletcher,

      What I think is that your comment consists of numerous strawman arguments and invalid assertions. All are a display of either ignorance or ideologically motivated thinking. I realise there is no point in me providing the links to assist you of your misunderstandings because you have shown you don't want to know.

      Nuclear is about the safest of all electricity generation technologies. It is far more sustainable than renewables because renewables require about an order of magnitude more material (steel, concrete, etc) than nuclear. Nuclear fuel is virtually unlimited. Your comment is ideological drivel. It is people like you that have been blocking progress for the past 50 years and continue to do so.

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    8. Dhugal Fletcher

      Critical Thinker

      In reply to Peter Lang

      Thanks for your contribution from 1960.

      The modern era is calling with facts and you won't pick up the phone.

      I can support every statement with facts, but you won't read it. You prefer to dig in to an outdated and pointless approach with too many problem .

      It's people like you that have been blocking progress for 50 years because you prefer nuclear industry sales people to simple facts.

      Your strategy of placing blame on everyone else for doing exactly what you're doing is straight out of the US Republican play book.

      We're all used to that strategy and these lies. We kept researching and found different and better answers for Australia. Other countries can make their own decisions and live with them.

      Australia needs to use its abundant renewable resources to start leading the world instead of being a lackey.

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    9. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to Dhugal Fletcher

      You say "I can support every statement with facts, but you won't read it."

      I would - so please do.

      All the evidence I can find makes it clear that Nuclear is a viable solution to climate change and so should be considered as part of the mix. What evidence (not anecdotes or ideological claims but data please) that refutes the below?

      Nuclear Facts

      It can't be on safety grounds because Nuclear is one of the safest power generation technologies

      http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=the-human-cost-of-energy

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    10. Peter Lang

      Retired geologist and engineer

      In reply to Dhugal Fletcher

      Dhugal Fletcher,

      You have never come up with a single relevant fact. I have, but you have not managed to rebut any of them. There is no point tryiny to argue with someone whose brain is locked shut.

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    11. Dhugal Fletcher

      Critical Thinker

      In reply to Peter Lang

      Really Peter? First you claim that there's no point to posting, now you want to talk because you realise how silly your first approach was. Marvellous. Also seems your memory is failing, see link below.

      Hi Mark, back on the same topic again hey?

      Here's a great example of an already lengthy conversation on the topic with conclusions and links galore.

      https://theconversation.edu.au/christine-milne-the-economy-must-serve-people-and-nature-not-vice-versa-8854

      If you manage to present a NEW argument that is not already presented in that link, I'm listening. If you want to rehash the same thing over and over again, I'm busy.

      I'm busy supporting renewable energy solutions in any form and vigorously opposing any nuclear solution in any form.

      Nuclear is not the right answer for Australia.

      We have much better options.

      Time to get started rather than sitting in armchairs waving canes at the screen.

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    12. Alex Cannara

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to Dhugal Fletcher

      Very good summary & links, Mark.

      Dhugal appears to have nothing but unsupported statements in his quiver of blunts.

      Yes indeed Australia can do with just a few nukes, and plenty of local solar. Never any need for wasteful windmills, which are now seen to not even last as long as prop-generator builders up here said they would. Add to that their guaranteed, permanent transmission costs & loss and the extremely low power density of wind continues to fall into its own muddied field.

      I see…

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    13. Dianna Arthur
      Dianna Arthur is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Environmentalist

      In reply to Dhugal Fletcher

      True words, Dhugal.

      Australia has all it needs NOT to have nuclear. It has solar, thermal, hydro and wind and the potential for more. It has the technology.

      What it lacks is the political will. Stymied because renewables are small business, whereas as nuclear is big business. And Big Business is all that is understood by both sides of politics who believe their futures are linked with the 1% who hold 99% of the wealth.

      They fear the healthy competition that renewables could provide, the independence of small business. The one thing that power loves is control and nuclear offers that under the guise of "clean and safe" - utter hypocrisy.

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    14. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to Dhugal Fletcher

      Dhugal - I;ve presented links to evidence and facts.

      You've presented none. Zero, Zilch - yet you claimed you could.

      Is that because, when it comes down to it, you actually have no evidentiary basis for your statements?

      If that is so - why is not reasonable to conclude that your statements are little more than ideological projection?

      Like I said - I would be VERY pleased to find REAL data to support yout assertions. Because I am genuinely concerned about climate change. And on the evidence that I have been able to find renewables are unable to provide a complete solution.

      Nuclear, on the other hand, as I have demonstraed by evidence, can have an important role to play IF we follow the evidence and let it.

      Why is it okay for you to simply make unfounded assertions??

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    15. Alex Cannara

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to Dianna Arthur

      Dianna, if "nuclear is big business" in OZ, why hasn;t it steamrollered all else? Why have you no nukes?

      You have coal, gas, oil, lots of mining steamrollering your lands, why no nukes taking up just a wee bit?

      The myth of the "nuclear industry" is indeed just a myth, because ignorati have done their best to scare others into thinking nukes are worse than bananas -- just try getting a container of bananas by a Homeland Security checkpoint without setting off their radiation detectors…

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    16. Ken Fabian

      Mr

      In reply to Peter Lang

      Peter, I think it's your reasoning that is faulty. Australia's energy companies don't want nuclear energy for Australia, they want to continue to use coal without restraint or added costs. When they say that nuclear is the only viable option that is not a declaration of support for nuclear, it's a coded threat, to front up to widespread anti-nuclear sentiment, sentiment they themselves have spent next to zero effort trying to counter or take their preferred, easier choice, the one they really want…

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    17. Dianna Arthur
      Dianna Arthur is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Environmentalist

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      Alex

      I have been wondering the same thing. Why haven't coal/oil/gas diversified into uranium?

      If they have already done so, why the delay?

      Either there is sufficient opposition to nuclear or there is another reason, such as a possible myopia of the fossil fuel industries. I am well aware that nuclear offers the same opportunities for a monopolised energy industry as coal. Is the anti-nuke lobby that influential? I doubt that.

      I guess I have some research to do.

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    18. Gavin Moodie
      Gavin Moodie is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Adjunct professor at RMIT University

      In reply to Dianna Arthur

      I suspect that nuclear power is so expensive and so difficult that only a few companies have the capacity to develop it commercially. If Australia were to have nuclear power it would not only have to be subsidised massively by government but would also have to be built and managed by one of a few overseas multinationals.

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    19. Ken Fabian

      Mr

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      Alex, I applaud efforts to make nuclear safer. Regardless of my own reservations about it as the solution to global emissions - mostly focused around effective international regulation of fast tracked expansion, both for minimum safety standards and to prevent civilian nuclear being a source of trained personnel, equipment and materials for nuclear weapons development - nuclear isn't going to do what anti-nuclear activists truly want, which is to go away completely. The nearly 70 year record of…

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    20. Dianna Arthur
      Dianna Arthur is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Environmentalist

      In reply to Gavin Moodie

      Gavin

      I think that is part of the answer. Also Australia is vast and is only well-populated along the coasts. The sparse communities in rural Australia would be better served by independent sustainable tech rather than the massive scale required for nuclear implementation, which, as you say will require government subsidisation possibly even more than the fossil fuel industries already receive.

      Perhaps being in the "too-hard" basket will buy sufficient time for sustainable tech to progress. Can only hope. However, I do believe more investigation is required - I see a very incomplete picture further confused by deliberate obfuscation on the part of 20th C industry fighting for survival.

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    21. Alex Cannara

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to Gavin Moodie

      Suspect is not quite the way to truth, Gavin. The cost of all power, properly burdened with subsidies, emissions, etc. leaves nuclear at the low cost end. A 1GWe nuke costs <$10billion to build -- actually, nukes are built with 2 such reactors, for obvious reasons, but I'll ignore that 1 plant is actually a 2GWe msystem.

      For a 24/7, >90% uptime system that operates for several decades, making ~$1 billion of product each year, the cost benefit is clear.

      The Chinese and Saudis and Koreans…

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    22. Alex Cannara

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to Dianna Arthur

      Dianna, the combustion industry has long had some things nuclear & others have not -- depletion allowances, subsidies, pollution exemptions, low regulation, and, of all things, they don't pay for 1/2 fuel.consumed.

      Start with the last -- a reactor needs fissile atoms, that's all it needs to make power. A combustion plant needs hydrocarbons, which it buys, plus oxygen, which it consumes for free! Our NASA rockets buy all components of their fuel, just as nukes must. So the combustion industry…

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    23. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to Dianna Arthur

      True Words?? Dhugal's abject failure to respond with a shred of data or evidence belies this.

      Your own post is similarly evidence free.

      I have provided numerous links to reputable data source demonstrating that nuclear is safe, emissions free and low cost and reliable - all over the entire life cycle.

      Not a single anti-nuker has been able to refute these with a shred of evidence. Instead they resort to conspiracy claims, recycling of myths and, when that is pointed out to them, obfuscation and personal abuse. I recognise these tactics - they are exactly what climate science deniers do.

      Such people who claim to be concerned about climate change cleary demonstrate the opposite. They seem unable to see that this ideological oppostition to a viable solution option to the real problem of climate change is a key reason why we have lost 20 years.

      If you are not going to be driven by the evidence, rather than ideology, then you are part of the problem, not the solution

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    24. Dhugal Fletcher

      Critical Thinker

      In reply to Mark Harrigan

      I am presented one link that contains your entire argument and my refutation if it already.

      If you don't read it, that's your problem.

      It isn't cheaper, safer or better for Australia no matter how many industry studies you quote. I'm going to trust the German government over industry lies any day.

      So, you've still got nothing new, I'm done.

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    25. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to Dhugal Fletcher

      That addresses not one aspect of the evidence I have provided. The safety figures I have linked to are universal.. The cost and emission figures come from AUSTRALIAN sources.

      http://www.ret.gov.au/energy/Documents/AEGTC%202010.pdf

      If you belivee in the BS from BZE you are in fantasy land.

      •They assume we will be using less than half the energy by 2020 than we do today without any damage to the economy. This flies in the face of 200 years of history.
      •They have seriously underestimated…

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    26. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to Dhugal Fletcher

      Your response on the Christine Milne thread wasn;t a refutation. It was an evidence free denial.

      You are still incapable of producing any solid evidence or data to demonstrate that nuclear is not safe, low emissions, low cost and reliable. In the meantime Australia's emissions continue to grow because renewables alone, despite decades of effort, are inadequate by themselves.

      I note you completely fail to address the comparison between German and French emissions - Germany has been doing renewables…

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    27. Dhugal Fletcher

      Critical Thinker

      In reply to Mark Harrigan

      They are working in exactly the right direction to present the community with better options than this nuclear nonsense.

      Go back and read the previous conversation if you still want to argue about nuclear power, I'm done on the topic.

      I'm interested in approaches that can become part of a sustainable economy and sustainable future. You've shown me nothing to make me see nuclear power plants in that future.

      Yes, it may well cost $50 a week more to transition, the overall benefit to society…

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    28. Dhugal Fletcher

      Critical Thinker

      In reply to Mark Harrigan

      If you want to cut off your leg to lose weight, go ahead. I'm not sailing on that boat.

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    29. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to Dhugal Fletcher

      Anex Cannara has already posted links showing that these reactors ARE being built - all over Asia. The US is also slowly moving - but they face the same sort of evidence free anti-nuclear denialism that you espouse - so using that as an argument is entirely circular.

      There is also no credible plan anywhere in the world that shows 100% renewables can do the job for a cost we can afford. This has pointed out to you many times but you are in denial about that too.

      Apparently you think you know better than the IEA - who have made it clear that if nuclear is NOt part of the solution we will have higher emissions and higher temperatures. I wonder how someone who claims to be rational and be concerned about the issue and have a conscience can live with that?

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    30. Dhugal Fletcher

      Critical Thinker

      In reply to Mark Harrigan

      Arguing that engineering solves a much bigger social, cultural and economic issue is also not a rational argument.

      Blindly sticking to just one bad solution when there are others to be used to build a better answer is also a bad path.

      Keep on arguing for the horse drawn zeppelin while we go build airplanes.

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    31. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to Dhugal Fletcher

      Yet again you offer evidence free unsubstantiated rhetoric and think this is rational?

      1) You have not established that nuclear is a "bad" solution - only ideologically asserted it and repeated the claim many times - with not one shred of evidence.

      2) I have provided credible evidence from reputable sources that establishes nuclear is a viable option on the measures that matter - safety, emissions, cost and reliability - not one iota of which you have even addressed let alone refuted.

      3…

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    32. Chris O'Neill

      Victim of Tony Abbotts Great Big New Tax

      In reply to Dhugal Fletcher

      "Blindly sticking to just one bad solution when there are others"

      Making blatant strawman arguments destroys your credibility.

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    33. Alex Cannara

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to Chris O'Neill

      Chris, what can we expect from someone advertizing their mug shot with "Critical Thinker"?
      ;]

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    34. Dianna Arthur
      Dianna Arthur is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Environmentalist

      In reply to Mark Harrigan

      I have provided links to support everything I have said in many previous posts. I do not see the need to repeat links every time I post a comment. You do understand what a discussion is, don't you?

      However, here's another link (which I doubt you will read):

      http://www.clean-energy-ideas.com/articles/index.html

      Now, where is the evidence that implementing nuclear will not result in:

      Massive expense required for mining, processing, transporting, building reactors, storage of toxic waste…

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    35. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to Dianna Arthur

      Diana - thanks for the link - very useful articles on renewables - which is great. But absolutely nothing showing they alone will solve the problem.

      The rest of your post is a a bit silly? It is rather hard to produce "evidence" for a negative.

      However your points about costs, meltdowns and waste are all comprehensively refuted by the links on safety and costs I have already posted.

      Modern nuclear does not require new mines (it can burn existing waste as fuel) and new designs cannot "melt down". Most of the rest of your post just confirms you are ideologically blinded and haven't checked the facts for yourself. Do you think James Lovelock and Patrick Moore - people with the highest green credentials who now supoort nuclear as vital to solving the problems of climate change - are complete idiots?

      I understand perfectly well what a discussion is. Do you understand what is evidence based reasoning? And how ideology can blind one?

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    36. Dhugal Fletcher

      Critical Thinker

      In reply to Dianna Arthur

      Diana, the nuclear lobby want to railroad all discussion to be a matter of engineering. Largely theoretical and expensive engineering.

      Trying to explain there's a much bigger picture ruins their argument, so they refuse to even look.

      Engineering is not the answer to the real problem, sustainable approaches to the world are.

      This is why no progress is made, we're not interested in their small view and they're not interested in our broad view.

      The answeris to simply go out aand support the renewable solutions constantly and leave them to wave their canes at the screen.

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    37. Dianna Arthur
      Dianna Arthur is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Environmentalist

      In reply to Mark Harrigan

      Mark

      1. You can drop the patronising tone.

      2. As I have stated I am well versed and educated on renewables v nuclear. Any check on my posting history reveals this claim to be true.

      3. Labelling highly pertinent questions as "silly" in order to weasel out of supplying answers is nothing short of cowardly. Or you simply have no answers.

      4. "Do you understand what is evidence based reasoning? And how ideology can blind one?" Yes and can identify when a person favours a highly lethal energy source over many safe ones; that they are indeed "blind to their ideology".

      5. I do not favour those who cannot conduct a civil conversation without resorting to personal insult - you are simply wasting time and time is what we have least of in order to mitigate the worst of climate change.

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    38. Alex Cannara

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to Dianna Arthur
    39. Alex Cannara

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to Dhugal Fletcher

      Good try, Dhugal, but seems you're more of a lobbyist than anyone else here. Who pays you do show such ignorance and avoidance of facts, you "Critical Thinker" you!?

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    40. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to Dhugal Fletcher

      Still no evidence - only rhetoric. Blind ideology that refuses to countenance evidence indeed blocks progress

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    41. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to Dianna Arthur

      Dianna- I did not call you silly - only your comments. An important distinction - and I note you once again failed to address a single point and again make false claims with no evidence.

      You assert nuclear is "lethal" - yet the data clearly shows otherwise.

      You obviously continue to oppose nuclear. yet you offer no evidence to support your reasoning nor to supprt that renewables alone can solve the problem.

      I favour those who can conduct a discussion based on evidence and reasoning. The…

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    42. Ken Fabian

      Mr

      In reply to Mark Harrigan

      Mark, I don't think you have addressed the problem for the nuclear solution of mainstream political opposition to action on climate. Nor how that is exacerbated by being so strongly aligned politically with support (supposedly) for nuclear. Until opposition to action on climate is gone from mainstream politics nuclear will never be used to replace coal in Australia, irrespective of what the green-left say or do. Yet when it is gone nuclear probably will have genuine political backing.

      You'll get more results quicker by pushing for the end of climate science denial within mainstream politics than you will by trying to stop The Greens opposing nuclear. The Coalition's support for climate science denial is a dangerously irrational position that makes the 'irrationality' of The Greens' opposition to nuclear look amateurish and benign in comparison.

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    43. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to Ken Fabian

      Ken - This and.

      It is possible to do both. And I have and I do. I do not accept your characterisation of mutually exclusive priorities.

      In addition - there is ample evidence that opposition to action on climate change from the "conservative" side can be overcome by being more willimg to embrace nuclear - look it up.

      It is suggested that this is the case because conservative "denial" is ideologically driven by perceived damage to the economy caused by a shift to renewables which have cost and reliabillity issues. These objections generally dissipate when nuclear is considered.

      So, in brief, I think you are wrong. But thanks for the considered contribution.

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    44. Chris O'Neill

      Victim of Tony Abbotts Great Big New Tax

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      Reminds me of ads from an Australian Accountants Association that warned people to watch out for those who say "I call myself an accountant".

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    45. Ken Fabian

      Mr

      In reply to Mark Harrigan

      Mark I disagree and think the collapse of opposition to nuclear within the wider community will only arise as a consequence of acceptance of the seriousness and urgency of the climate problem within mainstream politics and the community. Climate is the best, most compelling reason to accept nuclear. Climate science denial undermines it.

      Nuclear has always been the greater threat to the coal industry than solar or wind - it's been very convenient for them to have entrenched opposition to nuclear…

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    46. Peter Lang

      Retired geologist and engineer

      In reply to Ken Fabian

      Ken Fabian,

      IMO, you are properly assessing the political realities. I get the impression from your comments you want people to accept your beliefs and if they don't you are not prepared to compromise. That is an unhelpful position to take. Only extremists can take such a position.

      The facts are overwhelming that the policies the Progressives advocate, and you seem to support, cannot work in the real world. Twenty years of failed climate conferences, which are overwhelming dominated by…

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    47. Peter Lang

      Retired geologist and engineer

      In reply to Ken Fabian

      Ken Fabian, you said:

      "Climate is the best, most compelling reason to accept nuclear."

      This statement is wrong. France did not build its nuclear power plants that now provide 76% of its electricity for climate reasons. Climate had no part in their decision. The same is the case for USA, Canada, UK, Germany, Sweden, Finland, Switzerland, Belgium, Spain, Japan. Korea, China, India ... you get the picture.

      All the countries that have built nuclear power so far have done so for these reasons: energy security, cost of electricity, reduced pollution (cleaner).

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    48. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to Ken Fabian

      Ken - perhaps we are close to agreement but I still find your approach a trifle contradictory and illogical? I also do not think you have addressed my point about conservative opposition - which we can probably agree is ideologically rather than evidence based?

      I think (please correct me if I am wrong) you are arguing, at least in part, that it is only when the general populace (lets assume that this excludes extreme anti-nuke greens and extreme climate science denying conservative for the sake…

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    49. Ken Fabian

      Mr

      In reply to Mark Harrigan

      Mark, do you really want climate science deniers as allies in achieving a solution to the climate problem? I find it bizarre that anyone could believe that they are anything but a hindrance, no matter how fervent their advocacy for nuclear.

      I think I agree that some of the conservatives who currently keep their head down might be more emboldened to push for action on climate in the absence of opposition to nuclear but I remain dubious that it is fundamental to their choices. It doesn't fill me…

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    50. Ken Fabian

      Mr

      In reply to Ken Fabian

      Revision to above - I spoke of short term commercial interests, but that applies mostly to the position of majority of commerce and industry that lobbies against action on climate, but for some of the most powerful interests - big mining and the financial sector that is aligned with it - it's clearly their long term interests at stake. Dealing with climate effectively means, despite the hype about Carbon Capture and Storage, the planned demise of Australia's coal industry

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    51. Alex Cannara

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to Peter Lang

      Peter, Ken is right now, if he wasn't 40 years ago, but 50 years ago, the US indeed was aware that combustion was both an emissions and a hydrocarbon-resource-waste problem, which is why efforts to domesticate nuclear power proceeded here. A key example is...http://tinyurl.com/6xgpkfa

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    52. John Holmes

      Agronomist - semi retired consultant

      In reply to Peter Lang

      If my memory has not completely left me, the issue of security was a key issue driving nuclear power stations.. Not just for energy. There was a lot of discussion during the Cold war re the types of power stations which were being built at were, that they also were suitable for the production of suitable precursors for weapons grade material. This issue certainly was alive an well in some of the anti nuclear/ disarming discussions at the time.

      This unstated alleged policy was also blamed…

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    53. Peter Lang

      Retired geologist and engineer

      In reply to Mark Harrigan

      Mark Harrigan,

      'Don't you think you mighjt be demonstrating some ideological biases and motivated reasoning your self in continually talking about conservative "deniers" but not making any mention about the 'Progressive' doomsayers, Alarmists, extremists, etc of which there are many. For example, see the thirteen articles by some of Australia's top climate scientists here (most of whom fit that description) https://theconversation.edu.au/pages/clearing-up-the-climate-debate and the long list…

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    54. Peter Lang

      Retired geologist and engineer

      In reply to John Holmes

      John Holmes,

      Thank you for your question about the relation between the civil and military uses of uranium. I wrote this on a previous comment some time ago, so will repost it here:

      Re: Use of civil nuclear power stations to produce bombs.

      This concern is largely a furphy. Fissile material for bombs is produced in dedicated military installations. The processes for producing weapons grade material are quite different from the civil processes. Civil nuclear power stations use un-enriched…

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    55. Alex Cannara

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to Peter Lang

      Let me suggest that while I know NRDC's and Sierra Club's (and others' that I support) policies have indeed often been naive, even helpful to the combustion industry and unhelpful to climate issues, this is clearly false...

      "The 'Progressive' extremists are at least as bad as the conservative extremists,"

      There is no way foolish enviro groups could possibly exacerbate the physics & chemistry of our environment as the combustion folks supported by the "deniers" can and have. The Kochs, for…

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    56. Peter Lang

      Retired geologist and engineer

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      Alex,

      Thanks for another example demonstrating the extent to which the anti-nukes are responsible for at least 50 years of delay. They are responsible for global CO2 emissions from electricity being some 10% to 20% higher now than they would have been if not for their anti-nuke tactics. Furthermore, the rate of global decarbonisation over the next few decades will be much slower than it would have been if progress hadn't been blocked for 50 years. If not for their delaying tactics we'd be in a good position now to rapidly accelerate the roll-out to replace most coal and some gas by 2050.

      Given the history of 'Progressives' blocking progress, what rational person would trust anything they advocate? Rational people would be foolish to accept their beliefs without checking for oneself. They have done their credibility immeasurable harm and this is one of the reasons people are cautious about accepting their latest scaremongering and doom-saying.

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    57. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to Ken Fabian

      Ken - I am unconcerned with anything other than getting action to reduce as much emissions as possible as soon as possible. No more, no less.

      I am not talking about bringing on board those who have the profit motive (a la "Merchants of Doubt") - I am talking about the mainstream conservatives in their audience -where it has been shown that primary opposition to belief in climate change correlates highly with their conservative political bias. I think Tim Dean captures this issue well in this opinion piece article

      http://www.abc.net.au/unleashed/45394.html

      I agree that acceptance of the issue is vital - and it has to be mainstream and bipartisan - which by definition includes a large number of people who are conservative in their views

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    58. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to Peter Lang

      No Peter, I don't. But only because I was talking with Ken about building support for nuclear amongst conservatives.

      I agree that are also large numbers of people (you can label them "progressives" if you wish) who are just as guilty of motivated reasoning aho are rabidly anti-nuke (typically rabidly anti-GM too). They seem to represent the more extreme "Greens" who only use 'science" when it suits them and are incapable of dealing with the evidence on this matter - i.e. that nuclear power is…

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    59. Peter Lang

      Retired geologist and engineer

      In reply to Mark Harrigan

      Mark Harrigan,

      "Where I think you and I part company (correct me if I am wrong) is that I believe the damage function from climate change is high and you do not. I have posted a lot of evidence to support my view - whereas I think you have labeled such thinking as CAGW extremism. But this thread is not the place to extend that discussion."

      Where have you posted "a lot of evidence to support my view" that "I believe the damage function from climate change is high"?

      Where can we discuss that…

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    60. Peter Lang

      Retired geologist and engineer

      In reply to Mark Harrigan

      Mark Harrigan,

      "By the way I find it amazing that you can take someone to task for using what you call a perjorative term "denier" to describe someone who denies the climaate science but then think it is okay to use "doomsayer" and "Catastrophist"?"

      Likewise, I find it amazing how many people call those who do not accept their beliefs in CAGW "deniers", and then take offence at being called alarmists, catastrophists, extremists, doomsayers, etc.

      Using the term "denier" suggests the people…

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    61. Doug Hutcheson

      Poet

      In reply to Peter Lang

      Judith Curry is scarcely 'neutral', Peter: she is a noted denier of global warming science, even to the extent of attempting to back away from the findings of the BEST study she was part of, when they found that the best explanation for the warming seen over the past 250 years is human greenhouse gas emissions. http://berkeleyearth.org/faq/#skepticism

      If you want a place to discuss the science in a civilised manner, why not try one of the numerous appropriate threads at Skeptical Science? Try http://www.skepticalscience.com/global-warming-positives-negatives.htm for example.

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    62. Peter Lang

      Retired geologist and engineer

      In reply to Doug Hutcheson

      Doug Hutcheson,

      "Judith Curry is scarcely 'neutral', Peter: she is a noted denier of global warming science,"

      That is the opinion of an extremist and a zealot. You wouldn't have a clue what is balanced. Your opinion is irrelevant.

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    63. Peter Lang

      Retired geologist and engineer

      In reply to Peter Lang

      Makr Harrigan,

      Further to my previous reply to you where I suggested 'Climate Etc.' and suggested the most recent 'Open Thread' as suitable web site where we could discuss the topic you raised - i.e. the 'Damage Function'. I noticed that my first comment on that thread states my opening assertion. The comment is here:
      http://judithcurry.com/2013/01/12/open-thread-weekend-6/#comment-285236

      We could continue the discussion on that thread.

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    64. Alex Cannara

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to Peter Lang

      Peter, isn't "the history of 'Progressives' blocking progress" a bit self contradictory?

      There have long been environmentalists and progressives who were not, and still are not, blindly opposed to useful decisions, such as ramping nuclear power.

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    65. Alex Cannara

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to Peter Lang

      I'll just add to Peter's comments on nuke power vs nuke weapons - existing power polants use solid fuel containing at most 5% U235, which is fissile -- fissions well in moderated neutron speeds.

      That fuel can't be made into a bomb, even after its typical 5-year life in a reactor, when most of the U235 is gone and new Plutonium has appeared, made from U238 (which was ~95% of the fuel) via neutron capture. That Pu is a mix of isotopes called "reactor Plutonium", which is also unsuited to bomb…

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    66. Peter Lang

      Retired geologist and engineer

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      Alex Cannara,

      There are exceptions to every general statement. You can't write a PhD thesis to cover every scenario in a blog comment field. Surely you know that. Being pedantic about irrelevancies is unhelpful. The vast majority of strident anti-nuclear activists are 'Progressive' and the 'Progressive' governments are the ones that oppose nuclear power on principle. Conservative government do not oppose on principle, but do oppose it if it is not economically the best option. Therefore, we need to remove the impediments that are making nuclear a higher cost option than it needs to be. That is impossible while 'Progressives' continue to block progress.

      If you don't get it, so be it. Let's let it rest. I am convinced by the discussion here and elsewhere that 'Progressives' are irrational, their brains are locked shut and their are far more interested in pushing their ideological agenda that in finding practicable solutions that could succeed in the real world.

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    67. Doug Hutcheson

      Poet

      In reply to Peter Lang

      "That is the opinion of an extremist and a zealot. You wouldn't have a clue what is balanced. Your opinion is irrelevant." Peter, you seem to be the one with extremist views. Why you would object to a reasonable discussion of the science, on a site where claims need to be backed up by scientific papers published in reputable journals, is beyond me.

      Science trumps religious faith every time, unless one is a committed 'believer', in which case reality seems to be seen as a threat. As you seem to be immersed in denial of science, I can see why my opinion is irrelevant to you, but anyone with a more open mind is welcome to visit www.skepticalscience.com and make up their own mind.

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    68. Alex Cannara

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to John Holmes

      John, part of all the misconception about power plants and security is that the choice of solid fuel, with water as neutron moderator and the working fluid for heat transfer to generation, was poor.

      The first reactor actually was a sphere (in the UK) of metal, filled with water and Uranium powder -- it got nice and hot. However, Fermi later piled up blocks of graphite (moderator) and Uranium under the stadium in Chicago, until it got hot. In 1946, the idea of running water pipes through such…

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    69. Alex Cannara

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to Peter Lang

      Have it your way, Peter. Your comments sound, by your definition, "progressive"
      ;]

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    70. Peter Lang

      Retired geologist and engineer

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      Alex Cannara,

      I just saw one of your comments from a while ago where you said you support the Sierra Club. You also said this:

      "In no way could any group but the combustion industry have succeeded in trashing the world's Carbon Cycle by a factor of 30 each year and kept that up for decades, so that now we inevitably have thousands of years ahead of extreme results.from that conversion of carbon compounds to $."

      We'll we are miles apart. I think people who make the sport of arguments you…

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    71. John Holmes

      Agronomist - semi retired consultant

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      Thanks for you comments.

      One of the issues was as such proposed non self sustaining systems were fairly small issues with shutdowns for maintenance could be less, and would allow for greater decentralization with all that may entail including political and corporate structures.

      Re comment re fear of explosion or leakages, the proposals suggested that with power failures, such systems would be hot, but should be containable. Obviously there were problems in Japan.

      Overall this discussion merely echos the problem that there are many solutions, yet when vested groups have decided one to be 'Their' solution and once minds are made up, that's it, despite the cost/wasted opportunities. My comments above re corporate policies and corporate / departmental ethos's stand. Do not expect big changes.

      It that why the Reformation occurred, and why it was so radical at the time?

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    72. John Holmes

      Agronomist - semi retired consultant

      In reply to Peter Lang

      Thanks, it was a while ago, yet there was allot of concern in the Student groups of the 60's. Decoupling of the power industry from the weapons system needs to be emphasized. and see to be so.

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    73. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to Peter Lang

      Peter,

      I'll attempt to reply to both of your posts above here if I may.

      Last point first.

      The whole "label" issue (denier, catastrophist) is, I agree, problematic for all concerned. I've certainly been guilty of applying such labels in the past and I know you have too - and we are not Robinson Crusoe's in this regard.

      Of course it's a tough one. If some one is denying the scientific evidence - as many do who state that Climate Change is not hapening or is not a problem (let's put aside…

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    74. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to Peter Lang

      Peter - I'm sorry, I only just picked up this comment after I posted my reply.

      I'm a little toey about Curry's site as I have said but I won;t be close minded about it.

      I will have a look at the link you posted and give it some consideration. Please note I have to head off and do some other things soon so a considered reply may take a day or so?

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    75. Peter Lang

      Retired geologist and engineer

      In reply to Mark Harrigan

      Mark Harrigan,

      I’ve made my point about using the term “denier”. From my perspective, in most case it is those who use the term who are the actual deniers. You can’t even define what the so called “deniers” are denying, other than they don’t accept your beliefs (and that is because you haven’t made a persuasive case). So it’s a stupid, pointless argument. Because you try to defend using it, I will continue to call the CAGW alarmists, extremists, doomsayers, ‘Progressives’ Greenies, etc, by…

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    76. Alex Cannara

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to John Holmes

      John, g;lad you mentioned Fukushima. Those reactors indeed shut down at once, properly, and the only problems was poor design of the plant, which TEPCO & NISA allowed, despite GE telling them otherwise (a friend was a GE safety engineer there when it was being finished).

      The validation of proper design there is reactor #6, which is the only one with emergency generation above the tsunami! It's fine.

      However, had the MSR work been completed here in the '70s, Fukushima would be as our MSR in…

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    77. Alex Cannara

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to Peter Lang

      Peter, I'm aghast! -- you quote the Cato Institute!? Why not Heartland, then? Or American Traditions?
      ;]

      Your arguing seems to center on making up a category, like "progressives" and then throwing into it all those you want to try to diminish.

      What I said about the Sierra Club and some others is quite true -- they aided the combustion industry unwittingly, and some are now becoming aware of that. There are good reasons why folks like Hansen & Sachs went from anti- to pro-nuclear, while…

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    78. Dianna Arthur
      Dianna Arthur is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Environmentalist

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      Excellent riposte to the rather disurbing Peter Lang.

      You don't appear to realise that we are more in agreement than not. I do understand that nuclear will be part of the mix to transition of fossil fuels, I just don't see a need to establish a nuclear industry in countries like Australia where we are in a position to establish a clean renewable foundation for energy sources.

      A shame that you and Mark Harrigan can only resort to casting aspersions on my intelligence, when the issue of climate…

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    79. Peter Lang

      Retired geologist and engineer

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      Alex Cannara

      >"Peter, I'm aghast! -- you quote the Cato Institute!?"

      Well, that comment certainly shows your ideological bias. Try reading the report and making some substantial comments.

      The closed minds of the ideological Left/'Progressives' is the main problem.

      The self-proclaimed 'Progressives' are blocking progress and have been for 50 years. Get it yet?

      p.s.. I saw your first line and last line and didn't bother reading any more. Obviously no point.

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    80. Doug Hutcheson

      Poet

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      Alex, well might you say "I'm aghast ..." about anyone introducing the Cato Institute as a valid point of reference in the global warming/fossil fuel debate. In Peter's case, however, it dovetails nicely with his other sources, such as Jo Nova. I am expecting Peter to continue collecting the whole set. Soon, he will be invoking the spectre of Monkton, Lindzen, Christy, Spencer and that paragon of balance, Anthony Watts.

      Discussions we have had here and in other threads have caused me to look hard…

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    81. Ken Fabian

      Mr

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      I would, admittedly reluctantly, support nuclear as a key element of replacing fossil fuels here in Australia, if that was actually a genuine and believable mainstream political policy. It's not. I also think renewables are an important component of the solution. I will not support the abandonment of carbon pricing or the use of renewables whilst we wait on bipartisan support for nuclear. Renewables have dropped significantly in cost and gained a significant place, far beyond what it's critics…

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    82. Doug Hutcheson

      Poet

      In reply to Ken Fabian

      Ken, you said "I will not support the abandonment of carbon pricing or the use of renewables whilst we wait on bipartisan support for nuclear". I couldn't agree more. We should be urgently deploying ALL means to reduce CO₂ emissions NOW.

      Fukashima and Chernobyl tell us accidents are possible, but climate science is telling us we are on a crazy path of self-destruction by continuing to burn fossil carbon. The worst case scenario for nuclear is not as bad as the worst case scenario for global warming, so logic dictates we should take the path of least harm and not exclude nuclear from our basket of solutions.

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    83. Alex Cannara

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to Doug Hutcheson

      Thanks Doug, I was indeed fooled into thinking Peter was someone else, until "Cato" appeared!

      The thing to remember about nuclear power is that it's a large family of systems, designs, fuels, etc. And, even our 1946-design, present LWR systems are natural, if a bit Rube Goldberg & fraught with issues.

      Just Google "Gabon reactors" to see that Ma Nature beat us to Uranium-fission, water-cooled reactors about 2 billion years ago. These, in fact, depended on life forms to be able to run -- photosynthesizing…

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    84. Alex Cannara

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to Peter Lang

      Love it, Peter!

      "Well, that comment certainly shows your ideological bias. Try ...I saw your first line and last line and didn't bother reading any more."

      Couldn't have asked you to better expose your fact avoidance.
      ;]

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    85. Peter Lang

      Retired geologist and engineer

      In reply to Ken Fabian

      Ken Fabian,

      "I would, admittedly reluctantly, support nuclear as a key element of replacing fossil fuels here in Australia,"

      Your logic is flawed. Nuclear cannot be a mainstream policy because every time it is offered by the Conservatives (e.g. 1993 and 2007) the 'Progressives, Labor-Greens) use it as an opportunity to run a fear mongering campaign. And people like you do all you can to spread the dear mongering.

      Wake up! It's people lie you that are blocking progress and have been for 50 years. As long as anti-nuke activists like your self are spreading anti-nuke propaganda and phobia, progress cannot be made. People like you are responsible for emissions being 10% to 20% higher than they would have been if not for the 50 years of anti-nuke scaremongering - mostly by ... you guessed it ... the same people who oppose all progress the self claimed 'Progressives'.

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    86. Alex Cannara

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to Dianna Arthur

      Dianna, I've never said or thought you were unintelligent, have I?

      I'm glad you agree that we agree on various points.

      The one point I see you mistaken in is the vision that there is a desire to "establish a nuclear industry". There certainly should not be any goal to establish any industry that is a net waste and depends on net subsidy. That;'s what wind/solar 'farms' are -- especially wind, because of its environmental impacts and low efficiency.

      I fully support, as I often say, local…

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    87. Dianna Arthur
      Dianna Arthur is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Environmentalist

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      " I've never said or thought you were unintelligent, have I?"

      Your support of Mark Harrigan's childish behaviour in not wanting to answer my reasonable and relevant questions regarding the implementation of nuclear.

      Anyhoo, I don't like holding grudges, I can see a possible meeting of minds when looking at alternatives to fossil fuel power.

      I would argue that nuclear as it is today is of far more danger environmentally than say, wind farms.

      Better to get started with what we know is…

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    88. Doug Hutcheson

      Poet

      In reply to Dianna Arthur

      "As for my beefy little Midget, if I still had that car I would not be doing anything more than restoring it to its glory - that means no supercharger". Aw, Diana, you have to admit that a tidy '61 Austin Healey Sprite with a supercharger would be really cool. Hey, maybe it would be so cool, it would help combat global warming ...?
      "8-)

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    89. Dianna Arthur
      Dianna Arthur is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Environmentalist

      In reply to Doug Hutcheson

      Doug

      The wind in my hair - super-cool.

      However, if we REALLY wanted to reduce pollution and grid-lock we should all ride motorbikes.

      And Sprite v Midget? I am biased, Midget wins. Not even going to enter into any more argument, I loved that car.

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    90. Alex Cannara

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to Dianna Arthur

      "Better to get started with what we know is working & safe " -- agree wholeheartedly, Dainna.

      That;s exactly why I've advocated local solar, EVs. efficiency, good storage and nuclear, esp. MSR.

      That last has the best safety record of any power saource., despite it being out of date in the a970s!

      Wind has large environmental deficits, and even a larger emissions burden in construction than does current nuclear,. And, even up here, wind 'farms' kill species and have not only the inevitable…

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    91. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to Dianna Arthur

      Dianna- I think is you who are exhibiting childish behaviour. review the posts carefully. Not once did I call you uninteeligent. I did suggest one of your posts (demanding the proof of a negative) was silly. I also answered your question - you just apparently didn't like the answer.

      You also made a number of assertions 9that you now appear to be backing away from) specifically that nuclear was "lethal". When you were chalenged to substantiate that comment you were conspicuously silent…

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    92. Peter Lang

      Retired geologist and engineer

      In reply to Mark Harrigan

      Mark Harrigan,

      I saw your comment addressed to on the other thread after I'd written my last response to you here. I've replied to your comment on thoe other thread and presume you are considering how to proceed as you mentioned you would. However, I'm just checking that you are aware I have responded there.

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    93. Ken Fabian

      Mr

      In reply to Peter Lang

      Australian conservatives can't be taken seriously on climate or nuclear. If they were serious about climate I might believe they were serious about nuclear. Not that Labor is serious about climate either. Doing the least they can seems to be the one unifying goal of mainstream politics, Labor and Coalition.

      Am I an anti-nuclear activist? That's news to me. I think I'm a climate action activist and I'm doing both climate action and nuclear a favour by pointing out that a political alliance with…

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    94. Chris O'Neill

      Victim of Tony Abbotts Great Big New Tax

      In reply to Dianna Arthur

      "I would argue that nuclear as it is today"

      What does "nuclear as it is today" mean in this context? The only useful thing it could mean is nuclear power stations as they would be built today or in the near future.

      "is of far more danger environmentally than say, wind farms."

      To do this you would have to compare nuclear power stations as they are built today (not in the 1960s) with wind farms. Have you done this anywhere?

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    95. Chris O'Neill

      Victim of Tony Abbotts Great Big New Tax

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      "The combustion industry was quite scared of that development,"

      I remember as a boy reading about the density of fusion energy contained in water and, after telling one of my uncles about this, he said that developing such an energy source would face enormous opposition from normal (combustion) sources of energy for generating electricity.

      So there is a lot of self-interest behind people's so called concern.

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    96. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to Ken Fabian

      Ken - I do understand where you are coming from - even if I don't entirely agree.

      This video from TED says where I was trying to come from much better than I can.

      http://www.ted.com/talks/jonathan_haidt_how_common_threats_can_make_common_political_ground.html

      If you are willing to spare the 20 minutes it might really help in terms mof understanding how we might all recruit more people to working on the problem. Which might help us avoid another 20 years of delay?

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    97. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to Peter Lang

      Peter - yes I am aware thank you. And I have been following the thread - although the last 24 hours has been particularly busy for me. I will post a short into there soon. In the meantime I have posted quickly about the MacKay video you linked to - which I found very good.

      I agree we need to move on from the labels. But no, I don't mean "denial of beliefs". For example - if I post evidence that shows nuclear is one of the safest technologies (as measured by deaths from the entire production…

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    98. Peter Lang

      Retired geologist and engineer

      In reply to Mark Harrigan

      Mark Harrigan:

      "Whilst I have already made my criticisms of SKS I don't accept your characterisation of SKS - they always require that posts on the climate science are buttressed by evidence and peer reviewed science."

      Mark, There is no common ground here. SKS is clearly an alarmist site. It is partisan. It is highly biased. The articles it refers are chosen selectively, the titles the editors put on them are invariably alarmist. The site is dominated by the ideological Left. It is useless as a way to communicating with those who have a much broader understanding of the real world - i.e. the conservatives.

      The message I am trying to send to you is, if you want to communicate with conservatives, take your message to them where they will listen to you. Don't expect them, to come into your church where the congregation is totally under the spell of its beliefs and its priests.

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    99. Doug Hutcheson

      Poet

      In reply to Peter Lang

      "Don't expect them, to come into your church where the congregation is totally under the spell of its beliefs and its priests".

      On cue, Peter plays the religion card.

      For the sake of other readers, I should point out that Skeptical Science discusses the science, as do many other sites. I can see why Peter would find that threatening.

      What next, Peter: a link to the Heartland Institute? A quote from Fred Singer? You still have a number science denial specialists to bring into this debate.

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    100. Alex Cannara

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to Doug Hutcheson

      Doug! Why did you hgave to bring up Freddy Singer!?

      He's been shaming us for decades -- first testifying to Congress for the tobacco companies. Then after losing that, getting paid by Chevron to testify again for oil $.

      We were hoping he was gone & forgotten, like an old case of herpes.
      ;]

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    101. Alex Cannara

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to Chris O'Neill

      Your uncle was sharp, Chris.

      I forget if I mentioned that when Seaborg asked his research assistant to see if Thorium could be bred by a neutron to Uranium233 and how many neutrons each U233 atom released when split by a neutron hit, the student came back with answers "yes" and "2.4". Seaborg supposedly said "You've just made a 40 quadrillion dollar discovery!"

      That was 1942. The combustion industry has since succeeded in getting most of that money.
      ;]

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    102. Alex Cannara

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to Chris O'Neill

      Chris, good questions, and everyone here has seen the answers, starting from the 1998 Swiss report on all energy sources' safety.

      In addition, the Chinese now have completed their safety reviews of all their planned nukes, even determining where not to build them, and are proceeding to build out 26 new plants (Economist, 19 Jan. 2013.) Another 45 are being built in other countries, typically using variations of the passively-cooled Areva & AP1000 designs. I don't know the designs for the 10…

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    103. Doug Hutcheson

      Poet

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      "We were hoping he was gone & forgotten, like an old case of herpes".

      LOL. I must weave that into a conversation sometime. "8-)

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    104. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to Peter Lang

      Ok Peter - we will have to agree to disagree about SKS. I also suggest that conservatives have no better understanding of the real world than anyone else - just a different motivational reasoning from what you call "progressives". However I do not not denigrate "conservatives" because of this - because their world view is valid and useful. I suppose I might be regarded as socially progressive but fiscally conservative.

      I'm not sure the religious epithet is appropriate either - but I take your point about taking ones message to where people will listen - as opposed to "preaching to the converted" (oh damn - now you've got me using the religious metaphor!). I am working on the Curry response as we speak.

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    105. Peter Lang

      Retired geologist and engineer

      In reply to Mark Harrigan

      OK, we agree to disagree about SkS.

      I agree with most of what you say in that comment. Some of my comments are aimed a bit at the extremist 'Progressives', whose comments suggest they have totally closed minds and who dominate the comments on sites like TC and SKS, that they have no chance of getting their message through to Conservatives if they demonstrate they do not understand the value of the cheap energy, fossil fuels (if there is no other cheaper alternative), profit motive, free trade, globalisation, big business and small business, light regulation, low taxes, etc.

      You said "I suppose I might be regarded as socially progressive but fiscally conservative." That brings a smile to my face. Where did I hear that before? (hint: 2007). What a a misleading claim that turned out to be, eh?

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    106. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to Peter Lang

      Ouch - I forgot he said that! Rudd was and is a dud in my opinion. I am more aligned with the Hawke/Keating brand of labor (to the extent they freed up the markets and introduced modest social reform not the extent of their deficit spending - although counter cyclical defificts are not evil if the debt servicing ratio doesn't get too high and US based so-called conseravtives have been some of the worst users of the credit card ever) and the Costello/Turnbull brand of the conservatives.

      I know what you mean about "closed mind" anti-nukes though - I've tried my hardest on TC to get them to question their responses and at least consider that their opposition to nuclear is at least in part based on FUD that has no evidentiary basis - and that opposition is actually a barrier to achieving what they say they want - i.e. lower emissions. But blindness is blindness alas - no matter where it comes from

      I have posted a quick reply on JC

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    107. Peter Lang

      Retired geologist and engineer

      In reply to Mark Harrigan

      Mark Harrigan,

      I notice you named Costello/Turnbull and avoided mentioning Howard/Costello.

      That is a very revealing. I interpret it as revealing a ‘socialist’ ideological bias, to the point of not even being able to acknowledge greatness.

      It is amazing how you could ignore possible the best PM the country has had in at least half a century. He and Costello - along with the rest of an excellent team of Ministers led by an excellent leader, excellent party discipline and excellent cabinet…

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    108. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to Peter Lang

      Peter, I said who I felt more aligned to - not who I admired or respected (or even voted for). Don't be so ready to read ideology into everything and apparently take umbrage.

      I voted for the libs several times when Howard was leader. Including when he lost to Rudd. I broadly agreed with the economic stance Howard/Costello managed (although they did get a bit profilgate at the end)- but (apart from the gun laws) had problems with many of Howards social policy sances. I agree the Howard period…

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    109. Alex Cannara

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to Mark Harrigan

      Thanks for the link, I have the mag yet to read. This is good to raise, but this is incomplete...

      "progressive liberals tend to be antinuclear because of the waste-disposal problem, anti–fossil fuels because of global warming, antihydroelectric because dams disrupt river ecosystems, and anti–wind power because of avian fatalities. The underlying current is “everything natural is good” and “everything unnatural is bad.”"

      What they do is lump all oppositions to particular things (say in energy…

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  23. Chris O'Neill

    Victim of Tony Abbotts Great Big New Tax

    "evoking “us” against the “them” of greenies, Europeans, and the United Nations. These were portrayed as elites and outsiders"

    These techniques were learned from US politicians AFAIK. The use of the term "elite" was an especially masterful piece of re-writing the meaning of the term considering that its meaning was re-written by politicians who were themselves representatives of the wealth-holding elite.

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  24. Tim Scanlon

    Debunker

    As part of learning about climate science, I did a similar search of information to yours Maria. While I didn't go as deeply as you, I did find that the message from scientists has been present in the media since just about the time I was born. This message has been pretty consistent. So I think you might even be able to add 10 years to your figures, even though the message wasn't as widely acknowledged as it was by the late 80s and early 90s.

    Isaac Asimov on climate change, something he has been talking about since ~1969: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sSqdklAux-c

    Dhugal Fletcher linked to a couple of great videos here as well:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d8IBnfkcrsM
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TQlHaGhYoF0

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  25. Alex Cannara

    logged in via LinkedIn

    No, in the US we've lost more.

    At least in the US, the solution was known and planned for 60 years ago, then politically fumbled, to the delight of the combustion industry...
    http://tinyurl.com/6xgpkfa (1962)
    http://tinyurl.com/73p7ler (197x)

    Living scientists reminisce with Baroness Worthington (Weinberg Found.)...
    https://plus.google.com/109596373340495798827/posts/fk5rcwoaKBP?cfem=1
    http://tinyurl.com/al5hlap

    http://tinyurl.com/7o6cm3u (one '60s solution, now a bandaid)

    Why we'll all be buying more from the Chinese, if they let us...
    http://tinyurl.com/4t5ojde
    http://thoriumforum.com/son-china-s-ex-president-thorium-will-help-shape-country-s-energy-future
    www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/comment/ambroseevans_pritchard/9784044/China-blazes-trail-for-clean-nuclear-power-from-thorium.html

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  26. Trevor S

    Jack of all Trades

    The reason nothing significant gets done is exemplified in many of the comments. We have apologists saying "we have to start somewhere" , when we have the lunacy of how the carbon tax works. We have posters here blaming others, typically on the "other side" of politics presumably while they turn up to work in an AC office and chug a beer/cider (imported from who knows where) from a mains powered 'fridge when they get home from work.

    Do you guys do more then read the science ? Spend 30mins actually…

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    1. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Trevor S

      Yeah, Trevor, but there are heaps of things that only governments - or other large collectives of people - can actually put into effect - like changing our energy system, for example.

      You're dead right, I think, that we as individuals must wake up and act - but a big part of that action has to be directing our governments and industries to change. it's annoting, tiresome, slow, inevitably political but nobody has any other way to transform large, complex societies. Has it ever occured to you that maybe the realists, and the real problem solvers, are the ones who are prepared to continue hacking through the politics and the complexity, rather than retreating to a kind of moral high ground and making glib condemnations?

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  27. Maria Taylor

    Associate Lecturer, Science and Journalism at Australian National University

    I joined this conversation late in day so can't insert specific responses but thanks for all the interesting commentary. Certainly learned a few things. Geoff Russell asked whether there has been any evidence of declining scientific literacy and I don't know of any study but my research indicated that it has been more a matter of reframing of the issue by politicians and the media together rather than innate lack of understanding of the science. The media HAS played a big role and conventions like…

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  28. Andrew Smith

    Education Consultant at Australian & International Education Centre

    There have been instances of agreement between right and left but for malign reasons, largely (mis) informed by the US based nativist movement, led by John Tanton of FAIR, to co opt liberals, progressives and environmentally aware exemplified by an attempted take over of the Sierra Club.

    Tanton and his followers strategy was to follow a one dimensional policy of linking (without evidence), environmental issue with immigration, population growth and border control, thus appealing to the green movement and the left of politics.

    Not only does this have resonance with many, but allows politicians to play hard and authoritative on immigration etc., with out appearing racist.... In Australia this is exemplified by various public figures, academics, demographers etc. demanding a stop to any population growth, while ignoring our own way of life and role in developing sustainable solutions to maintain and improve the environment. Maintaining the status quo?

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  29. Dianna Arthur
    Dianna Arthur is a Friend of The Conversation.

    Environmentalist

    We have war crimes - crimes against humanity.

    Mainstream media, mining and other related big corporations and governments of all stripes can only be held accountable by a concerted grassroots campaign.

    Alone, I cannot stop new coal mines, hydraulic fracturing or even the continued building of eaveless McMansions (may they wash away from lack of vegetation to hold their foundations).

    All I can do is adopt as considerate a lifestyle as possible, post on websites like this in the vain hope…

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  30. Chris McGrath

    Senior Lecturer at University of Queensland

    Thanks for a very interesting and insightful article Maria. Good to see lots of comments too.

    I didn't see a reference anywhere to the journal in which your review is to be published. Could you give the reference as I would like to read it.

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    1. Maria Taylor

      Associate Lecturer, Science and Journalism at Australian National University

      In reply to Chris McGrath

      Reply to Chris McGrath

      Thanks for your comment. This article stems from research for my completed PhD thesis. Exploring further publication options. But you can find an expanded article on the communication framing and history I have raised in Chemistry in Australia magazine p24 December 2009. Also I think a reprint is still on the Fifth Estate website under a similar name to this article. You will find me at the ANU.

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    1. Alex Cannara

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to Peter Lang

      Thanks for the link, Peter. One of MacKay's co-conspirators was just here, speaking at Stanford on how renewables depend on grid flexibility in accepting variable power sources, particularly wind -- Mark O'Malley, Dir. of the Electricity Research Centre, Prof. at University College Dublin.

      Ireland has mandated wind and fortunately their weather complements their demands, up to 40%. Denmark & others, not so well. Helm's work is key for any wise policy...
      www.policyexchange.org.uk/modevents/item/fixing-climate-policy-with-professor-dieter-helm-cbe

      .

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    2. Peter Lang

      Retired geologist and engineer

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      Alex Cannara,

      Thank you for the comment. You mentioned the Irish Grid. It has some valuable lessons for Australia. Like South Australia's grid it is relatively isolated with only small inter-connectors to UK. Like South Australia it has a high proportion of its electricity generated by wind power (17% in 2011) and like South Australia most of the power is provided by gas generation 58% and a lesser amount of coal and peat. Ireland has no nuclear an negligible hydro (2%). So it is similar…

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    3. Alex Cannara

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to Peter Lang

      Thanks for the link, Peter. The gist of the talk about Ireland was its fortune in having wind peaking near load peaks. You have two regions, of which one does that and the other does the opposite -- more like Calif., where wind falls before peak day loads. I think the region where wind more or less matched your load was the lower right of your continent, but don't recall for sure.

      In any case, we now know that wind farm construction generates much more GHG emissions than does building an equal nuke, and that windmill gear doesn't ast the 25 years originally advertized, so all together, wind is sales & marketing vapor.
      ;]
      By the way, these just in may be interesting...

      UNSCEAR admits LNT is false -- Ma Nature does know something after all!...
      www.forbes.com/sites/jamesconca/2013/01/11/like-weve-been-saying-radiation-is-not-a-big-deal/

      Nuclear environmentalists need to start knocking heads...
      http://thoriumforum.com/pro-nukes-environmental-movement#comment-261

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    4. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to Peter Lang

      Peter - I haven't forgotten our discussion - but have had a very long day and have just been reviewing your posts. I note Alex linked to this video too. It's brilliant!

      Anyone who is serious about evidence driven policy responses to reducing emissions should watch this. Whilst it is UK focused it also puts the UK in context with the rest of the world (including Australia).

      Dianna Art who you haven't watched it may I please suggest you do? - anyone with an open mind should do so. It does, for example, make it clear that the potential for renewables in Australia is much greater than other places - and if you watch the video you will see why (although it doesn;t cover transmission costs which is a major hurdle to overcome).

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  31. Maria Taylor

    Associate Lecturer, Science and Journalism at Australian National University

    In reponse to one thread of this conversation, the 'what can we do' thread, history also shows us that our western English-speaking societies which adopted neo-liberal, market fundamentalist tenets and beliefs in the past 20-30 years were not always so anti-regulatory. Clearly on issues affecting a whole society, voluntary action is going to be slow, painful and often ineffective. Leadership becomes paramount and we can see how difficult even that has been under current conditions. Being able to regulate wholesale change to mandate say solar hot water has to be easier. That said, in Turkey was fascinated to see how solar hot water on every rooftop was done with local entreneurship and not govt action. What is lacking in Oz?

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    1. Peter Lang

      Retired geologist and engineer

      In reply to Maria Taylor

      Maria Taylor,

      What is lacking in Australia is the ability to remove the constrictions imposed by central control - i.e. excessive regulation.

      Regulating things like solar hot water, solar PV, wind power, mandatory renewable energy targets, feed in tariffs, Renewable Energy Certificates and much more ($30 billion committed to date), all while banning the one option that could do the heavy lifting to cut GHG emissions by the amounts required, is what is killing Australia (and USA, and UK, and…

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  32. Ken Fabian

    Mr

    My own view is that commercial interests - being so essential to the economy - not surprisingly have enormous political influence. When it comes to an issue like climate they have weighed it up on the basis of how it might impact costs, competitiveness and profitability and concluded that it is not in their commercial interests to see the profound changes to the way things are done that come with effective policies to deal with it. The stand they have chosen has nothing to do with the strength and…

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  33. Garry Baker

    researcher

    As an interested student of the problem since James Hansen kicked the traces back in 1988, I can assure you there has been no public narrative of worth during the last 20 years. Indeed, here in Australia even ten years ago the subject was very low key at a public level, save for a curious interest from a few. Nowadays it makes for good TV - thus the public conversation. Say for instance, hark back to John Howard when he was ushered from office in 2007 - To his demise, he was a firm believer…

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  34. Mark Harrigan

    PhD Physicist

    I think Robert Stone - a film director and passionate environmentalist - expresses best one of the key reasons just why we have lost 20 years

    http://decarbonisesa.com/2013/01/17/an-inspiring-message-from-robert-stone/#more-1580

    "It’s no easy thing for me to have come to the conclusion that the rapid deployment of nuclear power is now the greatest hope we have for saving us from an environmental catastrophe. Yet this growing realization has led me to question many of the founding tenets of…

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