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War on the environment a distraction from climate change policy

AAP/Alan Porritt

After almost six months in office, it seems that the Abbott government’s reputation for action on climate change and the environment in general is in tatters.

Overseas, condemnation has been directed at a government now labelled as the ‘most hostile to its nation’s environment in history’. And that assessment is made with scant attention to what the Coalition government is doing on climate change, where it has pulled out all the stops to bring climate change policy to heel before the interests of big coal and big mining.

On the environment, the Abbott government has departed from the Howard years of striking a balance with conservation values and listening to the concerns constituents have for the environment.

Balancing economic growth with sustainability had been at the forefront of legislative and regulatory protection, including the Howard government’s Environment Protection and Bio-diversity Conservation Act (1999). But the scrapping of the Environment Defenders Office (EDO) is symbolic of the distinctive shift we are seeing with this government.

The EDO has played a crucial role in providing free legal advice to communities that wish to question and challenge decisions, such as coal seam gas drilling or dredging of the Great Barrier Reef. But in the context of a government that is driven to extract ‘every molecule’ of gas and every last seam of coal from the driest country on earth, it has deemed that opposition to mining is not to be tolerated.

The really bad news for climate change mitigation policy is that the Abbott government’s open season on the environment will distract Australian’s from climate policy settings, which is the one area to which all environmental issues will one day be subordinated.

It is not to say that ‘environmental politics’ as we have known it in the past, which is focused on protecting or ‘saving’ particular sites, be it the Franklin, Jabiluka or the Leard State Forest, are unimportant, it is that such politics is about to be dwarfed by something far less tangible, but unimaginably more powerful.

The Abbott government has not only withdrawn the respect that was accorded to the environmental public sphere by previous Labor and LNP governments, it has also ramped up the assault on climate change mitigation to a level that could only be described as pure and total war. Sure, the Howard government refused to sign the Kyoto Protocol, but concession to public opinion with initiatives like the Renewable Energy Target were important.

By contrast, this government appears to be on a pre-meditated crusade to dismantle every policy and initiative that is remotely related to addressing climate change.

Australia is the only nation currently demolishing a working carbon price, which has, in its very short life so far, already mitigated 40 megatonnes of C02.

The administrative and advisory infrastructure put in place to tackle climate change has been all but eradicated. To rehearse the measures:

  • Abolishing the Climate Commission

  • Axing of COAG’s Environment Ministers Forum after 41 years.

  • Scrapping the Biodiversity Fund, Clean Energy Finance Corporation and Environmental Defenders Offices

  • Foreshadowing the abolition of the climate change Authority in July

  • Cutting funding to the: Caring for our Country Program, Low Carbon Communities Program, and the Australian Renewable Energy Agency.

Perhaps the decision invoking the most contempt relates to the Clean Energy Fund. Originally, the Abbott government had claimed that abolishing Clean Energy Finance Corporation will cost the budget A$439 million. However, it now transpires that investing in renewable energies is highly profitable, and the taxpayer is actually going to gain $760 million instead.

The contradictions here don’t stand up to even rudimentary analysis. On the one hand the Abbott government dogmatically claims that these cuts are economically driven, but this is patently false when it comes to the CEFC.

AAP/Delta Harpley

But perhaps the worst recent decision is the mischievous way the Galilee Basin Coal mining and Abbot Point dredging decisions were made.

With Abbot Point, a dose of the finest ‘greenwash’ environmental values are being administered by the Department of the Environment to justify dredging a reef of three million cubic metres of mostly clay particles that that take so long to sink to the sea floor as to be certain to drift over protected zones of the Great Barrier Reef.

It remains to be seen whether the ‘most stringent’ protections will be at all effective given that the first environmental study on Abbot Point emphatically recommended that the dredging spoil be moved onto land.

But the window-dressing of the dredging issue, as serious as it is , pales compared to the amount of coal (3.5 billion tonnes) that is to be exported through Abbot Point from Clive Palmer’s ‘China First’ mine in the Galilee Basin. That such a huge venture could be approved (as it was under the cover of the dying down of the news cycle five days before Christmas last year) is utter madness.

The approval of this mine is the single most devastating anti-mitigation decision that this government has so far taken on climate change. The embedded emissions in the 3.5 billion tonnes of China First are equivalent to the total emissions that Australia will produce between now and 2020.

It makes the idea that the government’s “direct action” plan is supposed to reduce Australia’s emissions to 5% below 2000 levels by 2020 (which itself if looking like an interstellar long shot) into a cynical joke.

Of course, it is not just simply the jewel in an over-driven ideological campaign to enrage the climate crisis lobby. Rather, it is politically driven by the pragmatics of what is in store for Australia should the government have the expected Senate majority come July 1.

At that point, Abbott will be sure to call in the debt that Palmer owes him over the Galilee Basin, and a flood of legislation is likely to be introduced to annihilate every last bollard of climate change mitigation infrastructure and policy. So narrowly driven is this government that believes climate change to be a socialist plot dressed up as environmentalism.

And this is 2014. Even Margaret Thatcher, who in the late 1980s expressed similar sentiments toward environmental social movements, was rolling out policies to tackle climate change. Thatcher was, after all, trained as a scientist and her ultra-conservative government nevertheless did listen to scientists.

Thatcher was committed to protecting her constituents from the coming crisis. But not Abbott.

The radical conservatism of the Coalition seems to be drawn from the same platform as the Institute for Public Affairs (IPA), which has entreated Abbott to ‘Be Like Gough’.

In a document posted on its website, the IPA declares open season on just about every publicly interested authority and organisation in Australia for which climate change ranks at the very top. Of 75 recommendations, climate change figures in four of the first six. These include:

  1. Repeal the carbon tax, and don’t replace it.

  2. Abolish the Department of Climate Change

  3. Abolish the Clean Energy Fund

  4. Repeal the renewable energy target

With recent talk that Abbott is about to appoint IPA ‘anti-renewable zealot’ Alan Moran to a new independent panel to review the Renewable Energy Target, it looks likely that all four of these recommendations will be ticked off nicely.

Nowhere on the planet is there a region that is going to feel the effects of climate change on its population than Australia, with heat-stressed soils, heatwaves, firestorms, flooding and cyclones. And yet, we have a government doing its level best to maximise measures that will only exacerbate global warming.

Join the conversation

110 Comments sorted by

  1. James Jenkin

    EFL Teacher Trainer

    David, as a journalist, have you unearthed any evidence that the IPA is dictating Liberal policy? That is certainly a sinister suggestion.

    Could it simply be that conservatives tend to believe these things?

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

      sole parent

      In reply to James Jenkin

      James they (the government regularly attend IPA functions, spout the same crap, and if they employ Alan Moran, there you go...they have already employed Tim Wilson "freedom commissioner". Now they're planting a rabid denier to oversee climate and energy policy?

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    2. James Jenkin

      EFL Teacher Trainer

      In reply to James Jenkin

      Isn't that a bit like saying 'the ALP, the AWU, they're all the same'?

      I get there are connections. But the article suggests there's a conspiracy, Shouldn't it provide more evidence?

      Or we just have an evil right-wing vibe fest.

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    3. Julie Thomas

      craftworker

      In reply to James Jenkin

      James, I didn't hear anyone say that the LNP and the IPA are all the same, but they do have the same set of beliefs about human nature - that there are two kinds of people, them and the stupid and lazy and that some people choose not to take responsibility for themselves.

      And it is clear that the IPA does have the same economic aims as the LNP do. They agree about what is to be done to ensure that their kind of people continue to decide how the rest of us live and work.

      I suppose there are…

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    4. Mike Hansen

      Mr.

      In reply to James Jenkin

      "But the article suggests there's a conspiracy ..."

      LOL. Another lame attempt from Jenkin to create a distraction from the point of this article, the attack on climate policy by the radical right Abbott government.

      Tony Abbott on 70 years of the IPA
      “So, ladies and gentlemen, that is a big fat yes to many of the 75 specific policies you urged upon me.”
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j4pA5nTr8i0

      Again for Jenkin - Tony Abbott : “So, ladies and gentlemen, that is a big fat yes to many of the 75 specific policies you urged upon me.”

      Some conspiracy!

      The climate cranks in the Abbott government are quite open about their plans to attack climate and environmental policy.

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    5. Janeen Harris

      chef

      In reply to James Jenkin

      I laughed at Abbot talking about freedom, in front of Gina and co. Nothing in our culture is free. We have freedom of speech but so does Murdoch and the right wing media, so we all know who speaks the loudest. It would be nice if the navy had freedom of speech, then we might know what they are doing. Maybe its the freedom to rape and pillage the planet that he really meant.

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

      sole parent

      In reply to James Jenkin

      Not really James, there seems to be a dis-connect between the mature, need, for the genuine expertise, required for these positions... and decisions made to select people who do not have genuine expertise, but rather, are based on right wing politics. If two are selected from the IPA, then these people will be a part of hoisting the IPA's stated views onto all of us.

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    7. David Semmens

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to James Jenkin

      You are conflating 'drawn from the same platform' with dictating. They're not the same thing.

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    8. Alastair Leith

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to James Jenkin

      James the Abbott government went to the election high on empty slogans and low on the Vision thing. In fact Abbotts career could be characterised as lacking in visions, that's why arch-conservative Catholicism has been his touchstone on most issues, ready made opinions.

      If you look at the IPAs pre-election agenda for a conservative government (referencing reforms of Gough Whitlam?!?!) of the 75 odd agenda items abbott has worked his way through maybe 20 of them already. He outsources the vision…

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    9. Alastair Leith

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Julie Thomas

      They don't reveal funding sources any more but when they did it was mining, tobacco (hence no drug law policy), pharma, gambling at the top. Biggest private donor was, wait for it, one Messer Rupert Murdoch. I guess he feels he doesn't have a voice just by owning papers — we all know he'd never want to influence his editors after all. Maybe he feels like it's money well spent seeing as all his op-ed writers seem to harmonise around the same false memes day after day. Must be a choirmaster somewhere huh?!

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    10. Robert McDougall

      Small Business Owner

      In reply to Julie Thomas

      just replay last years IPA dinner with Abbott, Murdoch, GIna and co, kinda spells things out quite nicely.

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    11. John Newton

      Author Journalist

      In reply to James Jenkin

      You need evidence? Check out the IPA's wish list and the COALition's policies

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    12. Doug Hutcheson

      Poet

      In reply to James Jenkin

      James, "the article suggests there's a conspiracy". The article certainly implies there's a connection and that is borne out by the IPA people the government has appointed to certain key positions. IPA funding comes from the same sources that provide Liberal and National Party funding. Are you saying there is no connection and any IPA people appointed by the government just happen to be the best qualified for their jobs? Risible idea.

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    1. Mike Hansen

      Mr.

      In reply to Jim Inglis

      Just a reminder to all who @Jim Inglis is.

      For months in the comments here, he has been smearing the Bureau of Meteorology. He has been claiming that the BOM is hiding temperature data.

      It turns out that Inglis did not know where to look on the BOM site.

      The data link is here - http://www.bom.gov.au/climate/data/

      When he was given a link for the BOM's temperature data, he continued to claim that the BOM was hiding data for places like Cloncurry and Bourke.

      LOL. Inglis had not unchecked…

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    2. Jim Inglis

      retired

      In reply to Mike Hansen

      Anyone who constantly claims the BoM's concoction of "Australia's Hottest Year EVAH" is really anything more than weather, in a land of limited weather history, rather than nothing to do with GAT, is demonstrating belief, not sceptical science.

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    3. Alastair Leith

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Mike Hansen

      I think you are missing the bigger picture. The Abbott governments agenda is deeply ideological and such ideologies take time to infiltrate political parties; the party of Hammer and Fraser is no longer what it was it is something else much more resembling a party with an anti-democratic will and correspondingly popularist and nationalist memes to curry favour with the people. Do not underestimate the work of IPA in establishing neo-liberal extremist positions in the minds of Australian conservatives.

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    4. Mike Hansen

      Mr.

      In reply to Jim Inglis

      LOL

      Inglis posts a temperature graph which he starts in 1997 - the hallmark of the "reality denier".

      Global warming - no worries, just use the Joseph Stalin trick of airbrushing it out by ignoring most of the data.

      The signature tune of the statistically illiterate climate science denier.

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    5. Mike Hansen

      Mr.

      In reply to Mike Hansen

      This is slightly off topic but regular readers of climate articles at The Conversation will remember AFR letters editor Mark Lawson who was a regular climate science denier in the comments here.
      https://theconversation.com/profiles/mark-lawson-19903/activities

      This article is hilarious. Lawson has discovered reverse gears he never knew he had.
      http://www.crikey.com.au/2013/12/03/dangerous-rubbish-afr-letters-ed-lashed-for-contrarian-climate-paper/

      "A leading oceanographer has rubbished a…

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    6. Kirsty Douglas

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Mike Hansen

      It sounds like a couple of elderly men (It is almost always elderly men), who continue to write to our local paper. They continue to cut, paste and regurgitate material that is so obviously from climate crank blogs and they can't even do that accurately most of the time. Someone writes, replies and patiently and politely points out and corrects their errors. Any normal person would slink away in shame and embarrassment. But no, it all falls on deaf ears and they keep writing, keep repeating similar mistakes and the editor keeps publishing.
      Smear the BOM, smear CSIRO, smear Tim Flannery, smear the IPCC, smear the UN it is all so repetitive and predictable. Call the scientists, lefties, communists, warmists, leftards, ecotards, alarmists.
      There you go Jim, we know it all.

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    7. Alastair Leith

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Robert McDougall

      Think you'll find very few people in Australian politics self identify with "Australian Fascists". IPA agenda does read like a fascist primer on economic policy though I'll grant you that. I happen to know that The Prince is a much admired play amongst some of the inner circle there. And not as a cautionary tale either...

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    8. In reply to Jim Inglis

      Comment removed by moderator.

    9. Michael Shand

      Software Tester

      In reply to Jim Inglis

      Jim you know that there is a difference between Global Temperature and surface temperature because this has been pointed out to you before but perhaps more importantly, you are not dumb

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    10. Michael Shand

      Software Tester

      In reply to Mike Hansen

      What ever happened to Mark Lawson, he used to be a regular "All scientists don't know nothing" contributor but seems to have been quiet lately - Grumpy John as well

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    11. Jim Inglis

      retired

      In reply to Michael Shand

      You should be able to relate to this, Mike:

      "Thermal image of Melbourne showing the urban heat island effect, where built-up zones are often warmer than rural areas, particularly after dark. On a hot day, the city can be up to seven degrees warmer than the surrounding countryside. The Urban Forest cools the city and mitigates the urban heat island effect. The red and orange areas in this image illustrate the hotter parts of the city."

      When surface temperatures are increased by 7.0c in places where most of the official thermometers are placed to give us an "unbiased" reading, what does that do to our GAT increase that is only one tenth of that?

      http://www.melbourne.vic.gov.au/ParksandActivities/Parks/Documents/UF_Art_Design_Comp_Fact_Sheet.DOC

      UHIE really is man made global warming.

      So try concentrating on the satellite measurements for the real world:

      http://www.woodfortrees.org/plot/rss/from:1997/trend/plot/esrl-co2/from:1997/normalise:0.5/scale:0.5/offset:0.34

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    12. Alastair Leith

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Jim Inglis

      You know an American physicist (who self identified as a climate change skeptic) was given a grant of over a million dollars by the Koch brothers to investigate the heat-island bias smoking gun don't you, Jim?

      And you do know that after his years of research, he is now in full acceptance of climate change and says it's actually a whole lot worse than IPCC is letting on (consensus decision making is slow and inherently conservative).

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    13. Jim Inglis

      retired

      In reply to Alastair Leith

      "You know an American physicist (who self identified as a climate change skeptic)"

      You don't mean this bloke?

      He's worse than Michael Mann and the Hokey Stick

      http://toryaardvark.com/2012/08/01/richard-muller-the-climate-change-sceptic-who-never-was/

      And if you believe that cities of tar and cement don't warm more than the bush and black asphalt runways in the arctic aren't warmer than their surrounding ice and snow etc, you believe in fairies.

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    14. Alastair Leith

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Jim Inglis

      Haha how quickly the sock-puppets reorganise and re-message once their cover is blown. Exposed like maggots.

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    15. Michael Shand

      Software Tester

      In reply to Jim Inglis

      The urban heat island effect is of great concern and I believe the people who study this are places like CSIRO, NASA, etc

      The experts in this area agree with you that the urban heat island effect needs to be looked at and CSIRO have some great research on this.

      Please don't do the ole "What scientists don't understand is this information a scientists told me"

      It is plain for anyone to see that you are straw manning climate science again, as discussed previously, there is no need for this, I know you are better than this, it's not clever or original.

      The longer you keep this up, the worse off we will all be, as discussed previously, we need people like yourself on board to create solutions, we can't do it without you as the solution to these problems are generally conservative values

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    16. Alastair Leith

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Michael Shand

      Actually we can do it without serial distractions like Jim. That's like saying they needed southern plantations on-board to solve slavery in USA. We will never get the majority of dyed-in-the-wool denialists on-board — that's lala-land thinking. No we need to move on quickly with decarbonising our economies and lifestyles and leave these dinosaurs to be buried with the rising sea levels.

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    17. Michael Shand

      Software Tester

      In reply to Alastair Leith

      Agreed, just trying my best to give oppertunities for people to change their mind. I'm not usually this Cordial, but sometimes I am and it doesn't hurt or prevent others from making progress

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    18. Grant Burfield

      Dr

      In reply to Alastair Leith

      Useful Design - "Haha how quickly the sock-puppets reorganise and re-message once their cover is blown. Exposed like maggots". Meaty stuff indeed, Useful Design.

      I thought the Conversation required commenters to use their real name. I do. Others of differing views do as well. Full marks to those who do, whatever their views. However, that rule appears to have been relaxed and we now have pseudonymous plonkers like "Useful Design" regaling us with her/his pearls of wisdom. And about sock-puppets no less.

      Unless your parents thought they had come up with something extraordinary and really did christen you "Useful Design" then use your real name or consider your contributions quite rightfully ignored.

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    19. Colin Cook

      Scientist At Large

      In reply to John Newton

      Maybe see what the new community standards and moderator can achieve before advocating any other course of action. The editorial team is obviously aware of the hoohah that has been happening on occasion. Let's give them a chance to tackle it.

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    20. John Newton

      Author Journalist

      In reply to Colin Cook

      Colin – i hope they do. It's tiresome to read the4 same drivel about no temperature rise from the same denialists time after time.

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  2. paul magnus

    logged in via Twitter

    "this government appears to be on a pre-meditated crusade to dismantle every policy and initiative that is remotely related to addressing climate change."

    From abroad this was apparent from the time he became leader of his party. Unfortunately Aus in general did/do not think climate to be a large enough issue and voted this climate scoundrel in. We have a similar problem here in canada. Sad times. The world is effectively being destroyed by a few.

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    1. paul magnus

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to paul magnus

      Looks like Gaia is going to be the one who will bring the emissions problem under control.

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    2. Doug Hutcheson

      Poet

      In reply to paul magnus

      Paul ,yep, Nature bats last. Gaia does not care whether we live or die - She has Her own agenda.

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  3. Colin Cook

    Scientist At Large

    "But the scrapping of the Environment Defenders Office (EDO) is symbolic of the distinctive shift we are seeing with this government."

    The EDOs have not been scrapped. The Federal Government withdrew all their funding, but the EDOs fight on and aim to raise funding from alternative sources. (http://www.edonsw.org.au/save_your_edo)

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    1. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Colin Cook

      That's a few less lattes I'll be able to afford after I make a contribution...

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    2. Robert McDougall

      Small Business Owner

      In reply to Colin Cook

      Get up members have sent the QLD EDO office $130,000 to commence a legal challenge against the approval to dump dredge in the GBR.

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  4. Gil Thorncraft

    Concerned World Citizen

    It is so ironic and tragic that it will be our descendants who will reap the benefits of our politician`s very short sighted policies.
    Sadly every other species will suffer as well.

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    1. Graham Parton

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to Gil Thorncraft

      Also sad we will eventually be able to say "I told you so" to the climate deniers.

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    2. Henriette Vanechop
      Henriette Vanechop is a Friend of The Conversation.

      retired

      In reply to Gil Thorncraft

      What will the "economy" be like when most of the Earth is like the Sahara, the Gobi, or the moon ?
      And when you think that the Abbott and Murdoch etc. DO have children, you wonder what life they are preparing for their descen dants..
      "every other species will suffer as well"..
      . as there are Doctors without borders, ASF = Avocats sans frontiers, Herbalists sans Frontières,Technology Without Borders – Information Sans Frontieres, Reporters Without Borders, Vétérinaires Sans Frontières...
      If humans don't care enough for their own species, maybe VETS without borders could organize pet-lovers to campaign against wars, to protect animals ?
      Stupid suggestion ? well.. considering the amount of money many people spend on their pets, who knows ?

      I never forgot seeing my neighbor shooting his beloved dog, 1939, before joining the army.. he did not want his dog to slowly starve to death, or risk him attacking a child during the exodus .

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  5. Euan Ritchie

    Senior Lecturer in Ecology, Centre for Integrative Ecology, School of Life & Environmental Sciences at Deakin University

    As background to this discussion, please have a read of this http://t.co/7cfC8uG5cX to see just how widespread the change in direction re: environmental protection and policy is in Australia

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    1. Jane Middlemist

      citizen

      In reply to Euan Ritchie

      Thanks for that link, Euan. Being able to say 'I told you so' is not going to be much consolation for our children and grandchildren.

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    2. Colin Cook

      Scientist At Large

      In reply to Euan Ritchie

      This problem of MPs not being able to comprehend science/environment based matters has been building for many years and over successive governments. Our representatives (and I use that term loosely) are being drawn from a narrower and narrower pool of expertise and experience. (see http://www.polsis.uq.edu.au/apsa2008/Refereed-papers/Miragliotta%20and%20Errington.pdf for historical trends).

      The current Federal Cabinet of 19 members contains 15 (79%) with qualifications in law, business or economics…

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    3. Jim Inglis

      retired

      In reply to Euan Ritchie

      Euan, all of our nature conservation areas are a disaster and set up for extinctions simply because scientists have determined that the dingo is a protected, native apex predator when our natives never evolved alongside it and our natives do nothing but suffer when having to exist with it.

      As a result, we cannot control dogs, dingoes, foxes or cats in these conservation areas and this will be much more effective in causing extinctions than anything a govt does or doesn't do.

      Doing away with newly proposed conservation areas is actually doing wildlife a favour because that way at least we can still control feral predators in those areas.

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  6. Michael Shand

    Software Tester

    Great Article;

    "The radical conservatism of the Coalition seems to be drawn from the same platform as the Institute for Public Affairs "

    Really? what a coincidence that the IPA and the government have the same agenda, must be a fluke right

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    1. Michael Shand

      Software Tester

      In reply to Michael Shand

      But wouldn't that be a merger of business and government?

      There's a word for that right?

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    1. KHTAGH

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Jenny Goldie

      Jenny, like you I'm ropable with rage at the Abbott government & their right wing climate change denial agenda.
      Take heart though, by the time this current drought is over (if it ever is this time) there will be so many farmer completely wiped out, never to return to the land that the National parties vote will basically evaporate.
      Lieberals only ever get elected with the help of the Nationals, at the next election the outcome will be dramatically different. With the reallocating of water rights…

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    2. Alastair Leith

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Jenny Goldie

      "He {Greg Hunt] seemed to know what he was talking about prior to the election"

      You are kidding right? Go and listen to the interview Beyond Zero Emissions Radio Show did with him before the election and his nonsense claims about "direct [in]action" and the CT. bze.org.au Podcasts page.

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    3. Doug Hutcheson

      Poet

      In reply to Jenny Goldie

      Jenny, "He seemed to know what he was talking about prior to the election". Really? I must have missed that sound bite. To me, he seemed to be obedient to his master and to his leash, as could be expected of one who supports his Dear Leader so slavishly.

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  7. Anthony Nolan

    logged in via email @hotmail.com

    I disagree vigorously with the author's central suggestion that:

    'The really bad news for climate change mitigation policy is that the Abbott government’s open season on the environment will distract Australian’s from climate policy settings, which is the one area to which all environmental issues will one day be subordinated.'

    Arne Naess described the fight for nature, now there's old fashioned language, as 'the long front'. He didn't differentiate between issues, merely advocated that you…

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  8. rick davies

    logged in via email @gmail.com

    Re "The embedded emissions in the 3.5 billion tonnes of China First are equivalent to the total emissions that Australia will produce between now and 2020"

    Is conceivable that in some stage in the future that Clive Palmer et al could be charged with "crimes against humanity" ...because he acted in ways that subsequently caused vast human suffering, when the information about the expected consequences of such large scale coal mining was publicly available and openly discussed?

    Or perhaps there are less dramatic but more immediately applicable charges that could be laid, on a class action basis?

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    1. Alastair Leith

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to rick davies

      I think the conservatives "man of his times" touchstone will be applied by the historians and prosecutors of the future. Especially if we keep heading in the direction of corporate fascism.

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  9. helen stream

    teacher

    Assuming you know the importance of affordable, reliable electricity to any government's economy , I have to assume that you want Australia's economy to fail—and Australia's future to founder.

    Your first paragraph pretends that you actually had any respect for the Coalition's policies on environment and climate before they were in government---and we know you didn't, so your surprise is wholly confected---a deceit.

    The overseas 'condemnation ' you link us to is some unheard of journalist…

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    1. Alastair Leith

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to helen stream

      I call "troll".

      What has changed since Howard's days as PM? CC prognosis has only got worse. Hansen et al now say 2ºC of Howard's days isn't remotely safe we need to target 1ºC.

      Oh the licence to bullshit the public has changed that's what. Now that Murdoch has switched from CC acceptance to CC denialism promoter in his rags it's so much easier for a MP running for PM to say "CC is crap" and not be shamed into public account of his dangerous ideological opposition to evidence based decision making.

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    2. Grant Burfield

      Dr

      In reply to Alastair Leith

      Useful Design - "I call troll".

      Who cares what you call? You haven't got the cojones to use your real name so you are to be ignored.

      Man up UD or ship out.

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    3. helen stream

      teacher

      In reply to Alastair Leith

      Useful design

      You say 'CC prognosis has only got worse.'

      Where is your evidence for that?

      Are all of these uber-warmists wrong?

      Matthew England

      Despite ongoing increases in atmospheric greenhouse gases, the Earth’s global average surface air temperature has remained more or less steady since 2001.
      Real Climate:

      “Almost all CMIP5 historical simulations do not reproduce the observed recent warming hiatus.

      The Economist says...
      [ 'OVER the past 15 years air temperatures at…

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    4. Mike Hansen

      Mr.

      In reply to helen stream

      That is pretty lame helen.

      It may convince the climate science denier crowd but if you actually read the detail in the articles here, you would not bother with that sort of trolling.

      Here is what Matthew England said
      “We should be very clear: the current hiatus offers no comfort - we are just seeing another pause in warming before the next inevitable rise in global temperatures,” Professor England said.

      And from the same article
      "Steve Rintoul, a researcher with the CSIRO’s Marine and…

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    5. Alastair Leith

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Grant Burfield

      It's my business twitter account, hardly a secret! I used it when my attempt (a few years ago) to create a std account failed so I just used my twitter account.

      Anyhow play the issue not the man, bully boy Dr Grant Burfield. If you want to know my name just ask. Men like you we can do with less of in this world.

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    6. Alastair Leith

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to helen stream

      Oh well only climate scientist Dr Hansen lead author on a recent paper saying 2ºC is no safeguard of any substance the guardrail should be 1ºC. Only polar ice melt vastly outstripping even the high sensitivity predictions for polar ice melt.

      As for Mathew England:
      http://www.theguardian.com/environment/planet-oz/2014/feb/12/global-warming-fake-pause-hiatus-climate-change?commentpage=3
      You do understand that oceans account for most of global warming don't you (both in terms of warming itself and absorbing CO2)? And they are reaching capacity.

      I studied a short course on Coursera on CC hosted by Uni. of B.C. and of all the large readings nothing you have cited was on it, they must be not getting it all the post-doctorate researchers just need to get Helen on the line to explain it's all a hoax. Really pathetic trolling, Helen.

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    7. Grant Burfield

      Dr

      In reply to Alastair Leith

      What an extraordinary coincidence! I don't do twitter since "my attempt (a few years ago) to create a std account failed". And I found that creating an account at the Conversation was even more convoluted and difficult although I did manage it after 60 seconds. Probably a fluke.

      Stay as Useful Design then but at least put up a profile a little more expansive than your current one which informs us that "Useful Design doesn’t have any profile information." If that refers to your scientific profile then it's probably accurate - at least to a 97% consensus.

      "Men like you we can do with less of in this world." - How quaint! A modern day quasi-Malthusian commenting at the Conversation. No doubt you're also a member of the Phlogiston and Luminiferous Aether Society.

      Carry on.

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    8. helen stream

      teacher

      In reply to Mike Hansen

      Mike Hansen---this is long because I had to answer both you and your links, since you label me a troll..

      You entirely miss my point, which is that most warmists who care about their reputations are now admitting there is in fact a pause or hiatus---one of 16 or 17 years.

      It's very lame of you---and nothing to do with science—to be claiming that England's assertion of the

      'next inevitable rise in global temperature' ….is anything but a guess.

      Useful Design's assertion that I was refuting…

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    9. Jim Inglis

      retired

      In reply to Doug Hutcheson

      So Doug, you think the kriging method for temperature measurement is better than a thermometer?

      Why don't you use the thermometer excludes the UHIE:

      http://www.woodfortrees.org/plot/rss/from:1997/trend/plot/esrl-co2/from:1997/normalise:0.5/scale:0.5/offset:0.34

      But even the warmest [note I didn't sat warmist] thermometer shows the last 12 years cooling:

      http://www.woodfortrees.org/plot/gistemp/from:2002/trend/plot/esrl-co2/from:1997/normalise:0.5/scale:0.5/offset:0.34

      You will note, Doug, that neither of these is a "hiatus", they both show actual cooling.

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    10. Doug Hutcheson

      Poet

      In reply to Jim Inglis

      Jim, you are becoming ridiculous, if you serioulsly believe in global cooling. 97% of climate scientists believe the globe is warming and that humans have a large part in that.

      Contrarian climate scientist Roy Spencer claimed in Congressional testimony last year that he's included in the 97 percent.

      "There's a recent paper by John Cook and co-authors who looked at thousands of research papers which have been published in the scientific literature to see what fraction support the scientific…

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    11. Jim Inglis

      retired

      In reply to Doug Hutcheson

      Doug, that paper of Cook's claiming 97% consensus is such a joke that if you don't know about it by now then it is really on you.

      Those graphs I gave you showing cooling are from data acknowledged by all scientists.

      Not just someone's pal-reviewed opinion.

      They're nearly as bad as your poetic license.

      Climate cools, climate warms. It cooled from the '40s to the '70s, it warmed from the '70s to the late '90s and it has been cooling ever since but in the last century or so it has net warmed ~ 0.7c.

      Nobody denies that [I'm one of his 97%] but what you and your mate Cook don't get is that no one can quantify how much of that is due to CO2 increase, UHIE and natural variation.

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    12. Doug Hutcheson

      Poet

      In reply to Jim Inglis

      Jim, "no one can quantify how much of that is due to CO2 increase, UHIE and natural variation" - ah, so at last you have admitted that no-one can know how little of the observed rise in global temperature since 1997 is due to UHIE and natural variation? How little would you ascrie to each of those, and why?

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    13. Doug Hutcheson

      Poet

      In reply to Jim Inglis

      Jim, mmmm ... "populartechnology" looks like a really sciency site, right up there with Nature, Physical Review Letters and the IPCC. Not. Keep trying - it's amusing to watch.

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    14. Jim Inglis

      retired

      In reply to Doug Hutcheson

      "populartechnology" looks like a really sciency site,"

      That's the way Doug, deal with the facts.

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    15. Jim Inglis

      retired

      In reply to Doug Hutcheson

      " How little would you ascrie to each of those, and why?"

      Well seeing as science can't work out many of the uncertainties involved with the GHG theory and with ever increasing ACO2 emissions, ever increasing UHIE [up to a measured 7.0c in Melbourne], a natural warming since the LIA and the last 17 years of cooling, it isn't rocket science to work out that the GHG theory accounts for proportions in the vicinity of gnat's genitalia.

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    16. Jim Inglis

      retired

      In reply to Doug Hutcheson

      Here are a few you can start with:

      CO2-induced global warming: a skeptic's view of potential climate change (PDF)
      (Climate Research, Volume 10, Number 1, pp. 69-82, April 1998)
      - Sherwood B. Idso

      Celestial driver of Phanerozoic climate? (PDF)
      (GSA Today, Volume 13, Issue 7, pp. 4-10, July 2003)
      - Nir J. Shaviv, Jan Veizer

      Cosmoclimatology: a new theory emerges (PDF)
      (Astronomy & Geophysics, Volume 48, Issue 1, pp. 1.18-1.24, February 2007)
      - Henrik Svensmark

      Implications of the…

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    17. Doug Hutcheson

      Poet

      In reply to Jim Inglis

      Jim, you are certainly on the fringe. Even the most committed scientists on the 'low sensitivity' side of the debate agree that the average surface temperature has not cooled over the last [insert your preferred number here] years, the Little Ice Age was a local, not global, phenomenon and that UHIs are not causing distorted results in temperature analyses (Google ' Berkley Earth Surface Temperature Project', which was funded by those noted contrarians, the Koch brothers). However, we are way off-topic for this article, which is about climate change policy.
      The fact that Tony Abbott promotes his Direct Action Plan indicates even he recognises the threat posed by global warming and is motivated to do something about it. We are supposed to be here to discuss which is the best policy to meet the threat, not endlessly arguing about whether the threat exists. Basic risk management says we should be actively doing something. What do you suggest should be done?

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    18. Doug Hutcheson

      Poet

      In reply to Jim Inglis

      Jim, you are using Climate Research from that time as a reference? Perhaps we should look at what was happening then:
      "Prior to Hans von Storch's promotion to Climate Research editor-in-chief in 2003, the journal did not have a chief editor, and so authors sent their manuscripts to an Associate Editor of their choice. One particular Associate Editor, Chris de Freitas, published 14 separate papers from a select group of 14 climate contrarians during the 6 year period of 1997 to 2003:

      Sallie…

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    19. Jim Inglis

      retired

      In reply to Doug Hutcheson

      C'mon Doug, spit it out. Don't prevaricate and waffle.

      " How little would you ascrie to each of those, and why?"

      Schroedinger's cat got your tougue?

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  10. Robert McDougall

    Small Business Owner

    i'll say it.. "I TOLD YOU SO" now if only the voting retards had of listened..

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  11. John Newton

    Author Journalist

    David – an astonishing litany of stupidity. You wonder how far they'll go to prop up the fossil fools. The news on the winding up of Forge today is another nail in coal's coffin, yet these idiots blunder ahead down the path to destruction.

    I wish i was religious so I could say God help us.

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  12. Doug Hutcheson

    Poet

    "After almost six months in office, it seems that the Abbott government’s reputation for action on climate change and the environment in general is in tatters." After almost six months in office, is there any area in which the Abbott government has enhanced its reputation? I cannot think of one. I am sure the resident Tea-baggers will soon attempt to correct my misapprehension, which will, in fact, only prove it to be well-founded.

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  13. Gregor Napier Cutlack

    Builder/Farmer

    You may not believe what you read here.
    However if we remain complacent and take no action to prevent or mitigate the continuing damaging environmental effects from
    coal and gas mining, we are also complicit towards dredging near the reef and the climate catastrophe unfolding around the planet.
    MARCH IN MARCH Tell our politicians and big business to stop this madness because we can do better

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  14. Chris Winslow

    Editor

    David,

    An excellent article, although I'm afraid that the Coalition's Blitzkrieg on the environment extends beyond legislation pertaining to carbon pricing. Let's not overlook marine conservation zones, World Heritage listed forests in Tasmania, water conservation in the Murray-Darling Basin - and the list gets longer when you include state Lib/National governments.

    Once, I was a member of the Liberal Party in NSW, but I quit in disgust when I saw the way the party was going under Tony Abbott…

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  15. Garry Baker

    researcher

    In light of the massive change (as of today) in the mindset of the people at the WhiteHouse, it might be worth reviving this thread. Notably, it would seem Mr Abbott is not in lockstep with world thinking these days

    " Half U.S. Population Vulnerable to Climate Change: Report ""

    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-05-06/half-u-s-population-vulnerable-to-climate-change-report.html

    http://edition.cnn.com/2014/05/06/politics/white-house-climate-energy/index.html?hpt=hp_c3

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