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Soft targets, no caps, hot world? Abbott clarifies his position on climate policy

Saturday’s election will largely determine Australia’s domestic climate policy settings through to 2020. It will define Australia’s stance in international climate negotiations on targets and mitigation…

Mr Abbott yesterday made clear he’s not committed to a 5% reduction in emissions, and raised doubts about his acceptance of climate science. AAP Image/Alan Porritt

Saturday’s election will largely determine Australia’s domestic climate policy settings through to 2020. It will define Australia’s stance in international climate negotiations on targets and mitigation effort in the lead up to critical UN decisions in Paris in 2015. Yet the problem of global warming (as distinct from the carbon tax) has been all but invisible throughout this campaign so far.

Tony Abbott’s comments on The Conversation yesterday in discussion with Michelle Grattan, and at the National Press Club – on the day we found out Australia has had its hottest 12 months on record – may have changed that.

Abbott indicated he would stick to his proposed climate budget even if it appeared insufficient to enable Australia to meet its 2020 emissions reduction target. Was it lack of discipline, was it cockiness, or was it an act of brazen honesty?

His blunt adherence to fiscal austerity ahead of Australia’s international climate treaty obligations may just yet bring the issue of climate change to life in the dying days of this election. It deepens the gulf between the Coalition, and Labor and the Greens, by promising a return to the climate renegadism and climate scepticism of the Howard era.

Under the Howard government, Australia ignored its multilateral climate treaty obligations and, for the most part, aggressively opposed them. Australia signed the Kyoto Protocol in 1997 but then refused its ratification and vigorously supported attempts to wreck it during the term of the George W Bush administration. Australia’s emissions grew unabated.

Climate policy was a persistent point of political differentiation between the Coalition under Howard, and Labor and the Greens. Indeed the incoming Rudd Government’s first act of office in 2007 was to ratify the Protocol, binding Australia to its first commitment period target limiting national emissions to 108% of its 1990 levels by end of 2012; we met this target.

At the UN climate conference in Bali later that year, Australia was warmly welcomed back as a full participant in the multilateral UN climate negotiating process. Bali initiated discussions towards targets for the Protocol’s second commitment period, to be agreed in 2009.

Those negotiations infamously failed to conclude a legally binding agreement at Copenhagen. However Australia joined the majority of developed countries, and a significant group of major developing nations, in accepting the face-saving Copenhagen Accord and voluntarily pledging a national emissions mitigation target for the period from 2013 to 2020. These pledges were then confirmed and adopted under the UN climate treaty at Cancun in 2010.

Up until now, the Coalition and Labor maintained bipartisan support for this internationally adopted pledge - if not for the means for getting us there. This superficial bipartisanship has now gone.

There are parallels for Abbott’s softening up of the public yesterday. When first elected in 2006, Canada’s conservative Prime Minister Harper immediately displayed indifference to Canada’s Kyoto target. He then oversaw a steady increase in Canada’s emissions. In 2010, Canada – which, like Australia, is one of the world’s few major fossil fuel exporting developed nations - announced it wouldn’t accept new commitments under a subsequent treaty. In 2011 it walked away from its Kyoto Protocol obligations, further undermining negotiations towards a subsequent international agreement.

Yesterday’s comments suggest that, under an Abbott government, Australia will again constrain negotiations of a future international climate agreement and may again reject their outcomes.

Despite its very significant contribution to global emissions, Australia remains a laggard in terms of international mitigation targets and effort. Its current greenhouse mitigation target of 5% below 2000 levels by 2020 is exceptionally weak when compared with that of leading developed countries such as Germany, Denmark and the United Kingdom (-40% below 1990 levels for the first two), and certain to come under pressure in future negotiations.

Abbott’s championing of fiscal rectitude over modest emissions reductions flags that a Coalition government will refuse to accept tougher national targets, such as would be required to meet the internationally agreed aim of keeping emissions below 2C of average global warming. It condemns Australia to remaining at the back of the pack on climate action.

This brings us to the second element of Abbott’s position. At best, Abbott’s casual disregard for the 5% target underscores his lack of understanding of current climate science.

It also revives anxiety about his possible climate skepticism. In discussion with Michelle Grattan yesterday, he gave a hint of his attitude to climate science when he said:

I think they’re [Australians] more conscious of the fact that the argument among the experts is not quite the one-way street that it might have seemed four or five years ago.

Numerous recent scientific reports – including the United Nations Emissions Gap 2012 report, and the World Bank’s report Turn Down the Heat – have commented on the “ambition gap” between the emissions reductions projected by the collective voluntary mitigations pledges and what climate science indicates is necessary to keep global average warming below 2C.

Last year, parties to the UN Climate Convention – including Australia – agreed to a statement that recognised the existence of this ambition gap, and acknowledged the need for further emissions reductions before 2020 if we are to hold to the “guardrail” of 2C warming (a guardrail that would still deliver serious damage from climate change). None of this figures in Abbott’s approach.

Despite his professed confidence about meeting domestic targets with the money ear-marked, Abbott’s remarks suggest a lack of concern about the underlying aims and viability of his climate policy. Instead of a capped carbon trading scheme, the Coalition’s Direct Action Plan is based on a series of expensive, tax payer funded payments for voluntary industry action - the formula that failed under Howard. It also relies on bio-sequestration, specifically through replenishment of soil carbon, for up to 65% of its total emissions reductions. (Even the most optimistic scientific studies cautiously suggest that such sequestration is costly and highly uncertain in its longevity.) All for A$3.2 billion over four years - a quarter the amount proposed by Labor for its climate programs.

To contribute fairly to the task of avoiding 2C of global warming, Australia’s emissions target needs to be at least 40% below 2000 levels by 2020, and near zero a decade later. The Greens’ emissions reduction target of -40% by 2020, and their aim to have 90% of stationary energy derived from renewable sources by 2020, come closer to what is required. Such stronger outcomes are well out of reach of the Coalition’s (and Labor’s) mitigation policies and commitments.

The measures currently proposed by Labor would enable Australia to achieve its weak 5% reduction target. The Coalition’s will likely not even do that - but for some that seems not to be a problem.

Join the conversation

203 Comments sorted by

    1. Greg North

      Retired Engineer

      In reply to Christopher Nheu

      You are perhaps not analysing accurately enough what has been stated by Tony Abbott Christopher.
      The LNP allocated budget like all allocations is for the four year estimates period and so that only gets us to 2016, still another four year estimates period to 2020.
      It is appropriate to be firm on budgetting, especially in what is expected to be a declining revenue period and who really knows what can happen with many aspects globally that could throw our own economics into more turmoil, US and Russian…

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

      sole parent

      In reply to Mike Swinbourne

      Mike, Tony Abbot will be our next PM. It's a disappointment to me, however he won't last long. I will bet one term. Climate change will take his scalp too.

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    3. Greg North

      Retired Engineer

      In reply to Alice Kelly

      You could be wrong too Alice and that does not necessarily mean Mike will stay angry for more than three years or even get angrier for he could find some soothing solace in helping to plant more trees.

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    4. Craig Harrison

      Geodetic Scientist

      In reply to Greg North

      If it's all about being firm on budgeting why is there going to be an increase in defence spending? And the expensive vote-buying paid parental leave? Meaningful action on climate change should be a higher priority than these two.

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    5. Chris O'Neill

      Victim of Tony Abbotts Great Big New Tax

      In reply to Alice Kelly

      "Climate change will take his scalp too."

      I'll just write the list of Australian political leaders that fits this category so far:

      John Howard
      Brendan Nelson
      Malcolm Turnbull
      Kevin Rudd
      Julia Gillard

      Hasn't missed many, has it?

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    6. Chris O'Neill

      Victim of Tony Abbotts Great Big New Tax

      In reply to Greg North

      "It is appropriate to be firm on budgetting"

      Exactly. Nothing could be firmer than giving $75,000 gifts to millionaires.

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    7. Chris O'Neill

      Victim of Tony Abbotts Great Big New Tax

      In reply to Craig Harrison

      "And the expensive vote-buying paid parental leave?"

      A wonderful concept. Legalised theft to buy votes.

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    8. Pauline Billingsworth

      Anthropologist at UOL

      In reply to Christopher Nheu

      When I read things like this article I realize that the global warming is just a beat up for UN control and nothing more.

      http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/capital-weather-gang/wp/2013/09/23/antarctic-sea-ice-hit-35-year-record-high-saturday/

      ...why this ice is expanding rather than shrinking in a warming world.

      Because the world ISN'T warming. It is cooling. For the last 15 years, global temperatures have dropped slightly. Why do you think the Apostles of the Church of Environmentalism have changed from "global warming" to "climate change?" With temperatures dropping, "global warming," a tough sell at best, wasn't cutting it. So the switch was made to the even more ludicrous climate change. Unfortunately, there are still morons out there that believe humans have any impact on this planet's weather or climate.

      Remember, RIGHT NOW is just a time between ice ages.

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    9. Doug Hutcheson

      Poet

      In reply to Pauline Billingsworth

      Nice troll, Pauline. You have managed to include all the least effective arguments against climate change/global warming, from the kindergarten play-book. For the sake of others reading this:
      1. The Washington Post is not usually mistaken for a scientific publication, so what they have to say is not particularly interesting.
      2. It is thought Antarctic ice is increasing for two reasons: a) changes in the circumpolar ocean currents and b) increases in precipitation, due to warmer air being able to hold more water vapour.
      3. For the last 15 years, global surface temperatures have increased, but at a rate not reaching statistical significance. The slowdown in rate of warming is largely due to a) the patterns of El Nino/La Nina and b) the level of human-generated aerosols in the atmosphere reflecting solar energy before it reaches the surface.

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  1. Rory Cunningham
    Rory Cunningham is a Friend of The Conversation.

    Test Analyst

    So effectively we're screwed for the next couple decades due to inaction from politics today. It seems we will have to rely on other nations picking up our slack, as well as other developing nations such as China.

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    1. Suzy Gneist

      Multiple: self-employed, employed, student, mother, volunteer, Free-flyer

      In reply to Arthur James Egleton Robey

      So am I - and both my teenage boys are fuming they cannot vote yet to make their point. I agree with Mike though to 'maintain the rage' ;)

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

      sole parent

      In reply to Suzy Gneist

      Me too suzy, and my son who is 15 will vote possibly at the election in a few years time. My lips become smaller, it focuses heat from the brain.

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    1. David Elson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Peter Pain

      The problem with your argument is that the carbox tax is on something most humans in Australia (excluding perhaps luddites) can not live without.... electricity... transportation... food... etc...

      Direct Action has the benefit that it is funded from general revenue and it can just as easily be unfunded if the budget should prove to be a bit too tight, or if voters desire tax cuts and economic growth at the expense of subsidies to green companies.

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    2. David Elson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Michael Shand

      It is obvious that direct action will go some way to reduce emissions and if it should prove that the budget is in too much disarray direction action is the easiest to modify.

      In this case, a benefit of great advantage to an incoming LNP government and to Australia's national interest.

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    3. David Elson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Michael Shand

      1. A primary part of the direct action plan is to provide subisidies for green alternative energy sources and to plant trees to act as a carbon sink to reduce CO2 emissions by trapping them in the soil.

      As evidenced below (although it is customary not to provide references for items of common knowledge):

      "Ultimately, trees of any shape, size or genetic origin help absorb CO2. Most scientists agree that the least expensive and perhaps easiest way for individuals to help offset the CO2 that they…

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    4. David Elson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Michael Shand

      "The idea that it is either our economy or our environment is a flawed scenario that will ultimately end in our demise."

      Of course not. One requires a prosperous people and a prosperous nation in the first place as a prerequisite for action on climate and/or the environment.

      "Well if we can't burn fossil fuels then we will all go broke"

      This may well be true. Please provide evidence of a prosperous nation run only on solar panels.

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    5. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to David Elson

      David, would that be the 'national interest' that floats in some kind of cloud cuckoo land, completely separate from reality, or the one that happens in the real world?

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    6. Daryl Thomas

      Mr

      In reply to David Elson

      "...One requires a prosperous people and a prosperous nation in the first place as a prerequisite for action on climate and/or the environment."

      How very noble of you. You may be able to tell your grandchildren, when they are struggling to survive in the environment you leave behind, that you were never wealthy enough to stop using it as your personal sewer!

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    7. David Elson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Daryl Thomas

      Of course. I'm all heart. I look forward to a future where my children and grandchildren are able to find skilled employment; own a mcmansion, drive a motor car and travel the world for either business or leisure without their actions restricted by laws passed for the benefit of the green faithful.

      Sewer systems have been around for some time (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sanitation_in_ancient_Rome) it is unlikely (bar somekind of green-luddite revolution) that these will be abandoned forcing future humankind to wallow in filth ^^

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    8. David Elson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Felix MacNeill

      The one that keeps the economy ticking along nicely, keeps Australians in jobs and food on the table.

      In short the very opposite of a "cloud cuckoo land, completely separate from reality" espoused by a very small minority of extremists.

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    9. David Elson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Michael Shand

      ""Please provide evidence of a prosperous nation run only on solar panels" - couple of things wrong with this beside the obvious, 1. why just Photovoltaic? why not CSP, geothermal, hydro, tidal, wind, etc - I already know why, because it is not a sincere question, it is mere rhetoric, an argumentation technique"

      Well then to expand the question to suit yourself...please provide an example of any nation which is run entirely on fossil fuels as advocated by yourself as a model for Australia to emulate…

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    10. Daryl Thomas

      Mr

      In reply to David Elson

      "...The one that keeps the economy ticking along nicely, keeps Australians in jobs and food on the table."

      And the environment plays no role in putting that food on the table does it Davo?

      I also look forward to a future where my children and grandchildren are able to find skilled employment; own a mcmansion, drive an electric car and travel the world for either business or leisure. I just don't want their life screwed up by the actions of action of a bunch of right wing nutjobs!.

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    11. David Elson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Daryl Thomas

      Modern civilisation requires large scale modern farming...

      It's no longer possible to gather nuts and berries in the forrest to feed the populance.

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    12. Gary Murphy

      Independent Thinker

      In reply to David Elson

      "Modern civilisation requires large scale modern farming..."

      Which requires predictable rainfall and not too many extreme weather events.

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    13. David Elson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Gary Murphy

      Quite so, and yet if Australia were to cease all emissions this would have no effect on the global climate and our economic implosion would provide no incentive for other nations to follow our example.

      Thus we would feel the pain of a no carbon economy and reap no gain; ie, still experience variable whether conditions.
      Farmers will continue to be reliant on manmade irragation and fossil fuel based fertilisers in the near future.

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    14. Greg North

      Retired Engineer

      In reply to Gary Murphy

      Rainfall has never been too predictable Gary, even centuries ago and it is the very reason why nations have built water catchment and recycling systems and some even greatly reliant on ground water or desalination as even Australia is doing.
      It is all about developments to sustain and yes the impact on environments also needs to be considered, a bit of a dammed if you do and dammed if you don't situation.

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    15. Greg North

      Retired Engineer

      In reply to Daryl Thomas

      " "...One requires a prosperous people and a prosperous nation in the first place as a prerequisite for action on climate and/or the environment." "
      That is hardly saying " you were never wealthy enough to stop using it as your personal sewer! " and you may want to consider Daryl that your children and grandchildren are progressively going to be living and on the planet as it develops and so will be able to decide what they ought to want to be part of.
      Do you for instance think that too many of them will be happy to forego all the latest electronic gadgets with which to jump on to facebook or twitter etc. ?
      If you are thinking that way, you perhaps ought to get in touch with a few more of younger generations.

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

      sole parent

      In reply to David Elson

      Unfortunately there is much not said about the research at the moment. There is a lotta simplicity being applied to this debate. "Greenhouse gas mitigation : sources and sinks in agriculture and forestry" states that a 2 million hectares could sequester 20 million tonnes, if the trees do well, over a 40 year period. Over that time the forests would have to be managed. They would have to be grown on arable land.
      "Finally it is important to realise that native forests dominate the carbon and water…

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    17. Suzy Gneist

      Multiple: self-employed, employed, student, mother, volunteer, Free-flyer

      In reply to David Elson

      Isn't the environment responsible for prosperity? Or is prosperity defined as currency only? I consider myself prosperous with a healthy environment and health and very limited finances :)

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    18. Suzy Gneist

      Multiple: self-employed, employed, student, mother, volunteer, Free-flyer

      In reply to Gary Murphy

      plus, currently anyway, a constant supply of cheap fuel... with all the associated emissions.

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    19. Suzy Gneist

      Multiple: self-employed, employed, student, mother, volunteer, Free-flyer

      In reply to David Elson

      wow, you must have a crystal ball to make such confident assertions about the future.

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    20. Gary Murphy

      Independent Thinker

      In reply to David Elson

      "Most developing countries would not consider abandoning fossil fuels"

      Actually many developing countries are finding that renewables are cheaper than fossil fuels for new generation (especially those without easily accessible coal deposits).

      "Wind farms have won 55% of contracts awarded by Brazil’s national energy agency, Empresa de Pesquisa Energetica, and wind power now costs about $45/MWh (4.5 cents/kWh) in the country."

      http://cleantechnica.com/2013/04/18/cheap-wind-power-disrupting-brazilian-energy-market/

      Latest figures (from the US Department of Energy) show that wind, hydro and near surface geothermal is cheaper than new coal and nuclear.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LCOE

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    21. Gary Murphy

      Independent Thinker

      In reply to Greg North

      Most of our food (grains, meat from grazing animals) is grown with farming methods that are completely reliant on natural weather systems.

      There are other ways we can grow food - but they are much more expensive.

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    22. David Elson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Suzy Gneist

      I have consulted with the Al Goracle, and he has indicated thusly.

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    23. David Elson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Suzy Gneist

      why the false dictonomy? It's not a choice of the environment or jobs, rather how can our government's finite resources be spent whilst attempting to maximise the size of the economic pie.

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    24. David Elson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Gary Murphy

      I am happy if the technology has proceeded to a level where it can compete with coal.

      This will save the tax payer and the environment in the long term. On the other hand if wind power is still super expensive and is only competitive due to being subsidised by somekind of National bank then that's somewhat less impressive.)

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    25. Gary Murphy

      Independent Thinker

      In reply to David Elson

      Wind is almost as cheap as new coal. PV is not far behind.
      The only reason our existing coal generation is so cheap is because it was built by government and then the electricity was valued on operation costs only (and then when they were privatised their value was based on their revenue stream - not the cost of building them). If the private sector built new coal plants today they would only be viable at a price of $80-$100 / MWh - about the same as wind projects need to be viable.

      Upshot is - RECs / LGCs cost $30-$50 / MWh. That means a RET of 20% will add 0.6 to 1.0 c/kWh to electricity prices.

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    26. Suzy Gneist

      Multiple: self-employed, employed, student, mother, volunteer, Free-flyer

      In reply to David Elson

      There was no false dichotomy in my comment - I wanted to establish how YOU define 'prosperity' because it makes a lot of difference to the meaning of your comment.
      My understanding of what prosperity is can be widely different to yours as it does not relate to currency or necessarily to payed employment (if that is your definition of 'jobs').

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    27. David Elson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Byron Smith

      Yes but Norway funds their renewable fetish through oil exports:

      "Norway is the third largest oil exporter on Earth (8th largest producer), producing around 3 million barrels of oil/day, and the world's sixth largest producer of natural gas, having significant gas reserves in the North Sea.[2][3] Norway also possesses some of the world's largest potentially exploitable coal reserves (located under the Norwegian continental shelf) on earth.[4]"

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Energy_in_Norway

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    28. David Elson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Gary Murphy

      It seems that renewables are not cheaper than nuclear power in terms of reducing emissions from baseload power.

      As Australia has significant reserves of uranium it might be wise to go down this path.

      http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/the-curious-wavefunction/2013/08/22/nuclear-vs-renewables-a-tale-of-disparities/

      http://theenergycollective.com/jessicalovering/266841/mark-bittman-s-renewables-delusions

      http://www.nei.org/News-Media/News/News-Archives/Study-Says-Keeping-Nuclear-Plants-Running-Is-Cheap

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    29. Gary Murphy

      Independent Thinker

      In reply to David Elson

      Not cheaper - about the same based on current cost projections.

      These costings made by a pro-nuclear energy analyst:

      "The AEMO study using 100 per cent renewables estimated wholesale electricity prices in the range of $111/MWh to $133/MWh. My wholesale electricity price estimate for a combination of nuclear and renewables, based on the CSIRO eFuture model, is in the range $124/MWh to $126/MWh."

      http://bravenewclimate.com/2013/05/02/100pc-renew-study-needs-makeover/

      This study (pro-nuclear) shows that wind is cheaper than nuclear for replacing coal plants in SA:

      http://www.zerocarbonoptions.com/major-findings/

      Australia doesn't need nuclear - renewables do easily scale to our energy demand level (the US already has as much wind generation as we would need).

      Nuclear is far more difficult politically and would probably be slower to build.

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    30. Suzy Gneist

      Multiple: self-employed, employed, student, mother, volunteer, Free-flyer

      In reply to David Elson

      So prosperity = material wealth (currency, man-made objects, claims on natural resources, etc).
      And this material wealth can sustain life?

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    31. David Elson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Suzy Gneist

      Life is made from material.

      "The human body is made up of the six elements oxygen, carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, calcium, and phosphorus. Only about 0.85% is composed of another five elements: potassium, sulfur, sodium, chlorine, and magnesium. All are necessary to life."

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    32. Suzy Gneist

      Multiple: self-employed, employed, student, mother, volunteer, Free-flyer

      In reply to David Elson

      Are you confusing material with matter?

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    33. David Elson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Suzy Gneist

      ma·te·ri·al
      məˈti(ə)rēəl/
      noun
      1.
      the matter from which a thing is or can be made.

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    34. Suzy Gneist

      Multiple: self-employed, employed, student, mother, volunteer, Free-flyer

      In reply to David Elson

      So what is your "material wealth" made from?

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    35. David Elson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Suzy Gneist

      Well that's moving from the realm of physics to the realm of economics.

      Material wealth is usually derived from; financial capital + human capital + a shit load of energy (usually powered by fossil fuels of some kind; coal, diesel etc.. ).

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    36. Suzy Gneist

      Multiple: self-employed, employed, student, mother, volunteer, Free-flyer

      In reply to David Elson

      I'm trying to establish how you use these concepts since you first you first explained your understanding of material wealth and whether it is life-sustaining wealth you speak of - you confirmed that 'material wealth' for you includes 'matter'. after asking for clarification of your concept of material wealth, you now see it as a distinct economic concept - so far I have not been able to establish which of these meanings you understand as 'material wealth' - matter or financial assets.

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    37. David Elson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Suzy Gneist

      Indeed you appear to have confused yourself.

      All things around as are comprised of matter or material. The idea that things have value or are of wealth is a human concept.

      Without it coal or even gold in the ground has no value and can not contribute to one's wealth.

      Hence moving to economics to explain the concept of material wealth.

      In terms sustaining life, life is sustained through the consumption of matter (usually food/water), in a human society food is obtained through the exchange of items representing value (aka money $).

      If ones people are materially wealthy than they will be well fed, have children and prosper. The alternative is poverty, starvation and death.

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    38. Suzy Gneist

      Multiple: self-employed, employed, student, mother, volunteer, Free-flyer

      In reply to David Elson

      David, this was your original comment: "One requires a prosperous people and a prosperous nation in the first place as a prerequisite for action on climate and/or the environment."
      My question to you was: "I wanted to establish how YOU define 'prosperity' because it makes a lot of difference to the meaning of your comment."
      To which you replied: "Also material wealth :D" & "Life is made from material [matter]." & then you explained: "Well that's moving from the realm of physics to the realm of…

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    39. David Elson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Suzy Gneist

      "I wanted to establish how YOU define 'prosperity' because it makes a lot of difference to the meaning of your comment."

      Well my apologies I saw the question about how material wealth was defined and I answered accordingly.

      Allow me to answer the above. "Prosperity" is a concept that outside of science although we can endeavour to measure it in a human population through a number of metrics:

      * Longevity; lots of people living longer due to ample food, cleanliness and being largely free…

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    40. Suzy Gneist

      Multiple: self-employed, employed, student, mother, volunteer, Free-flyer

      In reply to David Elson

      This sounds to me like you support the neoliberal view of an exchange of equivalents when it comes to finance and all natural assets.
      Suffice to say that I do not agree with this simplistic view, nor do I believe it reflects reality or the intrinsic values of our planet and its inhabitants. Thank you for sharing your understanding, I read between the lines a certain arrogance which dismisses out of hand any view other than your own and a belief that those who do not share it must be in need of your education.
      Unfortunately, I believe that this neoliberal economic view is unethical, unrealistic and unsustainable. I'll leave it at that.

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    41. David Elson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Suzy Gneist

      I do not feel the same. But thank you for your thoughts all the same.

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    1. Rotha Jago

      concerned citizen

      In reply to Peter Wood

      What does Tony mean by "Direct Action"?
      If he means The Federal Government will no longer pay for herbicide,
      That would be an enormous plus for the environment.
      Almost all of the herbicide spread on the Australian landscape is paid for by Government, either by tax concessions or by direct grant.
      The amount of carbon stored in healthy Australian soils could be enough to turn the whole Climate argument around. But where is healthy soil when herbicide is spread by almost every Local Council all…

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    2. David Elson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Rotha Jago

      I imagine it means they support taking direct funding action to prevent climate change rather than create an artificial market or place a carbon tax on specific activities to arrive at the same result.

      Although I regularly use herbicide on weeds the number of trees in my yard have increased....

      What's the connection there?

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    3. Michael Shand
      Michael Shand is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Software Tester

      In reply to David Elson

      Ohhh the connection must be that herbicide grows tree's, so we should therefor pour as much of it across australia as we can as part of direct action, pour it in the rivers, pour it over the ranges, pour herbicide across ecological sensitive area's to restore tree growth - genuis

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    4. Rotha Jago

      concerned citizen

      In reply to David Elson

      The connection is the effect that herbicide has on the soil and on water.
      Glyphosate is the most used and supposedly harmless herbicide.

      It is very effective in reducing the amount of CO2 absorbed by the soil because it chelates minerals, mostly manganese and zinc. Your trees may be accessing deeper soils than the weeds you kill, but they will not thrive long term. If your soils are heavy the ill effects of herbicide will be delayed, but they are still there. The river which receives the runoff…

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    5. Suzy Gneist

      Multiple: self-employed, employed, student, mother, volunteer, Free-flyer

      In reply to Alice Kelly

      My neighbour tried that - well, actually he admitted he tasted it, seeing glyphosate was promoted as 'harmless' - he was trying to convince me that it really was harmless... at the moment I've outlived him, not sure if the herbicide was involved... it may have been one factor ;)

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

      sole parent

      In reply to Suzy Gneist

      I remember a nutter in SA years ago did it with a litre of the stuff years ago. He died a year or two later. (I tried ##%!!!)

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    7. Doug Hutcheson

      Poet

      In reply to Rotha Jago

      Rotha, do you have a link supporting your claim "The amount of carbon stored in healthy Australian soils could be enough to turn the whole Climate argument around"?

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    8. Doug Hutcheson

      Poet

      In reply to Rotha Jago

      Rotha, "The tiny plants in the Oceans produce more Oxygen than all the forests." Let's hope they can keep it up in a warmer, more acidic ocean!

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    9. Chris O'Neill

      Victim of Tony Abbotts Great Big New Tax

      In reply to David Elson

      "they support taking direct funding action .. to arrive at the same result"

      at a FAR higher cost.

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    10. David Elson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Chris O'Neill

      A cost that can be reduced or increased far more easily than an ETS system could be dismantled.

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    11. Rotha Jago

      concerned citizen

      In reply to David Elson

      Your garden grows more weeds because the soil is deteriorating.
      Weeds are the healers of the soil.
      Your fences mean nothing to the life beneath the earth.
      If your neighbour or the local authority uses herbicide, the disease and death will not stay where the poison was applied.
      Weeds will grow quickly. Nature's response is healing herbs.
      If you label them weeds, that is because you listen to advertisers
      instead of your own internal wisdom, which has the power to tune in to your environment.

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    12. Rotha Jago

      concerned citizen

      In reply to Eric Ireland

      Eric, references are not easy to find. A lot disappears without trace.
      You think I am joking?
      Try finding an image of a Glyphosate damaged plant. or an image of plants suffering from the deprivation of Manganese and Zinc, which is the same as the effects of Glyphosate.
      Google Don Huber if you are interested in the opinion of someone who is knowledgable and who is deeply concerned about Glyphosate's effects on the landscape.
      Finding documentation for Glyphosate's effects in the rivers and oceans is even more difficult.
      But finding reports of problems like the Gladstone harbour disaster is easier.
      The diseased fish, already sick when they left the dam upstream and the black colour of the harbour water(inactivated Manganese) are sure signs of Glyphosate contamination carried from sprayed roadsides and riverbanks into the harbour with runoff.

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    13. Chris O'Neill

      Victim of Tony Abbotts Great Big New Tax

      In reply to David Elson

      "A cost that can be reduced"

      which is the only thing that matters to a denialist. That it achieves virtually nothing is of no significance to such people.

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    14. David Elson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Chris O'Neill

      If things change, you'd want to be able to change with it.

      Adaptability in humans is one of our strong points.

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    15. Doug Hutcheson

      Poet

      In reply to David Elson

      David, adaptability has its limits. If the pundits are close to being right, we will see some areas become uninhabitable without energy-consuming air conditioning indoors - forget about working outside. There is an upper limit to the temperature and humidity a human body can cope with, beyond which it adapts by dying.

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    16. Chris O'Neill

      Victim of Tony Abbotts Great Big New Tax

      In reply to David Elson

      OK, so you were being dishonest when talking about arriving at the same result. You just assume we'll be able to adapt to whatever the different result is.

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    17. David Elson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Chris O'Neill

      No I meant adapt the Government's response to changing circumstance.

      Human adaptation to climate (while most likely possible) is not what I was discussing above.

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  2. Malcolm Short

    Superannuation

    Hopefully the incoming coalition government will scrap all the costly schemes to address this non-problem. It is only the innumerate or delusional who believe that we should be spending billions to change the weather by 0.00005 degrees C by 2020:
    http://topher.com.au/50-to-1-video-project/

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    1. Michael Shand
      Michael Shand is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Software Tester

      In reply to David Elson

      Why would you spend money to address something that isn't an issue? and is this fiscally responsible?

      me thinks not, if malcom and abbott are correct about climate change then we will be wasting millions of dollars not only on tree's but on business greening themselves for no reason

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    2. Malcolm Short

      Superannuation

      In reply to Michael Shand

      Sorry, Michael. Who said anything about the credibility of NASA or MIT? I love MIT, especially that emeritus professor Richard something or other... I was speaking directly to the costly and completely ineffective policies and schemes of the current government. The new government has equally wasteful policies which they'll hopefully ditch once it becomes obvious that it's best to just adapt to any man-made-CO2-forced changes in the climate if and when they happen.
      BTW, where did I say that climate change is not happening?!

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    3. Michael Shand
      Michael Shand is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Software Tester

      In reply to Malcolm Short

      Ohh, sorry, you are a stage 4 denier. My mistake.

      The fact that you think adaption is possible might put you at odds with MIT, NASA, etc

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    4. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Malcolm Short

      Yup, Malcolm, that would be all those innumerate people in all the world's science academies and research institutions, not to forget the innumerate pinnko tree-huggers from the World Bank.

      Meanwhile, back in the real world...

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    5. Malcolm Short

      Superannuation

      In reply to Michael Shand

      Thanks, Michael. I've learned something today - I had no idea that there were stages that can be used in classifying those who don't believe that man-made emissions of CO2 are the main determinant of the global mean temperature anomaly.

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    6. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Malcolm Short

      That's right Malcolm. Perhaps you could also suggest that the Defence Department could just teach their soldiers to adapt to bullets and bombs.

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    7. Malcolm Short

      Superannuation

      In reply to Felix MacNeill

      Hi Felix. What did you make of that 50:1 video doing the rounds (link above)? This post is about Tony Abbott's soft position when it comes to doing something about/fighting/tackling/combating climate change and I think that the economic analysis presented in the video could perhaps explain why some political parties, both here and overseas, are so reluctant to commit the billions and billions of dollars required to reduce CO2 emissions to the prescribed levels.
      What do you make of it?

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    8. David Elson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Michael Shand

      There are larger benefits to human health and the environment from tree planting and promoting energy efficiency within our Australian businesses.

      Whether or not it is the role of government to do so is debatable.

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    9. Michael Shand
      Michael Shand is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Software Tester

      In reply to Malcolm Short

      Well the are stages to denial of scientific truths from climate, evolution, sun centric solar system, etcetera

      For more information please see either the NCSE, any youtube clip with Eugenie C. Scott or better yet, Neil Degrasse Tyson explains this really well

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    10. Michael Shand
      Michael Shand is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Software Tester

      In reply to David Elson

      I got no qualms with planting trees but your dishonesty is what gets me more than anything.

      Either climate change is real and we need to address or we should stop wasting millions of dollars on useless green initiatives and start focusing on jobs

      Your justification to waste millions of dollars is that it couldn't hurt, easy to say for some, others are struggling

      the direct action policy neither address CO2 emmissions nor does it stop government waste

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    11. David Elson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Michael Shand

      You misunderstand me, my good man. I meant that planting trees is beneficial for reasons not solely devoted to climate change.

      * habitat for animals.
      * provides shade.
      * encourages rain full.
      * Soaks up CO2 emissions.
      etc..

      The other benefits will continue regardless of the LNPs success or failure to meet their 5% reduction target.

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    12. David Elson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to David Elson

      As to your argument that it's a bad policy solely on the basis that excessive government spending and waste needs to be curbed then I can not disagree.

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    13. Brett Forbes

      Technology Developer

      In reply to Malcolm Short

      Malcolm,

      Your statements are so absurd, are you sure that you are numerate and literate???

      I observe that your occupation in superannuation must make you uniquely skilled in understanding climate change and the impact of changes on complex systems. Otherwise, how could you claim to know more than every single scientific institution on the planet??

      Fortunately, I am on your side. I know you are highly skilled, highly educated, and have obviously done a significant amount of research. Your…

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    14. Malcolm Short

      Superannuation

      In reply to Brett Forbes

      Lol. For anyone wanting a great example of a sarcastic ad hom argument which doesn't even try to address the original point, then Brett's comment will be of interest. If I've got the wrong idea then I apologise and thank Brett for his kind words of encouragement.

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    15. Doug Hutcheson

      Poet

      In reply to Malcolm Short

      "It is only the innumerate or delusional who believe that we should be spending billions to change the weather by 0.00005 degrees C by 2020." I had not realised that the US Navy, every peak scientific body around the globe and the actuaries of the great insurance underwriters of the world could be regarded as innumerate and delusional. In fact, I suspect that world-view itself could be regarded as delusional.

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  3. Comment removed by moderator.

  4. Geoffrey Henley

    Research Associate

    When will warmies come to the realisation that nothing Australia does will make a jot of difference. There exists no credible evidence that policies such as carbon taxes and emission trading schemes will make any measurable difference to global temperatures.

    If at some stage, someone develops a form of alternative energy that is cheaper and as reliable as energy generated from fossil fuels, then market forces will dictate that that form of energy will become a predominant form of energy. Carbon taxes and ETS's place a burden on the economy for no good reason.

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    1. Georgina Byrne

      Farmer

      In reply to Geoffrey Henley

      Research associate in what, Geoffrey? It can't have anything to do with the naturalmworld and thevlaws of physics. Are your descendants going to be eating coal...or money..... as they try to survive in 50 degree summer temperatures? Perhaps you have no descendants to worry about. For those of us who do, this is a very seriously scary time. In our young parenthood we lived with the fear of a Nuclear Winter brought on by some nutter pressing the button to cause it. That scenario is still a possibility of course but somehow less scary due to the relative speed with which it would occur than the gradual but equally horrible outcome human stupidity in general and the likely electors of Mr Abbott in particular are going to incur. Shame on you all!

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    2. David Rennie

      IT Consultant

      In reply to Geoffrey Henley

      I guess you weren't in favour of putting in sewage either Geoffrey.
      After all that didn't boost the economy either did it. It was only done as a way to clean up pollution. We know that CO2 is a pollutant in our atmosphere and we know we need to reduce the amount we are putting there. Thats means everybody , not just the low emitters need to act.

      What Australia says and does makes both a political and a real difference when we are one of the highest emitting countries per capita.

      If we do nothing it tells all those nations that are low emitters that nothing needs to be done. If we can't afford to act who can?

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    3. David Elson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Georgina Byrne

      Nice. Apparently voting for TA will cause a nuclear winter to fall upon the earth.... at least that would cancel out the global warming.

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    4. David Elson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to David Rennie

      This is untrue. Australia is not among the top ten for either total or per capita emissions.

      I am sure that when the Romans first built aqua ducts and sewerage systems that there were luddites that opposed them, just as they now oppose coal and nuclear power plants, the internal combustion engine and plasma smart tvs..

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    5. Gary Murphy

      Independent Thinker

      In reply to David Elson

      Is it too hard to do a little research before you spout nonsense?

      Australia has the highest per capita emissions in the world (apart from a few gulf states and tiny nations).

      We are also one of the richest countries in the world with abundant renewable energy resources. What is our pathetic excuse for not acting?

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    6. David Elson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Gary Murphy

      So you concede the point that Australia is not one of the top emitters per capita nor in terms of total emissions and that nations such as ours with tiny populations are unfairly over represented by per capita measures?

      Australia has a rich bounty of natural resources and it is fool hardy to deny ourselves access to these while exporting said resources to all and sundry.

      It's a crying shame that electricty is more expensive in Australia than in the nations to whom we provide the fuel they use to generate electricty. This is due to a number of factors two of which are the carbon tax and green regulation.

      Global economic competition is the best reason not to act. The day that this is no longer a factor is a good day to implement an ETS.

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    7. David Rennie

      IT Consultant

      In reply to David Elson

      David Elson,
      You said "Australia is not among the top ten for either total or per capita emissions".
      Australia is the 11th biggest emitter per capita, the relevant measure, putting us in the top 6% of all emitters.

      Apart from Luxembourg, all the countries above us are small island states or members of OPEC.

      The Luddites amongst us are those who oppose the removal of this pollutant from the atmosphere. Just as people like yourself would have been opposing the introduction of sewage systems when they were introduced because the old system of dumping the waste in the street was ok and the sewage system was going to result in a 'Great Big Tax', which is still much bigger than the carbon tax by the way.

      Taxation and legislation is required to manage some issues because the market will not handle the problem, when business can shift its costs to the community it typically does.

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

      sole parent

      In reply to David Elson

      David, Im not going to bother to argue with many of the simple ideas you have contributed to this discussion, however to those others reading your latest post, Stephan Lewandowsky has a more compelling argument.
      http://www.shapingtomorrowsworld.org/lewandowskyHistorespons.html
      "Nearly 200 countries around the world have pledged to agree legally binding targets to reduce their emissions at the next significant climate change summit in Paris in 2015". We do not have the right to do little or nothing. We have the twelfth largest economy in the world. And arguably the strongest. We are heavily reliant on coal, for use and export. In the future, the rest of the world will notice, and we will be penalised. It is prudent to wean ourselves slowly now, rather than go cold turkey with convulsions.
      David Elson shows ignorance in much he says, don't reply.

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    9. David Elson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to David Rennie

      According to the data set available on The Guardian's website Australia is number 15 (2010).

      As you've indicated above the nations that are higher than Australia (in per capita emissions only not actual total emissions) have small populations and are resource rich (ie; members of OPEC).

      Australia is also an Island state (albeit a geographically large one, also rich in resources and with a relatively small population.

      Why would you judge Australia any differently from the top 14 per capita emitters? Or indeed differently from other nations who actual produce the bulk of the world's emissions such as the USA?

      As for your constant sewer references (I might need to ask you to retrieve your mind from the gutter), these were actually once opposed by environmentalists on the grounds of "pollution" in much the same way that power plants, ports and other modern development projects are opposed now. - http://www.herinst.org/sbeder/sewage/history.html#.UiZeJ_TKtvE

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    10. David Elson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Alice Kelly

      Looks like the pot calling the kettle black;

      "After eight draft texts and all-day talks between 115 world leaders, it was left to Barack Obama and Wen Jiabao, the Chinese premier, to broker a political agreement. The so-called Copenhagen accord "recognises" the scientific case for keeping temperature rises to no more than 2C but does not contain commitments to emissions reductions to achieve that goal."

      http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2009/dec/18/copenhagen-deal

      There is no international…

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    11. David Elson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Alice Kelly

      The Chinese it must be said are experts at international diplomacy. The money quote from the article above:

      "China has agreed to cut its so-called carbon intensity - the amount of CO2 produced per dollar of economic output - by about 40 per cent by 2020, compared to 2005 levels. However, this still allows for a considerable increase in emissions, albeit it at a slower pace."

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    12. Michael Shand
      Michael Shand is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Software Tester

      In reply to David Elson

      Does the climate measure in per capita or total?

      like when we see extreme flooding and heatwaves - the climate is going to know that our total emmissions were low and therefor leave us alone yeah?

      Like if there is excess heat in the environment due to a blanket layer of CO2 - the environment will read your post and understand not to put that heat over australia right?

      It is really important that we find out if it is measured in per capita or total emmissions because that really makes a difference

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    13. David Elson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Michael Shand

      It is the total emissions that the atmosphere receives which contributes to whether or not a green house gas effect occurs.

      For instance if current trends continue and global emissions continue to rise any cuts Australia makes will have no effect on the climate and extreme flooding, heatwaves etc.. will continue to afflict Australia.

      Sadly the environment won't read your post and realize that reductions in our own emissions (while total emissions continue to rise) means that Australia should be exempt...

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    14. Michael Shand
      Michael Shand is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Software Tester

      In reply to David Elson

      So the environment will know that going by total emmissions, the environment will know to leave australia alone right?

      So if the environment measures in total emmissions then the environment will be most destructive to china as an example but will leave australia alone?

      or are we missing the point a little bit?

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    15. David Elson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Michael Shand

      My point is that if Australia reduces emissions alone and the world (or rather simply China) does not to any significant degree than the environmental effects will occur regardless.

      Of course the flip side is true. If overall emissions were to be cut by China and everyone else, but Australia just not to (potentially rising to the world's highest emitter per capita) that the environmental effects would be negated.

      And at little economic cost to ourselves.

      It's the total amount of CO2 the environment receives that matters not whether or not Australia's per capita emissions are too high (relative to the collapsing economies of Europe).

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    16. Michael Shand
      Michael Shand is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Software Tester

      In reply to David Elson

      I think this cutting and slicing of data is largely irrelevant, especially across country's, it is merely looking for an excuse.

      The sincerenity pray I find is helpful,

      grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference

      basically, instead of judging your neighbours lack of action which you have little to no control over and using this as an excuse to not do anything yourself - which is very childish

      What we should do is take personal responsibility for our actions, get our house in order first before we judge our neighbour least we be the definition of a hypocrite

      There is no wisdom in not doing anything because others are not doing anything, there is no courage, no bravery, no wisdom, no thoughtfulness to be found in this position.

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    17. David Elson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Michael Shand

      I think that all people should take it upon themselves.

      If they wish to protect the environment then let them do so through their own actions.

      Not punitive regulations or taxes upon the rest of us.

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    18. Michael Shand
      Michael Shand is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Software Tester

      In reply to David Elson

      We do not leave it up to individuals to deciede whether to release CFC's or Lead into the environment

      I'm not sure why you would be for regulation on lead paint but against regulation on carbon dioxide emmissions

      Really CO2 is not special, it is another pollutant we need to regulate like Lead, like CFC's

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

      sole parent

      In reply to Alice Kelly

      I should have added to myself that clean energy is feasible https://theconversation.com/zero-emissions-power-is-possible-and-we-know-what-it-will-cost-13866
      That base load is a myth
      https://theconversation.com/baseload-power-is-a-myth-even-intermittent-renewables-will-work-13210
      And that renewables are one of the Fastest growth industries in the world. Tony Abbot is a fraud.
      http://www.cleanedge.com/reports/clean-energy-trends-2013

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    20. Gary Murphy

      Independent Thinker

      In reply to David Elson

      "It's a crying shame that electricty is more expensive in Australia than in the nations to whom we provide the fuel they use to generate electricty. This is due to a number of factors two of which are the carbon tax and green regulation."

      By far the largest factor in the recent steep increases in electricity prices is the increase in distribution network costs.

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    21. David Elson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Gary Murphy

      A necessary evil. Green tape, the carbon tax and other associated costs, not so much.

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    22. David Elson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Michael Shand

      I'd like to see a cost anaylysis showing the benefits of fossil fuel vs the costs of Australia remaning a carbon (albeit relatively low) economy.

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    23. David Elson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Alice Kelly

      Serious energy analysts do not seem to think that baseload power is a mythical concept....

      Many renewables, and the industry itself would not exist without rent seeking and the subsidies of government.

      If moving to renewables wasnt horrendously expensive we'd had done it already.

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    24. David Rennie

      IT Consultant

      In reply to David Elson

      Wikipedia puts us at eleven on per capita emissions, the World Bank at 9, these figures jump around but whichever figure you choose to accept we are still the worst among major economies and well inside the top 10 percent. .

      We do not have a small population we are in the top quarter of countries for population. None of the countries above us in per capita emissions have populations above 10 million and most less than 1 million. To compare us with these tiny countries, most with populations…

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

      sole parent

      In reply to David Elson

      You are factually wrong. The clean energy finance corporation has been put in place to undertake loans, to be paid back. And generate money for further investment in renewable energy projects. In one year 4 billion dollars has been committed to renewable projects. This body was set up to loan, and generate income for larger projects later. To make an income. The price of renewable power is now on par with coal. Coal is however subsidised by roughly 12 billion dollars every year. You could call this rent seeking behaviour? Renewables are improving in effectiveness, and( for some massively) in price, and there are large companies willing to undertake these projects. To disband this body now would be dumb.
      Where do you get your information? News Corp.?

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    26. Doug Hutcheson

      Poet

      In reply to David Elson

      "It is the total emissions that the atmosphere receives which contributes to whether or not a green house gas effect occurs". Nonsense: the greenhouse gas effect exists, whether there is any GHG in the atmosphere or not. Indeed, the last 10,000 years of human development have only been possible because the greenhouse effect of ~250ppm CO₂ in the atmosphere has saved the globe from a Snowball Earth event.

      I think you were trying to say that the total human CO₂e emissions will dictate how extreme the GHG effect becomes on our climate. If that is what you were trying to say, you were correct.

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    27. David Elson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Alice Kelly

      I'll believe it when they start paying it back....

      Although according to today's press releases the next government will be removing funding for these departments and subsidies....

      The side benefit of this is we will be able to see how many independent banks and companies would be willing to undertake these projects without government largesse.

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    28. Chris O'Neill

      Victim of Tony Abbotts Great Big New Tax

      In reply to Geoffrey Henley

      "any measurable difference to global temperatures"

      Measurable differences are the sum of non-measurable differences. Every person in the world changes the atmospheric CO2 level non-measurably at Mauna Loa.

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    29. Chris O'Neill

      Victim of Tony Abbotts Great Big New Tax

      In reply to David Elson

      "If they wish to protect the environment then let them do so through their own actions."

      This strategy is the basis of Tragedy of the Commons.

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    30. David Elson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Chris O'Neill

      Of course 1 India is worth 4 Australia's when you compare the actual emissions of each nation.

      India 1,473,730 000
      Australia 425,340 000

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    31. David Elson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Chris O'Neill

      Australia story.... nice...

      According to the Minister responsible for Energy in Queensland, ""overly generous" scheme of the former government to increase the use of rooftop solar panels was forcing up power prices for the rest of the state."

      http://www.news-mail.com.au/news/mcardle-claims-solar-scheme-driving-power-prices/1889049/

      Personally I don't mind as I have solar panels myself. Although he does seem to have a point.

      The former federal Energy Minister Martin Ferguson and the chief executive at Energy Networks Association Malcolm Roberts also agreed that "investment" in the grid network itself is also essential:

      "At some point or other infrastructure has to be replaced and unfortunately we are just at that point in the cycle that there has been a big costly effort over recent years."

      http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/lower-investment-in-power-generation-wont-cause-brownouts-says-gillard/story-fn59niix-1226445773884

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    32. Gary Murphy

      Independent Thinker

      In reply to David Elson

      The increase on distribution network costs has a number of factors. Some say it is a result of years of neglect and much catch-up work recently being done.

      Another factor is a result of extra peak demand requirements because of air-conditioners.

      Another factor is a result of AEMO consistently overestimating levels of future demand (assuming growth of 1% per year when in fact demand has been decreasing).

      Another factor is a result of governments guaranteeing that network operators can get a rate of return on their investments in assets that is too high. That means that there is incentive to build far more stuff than is actually required (and electricity users are forced to pay for it even if it is not used).

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    33. Gary Murphy

      Independent Thinker

      In reply to David Elson

      It is true - demand has fallen by 1.4% per annum in the last 3 years and is now 10% below the demand predicted in 2009:

      https://theconversation.com/columns/mike-sandiford-228

      There is now around 9GW of excess baseload generation in the NEM:

      http://reneweconomy.com.au/2013/agl-says-9gw-of-baseload-fossil-fuels-no-longer-needed-35369

      The carbon price encourages gas generation because it has lower emissions. It raises the wholesale price of coal-fired electricity by around $25 / MWh (2.5 c/kWh).

      Uncertainty is a large problem for generation investment. That is why we need politicians to stop playing politics. And the RET is probably a better mechanism for the electricity sector.

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    34. David Elson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Gary Murphy

      Do you have any official government sources that indicate this, link pls.

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  5. Mark McGuire

    climate consensus rebel

    The carbon (sic) tax has a mixed paternity.That is the part of the Howard legacy many of us have toiled mightily to avoid.
    The last dark deed of the Howard Government was the passage of the National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting Act in October 2007. That is the Auditing basis of the carbon (sic) tax.
    Mr Howard's plan was to get the auditing system bedded down, then start taxing. Labor's carbon tax would be a couple of years behind schedule if Mr Howard had not laid the bureaucratic foundations for it.

    http://newsweekly.com.au/article.php?id=5257

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    1. Gary Murphy

      Independent Thinker

      In reply to Mark McGuire

      That is because sane people who want to actually reduce emissions know that the cheapest way to do it is to put a price on them and let the market work out the best way to reduce them.

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    2. David Elson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Gary Murphy

      It's not a true market if it has been created artificially by the government.

      Why not allow the market to take action against climate change in its own way.

      As consumers we all have the choice to live green, why use government regulation to force these choices and costs upon those Australian families who can not afford it?

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    3. Gary Murphy

      Independent Thinker

      In reply to David Elson

      It is called the tragedy of the commons.

      It is in the wider societies interest to protect common assets, but there is no immediate penalty for an individual to not do so - unless the government imposes one.

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    4. David Elson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Gary Murphy

      It is true that shared land or property (as per the tragedy of the commons) that is not owned specifically by an individual or individuals can be abuse and disrespected.

      It's difficult to see how one can divvy up ownership of the environment; aside from setting aside national parks, green zones in urban areas and further use of zoning rules to ensure factories don't encroach on urban areas and urban areas don't encroach on productive farming areas.

      In terms of carbon taxes; Australia's is soon to be repealed, the European permit trading has sunk to all time lows (and is allowing greater emissions than when it started), and the EU airline carbon tax has been widely rejected by its trade partners.

      Individuals of a strong faith should and will take action to reduce their own emissions, if consumers are willing to do so than companies will invest and provide products that match these desires, the actions of the government would then prove irrelevant.

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    5. Gary Murphy

      Independent Thinker

      In reply to David Elson

      That's just naïve - many people won't if there is no immediate individual incentive.

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    6. David Elson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Gary Murphy

      If people dont care enough to buy priuses or install solar panels without subsidy, what makes you think they would tolerate a government that forced/directed them to? See the weekend election as a guide.

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

    sole parent

    Tony Abbot says to Michelle Grattan, "I think they're (Australians) more conscious of the fact that the argument among the experts is not quite the one-way street that it might have seemed four or five years ago".
    Really? There is no argument amongst the experts.( From the sound of it, the leaks coming out of the next IPCC report) , due to be released soon. Australia will have no agriculture to speak of when we hit 5-7 degrees by the end of this century. The failure to recognise that every country on the planet has to reduce emissions now, so that catastrophic is not the norm, is appalling. Tony Abbot can not be talking to credible scientists at the top of their field, nor taking their advice. He must be listening to his Jo Nova cronies in the NP. He will not be seen kindly by his grand children.

    =

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    1. David Elson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Alice Kelly

      The attention of the public has faltered, now its time for a new scare campgain?

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

      sole parent

      In reply to David Elson

      David , you state that you understand climate change, you need to read the most current information. The newest projections are for a 5 degree anomaly by the year 2100. Because this is an average of the surface temperature of the atmosphere over the ocean and land, what it actually means for a land mass such as Australia, is that for much of Australia the projected actual increase is more like a 6-7 degree increase. "Scare campaign", this is a glib insult which has nothing to do with current climate…

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    3. Doug Hutcheson

      Poet

      In reply to Alice Kelly

      Alice: "Tony Abbot can not be talking to credible scientists at the top of their field, nor taking their advice." On the contrary, Tony Abbott is a very smart cookie and he knows perfectly well that AGW is real and an existential threat to our civilisation, if unchecked. His opposition to meaningful action on climate is a deliberate, calculated effort to glean support from his Tea Party mates. If he were merely ill-informed, I might be inclined to forgive him, but I cannot forgive his wilful disregard of sound advice.

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    4. David Elson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Alice Kelly

      I believe we can refrain from action and benefit immensely whether the rest of the world takes action or not.

      Australia taking action would be of immense cost and of little benefit with global emissions continue to rise in spite of our current action (ie; carbon tax).

      If as you say there are 200 countries cutting emissions by 2015, this will still not be enough to prevent climate change.

      Scientists had warned previously that climate tipping points would be reached in the 2000s and this process now may not be preventable.

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    5. Chris O'Neill

      Victim of Tony Abbotts Great Big New Tax

      In reply to Doug Hutcheson

      "Tony Abbott is a very smart cookie and he knows .."

      No, Tony Abbott is a scientific (and other) ignoramus. The only thing he's good at is debating.

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    6. David Elson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Chris O'Neill

      "Abbott attended primary school at St Aloysius' College at Milson's Point, before completing his secondary school education at St Ignatius' College, Riverview (both are Jesuit schools).[13] He graduated with a Bachelor of Economics (BEc) and a Bachelor of Laws (LLB)[8] from the University of Sydney where he resided at St John's College, and was president of the Student Representative Council.[14] He then travelled via India to Britain to study at The Queen's College, Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar, where he graduated with a Master of Arts (MA) in Politics and Philosophy"

      Clearly an ignoramus....

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tony_Abbott#Early_life_and_family

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    7. David Elson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Chris O'Neill

      Hardly.

      Following in the tried and failed path of the European countries will not benefit Australia.

      As Einstein once said "Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."

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    8. Doug Hutcheson

      Poet

      In reply to David Elson

      With degrees in Economics, Law, Politics and Philosophy, it is reasonable to suggest that he has, at some point, encountered the precautionary principle of risk management. His rejection of the evidence for anthropogenic global warming indicates a deliberate choice to ignore sound advice of an impending risk, rather than ignorance due to a lack of knowledge. Ignorance I could forgive, but deliberate avoidance is culpable, IMHO.

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    9. David Elson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Doug Hutcheson

      Perhaps. Although perhaps a detailed risk analysis would show that the benefits of retaining fossil fuels in transportation, agriculture, tourism and mining out weigh the risks associated with GW?

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    10. Doug Hutcheson

      Poet

      In reply to David Elson

      David, a detailed risk analysis would show that the chances of your home burning down - or even being burgled - are vanishingly small. Is it therefore prudent to decide not to take out insurance?

      If our entire civilisation faces an existential threat from warming of 4, 5, 6°C or more, is it not therefore prudent to take effective action to address it? The answer, of course, is yes.

      The difficulty comes from the fact that we don't have a second Earth to experiment with, so have to make a best guess at what is likely to happen and use that as the underpinning of whatever action we decide is necessary. When people with expertise in the field tell us our whole way of life is under threat, a prudent course would be to mitigate, or minimise, the risk.

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    11. David Elson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Doug Hutcheson

      For some there would be no benefit for having home and contents insurance (ie; those living in government housing or without valuable contents). In that case it would be prudent only to install fire alarms. However for the home owner with multiple expensive appliances etc.. contents insurance would be a must.

      While the science is in that global warming is occurring it is largely unproven that this will result in apocalyptic results.

      At the very least your proposition would be an end to modern civilization caused by GW (unproven), versus an end to modern civilization caused by abandoned the core technologies that fuel our current prosperity; coal or gas fired base-load electricity that powers all of our modern appliances, internal combustion engined private and commercial transports, international flight, international shipping, modern agricultural (fertilizers, transport, refrigeration) and so on.

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    12. Doug Hutcheson

      Poet

      In reply to David Elson

      Of course the impacts of global warming are unproven: that is the whole problem in getting meaningful action. Our current circumstances are comfortable, we have the media pumping our soothing messages that there is no danger and those nasty alarmists are just out to scare people. Meanwhile, our one and only planet is like a bus heading for a cliff, with the driver mashing the accelerator pedal into the firewall and the media telling us "no problem: so far, so good".

      Imagine what the world will be like if those nasty alarmists are actually right, then decide whether we need to act prudently in good time. Would you take out insurance AFTER your house had burned down? I doubt it.

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    13. David Elson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Doug Hutcheson

      Taking meaningful action is like tearing your house down to prevent it from burning down.

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    14. Doug Hutcheson

      Poet

      In reply to David Elson

      Taking meaningful action is like tearing your house down to prevent it from burning down with you still inside. Sounds like a worthwhile compromise to me.

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    15. David Elson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Doug Hutcheson

      But many people would disagree. Hence why I see no problem with people taking it upon themselves to change and make a difference I don't support moves to legislate and force it upon others.

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    16. Doug Hutcheson

      Poet

      In reply to David Elson

      You would like to legislate global warming out of existence too? Global warming is going to be forced upon all of us, irrespective of whether we approve of it, or make laws to dismiss it. Always remember, Nature bats last.

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    17. David Elson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Doug Hutcheson

      My intention is to adapt with the changes of nature.

      Those that wish to end their use of carbon are definitely welcome to.

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    18. Doug Hutcheson

      Poet

      In reply to David Elson

      David, the laws of physics are not going to adapt to our preferences. Adaptation of our civilisation may not be possible. If the scenario plays out as many experts suggest, the world may become inhospitable to organised communities. A large swath of humanity may 'adapt' by dying. Doesn't sound like a good option to me.

      Adapting to physics by reducing the amount of carbon pollution we inject into our one and only atmosphere sounds like a better strategy.

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    19. David Elson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Doug Hutcheson

      The world may very well become inhospitable to existing communities and technologies; this is no guarantee that humanity would cease to exist.

      No one (futurologists included) have no idea what future design or shape human communities will take nor what technologies and tools will be available for us adapt to changes in the environment.

      Abandoning our existing high level of material and scientific attainment in favour of the maintaining the environmental status quo does not sit well with me.

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    20. Brett James

      Land Surveyor

      In reply to Alice Kelly

      A leaked draft of a report by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is understood to concede that the computer predictions for global warming and the effects of carbon emissions have been proved to be inaccurate.
      The report, to be published later this month, is a six year assessment which is seen as the gospel of climate science and is cited to justify fuel taxes and subsidies for renewable energy.
      The “summary for policymakers” of the report, seen by the Mail on Sunday, states that the world is warming at a rate of 0.12C per decade since 1951, compared to a prediction of 0.13C per decade in their last assessment published in 2007.
      Other admission in the latest document include that forecast computers may not have taken enough notice of natural variability in the climate, therefore exaggerating the effect of increased carbon emissions on world temperatures.

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    21. Brett James

      Land Surveyor

      In reply to Doug Hutcheson

      LOL people with expertise, see below -

      A leaked draft of a report by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is understood to concede that the computer predictions for global warming and the effects of carbon emissions have been proved to be inaccurate.
      The report, to be published later this month, is a six year assessment which is seen as the gospel of climate science and is cited to justify fuel taxes and subsidies for renewable energy.
      The “summary for policymakers” of the report, seen by the Mail on Sunday, states that the world is warming at a rate of 0.12C per decade since 1951, compared to a prediction of 0.13C per decade in their last assessment published in 2007.
      Other admission in the latest document include that forecast computers may not have taken enough notice of natural variability in the climate, therefore exaggerating the effect of increased carbon emissions on world temperatures.

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    22. Brett James

      Land Surveyor

      In reply to Doug Hutcheson

      LOL credible scientists at the top of their field, see below -

      A leaked draft of a report by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is understood to concede that the computer predictions for global warming and the effects of carbon emissions have been proved to be inaccurate.
      The report, to be published later this month, is a six year assessment which is seen as the gospel of climate science and is cited to justify fuel taxes and subsidies for renewable energy.
      The “summary for policymakers…

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    23. Chris O'Neill

      Victim of Tony Abbotts Great Big New Tax

      In reply to Brett James

      "Since 1997, world average temperatures have not shown any statistically significant increase."

      Big deal. The global warming period since 1974 has gone through 17 year periods of no "statistically significant" warming before.

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    24. Doug Hutcheson

      Poet

      In reply to Brett James

      computer predictions for global warming": Brett, if you are going to post drivel, you should at least educate yourself about the difference between a prediction (your term) and a projection (IPCC term). Multiple posts of the same drivel does not make it any truer: drivel in = drivel out.

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  7. Lee Emmett

    Guest House Manager

    Tony Abbott has proven himself to be an About-face yet again.

    There is now a clear choice: Labor and the Greens who believe that there is a real problem, or the climate-change prevaricators, the LNP, who can't even get figures on 'Direct Action' right (according to experts.)

    I don't know how fast Tony Abbott expects his 'green army' to plant all the necessary trees.

    And I hope he's got the long-term weather forecasts right, so these trees grow really, really fast.

    Tonight on Lateline…

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  8. Doug Hutcheson

    Poet

    "Abbott’s casual disregard for the 5% target underscores his lack of understanding of current climate science". Abbott was a Rhodes scholar, so he is a very smart cookie. With Turnbull on the team, it is inconceivable that Abbott is not fully informed about the science of global warming. That leaves me to wonder whether his anti-AGW stance is not a deliberate and cynical denial of what he knows to be the truth, in order to pander to his masters. To be smart and fully briefed, yet blind on this one, single aspect of science is, frankly, impossible.

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  9. Chris O'Neill

    Victim of Tony Abbotts Great Big New Tax

    "Its current greenhouse mitigation target of 5% below 2000 levels by 2020 is exceptionally weak when compared with that of leading developed countries such as Germany, Denmark and the United Kingdom"

    Of course, it would have been a 20% reduction if Australia had the same population growth rate as those other countries.

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  10. Jack Bloomfield

    Retired Engineer

    Many of the comments above argue as if implementing 'climate policy' is a matter for choice between environment and economy.

    Unless the science presented by Prof Kevin Anderson can be disproved, the reality is uncomfortably stark - it is act now or slowly perish; there can be no "economy" on a planet with (runaway?) warming.

    Inexpert, sometimes ill-informed opinions and preferences count for nought when pitted against the inexorable laws of physics/nature.

    Prof Anderson's statement:-
    “There…

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    1. Doug Hutcheson

      Poet

      In reply to Jack Bloomfield

      John, you are right on the money with most of your comment, but I have to say your reference to "(runaway?) warming" may be a little alarmist. It would take quite extraordinary circumstances to cause a runaway warming and it is virtually impossible for Earth to end up with the same kind of problem as Venus, for example.

      That is not to say our predicament will be dire at 4°C+, but we need to be cautious about what we claim may happen. Keep up the good work, though. "8-)

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    2. Rotha Jago

      concerned citizen

      In reply to Doug Hutcheson

      Doug,
      I left The Conversation for a few days. I am now in Brisbane.
      My God, how this place has changed.
      Once it was unfailingly green. Now all the trees are changing colour-
      towards grey or brown. Even the mangroves look sick, lost their rich glossy green.
      Is anyone investigating this. Or is it all to be put down to climate change?
      If it is supposed to be climate change, can anyone tell me why
      extra CO2 in the atmosphere and warmer temperatures should make trees sick?

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    3. David Elson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Rotha Jago

      Well Brisbane is still in the dry cool months... Once summer and the summer rains hit your mangos will be as good as gold.

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    4. Rotha Jago

      concerned citizen

      In reply to David Elson

      Do you know Brisbane? If you do, your reply is remarkably insensitive. The landscape in Brisbane and environs is in real trouble. Today we went up to Mt.Glorious. I have never seen the mountains look so sick and so dry. This nothing to do with it being a dry winter. This dryness is neither natural nor a consequence of climate change.
      If this goes on unchecked Brisbane will become a casualty of one disaster after another, terrible fires and destructive floods worse than ever before.
      Mangroves do not suffer in winter. They remain glossy leafed and green all year round. Mangroves are dying because the landscape is afflicted with the one poison which kills all plants quickly or gradually.
      If you are at all interested in your survival the condition of the mangroves in the Brisbane river should be a cause of concern.

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    5. David Elson

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Rotha Jago

      I was of the impression that the Brisbane River was gradually becoming "cleaner" over time.

      Indeed during my spate at Uni there the River was upgraded from a D to a D+.

      Quite an improvement.

      Any idea what this year's rating for the River is? May have declined due to the toxins introduced during the great gov induced floods?

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  11. Brett James

    Land Surveyor

    Today, the inter-governmental committee on climate change announced they had screwed up, and that warming had been happening at 0.12c / ten years since 1951, NOT at 2dc, as they had previously suggested. See below -

    "A leaked draft of a report by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is understood to concede that the computer predictions for global warming and the effects of carbon emissions have been proved to be inaccurate.
    The report, to be published later this month, is a six year…

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    1. Doug Hutcheson

      Poet

      In reply to Brett James

      "the world is warming at a rate of 0.12C per decade since 1951, compared to a prediction of 0.13C per decade": my, my, what a shocking revelation: climate science must all be wrong, because you found this huge hole the data.

      "The report, to be published later this month, is a six year assessment which is seen as the gospel of climate science": no, the underlying science is what projections are based upon. The only people needing a gospel are those preaching misinformation; the rest of us are happy with solid evidence.

      "we will now easily achieve the set Copenhagen targets": great news! We are on target to achieve nothing! Wow, how exciting some people's lives must be.

      Meanwhile, Tony (Climate change is crap) Abbott is ignoring the evidence and planning to undo the little that had been achieved. What stunning leadership. Not.

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    2. Rotha Jago

      concerned citizen

      In reply to Doug Hutcheson

      The environmental problems the world faces were recognised in the 1960's and were stated in "Silent Spring". Rachel Carson warned then that the chemical companies were the cause of major destruction.
      Chemical companies have increased in size and number since then, and enormous deterioration has occurred. Why have our concerns suddenly switched to coalfired powerstations? We are being manipulated.
      Fracking for coalseam gas consumes millions of dollars worth of chemicals, yet it is being sold to us as an improvement to the environment. Why?
      The whole argument is being steered away from the real cause of environmental disruption. Chemical herbicides and toxic chemical mixes which
      prevent the earth from absorbing water and the seas from supporting the microscopic life upon which both the atmosphere and the food chain depend.

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