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
The Townsville Greens will publish blogs considered to be of merit. The opinions expressed are those of the Author.