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## PM Tony Abbott and his party and independents commit Australia to faster global warming

Sou | 6:11 PM

Late addendum: In Queensland, the ruling Liberal National Party just lost another by-election with a massive 18.5% swing to Labor on a two-party preferred basis. John Quiggin has more. This isn't Federal politics, it's state politics. It doesn't necessarily mean much for the next Federal election. However, this result taken together with the unpopularity of the Federal LNP and particularly the unpopularity of Tony Abbott means he is unlikely to call a double dissolution if he can't get anyone to support his budget or policies.

Sou 12:03 am AEST 21 July 2014

The Australian Parliament has committed to increasing global warming as quickly as it thinks it can get away with. Today it decided to abandon the carbon price paid by the top polluters, which commenced last year. In reversing the decision on polluter pays, the government and our elected representatives have signalled that they want global warming to get worse more quickly - as quickly as possible without being turfed out of office.

Along with most other thinking Australians, I'm ashamed that Australia is the first country in the world to take a huge backward step on mitigating climate change.

This doesn't mean that all carbon mitigation schemes in Australia have been scrapped. It is, however, a sign that Tony Abbott and his party, and the independents, want to send a signal to us here in Australia and to the rest of the world that it doesn't give a shit about the fact that Australia is one of the highest greenhouse gas emitters per capita. It doesn't give a damn for the future of Australia or the future of the rest of the world.

Australian farmers should be up in arms because they are being hit first and hardest by global warming. But I see no sign of them objecting as a group. Many of them will continue to put their hand out for flood relief and fire relief and drought relief on a more frequent basis as global warming kicks in. Others will walk off their properties. Some will adapt to the changing climate and may not even notice as the suicide rate among those farmers who find it all too hard continues to rise.

The opposition party has now pledged to activate the emissions trading scheme if they get elected next time around. Tony Abbott hasn't ruled out an emissions trading scheme either. But it's fair to say that he'd only do that under duress, if he thought it would be necessary to keep him in power. Tony Abbott is a populist leader. He'll do whatever it takes to stay Prime Minister. Whether it's secretive illegal incarceration of asylum seekers and their children or him causing more and worse droughts, floods and fires across the country.

Tony Abbott is fast becoming the least popular Prime Minister in Australia's history. That doesn't mean he'll get ousted but it does raise the chance of that happening. Surely there is someone in his party who will lead for the nation, not for the lowest quality of uneducated bigot.

Politicians have a short life in office. We won't be stuck with Tony for long. A few years at the most. Maybe he'll only last a few more months. Then we can hopefully catch up to the rest of the world and shift to a new energy economy.

There'll no doubt be lots of articles on this over coming months - by other people. I don't write much on policy but here are some other views:

Note the disclaimer at the bottom. Polls like this aren't representative of voters or the population as a whole. The results are at best only representative of the readers of SMH. Still, a lot of people read SMH. Of those who voted, 67% are "Angry that it (the carbon price on pollution) is gone". Only 19% are "pleased to be rid of it".

 Source: SMH

#### 72 comments:

1. "Politicians have a short life in office. We won't be stuck with Tony for long."

You seem to forget that it was his opposition to the carbon tax that elevated him to opposition leader and it was his opposition to the carbon tax that won him the last election.

You can believe whatever bulls#!t polls you choose to believe... but you really are living in fairyland if you think that Tony is losing any support by axing the tax which he promised he would axe.

You can still save the world, if you really think it needs saving... but you'll have to do it with your own money now, not with mine.

1. Just when you think he's lost as much support as any PM could, Tony Abbott loses even more.

http://blogs.crikey.com.au/pollbludger/

It's not just the general population, Liberal frontbenchers aren't too happy with the Treasurer, Joe Hockey, at the moment either.

There have been other unpopular PMs who managed to ride it out. We'll have to wait and see how long Tony lasts.

Not that Federal Labor is doing well. It's got a long way to go to rebuild after the internal idiocy undid the party.

2. Link re Hockey:
http://www.smh.com.au/national/liberal-frontbenchers-sour-on-joe-hockey-after-threat-to-order-spending-cuts-20140716-3c1nw.html

2. Remember that next time you pay a flood levy and when more and more of your taxes are spent on recovery from fires, drought and floods. Remember that next time your insurance premiums go up and up and up because of climate change.

Remember that when the power cuts come in during a heat wave and next time a coal mine catches fire and you pay compensation to residents affected by the toxic fumes and ash.

Remember that next time there's a catastrophic fire and people pay with their lives.

Tell your children and grandchildren that you decided they could put up with faster global warming, rather than have polluters pay.

Remember that if you earned less than around $80,000 you came out ahead with the carbon tax. Remember that if your on a pension you came out ahead as well. Remember that when you explain to future generations why they had to relocate sooner rather than later because of sea level rise, all because you and your chosen PM were greedy, self-interested, shortsighted and in denial and figured pollution and a world too hot for comfort was the way to go.. I'll do what I can and I don't mind you reaping the benefits. I vote for a liveable future. You vote for a short-sighted polluted present. Remember that. 1. As a European I find it rather weird that this is happening in Australia of all places. Isn't the Australian climate already too hot and too dry? Will thus not Australia be hit much more than most countries by global warming? One would expect Australia to be lobbying for good good global warming policies, like the small island states. Or is this just an outside caricature of Australia? 2. Australia has warmed by more than the average - 0.9C. Not as much as the Arctic though. We keep experiencing new records - hottest year after hottest summer after wettest year after worst drought etc etc. Tony Abbott anywhere else would have explicitly rejected the science, but he can't get away with that thanks in part to the Climate Council. So he's done what he can to get rid of any advice and any mitigation policies. He's appointed a rabid denier to key posts hoping to dismantle the agencies that are part of the climate mitigation initiatives. Julia Gillard worked in a hung parliament and achieved a huge amount of major reforms despite that. Abbott is having trouble getting anything done at all. He's undone the carbon price but that's all so far. He's incompetent, one of the worst Prime Ministers ever. And very unpopular according to the polls. The next drought and major flood will be a test for him. Especially if there are big fires as well. That plus international pressure. I'm surprised he's lasted this long. I don't think his party has much talent to choose from though. 3. How much will Global Warming increase as a result of repealing this tax? 1. Wrong question, John. The right question would be - how much more quickly will global warming kick in and how bad will it get if every nation on earth follows Australia's retrograde step and opts for global warming and old technology? Answer - until mid-century you won't see a whole lot of difference. According to IPCC projections the warming will be much the same till then no matter which trajectory. After 2050 it will be faster and much worse than if we limit emissions. Of course that depends on social and economic forces. There'd be a lot of civil unrest the faster the climate change, which in turn will hinder economic activity. So we would probably be inadvertently be limiting emissions in a few decades even if we opt to heat up the world as soon as we can. I'd prefer peace and prosperity to global warming and chaos. You and Tony Abbott and Skeptikal obviously opt for global warming and chaos. I maintain you're in the minority. We'll see. 2. Then by your own answer, the tax is the wrong solution. Of course we disagree on the problem, but if there is going to be a solution, why not a solution that fixes the problem? It seems that solutions being proposed are ineffective at solving the purported problem and end up killing more people today than they could ever hope to save fifty years from now. 3. John scores zero out of 100 for comprehension. He'd get less but HW rarely awards minus scores. John, have you ever wondered why you were born with a brain? It's meant to be used to process thoughts, to understand words. It's not there simply to coordinate the muscles that drive you fingers on the keyboard to punch meaningless drivel into cyberspace.. 4. Oh, but Sou, it is you that is not comprehending this issue. And, until you do, your cause is going no where. Of the warmists, its seems that only Richard Muller has any pragmatic understanding of the real issues involved in solving what you claim to be a problem. 5. John, since you brought up the "How much will Global Warming increase as a result of repealing this tax?" and the "killing more people today" ideas. Suppose I kill 100 Australians a year and, Dexter-like, get away with it. On a global scale, 100 Australians doesn't amount to much and is insignificant, so I'll just carry on killing. Or, from another perspective, why should law enforcement agencies try to catch me? It won't make a lot of difference globally. 6. Sheesh John! Not you again. Global warming will proceed faster because there will be no deterrent for big polluters to carry out BAU and for where that will lead consult these documents and also the many scientific studies cited therein. What do you think the intent of the carbon pricing scheme was? Here is a clue, I have a load of trash I wish to dispose of, I guess that by your logic it is OK if I come and dump it where you live! Article in the Guardian: Australia kills off carbon tax. With this move Abbott has become an enemy of the people and a climate criminal. Oh Well? No more Australian wine for me, it has been reported that your changing climate is making it less alcoholic anyway. 7. I think you just proved the point for John there. What if we DID let you get away with killing 100 people a year becouse it would, in theory, save millions of live 50-100 years from now. It would be like the movie "cabin in the woods", except the evil climate gods won't appear for decades if we don't give them their sacrifice, we have no idea how powerful they might be, and we can't know what new ways to stop them might be developed before they arrive. 8. I love the text of a denier misunderstanding an analogy in the evening. George wasn't offering to save anyone's life, ever. He was just going to murder 100 people in cold blood. Stopping him isn't going to much affect the global murder rate, so obviously, we really shouldn't be bothered to try. 9. Au contraire, Schitzfree, the point is that, on a local and a global scale, I'm not the only one killing people. John's contention is that one country's response has a miniscule effect globally and so there's no point trying. Extend this idea to a global scale and no country should bother to take action on GW, in particular, and anything else global for that matter. It's a fallacy of composition. As for, "we can't know what new ways to stop them might be developed before they arrive". This is a classic argument used by economists who have a blind faith in the "God" of market forces producing life-saving technology sometime in the future i.e. leave it for future generations to solve the problems created by past and present generations. It's paradoxical that scientists aren't trusted on GW but, if they are right, are trusted to somehow solve its effects in the future. 10. I attempted to reply earlier, but for some reason my post just didn't make it. Here goes again. If you are killing 100 people per year, we can acknowledge that it is a problem. How to solve that problem? Should I bring in the military and just randomly shell residences hoping that one day I might kill you? If the solution to the problem kills more people than the problem, then I submit that the solution ought not be implemented. 11. Thing is, John, that cutting CO2 emissions will not "kill more people". So your argument is fallacious. Read George Montgomery's response. And then spend the next few weeks reading the IPCC reports and other science. Take a few weeks to explore realclimate.org. Go over to SkepticalScience.com and wander through your denier memes. Learn about the greenhouse effect and try to understand why the only way to mitigate warming is to cut CO2 emissions. Read this article by Ray Pierrehumbert: http://news.uchicago.edu/article/2014/07/01/reducing-carbon-dioxide-emissions-must-be-priority-mitigating-climate-change-stud Direct Action will not be sufficient. (Did you know that the Abbott government does have a plan to cut emissions - albeit a half-baked and expensive plan that has too many flaws.) The carbon pricing scheme was not of itself sufficient, but it set up a framework that could have been built upon. It was a solid approach that would be much less painful, with almost no jolts to our enviable economic position. Since Abbott has arrived as PM he has undone much of that work, leaving a mess that future PMs will have to try to fix. The carbon pricing scheme was intended to prepare Australia for the ETS. Abbott hasn't ruled out an ETS (emission trading scheme) and the Labor Party has promised it will start one. The framework is still in place. Abbott didn't undo that. Sometime in the next five years Australia will have a sharp jolt to its economy when it has to find a way to make up ground to meet its international obligations. This could have been avoided if Abbott had left the carbon price in place. The Australian economy was doing well until Abbott took office. It's not been doing so well since that time. Abbott is not a strategic thinker and he's put cowboys in positions of power. He has a scattergun approach to leadership, doing what he believes the most ignorant, bigoted people in the country want. He doesn't know the meaning of the word "leadership". His decisions are based on vote-catching, nothing to do with what is good for the nation as a whole. His only vision is that he will survive as PM for as long as possible. That's not the vision of a statesperson. 12. I wonder if John is agreeing with Richard Muller that coal should be replaced by natural gas? That would be inconsistent with John's promotion of coal, which is the only energy source he seems to favour. http://www.readfearn.com/2013/09/top-physicist-accuses-the-australian-newspaper-of-misrepresenting-his-climate-change-views/ That, of course, is not a solution. At best it's a short term transitional measure. What needs to happen in the near future is a shift away from fossil fuels to non-carbon-based renewable energy. 13. You mean like Nuclear? Oh wait, you said 'renewable'. Well then, lets build some giant Dams. Whoops again, I keep forgetting, Being Green means never trying something that might actually work. I guess that just leave following in Spain's footsteps. 14. In all seriousness, cutting CO2 emissions WILL "kill more people". There simply is no way to avoid this. Any method to produce energy with less CO2 emissions will increase the base cost of that energy, because if it didn't cost more we would already be using it. And increasing the base cost of energy kills. People who can't afford to heat their home in winter, or for clean drinking water, or for any of the products or services that use energy and will go up in price with it. A small increase in base cost only kills a few. Those that were already on the brink. A larger increase kills more. It comes back to what I was saying before. How many People are we willing to kill each year to prevent Climate Change. 100? 1,000? 10,000? From what I can see, even if all the nations on earth agreed to a Carbon Tax like Australia just dropped, It wouldn't make a big enough difference in CO2 emissions to really do anything. And anything that would make a big difference would cause so much suffering NOW that any supposed reduction in global warming 50-100 years from now would be meaningless. 15. Schitz, the world is building giant dams...didn't you notice? However, in water-poor, low-relief Australia our prospects are very limited, and all the most efficient sites are used. Pump storage powered by surplus daytime renewables has considerable potential near existing large irrigation dams. As for your blather about cutting CO2 and its death toll [!] you might know that since privatisations [promising price falls] electricity charges have grown hugely, and that the CO2 tax was not present for the first two and a half decades of that progress. Every six months utikities appeal for price rise which they are granted without quibble. The carbon price represents a tiny part of those rises. Thus, what you should be arguing is that poles and wires and administrative charges are killing far more people than CO2 tax. It is simple to compensate the poor for electricity power rises. That's what many governments do already. 16. Your reasoning is seriously flawed Schitzree. You seem to think that global warming is far off in the future. It's not. It's already happening. You also neglect to factor in the serious problems that it will cause and is causing. They are monumental. Forget simplistic denier memes. In Australia poor people did not have to pay more for electricity with the carbon tax so your argument falls down badly. Many would have been better off, not worse off. Not only are you trading the present for the future, your illogic would mean that there wouldn't be a future in a lot of places. I can't believe that even after all this time, there are still deniers arguing about whether global warming is real and will have consequences. If that's you, then you are the problem, not the solution. If you agree with the science but don't want to reduce emissions through market based mechanisms then come up with a better approach. Otherwise once again you are the problem, not a solution. 17. Oh sure, I really believe that the magic carbon tax was going to cut CO2 emissions without costing anybody but the rich. Because it was "revenue neutral". Ya, that will work. Come on, Sou. You don't really believe in money for nothing, do you? It's the energy trading companies and banks that are pushing the carbon taxes and emission trading schemes the hardest. Am I supposed to believe these people are looking to make a fortune off this, but it's not going to cost the little guy a dime? Sorry, that's just not how the world works. As for trading the present for the future, Hell Ya I would. There's enough real problems right now to take care of. Real People, with Real Suffering. We certainly don't need to borrow trouble from the future. Besides, if the last 100 years has taught us anything about the Future, it's that it usually takes care of itself. As for 'arguing about whether global warming is real and will have consequences', sure it's real. Real, and minor. You and I both know that The Science says a doubling of CO2 will only cause about 1 deg C warming on its own. All the rest is based on speculation regarding feedbacks, and every year longer the pause goes on the less likely it is that those feedbacks are strong, or even positive. Now, you can argue that there isn't really a pause, that the heat is hiding in the deep ocean or the arctic or whatever. Or you can argue that it's natural variation, and the next big El Nino will definitely bring back the warming with a vengeance. The problem is, the people have quite caring. That's why they voted for Abbott in the first place. For anyone over 40, it just seems like Peek Oil or The Population Bomb all over again. And at any age, being told to expect permanent drought right up till the floods come back, then being told to expect more flooding, just doesn't inspire faith in the predictive abilities of Climate Science. Well, got to get to bed. It's 5:00am here in Indiana ;) 18. Your comment is based on a misunderstanding, Schitzee. I guess you aren't familiar with how such schemes work. I don't know what the equivalent would be in your country but similar approaches have been suggested for the USA as elsewhere. For one thing, it's not "money for nothing". What it does is apply funds paid by polluters to - in part: a) compensate lower income people for the associated rise in the cost of goods and services b) invest in programs aimed at increasing the proportion of renewable energy in the mix It's quite an elegant system and an effective way of giving polluters incentive to reduce pollution and shift to renewable energy, as well as encouraging people and businesses to be more energy efficient.. It's also more transparent than the so-called "plan" that is supposed to replace it - Direct Action. In the case of Direct Action (which isn't so direct), it's not market based, there is little incentive, all taxpayers bear the burden, arguably with lower income people bearing a disproportionate cost, it's not nearly as transparent - being buried in the main budget instead of being separately accounted for and reported. 19. And at any age, being told to expect permanent drought right up till the floods come back, then being told to expect more flooding, just doesn't inspire faith in the predictive abilities of Climate Science. You are being misled by disinformers. If you read science instead of denier blogs, you wouldn't have been told any such thing. No rational person has said that. (I expect you're quoting some denier misrepresenting Tim Flannery. That's what disinformers get paid to do. For example, Andrew Bolt in Australia earns much of his income from spreading disinformation and promoting ignorant bigotry. He's often told lies about Tim Flannery.) Both droughts and floods are getting worse - sometimes in the same regions - and will continue to do so. I suggest you stick to science if you want to understand what is happening now and what is projected. Keep away from deniers and disinformers and you will be less likely to get confused. Although I see you are easily confused, so there's no guarantee. 20. All the rest is based on speculation regarding feedbacks... Well, no. It's based on observation, physics and palaeoclimate ...and every year longer the pause goes on the less likely it is that those feedbacks are strong, or even positive. Now that is speculation.... Mind you Schitz claims that people voted for Tony Abbott because they quit caring. Because they are not interested. So they have no idea. But AGW is no problem, though... 21. SchitzreeJuly 18, 2014 at 4:21 PM (is this a sock of John?) "...Well then, lets build some giant Dams. Whoops again, I keep forgetting, Being Green means never trying something that might actually work." Hum! Clearly you have not heard of the downsides of dams such as reduced downstream flow to the extent that many large rivers no longer make it to the sea. Also silt builds up behind dams reducing the capacity of the holding pond and also robbing estuaries of the silt which would aid protection at times of high tides with storms as sea levels rise. There is also the disruption to fish spawning runs unless special measures are adopted to assist the fish. There are other arts of that biome that are disrupted by holding back the water. Siesmic activity can also be induced or exacerbated by the weight of water held by dams. Here is an article which discuses a few of the topics concerned: Unit 8: Water Resources // Section 6: Depletion of Freshwater Resources. The pumping out of underground water also causes subsidence and is one of the factors in the considerable subsidence of cities such as New Orleans. 22. Perhaps Shitzree can identify all the sites in Australia that are suitable for dams for hydroelectricity, that won't cause problems for flooding, drought mitigation or irrigation. They'll have a hard time finding any sites that are suitable for hydro that haven't already got dams. And I doubt they'll find too many that will be suitable for flood mitigation that won't cause problems for drought mitigation and vice versa. What happened to Tony Abbott's "build 100 dams" promise? Did someone whisper in his ear that there are precious few suitable sites available? That he can choose one or other, but rarely if ever can a single dam be used for hydro, flood mitigation and drought mitigation - Tony seemed to think that one dam could be simultaneously used for all three purposes. He's wrong. Dams also often cause problems for environmental flows - as is evident in the Murray-Darling system. Australia is hot and dry. Enormous quantities of water are lost to evaporation from dams and irrigation channels. We could be better off looking to see if there is potential to store water in aquifers. http://www.abc.net.au/news/2012-05-08/water-storage-aquifers-groundwater-research/3998542 Being Green means investigating what will actually work and cause least harm to the environment. 23. Well Sou, will cutting CO2 emissions "kill more people?' Rank the countries of the world by CO2 emissions per capita. In the countries that have low CO2 emissions per capita, the poor lead short, miserable lives. In the countries that have high CO2 emissions per capita, the poor have flat screen TVs, Xboxes, and cell phones and don't miss many meals. Why is that? Is it an unrelated correlation? Or does cheap energy improve the lives of the poor? Shitzree's point about dams and nuclear is clearly valid as Lionel's post proves. Hydro could save many lives, but look at all of the "objections" that are seemingly more important than the lives of the poor. Do I agree with Muller's advocacy of natural gas? Well, obviously, I don't agree that global warming is the problem that Muller believes it to be. But for the sake of discussion, let's assume that it is. Muller, at least, recognizes that the problem is global and requires a global solution. In places where natural gas is cheap, it provides energy with lower CO2 emissions than coal. Personally, I am all for natural gas. It is the reason my family does not freeze in the winter. I support whatever energy sources make financial sense. 24. John, I'm sure I'm not the only one who is sick and tired of your zillion comments full of faked "caring" and idiotic claims that unfettered global warming is less harmful than your outmoded, filthy coal-fired power plants - while gaily ignoring the health and environmental hazards of both. Your ignorance on any and all climate science and energy technology topic is evident to all, so you're adding nothing whatsoever to this board. Go find someone who agrees with you. Try WUWT or Prison Planet or Canada Free Press or the Drudge Report. Give it a rest here. Any more of your idiocy on the subject will be removed from the comments and shifted to the HotWhoppery, if I can be bothered doing so. Others - please don't fan John's flames. There's enough burning of fossil fuels going on and more than ample (polluted) hot air has been blown by John already. 4. Harper backed out of Kyoto, has pushed for massive expansion of the tar sands, and keeps winning Fossil of the Day awards at COP. Abbott's just playing catch-up. It's pretty dismal. 5. Skeptical doesn't want his taxes saving the world. He'd rather his taxes went to pay polluters, via "Direct Action". This suggests he would prefer to pay off stand-over men than pay for an effective police force. No wonder he sounds so cross. 1. Frank, I don't think Skeptical realises just how much of his taxes (if he still pays any) will go towards Direct Action. Bang for buck a carbon price or ETS will be a lot more effective than Abbott's Direct Action plan. And arguably a lot cheaper, too. Tony is cunningly burying the cost in the budget and I doubt Skeptikal would be able to figure out just what he's paying for or just how much it's costing him or what services he's doing without to divert funds to it. 2. You people are amazing. I'm starting to wonder if you even realise that the Carbon Tax was an additional tax. You know, an extra tax on top of all the other taxes we already pay. Bang for buck?... I get a lot more 'bang for buck' if some of the taxes which I already pay get spent on Direct Action than if I pay my all my taxes AND THEN pay a carbon tax as well. I already know what 'services' I'm doing without... I'm doing without the services of the Climate Commission... YAY... I can live with that. This idea you're trying to sell, that people will be better off by paying an additional tax, is something that only those with the lowest IQ would ever believe. 3. The so-called carbon tax was paid directly by the top 300 or so polluters. It was meant to be the top 500 but they never got that far IIRC. These polluters passed costs on down the line. Individual taxpayers have never been charged a direct tax. In fact, they were compensated for the extra cost of goods and services by tax reductions. People living on benefits were paid additional funds to compensate for the extra costs of goods and services. That's it. Direct Action is being paid for directly by all taxpayers as part of their income tax. It's not separately accounted for by the government except in the normal budget papers, unlike the carbon pricing scheme, so it will be hard to work out exactly what proportion of your taxes are paying for it. But your taxes are definitely paying for it. I believe we're effectively paying some polluters to pollute a bit less, at Tony's discretion, instead of the biggest polluters who pollute paying the cost of doing so. Someone else might explain it better. That plus Abbott's green army, which is replacing Landcare projects in the main - so it's bound to be much less effective. He's promised to plant billions of trees and pay farmers to do what they do anyway - minimum tillage and all that. The numbers of the latter two don't stack up and most of it wouldn't work in practice. Neither will they probably be acceptable internationally. So Abbotts digging a hole the government will find it hard to get out of. You and I will be paying double when our account falls due. Because tax rates aren't going back up (so far), effectively lower income taxpayers will be compensated for some of the costs of Direct Action as well. The rest is being paid for by cutting other services. Hockey is threatening more cuts that don't need any legislation. Nothing wrong with shifting services from one priority to another. But don't kid yourself that you won't end up paying more to achieve the same result. Abbott will put it off as long as he can so it's likely it will all come to a head in the next two or three years, when Australia will have to meet its international obligations for carbon reductions. Abbott is just as likely to still be PM at that time. He might do a Howard - we'll have to see. But there's already quite a few rumblings and his popularity, which has never been high, has dropped even further. 4. The Australian PM is a political opportunist whose attitude towards policy fluctuates like a weather vane and who rode the anti-carbon tax cause to surf to the leadership of his political party and country. He has fluctuated between denying and accepting the existence of global warming (pick-a-year, any year), opposed (2013) and supported (2008) the idea of a carbon tax, and supported (2013) and opposed (2009) the idea of an emissions trading scheme. When opposition leader, the Australian PM predicted that the carbon tax would be a 'toxic tax' which would 'destroy the Australian economy', would 'wipe (cities like) Whyalla off the map' and agreed with the hysterical view that 'the price of a leg of lamb would hit$100'. This was political opportunism at it best and was at odds with reality. The carbon tax was in place for just over 2 years and didn't destroy Australia's economy. Price rises from the carbon tax were negligible (so much so, that in October 2013 the Australian Bureau of Statistics couldn't measure it) and the Australian inflation rate remained below 3 per cent. The carbon tax didn't stop the Australian economy from growing and interest rates remaining at a record low.

The Australian PM is championing an ETS that gives taxpayers' dollars to the big polluters who have already enjoyed generous compensation for the carbon tax. The PM's ETS has no cap on emissions, no price on carbon, and no system for ensuring reductions of GGs. The Australian PM is not a statesman, he's a self-serving politician who's redolent of a character out of a 1980's TV skit program (as evidenced by the link provided).

6. Sou,

It's a shame that this has happened, but don't be ashamed of something that isn't your fault. There is no guilt by association.

7. OMG it's a disaster. Do they not realise that the world's temperature will be 0.004 degrees higher in 2100 as a result of this decision?

Oh the humanity....

Well I plan to take mitigation measures and relocate 4.375cm toward the poles to avoid this unimaginable extra heat.

1. If all the world followed Australia's retrograde step, you'd be out by three orders of magnitude, hazym. In fact, you're out by three orders of magnitude even if Australia gets back in line and so does the rest of the world.

You do know that temperatures have already gone up by 0,8 degrees Celsius, hazym, don't you?

2. So how do you feel about Direct Action?

In the real world Abbott has just trashed a functional policy that was working and bringing in vital revenue...and was cocky enough to give your tax dollars unconditionally to big polluters anyway.

Feeling clever?

8. I don't always agree with what Bernard Keane says, but this time he gets it right:

"The cost to the economy of a carbon price between now and 2050 will be trivial compared to the cost inflicted on Australia by climate change....

Future citizens will thus look back on the actions of this government and the senators that supported it and see an intergenerational economic attack on them, in which we used the trivial costs of a carbon pricing scheme as an excuse to saddle future generations with much greater costs from climate change and decarbonisation — for all the Coalition’s incessant rhetoric about not saddling future generations with debt. It’s an attack, primarily, of old white men, men in complete denial about climate change, on the future and on the young."

http://www.crikey.com.au/2014/07/17/carbon-repeal-a-generational-failure-of-leadership/

9. Many readers may not be aware that the carbon price was always intended as a temporary bridge to an emission trading scheme. Now the bridge has been demolished. This means that when we start the ETS there will not be as smooth a transition. It will come with a jolt to the economy. More so, since many of the associated building blocks to replace dirty energy with clean energy are also being pulled out.

An ETS will probably not be enough, now that Tony Abbott has set the stage for a rebound in fossil fuels. It will probably need to be accompanied by caps on emissions, which may result in power shortages if the energy sector hasn't managed to shift to renewables sufficiently despite Tony Abbotts efforts. That's what our future will be like. A series of jolts and jerks to the economy instead of a smoother transition. All because of a bunch of jerks.

There *will* be a mechanism in the future to cut Australia's carbon emissions. That's indisputable. The rest of the world will demand it and enforce it - by international agreements or, if Australia refuses to take part, by other measures such as trade sanctions or imposed tariffs on Australia's exports or some other means.

If it gets to that, then history will point to Tony Abbott as the person who undermined Australia's economy and caused a serious decline in Australia's (currently enviable) position in the world.

10. What would have been the temperature increase in AU in 2100 if the carbon tax was kept and a ETS setup? What will it be now without a carbon tax or ETS in 2100?

1. You too are asking the wrong question Iwantstoknow. See my response to John above.

Remember, this is the Critical Decade and the end of the decade is fast approaching.

2. That's funny, I seem to remember the last decade also being the 'Critical Decade' that we had to stop global warming in before it was too late...

And the one before that too...
But not the 80's. That was the Critical Decade for Peek Oil. And the 70's was the Critical Decade for the ozone hole. And the 60's was the Critical Decade for the Population Bomb.

3. Schitz, critical decade scenarios are obviously designed to encourage political action. In the case of the Ozone issue action was taken, and taken in the knowledge that the results would take further decades to become clear. The others were politically unpalatable, too many interests threatened by acknowledging them usefully.

Every decade is and was critical in galvanising action because of the cumulative nature of the ACO2 problem, its trajectory and its persistence. We do according to the physics have to peg emissions at whatever level we can because the trajectory and decay of GAT simply gets higher and longer,and more risky with every 100GT of carbon aloft. That ought to be common knowledge, and would be if we didn't have people playing stupid over this much examined topic.

4. Yep, each decade has been critical for different reasons, Schitzree. We failed the critical test of the last decade, which was to get up a decisive plan agreed by all nations, to tackle CO2 emissions.

This one was critical because there was a chance, if we acted, to keep global warming to no more than two degrees.

Since we've probably already failed in that regard, the next challenge will be to keep global warming to less than three degrees.

Let's hope we pass that critical test. If not the next challenge will be even more complex. How to slow global warming while tackling all the associated social, economic and environmental problems that global warming will have already caused. The problems compound the longer we delay. The cost will be higher the longer we delay, too.

5. I think you missed my point. All the Critical Decade scenarios we've seen in the past 50 years, like the ones I listed, and others I didn't (like Acid Rain, DDT, Global Cooling, and many others) can be divided into two categorizes.

1) The ones where little to nothing was ever done about them, but none of their predictions of doom came true. (but their prophets still claim it's coming)

2) The ones where major changes were made, only to have latter science (or earlier science that was ignored) come along that shows the threat was greatly overblown. The Ozone/CFC issue is at the top of this list. The REAL ozone scientists knew the Ozone Hole would be there long before it was made into the smoking gun for CFC ozone depletion.

That's not to say I think CFC's shouldn't have been banned. Nore do I think the over promotion of Acid Rain mean I think the pollution controls put in place in response were unneeded. Both these had many legitimate reasons other then the alarmism to be implemented.

And in that same vein, There are legitimate reasons to ween society off of hydrocarbon fuels. But not at the costs that the current action plans will necessitate.

Money for renewable programs, sure. Research into nuclear and fusion energy, Hell Ya! Efficiency and Sustainability and all that malarkey, why not. But not Carbon Taxes. Not Emission Trading. Not War on Coal, or Climate Justice, or any of the other 101 ways that people are trying to make a buck off of making energy scarce. I won't accept the need to suffer now for myself or anyone else to stave off their prediction of doom.

It's not anti-science, or denial, or any other buzz words. It's me not being impressed with their track record.

6. Which things do you believe were not addressed, Schitzree?

Certainly the oil crisis of the 1970s prompted the implementation of a whole raft of strategies whereby nations became a bit more resilient. Oil resources are finite, in both total terms and from a practical perspective. The fact is that oil explorations companies are going to less accessible oil areas and it costs more to extract oil. At the same time alternatives are coming into play. I'd say that peak oil is being addressed, though not always in the most sensible manner.

Acid rain prompted regulations all over the world, which helped mitigate the problem. It was definitely "addressed".

DDT was banned for practically everything except malaria control. There were similar controls put in place for other dangerous organochlorides - and organophosphates are subject to regulatory control in most places too.

Global cooling scare wasn't real so nothing needed to be done. It was restricted to the USA for starters and was mostly manufactured by journalists seeking sensation in a couple of years where much of North America had a bit of a cold spell. There were many more papers about global warming in the 1970s and almost none touting global cooling.

The ozone issue is not overblown. You are in denial on that score.

Your comment reminds me of moondoong at HotCopper, who thought that AIDS was no more likely than aliens from outer space invading earth :)

http://blog.hotwhopper.com/2012/12/hotcopper-denier-classic-aliens-and.html

I expect cognitive scientists have studied this phenomenon of downplaying problems for which solutions have been fully or partly implemented, as if they would not have continued to be a problem if they weren't addressed.

Let me ask you - what do you think the world would be like without family planning initiatives? Without immunisation programs? Without clean air regulations? Without a justice system? Without an education system? Without national traffic standards? Without air traffic control? Without a World Trade Organisation - to name just a few systems that have been put in place to address existing or potential societal problems.

7. "...their track record".

The track record with climate scientists is that they have been woefully conservative: probably because of the enormous pressure fossil fuel interests have exerted, labelling them as alarmists when they do no more than report the science. So its annoying to see people parroting fossil fuel industry misinformation.

Remember how 'alarmist' Hansen was with his New York floods? That was until New York had those floods and, all of a sudden, the Hansen prediction (exaggerated and moved forward in time by fossil fuel industry shills) became an inevitable consequence of weather.

In climate science there is one side whose claims have proven false time after time after time: the deniers.

8. "DDT was banned for practically everything except malaria control. There were similar controls put in place for other dangerous organochlorides - and organophosphates are subject to regulatory control in most places too."

So then, Sou, the world properly handled the use of DDT after ample review of its costs and benefits? There was an environmental uprising against DDT thanks to Ms.Carson. It stopped being used. Huge political pressure was put on African countries to stop using it. In places where malaria was significantly reduced, it made a comeback. Many many millions of children die as a result of malaria. DDT was a total fiasco for the environmental movement. And, whenever it is brought up today as an example, the response is always "we never banned it for use against malaria."

It is now endorsed by the WHO and is being successfully used.

And here is the thing. There have been no reported deaths from DDT. Not one. Compare that to the 800 people that die from aspirin annually in the US alone.

9. Now we can add pesticides to the list of things that John is ignorant about. DDT wasn't banned because it kills people, although it is considered to have adverse health impacts for humans.

It was banned mainly because of its adverse environmental impacts.

http://www.epa.gov/pesticides/factsheets/chemicals/ddt-brief-history-status.htm

John - stop showing off your ignorance. As they say, it's better to look dumb than click your keyboard and prove it.

We all get it that you are in favour of all things that harm our planet and against all things that could improve it. You don't have to keep proving your stance over and over again.

10. Deleted by blog adminstrator.

As promised, sent to the HotWhoppery,

Sou.

11. It is at times like this that I struggle to accept that people like John are honest dupes. To become familiar with the history of DDT use does not require any scientific expertise, merely the ability to understand written English. And yet John persists in spouting gobshite when all the information necessary to prove how false it is is easily accessible and very clear.

12. Reading John's comments is a surreal experience. Motivated reasoning is mighty powerful. Cognitive science must be a fascinating and slightly scary field to research.

13. Oh and I particularly like the way in that DDT and fossil fuels are - in John's mind - inextricably linked. Is that because he thinks overuse of DDT would lead to global warming or that fossil fuels will be banned for all uses except malaria control?

Actually the overuse of DDT led to DDT resistant mossies. And no one wants fossil fuels banned entirely, just their use limited to the small amount that cannot be replaced by cleaner, cheaper sources that represent a long term solution to our energy needs: wouldn't anyone who is not a fossil fuel industry shill want that?

14. I'm wondering if the reasoning goes like this.

If governments agree that something is undesirable then it must be good.

If all governments of every nation agree something is undesirable it must be very very good and without it people will die.

If scientists and governments agree something is undesirable that means it must be essential to life on this planet.

15. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

16. The common feature is an industry-sponsored denial campaign. John and his ilk buy into every one, and there's been quite an accumulation of them over the last half-century. It's like an ever-expanding conservative credo; neonicotinoids are the latest addition. No True Conservative believes they could be a problem.

17. The DDT Zombie reanimated:
http://crookedtimber.org/2014/07/14/zombie-ddt-ban-myth-reanimated/

18. "There have been no reported deaths from DDT. Not one. "

Not one corporate shill died. Here in the UK some bird species were driven to the brink of extinction, but as corporate profits were not affected that would not bother John.

There are studies indicating a possible link between DDT and human health issues: http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn1012-ddt-finally-linked-to-human-health-problems.html

"If high DDT exposure really does cause prematurity, the insecticide could have accounted for 15 per cent of infant deaths in the US in the 1960s, Longnecker estimates."

So how does John know for sure that not one human died from DDT use? Does John possess data that convincingly refutes studies like this?

19. Sou said:
"I expect cognitive scientists have studied this phenomenon of downplaying problems for which solutions have been fully or partly implemented, as if they would not have continued to be a problem if they weren't addressed."

Now this is an excellent point. And you're right, there does tend to be a downplay of the danger after a solution has been found. While It's true the environmental danger of DDT have been overblown in the past, It was a potentially dangerous chemical that was being overused, and limiting it's use to specific anti-malaria campaigns in developing countries actually makes it MORE effective by slowing the development of immunity. Also countries like Mexico and Vietnam have show it's possible for more developed countries to control malaria without DDT.

The Acid Rain scare was another example of a 'Solved' crisis that looks like it was overblown at the time. There are a number of good articles that show that the problem wasn't anywhere near as serous as it was made out to be.

http://debunkhouse.wordpress.com/2010/02/23/the-acid-rain-scam/

http://news.heartland.org/newspaper-article/2007/02/01/acid-rain-nitrogen-scares-debunked

(yes, the second one is from Heartland. I know many will believe it must be untrue just because of that. ;)
What many skeptics ignore (and I sometime forget myself) is that just because a danger was overstated, it doesn't mean that danger didn't exist. While Acid Rain was never the danger it was made out to be, increasing SO2 and NOx emissions would have eventually overpowered the environments ability to neutralize or respond to them. China right now is proving that. And like I said above, pollution controls had many legitimate reasons other then the alarmism to be implemented.

So my second category of Critical Decades, The ones where major changes were made, are a poor argument against making changes, even if the reason necessitating those changes were overblow.

But what about my first category? The ones where little to nothing was ever done about them, but none of their predictions of doom came true? Sou says Peak Oil is being addressed, but is it really? Sure we're going to less accessible oil areas, but wasn't the whole point of Peek Oil that we were supposed to be running out of new areas by now? And the idea that alternatives are a part of this seems wrong, because if alternatives were having an effect then the rate of petroleum extraction would be leveling off, or at least not climbing as fast. But it's still climbing at the same basic rate as it has since the 80's. Sure, it has to hit a peek eventually, but there's no sign it's coming soon, and it could just as easily be in a hundred years. And it sure didn't hit the peek in 2000 like Hubbert predicted.

The whole Population Bomb scare was even further off the mark, if only because it's had longer since it's predictions past.

So, here's an honest question for you all. As a Skeptic I've run into articles on a lot of scares and Critical Decades, were the predictions didn't come true even if nothing was really done to prevent them. But what about the flip side of the coin? Skeptics don't really talk about the times the scare turned out to be right. Are there any? Do you folks have any Critical Decade stories where the decade past with little or nothing done, and the disaster happened as was predicted? I honestly would like to know if there are counter examples to the failed predictions that the skeptical community holds up against climate change.

Thanks

20. Schitzree July 20, 2014 at 3:08 AM...

Is this post meant to be satire?

21. Perhaps its meant as black comedy. I can do that. Shall I say that the Ukrainian government is responsible for shooting down a civilian airliner and then link to a Russian government website for an 'authoritative' statement. Then, of course, I write something like:

"(yes, the second one is from the Russian government. I know many will believe it must be untrue just because of that. ;)"

And that will make it all true.

22. Schitzree wrote:

"The Acid Rain scare was another example of a 'Solved' crisis that looks like it was overblown at the time. There are a number of good articles that show that the problem wasn't anywhere near as serous as it was made out to be.

http://debunkhouse.wordpress.com/2010/02/23/the-acid-rain-scam/

http://news.heartland.org/newspaper-article/2007/02/01/acid-rain-nitrogen-scares-debunked"

These aren't "good articles". You are linking merely to an opinion blog, where some guy makes some claims, and to an opinion article also just filled with claims, for which no scientific references are given, posted at the website of a political think tank that is known for its politically and ideologically motivated anti-science propaganda. You are trying to "back up" your assertions just by referencing someone else you found in the Internet, who merely makes the same assertions. This doesn't prove anything of what you claim. Why don't you just cite yourself to "back up" your claims, then? it would be the same.

What about you link to real scientific sources where results from actual scientific research is presented, which support your claims? Do you have to offer any papers from the peer reviewed literature? That would be something at least.

"So, here's an honest question for you all. As a Skeptic I've run into articles on a lot of scares and Critical Decades"

This is what you claim, but is it a fact? And why "as a Skeptic"? What strange statement is that?

What do you believe is it that makes you a skeptic? Scientists are skeptics. It's part of their professional profile. The crowd that rejects the findings from scientific research out of political or ideological motivation aren't skeptics. They just misuse the label.

"I honestly would like to know if there are counter examples to the failed predictions that the skeptical community holds up against climate change."

The request is loaded. What about you lay out the evidence first, that there were all these "failed predictions" as you claim, predictions that were backed by an overwhelming consensus among scientists who do the research in the field, comparable to the consensus regarding anthropogenically caused climate change? I say you are just making things up.

23. Appears to me that the first article about acid rain was quite well debunked in the comments. it didn't really have legs at all ....

As for the Heartland Institute article - you are right - I cannot be bothered to read that as I believe it will be untrue.

24. I love the way he capitalizes the "S" in "Skeptic" as though wearing a tin foil hat is somehow honorable :)

Again, please read: The DDT Zombie reanimated:
http://crookedtimber.org/2014/07/14/zombie-ddt-ban-myth-reanimated/

25. China demonstrates the reality of acid rain not being solved, and it's not a pretty sight.

26. Schitzree, the comment policy doesn't permit posting links to disinformation websites for a number of reasons. One is that HotWhopper exists to "demolish disinformation" and disapproves of spreading it.

Another is so that if a person wants to use information on a website that promotes FUD, they first verify with a reputable source that it's valid and then cite that reputable source.

The Heartland Institute is a political lobby group and not a scientific body. It promotes pseudo-science and FUD and is not a reliable source of climate science or any other science. Your first link was to a website that describes itself as: "Geology and Geophysics vs Enviromarxism" so is also blatantly political, not scientific.

Now that of itself doesn't mean the information is wrong. However, if you are persuaded by the arguments on those unreliable websites and if what is written there is valid, then it will be supported by evidence elsewhere. Therefore you will have no difficulty in finding a reputable source to link to instead of the links you provided. For example - any reputable source - including peer-reviewed scientific papers, will provide supporting references and supporting data. Check those too, particularly if your original source is as disreputable as the ones you chose. Then link to a reputable, reliable source and/or explain your thinking in your own words.

27. Schitzree, as for "Peek Oil", you keep writing it that way. Are you using that term to make fun of "peak oil" or do you not know what the term means? Your explanation suggests that you don't know what the term means.

There are two aspects to the peak, one is the peak of discovery the other is the peak of production. It is generally accepted that the peak of discovery was passed some decades ago, probably in the 1960s. Since then the size of extractable oil deposits discovered has not increased in any decade. Whether the peak of production has been reached or not is not, to my knowledge, yet known. As you probably know, explorers are now looking for oil in very hard to reach places, including places that, if oil extraction proceeds it will be at great risk to the environment as well as at great cost. For example, exploration for oil and gas is proceeding in the Arctic and in the pristine Great Australian Bight. If there were a major spill in those places it would be devastating. Not only will extraction be very difficult and technologically challenging, it will be very expensive.

As for the population explosion - you ignore the fact of efforts to prevent it, such as medical discoveries for contraception, government and NGO programs like family planning and "one-child" policies. Do you think they would have been put in place if there was not the risk of too many people stretching beyond the capacity to feed and clothe them? You also ignore the fact that since 1950, the population has more than trebled. Population is growing at an exponential rate. It's though it will peak around the middle of this century. It will be a challenge to house, feed and clothe double the number of people at the end of the twentieth century.

Look, there will hopefully be people like yourself that will one day say that global warming was "overblown". But if there are, it won't be because it was "overblown". It will be because the world ignored deniers and addressed the problem and drastically cut CO2 emissions in time. I don't mind that and expect it. There will always be naysayers in the world and people who don't understand science, techonology, economics and sociology. And there will always be people who oppose social order and want "small" or no government. That is, there will always be a small proportion of the population for whom perceived self-interest dominates their desire for social harmony and well-being - as long as the human race survives. They will survive only because they are protected by the different various people who understand science, technology, economics and sociology talking to each other and combining their knowledge for the good of humanity. They will survive because there are people who have the vision and wisdom and courage to speak out and warn the world when they recognise major risks like acid rain, DDT. Because there are people with the skills and expertise to develop solutions to the problems of food production, global warming, birth control, waste management, pest and disease control etc etc.

11. I've added an update to the article up top, about how the Liberal National Party in Queensland just had another massive defeat at a by-election. That isn't Federal politics and issues are different. Still, Tony Abbott won't like it too much. He wouldn't be much more popular than the current Queensland Premier, and may be just as unpopular.

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