It is widely accepted that you can't unscramble an egg. But I'd suggest that you can... we just haven't worked out how, and no one has been able to apply themselves to the task for long enough to succeed.
In some ways this is an analogy for addressing the issues of both climate change and energy security, two issues that seem to be working at cross purposes at present. But is that really the case, or is it in some people's interest to maintain this supposed opposition
As mentioned in the previous blog post, an oft used strategy by those who are seeking to subvert the national conversation on climate (because they don't have a good story or because the facts don't support their assertions) is to muddy the waters... or scramble the egg. But despite their best efforts, the climate change discussion egg is not scrambled.
There are a number of websites and organisations which aim to provide the honesty and the clarity which are essential in such an important international debate. Among them the ABC has done a fine job with its Fact Check unit in clarifying some of the public arguments which are being made against action on Climate Change.
The ABC have recently confirmed:
They have debunked the scare campaign that serious action on climate change will bankrupt us. While the government and the Murdoch press screamed that real action on emissions reduction will cost $600B, the treasury modelling they claimed to quote actually said that the economic effects of all scenarios considered “are small compared with the ongoing growth in GDP and GNI per person over time”. In other words - serious action is affordable, while delay and inaction is very costly.
Greg Jericho has also done some excellent modelling which show the real impact of a 45% emissions reduction on the economy, and finds Abbott's assertion about a $600B hit as 'breathtakingly stupid'.
While the entry of real authorities into the debate has ensured that the '$600B scare campaign' has disappeared very quickly that's not to say we won't see it trotted out as a desperate government looks to get re-elected.
Another scare campaign is being built around 'green vigilantes' who are supposedly looking to shut down the mining industry through litigation. A threat so serious it requires legislative changes to further weaken environmental protections.
Thankfully this scare and these legislative changes seem to be leaving Senate cross-benchers unimpressed. But the push by our government to reduce accountability and oversight is alarming as it risk removing protections that restrain authoritarian governments. It comes with consequences of limiting public interest litigation in defence of the environment. And it should be remembered that Greg Hunt's approval was struck down by the courts because due process was not followed. Asking governments to follow legislated process is hardly the actions of a vigilante. Cristy Clarke from Southern Cross University outlines these hazards on The Conversation website.
The resources industry claims Green groups are seeking to delay mining projects so that they become unprofitable, and Andrew Bolt claims Green groups are 'strangling our future'. Delay tactics have been a part of the fossil fuel industry's play book since the earliest days of Carbon Capture and storage, and after more than a decade of government support this fantasy technological solution is really no closer to commercial scale.
The Conversation often also touches on subjects that are not currently a part of the public conversation, but should be. In relation to Climate change and energy policy, rather than buying into arguments about baseload power, whether coal is good for humanity, whether renewable targets are unaffordable or unachievable, they address the need for energy efficiency. There is a great article which offers up new areas worthy of debate by following this link.
Going back to the scrambled egg analogy... it's possible that we are thinking about the issues associated with both climate change and energy security in the wrong way. After all, a young man worked out how to unscramble an egg back in 2013.
by Mark Enders
As was suggested in the first blog, there is a great deal of misinformation out there which is designed to confuse people, muddy the waters, and subvert the debate. If people aren't sure of the facts, it is easier to shift the debate or even to shut it down completely (by suggesting it is a non-issue).
A perfect example of this can be seen in the approach some take to talking about global temperatures. The classic argument for warming being a non-event as put forward by those who want to shut down debate includes using 1998 as their reference point. They then suggest that as no warming has occurred since, the issue is a fantasy. They use this reference point because 1998 was the hottest year of the entire 20th Century. In comparison to an unusually hot year, other temperatures appear relatively benign. But when looking at long term trends, the rise is unmistakeable... as in the diagram below.
This argument seems to have been recently abandoned as 2014 was the hottest on record, and that has now been trumped as we are currently in the hottest month and year on record globally. You'll find an excellent article on this so called 'Warming hiatus' here.
The same approach has been taken to reducing global emissions. The initial reference period was 1990 emissions, which was agreed to under the Kyoto protocol. Australia was very late to the party and only signed the Kyoto protocol in 2007, when the Howard government was finally removed. Under the Rudd government we committed to a 5% reduction in emissions based on 2000 emissions. And now under the Abbott government, the goal posts have shifted yet again... to 2005.
Why 2005? Well if you believe Tony Abbott (and to be honest nobody does) it is so we can compare 'Apples with Apples' on the international stage. But the truth is that 2005 was a year for unusually large levels of emissions... making the current targets look better than they actually are.
How much have things changed since 1990. According to the graph below sourced from the US Environmental Protection Agency - global emissions have risen by about 35%
But just looking at Australia - A 28% reduction (as recently announced by the Abbott Government) based on 1990 levels takes us from 550,777 Gg of CO2 down to around 396559 Gg. Based on 2005 levels, to get down to that level would require a 35% reduction in our emissions - a much more respectable target
This intentional deceptiveness is well laid out by Mike Seccombe.
The Abbott government keeps doing as little as it can by setting low-ball targets in comparison to other nations with comparable economies, and by moving the goalposts. A 28% reduction based on 2005 levels, translates to only a 20% reduction based on 1990 levels.
The Abbott government has never played it straight with the Australian people... so why would they start now?
by Mark Enders
We have started this blog with a few aims in mind, and plan to conduct ourselves on this site way in a number of principled ways. Should we stray from our purpose, or not behave in the manner in which we have stated we would, we expect you to call us out on that.
Why a Blog is necessary
Sadly we are all swimming in a sea of information and misinformation. That creates confusion, and misunderstanding, and in the worst cases... deception. We believe in the wisdom of people and the sense of the electorate, but we can hardly expect people to be wise or rational if they are constantly fed misinformation. Our blogs will reference other independent sources of information so you can trust in the fact that what we say is backed up by others, and by good, hard evidence.
And when there is so much information out there, it is too easy to miss something important. Rather than not being able to see the forest for the trees, we are left unable to see the tree for the forest.
A blog is also an opportunity to have a discussion. Rather than sitting back and being passively fed information, in the comments section you have an opportunity to agree, disagree, or even add something to the debate. Perhaps you're aware of important information we've missed and that everyone should be aware of.
We will focus on issues that matter to North Queenslanders, to Australians, and to our neighbours near and far. We will seek to inform rather than mislead. We want to engage - which means each post on the blog is a conversation starter. We want to hear many different opinions but will not allow bigoted, defamatory, overly aggressive or nasty posts to remain. All conversations associated with the blog should try to remain calm, rational, open and honest. It is possible to be both passionate and respectful.
I believe this is the start of something very interesting.
by Mark Enders
The Townsville Greens will publish blogs considered to be of merit. The opinions expressed are those of the Author.